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Karen Wheeler

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Karen Wheeler, portrayed by Cara Buono, is a major character in the Stranger Things/Season 1/first season of Stranger Things.



Karen is wife of Ted Wheeler and mother to Mike, Nancy, and Holly. Nancy believes she and Ted never truly loved each other, stating they only got married because she was young and Ted had a well-paying job. 

Season One

When Mike and his friends were playing Dungeons & Dragons in the basement, Karen told them they needed to stop playing because it was getting late.

After Will's disappearance, Karen said no one else could leave the house until he was found, forbidding Mike to search for Will and Nancy to go "study" at Barbara's house.

Believing Mike is too distraught over Will's disappearance, she allowed him to stay home from school. Before leaving, she asked if he wanted to go with her to rent a movie, even an R-rated one. Mike declined for fear of leaving Eleven alone in his house.

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 convince Nancy that she could trust and talk to her about anything that happened, but was unsuccessful.

The next day, Karen visited Joyce at her house along with her daughter Holly, gifting her a casserole. Seeing the Christmas lights, Joyce gived the excuse that she hung them for Will, because he loved Christmas. Noticing Holly was gone, she and Joyce found her in Will's room. Joyce thanked Karen for the casserole and insisted that she leave the house. Later, Nancy revealed to Karen she was worried about Barb. Later that night, Mike returned home with the news that Will's body was found, crying in her arms.

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

At Will's funeral, when Dustin told Lucas and Mike that "he can't wait to tell to Will that Jennifer Hayes was crying at his funeral", Karen told them to be quiet.

When Mike saw the government vans arriving at his house, he told Karen that if they ask, he's left the country. When they arrived at her house, Karen said she did not know of any girls living in the house, and that if she had, she would know..

At Christmas, Mike's friends were playing Dungeons & Dragons at his home. When Jonathan taked Will, he complimented Karen, who was making gingerbread houses in the kitchen.


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."


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


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