Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the character growth of Steve Harrington, shall we? Because I know I’m not the only one who is SHOOK.
In Season 1 of Stranger Things, Steve was nothing more than the stereotypical, preppy King of Hawkins High—not to mention, he was also kind of a douche. Yes, he did somewhat redeem himself at the end of the first season by saving Nancy and Jonathon’s asses (and giving the Demogorgon a major beat-down with a nail-studded baseball bat). Yet it was over the course of Season 2 that Steve fully went from self-absorbed “Pretty Boy Jock” to “Over-Protective Single Father of 4”—and to be honest, I’m 100% here for it.
I don’t think any of us were expecting to come out of Season 2 with so much adoration for Steve “You’re an Idiot” Harrington, but through his heartbreak, his unexpected bromance with Dustin and his valiant efforts to wrangle a band of reckless 13-year-olds—Steve evolved into the badass babysitter-hero we didn’t know we needed, and quite frankly don’t deserve. Let’s rehash all the moments where Steve proved himself the ultimate MVP and unsung hero of Stranger Things 2.
1. Steve was actually boyfriend goals this season, but Nancy dgaf
It’s really strange to admit that at one point I actually wanted Nancy to ditch Steve and be with sweet Jonathon. But now that Jancy is an official thing, all I can think is “What about Steve?!”
Steve was a wonderful, doting boyfriend this season. Not only did Steve attend the KFC dinner date at Barb’s parents house (and presumably many others), but he was genuinely concerned for Nancy as she grieved over her BFF Barb. But what else is there to do when your bestie is taken by an other-dimensional monster? All Steve wanted was for Nancy to try to live her best life, considering the gruesome truth. But Nancy DGAF, she just blamed Steve at every turn for Barb’s death and her own derailment.
At the Halloween party, Steve was only looking out for Nancy’s best interest when he tried cutting her off from the alcohol— even though she had ideas of her own of blacking out and telling Steve she didn’t love him. Could anyone else hear Steve’s heart break when he says “you don’t love me?” When Nancy savagely calls their relationship “bullshit,” a crushed Steve revokes his offer to drive her bratty, drunken ass home. I mean, can you really blame him?
2. Steve helps Dustin with his monster-problems, which results in an unlikely (but really sweet) bromance
Who else was living for the unexpected but totally adorable Dustin and Big-Brother-Steve dynamic of this season? Because I for one thought this pairing was pure gold. On his way to begrudgingly reconcile things with Nancy, Steve’s plans are intercepted by Dustin Henderson, who minimizes Steve’s relationship drama by warning “we got bigger problems than your love life.” Currently alienated from the rest of the gang, Dustin recruits Steve to help eradicate the monster he’s been secretly keeping as a pet—that sort of is a baby demogorgon.
An unlikely friendship ensues between the ex-king jock and the awkward science-geek, and its both as hilarious and as it is heart-warming. Assuming the role of the heroic and wise babysitter, Steve steps in to do Dustin’s dirty work, as well as teach him a thing or two about winning over the ladies. Although Dustin and Steve are from wildly different worlds, they’ve each endured similar heartache and rejection this season—making their newfound camaraderie that much more precious.
3. Steve single-handedly takes on the pack of Demo-dogs
Since being dethroned by the new-alpha-in-town and having just lost the girl he loves to another man, Steve’s ego has taken a few critical hits. He now has nothing left to lose. That is, until he appoints himself guardian of our favorite middle-school misfits, which is no small feat—considering they each have an apparent death wish—but it’s one that Steve takes very seriously.
Now with an entire crew of adopted children he must protect, not only does Daddy Steve selflessly put himself on the line for the kids, but he handles the very harrowing demo-dog ambush like a total BAMF. A Cool Dad, if you will. Positioning himself as bait to lure the beasts out into the open, Steve effectively uses jock-skills and his monster-slayer bat to dodge and fight off multiple Demo-dogs at once— although, nothing quite beats that epic bat-twirl of Season 1’s Demogorgon battle, amiright?
4. Steve squares up with Billy in a brutal showdown
As if Steve hasn’t dealt with enough, in a tense ‘this-town-ain’t-big-enough-for-the-both-of-us’ showdown, Steve is forced to square-up with his rival Billy, who is looking for his stepsister Max. Things escalate quickly when Billy, who may or may not be a disgusting racist, violently threatens Lucas—and Steve does what any good Dad would do and clocks Billy square in the face.
To be perfectly honest, I was SO ready to see Steve kick Billy’s ass in this scene, and at first it appears he is totally going to. Steve gets in several solid punches in a row (while his kids lovingly cheer him on), until Billy decides to play dirty and shatters a ceramic plate over Steve’s head. Yeah, ouch.
This is when things go from bad to worse for our Super-Sitter Steve, as Billy begins pummeling his face into a bloody pulp. Thankfully, Max proves she’s about a quarter as crazy as her violent older step-brother, and stabs the lunatic with one of Will’s sleepy-time needles. While Steve may have lost this round with Billy, he certainly put up a good fight and protected them kiddos, and that’s why he’s the winner in our hearts.
5. Steve leads the Party safely through the Upside-Down
El is whisked away by Hopper to close the gate and receive the wicked nosebleed of her life-time. Nancy leaves with her new man Jonathon and his mama Joyce to literally burn the living mind-flayer out of Will for good. Steve’s left with a handful of hyped-up kids, who want to help by willingly venturing to the Upside-Down— to set it on fire.
Steve’s attempts to regain order of the adrena-frenzied kids fall on deaf ears, until Steve goes full dad-mode: hands on hips, whipping a dish-towel around and blurting out cheesy baseball-metaphors about needing to stay on the bench and let the starting team do its job. Even though he (obviously) loses the argument, Dustin eventually coaxes Steve into the idea by reminding him of his promise to keep them safe. Steve not only joins them, but insists that he leads the party through the tunnels, saying “If any of you little shits die down here, I’m getting the blame.”
By Steve setting fire to the hub of evil-vines, Eleven is free to get into Hawkins Lab without threat and successfully do her thang. Steve and co. then haul ass back to the entrance of the dig-dug maze, where Steve hoists each of the kids to safety before himself. What else is there to say? Steve is too good for this world.
6. Steve gives Dustin a last minute pep-talk before the Snow Ball
It makes my heart so happy to see this bromance continues long after the shared-trauma, but this moment was so lovely I could cry. In solidifying his full-transition to babysitter-mentor with a heart of gold, Steve helps Dustin nail his signature, luscious 80s mullet (which is #hairgoals, by the way) and gives Dustin a few last minute pointers before dropping him off at the school dance.
In this loving pep-talk, Steve tells Dustin “You look great, ok? Now, you’re gonna go in there, look like a million bucks, and you’re gonna slay ’em dead.”—I mean, c’mon, how adorable is that? Although my heart breaks a little for Steve when he spots Nancy from the window, I think we can all agree the bond between Steve and Dustin is the relationship to ship going forward in Season 3. Steve, you da real MVP and you deserve better than Nancy, my friend!!