Explaining What Really Happened to Billy in 'Stranger Things' Season 3

Villain? Hero? Asshole? What is Billy in Season 3?

billy stranger things 3

By the time the final trailer for Stranger Things Season 3 was released in late June, we all knew that Max’s big brother Billy would become one of the major villains of the new season after he’s corrupted in some way by the Mind Flayer. But the way his role evolves throughout Season 3 deepens the character with a number of key surprises — including what happens to Billy at the very end.

Does everyone’s favorite Hawkins lifeguard survive the fight against the Mind Flayer? What’s next for him?

Huge spoilers follow for the Stranger Things Season 3 ending.

The sad truth is, not much. Unless something crazy happens in Season 4, Billy is 100 percent dead.

Early in Stranger Things Season 3, the Mind Flayer creates a grotesque bodily form made out of exploded rats, and he’s able to infect and possess Billy similar to how he controlled Will in Season 2. Under the Mind Flayer’s control, Billy indoctrinates his coworker Heather. Then together they get her parents. By the end of the season, dozens of Hawkins residents are zombified and under the Mind Flayer’s control. All of them, including Heather, explode into a pile of human meat that coalesces to make the Mind Flayer’s body even bigger.

Except Billy, who keeps working for the Mind Flayer.

Stranger Things heather lifeguard
RIP Heather, who will probably get less justice than Barb when all is said and done.

Several times in Season 3, Eleven uses her powers to locate Billy, and she eventually makes direct psychic contact with the Mind Flayer. The Mind Flayer speaking through Billy is the ominous voice we hear in the final trailer, but as part of this psychic connection, Eleven also gradually accesses Billy’s surprisingly tender memories of his mother.

We saw how abusive Billy’s father was in Stranger Things Season 2, and now we see that he was so violent that he drove Billy’s mother away. Billy’s most cherished memory is of surfing as a boy with her watching. In the very end, when Billy has Eleven pinned to the ground and the Mind Flayer’s monstrous form is about to kill them all, it’s this memory that allows Billy to regain control.

stranger things season 3 billy
Billy goes from victim to villain to hero in 'Stranger Things' Season 3.

Billy stands up to the Mind Flayer by catching its primary barbed tendril aimed at Eleven, but immediately takes about six bites to his abdomen and a final one stabbed into his chest. He lives just long enough to tell Max he’s sorry. R.I.P.

While all of this drama is unfolding, Joyce triggers a malfunction in the laser designed to rip open the Upside Down, creating an explosion that severs the connection and kills the Mind Flayer. Along with Hopper — who presumably died when the laser exploded — Billy is the only other major casualty of Season 3.

In a show like this, however, do people ever really stay dead? It looked like Eleven died at the end of Season 1, yet she’s still alive and well. Stranger Things could reveal some fantastical explanation to bring Billy back from the dead. The huge claw to the chest looked pretty damning, but you never know.

Watch this Stranger Things supercut

Stranger Things Season 3 is currently available to stream on Netflix.

Media via Netflix, Inverse