Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery) is one of the most beloved characters from Stranger Things. He was a vicious bully who was controlled by the Mind Flayer, yet managed to free himself in order to save Eleven and Max in the end.
In the first season of Stranger Things, Billy was a misogynistic bully who threatened Lucas. He also hated black people, labeling them “cows” and “bitches”.
He was a bully
Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery), the show’s most memorable villain, made an entrance in Season 2 as a 1980s high school prankster who called Max “cows,” bullied Steve, and even threatened to run down three kids with his Camaro. While this character has been humanized somewhat in Season 4, he remains an unhealthy male figure.
Despite his bad behavior, some people still like Billy. Redditor u/anadapanda noted that it’s easy to empathize with him because he “mirrored the abuse his stepbrother experienced,” yet she also pointed out this could be one of the reasons for his continued poor choices.
As a character, Billy had some moments of redemption; most notably when he warned Karen Wheeler to stay away from him. Nonetheless, he still did some truly horrific things while under the influence of The Mind Flayer, ultimately being killed by it in its effects.
He was a victim of abuse
One of the most beloved characters on Stranger Things was Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery). At first portrayed as an intimidating bully, his backstory became increasingly sympathetic in Season 3 after he discovered his father had been abusive towards him.
He had an intense dislike for Lucas Sinclair, a black boy from Max’s class who was hanging around her. In episode 4, “Will the Wise,” he confronted Max while she was riding along with Lucas in their car, telling her to stay away and declaring there are certain types of people in this world you should avoid being around.
He is the victim of abuse and, like many characters on the show, struggles to cope with his pain. Lacking mental resilience like most people do, he doesn’t possess any tools for healing from his abuse and bullying behaviors.
He was possessed by the Mind Flayer
One of the most memorable antagonists in Stranger Things was Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery). He was Max Mayfield’s abusive stepbrother who eventually turned into a violent sadist and was ultimately possessed by the Mind Flayer.
The Mind Flayer is an entity from the Upside Down that can psychically reach into human reality. It was created by Henry Creel, who also created both the Upside Down and its monsters.
In season 3 of Stranger Things, the Mind Flayer attempted to possess Billy and take him over. Fortunately, Billy was able to resist and fight off the creature with ease.
But why did he sacrifice himself?
As the Mind Flayer takes control of each citizen of Hawkins, it begins to target Eleven as its next victim. At one point, Eleven comes dangerously close to being stabbed by this monster.
In the Season 3 finale of Stranger Things, Billy’s life was forever altered. Instead of becoming a self-centered jerk, he emerged as an inspiring hero for both Hawkins town and its children.
But he was also the victim of abuse from his father, and an avid racist and misogynist who called women demeaning names.
No matter the outcome of his story, fans remained invested in him and felt empathy for him. While many unfortunate things happened to him, it would have been nice for his character to experience a redemption arc to demonstrate that he wasn’t an evil person after all.
On episode four of Stranger Things season 4, Max visits her brother’s grave and admits her guilt over his passing. Vecna then uses this guilt against her in order to manipulate and curse her.