The financially poor single mother of Will and Jonathan Byers, Joyce works as a retail clerk and relies on help from her eldest to make ends meet.
After Will mysteriously disappeared, Joyce was certain that he was communicating with her through the lights in her house. Despite everyone treating her as if she was having a mental breakdown, Joyce refused to believe that Will was dead, even after his alleged corpse was found. Through co-operation with her friend and local police chief Jim Hopper, Will’s friends, and Jonathan, she eventually uncovered the circumstances of her son’s disappearance and entered the Upside Down to rescue him.
A year after the mysterious tragedy of her son, Joyce helps her son with another issue following the events of the first season. Towards the end, she, Jonathan, and Nancy assisted in removing Will from the possession of the Mind Flayer.