Neil Hargrove is a recurring antagonist in the second season of Stranger Things. He is the father of Billy Hargrove, the ex-husband of Billy's mother, the stepfather of Max Mayfield, and the husband of Susan Hargrove.


History

Background

Neil Hargrove lived in California, married a woman, and had a son named Billy. Though Billy and his mother had an extremely close relationship, Neil emotionally and physically abused his son and wife. He deemed his son a "pussy" when too afraid to try things such as baseball and his love for surfing. It's hinted that Billy's mother was unfaithful and saw another man, as during one argument during dinner, Mr. Hargrove accused her of seeing "him". Mrs. Hargrove vehemently denied this, resulting in a physical altercation Billy witnessed. When he tried to intervene, Neil shoved him out of the way, causing Mrs. Hargrove to call him a bastard. Enraged, Neil punched her in the face. Finally having enough of his abuse, Mrs. Hargrove divorced Neil and abandoned Billy, leaving him to become bitter and more violent.

Working as a security guard at a bank, Neil came to know the teller Susan, who he would grow to be attracted to. At some point he finally proposed to her, which led him and his son Billy to move in with Susan and her daughter Max. Neil's changes brought out a lot of resistance and anger in his stepdaughter, especially when he insisted upon calling her 'Maxine'. Neil and Susan's decision to move to Hawkins, Indiana finally pushed Max to make a run for it. Eventually however the police caught Max as she was trying to leave on a bus, and the family of four eventually moved to Hawkins as planned.[1]

1984

When returning home, Neil and Susan found out that Max wasn't home as her bedroom window was left open. Confronting Billy, Neil was shocked and angry that Billy had no idea where Max is. Neil reminded Billy was suppose to watch Max and Billy apologized as he prepared to go out on a date. When Neil calls Billy a "faggot" for ogling at himself at the mirror, Billy loses his temper and says Max is not his sister. Neil then slams Billy into the wall and reminds him they've talked about respect and responsibility. Neil forces Billy to apologize to Susan which he does. Susan tries to assure Neil that it's okay, but Neil disagrees, saying Billy's behavior is not okay and that he'll make up for it. Neil orders Billy to cancel his date and go find Max while demanding Billy to reply "yes, sir." Once Billy says that, Neil again orders him to find Max and leaves the room with Susan. As he's left, alone, Billy begins to cry.

1985

Although Neil is not seen physically, his presence is shown to weigh heavy in his son's mind. When Eleven explored a flayed Billy's psyche, she discovered the abuse and trauma Neil inflicted on Billy as a child. After Billy's death during July fourth at the Starcourt Mall, it's unknown what Neil's reaction was and/or if he still lives with Susan and Max.

Personality

Neil is show to be extremely domineering and controlling towards both his first and second family. He constantly put Billy down due to his love for surfing and sensitivity, calling him a "pussy" and a "faggot". He was also extremely physically abusive towards his son and first wife, which caused his wife to leave them and made Billy grow more violent like his father, though even as an athletic young adult, Billy was terrified of his father.

Neil is shown to have violent tendencies and is abusive towards his son, Billy. When he found out that Billy has been ignorant of Max sneaking out of the house, he attacks and threatens him, ruining his plans for a date. He is bigoted and homophobic, calling his own son a "faggot" simply for admiring himself in the mirror. While Max has seen nothing that explicitly makes it clear Billy is racist, she knows Neil is racist stating he had a low opinion of anyone who wasn't white-skinned.

He also is noticed to misidentify women as helpless and dependent, such as speaking for his wife Susan after Billy isn't nice to her, and laughs at his son for a little girl (Max) speaking up to him when Billy is being abused. He has also been offending to women, calling them slurs like "whore" and "bitch" when not happy.

Relationships

Familial

Mrs. Hargrove

It can be assumed at some point, Neil and his first wife loved each other, but by the time their son came into the picture, the marriage was extremely deteriorated. When not abusing his son, Neil would accuse his wife of adultery, which she would deny, resulting in a fight. When one particular fight during dinner became psychical, Neil called his wife a "whore" and a "bitch", before punching her in the face. This resulted in Mrs. Hargrove leaving her husband and abandoning her son.

Billy Hargrove

Neil was physically and emotionally abusive towards his son, deeming him a "pussy" due to his love for surfing and sensitivity. After his mother abandoned them, all of the abuse came crashing down on Billy, causing him to become more violent and aggressive, though even as a tough, athletic young adult, Neil still remained Billy's greatest fear. Upon remarrying Susan and becoming stepsiblings with Max, Neil forced Billy to address Max as his sister instead of stepsister. The abuse Neil endured on Billy resulted in his son secretly taking out his anger on Max. In 1984, Neil and Susan returned home from shopping to find Max missing. Confronting Billy preparing for a date in his bedroom, Neil calls his son a "faggot" for staring at himself in the mirror. Billy snaps back and tells him that it's not his fault they were late and says that Max isn't his sister. Neil then pins Billy to the wall and punches him in the face, forcing him to apologize to Susan. Though she tries to intervene, Neil tells her that Billy will cancel his date to look for Max and forces his son to address him as "Sir". When they leave, Billy breaks down in tears. By the summer of 1985, memories of Billy's traumatic childhood weigh heavily in his mind. How Neil reacted to his son's death on the fourth of July is currently unknown.

Susan Hargrove

Working as a security guard at a local bank, Neil grew attracted towards a bank teller named Susan. Eventually, he had proposed to her, and Neil's son, Billy, and Susan's daughter, Max, became stepsiblings. Looking for a fresh start away from Susan's ex-husband, Sam, Susan and Neil moved their family from California to a smalltown named Hawkins, Indiana in 1984. One night, the couple returned home from shopping to find Max missing. After confronting Billy, Neil pinned him to the wall and forced him to apologize for saying Max wasn't his sister. Billy apologized, and Susan attempted to intervene by saying it was fine, but Neil said it wasn't, telling Billy he was going to cancel his date and go out looking for Max. What became of their marriage after Billy's death in 1985 is unknown.

Max Mayfield

Though Max was not abused by Neil compared to Billy, Max actively hated her stepfather for moving her away from California. When first introducing her to Billy as children, Neil called her "Maxine", but she quickly corrected him by saying "Max". Neil's abuse towards his son also indirectly caused Billy to take out his anger on Max.


Appearances

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*
  • Appears in flashbacks

Family tree

Unseen and Unnamed Character Family Tree icon.png
Sam Mayfield
 
 
 
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Susan Hargrove
 
 
Neil Hargrove Family Tree icon 001.png
Neil Hargrove
 
 
 
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Billy's Mother
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Max Mayfield
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Billy Hargrove Family Tree icon 001.png
Billy Hargrove

Behind the Scenes

On May 3, 2017, TV Line reported that actor-singer Will Chase, known for his role in the 2012 American musical drama series Nashville, will be playing the role of Neil Mayfield. Neil's character was described as "the father of a family of recent transplants to Hawkins, Indiana from California."[2]

References

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