Steven ''Steve'' Harrington, portrayed by Joe Keery, is a major protagonist of Stranger Things.

A student at Hawkins High School, he was friends with Tommy H. and Carol Perkins, and the boyfriend of Nancy Wheeler. When Nancy's best friend, Barbara Holland, disappeared, she became distant and Steve thought she was cheating with Jonathan Byers. Following a few ignorant actions, Steve had a change of heart, told his friends off and set out to make things right. By coincidence, he ended up heroically saving the day and reconciled with his girlfriend.

In 1984, following a falling-out with Nancy, Steve became a proper ally to the main party, especially Dustin, with whom he formed an unlikely friendship. He became a sort of authority figure for the party and solidified himself into becoming a major player in the battle against the Mind Flayer.

In 1985, Steve would get a job at Scoops Ahoy at the newly-opened Starcourt Mall, working with a former classmate of his, Robin Buckley. Steve would help Dustin translate a secret Russian transmission, along with Robin's help, and discover there Russians in Hawkins, working underneath Starcourt. Working with Dustin, Robin, and Lucas's younger sister, Erica, Steve discovered the Russians were trying to reopen a portal to the Upside Down. Steve would also form a friendship with Robin and later accept her sexuality. Steve later learned of the Mind Flayer's return and help the rest of the Party battle against it until the gate was closed again. Three months later, Steve continued to remain best friends with Robin as they applied for new jobs at Family Video.


Main article: Steve Harrington/History


Prior to dating Nancy, Steve was well known among his peers as a popular boy with a terrible personality.

He displayed some insecurities, as he instantly believed Nancy was sleeping with Jonathan when he saw them together in her bedroom. Despite his flaws, Steve shows that he has a brave side and truly cares about Nancy, as he helped her beat the Monster. A month later, it is revealed that Steve and Nancy purchased Jonathan a new camera to replace the one he and Tommy broke.

Between his breakup with Nancy and Billy Hargrove quickly taking over his status as 'King Bee' and most popular boy, Steve was at a low point emotionally. While trying to make amends with Nancy, Dustin intercepted him and roped him into helping catch D'Artagnan. The boys quickly bond, and Steve is shown to have a more parental or mentoring side as he gives Dustin relationship advice. Steve took on the role of 'babysitter' for the kids and was willing to put himself in danger to protect them. He's far more kind and responsible than he used to be.

In 1985, Steve is a shadow of what he once was. Aside from his sarcasm and recklessness, a lot of his traits that he displayed in his high school years have disappeared from him. He's been shown to be incredibly awkward and unsuccessful with the girls he serves at Scoops Ahoy, and the only positive female relationship he seems to have is with his coworker Robin. His friendship with Dustin is still strong, if not stronger, and he seems to be on good terms with the rest of the Hawkins gang. Steve is also shown to be more kind-hearted and tolerant of things he used to poke fun of. Aside from engaging in nerd culture, he's also shed his homophobic views, which is shown when he still accepts Robin as a friend after she comes out to him.


One of Steve's incredible skills is his proficiency with his spiked bat. His adeptness with his bat was revealed when he displayed significant prowess in fend offing the vicious Demogorgon that was attacking the Byers house. Steve used his spiked bat again during the events at the junkyard where he was almost overwhelmed in an ambush by the demodogs, if not for defending himself with it.

He was also shown to be physically robust during his fistfight with Billy, dealing some quick blows to defend Lucas. And even though he received major injuries in the process, Steve was still able to help enter and guide the kids out of the demodogs' tunnel after setting it afire. He is also able to knock out a Soviet soldier with a phone in a fight.



It is implied Steve doesn’t have a close relationship with his parents, or at the very least his father. While his parents were out of town, he held a party at their house without their knowledge. He later feared to have to tell the police about the party, the reason being that his father was an “asshole”. In 1984, while working on a job resume, Steve tells Nancy that he will likely end up working for his father, something he didn’t seem very enthusiastic about. In 1985, in an effort to "teach him a lesson", his father did not allow Steve to work for him, which resulted in Steve getting a job at Scoops Ahoy. After the closure of Starcourt Mall, Steve put his mother as a reference in his resume when applying for a job at Family Video.


During the events of the second season, Steve and Dustin formed an unlikely friendship. Steve was enlisted by Dustin to help him handle Dart when no one else was available. During this time, the two bonded over their relationship problems. Upon finding out that Dustin had kept Dart as an attempt to impress a girl (Max), Steve gave Dustin advice, telling him to “act like he doesn’t care.” He also willingly disclosed his hairstyling secrets. When everybody else failed, Dustin was the one who convinced Steve to put aside his responsibility of protecting the group and instead assist them in burning the tunnels. The two were shown to still be friends by the time the Snow Ball arrived, with Steve driving Dustin to the event and giving him a pep talk before wishing him luck.

A year later, Dustin and Steve are still shown to remain friends, when they greet each other at Scoops Ahoy after Dustin returns from Camp Know Where. Dustin tells Steve about his new girlfriend Suzie and asks for his help with translating a Russian broadcast he picked up when trying to contact Suzie, which Steve accepts. When Robin hears of the message and translates it for them, Dustin and Steve work together, along with Robin, to find the Russians and get into the back room of the mall. After getting into the room with Erica Sinclair's help, Dustin stays by Steve's side as Steve opens a box of unknown chemicals, not wanting him to die, which touches Steve. When they are spotted by the Russians, Steve, along with Robin, help Dustin and Erica escape before Dustin tells him that he'll come back for him. Eventually, Dustin comes to Steve and Robin's rescue and helps them escape the Russian base while looking out and protecting them as they were drugged with truth serum. After Steve and Robin were cured, Steve reveals to Dustin that he told the Russians his name while being drugged, much to Dustin's shock, as Steve apologized. When Dustin revealed Suzie's existence by contacting her on Cerebro, Steve was shocked as he secretly did not believe that she existed and awkwardly listened to Dustin and Suzie singing Neverending Story together.

Steve and Nancy first began seeing each other shortly before the events of the first season. While Nancy initially believed that Steve wasn’t serious about their relationship, this turned out to not be the case. In truth, Steve really loved Nancy, claiming she’s “not like other girls”. After having sex at a party held at Steve’s house, they officially entered a relationship. However, when Nancy became distant due to the disappearance of her friend Barb, Steve grew worried. When he visited her house to check on her, he witnessed Nancy and Jonathan together in her room, making him believe she was cheating. When Nancy confronted him, Steve gave her a chance to explain herself, though, due to the extraordinary nature of the events, she was unable to. After realizing his mistakes, he went to the Byers’ house in order to apologize. There, he unexpectedly helped Nancy and Jonathan fight the Demogorgon. A month after these events, Steve and Nancy had gotten back together.

The two had dated for nearly a year when their relationship was once again put in jeopardy; no longer being able to bear the guilt of Barb’s death, Nancy told Steve they should tell the Hollands the truth. Steve rejected this idea, reminding her that doing so would put them and their families in danger. At a Halloween party, Nancy became intoxicated, leading her to reveal that she did not have feelings for him. This emotionally crushed Steve, and he broke up with her the following day. Yet, Steve still had feelings for Nancy, and after being goaded by Tommy and Billy, attempted to apologize to her. He eventually came to terms with Nancy’s feelings for Jonathan and told her she should be with him instead. After dropping Dustin off at the Snow Ball, Steve spotted Nancy and accepted she will never love him.

A year later, in 1985, Steve confessed to Robin that he no longer loves Nancy and considers her a friend, as he's now looking for the perfect girl for him.

During most of the first season, Steve had an antagonistic relationship with Jonathan, viewing him as an outcast. When Steve found out Jonathan had taken photographs of the pool party, including a candid photo of Nancy, he labeled Jonathan a pervert and broke his camera in retaliation. Following a misunderstanding, he believed Nancy was cheating on him with Jonathan, causing Steve to lash out at him. This resulted in a fistfight between the two, which ended with Jonathan getting arrested and Steve with a wounded face. After realizing he was in the wrong, Steve decided to go to the Byers’ house in order to apologize to Jonathan, resulting in him inadvertently helping with fighting the Demogorgon. In the epilogue of the season finale, taking place a month later, Steve and Jonathan were shown to be on good terms.

A year later, in 1984, Steve and Jonathan were shown to still get along. After Steve got his feelings hurt by a drunk Nancy, Steve asked Jonathan to take her home as he felt Nancy would not want him to do it. After accepting Nancy’s feelings for Jonathan, he supported the two in getting together.

In 1985, Steve and Jonathan were still on friendly terms, as Steve finally got over Nancy. The two worked together as a team to protect the Party from the Mind Flayer.

Tommy and Carol are former best friends of Steve. While the three spent a lot of time together, Steve did not appear to be exceptionally close to them. Upon realizing that the couple were not very good people, Steve ended his friendship with them.

A year later, in 1984, Tommy still held a grudge against Steve, and gladly joined Billy in mocking him.

Billy Hargrove was an antagonist to Steve and quite provocative from the day they met. After Billy's arrival to Hawkins High School, he was quick to gain reputation from the other students and ignited a rivalry with Steve after breaking his keg standing record. Even though Steve didn't bother much about his fame, Billy was always quick to taunt him for his failures, such as losing against him in basketball and failing to deal with his broken relationship with Nancy.

Ultimately, Steve realized Billy's violent nature when he returned to the Byers residence to forcefully take Max and threatened the boys. This prompted Steve to intervene and a fistfight ensued. While Steve managed to protect the boys, Billy brutally wounded him before he was sedated.

In 1985, after learning that Billy was one of the very people possessed by the Mind Flayer, Steve protected the kids from him by crashing into Billy's car before Billy could ram over the kids as they tried to escape Starcourt Mall. After the Mind Flayer's defeat, it is unknown how Steve felt about Billy's sacrifice to protect the kids.

Robin and Steve attended Hawkins High School together. Though Steve didn't know her during his schooling, they eventually became friends after working together at Scoops Ahoy. At first, they expressed a dislike towards one another. Robin would tease his attempts at flirting, and Steve judged her for participating in stereotypical uncool activities, such as theater and band.

However, once swept into the mystery of the Russian messages together, the two learned more about each other and became closer. Steve started to develop feelings for Robin, despite previously dismissing her as "not [his] type" while talking with Dustin. While held captive for their interrogation by the Russians, Robin and Steve are clearly seen to care about each other’s well-being and enjoy each other’s company, talking and laughing together while alone. Once rescued, the duo shared an emotional moment on a bathroom floor where Steve decided to confess his love for Robin. Though she rejected him and came out as lesbian, Steve accepted her as a friend. They remained close friends after the Battle of Starcourt Mall and are seen three months later getting a new job at Family Video together, with Robin helping Steve get the job.


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

Memorable Quotes


  • "I'm stealthy, like a ninja."
  • "I'm sorry? What the hell am I sorry for?"
  • "…It’s finger-lickin’ good."
  • "Hey! Dickheads! How come the only one helping me out is this random girl?"

Steve to Dustin:

  • "How do you know it’s not just a lizard?"
  • "You’re gonna slay ’em dead."
  • "She's only gonna break your heart, and you're way too young for that."
  • "Yeah, Farrah Fawcett. You tell anyone I just told you that and your ass is grass."
  • "Screw company policy."

Steve to Mike:

  • "Alright, Wheeler, we found your hub."

Steve to Billy:

  • "Yeah, it’s me. Don’t cream your pants."

Steve to Nancy:

  • "I may be a pretty shitty boyfriend, but it turns out I’m actually a pretty damn good babysitter."

Steve & Dustin:

  • Steve: "So let me get this straight. You've kept something you knew to be dangerous in order to...impress a girl who you just met?"
  • Dustin: "Okay, that's grossly oversimplifying things."

'Nancy and Steve'

  • Nancy:"You're pretending like everything's okay, ya know, like like we didn't kill Barb! Like it's great, like we're in love and we're partying. Yeah let's party, party, it's it's bullshit!"
  • Steve:'"'Like' we're in love?"
  • Nancy: "It's bullshit!"
  • Steve: "You don't love me?"

Nancy: It's bullshit"

Behind the scenes

Character development

Initially, the character of Steve was more of a stereotypical douchebag, which actor Joe Keery described as "more forceful and pushy, and kind of the '80s stereotypical jock you’d see in a John Hughes movie."[1] In the pilot script for Montauk, Steve actually went so far as raping Nancy.[2]

The character was reworked because the Duffer Brothers thought Keery had a different look and energy from how they imagined Steve, saying Keery was "incredibly likable and had this charisma about him."[3] In the original plan, Nancy and Steve would not reconcile at the end of the show, but the Duffers decided to give Steve his own arc where he's in with the wrong crowd and Nancy turns him to her side.[4]

During development, Keery and the Duffers spoke about “what kind of family life [Steve] comes from and maybe this girl Nancy is quiet and listens in a way that other people haven't listened to him at this point.”[1]

Costume design and styling

Costume designer Kimberly Adams described Steve as a high school "prep" and summed up his style as "Polo shirts, Levi’s, khakis, and Brooks Brothers basics worn with attitude!"[5]

ST1 Costume Mood Board – Steve

Mood board for Steve's style, created by costume designer Kimberly Adams.

As seen in the mood board Adams created for the character, his style was inspired by Tom Cruise’s characters Joel Goodson in Risky Business (1983) and Stefan "Stef" Djordjevic in All the Right Moves (1983). Both films are referenced by Steve in Chapter Five and he mentions how Carol said he looks like Tom Cruise, who Nancy has a poster of in her bedroom. Steve wears the same Nike shoes that Cruise wore in All the Right Moves. Other inspirations in the mood board were Johnny Depp as Glen Lantz in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and model John Sommi modelling knitwear in GQ. All of the aforementioned men were considered 80s jocks and heartthrobs.

The stylists spent a lot of time discussing the look of Steve – how they could make him look like "kind of a douche" that "really rubs people the wrong way."[6]

They didn’t figure out Steve’s hair until the second and third episodes, when they tried it as a joke style to see if it would go up. To get the look, they used a lot of shampoo, a lot of hair spray and a lot of meticulous grooming.[1]


  • Even though he was credited as a recurring character in the first season, Steve appears in all 8 episodes. He was later promoted to a series regular in the second season.
  • While the spiked bat he possesses has become synonymous with his character, it was originally created by Jonathan, while the bat itself originally belonged to Nancy.
  • Steve is the first antagonist in the series to redeem himself.
  • In Beyond Stranger Things, the Duffer brothers revealed that the Steve-Dustin partnership in Season Two was surprising because it was never planned before production, and the pairing sort of came out when they began writing out the episodes.[7]
  • At some point during every season, Steve's face has ended up bloodied and bruised after someone beats him up. It has become a running gag in the series.
  • While filming the fight between Steve and Jonathan, the actor who portrays Jonathan accidentally punched Steve in the face, twice. [8]
  • In the original Montauk pilot script, Steve Harrington was supposed to die in the first season.
  • Steve, Nancy, and the Demogorgon were announced to be added as playable characters to the indie horror video game Dead by Daylight, and were released in September of 2019.
  • Steve was not in the season 1 poster, however, he appeared in season 2 and the season 3 poster.
  • Steve was the first character in the series to make their debut as a recurring character before returning in a later season as a main character.
    • He would be followed by Priah Ferguson's character Erica Sinclair, who made her debut in Season 2 before being promoted to main character in Season 3, as well as Brett Gelman's character Murray Bauman, who remained a recurring character through Seasons 2 and 3, before being promoted to main character in Season 4.


View Gallery For this subject's gallery, see Steve Harrington/Gallery.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "‘Stranger Things’: Joe Keery on Steve’s Perfect Hair and Going Beyond the Classic ’80s Bully" The Wall Street Journal. August 8, 2016.
  2. "Montauk Pilot" The Duffer Brothers.
  3. "The Stranger Things creators want some scares with their Spielberg" A.V. Club. July 13, 2016.
  4. "‘Stranger Things’ Finale: Duffer Brothers Talk Cliffhangers, Death and Season 2" Variety. July 18, 2016.
  5. "Stranger Things - Costume Designing 1980s Nostalgia" Tyranny of Style. November 15, 2016.
  6. "Eleven Got a Perm For Season 2 — & You Just Need To See it" Refinery29. February 10, 2017.
  7. 11 Insights Into the Making of Stranger Things 2
  8. 10 Strict Rules[1] The Cast Of Stranger Things Must Follow
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