‘Stranger Things’: Joe Keery Reveals the Exact Moment He Knew the Show Was a Hit

Stranger Things made Joe Keery a household name. The actor, who plays Steve Harrington, had a few acting credits to his name when the show started, but the nightmare-inducing hit series helped make him a star. Fans immediately fell in love with the Netflix hit, but a trip abroad helped Keery realize how big of a hit Stranger Things was.

Joe Keery as Steve Harrington in 'Stranger Things.' Keery realized just how popular 'Stranger Things' was during a press event in Italy.
Joe Keery as Steve Harrington in ‘Stranger Things’ | Courtesy of Netflix

Joe Keery was sure his Steve Harrington wouldn’t survive through ‘Stranger Things’ Season 1

Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer originally wrote Steve Harrington as something of a jerk. He was pushy, harsh, and unkind in early drafts of the script. Steve was so unlikable that Keery was sure his character would die in season 1.

As fans now know, the Duffer Brothers revamped their early scripts. Steve went from being Hawkins’ resident prick to the loveable version who has no problem helping out his younger friends.

His character shifted to the more likable end of the spectrum, but Keery still wasn’t sure the Duffer Brothers would let Steve live to see season 2. 

“I read one episode, maybe, of the show, two episodes, and then it was like three episodes, and then they had two more,” Keery said during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (via YouTube). “So it was really, they were building it as they were going. It was very day-to-day.”

Steve is so beloved now that fans threatened to cancel Netflix if he died in season 4. Yet a press tour in Italy proved to Keery how big of a hit Stranger Things became.

A press tour helped Keery realize just how big of a hit ‘Stranger Things’ became

The Duffers let Steve live past Stranger Things Season 1, Keery became a beloved cast member, and the show turned into Netflix’s biggest hit. A press tour helped Keery realize how big a deal the show was.

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During his Fallon appearance, Keery told the host a story about him and his sister walking down the street in Italy during the tour. 

“[W]e went for the press, and we were kind of walking down the street … and this little Italian girl saw me, clocked me, I could tell. Then I just heard her go, ‘Stranger Things,’ from behind. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ … It feels like such a small thing when you’re doing it down there when you’re shooting and working, and so many people have seen it. It’s crazy.”

Joe Keery describes when he knew Stranger Things was a huge success

Keery’s not wrong about how big of a hit Stranger Things is. Season 4 alone crossed one billion hours streamed in early July 2022, according to The Verge. It’s only the second Netflix show (Squid Games is the other) to hit that mark.

With Stranger Things Season 5 — the last one — on the way, it’s safe to assume the show will crush more streaming records when it drops. What else do we know about the fifth season?

What else we know about ‘Stranger Things’ Season 5: Filming, release date, plot

RELATED: 3 Best ‘Stranger Things’ Season 5 Fan Theories After the Season 4 Finale 

Stranger Things Season 4 just ended. Season 5 remains beyond the horizon, but the Duffer Brothers shed some light on their roadmap for the series finale.

The brothers made Netflix executives cry with their pitch for Stranger Things Season 5, but they have yet to start writing it. They don’t have any filming dates pinned down, meaning a release date is up in the air.

The Duffer Brothers have said season 5 won’t introduce new characters, but it will be a direct continuation of season 4’s story and will include a time jump in the storyline. 

Stranger Things’ last episode could be an epic finale with several false endings, a la The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. We’ll find out for sure when the show goes live, which star David Harbour speculates could be in 2024. Until then, enjoy watching Keery portray Steve in a hit show that could be an all-time classic when it ends its run.

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