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Stranger Things 2 icon Spoiler Warning!

This article or section reveals details from the second season. Read at your own discretion.

Sometimes, people don't really say what they're really thinking. When you capture the right moment, it says more.

–Jonathan


Jonathan Byers, portrayed by starring cast member Charlie Heaton, is a major character in the first and second seasons of Stranger Things. He is the older brother of Will Byers. His life was turned upside down following the disappearance of his younger brother.

During the events of second season, Jonathan assists in helping Nancy Wheeler exposing Hawkins National Laboratory as a threat following the laboratory responsible for the death of Barb and the disappearance of his younger brother. Towards the end, Jonathan helps his mother and Nancy into freeing Will from the Mind Flayer.

History

Young Jonathan

A portrait of Jonathan as a young child

Background

Jonathan was the first son of Lonnie and Joyce Byers. His father used to take him hunting, however, after his father made him kill a rabbit, he cried for a week in sorrow. Eventually, his father left his family, resulting in Jonathan becoming a role model for his younger brother Will. According to Joyce, Jonathan wanted to go to New York University ever since he was six years old. This could have been driven by his love for photography.

Jonathan had a love for music and of course, photography. Around 1982, Jonathan made a mixtape for Will, with Will's favorite track being a Clash single. This single plays a huge part in the series.

Season One

On November 6, 1983, Jonathan decided to work late to cover a shift for his co-worker Eric, thinking that he and his mother could benefit from the extra cash. That same night, Will mysteriously disappeared. Jonathan blamed himself for the disappearance, saying that he should've been around at home to look after him.

Jonathan went with Joyce when they looked for Will, in and around, Castle Byers. Jonathan made a missing poster for Will and made photocopies of it, putting them up at various locations around town.

Jonathan left Hawkins, driving out to Lonnie's house to search for Will. This proved to be a pointless endeavor, as Will was nowhere to be found.

Photos in the Woods

Jonathan takes photos in the woods

Jonathan looked through and around the woodlands of Hawkins, taking photos in an attempt to find and capture evidence relating to Will's disappearance. After he heard a scream, he ran outside to Steve Harrington's party, hiding in the trees. He captured many pictures of the party in motion including a shot of Nancy Wheeler in her undergarments. He unintentionally took a picture of Nancy's best friend, Barbara, with her feet dangling in Steve's pool whilst something strange stood behind her. Barb was abducted only seconds after, but Jonathan failed to notice, as he was too busy adjusting his camera.

Jonathan developed the photographs in the Hawkins High dark room. Nicole sneaked a glance at his photographs of the party, but Jonathan rushed to pull them off the dryer and bolted. Nicole told Steve and his friends about his photos, who then assaulted Jonathan and forcefully snatched his shoulder bag to see the pictures for themselves. Carol and Tommy H. mocked Jonathan by making comments about the topless photos of Nancy and calling him a stalker. Steve ripped up the photographs and dropped Jonathan's camera, breaking it. Jonathan scrambled to salvage remnants of his camera and photos. After Nancy saw Barb in the ripped photo pieces, she decided to collect as many pieces of the photo as possible before leaving with her friends.

Jonathan heard about a discovery at the local quarry, where Will's body had been found. As he drove to the quarry, he came across Joyce in the middle of the road. He got out and they embraced, sharing their grief and shock.

At the Byers household, Chief Hopper attempted to console Joyce. Joyce was struggling to cope with the news, saying Will was hiding in the wall and that an "animal" that "didn't have a face" had chased her, and that this same creature was stalking Will. Jonathan and Hopper dismissed her, believing she was being hysterical.

The next day, Jonathan and Joyce went to see the body at the coroner's, but Joyce exclaimed the body wasn't Will's and refused to sign a document. Jonathan argued with her on the street, with Jonathan accusing her of being out of her mind.

Jonathan went to a coffin shop, where Nancy found him. She asked about an inconspicuous feature of the photograph he took of Barb, which she had pieced back together. He speculated this feature could have been produced as a result of "some kind of perspective distortion", although he was unsure and admitted it was "weird". Nancy mentioned that when she went to look for Barb near Steve's house, she saw a man with no face. In that moment, Jonathan realized that maybe his mother wasn't being as delusional as he had thought. Jonathan and Nancy went to the dark room to enlarge the photo, and Nancy was certain it was the same creature she had seen earlier.

Jon and Nancy at the funeral

Jonathan and Nancy speculate about the Monster following Will's funeral

At Will's funeral, Jonathan and Nancy decided to look for the creature in the forest. Jonathan took a gun from his father's car and together they practiced shooting. In the forest, Nancy and Jonathan talked about the photos he took and ultimately ended up lashing out at each other.

After dark, they found a wounded deer. They agreed to kill it out of mercy, but before they could it was suddenly dragged away into the darkness. Following the blood trail, Nancy entered a portal in the base of a tree and found herself in the Upside Down. She saw the Monster appearing to feed on something and ran away as it gave chase. Following Jonathan's voice, Nancy made her way out of the dimension unscathed. Jonathan watched in wonder as the portal resealed.

Traumatized by the experience and wanting company, Nancy had Jonathan sleep over. The following day, she theorized about the Monster's nature based on her knowledge of animals, and they bought weapons to face it again. While downtown, they found Steve and his friends tagging slurs about Nancy. They realized that Steve had seen Jonathan in her room the previous night and tried to explain that he misunderstood. Jonathan and Steve ended up in a fist fight, which led to Jonathan's arrest and their weapons being confiscated.

Hopper and Joyce found Jonathan and Nancy at the police station and enlisted their help in trying to find Will's friends Lucas, Dustin, Mike as well as the escaped test subject Eleven. They eventually assembled at the Byers household, where they decided to build a makeshift sensory deprivation tank which Eleven could use to look for Barb and Will using her psychic abilities. The group broke into Hawkins Middle School, and Jonathan assisted Hopper in collecting de-icing salt. They learned through Eleven that although Barb had been killed, Will was still alive.

The Monster pinning Jonathan down

Jonathan is momentarily pinned down by the Monster

The group separated, with Jonathan and Nancy deciding to lure the Monster to the Byers household. They went to the police station, taking back their weapons, before setting up a trap at the house. The two cut themselves, drawing blood so that the Monster would be attracted. Steve came to the house to apologize to Jonathan, although they were distracted by the Monster breaking through the ceiling. With Steve's aid they caught the Monster in the trap, setting it alight and maiming it. The Monster escaped into the Upside Down and would later be destroyed by Eleven.

Hopper and Joyce were successful in their attempt to find and save Will; Jonathan was the first visitor at the hospital.

One month later, on Christmas Eve, Jonathan went to the Wheeler household to pick up Will after his Dungeons & Dragons game. As they were leaving, Nancy handed Jonathan a Christmas gift and affectionately kissed him on the cheek. While Jonathan turned on his car engine, he let Will open the gift for him. The gift turned out to really be from Steve. He got him a new camera to replace the one he broke as a token of good will and turning over a new leaf. They drove home, and before their meal, Jonathan tested out the new camera, taking photos of his mother.

Season Two

After the events of Season One, Jonathan, along with his mother Joyce, have become slightly overprotective of Will, who has become prone to 'episodes' and helps look after him.

He is still friendly with Nancy, who talks him to coming along to a Halloween party. Jonathan reluctantly attends only to witness the aftermath of an argument Nancy and Steve have had, in which Steve storms out after Nancy drunkenly confesses that she doesn't love him. Jonathan drives a drunken Nancy home and puts her to bed.

The next day at school, after Nancy and Steve have finalized their breakup, Jonathan talks with Nancy about what's on her mind: mainly getting justice for Barb. They take it upon themselves to willingly get captured by Hawkins Lab staff and secretly record them confessing their role in the events of Will's disappearance and Barb's death. With this evidence, Jonathan and Nancy make their way out of Hawkins towards Illnois to track down Murray Bauman and assist him in putting the pieces together regarding the misdeeds of Hawkins Lab. En route there, they stop in a motel for the night. Jonathan and Nancy reminisce on their adventures from the previous years and Nancy asked Jonathan why he never made a move before she ultimately went back to Steve. This results in an awkward silence and the two go to sleep.

The next day, Jonathan and Nancy arrive at Murray's hideout and add their input into Murray's research. After coming to the conclusion that they need to moderate the story to make it credible to the authorities, they modify their evidence and send it off to the local news stations.

Murray offers his guest room to the two of them and Jonathan asks if he can sleep on the couch. Murray questions them on their 'relationship' to which they deny being romantically involved. He deducts that Jonathan has 'trust issues' and that Nancy is too afraid to branch out and would return to the 'safety net' that is Steve. Murray suggests they 'cut the s**t' and just hook up together. Jonathan and Nancy are both left restless, mulling over what Murray has said. Eventually they give into the sexual tension and Jonathan kisses Nancy, which is reciprocated and the two sleep together, consummating their relationship.

Jonathan and Nancy leave the next morning, after Murray serves them breakfast. When they arrive back in Hawkins, they find the Byers household abandoned, strewn with Will's drawings of the Demogorgon tunnels. They travel to Hawkins Lab to investigate, where they come across Steve, safeguarding Dustin, Lucas and Max. As they gain access to Hawkins Lab, they are unaware that they are in the midst of a Demogorgon outbreak, with the other characters attempting to evacuate. After the death of Bob Newby, all the characters flee Hawkins Lab and take refuge in the Byers' Household.

The group form a battle plan on how to stop the Mind Flayer. Everyone helps to free Will from the influence of the Upside Down. Jonathan, along with Joyce and Mike, attempt to free Will by sharing nostalgic stories with him. While Will is still controlled, he subconsciously taps out Morse Code to signal a message to the group, deciphered to be 'CLOSEGATE'. With this information, Hopper and Eleven travel to Hawkins Lab, Steve stays and watches the kids, and Jonathan, Joyce and Nancy travel to Hopper's cabin to force the entity out of Will. Jonathan finds it incredibly difficult to watch his brother being tortured but is ultimately reunited with Will after the Monster has left his body.

A month later, it is implied that Jonathan and Nancy are still going strong, as Jonathan is taking prom photos at the Snow Ball and Nancy is serving drinks. The two share a familiar smile.

Personality

Jonathan is introverted, kind, independent, and brave. He has a fondness for photography and music. Despite being a small-town boy, according to Joyce, he wants to go to college at New York University. He has a strong bond with his family and is implied to have a soft spot for animals, as he cried for a week after his tenth birthday when his father forced him to kill a rabbit on a hunting trip.

Relationships

Familial

Joyce Byers

Though Joyce deeply cared for her eldest son just as she did for Will, she felt guilty that she had been unable to support him more, due to her time-consuming job. Joyce admitted to Jonathan that "I hardly know what's going on with you". After Will vanished, Joyce's sanity was tested, and in turn so was the relationship between her and her remaining son. 

Will Byers

Will saw Jonathan as a role model, who in some ways was like a substitute father figure to him. They would often listen to music together, and Jonathan even made him two mixtapes. Jonathan would also defend Will from Lonnie, who didn't approve of his interests. After Will vanished, Jonathan, like his mother, became desperate to find him. Upon waking in the hospital, one of the first things Will did was to ask Jonathan about his injured hand; they clearly greatly cared about each other's well-being.

Non-Familial

Nancy Wheeler

Nancy and Jonathan's bond goes through a dramatic change over the course of the series. When the series starts, Nancy's affiliation with Steve causes Jonathan to be initially skeptical. They form a bond over their mutual goal of finding their brother and friend respectively and become close. While Nancy ultimately reconciles with Steve in Season One, in Season Two, she and Jonathan give into the sexual tension after being pressured by Murray and ultimately kiss (and are hinted at doing more).

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

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Joyce Byers Family Tree icon 001
Joyce Byers
 
Lonnie Byers Family Tree icon 001
Lonnie Byers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jonathan Byers FamilyTree icon 001
Jonathan Byers
 
Will Byerd Family Tree icon 001
Will Byers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Memorable Quotes

  • "You shouldn't like things because people tell you you're supposed to."
  • "Sometimes, people don't really say what they're really thinking. When you capture the right moment, it says more."
  • "I saw this girl, you know, trying to be someone else. But for that moment it was like you were alone."

Trivia

  • Jonathan has two posters in his bedroom - one is for the 1981 film "The Evil Dead", while the other is a mashup featuring both David Bowie's persona "Ziggy Stardust" and late 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud.

Gallery


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