The story of Nick and Charlie wasn’t new to the world when it first appeared on Netflix in April 2022, but it has become a larger phenomenon ever since. Author Alice Osemon first introduced the two beloved characters in Solitaire, a novel about Tori, Charlie’s older sister, way back in 2014. The author is a household name in the queer community for writing underrated, heartwarming queer stories for young readers. Heartstopper, originally written as a webcomic, got published as physical graphic novels after it achieved massive success and currently has four printed volumes.
Apart from having the most wonderful characters and a perfectly sunny plot, even with its difficult themes, Heartstopper has managed to garner huge buzz because of its positive storytelling. Oftentimes, gay media representation is rather dark and sometimes disturbing to see, and amidst all the bad representation (let’s not even talk about the overly sexualized shows), Heartstopper became a place of comfort. It’s ideal for a young audience, but it also gives hope to older people who may not have had something like this to rely on beforehand.
The show strays away from the novel in such a way that it expands on the stories of other characters too. While it is unbelievably close to the original source material, thanks to Alice’s presence in the writing room, it’s even more wholesome because of all the other stories it has the bandwidth to focus on. Each episode in the eight-episode series is named after a single word and runs for about 30 minutes.
The show also features some incredible indie music that gives the impression of a very new-wave British teen drama and makes it even more fun. Alice even has a Heartstopper-themed playlist on Spotify for you to make your way through while waiting for season 2. The story follows Charlie Spring, a young high school gay boy who was outed to the whole school the previous year. He meets a senior named Nick Nelson in the same form room, and they get along like a house on fire. For Charlie, Nick is the perfect guy, and he knows he’s gay, but for Nick, he’s never experienced these feelings before. Finally, Nick decides to give in to his feelings and get with Charlie, and the story unfolds. It’s a bumpy ride, but the light at the end of the tunnel is just wonderful.
Fun fact: Alice’s drawings are used to represent some of the spark in the show too, and we see the leaves that represent Nick and Charlie’s stories drifting through their best scenes.
Charlie Spring, played by Joe Locke
Charlie is a shy and sensitive boy who struggles with certain social interactions because of everything he’s been through. He’s always there for his friends, and Nick. Charlie is a bit of an overthinker and struggles with expressing his feelings. He also has the habit of apologizing a lot, something Nick picks up on rather quickly. Joe Locke is a perfect Charlie, down to the little dimples from the books, and is soon going to appear in the TV series Agatha: Coven Of Chaos. Charlie plays the drums and loves his literature, with posters of his favorite classic works, The Iliad and Brideshead Revisited, on the walls of his room. At the beginning of the series, Charlie has a secret boyfriend named Ben, but he breaks it off because Ben is just using him. Charlie is basically good at everything, especially math, and runs really fast, which is why Nick tries to recruit him into the rugby team.
Fun Fact: Charlie’s phone’s lock screen reads “[gay panic],” and he loves his Converse.
Nick Nelson (Kit Connor)
Unlike Joe and most of the young cast of the show, who debuted with Heartstopper,”Kit’s already won praise for his portrayal of young Elton John in the movie Rocketman, where he did a proper little musical number. He’ll soon be appearing in A Cuban Girl’s Guide To Tea And Tomorrow. Nick is a rugby player, and this masculine fact confuses all of Charlie’s friends into believing he’s completely and utterly heterosexual. While it’s all rosy and lovey-dovey with Charlie and Nick throughout the series, arguably Nick’s best scene is when he comes out to his mother, who is played by veteran Olivia Coleman, as bisexual. A heart-touching moment for fans who could never have imagined they’d be able to see such a thing on mainstream television. Nick’s journey through the series is about figuring out his sexuality, and in the upcoming season, we’ll see how he deals with accepting it in front of others, apart from, of course, developing his relationship with Charlie. Imogen is a good friend of Nick’s and has a crush on him, but before there are any misunderstandings between him and Charlie, he tells Imogen that he doesn’t like her like that.
Special fact: Nick finds himself looking through an “Ultimate Gay Quiz” when he’s confused about his feelings towards Charlie.
Elle (Yasmine Fenny)
Elle can be seen as one of Charlie’s closest friends. She’s transgender and had attended the Truham School with the boys before she finally came out of the closet. Later, she switched to a girls’ school and became friends with Tara and Darcy, the resident lesbians. Elle finds herself crushing on her old best friend Tao, and some sparks are flying there, and we’ll see where that goes this season. She’s just the kindest little soul with a little bit of a competitive spirit. Apart from being a total fashion icon, Yasmine is set to appear in the new season of Doctor Who alongside Ncuti Gatwa.
Tao Xu (William Gao)
Tao is the best friend who always needs attention. He really is very possessive about his friends and could be considered the “weird guy” who likes dark documentaries and movies (Donnie Darko being a favorite). When Nick and Charlie first get close, Tao feels left out; he feels like Nick’s stealing his best friend away from him. When Elle first moves to the girls’ grammar school, Tao can’t stop buying her favorite apple juice (the dude’s so blind to his feelings). Tao’s not the biggest fan of change, but by the end of the first season, he realizes he’s been the real bad friend by not supporting Charlie’s love for Nick. William and his sister Olivia Hardy form a musical duo called the Wasai Project, so while he’s not the perfect Tao Xu, he’s a musical indie genius.
Fun fact: In the comics, Tao is a head shorter than Elle, but William who plays Tao in the show is much taller, so Elle can’t call him tiny Tao.
Darcy Olsson (Kizzy Edgell) & Tara Jones (Corinna Brown)
You could say Tara and Darcy are a kind of inspiration for Nick because he sees them kissing at Harry’s (the little homophobe’s) birthday party. Tara and Darcy become Elle’s friends at the girls’ school and quickly take over all their lives. Tara is the more calm and collected one, whereas Darcy is the eccentric one. Darcy has the perfect gaydar and quickly picks up on Nick and Charlie’s sparks before anyone else in Charlie’s friend circle; even Tara doesn’t really come out to everyone; it just so happens that she doesn’t want to hide it anymore, but the consequences are too difficult for her to handle.
Isaac (Tobie Donovan.)
We don’t learn much about Isaac in the first season of Heartstopper, but his line “but I want to believe in romance” is iconic. He’s a new addition to the characters of the show and kind of replaces Aled from the books. We don’t know his sexual orientation just yet, but the trailer for the new season definitely has some interesting implications. Tobie has a YouTube channel where he has documented the BTS of the series. Isaac is a huge fan of reading and you’ll find him with an interesting and complicated book at all times.
Season 2 is especially exciting because it includes the exciting Paris trip. A fan favorite from the comics that sees the entire group of friends now labeled the Paris Squad. We’ll also be introduced to Nick’s father and possibly his horrid older brother too. Tori returns as Charlie’s wonderful and supportive older sister. What are you most looking forward to in season 2 of Heartstopper?