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Major spoilers will be present! Please read at your own discretion.


Stranger Things Wiki
Stranger Things Wiki

Maybe I am a mess, maybe I’m crazy, maybe I’m out of my mind!
But, God help me, I will keep these lights up until the day I die, if I think there’s a chance that Will's still out there!

–Joyce Byers, November 11, 1983

Joyce Byers, portrayed by Winona Ryder, is a main character in Stranger Things. She is the financially struggling single mother of Jonathan and Will Byers. Joyce is also a long-time friend of Jim Hopper.

In November, 1983, after Will mysteriously disappeared, Joyce was certain that he was communicating with her through the lights in her house. Despite everyone treating her as if she was having a mental breakdown, Joyce refused to believe that Will was dead, even after his alleged corpse was found. Through cooperation with her friend and local police chief Jim Hopper, Will’s friends, and Jonathan, she eventually uncovered the circumstances of her son’s disappearance and entered the Upside Down to rescue him.

A year later, in 1984, Joyce struggles to live a normal life with her charming boyfriend, Bob Newby, while also growing overprotective of Will, who has been suffering from visions of the Upside Down. As her son's health declines rapidly, she, Bob, Hopper, and Will's friend Mike discover that Will has become possessed by the Upside Down's most dangerous inhabitant: The Mind Flayer, who summons an army of Demodogs to attack Hawkins. After losing Bob to said creatures, Joyce refuses to lose her son to the monster, burning it out of Will and once again saving him. However, she struggles to recover following the aftermath of Bob's death.

By the summer of 1985, Joyce is extremely lonely and rebuffs Hopper's romantic interest. But everything changes when she discovers her magnets losing their magnetism. Believing it having to with the Upside Down, Joyce convinces a reluctant Hopper to investigate and discover Russians have infiltrated Hawkins to weaponize the Upside Down's inhabitants, and are using the town's power to open the Gate the crew had worked so hard to close. Soon, Joyce, Hopper, a Russian scientist named Alexei, and Hopper's acquaintance Murray Bauman race back to Hawkins and team up with their children to close the Gate once more, all while being chased by a Russian assassin. Joyce successfully closes the Gate, but at the cost of Hopper's life, as he seemingly disintegrated upon the Gate's explosion. Joyce then adopts Hopper's daughter, Eleven, into her family, and three months later, tearfully moves out of Hawkins.

By the spring of 1986, in order to start a new life after the devastating events at Starcourt Mall, Joyce has moved from Hawkins to California with her two sons and Eleven. While working from home selling encyclopedias by phone, she receives a strange package from Russia and is determined to figure out who's behind it[1]. She opens the box to find a doll with a note hidden inside, which says that Hopper is alive and is a prisoner in Russia. She has to call a number to ransom him. The number connects her to Dmitri Antonov, who demands payment of $40,000 in return for helping Hopper escape, using pilot Yuri Ismaylov as a proxy. Joyce calls Murray, who comes to Lenora Hills. Together, they call Dmitri. Then, they both fly to Alaska and meet with Yuri, who double-crosses both them and Antonov in order to receive a reward for their capture. However, midway through the flight to the USSR, Joyce and Murray manage to subdue Yuri. With no one able to fly the plane, they crash land in the USSR. Murray, Joyce and Yuri survive the plane crash. They force Yuri to tell them where Hopper is, and they go to the isolated gulag to find that Hopper and Antonov, along with other disgraced prisoners, are meant to fight a captive Demogorgon. The Demogorgon kills all prisoners except for the Antonov and Hopper. While Hopper holds off the Demogorgon, Joyce and Murray defeat the guards and manage to open the doors to the arena, allowing Hopper and Antonov to escape the demogorgon. Joyce and Hopper embrace and reunite.



Joyce is highly generous, amicable and a tremendously benevolent mother who would do almost anything to keep her sons, particularly Will, out of harm's way. After Will's disappearance, Joyce enlisted Chief Jim Hopper to find him as well as posted several missing person's posters with the help of her other son Jonathan. Even after Will's presumed dead body was found, she was still convinced that her son was alive and undertook extreme measures to contact with him, such as chopping a hole in the wall of her house in order to find him. Ultimately, her commitment was rewarded when it was revealed that Will was actually alive and with Hopper's help, she was able to save him.

However, when it was found that Will had been experiencing visions of the Upside Down, Joyce wasted no time bringing him to Dr. Owens for routine medical exams. Her extreme concern for Will led her to discover that the shadow creature from the Upside Down had overwhelmed and possessed him, causing him to behave strangely. After Will convulsed and suffered from severe pain during the burning of the tendrils, Joyce was terrifically dismayed to learn that her son started showing memory problems, which caused her to berate the doctors.

Eventually, it was her immense determination to protecting her son that allowed her to save Will after she forced the shadow monster out by exposing her possessed son to extreme heat.

By the summer of 1985, Joyce had shed her overprotectiveness of Will and accepted Jonathan's relationship with Nancy Wheeler, looking happy for her older son. However, Joyce had become haunted over the severe trauma she endured for the past two years, where her younger son's life was threatened twice by the Upside Down and the death of her boyfriend Bob Newby. Joyce continued to mourn for Bob and was reluctant to start dating again when Hopper started to ask her out. Joyce eventually admitted her feelings for Hopper, but became emotionally crushed when she believed she caused Hopper's supposed death by turning off the Key to the Gate. It was Hopper's supposed demise that pushed Joyce to sell her house and leave Hawkins, taking her sons and Eleven with her, in the hopes of starting a new life. However, despite this, Joyce looked reluctant to leave Hawkins as she saw how deeply affected the kids were in saying good-bye to their friends.



Joyce met Lonnie Byers at some point in her life and fell in love with him. They later married and had two sons, Jonathan and Will Byers. According to their eldest son, Jonathan, Joyce and Lonnie once did love each other, but their marriage became strained and they divorced sometime in 1982. Joyce began to hate Lonnie for his uncaring nature and stopped getting in touch with him until Will mysteriously disappeared. Joyce was against contacting Lonnie to see if Will was with him and Lonnie blamed Joyce for Will's disappearance. When Lonnie came to Will's "funeral," Joyce seemed surprised to see him there until she discovered that Lonnie only came to collect profit from Will's supposed death. As a result, Joyce angrily ordered Lonnie to get out.

Joyce clearly deeply cares about her youngest son. Joyce encourages Will to be his own person and allows him to be creative, praising his artistic ability and letting him build his own fort in the nearby woods. Will felt comfortable discussing his D&D campaigns with her as he would with his friends. While trapped in the Upside Down, he repeatedly tried to contact her, often putting himself at risk of being found by the Monster. Joyce became determined to find him, and eventually entered the Upside Down to save him.

A year later, Joyce had become very protective of Will; she drives him everywhere to school, to one of his friends house and to the arcade. When the anniversary of his disappearance was getting closer, Joyce became even more protective of her son. When the Shadow Monster has taken over Will’s body, she does everything in her power to get it out of him. When they figure out that it doesn’t like heat, she, Jonathan and Nancy went to Hopper’s cabin to burn it out of him. Once the Shadow Monster was out of Will, Joyce was happy to have her son back. One month later, Joyce decided to give Will some space, but still decided to stay close by.

By 1985, Joyce stopped being overprotective of Will after Hawkins Lab was shut down and life in Hawkins was going back to normal, allowing him to go out on his own. When she heard that her kids are in danger, she, Hopper, Murray and Alexei raced back to Hawkins to save them. Once she was reunited with Will at the mall, she told him to hide and listen to his brother. After Joyce closed the Gate, she and Will hugged each other and was glad that her son was safe. Three months later Joyce decided to move her sons and Eleven out of Hawkins.

Though Joyce deeply cared for her eldest son just as she did for Will, she felt guilty that she had been unable to support him more, due to her time-consuming job. Joyce admitted to Jonathan that "I hardly know what's going on with you". After Will vanished, Joyce's sanity was tested and in turn so was the relationship between her and her remaining son. Jonathan did not believe Joyce that Will was alive as Jonathan was convinced Will was dead after seeing the fake body of Will. However, Jonathan realized his mother was telling the truth after Nancy claimed she saw the Demogorgon like Joyce and was able to confirm its appearance in the photograph Jonathan took. After Jonathan was arrested, Joyce demanded he'd be set free, as she was not angry at him for fighting Steve Harrington. Jonathan apologized to Joyce as she told her son that he was not alone in trying to find and save Will. The two shared a hug and continued to work together where they were finally reunited with Will after his rescue from the Upside Down.

A year later, it seems that Joyce and Jonathan still have a close relationship. Joyce wanted Jonathan to look out for Will though Jonathan was not as overprotective of Will as Joyce was. Jonathan also secretly did not support Joyce's relationship with Bob Newby s he did not understand what she saw in him. After discovering Will's possession of the Mind Flayer, Joyce and Jonathan worked together to free Will from the Mind Flayer by burning it out of him. When putting Will under so much heat did not work, Jonathan begged his mother to stop the process and nearly freed Will until Nancy stopped him. When a possessed Will started to strangle Joyce, Jonathan tried to save his mother before she was saved when Nancy burnt Will. After Will was freed from the Mind Flayer, Joyce and Jonathan shared an embrace with Will. A month later, Joyce was recorded by Jonathan through a video camera as she practiced dancing with Will for the Snow Ball.

Joyce seems happy for her eldest son when he has a girlfriend, and doesn’t seem to mind that Nancy spends the night with Jonathan. When she heard that her kids are in danger, she, Hopper, Murray and Alexei raced back to Hawkins to save them. She also put Jonathan in charge of taking care of his brother. After the event, Joyce decided to move her sons and Eleven out of Hawkins.


Hopper and Joyce have known each other since high school. They were fairly close, often skipping class to smoke together, even being caught by a teacher on at least one occasion. Their friendship continued well into adulthood, and remained even after Hopper returned to Hawkins after living in another city for several years. After Will vanished, Hopper and Joyce gradually drew closer together, confiding in one another as they attempted to find answers to the mysteries materializing around them.

Joyce and Bob knew each other since high school and sometime in 1984, they developed an affectionate relationship, mainly due to Bob's commiserative attitude to both her and her sons. Joyce would even entrust her son to go with him. When Will's condition turned worse, she didn't hesitate to reveal to him the mysterious events that happened the previous year. However, Bob's shocking death at the Hawkins Lab left her in bereavement.

Six months later in 1985, Joyce continued to mourn for Bob's death, remembering all the times she shared with him such as when they enjoyed watching the show, "Cheers" together. However, it's clear Bob's proposal of moving out of Hawkins affected her, as she secretly put her house up for sale without her sons' knowledge. When Joyce and Hopper once again investigate a now closed Hawkins Lab, Joyce enters the lobby and has memories of Bob's death, but when asked by Hopper if she's okay, she snaps out of it and confirms she's fine, showing it's still painful for her to talk about Bob's death.

Joyce first learned about Eleven from Hopper when he mistook her for Will during his investigation. When Joyce meets Eleven, she immediately becomes a mother figure to her; Eleven never received any motherly love as she was taken from her birth mother Terry Ives when she was a baby. Joyce thanked Eleven for everything she's done to help find Will and assures her that she'll be with her the whole as she tries to locate Will in the homemade sensory deprivation tank. This is later proved to be true as Joyce comforts Eleven when she finds Barbara Holland's corpse, giving Eleven the courage to find Will. A year later, when Eleven revealed herself to be alive, Joyce embraces her and asks for help in saving Will from the Mind Flayer by closing the gate which Eleven accepts.

A year later, Joyce continues to have a good relationship with Eleven. She even supports her relationship with Mike Wheeler, unlike Hopper. When Joyce learns that Eleven and her friends are in danger, Joyce immediately goes out to rescue and protect them. After successfully closing the gate and killing the Mind Flayer, Joyce sadly tells Eleven that Hopper died in the process. Joyce takes Eleven in and allows her to live with her family - three months later they all move out of Hawkins.

Joyce is shown to be good friends with Karen Wheeler as their sons are best friends. After Will went missing, Karen gave Joyce a casserole to comfort her, which Joyce thanked her for. In 1985, Joyce and Karen are still shown to be good friends as Joyce sought Karen out on asking where the children are during the Fun Fair.


Season One appearances
The Vanishing of Will Byers The Weirdo on Maple Street Holly, Jolly The Body
The Flea and the Acrobat The Monster The Bathtub The Upside Down
Season Two appearances
MADMAX Trick or Treat, Freak The Pollywog
Will the Wise Dig Dug The Spy
The Lost Sister The Mind Flayer The Gate
Season Three appearances
Suzie, Do You Copy? The Mall Rats The Case of the Missing Lifeguard The Sauna Test
The Flayed E Pluribus Unum The Bite The Battle of Starcourt
Season Four appearances
The Hellfire Club Vecna's Curse The Monster and the Superhero
Dear Billy The Nina Project The Dive
The Massacre at Hawkins Lab Papa The Piggyback


Volume 1 appearances
Issue 1 Issue 2 Issue 3 Issue 4
Video Game Appearances
Stranger Things 3: The Game
Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales

Family tree

Joyce Byers Family Tree icon 001.png
Joyce Byers
Lonnie Byers Family Tree icon 001.png
Lonnie Byers
Jonathan Byers FamilyTree icon 001.png
Jonathan Byers
Will Byerd Family Tree icon 001.png
Will Byers

Memorable Quotes

Joyce Byers:

  • "Alright, well, I don't know who's been raising you, but I'm gonna get you some new crayons, because it looks like he's shooting cabbages."
  • "Just ring me up, Donald."
  • "Will wanted me to give him some space, so I'm giving him a few feet."

Joyce Byers to Jonathan:

  • "I know it sounds crazy... I sound crazy... You think I don't know that? It is crazy! But I heard him, Jonathan... he talked to me! Will is calling to me, and he's out there, and he's alone, and he's scared, and... I don't care if anyone believes me. I am not gonna stop looking for him until I find him and bring him home! I am going to bring him home!"
  • "This is not yours to fix alone. You act like you're all alone out there in the world, but you're not!"

Joyce Byers to Hopper:

  • ”And have to look at your face every day? I don’t think so.”
  • “Yeah, well, it‘s really hard to listen when you make everything sound like the end of the goddamn world.”

Joyce Byers to Brenner:

  • "I know who you are. I know what you've done... You took my boy away from me! You left him in that place to die. You faked his death... we had a funeral, we buried him! And now, you're asking for my help? Go to hell."

Joyce Byers to Murray:

  • “So, if you don’t mind, put that thing away, stop behaving like a jackass, and ask him what he’s doing that’s making my magnets fall off my damn fridge!”

Joyce Byers to the Philadelphia Public Library:

  • “Uhh, this is Antique Chariot‘s partner... Wheelbarrow. I don’t think Antique Chariot properly conveyed the urgency of our situation... Don’t you dare patronize me! I don’t know who you are, if you’re some glorified secretary of what, but if you don’t want to lose your job, here’s what’s gonna happen. When I hang up, you’re gonna get up off your ass, and you’re gonna go find Owens, and tell him what’s going on. He’s gotta get to Hawkins, and he’s gotta bring his men right now! Do you understand me? Thank you, and good day.”

Behind the scenes

Character development

The character was initially more of a "tough Long Island mom."[2] In the original pilot script, she was described as a mom in her late 30s with a Long Island accent wearing too much make-up. She worked two jobs, appeared to be more aggressive and cursed a lot.[3] After Winona Ryder was cast in the role, the Duffer Brothers talked about the character Roy Neary portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss, in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, who encounters something supernatural and appears insane to the outside world. They thought Winona, who has "this wild, unpredictable energy about her," could play that really well.[2]


Costume designer Kimberley Adams compiled mood boards for each character's style. Joyce's board had images of Meryl Streep's character Karen Silkwood in the film Silkwood (1983) and singer/actress Cher's style in the 1980s.[4] Adams sent Winona Ryder the board and they discussed the character in depth before Adams gathered period clothing for the character.[5]


View Gallery.png For this subject's gallery, see Joyce Byers/Gallery.


  • The tie-in book, Hawkins Middle School Yearbook/Hawkins High School Yearbook, reveals that Joyce's maiden name was Horowitz.
  • Joyce has had anxiety problems in the past prior to the series, and it's hinted to be hereditary, as she had an aunt named Darlene who had similar problems.
  • Joyce drives a 1976 Ford Pinto.
  • Joyce's phone number is 555-0141, but this number is not actually in operation and cannot be called.
  • Joyce has had the most love interests of any main character; Lonnie Byers, Jim Hopper, and Bob Newby.


  1. Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The Stranger Things creators want some scares with their Spielberg" ''A.V. Club''. July 13, 2016.
  3. "Montauk Pilot" written by The Duffer Brothers.
  4. "Costume Design Tear Sheets" Things Insider</nowiki>. September 4, 2016.
  5. "Stranger Things - Costume Designing 1980s Nostalgia" Tyranny of Style.

Locations The Upside DownCreel HouseCurse gatesGatesHawkinsHawkins National LaboratoryLover's LakePublic LibraryHawkins Middle SchoolHawkins Tunnel SystemMothergateTrailer Park
Entities D'ArtagnanDemobat (species)The DemogorgonDemogorgon (species)The FlayedHospital MonsterThe Mind FlayerRussian DemogorgonThe Spider MonsterHawkins Tunnel SystemVecnaVines
The Flayed Billy HargroveHeather HollowayBruce LoweTom HollowayJanet HollowayDoris Driscoll
Visitors Robin BuckleyJoyce ByersWill ByersElevenSteve HarringtonDustin HendersonBarbara HollandJim HopperMax MayfieldEddie MunsonBob NewbyShepardLucas SinclairMike WheelerNancy Wheeler
Miscellaneous Upside Down EggDungeons & DragonsThe VoidThe KeysVecna's curseVecna's Mind Lair
Articles may contain spoilers.