Unraveling the Mystery of the Stranger Things Family Tree
Stranger Things is undoubtedly one of the most popular TV shows of the last decade. This American science fiction horror drama was released on Netflix on July 15, 2016, and has captivated millions of viewers worldwide ever since.
The Stranger Things plot and characters were created by the Duffer Brothers with the aim to create an investigative drama with a touch of horror and the supernatural. Such great creators as Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, David Lynch, Stephen King, Wes Craven, and H. P. Lovecraft were all cited as major influences by the series creators, and it really shows. The show also includes many references to the pop culture of the 1980s, since the events are taking place in that time period.
Despite its ghastly premise, some of the show’s central themes are family ties and strong friendships. The horrific unfolding events are testing the main characters’ relationships with each other and their families more and more every season, which is great to watch.
Before the last season comes out, we’d like to remind everyone about all the family connections of all major characters – so you could be sure you remember every one of them. This is the ultimate Stranger Things Family Tree. Create your own tree with Treemily’s family tree builder.
Stranger Things: The Plot
The Stranger Things plot is set in the 1980s, in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. The Hawkins National Laboratory, under the guise of scientific research for the US Department of Energy, conducts paranormal and supernatural operations, occasionally using human test subjects. During one of their experiments, they unintentionally opened a doorway to the Upside Down, a nightmarish alternate reality, and its presence started having disastrous effects on the citizens of Hawkins.
The main story kicks off in November 1983, when a mysterious creature from the Upside Down kidnaps a local boy named Will Byers. In an attempt to find Will, his friends Mike Wheeler, Lucas Sinclair and Dustin Henderson, embark on a dangerous adventure. They are helped by Eleven, a young psychokinetic girl that escaped from the secret facility as well as Will’s mother Joyce, and the town’s police chief Jim Hopper.
The Byers Family
The Byers family tree is made up of Will Byers, his brother Jonathan and their caring mother Joyce – they are some of the show’s main characters. Later in the show, the family was joined by Jim Hopper, who became Joyce’s partner, and Eleven (Jane Hopper), the couple’s adopted daughter. Joyce’s ex-husband and the boys’ biological father, Lonnie, is also present in the show, but plays a very minor role in the Stranger Things plot.
Will Byers is known as a kind, sincere, and soft-spoken boy. He is exceptionally smart for his age and enjoys science, much like his friends. He shares a lot of other interests with them as well in things like Dungeons & Dragons, X-Men comic books, and Ghostbusters films. He is also creative and loves to write stories. However, because of his “nerdy” interests, he was often bullied at school. On top of that, his father’s previous mistreatment of him also contributed to his feelings of being isolated.
Jonathan is intelligent and self-reliant, yet a bit reclusive and asocial. Despite coming from a small community, he’s got big ambitions – he wants to attend New York University at some point, for example. He has a close relationship with his family and is shown to have a soft heart for animals. He also has a strong passion for music and has made multiple mixtapes for himself and his brother.
Joyce is a very kind, compassionate, and benevolent mother who would do practically anything to protect her sons. When Will went missing in Season 1, Joyce went to great lengths to find him, together with her other son Jonathan and Chief Jim Hopper. She continued to believe that her son was alive even after the assumed dead body of Will was discovered. When it turned out that Will was truly alive and, with Hopper’s assistance, she was able to save him, her dedication was ultimately repaid.
Jim Hopper is initially portrayed as a cold and cynical man, but over the course of the show we learn that he is more than capable of deeply caring about his friends and family. Whilst serving in the Vietnam War, he came into contact with Agent Orange, a dangerous herbicide designed to destroy the foliage that the NVA and Viet Cong were utilizing as cover. This ultimately meant that he couldn’t have healthy children. Jim had a daughter Sara with his then-wife Diane, however, Sara was diagnosed with cancer at a young age, and died soon after. As a result, Hopper became emotionally detached.
Eleven was initially shown as timid, socially reclusive, and incredibly wary of other people because she was raised in Hawkins National Laboratory and utterly devoid of socialization. She developed into a strong protector of her friends, though, and exhibited unwavering loyalty to those who looked out for her, especially to Mike Wheeler, with whom she fell in love. Eleven is also highly sensitive, sweet, and curious about the world despite the fact that she has experienced much manipulation and bullying throughout her childhood.
The Wheeler Family
The Wheeler family tree in Stranger Things consists of three siblings – Mike, Nancy and Holly, and their parents Ted and Karen.
Mike Wheeler is portrayed as upbeat, empathetic, and fiercely loyal to his friends, often going above and above to help them. Like his friend Will, he is shown to be a creative thinker, for instance, through his role as Dungeon Master in D&D. Mike is also shown as a good detective as he was able to connect some of the events together that proved and explained the existence of the Upside Down thanks to a brilliant mind.
Mike’s elder sibling Nancy is also shown to have a brilliant mind and be a diligent student. However, once she started dating Steve, she started acting more rebellious and doing things she probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. But despite her new “friends” having an impact on her behavior, she still maintained her kindness and sympathy. She also possesses a great deal of bravery and tenacity – one example of that is her stepping through a portal to another reality while searching for her missing friend Barb in an effort to save her.
Holly Wheeler plays a rather minor role in the series and is depicted as an innocent, adorable little girl. She is mostly unaware of the supernatural events happening to her close ones but does witness some weird things from time to time, for example, when she caught a glimpse of the Upside Down creature called Mind Flayer.
Ted and Karen Wheeler are a fairly happy couple, although Karen was shown to mostly marry out of convenience, not strong feelings towards Ted. Ted is often shown to be very laid-back in relation to other people’s problems, including his family’s. However, it is mostly not due to the lack of caring, but rather his personality type – fixating on work and making money for his family more than anything.
The Sinclair Family
The Sinclair family consists of siblings Lucas and Erica, and their parents Charles and Sue.
In his group of friends, Lucas can be considered the realist, at least initially. He first had major doubts about Eleven and her abilities when they first met, and he continued to take a realistic stance even in the face of impossible circumstances. However, he underwent a shift in his personality as he bore witness to more and more supernatural events. Lucas is generally sweet-natured and has the best interests of everyone in mind, although he does at times get defensive about his opinions and actions.
Lucas’s sister Erica was first a minor character and seemed to be a typical annoying little sister. However, over time she gets more involved in the supernatural and helps her brother and his friends on many occasions. She’s shown to be very supportive and extremely intelligent, embracing her geekiness and love for D&D.
Charles and Sue aren’t major characters in the show, but they are typically portrayed as a healthy and happy couple, caring deeply for their son and his friends.
The Henderson Family
The Henderson family is made up of only three people – Dustin, his mother Claudia and his unnamed father.
Dustin is often shown to be the heart of the friends’ group, protecting its harmony at all costs. He often brought the group’s attention to what was going on between them in order to resolve disputes. He also served as a neutral, level-headed mediation between the open-minded Mike and the skeptical Lucas, when they argued about Eleven’s powers and her role in the events. Moreover, Dustin is not just a good soul – he is also the group’s most scientifically inclined member and may actually be considered the smartest of the four.
Dustin’s parents aren’t major characters in the show; whilst Claudia is seen on screen from time to time, Mr. Henderson hasn’t been seen or even referred to since Season 1, so his status is as of now unknown.
The Mayfield-Hargrove Family
Our Stranger Things family tree review concludes with the Mayfield-Hargrove family, which consists of step-siblings Max and Billy along with Max’s mother Susan and Billy’s father Neil.
Max is a tomboy with a variety of hobbies that some might not deem “conventional” for a girl at the time. She loves skating a lot and is good at arcade games like Dig Dug, where she regularly gets the highest scores. She was originally reclusive and wary of other people due to moving to Hawkins and her step-brother’s harsh treatment of her. However, once she met Will, Mike, Lucas and Dustin, she managed to warm up to them and integrate herself into the group as a valued and skilled member.
Billy strikes as the stereotypical “bad boy” type, but with darker, more violent undertones. Most of that anger seems to come from his upbringing, as his father Neil physically abused him on a regular basis. He acts hostile toward a lot of the main characters and views them as competition to be beaten. He’s known to swiftly descend into murderous, violent outbursts – on one occasion, for instance, out of his frustration with his step-sister Max, he almost ran over Lucas, Mike, and Dustin with his car.
Susan and Neil aren’t major characters in the show, however, they are often shown as a dysfunctional couple with Neil being the aggressor and abuser. The tension between the two gets so high that over the course of the show, the couple gets divorced and Neil gets separated from Max, much to her relief.
The Stranger Things plot has always been intriguing and convoluted, and so have the relationships between the main cast. The personal drama in the characters’ families and friendships only adds to the supernatural side of the show. And while not all families are created equal, and some characters have much happier households to come back to after school, this doesn’t stop them from being friends and sticking together till the end, even in the face of death.