Stranger Things Wiki

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Stranger Things Wiki
Stranger Things Wiki

Without you, we can't win this war.

–Dr. Sam Owens to Eleven, 1986

Dr. Samuel "Sam" Owens, portrayed by Paul Reiser, is a main character in Stranger Things, being introduced in the second season, while having a cameo appearance in the third season.

Owens was a high-ranking member within the US Department of Energy tasked with containing the strange events that took place in Hawkins, Indiana in 1983, replacing Dr. Brenner as Director of Operations at Hawkins Lab.[1] He oversaw the management and study of the Mothergate, but despite his best efforts, he was unable to stop the Upside Down's incursion, or prevent the Mind Flayer from possessing Will Byers. After Eleven used her abilities to seal the Mothergate, Hawkins Lab was shut down, and Owens helped Jim Hopper in arranging the adoption of Eleven as his daughter.

In 1985, Owens received a distress call from Hopper, informing him that the Soviet Union had infiltrated Hawkins and had established a base underneath Starcourt Mall. He was fired from an unspecified position in the military due to his failure to detect the invasion. That same year, Owens assisted the Byers family and Eleven by relocating them to Lenora Hills, California. Upon learning that Eleven suffered a stroke and lost access to her abilities, Owens began working with Dr. Brenner on an experimental scheme to rejuvenate them.



Owens shares his predecessor's commitment to secrecy, as shown when he pressured Jonathan and Nancy against divulging the truth about Barbara Holland's death. However, he makes a legitimate point about the need for secrecy: that the deadly nature of the Upside Down portal, if replicated in the hands of an authoritarian government, would create even greater disaster, which is why it must be kept secret.

Owens is much more amiable and open-minded than Dr. Brenner, showing a good bedside manner to Will during their exams and refusing to immediately put the Upside Down tunnels through a full burn if it meant killing Will in the process. He is never shown treating anyone with deliberate cruelty.

He puts himself at risk of death in staying in the Labs during the lock-down to keep an eye out on the security cameras for Joyce, Hopper, and Bob and guide them out of the lab, ultimately becoming injured in the process. Following the closure of the Hawkins Laboratory, he cheerfully greets Hopper as "Chief-O," and helped arrange his adoption of Eleven by providing him a birth certificate of her, suggesting that despite their previous adversity, they have become friends.









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

*Does not have speaking lines in The Battle of Starcourt.

Memorable Quotes

  • "Chief-O."
  • "For better or worse, I am the schmuck they brought in to make things better."
  • "Never too late in the day for breakfast, that's what I say."

Behind the scenes

The Duffer Brothers said in an interview that one of the new adult characters in Season Two is involved in Joyce's life, whereas the other is involved in the labs.[2] The identity of the character involved with the labs and the casting of Paul Reiser was announced on November 7, 2016.[3] Reiser previously played the villainous character Burke in Aliens, a 1986 James Cameron film that the Duffer Brothers named as an influence for Season 2.[4]


View Gallery.png For this subject's gallery, see Sam Owens/Gallery.