Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Hopper And Joyce's Relationship On Stranger Things Was Not A Forgone Conclusion

When "Stranger Things" dropped its first season on Netflix in 2016, it quickly rocketed to popularity, turning its cast into superstars in the years since. In particular, the paranormal thriller series was a career revival for Winona Ryder, who plays Joyce Byers, and made a leading man of David Harbour, who portrays the fan favorite Jim Hopper, police chief of Hawkins, Indiana.

Both Harbour and Ryder have played their respective roles on "Stranger Things" since its first season, with the two characters becoming closer as the series drew on. Chief Hopper is often a source of comfort for Joyce, as she is for him. When the two finally became a couple in Season 4, it seemed like a plot point the show had been building toward naturally since day one. After Joyce somewhat confusingly heads into danger to stage Hopper's escape from a Russian prison filled with Demogorgons, the two finally affirm their emotions for each other and return home as a couple. Though Hopper might not get what he wants in Season 5, for now he has true love.

However, according to David Harbour, that romance was not a forgone conclusion. Rather, it was a decision made after plenty of on-set discussions over the years and plenty of hopeful prodding from "Stranger Things" fans.

Hopper and Joyce's romance is partially fan service, says Harbour

Speaking to GQ, David Harbour discussed Joyce Byers and Jim Hopper making their relationship official in the final episode of "Stranger Things" Season 4, explaining that it hadn't necessarily been the plan, despite the deepening connection between the two characters over the years. Harbour says he's discussed the two characters' backstories with Ryder, though they consistently found themselves on the fence. "It's always something that Winona and I have talked about," the "Black Widow" actor admitted. "On set riffing about what their relationship was in high school, and you know, who they are to each other. There was always a tension between should this be consummated, or should they just be friends."

Ultimately, Jim and Joyce made their relationship romantic partially due to a widespread fan desire to see them as a couple, Harbour noted. "I do think it's a bit of fan service," he said. "I think there was a real appetite for mommy and daddy to get back together again." However, he says everyone involved recognized how natural the relationship felt once it had been decided upon, saying, "Once we were on that train, it seemed like an inevitability."