‘Outer Banks’: Why Sarah Cameron’s Relationship With Topper was Different

Outer Banks is a Netflix series about a group of teens who go on a treasure hunt for $400 million in gold, but it’s also a love story. Fans fell in love with the relationship between John B (Chase Stokes), a Pogue from the poor side of the island, and Sarah Cameron (Madelyn Cline), a well-to-do Kook who wanted a life of adventure. 

Before she fell for John B, Sarah was dating Topper (Austin North), a fellow Kook who loved the idea of being with her. Sarah’s relationship with Topper differed significantly from her relationship with John B. Here’s why. 

Topper 'Outer Banks'
Madelyn Cline & Austin North | Netflix

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Topper liked the ‘idea’ of Sarah Cameron

Throughout the first season of Outer Banks, it becomes clear how Topper values Sarah as an object rather than a person. In one episode, Topper and Sarah Cameron almost share a moment of intimacy at a party. For Topper, being intimate with Sarah felt like a conquest — almost as if he was marking his territory. Sure, he told her he loved her, but his motives led viewers to believe otherwise. For Sarah, it was clear that moment meant something else. It signified the two of them taking the next step in their relationship — something she wasn’t ready for. 

“In episode 3, I believe, you see Topper really, really driving that whole interaction with [Sarah],” Cline told Cosmopolitan. “You see him really pushing for this. It’s obvious that he’s asked if she wants to go to third base, and it’s obvious that she’s said no in the past, and he’s pushing the pen a bit. She says yes, and then all of a sudden, you see her have this moment panicking, and she’s like, ‘No, no, no, this is too much.’”

Sarah had a different relationship with John B

In her relationship with Topper, Sarah felt out of control. With John B, she was in the driver’s seat. That becomes clear later in the series when John B and Sarah are ready to have their own intimate experience. This time, the camera slowly faded to black — a careful choice made by Valerie Weiss, the director of episodes 7 and 8. “We wanted there to be a differentiation between the scene with Topper and the scene with John B,” Cline said. 

Showrunners chose to show each scene different to drive home how vastly different Sarah’s relationships were. To further separate Sarah’s past relationship with Topper, Cline, Stokes, and Weiss decided it would be best to let Sarah be in control of the scene with John B in the bell tower. Previously, Topper was controlling the situation, growing frustrated after feeling like Sarah led him on. 

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Small choices, such as comparing Sarah’s relationships with these scenes, have an incredible storytelling ability — one that makes fans eager for more. 

Was Topper a good guy? 

Throughout season 1 of Outer Banks, it seemed as though Topper operated with a one-track mind. Topper valued Sarah as a possession as opposed to a person — a quality that she calls him on at one point.

However, in the end, Topper realized he was hurting Sarah and holding her back from becoming who she wanted to be. Because he loved her, he let her go. Some fans enjoyed that arc for Topper’s character. “I don’t know about you, but I think Topper is the slept on character,” one fan wrote on Twitter. Another fan tweeted about their hopes for Topper next season.  

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Still, other fans couldn’t find any redeeming qualities in Topper. “Topper from Outer Banks deserves no rights,” one viewer tweeted. Another viewer wrote: “I HATE the toxicity of Topper on Outer Banks.” 

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Regardless of fan’s feelings, Topper will most likely be around in the forthcoming season of Outer Banks. Netflix hasn’t confirmed it yet, but showrunner Jonas Pate is writing a new season and hopeful the series will get picked up.