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Mike Wheeler

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Michael "Mike" Wheeler, portrayed by starring cast member Finn Wolfhard, is a major protagonist in the first and second seasons of Stranger Things. He is the best friend of Will Byers, Lucas Sinclair, and Dustin Henderson, as well as being Nancy's brother. Mike becomes great friends with Eleven, gradually forming a strong attachment to her.

History

Background

Mike was part 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 grade four, Dustin Henderson arrived at their school and joined their friend group. They would often gather at Mike's house to play Dungeons & Dragons; this hobby was developed as early as 1979. The four boys had a great relationship with their science teacher Mr. Clarke, and they were members in 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. While they looked for missing die, Karen insisted it was time for his friends to leave; shortly after this, Dustin, Lucas, and Will cycled home.

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 where they accidentally encountered the escaped Eleven. After some argument amongst themselves, the boys allowed her to stay in Mike's basement, making a pillow fort for her to sleep in.
The Vanishing of Will Byers S01-E01 SS 004

The boys search for Will

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, discussing 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, on top of which she placed Will's player piece and then the Demogorgon piece. This gave Mike, Lucas, and Dustin a vital clue as they continued to theorize about what happened to Will.

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 household, where El said Will was hiding. This statement confused the three boys. 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.

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 theorized that Will was stuck in the Vale of Shadows, a "dark echo" dimension of death and decay, which El labeled the Upside Down.

They decided to bring El to their school so she could use the Heathkit to communicate with Will, which was much more

Journey to school

The kids bike to school, passing through downtown Hawkins

powerful than the boy's portable radios. 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.

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 group followed their compasses, believing if they went 'North', they would be lead to the Gate. However, Eleven was manipulating the electromagnetic field 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 help. 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, who vanished from the scene.

A rift grew between Lucas and the two other boys, who 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 the revenge-seeking Troy and his friend James, who brandished knives. They were chased to the cliffside overlooking the quarry. Troy threatened Mike, 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, which fleed in terror. El, Dustin and Mike reconciled before returning to Mike's.

The three returned to Mike's house, but they had to leave quickly when Lucas informed them over radio that the 'bad men' where coming. The four reunited 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, creating a makeshift sensory deprivation tank which El could use to enhance her psychic abilities. They learned that Will was alive, 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.

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 make them bleed to death, however, this "drained" her of energy and strength, causing 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, releasing El and the boys, and they ran in panic to Mr Clarke's classroom. The Monster broke in, almost killing 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, telling Mike goodbye before turning to face the Monster. She used her last remaining power to disintegrate the Monster, making herself also disappear in the process. Mike was left in tears as the boys frantically looked for her in the classroom.

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 day, the four boys once again played Dungeons & Dragons. This time, Mike summoned the Thessalhydra, but 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.

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, they 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 new relationship with Steve Harrington​. However, when Mike briefly went missing, Nancy was geniunely 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 him, and to protect him. However, he disobeyed her orders to not go looking for Will, frequently lying to her. He also didn't 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 didn't appear to have the strongest relationship; Ted was often at work and so had less time to be with 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, quickly becoming 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 fully fledged fight, though Eleven brought the scuffle to an abrupt end. Mike and Lucas were on bad terms for a while, refusing to apologize to one another. Dustin suspected that Lucas was jealous that Mike's attention was primarily going towards Eleven. However, after Lucas realised that Eleven had good intentions, he apologized and made up with both her and Mike.

Dustin Henderson

Dustin met Mike, Lucas and Will in the fourth grade, way after the three had initially met. Despite this, Mike very much considered Dustin to be his best friend. 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. Out of the three boys, Mike grew the closest to Eleven, partly due to her staying at his house. Though Dustin and Lucas eventually developed trust for her, Mike was the first to do so. 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, who didn't mean to cause trouble for him and his friends. 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, a offer which she happily accepted.

Will Byers

Mike and Will met each other at an early age, becoming close friends. When Will vanished, Mike and his friends quickly decided to search for him. After he met Eleven and discovered that she recognised him, he believed she was the key to finding Will. Mike became very upset following Will's "death", morosely looking back through an old collection of his friend's illustrations. However, after Eleven proved Will was still "out there", Mike became more determined than ever to find him. Upon being eventually reunited with Will, Mike and his friends were 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

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."

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 were the same clothes he was wearing the day before.
  • The blonde wig that Eleven wore 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]

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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