In the first season of Stranger Things, no character was more extra than Steve Harrington — Nancy Wheeler’s frequently possessive, largely confused, often douchey boyfriend. Though he eventually got with the program and helped fight some monsters, he wasn’t exactly what you’d call the pick of the litter.
So when the actor who plays Steve, Joe Keery, was promoted to series regular status for Stranger Things 2, fans were left to wonder why that might be. With Nancy’s eyes clearly wandering toward her stalkery BFF Jonathan Byers, what could Steve possibly be getting up to?
As it turned out, the answer was a delight. Steve Harrington’s job would be to deliver Stranger Things 2’s loving homage to one of the greatest teen comedies of the ’80s: Adventures in Babysitting.
steve harrington more like babysitter of the decade pic.twitter.com/5GsUSyotqH— trick or meat (@meatgirI) October 30, 2017
Armed with a nail-studded baseball bat, plenty of stern words, and a can of Aqua Net, Steve took on the unlikely role of guardian to Stranger Thing’s breakout preteen ensemble as they faced down everything from monsters from the Upside Down to girl problems. And he was such a natural at it that he shepherded his way into becoming this season’s breakout role — at least on the internet.
Fans quickly began to celebrate Steve’s protective prowess:
Actual footage of Steve Harrington in Stranger Things 2 pic.twitter.com/CeQp2jeTS0— lizzie (@lizziesayshey) October 27, 2017
steve harrington this season pic.twitter.com/kQogjzKLSJ— - ̗̀skelilyten ̖́- (@pixieparkers) October 28, 2017
rare photo of steve harrington babysitting pic.twitter.com/xqYe4sKGdh— ⋆*ೃ:.✧ (@MILLIEW0LFHARD) October 29, 2017
babysitter steve harrington rt if u agree pic.twitter.com/nJbW60OZMY— beth SAW RAGNAROK (@midtownkeery) October 29, 2017
Babysitter Steve is the best Steve pic.twitter.com/hAyN8kYsuZ— Netflix US (@netflix) November 6, 2017
And many instantly embraced the idea of “Dad Steve.”
if my girl and steve harrington are drowning catch me at my girls funeral ☠️ flexing w that farrah fawcett spray— sofia (@mvdmax) October 29, 2017
Netflix loved the “Dad Steve” vibe so much, it embraced the joke:
Introducing...DAD STEVE. pic.twitter.com/42vW4MNt0V— Stranger Things (@Stranger_Things) October 29, 2017
As did Keery himself:
But Steve’s epic babysitting skills weren’t the only thing that earned him praise and adoration.
sexual orientation: Steve Harrington holding a baseball bat covered in nails pic.twitter.com/RoaNz9ugL0— Alex Hutson (@alexandrahutson) October 27, 2017
It seems that Nu Steve is memeable even without the bat and gaggle of preteens:
when you’re feeling all sad and emotional but then you remember who you are pic.twitter.com/FJsNkthnkb— stranger maria ¨̮ (@finnskeery) October 28, 2017
Fans’ love and appreciation of Steve all seemed to revolve around the development and disintegration of his relationship with Nancy, for better or for worse. Though it was clear the pair weren’t exactly compatible, not all fans were happy with where the two of them ended up. Recalling last year’s #JusticeForBarb meme, the sidelong refrains that Steve Harrington deserves better and #JusticeForSteve spontaneously burst forth among viewers.
DONT YOU DARE SAY STEVE HARRINGTON DIDNT DESERVE BETTER HES DEVELOPED SO MUCH AND DESERVES ALL THE LOVE pic.twitter.com/bYo1rFnUYw— k | SEASON TWO (@spideylosers) October 28, 2017
steve harrington deserves better than nancy wheeler after s2 pic.twitter.com/qdmvkRUUyu— st s2 spoilers (@wiIIIbyers) October 28, 2017
a concept for stranger things 3: steve harrington meets someone who loves and appreciates him and hangs out with dustin and his other kids— tina (@afisvocals) October 29, 2017
Whether you loved or hated where Steve ended up, lots of fans seem to agree that Steve’s character development in season two was top-notch.
steve harrington’s character development was increEeeeEeEdible pic.twitter.com/uhWvBdhJDV— ً (@DAREDEVllLS) October 28, 2017
season 1: i can’t stand steve harrington— ¡ reyna ¡ (@its_reyna) October 29, 2017
season 2: i am literally in love with steve harrington and would die for him #StrangerThings2
Well done, Stranger Things. Well done.