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Stranger Things: Jonathan's 5 Biggest Mistakes (& 5 Shining Moments)

by Svetlana Sterlin 24 days ago in list

Jonathan is often quickly judged by other characters in Netflix's Stranger Things. While he's made his fair share of mistakes, he's also had his shining moments.

Jonathan is often quickly judged by his fellow Hawkins residents. At the beginning of Stranger Things, he's known as the town stalker and pervert, and when Will goes missing, Jonathan is the first to be falsely accused of his assumed murder.

So, sure, he makes a few mistakes that contribute to the town's whisperings about his reputation, but somehow he always finds a way to redeem himself. Here are five of Jonathan's biggest mistakes, and five of his shining moments.

10. MISTAKE: Taking Stalkerish Photos Of Nancy

When Jonathan's schoolmates discover the photos he took of Nancy through Steve's bedroom window, they immediately jump to an incriminating conclusion. In their eyes, the photos are basically evidence that confirms their suspicions of his being a stalker.

Nancy is conflicted; despite her earlier attempt to comfort Jonathan about Will's disappearance, she can't quite trust him after this revelation, even though he may be able to help her find Barb. This delays their eventual teaming up to search for Will and Barb together. When they finally start working together, Steve is jealous and aggravated. Still thinking Jonathan is a pervert, Steve provokes him and they fight.

9. SHINING MOMENT: Rescuing His Family From A Pack Of Demodogs

Jonathan is instrumental in rescuing Will, Joyce, and Mike from the advancing Demodogs at Hawkins Lab right after they've witnessed Bob's brutal demise.

Jonathan is at the wheel, horn blaring, tires screeching, just in time to whisk his family - and Nancy's brother - back to safety. He speeds off with them and lets Hopper take care of Lucas, Dustin, Max, and Steve. Back at the Byers house, they get to work trying to un-Flay Will. Jonathan's assistance is once again invaluable in exorcising the Mind Flayer's presence from inside Will.

8. MISTAKE: Separating From Nancy While Looking For Barb

Besides Will, Nancy is the first character in the Netflix series seen entering Upside Down ... and it's partly Jonathan's fault. When Nancy crawls into that tree, Jonathan is nowhere to be seen. He and Nancy separate while inspecting the woods where they think Barb may have gone.

Nancy spots the odd-looking entrance to the Upside Down, not yet knowing where it leads, and calls out to Jonathan, but he has wandered off somewhere. If they had stuck together, he might have stopped her from going through, or gone with her. As it is, she is almost killed by a Demogorgon and afterward is left traumatized.

7. SHINING MOMENT: Finding The Party Before The Bad Guys Do

At a critical moment, Jonathan proves to be the unlikely hero in helping Hopper locate the missing Eleven, Mike, Lucas, and Dustin before the Hawkins Lab team does. When Hopper and Nancy are desperate to find Eleven and Mike before Hawkins Lab takes them away, they can't think of where the kids might be.

Surprisingly, Jonathan is the one who points them in the right direction. He knows Will well enough to recall that he uses a walkie-talkie to communicate with Mike and the rest of the Party. At the Byers household, they find and use Will's walkie-talkie to reach Mike and help them out of trouble.

6. MISTAKE: Ignoring Nancy's Issues At The Hawkins Post

When Jonathan and Nancy find summer jobs at the Hawkins Post, Nancy is faced with the very real issue of workplace discrimination. Nancy presents her idea for a story about chemical-eating rats to the men of the Post, only to be made fun of and dismissed. Jonathan brushes off Nancy's feelings as misreading the situation.

Their boss continues to be disdainful and disrespectful towards Nancy, so she takes the story into her own hands. Jonathan accompanies her, but he's skeptical and doesn't approve of disregarding their boss's instructions, even after witnessing the way he ridiculed her. They end up getting fired, and Nancy and Jonathan are unable to see eye-to-eye for some time.

5. SHINING MOMENT: Admitting Nancy Is Right About Pretty Much Everything

After failing to empathize with Nancy or place his faith and trust in her, she proves to be right. Jonathan admits his mistaken views to her and apologizes. She forgives him, but they are soon accosted by the grotesque lump of Flayed in the hospital. They are forced to separate but help save each other and defeat the Flayed version of their boss.

Afterward, they continue working closely together to destroy the Flayed and save their friends. By the end of the season, the pair are closer than ever, even though the Byers are moving away.

4. MISTAKE: Working An Extra Shift The Night Will Disappears

Perhaps Jonathan wouldn't have been able to save Will or stop his abduction, but he might have understood his mom's determined beliefs a lot sooner, which could have sped up the whole process of finding and recovering his little brother.

Jonathan is constantly trying to step up and help his family where his father didn't, but if he had listened to Joyce and not taken the extra shift while she was at work, it could have made all the difference. Will would have arrived home to find his brother there, and perhaps Jonathan could have helped him fight off the Demogorgon - or at least seen it or believe it, which could have resulted in a much quicker rescue.

3. SHINING MOMENT: Introducing Will To The Clash

In one of the show's earliest heart-to-hearts between the brothers, Jonathan gives Will a mixtape featuring music from The Clash, David Bowie, Joy Division, and more. He advises Will to like whatever he likes, not what everyone expects him to. The boys discuss their complicated relationship with their father. Jonathan prompts Will to wonder if their father even knows any of Will's interests.

In Season 2, when Will is upset that everyone treats him like a 'freak', Jonathan reminds him that he doesn't have to fit in with the norm. Once again bringing up musicians, he asks Will whether he'd rather be friends with David Bowie or Kenny Rogers. Jonathan proves to be one of Will's greatest mentors by encouraging him to be himself even if some of his peers think he's strange.

2. MISTAKE: Not Believing His Mom About The Lights

Even Joyce admits that her theories sound crazy, but surely her own son would at least understand, right? When Joyce is convinced - rightly so, it turns out, because sometimes she's a genius - that she has communicated with Will through the lights, Jonathan doesn't believe her - understandably, perhaps.

Later, when his mom mentions seeing a faceless figure coming out of the wall, he thinks she's actually going crazy. Her seemingly deranged talk angers Jonathan, and the tension drives them apart at a time when they should be working together to find Will and support each other during their grief. His lack of faith and trust, while justifiable at first, prolongs the process of finding Will.

1. SHINING MOMENT: Exposing Hawkins Lab With Nancy

When Nancy is frustrated that nobody has paid for Barb's unjust fate, Jonathan helps her in exposing Hawkins Lab for their wrongdoings. The pair plot their own capture by Hawkins Lab spies and record Doctor Owens' incriminating speech.

This they present to Murray Bauman, who mocks and teases them but nevertheless assists them in turning this evidence into a story that the general public will believe. At the end of Season 2, the Lab is shut down and the people responsible are proven guilty. Barb finally gets her funeral and her parents get some closure.

[Originally shared with ScreenRant]

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Svetlana Sterlin

Svetlana Sterlin lives in Brisbane, Australia, where she contributes to Our Culture Magazine and reads for Split Rock Review. In 2021, she founded swim meet lit mag. Her creative work appears in several printed and online publications.

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