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You always say we should never stop being curious, to always open any curiosity door we find."
"Dustin..."
"Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?

–Dustin Henderson and Scott Clarke, November 12, 1983


Dustin Henderson, portrayed by Gaten Matarazzo, is a major protagonist in the first two seasons of Stranger Things. He is best friends with Mike Wheeler, Lucas Sinclair and Will Byers.

During the events of Season 2, Dustin played a major role in the plot by discovering and raising D'Artagnan, which he later discovered to be a juvenile demogorgon. He turned to Steve to deal with D'Artagnan, and later joined forces with the rest of the gang to save Will and all of Hawkins. He, along with Steve and his friends, assisted in burning the expanding network of the Mind Flayer, providing a distraction while Eleven closed the Gate for good.

History

Background

Dustin met Lucas, Mike, and Will when he arrived at their school in fourth grade, growing a strong bond with them and becoming best friends. They would often gather at Mike's house to play Dungeons & Dragons. The four boys had a great relationship with their science teacher Mr. Clarke, and they were members in the AV Club he ran. They would take part in the annual science fair, winning almost every year.

1983

On the evening of November 6th, 1983, Dustin, Lucas, Mike, and Will played Dungeons & Dragons in Mike's basement. Mike, acting as Dungeon Master, summoned a Demogorgon, which ultimately defeated Will's character. While they looked for missing dice, Mike's mother Karen insisted it was time for his friends to leave; shortly after this, Lucas, Dustin, and Will cycled home.

The next day, Will did not show up to school, which perplexed Dustin, Mike, and Lucas. As they played with Mr. Clarke's newly delivered Heathkit, they were summoned by Principal Coleman to talk with Police Chief Hopper. Hopper confirmed to the boys that Will was missing and asked about Will's way home the previous night.

The boys investigated their friend's disappearance that evening and accidentally encountered an escaped Eleven, who they allowed to stay in Mike's basement, making a pillow fort for her to sleep in.

The next day, Dustin and Lucas noticed Mike was not at school as he was busy looking after Eleven at his house. After school, Dustin and Lucas came to Mike's house, discussing Eleven and what could have happened to Will. Lucas was determined to tell Karen about Eleven, but Eleven used her telekinesis to prevent him from leaving the room. Later that evening, Eleven attempted to explain Will's situation with a visual analogy; she flipped their Dungeons & Dragons board upside down, on top of which she placed Will's player piece followed by the Demogorgon piece. This gave Dustin, Lucas, and Mike a vital clue as they continued to theorize about what happened to Will.

Dustin, Lucas, Mike, and El commenced "Operation Mirkwood", where El led them through the woods to find evidence relating to Will. They eventually arrived outside the Byers household, where El said Will was hiding. This statement confused the three boys. After seeing police cars race by, the group followed in pursuit on their bikes. They witnessed Will's body being dragged out of the local quarry; this lead the boys to feel distraught and angry with Eleven, who they believed was lying.

After El tampered with Mike's radio to project the sound of Will quietly singing, Mike decided to show this to Lucas and Dustin, who wondered if Will had become a ghost. After further discussion, the boys decided to bring El to their school so she could use the Heathkit to communicate with Will, which was much more powerful than the boy's portable radios.

After dressing Eleven in a pink dress and blonde wig, the boys brought her to the middle school. Mr. Clarke told the group that they had to attend an assembly for Will's death before they could use the radio. During the assembly, the bully Troy made crude jokes about Will, which angered Mike and lead him to confront him after the assembly. Troy attempted to hit Mike, but Eleven froze him in place and made him urinate on himself using biokinesis, much to the amusement of the boys and their classmates. They continued to the Heathkit. With El tapping into the device, they overheard Will talking to his mother Joyce through a temporary portal to the Upside Down. However, the radio overheated and caught on fire. After returning to Mike's basement, the boys theorized that Will was stuck in the Vale of Shadows, a "dark echo" dimension of death and decay, which El labelled the Upside Down.

At Will's funeral, the boys discussed the possibility of alternate dimensions with Mr. Clarke. He described

Dustin-compass

Dustin explaining how compasses work.

scientific ideas and concepts, utilizing the metaphor of the flea and the acrobat. He mentioned that a gate between dimensions would have adverse affects on the electromagnetic field in their dimension. Later that day, Dustin experimented with a compass, noticing that the needle did not point towards true north, and the boys guessed that there must be a gate nearby influencing the electromagnetic field like Mr Clarke had said.

The group followed their compasses, believing if they went 'North', they would be lead to the Gate. However, Eleven was manipulating the compasses for the boys' safety because she considered it too dangerous to enter the Upside Down. When the boys realized that El had been doing this, they argued about her; Mike was more sympathetic and trusted her, while Lucas was critical of her help. The two boys ended up fighting; Eleven used her powers to push Lucas off Mike and into the air, injuring him. This angered Mike and left El upset, who vanished from the scene.

A rift grew between Lucas and the two other boys, who continued to argue about Eleven. Lucas attempted to once again find the Gate while Mike and Dustin searched for El.

The Monster (episode)

Eleven, Mike, and Dustin hug.

While Dustin and Mike searched for El, they were ambushed by the revenge-seeking Troy and his friend James, who brandished knives. They were chased to the cliffside overlooking the quarry. Troy threatened Mike, telling him he would cut out Dustin's teeth unless Mike jumped from the cliff. Mike decided to jump, but as he did, Eleven returned and intervened. Using her telekinesis, she levitated Mike back to the cliffside before injuring the bullies, who fled in terror. El, Dustin, and Mike reconciled before returning to Mike's.

The three returned to Mike's house, but they had to leave quickly when Lucas informed them over the radio that the 'bad men' were coming. The four reunited as they cycled away, evading Dr. Brenner and the agents of Hawkins National Laboratory.

The group reached a deserted field, where Lucas, Mike, and El reconciled. After they realized the laboratory was still looking for them, they hid in an abandoned bus. Chief Hopper found them, taking them to the Byers

Dustinphone

Dustin calling Mr. Clarke to ask about sensory deprivation.

household to meet with Joyce, Will's brother Jonathan, and Mike's sister Nancy. Together they broke into the middle school, creating a makeshift sensory deprivation tank which El could use to enhance her psychic abilities. They learned that Will was alive, barely surviving in the Upside Down.

While Hopper and Joyce infiltrated the laboratory and Nancy and Jonathan set a trap for the Monster, the four kids remained at the school.

As part of an agreement with Hawkins National Laboratory to gain passage through the Gate, Hopper revealed El and the boys' location to laboratory officials. Agents broke into the school, capturing El and the boys. Eleven killed most of the agents, using biokinesis to make them bleed to death; however, this "drained" her of energy and strength, causing her to collapse. Without her protection they were recaptured; but the Monster, attracted by pools of blood spilling from dead bodies, burst through the school wall via a temporary portal. The surviving agents were understandably distracted, releasing El and the boys, and they ran in panic to Mr. Clarke's classroom. The Monster broke in and attempted to kill them. El intervened, using biokinesis to pin the Monster against a wall, while also immobilizing Mike to prevent his intervention. El looked back at her friends, telling Mike goodbye before turning to face the Monster. She used her last remaining power to disintegrate the Monster, a process which appeared to make herself also disintegrate. The boys frantically looked for her in the classroom, but she was gone.

Dustin, Mike, and Lucas were the first visitors aside from Jonathan to see Will in the hospital. They caught up with Will, telling him about the events which transpired in his absence.

One month later, on Christmas Eve, the four boys once again played Dungeons & Dragons. This time, Mike summoned the Thessalhydra, but his friends' characters triumphed over the enemy.

1984

On October 29, Dustin, Lucas, Mike, and Will went to the Palace arcade. After losing a game of Dragon's Lair,
Screenshot 2017-10-29 at 7.46.50 PM

Dustin plays "Dragon's Lair" at the Arcade

Dustin discovered that an unknown person using the alias “MADMAX” had beaten his high score on Dig Dug. Keith, an employee at the arcade, stated he would tell them the identity of MADMAX in exchange for a date with Nancy, though Mike refused.

In Mr. Clarke's class the next morning, the boys witnessed a new student, named Max, arrive. Because of her name's similarity to the alias used at the arcade, they suspected she was MADMAX. As they were spying on her, they noticed her drop something in a trashcan. After retrieving the note, they discovered it had “Quit spying on me creeps” written on it, indicating she knew they were watching her. After school, Dustin and Lucas again spied on her while playing a game at the arcade, coming to the conclusion that she was “incredible.”

The next day, the boys went to school dressed in their Ghostbusters costumes, only to discover that no one else had dressed up for Halloween. After debating on when to ask Max to go trick-or-treating with them, Dustin and Lucas decided to ask her after class. Once their class had ended, they approached and introduced themselves to Max. She wasn't pleased with the confrontation, calling them “stalkers”. When they asked if she wanted to go with them, she didn't answer, simply walking away instead. That night, as the boys were trick-or-treating, Max jumped out and scared them with her Michael Myers costume. She then joined them in their trick-or-treating.

When Dustin returned home from trick-or-treating, he heard a noise coming from the trashcan outside his house. Upon looking inside, he discovered a strange creature and placed it in his costume proton pack. He placed the creature in his turtle's tank and fed it a Three Musketeers candy bar, naming it D'Artagnan.

The next day, Dustin brought Dart to school, showing it to Mike, Will, Lucas, and Max. After discussing what type of animal Dart could be, Dustin concluded that he had discovered a new species. However, after noticing it resembled a slug he had thrown up the year before, Will realized Dart originated from the Upside Down. Before Dustin could show Mr. Clarke, Mike took Dart and urged everyone to meet again in the AV club room, excluding Max. When Dart started to emit a screeching sound, the boys opened the proton pack to witness it grow a pair of hind legs. Mike then tried to attack Dart, which caused it to flee and run loose throughout the school. Will eventually found Dart in a bathroom; it screeched, causing Will to run away. Soon after, Dustin arrived to retrieve Dart. When the others arrived, Dustin hid Dart under his hat and lied saying he had not seen it or Will.

Dustin fed Dart before leaving for school the next morning, telling it he would be back later. When Dustin arrived at school, he discovered Lucas, Max, and Mike —who had no knowledge of Dart's current location-- looking through a dumpster for Dart. Later, Mike explained to Dustin and Lucas that, on Halloween night, Will had a vision of a shadow-like creature. He then decided to visit Will while Dustin and Lucas try to find Dart, since catching him could provide a vital clue on what was going on with Will.

Upon returning home, Dustin, feeling guilty of lying to his friends, attempted to question Dart where Will is, but discovered the glass of Dart's tank had been broken, with the only thing in it a slimy
Dart-stage 3

Dart eats Mews and turns to Dustin.

husk. Following a trail of blood, he discovered Dart, now much larger, eating his cat Mews. When Dart opened its mouth, revealing its flower petal-like shape, he realized Dart was a baby Demogorgon.

The next day, Dustin lured Dart out of the house with a trail of meat and locked it in the storm cellar. Unable to reach anyone, he eventually decided to go to the Wheelers' residence to find Mike. However, neither Mike nor Nancy were home. As Dustin was about to leave, Steve arrived in order to apologize to Nancy. Seeing him as the only option, Dustin urged Steve to come with him and to bring his spiked bat. On the way to his house, Dustin explained Dart to Steve, who initially believed that what Dustin found was some sort of lizard. When they entered the cellar, they discovered that, not only had Dart molted again, but it had also escaped through a tunnel it had dug in the earth.

The following day, as Dustin and Steve were preparing to look for Dart, Lucas finally contacted him. He told Lucas that he'd explain everything later and to meet him at the junkyard. On the train tracks, Dustin explained he had kept Dart in hopes of impressing “a girl”. Steve then gave him relationship advice, telling him to “act like he doesn't care”. He also disclosed his hair-styling secret: Farrah Fawcett hairspray. They eventually arrived at the junkyard where they were soon joined by Lucas and Max. Together, they fortified the abandoned bus and created a trap to lure in Dart.

As the group were waiting in the bus, they suddenly heard a screeching sound. The sound's source was revealed to
Demodogeon

A demodog prepares to attack the group

be Dart, who was joined by several other Demodogs. As the pack attacked the bus and nearly overwhelmed them, they suddenly stopped, leaving the junkyard. Following the Demodogs, they realized they were heading to Hawkins Lab.

Arriving at the lab, they discovered Nancy and Jonathan, who were looking for Mike and Will. They were all forced to wait outside the lab, due to the lab's power being out. Eventually, the power came back and the group was finally able to get passed the gates. They reunited with Joyce, Hopper, Mike, and Will, and together they all escaped the lab.

At the Byers' house, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, and Max speculated about the shadow monster's weakness. When they realized that the shadow monster controlled everything in a hive mind, they compared it to the Mind Flayer, a monster from Dungeons & Dragons that similarly controls the minds of its victims. They also speculated that, if they killed the Mind Flayer, they would kill everything it controlled. But Hopper dismissed the idea and reminded them that they do not know how to kill it. Mike then proposed that, in order to discover the Mind Flayer's weakness, they'd have to take Will someplace he couldn't recognize and try to get through to him.

Everyone gets ready to face the apparent Demodogs

The group prepares to defend themselves

After making the backyard shed unrecognizable, they attempted to interrogate Will. While the Mind Flayer had taken over a majority of Will's mind and body, a part of Will managed to subconsciously signal to them in Morse code. Deciphering his message, they discovered the way to stop the Mind Flayer: closing the Gate. Soon after, the phone in the Byers' kitchen rang, giving away their location. As the house was being surrounded by a pack of Demodogs, the group armed themselves. Before the pack could
Tmp IupSRd cdffb8f0546e34d9 stranger-things-finale

Dustin and Lucas reunited with Eleven

attack, however, Eleven surprisingly arrived and eradicated them. She finally reunited with Mike and his friends, Dustin and Lucas. Together, the group came up with a plan: Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy would exorcise the Mind Flayer from Will's body while Eleven and Hopper would go to the lab and close the gate. While waiting at the house, Dustin, Mike, Lucas, and Max decided they'd distract the Demodogs by burning the tunnels so Eleven and Hopper could safely reach the Gate. Before they could begin their plan, Billy arrived looking for Max. Steve tried to intervene, but the two ended up in a fist fight. With one of the syringes used to sedate Will, Max was able to puncture Billy's neck, making him lose consciousness. Using Billy's car, Max drove the group to the pumpkin pat
Ep9-Dustin confronts Dart

Dustin confronts and attempts to distract Dart

ch where the entrance to the tunnels was located. As they were making their way through the tunnels, Dustin was sprayed in the face with some sort of spore-spray by a growth on the ceiling. Making their way to the hub, they doused the entire area in gasoline and set it ablaze. On their way out of the tunnels, Mike fell behind and was caught up by a vine. As the group helped him out, they encountered Dart. Recognizing Dustin, Dart did not attack and was easily distracted by Dustin giving it another Three Musketeers bar, allowing the group to escape.
Screenshot 2017-10-28 at 6.24.09 PM

Nancy dances with Dustin

On December 15, Steve dropped Dustin off at the Snow Ball; Dustin had made a disastrous attempt to style his hair like Steve's, which his friends remarked upon humorously. He asked several girls to dance, but was rudely rejected by all of them. Seeing him alone and devastated, Nancy asked him to dance and explained to him that, while girls at his age tended to be very judgmental about appearances, he would "drive them nuts" in a few years.

Personality and Traits

Dustin is an observer and a protector of the unity within the friend group. He frequently resolved the conflicts within the group by drawing their attention to what was going on around them. He had a neutral, level-headed approach to Eleven and the supernatural events unfolding around them; in some ways, he was a negotiator between the open-minded Mike and the skeptical Lucas. Dustin is also the most scientifically inclined of the group (despite his love of fantasy) and may be the most intelligent of the quartet- notwithstanding his bad judgement in keeping Dart as a pet, although even this unexpectedly saved the group in the end.

Relationships

Non-Familial

Mike Wheeler

Dustin met Mike along with Lucas and Will in the fourth grade, way after the three had initially met. Due to this, Dustin doubted whether he was on the same level of friendship with Mike that Will and Lucas were. However, Mike very much considered Dustin to be one of his best friends, along with Will and Lucas. Dustin was level-headed with Mike, being supportive of him and Eleven while also willing to call him out for any questionable behavior.
While they had an argument over the situation regarding Dart, their friendship never turned bad as he directly headed to Mike's house to warn him about its danger and also searched for him with the group during the demodogs' invasion. Dustin also supported Mike's plan to distract the demodogs from El and Hopper by burning the tunnels of the Upside Down, proving that they still endanger themselves to protect their friends.

Lucas Sinclair

Dustin met Lucas in the fourth grade. The two generally got on well. They were sometimes unified in their doubt or disbelief when confronted with strange events and possibilities. However, they would occasionally argue. His friendship with Lucas turned cold when he discovered that Dustin lied to him about Dart, but they eventually made up and remained friends.

Will Byers

Dustin met Will and his friends when he joined their school in the fourth grade, quickly becoming close friends. Dustin was determined to stay cool and collected while searching for the missing Will as he realized that he needed to be level-headed​ if he wanted any chance of saving his friend. Dustin wanted the group of kids to stick together no matter what, as he knew that together, they would make the most progress.

Eleven

Dustin's initial attitude to Eleven lay somewhere between Mike's open-mindedness and Lucas's skepticism. He became considerably kinder to her after discovering she had “superpowers”, although he retained a degree of indifference towards her. After the incident with Lucas, he was quick to call her out on a questionable use of her power, though he later admitted that it was “awesome”. While it's unclear if he saw her as a member of the “party” at that point, he did assist Mike in looking for Eleven after she had ran away.
After Eleven saved him and Mike from bullies, he proudly declared that she was their best friend and thoroughly cared about her from that point on. Following her apparent death, Dustin revealed that they reminisced her and talked about her almost everyday when she was finally found alive and reunited with them.

Steve Harrington

In season two, Dustin and Steve form an unlikely bond while trying to hunt down D'Artagnan. Dustin tells Steve about his attempts to win the heart of Max, where Steve gives advice on how to approach women, and how to style his hair. When everybody else failed, Dustin was the one who convinced Steve to put aside his responsibility of protecting the group and instead assisting them in burning the tunnels infected by the Upside Down.
Steve later drives Dustin to the Snow Ball Dance, and gives him a pep talk before Dustin enters the dance.

Nancy Wheeler

As his friend's older sister, Nancy only has occasional interactions with Dustin. The first exchange we see them having is when Dustin offers Nancy a slice of pizza while she is on the phone, only for her to slam the door in his face. Dustin claims that Nancy 'used to be cool.' At the end of season two, Nancy dances with Dustin at the Snow Ball Dance, after Dustin was rejected by other girls at the dance.
In Season 2, at the Snow Ball, after seeing Dustin being rejected and ridiculed by girls, Nancy takes pity on Dustin and brings him to dance with her, attracting the attention of the girls who rejected him. Nancy tells Dustin that he is her favorite out of all of her brother's friends. She also tells him that girls at his age are 'dumb', but he'll 'drive them nuts' in a few years.
They share a touching moment together, having a friendly slow dance.

D'Artagnan

In Season Two, Dustin shares a bond with Dart, keeping him as a pet in a terrarium and feeding him nougat, but when he discovers the half-adult Dart eating his cat, he traps Dart in the basement to be killed, however he escapes, which ultimately leads to Dustin teaming up with Steve to find and kill him. Ironically, Dustin keeping Dart makes (Dustin's) friendship with Lucas Sinclair weak, but later on this proved to bring the two boys back together as friends. In the season finale of Season 2 ("The Gate"), Dart seemed to forgive Dustin about the basement incident and accepted his nougat which let Steve, Dustin, Max, Lucas, and Mike escape their encounter with the creature.

Appearances

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

Family tree

 
 
 
 
Unseen and Unnamed Character Family Tree icon
Mr. Henderson
 
Claudia Henderson Family tree icon 001
Claudia Henderson
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dustin Henderson Family Tree icon 001
Dustin Henderson
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Memorable Quotes

Dustin:

  • "Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit."
  • "Do you eat kangaroos for breakfast?"
  • "She tried to get naked!"
  • "Man! These aren't real nilla wafers."
  • "No, no no! I hate this overpriced bullshit!"
  • "Mental."
  • "Lando Calrissian."
  • (Referring to Dart) "Yes. He had the same exact yellow pattern on his butt."

Dustin to Dart:

  • "I'm sorry, but you ate my cat."

Dustin to Steve:

  • "Abort, abort!"

Dustin to Troy & James:

  • "You better run! She's our friend and she's crazy!"

Dustin to Mr. Clarke:

  • "Why are you keeping this curiosity door locked?"

Dustin to Troy:

  • "Our friend has superpowers, and she squeezed your tiny bladder with her mind!"

Dustin to Mike:

  • "I don't need my baby teeth, Mike!"
  • "Mike! I found the chocolate pudding!"

Dustin to Ted Wheeler:

  • "Son of a bitch. You're really no help at all, you know that?"

Dustin to Lucas:

  • "Sometimes, your total obliviousness blows my mind."
  • "She won't be able to resist these pearls... grrr."

Dustin to Mike, Will & Lucas:

  • "Guys? Guys? Why is nobody else wearing a costume?"
  • "It's a conspiracy, I'm telling you."

Dustin to Keith:

  • "Oh, so I'm the wastoid?"

Trivia

  • Dustin did not grow in adult teeth until approximately age thirteen because he has cleidocranial dysplasia, a genetic disorder involving delayed bone growth.
  • During the first season, Dustin's Dungeons & Dragons character race was revealed to be a Dwarf.[1] In the second season, his character class was announced to be a Bard.
  • Dustin's home first appeared on-screen in season two.
  • In the original pilot script, Benny Hammond is at a couple of points referred to as "Benny Henderson", which could suggest that Benny and Dustin were originally planned to be part of the same family.
  • Dustin is the only member of the AV club that does not have any siblings.
  • Out of all the younger characters, Dustin curses the most.
  • He often gets constipated, as confirmed by his mother.

Gallery

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References

  1. "Behind The Scenes Of Stranger Things - Lully Of Truth 293"