Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

David Harbour asked for Stranger Things to kill off the Byers family's dog

Chester suddenly disappeared in the second season of the Netflix series

David Harbour at a screening of Stranger Things season 3 in 2019
David Harbour at a screening of Stranger Things season 3 in 2019
Photo: Dia Dipasupil (Getty Images)

Amidst the chaos and Demogorgon-driven horror of Stranger Things, it might be easy to miss that the Byers family has a dog named Chester—and then, all of a sudden, they don’t. David Harbour, who plays Hawkins police chief Jim Hopper on the show, reveals he requested the dog be killed off at some point during its first season.

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“I hated that fucking dog so bad,” he says during his appearance on Hot Ones. “Take after take, it would, like, wander off or do something.”

The white, scruffy, wire-haired dog mainly appeared to point out when things were amiss, and spends most of his time on screen barking at something.

Fed up with his chatty coworker’s lack of professionalism on the job, Harbour went to whoever was in charge of Chester’s fate and told them how he would like to handle the pooch’s character arc. “I was like, ‘You know, the Byers should probably have that dog put to sleep,’” he says. “We never talk about it, the whole rest of the show.”

While the dog actor did not meet his untimely death, Chester did not appear in Stranger Things after the first season. When Noah Schnapp, who plays Will Byers, was asked about his character’s pet at a panel, he said, “I think he died, didn’t he? He did.”

Though far from the first TV actor to hate an animal co-star, Harbour’s on-the-record distate for the dog actor goes back several years. “There was a day with this dog that was the worst actor I’ve ever worked with in my life... The dog was just being a jerk,” Harbour said in a 2016 interview with Howard Stern. “I never—I walked off set. I’ve never done that before. There’s footage of me like throwing a fit, going like, ‘I’m gonna be in my trailer!’ and just storming off. Cause the damn dog wouldn’t do what it was supposed to do.”

Schnapp also said that there was a marked grave for Chester in season three, but it never actually made it into an episode. So, theories about the dog’s fate are up for debate, though Harbour does have a suggestion for tying up the loose end: “We should find it in the Upside Down, though, in one of these future seasons.”

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