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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 (née Maldonado),[2] portrayed by Winona Ryder, is a main character in Stranger Things. She is the financially struggling single mother of Jonathan and Will Byers, the foster mother of Eleven, and the best friend/eventual girlfriend 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 struggled to live a normal life with her charming boyfriend, Bob Newby, while also growing overprotective of Will, who had been suffering from visions of the Upside Down. As her son's health declined rapidly, she, Bob, Hopper, and Will's friend Mike discover that Will had become possessed by the Upside Down's most dangerous inhabitant: the Mind Flayer, who summoned an army of adolescent Demogorgons called "Demodogs" to attack Hawkins. After losing Bob to said creatures, Joyce refused to lose her son to the monster, burning it out of Will and once again saving him. However, she struggled to recover following the aftermath of Bob's death.

By the summer of 1985, Joyce was extremely lonely and rebuffed Hopper's romantic interest, despite growing an interest in him. But everything changed when she discovered her magnets losing their magnetism. Believing it having to with the Upside Down, Joyce convinced a reluctant Hopper to investigate and they discover that Russians had infiltrated Hawkins to weaponize the Upside Down's inhabitants, and were using the town's power to open a new gate. Soon, Joyce, Hopper, a Russian scientist named Alexei, and Hopper's acquaintance Murray Bauman raced back to Hawkins and teamed up with their children to close the Gate once more, all while being chased by a Russian assassin, Grigori. Joyce successfully closed the gate, but at the cost of Hopper's life, as he seemingly disintegrated upon the explosion of the machine which opened the gate.

After Hopper's apparent death, Hopper's daughter Eleven was taken in by the Byers family, who were all relocated to Lenora Hills, California under Dr. Sam Owens's supervision. When Joyce received a strange package in the spring of 1986, she enlisted Murray's help to figure out what it meant.[3] Discovering that Hopper was alive, and imprisoned in Kamchatka, Russia, Joyce and Murray went on a perilous journey in an attempt to rescue him. On route to Russia, Joyce and Murray got into a fight with double-crossing pilot Yuri Ismaylov, with the plane ultimately crash-landing in Kamchatka, though all three survived. Infiltrating the Soviet prison, Joyce, Murray and Yuri managed to free Hopper and fellow captive Dmitri Antonov, sparing them from a bloody death at the hands of a weaponized Demogorgon.

Despite escaping to Yuri's warehouse in Kyrzran, the group returned to the prison after learning Hopper and Joyce's children were imperilled by a new evil threatening Hawkins. They hoped that by dealing damage to the Upside Down's hive mind, they could assist their friends in need. Returning to the prison, Hopper, Joyce and Murray set out to kill the Demogorgons, fighting for their lives while hoping to inflict pain upon the hive mind. After some time, Hopper, Joyce and Murray managed to execute all the creatures, with Dmitri and Yuri arriving by helicopter to take them back to America. Two days later, Joyce and Hopper returned to Hawkins and reunited with their children before witnessing four gates to the Upside Down beginning to merge with Hawkins.

Quick Answers

Who is the actress that plays Joyce Byers in Stranger Things? toggle section
The actress who plays Joyce Byers, Will's mom in Stranger Things, is Winona Ryder. She is an acclaimed actress with a career spanning several decades, known for her roles in films like Beetlejuice, Heathers, and Edward Scissorhands. In Stranger Things, she brings to life the character of Joyce Byers, a financially struggling single mother who will stop at nothing to protect her children.
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What is the relationship between Joyce Byers and Will in Stranger Things? toggle section
Joyce Byers, portrayed by Winona Ryder, is a main character in Stranger Things and is the mother of Will Byers. 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. This shows the deep bond and love Joyce has for her son, Will.
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Who are the children of Joyce Byers in Stranger Things? toggle section
Joyce Byers, the mom from Stranger Things, has two biological sons, Jonathan and Will Byers. Additionally, she takes Eleven, legally known as Jane Hopper, as her foster daughter in the fourth season of Stranger Things.
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What is the significance of the lights in Joyce Byers' house in Stranger Things? toggle section
In Stranger Things, the lights in Joyce Byers' house hold a significant role. They serve as a form of communication between Joyce and her son, Will, who is trapped in the Upside Down. The lights flicker and glow in response to Will's presence in the parallel dimension, allowing him to send messages to his mother. This phenomenon is not just limited to Joyce's house but also affects electricity and electronics on a larger scale, causing power surges all over East Hawkins. Joyce, portrayed by Winona Ryder, is so determined to find her son that she vows to keep the lights up until the day she dies if she thinks there's a chance Will is still out there.
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Who is Joyce Byers' best friend in Stranger Things? toggle section
In the series Stranger Things, Joyce Byers, who is famously known as Will's mom, doesn't have a specific character labeled as her 'best friend'. However, she shares a close bond with several characters throughout the series, including Jim Hopper.
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Joyce Maldonado was born in Hawkins, Indiana in 1942; her surname indicated she was of Hispanic heritage, likely on her father's side.[2]

"Oh my god, none of this is real."
This information from the Hawkins Middle School Yearbook/Hawkins High School Yearbook is of questionable canonicity.[canon-rationale 1]
According to one source, Joyce's maiden name was actually Horowitz.[1]

The only family member beyond her sons and ex-husband that have been mentioned is her aunt Darlene, who had mental problems. This has been hinted to be an inherited trait, as Jonathan has mentioned Joyce having problems with anxiety in the past.

Joyce attended Hawkins High School during the late 1950s with James "Jim" Hopper Jr. and Bob "The Brain" Newby, though Bob believed Joyce "didn't know [he] existed".

Joyce and Jim were extremely close, skipping class during fifth and sixth period to smoke. One one occasion, the two were caught by their teacher, Mr. Cooper, who yelled, "Hey, assholes!", causing the two to run away giggling.

In early 1959, Joyce was employed at Melvald’s Diner as a waitress. In this same period, Joyce attempted to put on a school production of Dark of the Moon, enlisting various fellow students to play parts including Lonnie Byers, Henry Creel and Patty Newby.

However, when scores of dead animals were discovered throughout Hawkins, Joyce, Jim and Bob investigated, believing that Henry's father Victor Creel was responsible. However, their theory would ultimately go unproven.

In March, Jim met with Joyce at Melvald’s, where he shared with her that he was about to begin basic Army training to fight in the Vietnam War.[2]


In 1963, Joyce bid farewell to Jim shortly before he set off to fight in Vietnam.[2]

During this time, Joyce met and married Lonnie Byers, taking his last name, though it's been stated by Jonathan that "[she] and [Lonnie] loved each other at some point, but [he] wasn't around for it", meaning that the marriage was a problem from the start. In 1967, Joyce and Lonnie had their first son, Jonathan Byers.


Joyce and Lonnie's second son, William "Will" Byers, was born on March 22, 1971. By 1973, Joyce was employed at Melvald's once again as a retail clerk, which had since relaunched as a general store; Joyce would work excessive hours, even on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

Although Joyce loved her sons more than anything and encouraged their hobbies, Lonnie was extremely harsh to both of them, forcing Jonathan to do more "manly" things like killing a rabbit while hunting, and calling Will a "queer" and a "fag" for his love of art and sensitivity. In 1979, for Will's eighth birthday, Joyce gave him a 120 crayon set. Will used just about every crayon to draw a large spaceship he called a "Rainbow Ship". Joyce then took it and hung it at Melvald's, proudly proclaiming that her son drew it to everyone who came into the store, much to Will's embarrassment.[4]


Around 1982, Lonnie divorced Joyce and left for Indianapolis. This didn't stop Joyce from cheering up her son, as one day she surprised him tickets to see Poltergeist after initially telling him he couldn't see it.


Searching for Will[]

S1E1-Joyce in Hopper's office

Joyce at the police station to report her son's disappearance.

On November 7, before leaving for work, Joyce discovered that Will was nowhere to be found. She called Karen Wheeler, asking whether Will had stayed over at her house after a playdate with his friends. Karen told her that Will had left the previous night around 8:00 p.m. Joyce went to the police station to report Will's disappearance, but Police Chief Jim Hopper brushed her off, theorizing that Will was "playing hooky" or had run away to his father's house.

The evening, the phone rang while Joyce and Jonathan were preparing a missing person poster. Joyce answered, but heard only static and growling. Then, Joyce was certain that she could hear Will's breathing. A jolt of electricity short circuited the phone and the impact knocked her to the floor.

The next day, Joyce told Hopper about the call, but he was skeptical. She went to the General Store and obtained a phone and a two-week advance pay from her boss, Donald. Joyce then waited by the new phone for another call. When the phone rang again, she heard Will's voice, though the phone quickly short-circuited. She noticed the lights blinking in an odd pattern, so she followed them to Will's room. Suddenly, loud music played from Will's radio and the lights flickered intensively. Joyce was terrified when the wall in Will's room warped and took on a shape as if something was trying to break through. She ran to the car.

Holly Jolly S01-E03 SS 001

Joyce communicating with Will through the lights.

Convinced that Will was talking to her through the lights, Joyce stayed in his room trying to make contact, causing Jonathan to believe she was acting delusional. Joyce bought several packs of Christmas lights, which she hung all over her living room. Will made contact with her through the lights and answered yes or no questions. Will revealed that he was alive but not safe. Joyce painted an alphabet on the wall, through which Will said he was "right here" and warned her to "run", right before the monster broke through the wall. Joyce ran down the road and was nearly hit by Jonathan's car, closely followed by the police.

Hopper informed Joyce that Will's body was discovered in the local quarry, but Joyce told him she had just talked to Will through the lights. Thinking she was in denial, Hopper shared that he had visions of his own daughter after she passed away, and Joyce replied "I need you to believe me. Please." After Hopper left, she grabbed an ax from the shed as protection and fell asleep on the sofa.

A Desperate Mother[]

The next morning, Joyce went to the coroner to identify the body. While at the coroner's office, she asked to see Will's birthmark. Joyce refused to sign the death certificate, insisting "I don’t know what you think that thing is in there, but that is not my son!" Jonathan lashed out at her on the sidewalk in front of a crowd, saying they had to deal with his funeral, despite her saying that she truly knows that Will is really alive.

At their home, Will called for Joyce through the wall, and peeling back the wallpaper, she saw his face through a layer of a flesh-like substance. Will said he was in a place "like home, but it's so dark... It's so dark and empty. And it's cold!" The monster approached, and a distraught Joyce told him to run, swearing she would come for him. Joyce chopped a hole in the wall, but it only lead to the outside of her house.

Joyce's ex-husband, Lonnie, came to Hawkins for Will's funeral and was dismissive to everything Joyce said about finding Will. After the funeral, Joyce found papers from an attorney and sent Lonnie packing because he was only there to profit from Will's supposed death. She confronted Lonnie about this which he tried, but Joyce saw right through his facade and during a heated argument, she angrily ordered her ex-husband to leave. Hopper showed up at her house and unscrewed every light bulb inside, searching for a bug, something he had found in his own home. Hopper admitted to Joyce that the entire time where he had discovered Will's corpse to be a fake, admitting she was right about Will's disappearance.

Continuing A Search[]

Hopper and Joyce tracked down Terry Ives, who had sued Dr. Brenner and Hawkins National Laboratory for kidnapping her daughter twelve years before. They found Terry in a catatonic state, unable to speak, but her sister relayed the details of Terry's involvement in the experiments at Hawkins Lab, and her supposed missing daughter.

Returning to Hawkins, they found that Jonathan had been arrested and Nancy Wheeler was keeping him company at the police station. They all joined forces with Will’s friends, who explained that Will was in another dimension. The boys introduced Joyce and Hopper to their new friend: it was Eleven, Terry's missing daughter, an escapee from Hawkins Lab who possessed remarkable psychokinetic abilities. They went to Hawkins Middle School, where they built a makeshift sensory deprivation tank to help Eleven telepathically communicate with Will. Joyce reached out to Eleven and made her feel safe as she accessed her mental void. Joyce made Eleven tell Will to hold on, and that his mother was coming for him.

Finding and Reuniting with Will[]
The Upside Down

Joyce and Hopper find Will in the Upside Down.

Joyce and Hopper broke into Hawkins National Laboratory, where they were captured on arrival. The pair were interrogated, and Dr. Brenner tried to persuade Joyce to help him, though Joyce bluntly refused. Meanwhile, Hopper negotiated a deal; the duo was allowed to enter the Upside Down in hazmat suits to search for Will, passing through the Mothergate. Retracing the blood-stained footprints of the Monster, Joyce and Hopper made their way to the dimension's version of the library. There, they finally found Will; he was close to death, strung up in a web of vines with a tendril extending down his throat. Hopper and Joyce administered CPR to Will until he was resuscitated. After being rescued, Will was brought to the Hawkins General Hospital where he recovered.

A Family Reunited[]

In December, Joyce celebrated Christmas with her sons, with Jonathan helping her prepare the food before they sat at the table and ate.


Shortly after being rescued, Will began experiencing visions of the Upside Down. He eventually told Joyce about these visions, prompting her to start taking him to Hawkins National Laboratory for routine medical exams. During these visits, he'd be looked over by Dr. Sam Owens, who attested that Will's visions were psychosomatic episodes similar to those related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

At some point, Joyce began dating Bob Newby.


Struggling To Return To Normal[]

On October 29, Joyce dropped Will off at the Palace Arcade, telling him to have fun and stay safe before driving away. There, Will had an episode, suddenly appearing in the Upside Down version of the arcade and witnessing what appeared to be a storm of some sort.

S2E1-Joyce and Bob holding each other

Joyce dating her former classmate, Bob Newby.

The next day, Joyce was at work sewing Will's Halloween costume when Bob walked in. The couple briefly made out in the backroom. Joyce told Bob she had to get back to work and so did he at the Radio Shack where he worked. The two then made plans to have a movie night at Joyce's house where Jonathan would pick out a movie to watch. As Bob left, he asked Joyce to tell Jonathan not to pick a scary movie which Joyce promised to do so while smiling as she watched her boyfriend leave.

Later, Joyce picked Will up after school and together they went to the lab where they met up with Hopper. Will told Owens about his episode, saying that an evil force wanted to kill everyone. Owens told Joyce and Hopper the reason for the increased number of episodes is because of the "Anniversary Effect." He advised them to just treat Will as normally as possible.

As Joyce was assisting Will with his costume the following morning, she came across his drawing of a strange spider-like creature. She asked him if he had experienced another episode, but he lied, telling her it was for a story he was writing. Joyce later showed the drawing to Hopper where she questioned why Will would lie to her and began believing that Will's visions could be real due to how her son described his episodes to Dr. Owens. When Joyce suggested she take Will to see other doctors to treat him for his episodes, Hopper told her that they would just tell her the same thing Owens had been telling her and she would end up having financial problems. Hopper the discussed how he believed Owens was right about having trauma and even though their lives might not be the same again like it was before they entered the Upside Down, while reassuring her that everything will be fine. Joyce and Hopper then shared cigarettes together where they recalled their times in high school together before reminiscing their shared trauma.

That night, Joyce and Bob were alone while Will was trick-or-treating with his friends, and Jonathan was at a Halloween party. While the two were dancing, Bob proposed that they move to Maine. Joyce was hesitant about the idea.

Helping Will[]

The following day, Bob met up with Joyce for lunch. He informed her that the tape from Halloween night had shown Will being bullied by some teenagers in costumes.

Joyce watch Will's tape

Joyce finds a spider-like creature while watching Will's tape.

Later, while watching the tape, Joyce noticed some strange interference in the footage. After tracing the shape on a piece of paper, she realized it resembled Will's drawing of the the spider-like creature. Worried, she went to the Middle School to get Will. When she arrived, Joyce, as well as the boys and Max Mayfield, found Will as he was experiencing another episode. While Joyce tried to wake him up, Will was being overwhelmed by the shadow monster. When Will finally snapped out of the episode, Joyce took him home and questioned him about his drawing. Will recounted his encounter with the shadow monster, saying he felt it everywhere and could still feel it. Joyce then assured him that she wouldn't let anything hurt him, promising she would help fix whatever was wrong with him.

The next morning, Joyce tried to contact Hopper, but received no answer. After taking Will's temperature, she discovered that it was lower than average. Joyce ran a bath in order to warm him, but Will refused to get in it, saying "He likes it cold." When Hopper finally arrived, Will explained to him that he now knew things he hadn't before, through memories that "were happening all at once", which he called "now-memories". When Will couldn't make sense of these now-memories, Joyce asked him to draw what he saw. He began frantically drawing what at first appeared to be random scribbles, but Joyce and Hopper soon realized that the drawings were all connected. After assembling the drawings in the correct order, they discovered the drawings depicted a strange maze-like pattern. Assuming that the drawings depicted vines, Hopper made the connection to the pumpkin patch and left.

Later, Mike stopped by the house hoping to acquire more information about Will's situation. Joyce initially dismissed him, but once he mentioned the shadow monster, she let him inside.

The next morning, Will informed Joyce that Hopper was in trouble after seeing him through his connection with the shadow monster. While they were able to figure out where Hopper was in Will's drawings, they did not know the actual location. Just then, Bob arrived, and because of his talent in solving puzzles, Joyce enlisted his help. Bob realized that the drawings were a map of Hawkins, and was able to pinpoint Hopper's location. Arriving at the location, Joyce and Bob descended into the tunnels while Mike and Will waited above ground. Eventually, Hopper was found entangled in a mass of vines. After freeing him, soldiers from the lab arrived and urged them to leave shortly before burning the tunnels. Suddenly, Will collapsed and began convulsing on the ground.

Joyce, Bob, Hopper, and Mike were taken to Hawkins Lab, where Will was quickly treated. When Will awoke, he could not remember Owens, Bob, or Hopper, and was barely able to remember Mike. In a test involving a severed vine from the Upside Down, Owens asked if Will could feel anything as another scientist used a blowtorch to burn the vine. Through this, they determined that Will had some sort of "virus" that connected him to all other infected hosts in a hive intelligence. Back in the infirmary, Will claimed he knew of a way they could possibly stop the shadow monster. Using images that the lab personnel had taken of the map, Will directed the scientists to an area, stating "he doesn't want me to see there."

As soldiers traversed the tunnels, Will revealed that the shadow monster made him deceive the soldiers. Realizing it was a trap, Mike tried to warn the scientists, but it was too late; the soldiers were ambushed and killed by a pack of Demodogs. Shortly after, Demodogs began invading the lab. To prevent the shadow monster from knowing their location, Mike urged them to sedate Will. Once Will was unconscious, the group took refuge in a surveillance room, where they witnessed the lab being overrun by Demodogs before the power went out. To restore the power and allow them a way out, Bob volunteered to go down to the basement and reset the breakers. Once the power was restored and the doors unlocked, Mike, Joyce, Hopper, and Will made it to safety while Owens stayed behind to guide Bob. Just when it seemed Bob was safe, he was tackled and killed by several Demodogs. Outside, the group met up with Nancy, Jonathan, Steve Harrington, Dustin, Lucas, and Max. Together, they escaped the lab.

At the Byers' house, Joyce grieved Bob's death while everyone else speculated about the shadow monster's weakness. When they realized that the shadow monster controlled everything in a hive mind, they compared it to the Mind Flayer, a monster from Dungeons & Dragons that similarly controls the minds of its victims. They also speculated that, if they killed the Mind Flayer, they would kill everything it controlled. Mike then proposed that, in order to discover the Mind Flayer's weakness, they'd have to take Will someplace he couldn't recognize and try to get through to him. Joyce agreed, and after making the backyard shed unrecognizable, they attempted to interrogate Will. While the Mind Flayer had taken over a majority of Will's mind and body, a part of Will managed to subconsciously signal to them in Morse code. Deciphering his message, they discovered the way to stop the Mind Flayer: closing the Gate. Soon after, the phone in the Byers' kitchen rang, giving away their location.

As the house was being surrounded by a pack of Demodogs, the group armed themselves. Before the pack could attack, however, Eleven arrived and eradicated them. Together, the group came up with a plan: Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy would exorcise the Mind Flayer from Will's body while Eleven and Hopper would go to the lab and close the gate. After taking Will to Hopper's cabin, Joyce, Nancy, and Jonathan restrained him, surrounding him with numerous heaters. This eventually caused the piece of the Mind Flayer possessing Will to be expelled from his body.



Joyce still mourning for Bob.

On December 15, Joyce taught Will how to dance in preparation for the Snow Ball. After dropping him off at the dance, she met Hopper in the school's parking lot. Hopper comforted Joyce, who was still grieving over Bob.

On Christmas Day, Joyce welcomed Hopper, El, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas into her home as they had arrived to celebrate Christmas with her and her sons. After Joyce greeted El with a hug and wished her a merry Christmas, she watched the boys give Eleven a gift from all of them and chastised Hopper for gifting El the Hungry Hungry Hippos game for Christmas upon hearing El mention it. After eating at the table, Joyce watched Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas then revealed that they had collected several Christmas specials in VCR form to help make Eleven's first Christmas celebration extra-special. After Joyce suggested to El that she'd pick which holiday special she wanted to watch, the gang then took turns in explaining the plot of each VCR special to Eleven.

When Hopper joined in and explained he enjoys watching It's A Wonderful Life, Joyce disagreed on watching it and stated she preferred A Christmas Carol. When Dustin began to insist that there was a creature outside in the snow, Joyce allowed them to go out and investigate, but instructed the children to wear warm coats out in the snow. Shortly after, the gang had found the creature which turned out to be a rabbit caught in a trap which they brought the rabbit to the Byers house, Joyce tended to the rabbit and once she was finished healing the rabbit, she asked El what special she wanted to watch. When El asked if they could watch all of the specials, Joyce agreed and sat down with her and the boys to watch all the Christmas specials.


The Summer[]

S2E01 Joyce at Melvald's General Store

Joyce working at Melvald's.

Once again happy in her home, one day Joyce sends off Jonathan to his job at The Hawkins Post, wiping off the lipstick from his cheek. However, she notices that the magnets have mysteriously failed magnetizing on her refrigerator, but she heads to her job at Melvald's anyway where Hopper arrives, complaining to her about problems with El and Mike. Joyce suggests Hopper have a "heart-to-heart" with the pair, tutoring Hopper through the process of writing a speech for it. When Hopper departs, Joyce notices that yet more magnets have mysteriously stopped working. Returning home to an empty house, Joyce proceeds to eat some leftover food for dinner and watch some old shows that she and Bob used to watch together, remembering her time with him mournfully. As Joyce continued to eat her dinner and watch television, the magnets on her refrigerator once again lose their magnetism and fail to magnetize where they fall to the ground.


Joyce learning how her magnets suddenly lost their magnetism.

The next day at Melvald's, Hopper returns, jubilant that her "tutoring" resolved the issue. Hopper manages to convince Joyce to go to dinner with him, until he is called away to deal with a protest against Mayor Larry Kline, knocking off more failing magnets as he goes, much to Joyce's rising confusion when the magnets no longer adhere to metal surfaces. Perplexed, Joyce acquires several textbooks and heads to Mr. Scott Clarke's house for help to figure out what is happening, skipping her dinner with Hopper. They build an unstable electromagnetic field to replicate the failing magnets, and Joyce queries Clarke on how this could be happening at her house and at Melvald's. Although Clarke says "apophenia", coincidence, is the most likely explanation, he allows that theoretically, a machine with billions of volts of electricity (costing millions of dollars to construct) could potentially emit such an unstable electromagnetic field large enough to demagnetize objects all across town.

Finding Russians[]

Driven, Joyce goes to Hopper's cabin to share what she had learned, hypothesizing that something at the old Hawkins Lab could be causing this problem and/or putting the town in danger. However, Hopper is unconvinced, angry that she stood him up the night previous, so Joyce heads to the Lab anyway, forcing Hopper to follow. At the Lab, Joyce has flashbacks to Bob Newby’s heroic death, but she presses on with Hopper to investigate the abandoned building. Later, Joyce has more flashbacks of past horrors, and Hopper reveals that he knows of her plans to leave Hawkins and move elsewhere, which makes her uncomfortable. They are interrupted however by a strange noise made by hitman Grigori, who ambushes Hopper and flees on a motorcycle, with Joyce only partially successful at getting his license plate number. Joyce takes a grievously wounded Hopper back to his cabin, treating his wounds and staying at his place all night.

When Hopper wakes up the next day, Joyce tends to him until he violently throws up and rises without any clothes on, embarrassing Joyce. She relays what few license plate numbers she managed to get, which lead no where, until she mentions that Grigori was driving a motorcycle, which causes Hopper to recognize him. Joyce and Hopper head to town hall where Hopper violently confronts and kidnaps Mayor Kline over information, Joyce preventing people from calling the authorities. They head to Kline's mansion, discovering that Kline facilitated shady real estate deals for the Russians, and Joyce realizes that the theoretical machine Clarke mentioned wasn’t at the Lab because it is probably in one of these suspect properties. They stop Kline from escaping before moving on to search.

After a long search, Joyce and Hopper find a house with a secret entrance into a subterranean Russian base. Although forced to flee by Grigori, they successfully kidnap Dr. Alexei and escape.

S03E05-Hopper, Joyce and Alexei on Todd's car

Joyce, Alexei and Hopper stealing the TODFTHR at the 7-Eleven.

After breaking down in the woods, Joyce tries to communicate with Alexei until their car explodes, forcing them to trek to a 7-Eleven to commandeer a car and head to Murray Bauman's warehouse, since Murray speaks Russian and can translate for Alexei, who does not speak English. They arrive, and Murray annoys Joyce until she goes on an angry tirade, prompting Murray to stop "scanning" Alexei in order to actually get started.

The next day, Joyce and Hopper began interrogating Alexei via Murray, after Hopper brought food from Burger King and a Slurpee he had requested. However, when Alexei complained about how we was given a strawberry-flavored Slurpee, Joyce watched as Hopper and Alexei (through Murray) started arguing. When Alexei refused to talk, Joyce watched Hopper threw him outside with the keys to their car, in order to make a point that Alexei would not run because he needed them. Joyce objected that he was escaping, until Alexei bashfully returned of his own volition, in a more cooperative mood, leaving Joyce impressed that Hopper was right.

S3E6-Joyce and Murray surprised

Joyce and Murray watching Alexei drive away.

After that, Joyce and Hopper listened to Alexei explain the purpose of the Key, to create a gate to the Upside Down, and that the Russians needed to move the Key to Hawkins because the "door" was still "healing" there, having been open not long ago. Joyce asked if the "door" was open, to which Alexei responded that it was "opening". Realizing the severity of the situation, Hopper called the United States government for help, and Joyce angrily yelled over the phone after Hopper is done, believing the issue to not have been given high enough priority. She then insisted on returning to Hawkins immediately in order to safeguard her children, who she believed to be in danger.

En route, Hopper and Joyce argued over the severity of the danger to their children, but Murray angrily cutted them off, saying that their arguing was a "mind-numbing and frankly boorish mating ritual", demanding that they either stop bickering or "pull over, tear off their clothes, and get it over with already", shocking them into silence as Murray and Alexei began to laugh at them. Arriving at the Fun Fair, Joyce and Hopper left with Hopper angrily commanding Murray to "stay put", Hopper telling Joyce not to let Murray go under her skin, but she was not bothered by Murray's comments. They enter a ride with Mrs. Wheeler so that they could ask where the kids were, but after leaving Murray brought Joyce to Alexei, who had been shot by Grigori and died while Murray sought them out, much to Joyce’s distress. As Russian hitmen close in, Joyce confronted Mayor Kline and angrily punched and kicked him in the groin as payback for calling the Russians which led Alexei to his death. Joyce and Murray then got in their car and picked up Hopper who distracted the Russians before they made their escape.


Joyce, Hopper and Murray at Starcourt Mall.

Having overheard Russian communications via radio, talking about "kids", Joyce was certain that it was her kids who were in danger, and raced to the Starcourt Mall food court. The adults arrived just in time to witness the children removing a small creature from Eleven's leg which Hopper was able to crush. Regrouping with the children, Joyce and Hopper learned the Mind Flayer had returned and built a monster to kill them. In addition, they learned Dustin and Steve that they, along with their allies Robin Buckley and Erica Sinclair had discovered the Russian base and the Key within the mall. Regrouping with Murray, they came up with a plan to destroy the Key and close the gate, which would kill the Mind Flayer's avatar.

Infiltrating the Russian Base[]
S03E08-Joyce at the Russian base

Joyce looking at the gate in the Russian base.

Murray, Joyce, and Hopper descended into the underground base, killed the guards, and stole their clothes before proceeding. Murray continued on to damage the Key's power supply while Joyce and Hopper waited, with Joyce arranging another dinner date at Enzo's with Hopper after all the events were over. Murray succeeded, raising an alarm and allowing Joyce and Hopper to steal the physical shut-off keys to the Key (albeit with password help from Dustin and his girlfriend Suzie Bingham). They then raided the command room, forcing the scientists to leave via gunfire, but just as they were about to turn the keys to disable the Key, Grigori arrived and attacked Hopper, leaving the two to battle outside in the main chamber while Joyce reinserted the keys, intending to turn them alone using a bungee cord. Hopper eventually defeated Grigori, throwing him into the Key and causing a wall of electricity to strike out, cutting off Hopper’s escape just as Joyce got a solid grip on both keys. With Dustin screaming over the radio to close the Gate now, and Hopper trapped, Joyce and Hopper shared a final glance at each other, with Hopper nodding his acceptance and smiling at her. Joyce closed her eyes, crying, and she pulled the keys.

The Key exploded, vaporizing everyone in the room but Joyce, due to being behind the protective glass of the command room. As the gate closed, the Mind Flayer's connection to his avatar was cut, leaving it to die. Although Joyce searched the walkway where Hopper was, Hopper was no where to be seen, having been right next to the Key as it exploded. Joyce began to break down as Murray arrived asking where Jim is, and Joyce only cried in response. Russian agents began to enter the room, so Murray escorted her out of the Russian base. As American soldiers also arrived, Murray was able to convince them he and Joyce were Americans, despite the Russian uniforms they were both wearing. Joyce was taken above ground where emergency services had arrived, and upon reuniting with Will, she embraced him. From over Will's shoulder however, Joyce saw El, and El realized from Joyce's expression that Hopper was dead.

Leaving Hawkins[]

S03E08-Joyce closes the Byers house one last time

Joyce and her family moving out of their home in Hawkins.

Several months later and preparing to leave Hawkins for good, Joyce went through Hopper’s old belongings, finding the "heart-to-heart" speech she and him wrote together. El came in, and Joyce realized that Hopper never actually spoke it to El or Mike, and so she gave the written speech to El to read. Joyce asked if El is ok, and after finishing packing things up, she had one last look at her old house before hugging her friends goodbye and then leaving Hawkins with Will, Jonathan, and El.


With help from Dr. Owens, Joyce and her family moved to Lenora Hills, California. Once settling in her new home, Joyce started working as a telemarketer while having Jonathan, Will, and Eleven attend school at Lenora Hills High School.

A Package from Russia[]

On March 21, Joyce was working at her job, making phone calls while Jonathan, Will, and El went to school by carpooling with Jonathan's new friend, Argyle as Jonathan's car had broken down a while ago. When Joyce saw Argyle driving his van really fast, after picking up her children, she ran outside and yelled at him to slow down as she watched them leave.

Later, Joyce continued making phone calls with her most recent client being a woman Carol Ergenbright. As Joyce spoke to Carol on the phone, she received a knock on her front door and went to answer it where she received some mail and a package from the local mailman. As Joyce went to go place and check her mail at the kitchen table, Joyce saw stamps of the Soviet Union's symbol on the package. Ending her call with Carol, Joyce proceeded to open the package, finding only a porcelain doll inside.

Scared, Joyce proceeded to call Murray, only for him to call her back later as he had karate lessons from one to three p.m. on Fridays. Once Murray called her, Joyce proceeded to tell him about the doll she just received and was able to confirm to him that the package was from Russia by describing the box's stamps. Joyce asked Murray if she should be worried which he agreed to as she did sabotaged and exposed the Soviet Union's secret operation in the United States last year. Though Joyce was confused on how the Soviet Union would figure out her identity and where she lived, Murray theorized the Russian foreign intelligent organization, the KGB might have traced her down. When Murray started asking her to remove the doll's dress, befuddled Joyce followed Murray's instructions and took the doll's dress off, finding the figurine's waist to have a large sealed up crack. Upon telling Murray about this, Joyce was asked if she had rope and something heavy so she could smash the doll to find anything inside of it, much to Joyce's surprise.

S4E2-Joyce's excited, knowing smile

Joyce showing Murray the message she received.

The next day, after Murray arrived at her house, she showed him the note she found within the doll, only to find he was doubtful of Hopper's survival. When Murray exclaimed there was no proof of detailing Hopper's survival, Joyce insisted there was proof as the letter was signed "Enzo", after the restaurant she and Hopper had planned to go on a date at. When Murray reminded her that she had witnessed Hopper die, Joyce's hope did not fade away as she remembered not seeing Hopper's body anywhere when the Key had exploded. Murray then tried to calmly come up with a theory and explain if Hopper did survive, he would have been captured by the Soviet Union and forced by the KGB to send the message to Joyce so she could get captured, only for Joyce to flatly say he just made up his theory. With both of them having different theories and opinions of whether Hopper was indeed alive, Joyce watched Murray unpack his bag as he decided that they were going to call "Enzo" through the number he wrote on his letter, but by rerouting the call and using a recorder Murray packed so he and Joyce could figure out the identity of "Enzo".

Later, at night, Joyce ate dinner with Murray, Argyle, and Mike who was visiting them for spring break where she listened to Murray lie to the children, saying he was in California to visit a client and decided to stop by the Byers's house to spend the night. To play along, Joyce suggested to Murray that he should stay for a while where Murray signaled her to tell the children about the "business trip" she had to go to tomorrow. At this reminder, Joyce lied to the children, saying she had to attend a "meeting" with the Britannica company in Alaska and had to leave tomorrow. After Mike, El, and Will shocked to hear this news, Joyce told Jonathan he was in charge while she was gone, but became bewildered when Jonathan expressed confusion on what was going on as if he had not been paying attention. Joyce became more bewildered when Argyle told Jonathan what she had announced earlier. Joyce questioned her oldest son why was acting strange, but Jonathan said he was feeling tired due to having a stressful day. Joyce and Murray then became confused when Jonathan and Argyle brought a girl getting a head injury at Rink-O-Mania earlier today. When Argyle stated the girl was going to be fine and a bitter Mike to comment on the event, this caused El to abruptly excuse herself from the table and storm off into her bedroom. Joyce and Murray looked confused over the tension between the children, but they did not say anything else to them as they continued eating their dinner.

Rendezvous and Capture[]

The next morning, after getting ready to go meet Yuri in order to proceed with the exchange, Joyce decided to call and check up on her children to hear how they were doing, but was slightly puzzled when she heard nobody was answering the phone. Murray insisted that they get on with the exchange so they can meet with Yuri on time so Joyce and Murray left their hotel and took a taxi to get to Yuri's Fish n' Fly.

Crashing into Russia[]

As Yuri flew his plane to Russia, Murray tried to inform him that he had to go the bathroom, but Joyce told him not to bother as Yuri could not hear him due to flying the plane. However, this gave Joyce an idea where she proceeded to kick a crate of peanut butter jars, shattering a few of them. Joyce told Murray to help her reach for the glass shards, saying they would use them to cut their binds before Murray used his karate skills to fight and knock Yuri. When Murray pointed out who would be flying the plane if Yuri was knocked out as neither of them knew how to fly, Joyce changed the plan, telling Murray to instead grab Yuri's gun and force him to turn the plane around. However, Murray revealed he never used karate in a real world scenario and only sparred with younger teens, much to Joyce's chagrin until Murray became confident with himself in beating Yuri, leaving the two to start putting their plan into motion.

The next morning, Joyce warmed herself by a small fire at the wreckage of the plane while Murray ventured around the surrounding forest to look for any nearby towns. After more than an hour later, Murray returned to the plane where he told Joyce he saw some smoke south, thinking there may be a town in that direction. Knowing that Yuri or any Russian will not help them get to the prison where Hopper is being held, Joyce and Murray decide to question one last time and start making their way to the prison to rescue Hopper themselves. Joyce watched Murray remove the tied up Yuri's gag, pointed to him that they were wasting time as Yuri was being uncooperative. Joyce then became surprised when Murray started to bribe Yuri, only to become amused when Murray revealed he was deceiving Yuri.

S4E6-Joyce & Murray hearing they need to hurry to save Hopper

Joyce and Murray hearing they must hurry to save Hopper.

When Murray promised Yuri that he will only to live if he helps them, Joyce backed Murray up, saying they will just leave the smuggler to die, tied up in the wilderness. After taunting and scaring Yuri, Joyce and Murray prepare to leave Yuri behind until the smuggler calls out to them, revealing the location of his secret warehouse in Kyrzran, Kamchatka where they would get weapons they need to save Hopper, but warned they need to reach the prison by nightfall if they wished to save their friend.

Reuniting with Hopper[]

Fighting the Demogorgon[]

S4E9-Joyce realizing a gate's open in Hawkins

From Hopper's call with Dr. Owens's associate, Joyce realizes a Gate is open in Hawkins.

After Hopper finished his phone call, Hopper and Joyce called Murray and Antonov inside where Joyce listened to Hopper explain he talked to a woman who claimed she was an associate of Dr. Owens. She heard Hopper say that the woman said Dr. Owens was "indisposed" at the moment as he was helping the "girl" fight an evil presence in Hawkins. When Murray asked if the girl the woman referring to was El, Hopper said it had to be before revealing that Joyce's sons were also with El fighting the evil in Hawkins, filling Joyce with shock and worry. When Murray started to assume Hopper's caller was KGB, Joyce insisted the women was not and was telling the truth, reminding the men that they had seen the Mind Flayer's particles being animate which meant a Gate being open in Hawkins. This caused Hopper to insist that they return to Hawkins immediately to save the kids, but Murray pointed out they would not be able to make it back to America on time. Joyce then proposed instead of returning to Hawkins right now, they destroy the Mind Flayer's particles back at the prison to give the children an upper hand in their fight against their enemy, as it is connected to the Upside Down's hive mind. At this, Joyce and her allies started preparing to return to the prison with Antonov staying behind to get Yuri to fly his helicopter to the prison to rescue Joyce, Hopper, and Murray as escaping again would be harder than it was the first time.

Return to America[]

After returning to Hawkins with Hopper, Joyce found her children located at Hopper's old cabin accompanied by Nancy, Mike, and Argyle where they were rebuilding the cabin. She embraced her sons tightly and noticed Eleven, with her head shaved again, leaning on Hopper. Eleven waved at her and giggled as she walked down the steps of the cabin and hugged Joyce tightly. She leaned back from Joyce, telling her that she's happy that she went to her "conference". Chuckling, Joyce said it was quite the experience, and hugged her foster daughter tightly. Their reunion is unfortunately cut short when the crew noticed dark clouds looming over Hawkins, and spores began to fall onto them. Walking through the woods, Joyce and the others came to a stop at a field to witness the Upside Down beginning its invasion of the world after four gates had been successfully opened. Shocked, Joyce held Hopper's hand as they and their children realized that it was the beginning of the end.


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.

In 1986, after moving to Lenora Hills, California, Joyce adapted to her new home and job. When receiving a packaged doll from Russia, Joyce instantly became scared and worried that the Russian government could be onto her. However, upon discovering that doll contained a message from Dmitri Antonov informing her of Hopper's survival, Joyce became very emotional. Despite Murray Bauman's doubts, she remained optimistic that Hopper had survived the explosion of the Key last year. Joyce's strong commitment was rewarded when she and Murray deduced that Antonov was a Russian prison guard. They decided to go along with Antonov's deal and pay the ransom in order to get Hopper back. Even after being captured by Yuri Ismaylov and crashing into Russia, Joyce continued to try to rescue Hopper from the prison where he was being held.

After saving Hopper from a Demogorgon, Joyce tearfully reunited with him and gave in to her romantic feelings for him. When she learned that children and their friends were in danger, Joyce was willing to return to the prison she escaped from. Though she was afraid of losing Hopper just like how she lost Bob to the Upside Down's monsters, Joyce was brave enough to fight and kill the adolescent Demogorgons in order to save the Party. As a result of her bravery, Hopper managed to survive and they both returned to Hawkins to reunite with their children.



Joyce met Lonnie 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, thus permanently breaking off any contact with him.

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.

By 1985, 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.

In 1986, Joyce contained to have a good relationship with Jonathan, but grew unaware of the stress he was starting to deal with over college and his romance with Nancy. In addition, Joyce did not notice her eldest son beginning to smoke weed to deal with his stress. At the beginning of spring break, Joyce put Jonathan in charge of watching over Will, Mike, and Eleven, claiming she had to go to a "conference" in Alaska. Despite the fact Jonathan was high when Joyce told him this, he accepted this responsibility and managed to hide his high state as feeling tired. Though she felt bad about lying to Jonathan, Will, Mike, and Eleven about discover Hopper to be alive, Joyce was reassured by Murray she did the right thing. However, after rescuing Hopper from Kamchatka, Joyce was horrified to discover Jonathan, Will, Mike, Eleven and their friends to be in danger when receiving word from Agent Ellen Stinson that they were fighting an evil in Hawkins. Determined to save her children, Joyce was able to kill off the Demogorgons residing in the Russian prison so her children and their friends could have an upper hand in fighting their new enemy. After escaping from Russia and returning to Hawkins, Joyce reunited with Jonathan and Will, sharing an embrace with both of them.

In 1983, Joyce was assisted in finding Will through Eleven, who could find Will in the Upside Down using her telekinetic abilities. When preparing to make a sensory deprivation tank, Joyce helped put duct tape over a pair of goggles so light wouldn't get in El's face. Joyce told El that she was very brave, thanking her for helping her and her family, before telling El that she would be by her side if things get too scary. El, bewildered since she wasn't used to being praised, awkwardly yet happily accepted Joyce's kindness. When discovering Barb's corpse, Eleven began to hyperventilate, but Joyce grabbed her arm and told her that everything was fine and she was right there with her, calming Eleven and giving her the courage to find Will. When El shot up from shock after leaving the Void, Joyce wrapped her arms around her and told her that she did so good.

In 1984, El returned after being in hiding under Hopper's care. She tearfully hugged Joyce, while Joyce affectionately called El "sweetheart". Joyce soon showed El her predicament with Will being possessed by the Mind Flayer, and El became determined to close the Gate and help Joyce save him.

In 1985, when Joyce discovered that the Gate was being reopened, she grew worried over the children's safety, Eleven included. After finding the kids at Starcourt, an injured El was originally sent to Murray's house to keep her safe from the Mind Flayer. In the Russian facility underneath the mall, Joyce comforted Hopper that El would be safe at Murray's as long as they killed the Mind Flayer. When Joyce lost Hopper in the explosion of the Gate, she broke down in Will's arms, and noticed El looking around for Hopper. As the two made eye contact, Joyce only stared at El as El began to break down in tears, realizing that Hopper was gone. Three months later, Joyce had become El's legal guardian, and decided to move her and the boys out of Hawkins for their own good. When packing up Hopper's clothes, Joyce discovered a hand-written heart-to-heart speech Hopper meant to dive El and Mike. When El noticed, she asked if she could read, and Joyce agreed to give it to her. When the letter caused El to break down crying, Joyce asked if she was alright. El, wiping her tears away, replied yes and asked if was time to go. Joyce confirmed so, and El said she would be out in a minute. After saying goodbye to their friends, El rode together with Joyce in the moving van, driving together in silence as El cried.

In 1986, after relocating to California, Joyce has become El's foster mother. El kept the fact that she was being bullied at school a secret to Joyce. After returning home from the Rink-O-Mania, El was visibly shocked when Joyce told her and the boys that she has to travel to Alaska for a "conference meeting". Dinner took a sour turn when El stormed off from the table after Mike made a comment regarding Angela. Joyce asked if El was going to finish her dinner and trailed off, before asking the boys what was going on. After rescuing Hopper from Russia and returning to Hawkins, Joyce reunited with El by the two embracing one another. El leaned back and told Joyce that she was happy that she went to her "conference", and Joyce jokingly said that it was quite the experience, causing the two to embrace more.


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 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


The Other Side appearances
Issue 1 Issue 2 Issue 3 Issue 4

Video games[]

Video game appearances
Dedicated games
Stranger Things: The Game
Stranger Things 3: The Game
Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales
Stranger Things: The VR Experience
Stranger Things VR
Dead by Daylight
The Vanishing

Family tree[]

note: family trees are only visible on desktop.

Lonnie Byers Family Tree icon 001
Lonnie Byers
Joyce port 01
Joyce Byers
Jonathan S4 port 01

Jonathan Byers

Will S2 port 01

Will Byers

Eleven S4 port 01
Jane Hopper Joyce's Adopted

Memorable Quotes[]

  • "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."
  • "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!"
  • "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."
  • "Will wanted me to give him some space, so I'm giving him a few feet."
  • ”And have to look at your face every day? I don’t think so.”
  • “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! Please.”
  • “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.”
  • "You know what? If you can't handle this, then just turn around and drop me off first! I will do anything if it means getting away from you!"
  • "God, just because it wasn't your plan doesn't mean that it was a bad plan."
  • "Yeah, and then you say something like, 'Yeah, well, it's really hard for me to listen when you make everything sound like it's the end of the goddamn world'."
  • "Jesus. She has nipples."
  • "That's where they're based, the Britannicas. Joan and Brian Britannica."
  • "Jonathan, what is wrong with you?"
  • "I made this choice. And I would choose it again, even knowing everything that I know now."

Behind the scenes[]

Character development[]

The character was initially more of a "tough Long Island mom."[5] 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.[6] 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.[5]


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.[7] Adams sent Winona Ryder the board and they discussed the character in depth before Adams gathered period clothing for the character.[8]


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


  • The tie-in book, Hawkins Middle School Yearbook/Hawkins High School Yearbook, stated that Joyce's maiden name was Horowitz - Winona Ryder's original last name. However, in the stage play, The First Shadow, Joyce's maiden name is "Maldonado".
  • Joyce's anxiety problems are 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.
  • Joyce's favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Carol.[9]
  • By the time she moved to Lenora Hills, California, Joyce started working as a telemarketer selling encyclopedias.
  • She appeared in every single episode except one.


CanonCanon hierarchy[]

  1. Information from the Hawkins Middle School Yearbook/Hawkins High School Yearbook, a Tier 3 source, conflicts with Stranger Things: The First Shadow + a statement by @strangerwriters.
    • Hawkins Senior High School Seniors
      In The First Shadow, Joyce's maiden name is Maldonado, as opposed to the Hawkins High School Yearbook, where her full name is listed as "Joyce Horowitz". @strangerwriters, a Tier 2 source, also specified that 'Horowitz' from the Yearbook is "not Joyce’s last name".