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Michael Wheeler, better known as Mike, is a major character in the first and second seasons of Stranger Things. He is portrayed by Finn Wolfhard.

When Mike's friend, Will Byers, mysteriously went missing, he and his other friends, Lucas and Dustin, made it their mission to find him. However, while searching for Will, they stumbled upon an escaped Eleven instead. Mike soon discovered that she knew something about Will's disappearance and enlisted her help in finding him. During their time together, Mike and Eleven formed a strong bond. Once Will was found, Mike was happy that he had returned home safely; however, he was greatly devastated by Eleven's sacrifice to defeat the Monster.

Still devastated by Eleven's disappearance one year later, Mike assisted his friend Will with a new issue and eventually reunited with Eleven. He, along with his friends, then assisted in burning the external core of another extra-terrestrial threat, using it as a distraction for Eleven to close the gate for good.

History

Background

Mike was a member of the Wheeler family, living in Hawkins, Indiana with his mother Karen, his father Ted, and his two sisters Nancy and Holly. Nancy suspected their parents never truly loved one another and that they married solely to have a "perfect nuclear family."

Mike was best friends with Lucas Sinclair and Will Byers from a young age. In the fourth grade, Dustin Henderson arrived at their school and joined their friend group. The four boys would often gather at Mike's house to play Dungeons & Dragons; this hobby was developed as early as 1979. They had a great relationship with their science teacher Mr. Clarke, and they were members of the AV Club he ran. They would take part in the annual science fair, winning almost every year.

Season One

On the evening of November 6th, 1983, Lucas, Dustin, Mike, and Will played Dungeons & Dragons in Mike's basement. Mike, acting as Dungeon Master, summoned a Demogorgon, which ultimately defeated Will's character, although Will did not reveal this to Mike until afterward. While they looked for a missing die, Karen insisted it was time for his friends to leave; shortly after this, Dustin, Lucas, and Will cycled home.

Playing with the Heathkit

The boys try out the Heathkit

The Vanishing of Will Byers S01-E01 SS 004

The boys search for Will

The next day, Will did not show up to school, which perplexed Mike, Lucas, and Dustin. As they played with Mr Clarke's newly delivered Heathkit, they were summoned by Principal Coleman to talk with Chief Hopper who confirmed to the boys that Will was missing. He asked the boys about Will's way home the previous night, and they told him Will had took the road where Cornwallis and Kerley met. The boys casually referred to this road and the surrounding forestry as Mirkwood.

The boys investigated their friend's disappearance that evening, searching through Mirkwood; This is where they accidentally encountered an escaped Eleven. After some argument among themselves, the boys allowed her to stay in Mike's basement, making a pillow fort for her to sleep in.

Mike skipped school the next day to accommodate El. She recognized Will from a photograph and suggested to Mike that bad people were looking for her. After school, Dustin and Lucas came to Mike's house; They discussed Eleven and what could have happened to Will. Lucas said that they should tell Karen about Eleven, but El used her telekinesis to prevent him from opening the door to leave. Later that evening, El attempted to explain Will's situation; she flipped their Dungeons & Dragons board upside down and then placed Will's player piece on top followed by the Demogorgon piece. This gave Mike, Lucas, and Dustin a vital clue as they continued to theorize about what happened to Will.

The kids witness

The kids witness something being dragged out of the water

Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and El commenced "Operation Mirkwood" where El led them through the woods to find evidence relating to Will. They eventually arrived outside the Byers house, where El said Will was hiding. This statement confused the three boys because, logically, Will could not be there. After seeing police cars race by, they followed in pursuit on their bikes. They saw what appeared to be Will's corpse being dragged out of the local quarry; this lead the boys to feel distraught and angry with Eleven, who they believed was lying.
Journey to school

The kids bike to school, passing through downtown Hawkins

Back at his house, Mike grieved the loss of his friend. El tampered with his radio to project the sound of Will quietly singing, showing Mike that he was still alive. The next day, Mike showed this to Dustin and Lucas, who wondered if Will had become a ghost. After further discussion the boys decided to bring El to their school so she could use the Heathkit to communicate with Will, which was much more powerful than the boy's portable radios.

After dressing Eleven in a pink dress and blonde wig to help her blend in, the boys brought her to Hawkins Middle School. Mr. Clarke told the group that they had to attend an assembly for Will's death before they could use the radio. During the assembly, the bully Troy made crude jokes about Will, which angered Mike and lead him to confront him after the assembly. Troy attempted to hit Mike, but Eleven froze him in place and made him urinate on himself using biokinesis, much to the amusement of the boys and their classmates. They continued to the Heathkit. With El tapping into the device, they overheard Will talking to his mother through a temporary portal to the Upside Down; however, the radio overheated and caught on fire before anything else could be heard. After returning to Mike's basement, the boys theorized that Will was stuck in the Vale of Shadows, a "dark echo" dimension of death and decay, which El labeled the Upside Down.

At Will's funeral, the boys discussed the possibility of alternate dimensions with Mr. Clarke. He described scientific ideas and concepts, utilizing the metaphor of the flea and the acrobat. He mentioned that a gate between dimensions would have adverse affects on the electromagnetic field in their dimension. Later that day, Dustin experimented with a compass, noticing that the needle did not point towards true north, and the boys guessed that there must be a gate nearby influencing the electromagnetic field, like Mr. Clarke had said.

The kids look for the Gate

The kids search for the Gate

Mike is levitated

Dustin, Troy and James watch in wonder as Mike is levitated to safety

The group followed their compasses believing if they went "North" they would be lead to the Gate. However, Eleven was manipulating the compasses for the boys' safety because she considered it too dangerous to enter the Upside Down. When the boys realized that El had been doing this, they argued about her; Mike was more sympathetic and trusted her, while Lucas was critical of her manipulation. The two boys ended up fighting; Eleven used her powers to push Lucas off Mike and into the air, injuring him. This angered Mike and left El upset; she vanished from the scene. A rift grew between Lucas and the two other boys as they continued to argue about Eleven. Mike and Dustin went in search of El, while Lucas attempted to once again find the Gate.

While Mike and Dustin searched for El, they were ambushed by a revenge-seeking Troy and his friend James, who both brandished knives. They were chased to the cliffside overlooking the quarry. Troy threatened Mike by telling him he would cut out Dustin's teeth unless Mike jumped from the cliff. Mike decided to jump, but as he did, Eleven returned and intervened. Using her telekinesis, she levitated Mike back to the cliffside before injuring the bullies who then fled in terror. El, Dustin, and Mike reconciled before returning to Mike's house.

The three had to leave Mike's house quickly when Lucas informed them over radio that the 'bad men' where coming. They reunited with Lucas as they cycled away, evading Dr. Martin Brenner and the agents of the Hawkins National Laboratory. The group hid from agents in an abandoned bus in a deserted field. Chief Hopper found them, taking them to the Byers household to meet with Joyce, Jonathan Byers, and Nancy. Together they broke into the middle school and created a makeshift sensory deprivation tank for El to use to enhance her psychic abilities. They learned that Will was alive but barely surviving in the Upside Down.

While Hopper and Joyce infiltrated the laboratory and Nancy and Jonathan set a trap for the Monster, the four remained at the school. Mike talked to El about their future life together. He invited El to be his date to the Snow Ball school dance. El accepted, and they shared a kiss.

The kids are chased - The Upside Down

The kids running from agents

As part of an ]agreement] with Dr. Brenner to gain passage through the Gate, Hopper revealed El and the boys' location to laboratory officials. Agents broke into the school, capturing El and the boys. Eleven killed most of the agents using biokinesis to crush their brains; however, this drained her of energy and strength and caused her to collapse. Without her protection, they were recaptured, but the Monster, attracted by pools of blood spilling from dead bodies, burst through the school wall via a temporary portal. The surviving agents were understandably distracted and were forced to release El and the boys. The four ran in a panic to Mr Clarke's classroom. The Monster broke in and attempted to kill

The boys see Will

The boys visit Will in hospital

them. El intervened using biokinesis to pin the Monster against a wall while also immobilizing Mike to prevent his intervention. El looked back at her friends and told Mike goodbye before turning to face the Monster. She used the last of her remaining power to disintegrate the Monster, disappearing to the Upside Down in the process. Mike was left in tears as the boys frantically looked for her in the classroom.

When Eleven awoke, she stumbled along the hallways of the Middle School to find Mike. Eventually, she found a portal to the real world. Once she was back in the real world, Eleven found her way to the Wheeler residence. She saw Mike talking with police through a window, catching his attention and making the officers suspect she was nearby. Eleven was forced to remain and hide in the woods.

Mike, Dustin, and Lucas were the first visitors aside from Jonathan and Joyce to see Will in the hospital. They caught up with Will, telling him about the events which transpired in his absence.

One month later on Christmas Eve, the four boys once again played Dungeons & Dragons. Mike summoned the Thessalhydra, but this time his friends' characters triumphed over the enemy. As Will was picked up by his brother Jonathan and Lucas and Dustin play-fought, Mike looked back longingly at Eleven's old pillow fort, which he had kept in perfect condition in her memory.

Season Two

Mike, along with Lucas, Dustin, and Will, went to the Palace Arcade to play some games. Eventually, they noticed that Dustin's score on Dig Dug had been broken by someone under the name "Madmax." They decide to question an arcade worker named Keith about it, to which he responds "Come on, you know I despise Dig Dug." which ends up being one of his quotes. Will then briefly left the arcade. Mike noticed this and followed Will out to see if he was okay. Will claimed he was fine, and the two went back inside. The next following day, Mike and his friends encountered Max as their new classmate. During the following night, still couldn't get over what happened a year ago, he tries to communicate with Eleven using a walkie-talkie on her spot that he made for Eleven, however, there was no answer.

The next day, Mike, along with Dustin, Lucas and Will, were wearing Ghostbusters uniforms for Halloween at school and night. They soon realized, Dustin being the first to do so, after going to school, that they were the only ones wearing Halloween costumes to school, which dissapointed and embarassed them. In Halloween night, wearing the same costumes, they were joined by their new classmate Max. When Will had another episode during trick-or-treating, Mike found him hiding and accompainies him to his house, leaving the rest of the party go trick-or-treating.

Back in Mike's house, Mike discussed Will following the "episodes" that Will has and so was Mike grieving about the "disappearance" of Eleven. After Will left, Mike sat on her spot that he made for Eleven and tries to communicate Eleven again, however, no response.

The next day, Mike and the rest of the members of the AV Club meet up to discuss following Dustin's discovery of an unidentified creature. Suprised with the discovery, Dustin suggests showing it to Mr. Clarke. However, after finding out from Will that the creature may have been from the Upside Down, Mike refused to show it to Mr. Clarke and an argument was held between the boys. This led Dart escape into the whereabouts of the school. The boys and Max decided to look for Dart. Whilst they were looking for Dart, Eleven went to visit Mike at school. She saw Mike and Max together, thinking they were flirting. Angry and confused, she used her powers to knock Max off her skateboard. Mike immediately suspected El's involvement, and ran outside the gym, but by the time he reached the doors she was gone.


Personality and Traits

Mike was shown to be an optimist. His D&D role as Dungeon Master suggests that he, like Will, is a creative thinker. Out of the four boys, he was the most emotionally open and willing to accept fantastical explanations behind complex situations. After Will disappeared, he quickly drew a parallel to Will’s defeat at the hands of the Demogorgon. After witnessing Eleven's psychic powers, Mike became faithful to the idea that she could help find Will. Mike's slightly unorthodox approach lead him to connect some of the dots explaining the mysterious Upside Down.

Relationships

Familial

Nancy Wheeler

Mike and Nancy were hinted to have been closer when they were younger; Nancy wore fancy dress for some of Mike's early D&D campaigns. However, the two drifted apart, likely due to the large age gap between them and the fact that they attended different schools. Nancy was often dismissive of her brother, calling him "gross" and a "douchebag", and in turn Mike was dismissive of her relationship with Steve Harrington​. However, when Mike briefly went missing, Nancy was genuinely worried about him. After he was found, he and his sister agreed to stop lying to each other and to always tell the truth. However, this was short-lived, as both siblings immediately started lying to each other again.

Karen Wheeler

Mike had a healthy but somewhat strained relationship with his mother. He knew that Karen was always there to comfort and protect him. However, he disobeyed her orders to not go looking for Will and frequently lied to her. He also did not trust her to handle the situation surrounding Eleven. Karen appeared frustrated that both Mike and Nancy seemed unwilling to be honest and open with her.

Ted Wheeler

Mike and Ted did not appear to have the strongest relationship. Ted was often at work and so had less time to spend with his son. Ted's tactless nature could sometimes annoy his family, Mike included.

Non-Familial

Lucas Sinclair

Mike and Lucas lived next door to each other for their entire childhoods and quickly became best friends. However, this friendship was tested following the disappearance of Will and the arrival of Eleven. Mike was sympathetic towards Eleven and believed she could help find Will while Lucas suspected that she was manipulating them in order to gain food and a bed. Mike and Lucas began to occasionally argue about Will and Eleven due to their differing opinions. This even broke out into a full-fledged fight, though Eleven brought the scuffle to an abrupt end. Mike and Lucas were on bad terms for a time, each refusing to apologize to the other. Dustin suspected that Lucas was jealous that Mike's attention was primarily going towards Eleven. However, after Lucas realized that Eleven had good intentions, he apologized and made up with both her and Mike.

Dustin Henderson

Mike met Dustin in the fourth grade, long after meeting Lucas and Will. Despite this, Mike very much considered Dustin to be his best friend too. Dustin was level-headed with Mike, being supportive of him and Eleven while also willing to call him out on any questionable behavior.

Eleven

Mike and Eleven developed a special relationship in the six days they knew each other. He allowed her to stay at his house and built a pillow fort for her in his basement. Mike was the first of his friends to develop trust for El. Eleven, in turn, was clearly at her most relaxed while alone in the company of Mike. Unlike Dustin and Lucas, Mike understood right away that, despite her powers and strange appearance, she was ultimately just another kid. His respect for her deepened when she aided and defended him and his friends in the search for Will. Mike even invited her to be his date to the Snow Ball, an offer which she happily accepted.

Will Byers

Mike and Will met each other on their first day of kindergarten. Mike approached Will while he was on a swing set and asked to be his friend, which Will agreed to. When Will vanished, Mike and his friends quickly decided to search for him. Mike became very upset during the brief period he believed Will was dead, morosely looking back through an old collection of his friend's illustrations. However, after Eleven proved Will was still alive, Mike became more determined than ever to find him. Upon being eventually reunited with Will, Mike was overjoyed.

Scott Clarke

Mike and his friends had a great relationship with their school science teacher, Mr. Clarke. He was more than willing to help the boys further their interest in science, even purchasing a ham radio for them.

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
Season Two appearances
MadMax Trick or Treat Freak The Pollywog
Will the Wise Dig Dug The Spy
The Lost Sister The Mind Flayer The Gate

Family tree

 
 
 
Ted Wheeler Family Tree icon
Ted Wheeler
 
Karen Wheeler Family Tree icon 001
Karen Wheeler
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nancy Wheeler Family Tree icon 002
Nancy Wheeler
 
Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 6.33.40 AM
Mike Wheeler
 
Holly-wheeler
Holly Wheeler
 

Memorable Quotes

  • "Something is coming... something hungry for blood. A shadow grows on the wall behind you, swallowing you in darkness. It is almost here..."
  • "What was your test on again? Human anatomy?"
  • "Friends don't lie."
  • "If anyone asks where I am, I've left the country."
  • "We're no use to Will if we're dead."
  • "You want her? You have to kill us first!"

Trivia

  • When playing Dungeons & Dragons, Mike plays as the Dungeon Master.[1]
  • The clothes he gave Eleven to change into the first night she stayed with him were the same clothes he was wearing the day before.
  • The blonde wig that Mike let Eleven wear belonged to his grandmother, who passed away due to cancer.[2]
  • In the original pilot script, he had a crush on Jennifer Hayes.
  • He has a poster of The Dark Crystal on his bedroom wall.
  • Mike is the first character to refer to the alternate dimension as "the Upside Down".
  • His first name is a reference to Michael "Mikey" Walsh from the 1985 film The Goonies, who his character was originally based on.[3]
  • Mike Wheeler and Jim Hopper are the only characters to appear in all episodes of Season 1 and Season 2.

Gallery

View Gallery

Click the above image to view the gallery for Mike Wheeler.


References

  1. "Behind The Scenes Of Stranger Things - Lully Of Truth 293"
  2. Confessions From The Set Of Stranger Things Season 2Refinery29. December 14, 2016.
  3. "Interview: The Duffer Brothers & Shawn Levy of "Stranger Things"" Cut Print Film. August 3, 2016.


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