Why Joe Keery Is as Beloved as His 'Stranger Things' Character Steve Harrington

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Every show has a fan favorite, and for Stranger Things, it might be Steve Harrington. Though the character started as a guest star for season 1, the beloved high school student joined the main cast in season 2 and has stayed there -- wedged permanently into fans' hearts -- ever since. Often seen as the babysitter of the cast's main group of kids, he looks after his friends with a fervent faithfulness that has now captured the hearts of millions. 

Harrington may be fictional, but the actor who plays him, Joe Keery, is very real and might be just as perfect. Here's a deeper dive as to why. 

He's protective of his younger co-stars

Just like Steve Harrington looks after his younger friends in Hawkins, Indiana, Keery keeps an eye out for his castmates wherever they go. Last month, fans swooned when co-star Caleb McLaughlin reminded audiences of the time Keery defended co-star Finn Wolfhard at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con after moderator Patton Oswalt told the young actor he had "the greatest porn name ever." Keery told Wolfhard -- who was 14 at the time -- to ignore it, and then glared at Oswalt, who later apologized. 

When commenting about it this year, McLaughlin called Keery's behavior "truly an inspiration," saying that "Joe's really a mom bro."

He makes music

Keery announced his second musical album under the moniker "Djo" last month, set to release on Sept. 16. The new album, Decide, will follow his 2019 release, Twenty Twenty, and began with the release of its lead single, "Change," on June 22. Though Steve Harrington isn't a musician on the show, fans on Twitter were thrilled to discover more of Keery's talents with one user tweeting, "Why am I just learning that Joe Keery makes music he’s even hotter now."

He has an adorable relationship with his girlfriend

Though Steve Harrington broke up with his girlfriend long ago, Keery's love life isn't as dull. The actor has been dating Maika Monroe for almost five years -- GQ reports that they first met at a party in 2017. That same year, they bonded while working together on the film After Everything and later went public with their romance at the Stranger Things season 2 premiere. Though they keep their relationship off of social media, the couple is known for adorable red carpet appearances and in 2020, Monroe even photographed Keery for the launch of his Djo musical career. 

 

He's the best character on Stranger Things and fans REALLY don't want him to die

As fans settle in for season 4's final two episodes this weekend, anxiety surrounding Steve Harrington's future is higher than ever before. "If Steve Harrington dies this season you will never hear from me again," one fan tweeted. In advance of the finale’s release, Netflix has put up billboards that read "Protect Steve." 

Optimistic fans are hoping it's a sign the character will make it out alive, but even Keery himself might not be clear on the show's ending. When ET spoke to him at the season 4 premiere in May, Keery said much of the cast is left in the dark until the show's release. "For us, we're only filming one of the storylines, so when we watch the episodes, at least I'll speak for myself, I'm like, 'Wow, I'm just watching this as a fan. I didn't see any of this on the day.' So, that's really fun,” he said. 

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