WARNING: There is a major Stranger Things spoiler below.
One of the most surprising twists in Season 1 of Stranger Things wasn't anything supernatural but rather the final configuration of the Steve-Nancy-Jonathan “love triangle.” Pretty much everyone thought Nancy (Natalia Dyer) would end up with good-hearted loner Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), not reformed d-bag Steve (Joe Keery) — and that includes the people who played them. As confessed by Keery during a recent “hometown boy makes good” profile in local paper Newburyport News, he and his co-stars were just as shocked as the rest of us:
“I totally did not see that coming,” Keery said. “I remember reading that last script and me and (Charlie Heaton, who plays Jonathan Byers) and Natalia, we were all like, ‘What? Are you joking me?” We were pretty surprised. But if there is a second season, there is a whole lot more ground to be covered. You get to start it with a little bit of conflict.”
As noted by Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer in a recent interview with Variety, Steve wasn't originally written to have a third-act turnaround, but Keery so impressed them that they granted the character an “arc” that made he and Nancy's Ugly Christmas Sweater-accented resolution possible:
“He was much more likable and charming than we originally had envisioned. If you read the pilot, he”s the biggest douchebag on the planet,” Ross Duffer said. “Joe was so good we started to fall in love with the idea that he has an arc himself. He”s maybe not the perfect guy, but he”s maybe in with the wrong crowd. As opposed to him turning Nancy to his side, maybe it”s more Nancy turning him to her side. We liked giving him that arc.”
I personally enjoyed the way the show defied expectations with that final switcheroo, which not only read as more “realistic” but grew organically out of the characters' dynamic inner lives. For all of Nancy and Jonathan's quiet chemistry, for some reason I could never picture them as a couple, and I thank the Duffers for taking my feelings into account.