Durham Colleges as Stranger Things Characters

A good Durham student, upon first encountering any sort of popular culture, will check if there are seventeen elements involved. ‘Which element matches your college?’ is about as existential as it gets for us. What does it all mean?

Stranger Things has an awful lot of characters. That vital seventeen were always destined to meet this fate.

To be agreed with or to be argued over- whichever way this goes, just know I’ve done it all for you. You’re welcome.

Disclaimer: This is not exactly a spoiler-free zone- there’s no way I can explain these preordained matches without some context. It will absolutely perpetuate all the stereotypes. Sincerest apologies to the You-Know-Whos, of which I am one.

Castle – Eleven

The start of it all. And, let’s face it, the main attraction.

Eleven is, like Castle students, immensely loyal. There’s not much she wouldn’t do for a friend, like defeating the supernatural monsters trying to kill you or turning full personal photographer getting that new profile pic of you at the June Ball. In Season Three, she finds her own style, and Castle is nothing if not stylish. Sometimes things get messy- Eleven has nosebleeds from her telekinetic abilities, you had a nosebleed that time someone asked what a signet ring was.

Hatfield – Billy

Like Billy, Hatfielders have certainly suffered in their time. That awful reputation can really get you down. Sadly, for you and bully Billy, it’s a reputation that’s long been earnt and can’t be shaken off. Maybe it’ll take being infiltrated by a Mind-Flayer to give Hatfield that redemption arc it really needs. On the plus side, I suppose you all have impressive hair and drinking abilities. Max becomes an understanding sister to Billy in the same way all your friends eventually come to overlook your college allocation.

St Chad’s – Erica

A tiny college with a big personality. Probably not as outspoken as Erica, but not lacking in any fire when it really counts, and difficult situations need to be handled. You may think you stand out as having a better reputation than some other Bailey Colleges but, much in the same way Erica realises/embraces her nerd status, you will be proven wrong. Your ‘siblings’ are definitely weird, but don’t forget that you’re a Bailey college too. You’ll help a friend if there’s ice cream in it for you afterwards.

St Cuthbert’s Society – Mike

You and Castle are sweet together, no? You’re essentially a good egg, so be relieved. The leader of the Hawkins gang, Mike is extremely likeable, despite getting a little irritating as the seasons progress. But it’s hard to forget that floppy- haired innocent who took Eleven in, and this reflects the prevailing reputation of Cuth’s students. You show courage and compassion towards those you truly care about, which is why you’re always the best person to take on a Bailey bar crawl. A mixture of sheer luck and good friends make you look more impressive than you probably are, but at least you have a nice smile.

St John’s – Joyce

Something of a moral compass for the kids and Hopper, but always prepared to go to extreme lengths to protect those she loves. And eternally trying to find her elusive son, Will. If ever there was an exemplary example of never losing faith, it’s Joyce Byers. John’s students are also part of an incredibly close-knit community- definite mother hen vibes. Not forgetting that they do have a wilder side. Joyce is at least forty percent sass.

Hild Bede – Hopper

A stalwart, a parental figure above all, just as the college is the most northern one in Durham. A worthy establishment in its own right (and it truly does feel like you’re quite separate to the childish antics of the colleges which are closer together), Hild Bede students have solid moral grounding, but also tend to get hot-headed when their passions get out of hand. Secretly a hopeless romantic, you also feel unlucky in love. No extreme spoilers, but there are rumours about some of your college buildings becoming no more. Sad times. Very sad.

Van Mildert – Bob

Poor Bob. A lovely guy really. Wholesome. Underrated.  The kind who’d appreciate Mildert’s characteristic woodland. Good with maps. He literally identifies the entire whereabouts of Mind-Flayer tunnels by recognising the lake shapes around Hawkins. You probably didn’t put Mildert as your first choice; Bob didn’t choose to enter into this strange old world. He met his end with a Demodog; you’ll probably meet it after antagonising a swan.

St Mary’s – Nancy

A fierce, intelligent and gutsy character, much like Mary’s students. Nancy is a brilliant example of why underestimating someone for their looks, or anything at all, is a bad move. You’ve got everyone’s backs on a night out, though you’re a real lightweight. But this is only ever a good thing considering the college bar. A little hopeless in love to start, she ends up with the right person soon enough, just as Mary’s students are known for making fast friends across the uni. #JusticeForBarb okay?

Ustinov – Jonathan

So, you’re a little older and that makes you think drama doesn’t concern you anymore. Wrong. Now there’s a supernatural underworld opened up beneath you and you’ll have to interact with undergrads. Eurghh. Jonathan has a tendency towards being emotionally distant and a little unremarkable. The fact that he is one half of Jancy makes him more interesting, just as your proximity to Josephine Butler means you might get some visitors.

Collingwood – Lucas

Initially sceptical of things, like Lucas you prefer to look for the rational and the sensical in life. Collingwood students are usually sporty because of this pragmatic approach and the attractive facilities in your very large college. Lucas, in wardrobe alone, gives off similar vibes. A good foil to Mike, Lucas matures across the seasons, visibly an extrovert with his friends and a surprising introvert with most other people. This bit of aloofness makes you look interesting, so well done.

John Snow – Will

Wouldn’t be surprised if you’d gotten lost in The Upside Down at some point, to be honest. You’re the type of person who always seems a little far off and distracted- is there something going on? While there will always be an association with science and medicine after your college namesake, and Will had his fair share of hospital visits, there is also something deeply creative in Snow’s spirit. Reading, writing, drawing- it’s a full mix. Oh, and not wanting to grow up just yet.

Josephine Butler- Robin

Ooh you’re intriguing, aren’t you? You seem far away but you also seem to pop up everywhere. Lots of sass, lots of intelligence, maybe you’re not fulfilling your full potential, though. Spontaneously translating Russian and yet working in an ice cream parlour. Doesn’t quite follow. Maybe you enjoy the simpler things in life. Relaxed and chilled unless the world is ending. Even then, you’re a steadying influence when everyone else is losing their marbles.

Stephenson – Steve

You had so much faith in yourself when you start uni at Stevo, and gradually had your ego reduced to the point where you’ve become a far more decent character. It takes some serious blows for Steve to realise popularity isn’t everything, and we even like him by Season Three. You carve your own path in life and take only a select few along for the ride. Don’t ever judge by a book by its cover, essentially. Things get better in unexpected ways and your day job may have a spy network in the basement below. Fun.

St Aidan’s – Murray

You’re a heck of a treck away. Aidan’s students aren’t mysterious, you say it as it is and take no prisoners. Beneath the hard exterior is a softer, more emotional centre that keeps you intriguing and useful in times of crisis. You may be cut off from everyone else, but if people need you, they will take a hike to find you.

Grey – Max

You get overlooked with a name like this, as Max is overshadowed by Billy, but you’re a wonderful friend, and a surprisingly complex kind of person. A close group of friends is always preferred to a wide social circle for you, but this isn’t a problem. Once you find your people, you stick to them and stick it to everyone else.

Trevelyan – Dustin

Always judged for some unfortunate architecture, you have learned to embrace the snide comments and get on with being uniquely you. Dustin’s pearly whites are an apt comparison. Quirky, fun loving and in need of some friendly guidance, you’re incredibly likeable and loveable, if a little extra. Those science experiments, or experiments on a night out, will always be entertaining, if not always successful.

South College- Suzie

Sorry, we won’t believe you exist until we see you for ourselves and hear your rendition of NeverEnding Story.


Feature Image: Netflix/Jackson Davis on The Guardian under Creative Commons license 2.0

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