The finale of “Stranger Things” season four is around the corner, and things aren’t looking too good for fan-favorite Steve Harrington. Of all the people most likely to die this season, his character’s death would have the biggest emotional impact — and that’s why it’d be a perfectly devastating choice.
Steve wasn’t supposed to survive the first season of “Stranger Things.” The original plan the Duffer Brothers wrote out included a deadly end for Nancy’s jock boyfriend, making space for Jonathan Byers as a main love interest.
But actor Joe Keery brought the exact right touch to the role, subtly undoing the shitty-jock-boyfriend trope through the first several episodes. His arc culminated in a fist-pumping moment when he ran back in a house to fight a Demogorgon with his iconic swing of a bat.
So season two brought a new writing test for the Duffer Brothers: What do you do with Steve once Nancy realizes her truer love is with Jonathan?
The answer they came up with was brilliant. Pair him with Dustin Henderson, the most charming and earnest of the younger teen boys on the show. Their scenes hit the perfect tone of funny, sweet, and serious. Steve slipped into the role of lead Demogorgon fighter and defender of children with ease.
He wasn’t involved now simply because of romantic heroism — Steve was here to help protect Hawkins and everyone in it. He takes the safety of those kids very, very seriously and gets his ass kicked several times along the way.
Steve has only become more beloved as the show continues
Season three sped up the love-train for Steve Harrington among the “Stranger Things” fandom. Now best friends with Dustin and relegated to slinging ice cream in an adorable sailor’s outfit, Steve had never been more lovable. He was a little bit desperate for a return to his glory days of “King Steve,” which led to a reluctant crush on Robin.
But then Robin came out to him as gay, telling Steve she was jealous of him because her real crush, Tammy, only paid attention to him.
This too, was a brilliant character move for Steve and Robin (one pushed for by Keery and costar Maya Hawke). It only took a couple moments in that scene for Steve to shapeshift, this time turning into a supportive friend and ally for Robin — the only openly gay character in Hawkins so far.
And so we came to season four, where Steve was promptly made a triple threat: He’s Robin’s best friend, the kids’ favorite protector, and Nancy’s true love.
OK, that last part is debatable. But whether or not fans think Steve and Nancy should wind up together doesn’t seem to matter — the idea has been told to us repeatedly from other characters on the show. Steve and Nancy’s re-attraction to each other is mentioned by Dustin, Robin, and newcomer Eddie.
Add that to the opening scene of Steve explaining how he’s not finding any girls he connects to, and it feels obvious that the Duffer Brothers are going out of their way to tell the audience that Steve and Nancy are meant to be together.
This is why I think he’s about to die.
‘Stranger Things’ has yet to kill off a major character, and Steve is the best candidate for an emotional punch
Noah Schnapp has hinted at a major character death in several interviews, including with Insider. And right now, Steve is the character whose demise would make the most devastating impact.
Hopper and Joyce would feel immense guilt for not being there to help all the teens.
Nancy would be extra grieved because she had begun emotionally separating from Jonathan, so Steve’s death would leave her mega lonely among her peers (again, a good reason why this season is also making Nancy and Robin friends — so they have each other when Steve is dead).
Oh god, I’m already crying. And I haven’t even mentioned THE CHILDREN yet.
Dustin Henderson is going to be absolutely crushed if Steve dies. Inconsolable. And just thinking about Gaten Matarazzo sobbing is making me want to cry.
Plus Max, who was just looked after so diligently by Steve? Who had maybe started seeing Steve as the brother she never had? It’s too sad.
Then there’s Robin — the girl who always envied Steve in high school. But she grew to love him, just like all of us at home did, by realizing he’s almost always trying to become a better guy. He’s the one person in Hawkins who knows she’s gay and is fully supportive of her. He even drives her to school in the mornings, despite having already graduated. Steve also came back to his old high school to cheer for Lucas when he scored a winning point in a tournament game. He was there when even Lucas’ best friends didn’t show up.
Oh, this is going to hurt so badly. But that’s why it’s brilliant.
The writers will (hopefully) leave us our hero Eleven, and Hopper can’t die for real after that drawn out fake death at the end of season three. Each of the youngest kids will likely be safe, because that’s a line the show might not want to cross while it’s trying to maintain an overall pleasant tone of nostalgia.
Prepare your hearts, folks. We might be saying goodbye to Steve on Friday when “Stranger Things” season four returns for its two-episode finale.