David Harbour Thought Stranger Things Would Fail Almost Immediately

By Nathan Kamal | Published

David Harbour Stranger Things

David Harbour hit the jackpot with Stranger Things, but it took a solid 17 years of slogging through the trenches of being a working actor before he got there. After beginning his career auspiciously with a role on Broadway in a revival of the legendary play ​​The Rainmaker, he made his television debut with that most cliche of things, playing a waiter on Law & Order. David Harbour then spent years acting in television dramas that lasted a season or two, so it is hard to blame him for not having a whole lot of faith in Stranger Things. However, according to a recent interview, it turns out that David Harbour was actually certain that Stranger Things would flop so hard it would not even get a second season.

According to an interview David Harbour gave to BBC One’s program The One Show, while he was filming the first season of Stranger Things, he thought the show was going to be a disaster. Specifically, he remembers thinking it would be the “first Netflix show kind of ever to never get a second season” (which just goes to show how much the notoriously cancellation-happy streaming service has changed) and that he thought nobody would watch. David Harbour also related an anecdote of his hair stylist midway through production telling him she didn’t think Stranger Things was “gonna work.” All in all, it sounds like Sheriff Jim Hopper was fully prepared to start looking for more work after the supernatural horror show wrapped on its first season. 

As we all now know here in the future, David Harbour did not need to worry about the future of Stranger Things. It not only received a second season but is closing in on its fifth (and final) batch of episodes. Each season of the Netflix breakout show has broken increasingly high viewing records, with the last two episodes of the show’s fourth season apparently being viewed by so many people that it briefly crashed the streaming platform. 

But not only should David Harbour have not had so much concern for Stranger Things (or probably a little more likely, his agent’s next phone call), he could not have anticipated the sheer magnitude of the show’s success. The Duffer Brothers are currently in the process of developing a spin-off of the show and there are enough Stranger Things-branded t-shirts, lunchboxes, soundtrack albums, and official pinball machines to keep anyone happy for years. It made stars of Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Joe Keery, Sadie Sink, and many others. It also revived the career of Winona Ryder, which alone justifies its existence. 


It is difficult to fault David Harbour for his disturbing lack of faith in Stranger Things, just knowing the life of a working actor. He might have a bit of a worry streak, though, given his reaction to finding out that his reboot of Hellboy was flopping, but fortunately, he could phone a friend to calm him down about that.