Steve Harrington Is The Best Part Of ‘Stranger Things’ And You Can’t Convince Me Otherwise

And it's not just because of his hair.

Steve Harrington Stranger Things season 3

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When Stranger Things began, few would have foreseen that Steve Harrington would go on to become one of the best characters on the whole show — if not the best.

He could have been a one-note douchey jock caricature, but the Duffer brothers gave him space to grow and develop.

Thanks to some great writing and a truly wonderful performance by Joe Keery that nails the perfect balance of impeccable comedic timing and subtle but powerful emotional moments, Steve Harrington has emerged as the true hero of Stranger Things.

This is absolutely a trend continued in Stranger Things season 3.

You’ve All Been Sleeping On Steve

Here’s the thing: everyone was suddenly on Team Steve after Season 2 of Stranger Things.

This was only surprising to me in that it revealed that not everyone was on Team Steve by the end of Season 1 — because I sure was. He was the character who stood out as the most interesting and who had experienced the most growth — and no, I’m not just talking about his hair.

Steve starts the season as a bit of a douche, it’s true.

But he’s all bravado, acting out the part of the popular guy he thinks he should be. He’s friends with the wrong people, and he himself gets aggressive, and even takes part in slut-shaming Nancy. The crucial thing, though, is that after this he listens when Nancy pushes back against his behaviour: he realises where he’s going wrong, and he admits to his mistakes.

Most importantly, he changes his behaviour.

The instant he goes back into the Byers house and starts swinging that nail-studded baseball bat around, Steve proves he’s a changed man. He’s not acting the hero because he thinks that’s what the cool guy does — he genuinely wants to help Nancy and even Jonathan, putting their safety above his own.

Steve Harrington is officially a good guy.

Daddy Steve Emerges

Then, of course, there’s Season 2. Or as I like to call it, the Season of Steve Harrington.

Sure, he gets dumped by Nancy, but he wins the audience’s hearts in the process. Freeing his character from Nancy’s arc actually proves to be the best thing for him, and his pairing with Dustin is frankly a stroke of genius.

I mean, here is this dorky kid who is the antithesis of everything the Steve of Season 1, Episode 1 was trying to project. Instead of talking down to him or bullying him, as the stock standard ‘80s jock might, Steve goes along on Dustin’s weird adventure, listens to his problems, gives him advice, and even reveals his top secret hair tips.

By the end of Season 2, Steve has grown once again, basically adopting a whole troupe of kids and protecting them with his life. Once again, he’s not acting out of bravado — he’s very scared and he shows it, but he does what he thinks is right.

There’s a softness and a sweetness to Steve that’s refreshing, and it’s never more apparent than when he drops Dustin off at the dance. He shows up for him in a way even his friends don’t, and commits to being in his life.

To top it all off, when Steve spies Nancy through the door, rather than trying to win her back as we might expect, he drives off. He’s still yearning for her, but he doesn’t encroach on her boundaries. He respects her decision and makes his own, taking the first step towards moving on.

Steves Ahoy

Stranger Things Season 3 is where things get really interesting for Steve Harrington.

He’s finished high school, has failed to get into college, is working a dead-end retail job that he hates, and he can’t get a date to save his life. He’s dejected and low, but what’s so refreshing about Steve is that he doesn’t display entitlement or anger with the world.

Instead, he grapples with his own actions and begins to rethink his worldview.

Steve teams up with Dustin again this season, which is great, but what’s even better is the addition of Robin. She’s a fantastic character in her own right, but also really wonderful for Steve. She’s someone who challenges him and offers him new perspectives — on himself in particular.

It’s kind of remarkable in a way that perhaps shouldn’t be that the show doesn’t go down the clichéd romantic route with Steve and Robin, instead creating an equal and respectful friendship. That Steve reacts to Robin rejecting him and revealing she’s a lesbian by taking a brief moment to process the news, before light-heartedly bonding with her over her taste in women is perhaps the best example yet of how far he’s come from his toxic beginnings.

The other great thing about Season 3 when it comes to Steve is that he consistently gets to use his brain. He’s portrayed as a bit of a bimbo a lot of the time, so it’s lovely to see him shine in ways that aren’t necessarily book smarts, but reveal his own kind of intelligence.

Stranger Things can get caught up far too much in its own nostalgia, sometimes at the cost of character development, but in Steve Harrington the show has taken the ‘80s douche stereotype and evolved him into something so much softer and more complex.

Steve Harrington is Stranger Things at his very best.

And, I mean, there’s also THAT HAIR.

Jenna Guillaume is a Sydney-based writer who loves all things TV and pop culture. She tweets @JennaGuillaume, and her new book, ‘What I Like About Me’ is available now.