There are many “shippable” couples in the Stranger Things Universe — but if you’re anything like me, the only one that matters is Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) and Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer). Steve and Nancy, or “Stancy,” aren’t currently together, as we’ve seen in Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 1 (which debuted as part of the 2022 Netflix TV schedule). Instead, Nancy is in a long-distance relationship with Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), who fled to California with his family and Eleven at the end of Stranger Things Season 3.
Despite Dyer’s adorable off-screen relationship with Stranger Things co-star Heaton, I’m not a huge fan of Nancy and Jonathan’s relationship in the show. They care about each other deeply and have been through a lot together, but the heart wants what it wants! And my heart wants Stancy.
Lots of questions remain, starting with where the Stranger Things Season 4 characters were at the conclusion of Volume 1, but I’m still rooting for Steve and Nancy to rekindle their relationship while defeating Vecna in Volume 2 of Stranger Things Season 4. Here are some of the key moments in their relationship, and why I think all signs point to a Stancy reunion in Volume 2.
They Start The Series As A New Couple
It’s a classic '80s love story: Hot, popular guy meets shy, dorky (stunningly beautiful) girl. At the beginning of Stranger Things, Steve and Nancy have just begun their relationship, and it’s a typical high school romance filled with study dates, lying to your parents about your whereabouts, and underage drinking.
Some might see Steve as a bad influence on Nancy, but I can’t seem to root against him. Sure, Steve’s friends suck, but Steve himself is a sweet, considerate boyfriend for the most part, and he often proves that there’s more to him than the stereotypical jocks we see in most high school movies. Let's also keep in mind that the Duffer brothers planned on making Steve a villain who died in Season 1, but changed the role after realizing the charisma and likability Joe Keery brought to the character.
Steve Smashes Jonathan’s Camera After The House Party (Season 1, “Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly”)
The night Barb goes missing, Steve and Nancy are at a house party at Steve’s parents’ house. Mr. Popular has invited some friends over to get drunk, swim in the pool, and make bad decisions.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Byers is out in the woods looking for his missing brother, but stops on the way to…take pictures of Nancy through the bedroom window.
When Steve finds out, he confronts Jonathan and breaks his camera. We’re supposed to take this as a sign that Steve is a bully, but to me, he was just defending his girlfriend. Think about it — if some guy from school was hiding in the woods behind your house taking indecent pictures of your girlfriend, you’d probably want to break his shit, too.
Steve And Nancy Battle The Demogorgon Together (Season 1, “Chapter Eight: The Upside Down”)
Let’s not forget: Steve, Nancy, and Jonathan fought the Demogorgon together. There have been a lot of monsters in the Netflix original series, but in my opinion none is quite as bone-chilling as the faceless and terrifying Demogorgon.
It’s a bit of a redemption arc for Steve, who showed some of his underdeveloped frontal cortex when he allowed his friends to graffiti “Nancy The Slut Wheeler” across the movie theater marquee in the center of town.
Wielding a spiked-out bat, Steve returns to save the day and fights the Demogorgon with Jonathan and Nancy. They truly would have been toast if Steve hadn’t returned to help.
We see the couple cuddling on the couch at the conclusion of the season, meaning Nancy has forgiven Steve’s wrongdoings and decided to stick by his side after all. One thing’s for sure, you can’t battle a mythical beast with someone without becoming bonded to them for life.
At The End Of Season 2, Steve Tells Nancy To Go With Jonathan (Season 2, “Chapter Nine: The Gate”)
The couple gets off to a rocky start in Stranger Things Season 2. It’s clear that while they haven’t officially called it quits, Nancy has not recovered from the events of the first season and she’s certainly not content with their relationship.
After drunkenly calling their relationship “bullshit,” Nancy’s romance with Steve cools down, leaving an opening for Jonathan Byers to sweep her off her feet. In Jonathan’s defense, things can get a little steamy when you’re fighting to save the planet.
When the group has to split up to battle the Mind Flayer at the end of the second season, Steve tells Nancy that it’s okay for her to go after Jonathan. He means literally, but we can assume he means this in a metaphorical sense as well. Steve really cares for Nancy, but he’s willing to let her go if that’s what will make her happy.
Steve and Nancy Grow As Individuals During Their Time Apart
Season 3 was all about growth for Steve. He makes new friends, like his ice cream shop coworker Robin, and learns who he is outside the walls of Hawkins High School. In some of Steve's best Stranger Things moments so far, he even makes a great babysitter.
At the start of Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 1, we see that Nancy has grown a lot, too: She’s the editor of the school newspaper, and is no longer the shy, unsure girl she was a few years ago. She’s tough, smart, and determined, and she’s independent, also — she has to be, since Jonathan’s in California.
Nancy Is Jealous Of Robin And Steve
When the gang first realizes there’s still something going on in Hawkins in Season 4, Robin joins the group in their quest to destroy Vecna and save his victims. We know that Steve and Robin are “platonic with a capital P,” but Nancy is immediately put off by Robin and seems annoyed at her close friendship with Steve.
Nancy gets over her initial distaste for Robin, but not before showing us that she wouldn’t be too pleased to see Steve with a new girlfriend.
On top of that, when Robin and Nancy pair off to look for clues at the library, Nancy looks a bit disappointed that Steve wasn’t the one to join her instead.
Nancy Follows Steve Into The Upside Down (Season 4, “Chapter Six: The Dive”)
Near the end of Volume 1 of Stranger Things Season 4, the gang must test their theory that one of Vecna’s gates to the Upside Down is in the lake. As the former co-captain of the Hawkins swim team, Steve decides it should be his responsibility to swim to the bottom and investigate.
He finds it, but something drags him back underwater and down through the gate. Nancy wastes no time diving in after him.
Let’s take a moment of silence...She followed him into the Upside Down.
Like Eddie tells Steve after he’s joined them on the other side of the gate:
Despite having just nearly died, there’s also a healthy amount of flirtation between Steve and Nancy in the Upside Down. You can’t stop chemistry, people.
At the ending of Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 1, many of the characters still aren't where they're supposed to be: Nancy is stuck under Vecna’s mind control, with Steve still in the Upside Down with Nancy’s body. Nancy saved Steve’s life, so I’m hoping he’ll get to return the favor by saving her from Vecna in Volume 2. Hey, stranger things have happened (pun intended).
Stranger Things Season 4, Volume 2 (which we hope includes everything we want to see) is set to premiere on Netflix on July 1. The rest of the seasons are available to stream with a Netflix subscription.
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She/her. Lover of female-led comedies, Saturday Night Live, and THAT scene in Fleabag. Will probably get up halfway through the movie to add more butter to the popcorn.