Warning: Contains spoilers for Stranger Things Seasons 1 and 2
Stranger Things might have overcome second season syndrome – well, bar one episode – but it highlighted one major issue we have with the series.
From the moment we were introduced to Joyce Byers' new boyfriend – Bob, AKA Bob the Brain, AKA Season 2's Barb – we knew he wasn't going to last the season and so it proved. Bob was mauled to death by a demodog in episode eight (damn you Dustin), and the Duffer brothers have explained that he only lasted that long because Sean Astin was so damn good.
It's because of Astin that, despite the inevitability of it, Bob's death still hit hard, but what impact did it really have on the series as a whole? We doubt he'll even be mentioned in season 3.
At least Bob got longer than Barb in the first season, but why should the secondary characters always be the ones to die? We reckon season 3 needs to change that completely and kill off a major character, so that the Bobs of Hawkins can live.
We're not asking for a Red Wedding situation here, just one character whose death will actually have a lasting impact on the lives of other characters. Sure, Nancy was a bit depressed about the death of Barb in season 2, but really, it was just because she needed a way into her conspiracy theory subplot with Jonathan, and she didn't seem all that affected by her disappearance in the first season.
It wouldn't just change up the character dynamics, but the very tone of the show itself. Take the climactic tunnel sequence in the season 2 finale. Did anyone really feel like any of the children would die? There wasn't any peril because the series has shown its major players to be invincible to date, despite all their encounters with sinister government organisations and nefarious beings from another world.
However, imagine that the previous episode hadn't killed off Bob, but Joyce or Hopper? It's a highly unlikely scenario and yet there's no doubt that we'd have then watched the finale thinking that ANYONE is fair game. Instant peril – and you wouldn't even have to change one frame of the episode.
So who are we swinging the Grim Reaper's scythe on? Are we being total bastards and killing off Will, Mike, Dustin or Lucas? Perhaps we feel like Joyce and Hopper's potential romance just doesn't have a promising future? Or is Steve's new 'big brother' role only going to lead to tragedy?
Nope, the character we think HAS to die in season 3 is… (Sorry in advance, Joyce.)
We know that Joyce has suffered a fair bit over the two seasons, so we do feel a bit guilty about killing her first-born son, but it just makes narrative sense.
Season 2 saw Jonathan take on the sinister Hawkins National Laboratory with Nancy and conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman. However, it just doesn't seem right that Jonathan and Nancy could so brazenly go about their mission, seemingly without any concern for their wellbeing, despite the fact that they witness the lab's power earlier in the season when they're captured.
Of course, Jonathan's main motive was to be closer to Nancy – which he definitely accomplished – so it's understandable that he went along with it.
Their decision to go public with a watered-down version of the truth about Barb's death led to the lab being closed, and we can't imagine that it doesn't have repercussions in season 3. Sure, the government could go after Nancy or Bauman, but neither of their deaths would affect as many characters as Jonathan's and, who knows, maybe he can go out heroically protecting Nancy?
However his demise comes, there's no doubt it'll inject peril and a sense of unpredictability that the show has been missing, as well as shaking up the dynamic of several main characters.
Joyce would be devastated, even if it's always seemed like Will is her favourite, and it could lead to a blossoming of her relationship with Chief Hopper as she copes with yet more tragedy. Of course, the sensible thing would be to just get the hell out of Hawkins at that stage, but we're just assuming that the Byers will stay put since they did after the traumatic events of the first season.
And why is it a good thing for Will to lose his brother? Missing for most of the first season, season 2 gave Noah Schnapp some deserved time in the spotlight, although you couldn't say Will had that much active impact on the plot.
From the end of Episode 3, he was doing the Mind Flayer's bidding and it was again left to everyone else to save him. Jonathan's death would spark Will to hit back at those who have caused him so much pain over the two seasons so far, instantly giving him more to do than he has done to date.
Outside of the Byers family, Nancy would obviously be affected by the loss of her boyfriend and would likely see her rekindle her relationship with Steve. His winning second season transformation made us all Team Steve and he was still pining over her in the finale, so we can't see him turning her away (even if we think he deserves better).
But their potential relationship would turn out to be one of the show's most interesting pairings as how can they really move past the death of Jonathan? Nancy will always be affected by the premature death of her boyfriend, while Steve will know that he could never live up to the potential of Jonathan. It will add a tragic and very human edge to what was previously your typical high school sweethearts tale.
So, sorry Joyce, but Jonathan simply has to die in Stranger Things season 3 for the sake of the show.