|“||It's just, I know I can be a jerk like him sometimes, and I do not want to be like him. Ever.||”|
–Max expressing her feelings to Lucas, November 4, 1984
Maxine "Max" Mayfield, portrayed by Sadie Sink, is one of the main characters in the second and third seasons of the Netflix series Stranger Things. A newcomer to the Party, she is the girlfriend of Lucas Sinclair, and the best friend of Mike Wheeler, Eleven "Jane" Hopper, Dustin Henderson, and Will Byers.
Originally from California, her parents' divorce and mother's remarriage caused her, along with her vindictive stepbrother Billy Hargrove, to move to Hawkins, Indiana. In October of 1984, Max began attending Hawkins Middle School, tending to skateboard by herself, while also building a reputation at the local arcade with her top high scores, under the alias "MADMAX". During Halloween, two boys (Dustin and Lucas), impressed by her arcade skills, invite her to go trick-or-treating with them while also integrating her into their Party, much to their friend Mike's reluctance. When their other friend Will begins acting strange, Max is explained through bits and pieces of the events that happened in Hawkins prior to her arrival. Though she's skeptic at first, Lucas proves the truth by defending her as Demodogs attack. As she tags along with her friends, her feelings towards Lucas become romantic, and ultimately comes to her friends' defense when Billy threatens them. After burning the underground tunnel system, Max is officially part of the Party, and becomes Lucas' girlfriend while kissing him at the Snow Ball.
Six months later in the summer of 1985, Max started to grow a close relationship with Eleven, bonding over their boyfriends lying to them and spending the day at the local Starcourt Mall. However, their girl time is cut short when the girls discover that, as a result of Eleven closing the Gate, the Mind Flayer now resides in Hawkins, possessing Billy and forcing him to kidnap people to create a controlled army. Letting bygones be bygones, the girls ban together with the boys (along with Mike's sister Nancy and Will's brother Jonathan) to battle the Mind Flayer, reuniting with Dustin, Steve, Robin, and Erica, who discover a Gate being built under the mall. While battling the monster with fireworks, Billy sacrifices himself for Eleven at the cost of his life, much to Max's horror. Three months later, Max tearfully says goodbye to Will and Eleven as their family moved out of Hawkins. Meanwhile, Max continued to mourn the loss of her stepbrother by crying in his bedroom.
- Main article: Max Mayfield/History
Personality and traits
Max is a tomboy, having many interests that some wouldn’t consider "conventional" for a girl during the time period. While growing up in California, she displayed no interest in things like press-on nails, perms, nor getting a tan. She greatly enjoys skateboarding and is skilled at arcade games (such as Dig Dug), being proficient enough to achieve the top scores. She also displays a slight interest in horror films, having dressed as Michael Myers for Halloween. Max has some driving experience and was able to drive her brother's car fairly well. Whenever Billy's dad beat him, Max stood up for Billy to protect him and even offered him ice. Max admitted sometimes she hated Billy and sometimes she did like him.
Due to moving to Hawkins and her brother’s abusive treatment towards her, she was initially anti-social and cautious towards other people and frequently proved to be highly acerbic and overall aloof. Her distrustful demeanor made her skeptical, and she often had a hard time believing the strange events that occurred in her new town. Nevertheless, she was willing to lend a helping hand once she accepted the gravity of the situation. While she initially brushed off Lucas and Dustin’s attempts at befriending her, she was shown to be eager to become a member of the Party, continuously enduring their harsh treatment in order to be included. When she was eventually accepted into the Party, she was immensely loyal toward her new friends, self-identifying as a "zoomer" as her role in the group and going so far as standing up to Billy in order to protect them.
A year after moving into Hawkins and having new friends, Max has shown to be more social and less sarcastic. Even after witnessing the Upside Down and its monsters, Max still has some doubts about the supernatural and strange mysteries, but she believes in them; highlighting the fact that Max is slowly understanding and accepting the paranormal events. Max also is shown to give good advice, especially to Eleven whom she strikes a friendship with after the latter starts dealing relationship problems with Mike, as Max had problems with her relationship with Lucas. It was later revealed that although Max despises her stepbrother's abuse and behavior, Max deeply cares about him as she and friends find out that he's possessed by the Mind Flayer, revealing her concern for him. After Billy was killed, Max was left devastated and continued to mourn for him three months later, showing that despite his ill treatment of her, Max did somewhat love Billy.
Skills & Abilities
- Skateboarding: Max is a very talented skater for she was shown to possess excellent balance and parkour skills great enough to jump across the surface to touch the ground with ease.
- Lock-Picking: She can undo the workings of a lock no matter how complex the lock may be. She used a paper clip to unlock the door of the AV club and succeed to find Dart escaping.
- Driving Proficiency: At a young age, Max was able to drive fairly well because her biological father had taught her how to drive. Max was able to drive her stepbrother’s car to the entrance of the Mind Flayers external core where she then safely parked the car.
- Medic: Max had very knowledgeable skills in providing medical care properly to heal and stitch up a patient’s wounds/injuries. She knew to clean Eleven’s bleeding leg with soap and to put pressure on it before using any Antibiotic's and succeed at getting her better.
Susan is Max’s mother. Max seems to have a good relationship with her, though she does appear to harbor slight resentment towards her for wanting to leave her biological father behind in California. On the night of the Snow Ball, Max allowed her mother to help with her hair.
Neil Hargrove is Max’s stepfather. Max’s feelings towards her stepfather are currently unknown, however, she does bear some anger towards him for moving to Hawkins in order to get away from her biological father. Max especially doesn't like it when when Neil calls her Maxine and Max doesn't even consider Neil her father at all.
Max and Billy are step-siblings, sharing a complicated history and difficult relationship, which lead to complicated emotions and feelings by the time of his death in Season Three. On the day of their first meeting, Billy gave her the nickname Mad Max in reference to how she would become enraged at Billy. Billy would often treat Max in a controlling, domineering fashion, either bullying her or just ignoring her existence. The reason why she's abused by Billy, unknown to Max, is because he is angry over his mother's departure and is taking it out on Max. Despite this, Max tried to help Billy when his dad abused him and offered him ice after watching him get beaten. After drugging him, she uses Steve's bat with nails to threaten Billy to never bother her or her friends again, which Billy reluctantly agrees out of fear.
A year later, during summer vacation, when Eleven suspects Billy to be involved with the disappearance of Heather Holloway, Max refuses to believe it. When her friends begin to suspect that he's possessed by the Mind Flayer, Max worriedly hopes he isn't, showing her concern for Billy more openly than ever. When it is confirmed that Billy is possessed, Max is horrified and even more concerned for her stepbrother. Max can be seen crying when Billy pleads to her as he explains what the Mind Flayer made him do what he did. When Billy corners her, Mike, and Eleven at Starcourt Mall, Max tries to reason with him, only to be knocked unconscious. Once Max and Mike regain consciousness, Max is horrified when Billy allows the Mind Flayer to kill him; screaming his name in the process. After Mind Flayer's avatar dies, due to the gate being closed, Max rushes to Billy's side where he apologizes to her for being abusive towards her. Unfortunately, Billy passes away, causing Max to cry and grieve over his death as she's comforted by Eleven. Three months later, Max still mourns for Billy's death as she sits in his bedroom.
Sam Mayfield is Max's father. According to Max, her biological father is still residing in California. Max had a fairly good relationship with her father growing up, even after he had to move to LA when her parents broke up. He was often known to her for his practical and casual approach, allowing her to watch movies that weren't exactly age appropriate and even taking her to watch races at the racetrack, while also teaching her how to drive his Impala. After the divorce, Max remarked that her father got more careless, showing up late to pick her up from the bus station at times and even letting her go home with a few wounds from accidents. Despite this, Max preferred her life with him over staying with her mom, as evidenced when she attempted to escape to LA when she heard that they would be moving back to Hawkins, Indiana. Max remarked that she missed him while speaking to Lucas after moving to Hawkins.
Nate Walker was Max's best friend back during her time in California. According to Max, Nate had been her best friend since they were six. The two were field trip buddies, science partners, and they would play street hockey at Max's house.
When Lucas and his friends, along with his entire class, was introduced to Max Mayfield by Mr. Clarke, Lucas and his friends grew curious of her and her name as someone named "MADMAX" had beaten Dustin's high score on Dig Dug at the Palace Arcade. As Lucas and his friends watched her, Max had noticed them and left them a note saying "Stop Spying On Me! Creeps!" Later, Lucas and Dustin find Max being dropped off at the arcade and playing Dig Dug and realize that she is "MADMAX." As a result, Lucas, along with Dustin, becomes infatuated with Max. Lucas and Dustin invite Max to come trick-or-treating with them without consulting Mike, but when it seems like Max doesn't accept their invitation, Lucas looks disappointed. However, when Max appears and joins in on trick-or-treating at Loch Nora, Lucas looked overjoyed. Despite agreeing with his friends to not tell Max about the events and the true circumstances of Will's disappearance in November 1983, Lucas seemed bothered when not including her as they discussed the possibility of D'Artagnan being related to the Upside Down.
After D'Artagnan escaped and Max confronted Mike about his behavior towards her, Lucas suggested Max help them look for the creature, but she refused as she angrily told him how she was tired of being excluded from the party. Lucas tried to explain they didn't mean it and that there were secrets they couldn't tell her, but Max stormed off to meet her stepbrother.
After getting some advice from his father on how to apologize to a girl, Lucas decided to meet Max at the arcade and tell her all of last year's events, including the Demogorgon and Eleven. However, after Lucas told her, Max did not believe him and even when he stopped her from speaking about it out loud, she still didn't believe him, asking for proof which Lucas says that he can't. Before leaving the arcade with her stepbrother, Max takes Lucas's hand and tells him not to follow as he asks if she does believe him, but she doesn't respond.
Later, Lucas goes to pick up Max at her house to show her that what he told her was real after hearing from Dustin about D'Artagnan being an adolescent Demogorgon. As they waited in the junkyard, Max explained how's she's affected by her parent's divorce, her mother's remarriage, and her stepbrother's abuse as she apologizes to Lucas for her behavior. Lucas cheers her up by saying how he admires her, doesn't compare to Billy, and how he enjoys talking to her, which Max responds she enjoys talking to him as well. After seeing a Demogorgon in the fifth stage of its life cycle up close, Lucas and Max hold hands before letting go and Max apologizes to Lucas for not believing him.
Later, when Billy finds Max at the Byers house, he attacks Lucas as Max watches in horror. As Billy beats up Steve, Max goes up to stand up to her brother as Lucas watches with worry, but he becomes shocked as she threatens and orders him to leave her and her friends alone. As they go to the pumpkin patch to burn the tunnels, Lucas helps Max on how to get there and they aid each other as they, along with their friends, burn the tunnels.
A month later, on December 15, Lucas, Max, and their friends attend the Snow Ball. Max asks Lucas to dance with her which he happily accepts. As they dance, Lucas and Max share a kiss and embrace, thus starting beginning a romantic relationship with him.
Despite this, their relationship has been somewhat rocky, with Lucas claiming they have broken up (via Max dumping him) and gotten back together at least five times by the summer of 1985. On June 30, Max, Lucas, Will, Mike, and El surprise Dustin, welcoming home from being a month away at camp. However, they unintentionally scare him into believing there are intruders in his home and Dustin accidentally sprays Lucas in the face with hairspray. While Max helps Lucas clean out his eyes, he comments on a new zit on her forehead, causing her to shove his face back into the sink and get water in his face. While hiking to get into contact with Dustin's girlfriend, Suzie, Max scolds Lucas for drinking all of their water. Later that evening, when Lucas comments that no girl is that perfect after hearing Dustin describing Suzie as "hotter than Phoebe Kates", Max annoyingly asks if that's so. He then nervously states that she is perfect, only for Max to say she's joking and she is "obviously perfect".
When El comes to Max for advice on Mike's suspicious lie, Max says she guarantees Mike and Lucas are playing Atari, showing Max has caught Lucas in a lie before. After the two treat themselves to a girl's day out at Starcourt, they catch Mike, Lucas, and Will unsuccessfully finding an apology gift for them. El scolds Mike for lying and dumps him. Afterward, Max comments on how Mike and Lucas are probably wallowing in self-pity, meaning she silently dumped Lucas along with Mike as Lucas was helping Mike lie.
However, she and El settle their differences and work together with Mike, Lucas, and Will to see if Billy has been Flayed. When Billy breaks the window to the sauna room with broken concrete, he lunges at Max, but Lucas uses his slingshot to rescue her and shields her when Billy breaks out of the sauna.
At the hospital, Lucas distracts Max in order for Mike to make amends with El. Lucas aims candy into Max's mouth as a game and two are heard laughing, possibly starting to reconcile. When Lucas found out that Max and El spied on him and Mike, Lucas was angry, but quickly forgave Max.
While scavenging for supplies at Bradley's Big Buy, Max is skeptical of Lucas' plan to stop the Mind Flayer using fireworks, stating that El could beat it on her own.
Three months later, the two appear to be once again back together, teasing Dustin together by singing the theme song for "The Neverending Story". That afternoon, Max stays by Lucas's side, leaning on him slightly as they watch El and the Byers move out of Hawkins.
The boys first grew interested in Max when she beat Dustin's score on Dig Dug, and both Dustin and Lucas developed romantic feelings for her the second they saw her. Therefore, Dustin and Lucas were prone to confront to gain Max's affections. At the end, she returns Lucas' feelings, much to Dustin's dismay.
A year later, Dustin gets over Max and gets a girlfriend named Suzie, but he and Max stay friends. When Dustin returns from Camp Know Where, Max welcomes him home and is surprised that Dustin got a girlfriend. But as Dustin fruitlessly tries to get in touch with Suzie, Max starts to doubt her existence and believe Dustin is lying about having a girlfriend. Later, Max comes to Dustin's rescue at Starcourt Mall and seemed to reconcile with him. Three months later, after the fight against the Mind Flayer, Max learned that Dustin's girlfriend actually did exist as Dustin managed to contact to get Planck's Constant. As a result, Max and Lucas would tease Dustin by singing Neverending Story, Dustin and Suzie's special song, much to Dustin's annoyance.
Even with Max's attempts to join the group and befriend Mike, he was very hostile and rude to her, repeatedly calling her annoying or looking irritated when she is present. However, his seeming irrational dislike for her is because he does not want her to take Eleven's place. After Mike finally reunites with Eleven, he eventually gives up his hostility towards Max. After standing up to Billy and telling him to leave her and her friends alone, she gains Mike's respect. He later comments that her driving skills are incredible after reaching the hole for the demodogs.
In 1985, Mike and Max are shown to be on friendly terms with each other, as Max was treated like an equal member of the Party by Mike. When Mike's relationship with Eleven became complicated as a result of Jim Hopper's meddling, Max saw through Mike's lies, and being used to love not going the right way (especially by lies), she told Eleven to break up with him if he didn't explain himself, thinking it was the right thing to do. As Max continued to hang out with Eleven, Mike grew irritated and upset as he did not want Eleven to be with Max, believing Max to be influencing Eleven into conspiring against him. Max also blamed Mike for wanting to control Eleven, put a strain on their relationship and became even more strained after Max and Eleven spied on him and Lucas. However, when Mike admits he's worried about Eleven and that he loves her, this causes Mike and Max to reconcile, as they both care for her, as her boyfriend and best friend. When El asks Mike to trust her, he looks at Max, who nods for him to say yes. Both Mike and Max continued to care for Eleven after she was injured and help each other out during the battle against the Mind Flayer at Starcourt Mall.
Although Max seems to admire Eleven and is willing to become her friend, Eleven was cold towards her and appeared to be jealous of her after mistaking her hanging out with Mike as something romantic. However, in 1985, Max and Eleven start to bond after Max gives her advice, and they become instant best friends, as they shopped and have fun at the Starcourt Mall, along with Max giving Eleven advice. Max tries to help Eleven make her choices and how to use her powers instead of being told what to do by Mike or Hopper, wrongly believing that they were trying to control her. Max also introduced Eleven to powerful female heroes, such as Wonder Woman, saying that Eleven shouldn't spend too much time with boys. When Eleven suspected something was wrong with Billy after spying on him, Max helped Eleven investigate as she believed what Eleven said about Billy. After discovering that the Mind Flayer returned and Billy was flayed, the two girls worked together, along with their friends to stop the Mind Flayer. After Eleven was injured by the Mind Flayer, Max treated her wound and helped her out. During the battle against the Mind Flayer at Starcourt, Max continued to help Eleven around, along with Mike. After the Mind Flayer's proxy was killed, Max, severely traumatized by Billy's death, sobs in Eleven's arms as she was comforted by her. Three months later, the two tearfully hug one another as she and the Byers move out of Hawkins.
Max met Will Byers on her first day at Hawkins Middle School. Will did not believe she could be "MADMAX," the video game player who'd beaten Dustin's high score in Dig Dug, as girls don't play video games in his opinion. However, when Lucas and Dustin confirmed their suspicions and Max joined them in trick-or-treating, Will accepted her into the Party just to make Lucas and Dustin happy. When Max learned about the supposed rumors of Will's disappearance, she agreed to not talk about them in Will's presence. However, when Lucas told her about the true circumstances of Will's disappearance, Max did not believe him even when realizing Lucas was serious until she saw an adolescent Demogorgon for the first time. And as Will was possessed by the Mind Flayer, Max did not hesitate in figuring out a way to save him. She even worked with the rest of Will's friends into burning the tunnel system, inadvertently giving enough heat for the Mind Flayer to leave Will's body.
In 1985, Max is shown to still be friends with Will, going to watch The Day of the Dead at Starcourt with her, Lucas, and Mike. However, unbeknownst to her, Will is secretly jealous and annoyed that she is spending so much time with Lucas, instead of playing D&D with him. However, when the Mind Flayer returned to Hawkins, Max and Will worked together with their friends in trying to stop it. When Will found out that Max and Eleven spied on Mike and Lucas, Will was not angry with Max. Max and Will continued to work together in battling the Mind Flayer until his avatar was killed. Three months later, Max and Will are shown hugging one another, showing that despite his jealousy, Will still viewed Max as a good friend.
|Sam Mayfield||Susan Hargrove||Neil Hargrove||Billy's Mother|
|Max Mayfield||Billy Hargrove|
- "Friends don't lie. Boyfriends do."
- "You wanna kill that thing with...fireworks?"
- "That's presumptuous of you."
- "From now on, you leave me and my friends alone. Understand?"
- "You act like you want me to be your friend and then you treat me like garbage."
- "It’s crazy, but I really liked it. I mean, I had a few issues. I just felt it was a little derivative in parts. I just wish it had a little more originality, that’s all."
- "Totally Tubular."
- "Well I can be your Zoomer."
- "What did I tell you? Zoomer."
- "Nobody calls me Maxine. It's Max."
- "I like talking with you too, stalker."
- "Ugh, gag me with a spoon."
- "There's more to life then stupid boys, you know."
- "What is she, your little pet?"
|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|
*Max appears during a flashback in The Lost Sister.
|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|
Behind the Scenes
The character was first revealed in a casting call obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. Matt Duffer said they did a "wide, wide search for one new kid that we're adding. She's a cool new character," most likely alluding to Max. On October 14, 2016, it was announced that actress Sadie Sink had been cast for the role.
- Max's skateboard was produced by Madrid Skateboards, the same brand as Marty McFly's skateboard from the 1985 film Back to the Future. Her skateboard's design, called 'Explosion', was a staple of Madrid's skateboard collection throughout the '80s. The company partnered with Netflix to sell replicas of Max's skateboard, as well as skateboards with various other designs inspired by the show.
- Her Season 2 alias, MADMAX, is a reference to the Mad Max films.
- Max is the third main character of Stranger Things to have a book explaining her past; first being Martin Brenner and second being Jim Hopper. Her backstory book is called Stranger Things: Runaway Max.
- Max wore a Michael Myers mask on Halloween in 1984.
- In E Pluribus Unum, Sadie Sink's younger sister Jacey portrays a younger Max seen in Billy's past after Eleven gets into his mind.
- In the Party, Max's role is the "zoomer", a self given rank likely derived from her driving ability and skateboarding skill. The rank does not actually exist in Dungeons and Dragons.
- Ironically, she was first introduced to creatures from the Upside Down after meeting D'Artagnan, but when told of the dimension and 1983's events by Lucas, she did not believe him until seeing a nearly grown Demogorgon for the first time. Even after encountering the creatures, she has a hard time accepting paranormal phenomena and often tries to rationalize it.
- Max has Green Lantern and Wonder Woman comics.
- Max is the first character in the show to have a stepfamily; a stepfather and stepbrother, and the first character to have a sibling killed off.
- In the Hawkins Middle School Yearbook, she was shown to be voted as the "Star Skater". It is stated that her career goal is to be a professional skateboarder. Her favorite subject is Math. Her hobbies are skateboarding and dominating Dig Dug. When she's not studying she's beating all of Dustin's high scores at the arcade. The extracurricular activity she did is the AV Club. She was also one of the staff's of the yearbook.
- Max is the second member of the Party to have never met Martin Brenner, the first being Will Byers.
|For this subject's gallery, see Max Mayfield/Gallery.|
- Stranger Things: Runaway Max
- Stranger Things: Runaway Max
- The Spy
- Beyond Stranger Things, "Beyond 2", episode 6
- Stranger Things: Runaway Max
- Stranger Things: Runaway Max
- "'Stranger Things': Meet the 3 New Characters Joining Season 2" The Hollywood Reporter. September 1, 2016.
- "The Duffer Brothers Are Reading Your 'Stranger Things' Reddit Theories" The Hollywood Reporter. October 12, 2016.
- "Stranger Things adds new cast members for season 2" Entertainment Weekly. October 14, 2016.
- "Instagram post by Madrid Skateboards"