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Maybe I am a mess, maybe I’m crazy, maybe I’m out of my mind! But, God help me, I will keep these lights up until the day I die, if I think there’s a chance that Will's still out there!
~ Joyce in season one.
I know it sounds crazy... I sound crazy... You think I don't know that? It is crazy! But I heard him, Jonathan... he talked to me! Will is calling to me, and he's out there, and he's alone, and he's scared, and... I don't care if anyone believes me. I am not gonna stop looking for him until I find him and bring him home! I am going to bring him home!
~ Joyce to Jonathan.

Joyce Byers is a main character from Stranger Things.

She is a divorced single mother, raising her two sons Jonathan and Will in Hawkins, Indiana, before her youngest mysteriously disappears. Despite everyone believing that she was suffering from a mental breakdown, Joyce was determined that she was communicating to her son, and succeeded in rescuing him with the help of Eleven. In season two, Joyce once again is determined to help her son break free from the Mind Flayer's influence, and began a relationship with Bob Newby before his death.

She is portrayed by Winona Ryder, who also played Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice, Veronica Sawyer in Heathers, Kim Boggs in Edward Scissorhands, Elsa Van Helsing in Frankenweenie, both films directed by Tim Burton and Veronica Sawyer in Heathers.


Early Life

Joyce was born in the 1940s, and presumably attended Hawkins High School in the 1950s to the 1960s. She was classmates with Jim Hopper and Bob Newby, and would marry Lonnie Byers around the 60s or 70s. Despite their love for each other, their marriage crumbled before the birth of their first son, Jonathan, and later Will. According to Jonathan, Joyce and Lonnie loved each other, but he wasn't around for that part.

During their marriage, Lonnie became antagonist towards his youngest son, believing him to be weak, and called him profane names. Joyce slowly began to resent Lonnie, as she hated his unloving and uncaring nature towards their sons. Eventually, Joyce and Lonnie divorced on bad terms, and she never acquired his help with her financial problems. Around 1973, she began working at the Melvald's General Store, working as a retail clerk on holidays to make ends meet. Around 1983, Jonathan began working, and would help his mother with getting more money. It's also noted that Joyce previously suffered from anxiety attacks in the past, and focused so much on her job that she didn't spend enough time with her children.

Stranger Things


Before leaving for work one morning in November, Joyce discovered that she couldn't find Will anywhere. She first looked into Castle Byers, but didn't found him there, and called Karen to see if he was there. Karen informed Joyce that Will left her home around 8 pm, leading Joyce to file a missing person report to the police.

With Chief Hopper brushing off her report, Joyce and Jonathan placed missing posters, but Jonathan continued to do so across the town. At home, Joyce picked up the phone when it rang, but only heard static and growling. Then, she believed that she started hearing Will breathing, but the phone short circuited, and she was knocked back. She informed Hopper of the call, but he was skeptical, leading her to go the General Store to use the phone. After negotiating with her boss, she used the phone before it short circuited as well, and she returned home.

Joyce noticed the lights blinking an odd pattern, and followed them into Will's room until loud music started playing. Joyce became terrified when something strange was trying to come through the wall, and ran to her car. Convinced that Will was talking to her, she stayed in his room with the lights, only causing Hopper and Jonathan to believe that she was delusional. She bought more Christmas lights, and made contact with Will, who revealed that he was alive, but not safe from the monsters. When she started to paint a letter on the wall, Will told her to run before the monster could come through the wall, and ran outside, nearly being run over by Jonathan.

She was informed by Hopper that they found Will's body at a local quarry, but she responded that she was talking to Will in the lights. Hopper consoled Joyce by telling her that he had visions of his late daughter, Sara, but she begged him to believe her. Afterward, she grabbed an axe from her shed, and slept with it for protection. The next morning, Joyce and Jonathan went to the coroner, but she refused to sign the paper, or believe that it was her son. Jonathan lashed out at her in front of everyone, stating that she was losing her mind, and that they had to prepare the funeral.

At home, Will spoke to Joyce that he was somewhere like home, but cold, and Joyce pulled back the wallpaper to find a flesh-like substance. Joyce told him to run when the monster came for Will, and proceeded to grab the axe, and chop a hole, but it only lead to the outside. At the funeral, Lonnie appeared only to get the money from Will's death, causing Joyce to send him away. She also attempted to tell Lonnie that Will was alive, but he was dismissive of these claims. Eventually, Hopper revealed to Joyce that she was right all along, and decided to help find his whereabouts.

Joyce and Hopper tracked down Terry Ives, who sued Dr. Martin Brenner and Hawkins National Laboratory for kidnapping her daughter twelve years prior. They found Terry in a cationic state, but Terry's sister informed them of Terry's accusations. Returning to Hawkins, they found Jonathan and Nancy Wheeler at the police station, and asked for their help to find Will. At the Hawkins Middle School, they build a makeshift tank so Eleven could communicate with Will.

Going to Hawkins National Laboratory, Joyce and Hopper were captured, and were asked for help by Brenner. Hopper negotiated a deal, and the two were able to go to the Upside Down to save Will, who was at near death. After administrating CPR, they escaped the Upside Down, and Will was taken to the hospital for him to recover. In December, Joyce and the family had been reunited, and Jonathan took pictures of Joyce.


When Will told Joyce that he was suffering visions of the Upside Down, she didn't hesitate to take him to the laboratory. Dr. Owens believed that Will was suffering from PTSD due to them being psychosomatic episodes, and he returned home. At this point, Joyce reunited with Bob Newby, and the two began dating, with Jonathan not liking their relationship.

During another checkup with Dr. Owens at the lab, he believed that Will was suffering from an "Anniversary Effect", and advised her and Hopper to treat Will normally. Joyce's relationship with Bob grew, as he asked her to move to Maine with him, but she hesitated the idea. Around this time, Joyce became suspicious of Will's drawing of a spider-like creature, and eventually realized that something was wrong when watching a tape of the Halloween party.

Going to the middle school, she alongside Will's friend and Max Mayfield witness him have another episode. Joyce begged for Will to wake up, and he eventually snapped out of it, and revealed that he was being overwhelmed by the shadow monster. Joyce and Hopper spoke to Will, who revealed that he has "now memories", and drew a bunch of drawings that appeared as a maze pattern. When Hopper was in trouble, Joyce asked for Bob's help, who saw the drawings, and learned that they were a map of Hawkins.

Joyce, Bob, Mike, and Will went to Hopper's location, with the adults going in to get Hopper from the tunnels. After rescuing him, soldiers came in and told them, and returned to find Will convulsing. The group went to the Hawkins lab, where they tested Will, and learned that he had some kind of virus that was connected to the hive mind. Will told the soldiers and scientist where to go, but revealed that he had deceived them, and Demodogs attacked the lab. To prevent the shadow monster to get their location, Mike told them to sedate Will, and Bob sacrificed himself to help them escape. Joyce, Mike, Hopper, and Will reunited with Jonathan, Nancy, Steve Harrington, Dustin, Lucas, and Max, and escaped the lab together.

At home, Joyce grieved over Bob's death while the others speculated on how to defeat the shadow monster. When they realized that the monster was similar to the Mind Flayer, who could control monsters, they decided to defeat him by taking Will to a place he doesn't recognize. Joyce agreed, and they made the shed unrecognizable as they interrogated Will, who was giving them Morse Code to defeat it. When the phone rang, the creature learned of their location, and the group prepared to fight.

Eleven came to their rescue, and Joyce, Nancy, and Jonathan decided to go to Hopper's cabin to exorcise Will while Eleven and Hopper defeat the Mind Flayer. The group succeeded in exorcising Will, and Eleven defeated the monster for good. In December, Joyce taught Will how to dance for the Snow Ball, and was comforted by Hopper over Bob's death.


  • The character was originally written to be a "tough Long Island mom", and be aggressive and swore a lot.
  • Joyce has had three love interests on the show.



Season 1
Joyce Byers | Mike Wheeler | Jim Hopper | Eleven | Dustin Henderson | Lucas Sinclair | Nancy Wheeler | Jonathan Byers | Will Byers | Steve Harrington

Season 2
Jim Hopper | Eleven | Will Byers | Joyce Byers | Mike Wheeler | Dustin Henderson | Lucas Sinclair | Max Mayfield | Nancy Wheeler | Jonathan Byers | Steve Harrington | Bob Newby | Sam Owens | Murray Bauman | Erica Sinclair

Season 3
Jim Hopper | Eleven | Joyce Byers | Mike Wheeler | Dustin Henderson | Lucas Sinclair | Will Byers | Max Mayfield | Nancy Wheeler | Jonathan Byers | Steve Harrington | Robin Buckley | Erica Sinclair | Murray Bauman | Alexei | Bob Newby | Sam Owens