A bunch of screw-ups in your family. I mean, your mom… I’m not even surprised what happened to your brother. I’m sorry I have to be the one to tell you, but the Byers, their family, it’s a disgrace to the entire—
Regarding the previous romance hinted at between Joyce and Hopper:
Okay, so most of us have assumed that they had a fling in high school, but it never really developed into something serious because Lonnie got in the way, right? Yeah, that seems pretty plausible, but have you considered the following:
Their romance actually did develop into something serious, but something happened that forced them to part ways. And you know what that something is? The Vietnam War.
According to the Stranger Things Wiki, Hopper and Joyce were both born in the 1940s. Hopper is supposed to be in his early 40s and Joyce in her late 30s. So let’s assume Hopper is 40-41 and Joyce is 38-39. That means Hopper graduated in 1962, while Joyce graduated in 1963. The Vietnam War started in 1955, but the US didn’t start sending American troops in until the spring of 1965. And we know that Hopper is a Vietnam veteran.
So imagine Hop’s and Joyce’s relationship actually developing into something a little more serious than a fling after high school. But then the war starts to get worse overseas and people start enlisting. Including Hopper. (I don’t see Hop as being an overly patriotic kind of person, but I can definitely see him trying to step up to help his country out.)
And so, in the summer of 1964, Hopper breaks up with Joyce. “I don’t know if I’ll come back,” he says, “so don’t wait for me. Keep living your life, Joyce. You deserve to be happy.” Joyce buries her face in his chest, her tears soaking through the shirt of his brand new uniform.
Joyce does wait for him, though. She waits for almost two long years. By this time, she has already met Lonnie, but she just can’t stop thinking about Hopper. Her parents don’t help matters when they start pressuring her to marry. “Lonnie is such a nice boy, Joyce.” “He’s not coming back darling, you need to move on with your life.” So, in the fall of 1966, she marries Lonnie.
Hopper comes back in the spring of 1970. The first thing he learns upon returning to Hawkins is that Joyce Horowitz married Lonnie Byers. Something breaks inside him that day. He told her not to wait for him, to move on with her life, and he meant it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. He tries to move on with his life as well.
That is, until a few weeks later, when he runs into Joyce on the street. She doesn’t see him, but he sees her. She’s still as beautiful as the day he left. Joyce is not alone, though. Next to her, holding her hand, is a little boy. It’s 3 year old Jonathan Byers.
That same night, Hopper packs his things and moves to Indianapolis. The rest, as they say, is history.
“…You haven’t talked about it in a while, Louie.” “It’s just…been on my mind lately. Trying to remember a scar that used to be there…sometimes it feels like it still is. I’m sorry…I feel like I should apologize for being such a bad kid.” “What? Who? You? Are you kidding?” “I was awful.” “You weren’t awful. I got some grey hairs with you, but not nearly as much as I did with Jennie-Rae. I count my blessings.” “How the hell did you do it? I can’t imagine raising five kids at once. I think I’d die.” “I almost did a couple times…but no, you weren’t a bad kid. Life just wasn’t fair to you, and I wish it was. But you made it through wholly, stronger than I could’ve ever hoped to, and that’s more than I can say for most people.”