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Karen Wheeler, portrayed by Cara Buono, is a main character in the first season of Stranger Things.

History

Background

Karen was the wife of Ted Wheeler and the mother to Nancy, Mike, and Holly. Together the family lived at their home in Hawkins, Indiana.

Nancy believed Karen and Ted never truly loved each other, saying they only got married because she was young and Ted had a well-paying job. Karen herself appeared to be at least somewhat frustrated with her marriage.  

Season One

On November 6, 1983, Mike and his friends played a Dungeons & Dragons campaign in the basement for ten hours straight. Karen told them to stop playing as it was getting late.

After the disappearance of Will Byers, Karen told her children that they could not leave the house until he was found, forbidding Mike to search for Will and Nancy to go "study" at Barbara Holland's house.

On November 8, Karen allowed Mike to skip school, believing he was distraught over Will's disappearance, At the dinner table, Nancy lied that she was going to a special assembly at school to support Will and his family - this was a cover story so that she could hang out with Steve. After some reluctance, Karen gave her permission to go - as long as she was back by 10.

After Nancy returned from Steve's party, Karen furiously questioned why she was out so late. When Karen asked about the sweatshirt Nancy was wearing, she responded that she borrowed it from Steve. Karen tried to tell Nancy that she could trust her and talk about anything that happened, but Nancy brushed her off.

The next day, Karen visited Joyce Byers at her house along with her daughter Holly, gifting her a casserole. Karen noticed that the house was decorated with Christmas lights, and Joyce gave the excuse that she hung them for Will because he loved Christmas. Noticing Holly had walked off from the dinner table, she and Joyce found her in Will's room. Joyce thanked Karen for the casserole but insisted that they leave the house. Later, Nancy revealed to Karen she was worried about Barb's disappearance. Later that night, Mike returned home with the news that Will's body was found, crying in her arms.

Before leaving the next day, Karen asked Mike if he wanted to come with her to rent a movie, even an R-rated one. Mike declined for fear of leaving Eleven alone in his house. Karen went off on her own to check up on Barb's parents.

After being questioned by the police about Barb's disappearance, Karen insisted Nancy was lying to the police about talking with Steve in his bedroom. Nancy finally admitted to Karen that she slept with him.

Karen, Ted, Nancy, and Mike all attended Will's funeral.

Department of Energy agents arrived at the Wheeler house, looking for Eleven. When questioned, Karen answered that she did not know of any girls living in the house, and that if she had, she would know. She and Ted were eventually allowed to leave their house; they arrived at Hawkins Middle School in their car, reuniting with their son. They were present at the hospital, waiting for news on Will's status following his recovery.

On Christmas Eve, Jonathan picked up Will from another Dungeons & Dragons campaign at the Wheelers'. As they left, Karen exchanged festive greetings with them.

Relationships

Appearances

Season One appearances
The Vanishing of Will Byers The Weirdo on Maple Street Holly, Jolly The Body
The Flea and the Acrobat The Monster The Bathtub The Upside Down

Family tree

 
 
 
Ted Wheeler Family Tree icon
Ted Wheeler
 
Karen Wheeler 001
Karen Wheeler
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nancy Wheeler 001
Nancy Wheeler
 
Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 6.33.40 AM
Mike Wheeler
 
Holly-wheeler
Holly Wheeler
 

Memorable Quotes

  • "I hope you're enjoying your chicken, Ted."
  • "I want you to feel like you can talk to me."
  • "You are not crazy."


Gallery


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