Steve was created by The Duffer Brothers for the Netflix web series, Stranger Things, before appearing in various comic spinoffs and tie-ins. He is portrayed by Joe Keery on the show. It is often repeated that the character was intended to die in the first season, but the Duffers liked the actor so much they decided to keep him around.
Major Story Arcs
Steve was the king of high school in Hawkins, IN. He had rich parents, was a star athlete on the basketball and swim team, and chicks dug him. This all came crashing down on him when he decided to get romantically involved with mousy bookworm, Nancy Wheeler. While his fellow mean-spirited friends did not think much of Nancy or their relationship, chalking Steve’s interest in her to just another conquest, Steve had real feelings for her. These feelings were clouded after Nancy started acting out after the death of her best friend, Barb.
Unbeknownst to Steve, Barb was killed by a monster, called a Demogorgon, from a dark mirror universe, called the Upside Down. When Nancy learned of this, she started spending more time with Jonathan Byers, the quiet “weird” kid in school, whose brother, Will, was also taken by the Demogorgon but not yet killed. The two teamed up to try and save Will from the Upside Down, loading up on hunting equipment and makeshift weapons, including a bat they hammered nails into. This newfound fondness for each other made Steve jealous. After venting to his friends about it, they graffitied the local movie theater with messages shaming Nancy for “cheating” on Steve. This caused Jonathan to lash out and surprisingly beat Steve in a fight.
Regretful, Steve abandoned his cruel friends to help the movie theater workers clean up the building. After which, he went to the Byers house to apologize to Jonathan personally. Instead, he found Nancy and Jonathan geared up to take on the Demogorgon. The two did their best to get Steve to safety, but Steve was not willing to leave. He armed himself with the bat and started to wail on the Demogorgon. Together, the trio held off the Demogorgon but were unable to stop it for good.
It would later go after Will’s friends, including Nancy’s brother, Mike, who were saved by the superhuman girl, Eleven. With the monster seemingly defeated, Steve reconciles with Nancy, and they pick up their relationship where they left off, now with Jonathan as a friend.
With Nancy still struggling with the memory of Barb, she breaks up with Steve and teams up with Jonathan again to try and take down the organization that was partially responsible for opening a gate to the Upside Down. Steve tries to win her back, but he is already too late. She already hit the road with Jonathan, where the two started to develop feelings for each other. Instead, Steve ran into Dustin Henderson, a friend of Will Byers and Mike Wheeler. He couldn’t find any of his other friends, but he needed back up when his new pet turned out to be a baby Demogorgon. He settled for Steve, who still had his bat with the nails.
Loading up with ground beef, they start luring the demo-dog to a scrap yard for Steve to wail on it. Eventually joined by Dustin’s friends, Lucas and Max, the foursome are surprised to see that Dustin’s demo-dog had multiplied into a pack of demo-dogs. Outmatched, Steve retreated to the kids’ hiding place, but when the demo-dogs were called away by an unseen force, Steve and the kids gave chase, eventually running into Nancy and Jonathan, who had returned from their road trip to find everyone missing. They were outside the company’s old building, where Will was receiving aid for a psychic infection he caught while in the Upside Down. Unfortunately, everyone was either killed or chased out of the building by the demo-dogs.
With the three groups converging, they all posted up at the Byers house, where they tried to disconnect Will from the Mind-Flayer, the being from the Upside Down trying to get through. Only then could they safely close the gate that the Mind-Flayer was psychically penetrating without injury to Will. They figure out that the Mind-Flayer does not like heat, so Nancy and the Byers went to Chief Hopper’s secret cabin to burn the connection out of Will. Meanwhile, Hopper and Eleven head back to the company building so she could telekinetically close the gate once Will was clear. This leaves Steve babysitting the rest of the kids.
The kids were not content with sitting on the bench, but Steve was firm that they shouldn’t go out into danger. Just then, Max’s bully brother, Billy, shows up to bring her home. With Steve in his way, Billy kicks the crap out of him but is scared away by his sister swinging Steve’s own bat. With Steve unconscious, the kids load him into his car, while they take off to destroy the gate’s root system that had reached the outskirts of Hawkins. After regaining consciousness, Steve takes the lead into the underground tunnels to keep the kids safe. The kids set the roots on fire, weakening the gate for Eleven, while Steve fights off the serpentine vines.
With the gate closed, Steve now has a surrogate big brother bond with Dustin but never reconciles with Nancy
The Battle of Starcourt
The summer after Steve graduated high school, Steve’s dad made him get a job for not getting into any colleges. He was forced to work in a sailor costume for an ice cream stand at the new Starcourt Mall, built near the company building. There, he met and befriended his manager Robin, a high school student one year under Steve who is slightly offended Steve doesn’t remember her from a class they shared.
When Dustin returned from science camp, he couldn’t wait to tell Steve about the Russian messages he heard using the super-powered communication device he invented at camp. While Dustin and Robin focus on translating the Russian codes, Steve obsesses about the background music that he finds so familiar. Dustin and Robin eventually decipher the Russian, but only find any meaning in it when Steve finally recognizes the music as a coin-operated horse ride in the mall.
The trio start staking out the mall, eventually finding suspicious Russians accepting large deliveries late at night. Enlisting the help of Erica, Lucas’ sister, for her small stature and ability to fit through a vent, the four end up on an elevator that drops down to a Russian lab under the mall. Using a high powered laser, the Russians were attempting to re-open the gate for their own dastardly needs. Unfortunately, Steve and Robin were caught sneaking around and were tortured for answers. The Russians didn’t believe they were just regular teenagers, so they used drugs on the two so that they would be more open to telling the truth. In Robin’s case it worked as she decided to come out as a lesbian to Steve, who had no problem accepting her for it. The drugs also made Steve and Robin difficult to manage when they were finally rescued by Dustin and Erica.
However, their attempt to sneak out with mall patrons when finally at ground level did not go according to plan. The mall was now empty, and Russian soldiers were approaching their hiding spot in the food court. Just then, Eleven and Dustin’s friends finally answer Dustin’s “code red” transmissions, killing the Russians by throwing a car at them. Steve and the others are filled in on the sentient infection that had escaped Will but was stranded outside the Upside Down. It had possessed and absorbed a number of Hawkins residents, creating a giant flesh spider-monster, a feat it was able to do thanks to the Russians holding the gate open and re-connecting the virus psychically to the Mind-Flayer.
Hopper with Joyce (Will and Jonathan’s mom) and Murray (the reporter that helped spread Barb’s story) went into the Russian lab to shut down the laser cannon, thus disconnecting the monster from its power. As a Plan B, Steve needed to get his team to Dustin’s communicator and try to reach the army. Not long after Dustin got it up and working, Steve and Robin head back to the mall when they see the monster approaching it. They get to the mall just in time to slam their car into a Mind-Flayer possessed Billy. Steve and Robin then join the others using fireworks to keep the monster busy until Hopper and the others shut down the gate. Their attempts were mostly futile, and it took Billy to fight through his mind control and sacrifice himself to the flesh monster to hold it off.
In the wake of the Battle of Starcourt, Hopper was presumed dead, and Eleven was left powerless. Eleven was adopted by the Byers, who were then relocated to California by Dr. Owens, an ally in the company. With the mall now destroyed, Steve and Robin got new jobs working at the local video store.
Steve was working a Saturday shift at the video store with Robin when they were interrupted by Max and Dustin. They wanted to turn the video store into a command center to find Dustin’s new Dungeons and Dragons friend, Eddie Munson, an older teen whose relationship with Dustin Steve is slightly jealous of. Eddie was being accused of killing the head cheerleader, who was actually killed by a new villain from the Upside Down, Vecna. After tracking down Eddie’s drug dealer, they assure Eddie that they believe him and are working to exonerate him.
Nancy joins their group when a partner of hers from the school newspaper was killed the same way as the cheerleader. She had a lead on the killer from Eddie’s guardian, who noticed similarities to the Victor Creel case from a few decades earlier. Nancy and Robin started investigating the Creel case, while Steve babysat the kids while looking for a connection between the two victims. They found that Max was exhibiting similar signs and symptoms as the other victims. She started preparing for the worst, while placing her security in Steve’s hands, when Vecna made his move. She fell into a trance and started floating in the air. It wasn’t until Dustin got a hold of Robin and Nancy that they learned they could snap her out of it with her favorite song.
Comparing notes, Dustin realizes that the crime scenes were messing with his compass similar to the original gate. He surmised that the killings were creating weak spots for Vecna to push through. Following his compass brought the group to Lover’s Lake, where a member of the basketball team was killed, looking for Eddie in a satanic panic. Steve put his swim team skills and lifeguard credentials to work by diving down and finding the gate. Unfortunately, a vine grabbed him and pulled him through to the Upside Down. There, he was attacked by demo-bats, but was saved when Nancy, Robin, and Eddie dove in after him. With the bats guarding the watergate (as Dustin called it), the group was forced to find another way out.
First, they headed to the variant of Nancy’s house to steal bikes so they could travel to the variant of Eddie’s trailer and punch through the first gate. Dustin and the kids met them there, helping them crawl out. However, Vecna was able to put Nancy in a trance before she could, while Steve stayed in the Upside Down trying to snap her out of it.
While in her trance, Vecna shows Nancy everything. It turns out Vecna is Henry Creel, who was born with psychic abilities. He used these abilities to torture his family in crimes that were ultimately pinned on his father, Victor. Henry was than taken into custody by the corporation that experimented on Eleven, making him One. After massacring the other test subjects, Eleven forced him into the Upside Down where he became Vecna and created the Mind Flayer to torture the real world. Concluding that when Vecna attacks, his physical body must go into a trance like Eleven's, the group makes a plan.
Max would head to the Creel house to lure Vecna to attack her psychically. Lucas would be near by to snap her out of it with music. Erica would be across the street with a light source so she could signal those in the Upside Down. Eddie and Dustin would lure the demo-bats away from Vecna's vulnerable body, while Steve, Nancy, and Robin kill Vecna's body. Unfortunately, the plan did not go according to plan. Vecna was hurt but got away, and Max died long enough to open a fourth gate, the final gate needed to open a crevasse to the Upside Down in the center of Hawkins.
They had lost, and Vecna now had a door in Hawkins to plunge the entire world into darkness.