Jonathan and Nancy are the ultimate monster-hunting team on Stranger Things, but they are also my ultimate ship on Stranger Things.
For the most part, Stranger Things doesn’t focus on romantic relationships. The characters are too busy fighting monsters, searching for those who have disappeared, and trying to stay alive. As a teenager in the ’80s, however, Nancy’s life naturally involves a bit of romance. Her real-world relationship with Jonathan acts as a great foil to other-worldly adventures she faces.
This week, it is Jonathan and Nancy’s turn in our Battleships tournament (Go vote for them here!). To celebrate the bits of romance amongst the chaos on Stranger Things, here is a list of the reasons Jonathan and Nancy are meant for each other.
Steve is the worst
Despite her obvious chemistry with Jonathan, Nancy actually dates Steve throughout season 1 of Stranger Things. While Steve ends the season by beginning to redeem himself, he does not treat Nancy well. The first time Steve appears in the show, he is trying to convince Nancy not to study for her chemistry exam.
Steve drags Nancy along to a party when she wants to study for her chemistry test. He’d rather make out with her than support her education. He does nothing to support Nancy when Barb disappears and she is grieving for her missing friend. Later in the series, he stands idly by while his friends call Nancy a slut.
Not only does Steve not support Nancy, he also does not support those in Nancy’s life. During a party at his house, he is rude to Nancy’s best friend Barb. Later, when Barb goes missing, his only concern is that her disappearance will get him in trouble for the party he threw.
Steve is also rude to Jonathan. He makes fun of Jonathan’s photography and even goes as far as breaking Jonathan’s camera. The good looks and bad boy charm Steve has aren’t enough to make him a good boyfriend.
Jonathan is a precious cinnamon roll
If Steve is the boyfriend Nancy has now, Jonathan is the boyfriend she deserves. In many ways, Jonathan acts exactly the opposite of Steve. He supports Nancy and those around her. Instead of dragging others down, he builds them up.
When Jonathan and Nancy go out on their own to fight the monster, Mike and the boys begin to worry about her. When they realize she is with Jonathan, someone says “she’s okay.” Even these young boys can see that Jonathan protects those around him and will take care of Nancy.
Jonathan is also good brother and son. When Will goes missing, Jonathan does everything he can to support his mother. He is willing to take his own hard-earned money to pay for missing posters. He drives out of town to see if Will is with their estranged father. He prepares to fight monsters for Will and searches for him in the woods.
When Will is with his family, Jonathan protects him. Before his parent’s divorce, he gives Will mix tapes to drown out the sound of their fighting. When Will comes home, Jonathan stays by his side while he recovers in the hospital. He’s always looking out for others.
They share grief
Jonathan and Nancy connect over the disappearances of Will and Barb. There is something powerful about shared grief. Nancy feels responsible for the disappearance of her friend. They were supposed to be together when Barb was left alone and taken to the Upside Down. Barb’s disappearance and ultimate death leave a weight on Nancy.
Similarly, Jonathan feels responsible for Will’s disappearance. As the older brother, he feels the obligation to protect and care for Will. Though Will eventually comes home, the experience still leaves a weight on Jonathan. These feelings of responsibility allow Jonathan and Nancy to connect.
Jonathan and Nancy also connect over their families. Jonathan’s parents are divorced. Nancy feels that her parents are living in love-less marriage. They understand what it means to grieve for the perfect family they do not have.
In a way, they feel like the protectors of their home. They both care for their younger brothers to show them what love can look like, even if the boys can’t see it in their own parents’ relationships. Jonathan and Nancy show each other that love doesn’t have to come from their parents. It can come from their siblings or from each other.
They work well together
Even though they don’t date in season 1, Jonathan and Nancy prove they know how to work together. They work together to find out what happened to Barb, to find the Upside Down, and to take on the monster.
Jonathan took pictures of Barb the night she disappeared. When Nancy sees the pictures, she sees a monster in the corner of one. Jonathan and Nancy work together to develop the film, blow up the image, and identify the monster.
Later, after Will’s fake funeral, the two work together to find the Upside Down. They work on a map to identify where the monster has been seen. They then search through the woods together. Nancy accidentally falls into the Upside Down and Jonathan pulls her back into the real world.
Determined to fight the monster, Jonathan and Nancy work together to try and kill it. They buy hunting supplies. When they set a trap in Jonathan’s house, they communicate non-verbally and work together in harmony. Their teamwork is graceful, almost looking like a dance. Their work pays off and they are able to capture and burn the monster.
They obviously love each other
Of course, the most compelling argument for Jonathan and Nancy is that they obviously love each other. Jonathan beats up Steve after the movie marquee in town is repainted to call Nancy a slut. When he gets arrested, a woman at the police station says that “only love makes you that stupid.” If not love, what else could make Jonathan so upset with Steve?
Nancy seems to reciprocate that passion when she cares for Jonathan at the police station. Jonathan is a little banged up from the fight. Nancy comforts him and holds an ice pack to his head. Later, Mike asks Nancy if she likes Jonathan. She says no, but it isn’t the least bit convincing.
Nancy even visits Will at the hospital when he comes home. She seems to be there just as much for Jonathan. When she has to leave, she stares at Jonathan and Jonathan stares longingly back at her. Like the good brother he is, he stays with Will. But it is obvious he wishes he could go with Nancy.
In one of the last scenes in season 1, Nancy gives Jonathan a Christmas present. This moment captures the feelings the two have for each other. Nancy gives Jonathan a camera to replace the one that Steve broke. She also gives him something that has nothing to do with Steve: a kiss.
Do you think Jonathan and Nancy are meant to be? If so, vote for them in our Battleships tournament!