Stranger Things: 10 Friendships Nobody Saw Coming

Though Stranger Things may be filled with monsters and other dimensions, a big part of what makes the show work is the friendships. The series does a great job of capturing the nostalgia of being young and going on adventures with your friends, even if those adventures were never this dangerous.

The show is also very effective at building relationships out of unexpected places. Certain characters who appear to have nothing in common suddenly click really well, or characters who might have seemed like the villains prove themselves to be great allies. These are the friendships on Stranger Things that are especially charming.


Updated on May 23rd, 2022 by Colin McCormick: With the fourth season of Stranger Things right around the corner, fans are excited to see their favorite characters return. Along with seeing some of the fan-favorite duos reunite, the new season is surely going to deliver some more unexpected friendships. It is something that the show has succeeded at again and again in finding these pairing that seem to come out of nowhere and making them work wonderfully.

Erica And Dustin

After being briefly introduced in the second season, Lucas’s little sister Erica gets a much bigger role in season 3 as she joins the heroes to get to the bottom of a mystery. This leads to her spending a lot of time with Dustin as they investigate the strange secrets of the mall.

RELATED: The 10 Best Characters On Stranger Things, According To Ranker

Though Erica is a younger sister, she acts like the one in charge. She bosses Dustin around and makes sure he knows that she is cooler than him. Yet they make for a surprisingly effective pair when danger comes.

Joyce And Hopper

Stranger Things Hopper And Joyce

During the first season of the show, Joyce and Hopper didn’t seem particularly close. She was the worried mother and he was the lazy cop, yet they worked together to find and bring Will home. They are able to overcome a lot together, but they have a tendency to butt heads a lot.

This is most seen in season 3 when they find themselves teaming up again and constantly get on each other’s nerves. But that also makes way for the classic television trope of people who seemingly can’t stand each other actually having feelings for each other.

Billy And Karen

As soon as Billy is introduced in season 2, it doesn’t take long to determine that he is a bad guy. From Steve to his own sister, he treats everyone with violence and anger. Yet there is one unexpected person he decided to turn on the charm for.

When looking for Max, Billy met Karen Byers and very blatantly began flirting with her. Despite him being a much younger man, Karen seems very open to the idea of an affair with Billy before coming to her senses.

Eleven And Kali

Even after three seasons of the show, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding Eleven. But season 2 introduced the shocking reveal that she isn’t the only kid who escaped Hawkins Lab with powers.

RELATED: The 10 Funniest Stranger Things Characters, Ranked

Kali is introduced as another superpowered kid who Eleven shared a history with. With Eleven having a hard time fitting in with other kids given her abilities, it was quite unexpected that she found someone who knew everything she had been through. However, Kali has yet to reappear on the show since then.

Hopper And Murray

Hopper And Murray In Stranger Things Season 3

Stranger Things has a habit of introducing characters in smaller roles only to expand those roles later on. Such was the case with Murray, the conspiracy theorist who is actually more correct than anyone realizes, including himself.

In season 3, he becomes a pivotal player in the story, joining Hopper’s mission to stop the Russian villains. However, with Hopper liking to give orders and Murray is not one for following orders, it is a surprise that the two men didn’t end up tearing each other’s heads off.

Dustin And Suzie

Stranger Things Suzie And Dustin Duet

Even though these kids are fighting Demogorgons and other creatures, the show acknowledges that kids at that age are also thinking a lot about young romance. Unfortunately, Dustin seems to be the one who has the worst luck in that department so it’s a little suspicious when he comes back from camp claiming he has a girlfriend.

The more Dustin talks about this so-called “Suzie,” the less believable it gets. So his friends are obviously quite surprised when Dustin manages to contact Suzie on the radio to help save the day, and also sing a quick song.

Joyce And Bob

Stranger Things Bob And Joyce

By the end of season 1, it seemed like the stage was set for Joyce to have a romance with Hopper. But when season 2 returned, Joyce was in the midst of a romantic relationship with a kind and sort of goofy man named Bob.

Joyce and Bob seemed like a bit of an unexpected pair which made everyone kind of uneasy about him. Many fans kept expected him to turn out to be a villain. But in the end, he was actually a real hero and this sweet romance was tragically cut short.

Hopper And Sam

There are a number of instances of the show doing a good job of setting a character up as a likely villain only to subvert those expectations. Sam was introduced as a doctor trying to help Will Byers get over his experience in the Upside Down.

RELATED: 10 Best Stranger Things Episodes, According To Metacritic

Hopper immediately distrusts the man as he is wary of anyone working at Hawkins Lab. While there are indeed some shady things happening there, Sam proves himself to be one of the good guys. He and Hopper form a friendship with Sam even helping Hopper get Eleven in school.

Steve And Jonathan

Steve and Jonathan looking scared in Stranger Things

In season 1, Steve and Jonathan seemed destined to be enemies. Steve was the popular kid who was a bit of a jerk and Jonathan was the misunderstood outcast. In the middle of them was Nancy Byers, who they both liked.

Steve was certainly mean to Jonathan and deservingly got his butt kicked for it. But afterward, Steve goes to find Jonathan and apologize. While they haven’t become super close friends on the show yet, this mutual respect was a nice surprise and they’ve worked together to fight evil a few times.

Eleven And Max

Max was introduced in season 2 as the new girl in town who joins the group of friends. With Eleven forced to go into hiding, she is quite hurt to see Mike hanging out with Max and isn’t very welcoming of his new girl when they do meet.

Thankfully, the jealousy subplot was dropped in season 3. Eleven is back to being part of the gang and she becomes fast friends with Max. They go shopping, eat ice cream and have sleepovers, proving themselves an ideal pair.

Dustin And Dart

After the friends were terrorized by a Demogorgon in season 1, it would seem like the last thing they would want is to find another one. However, not only does Dustin find a baby Demodog, but he also decides to keep it as a pet.

RELATED: 10 Fan-Favorite Stranger Things Characters, According To Reddit

Even though he names it Dart, it seems clear that this is going to end badly, especially when Dart eats Dustin’s cat. But even after Dart grows full-sized and returns to the other Demodogs, it recognizes Dustin and doesn’t hurt him.

Robin And Steve

Season 3 finds Steve far from his past as the most popular guy in high school and he now works at an ice cream shop in the mall. That job is made worse by his co-worker Robin, who seems to naturally despise Steve.

When they are forced together to save the day, it feels like the show is setting up a typical love story for them. Instead, they go in a much more interesting direction that leads to them actually becoming great friends and nothing more, with Steve immediately accepting Robin coming out to him like a good buddy should.

Murray And Alexei

It can be surprising when two main characters with nothing in common end up forming an entertaining friendship, but it is even more interesting when some supporting characters achieve that. Murray is Hawkins’s resident conspiracy theorist while Alexei is a Russian scientist. For some reason, these two formed an incredibly charming duo.

Murray quickly takes a liking to Alexei and takes him under his wing. He introduces him to life in America and it makes for a genuinely touching friendship even if it is not central in the show.

Eleven And Hopper

Stranger Things season 2 Hopper Eleven

It’s easy to forget that Hopper and Eleven didn’t have much interaction in season 1. They were each on their own missions to save the day, only really crossing paths at the end. But at the end of season 1, it is teased that they have a future together.

Sure enough, season 2 starts and it is revealed Hopper has taken in Eleven to keep her safe. Their relationship has its difficult moments, but it is easy to see that these two form a bond that is very much like family.

Steve And Dustin

As if the redemption of Steve Harrington wasn’t surprising enough, few fans could have predicted which character he would eventually end up growing closest with. The friendship between Steve and Dustin starts randomly as Steve is recruited to help fight the Demodogs.

The image of Steve protecting the young kids was a lot of fun, but his chemistry with Dustin was especially strong. He ended up being like a big brother figure, offering advice and words of encouragement while they also just goofed off together.

NEXT: 10 Key Stranger Things Characters Most Likely To Die In Season 4

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