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Nancy Wheeler, portrayed by starring cast member Natalia Dyer, is a major character in the first and second seasons of Stranger Things. At first, concerned with simple teenage high school issues, her world is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes, encouraging her to seek out the truth.

Still grieving for the death of her best friend, she and Jonathan took on a journey on themselves to expose Hawkins National Laboratory as a threat. Eventually, she helps Jonathan and his mother in removing Will Byers from the Mind Flayer.

History

Background

Nancy was the first child of Karen and Ted Wheeler, and she would later be joined by younger siblings Mike and Holly. Together, the family of five lived at their home in Hawkins, Indiana. Nancy suspected her parents never truly loved one another, and that they married solely to create a "perfect nuclear family".

Photos of Barb and Nancy

Nancy's photos of her and Barb, from her memory wall

As Nancy and Mike grew up, Nancy became distant from Mike and his friends, although they were close at some point. By the time Nancy attended Hawkins High School, she had become best friends with Barbara Holland. Nancy also had a friend named Cathy.

In 1983, Nancy began dating Steve Harrington, a popular boy at school, making out with him "a couple of times". Nancy and Barb went clothes-shopping one weekend, with Nancy seeking to impress Steve.

Season One

On the evening of November 6, Nancy was in her room talking over the phone with Barb, discussing Steve. Dustin interrupted, asking if she wanted a slice of pizza; she answered him by slamming the door in his face.

After finding a note in her school locker the next morning, she met Steve in the bathroom where they briefly made out before going back to class. Before Nancy left, Steve asked if they could go out that night. She initially declined but eventually agreed to meet him at Dearborn and Maple “to study.”

That night at dinner, Nancy lied to her mother, saying she was going to study at Barb's house. However, her mother forbade this, fearing for her safety due to the recent disappearance of Will Byers. When Nancy blamed Will's disappearance for her not being allowed to leave, Mike revealed her relationship with Steve. Outraged, Nancy stormed away from the table, going upstairs to her room. Later, Steve climbed in through Nancy's bedroom window to help her study for a test and tried to have sex with her, but Nancy rejected his advances.[1]

The teens in the pool

The teens in the pool

Nancy was invited to a pool party at Steve's house when he was home alone and dragged Barb along. Nancy eventually decided to go up to Steve's room and told Barb to go home. Nancy, unaware of the fact that Barb had been taken by the Demogorgon whilst sitting alone by the pool, lost her virginity to Steve. [2]

The following day, she noticed that Barb was not at school and grew increasingly worried when neither her friends nor Barb's mother had seen her. Nancy went back to Steve's house to look for her and was startled by a creature in the forest.

Jonathan Byers was revealed to have taken pictures of Nancy in her underwear at the party the previous night, so Steve, along with his friends, destroyed the photos and broke his camera.[3]

Nancy shared her worry about Barb with Steve, but he was more concerned that a police investigation would lead his parents to find out he had a party. Police officers Callahan and Powell questioned Nancy, and she told them she thought Barb was taken by the creature she saw in the forest. They had already searched the forest and found that Barb's car was gone. They theorized that Barb might have run away because she was jealous of Nancy and Steve and revealed to Nancy's mother that Nancy had slept with Steve.

Feeling like something terrible had happened to Barb and nobody was listening to her, Nancy began taking matters into her own hands. She taped together the pieces of one of Jonathan's photographs and saw a creature behind Barb at the pool. She questioned Jonathan about the night he had taken the photographs and told him about the creature, which he recognized from his mothers' description. They went to enlarge the photo, and Nancy was certain it was the same creature she had seen earlier.[4]

At Will Byers' funeral, Nancy and Jonathan decided to return to the forest to look for the creature, and Jonathan took a gun from his father's car. As Nancy was practising swinging a baseball bat, Steve came by to apologize for his insensitivity and invited Nancy to see a movie, but she had other plans and told him she was busy with the funeral.

She later went to practice shooting with Jonathan and confided to him that she thought her parents married out of convenience, not love. In the forest, Nancy and Jonathan talked about the photo he took and Steve's reaction and ended up lashing out at each other.
Nancy enters the Upside Down

Nancy enters the Upside Down via a tear in space-time

After dark, they found a wounded deer. They agreed to kill it out of mercy, but before they could it was suddenly dragged away. Following the blood trail, Nancy entered a hole in a tree and found herself in a different dimension. She saw the Demogorgon feeding on the deer and ran away as it gave chase.[5] Following Jonathan's voice, Nancy made her way out of the dimension unscathed.

Traumatized by the experience, she had Jonathan sleepover. The following day, she theorized about the Demogorgon's nature based on her knowledge about animals, and they bought weapons to face it again. While downtown, she found Steve and his friends tagging slurs about her. She realized that Steve had seen Jonathan in her room last night and tried to explain that he misunderstood. Jonathan and Steve ended up in a fistfight, which led to Jonathan's arrest.[6]

After Chief Hopper and Jonathan's mother Joyce met Nancy and Jon at the police station, they shared everything they knew about the Demogorgon. After finding Nancy's brother Mike and his friends Lucas, Dustin and Eleven, the group decided to build a makeshift sensory deprivation tank, which Eleven could use to look for Barb and Will in the Upside Down. They broke into Hawkins Middle, using the resources there and creating the bathtub in the gymnasium. Eleven floated in the bathtub, entering her deepened psychic state in which she looked for Will and Barb. Although she found Will (barely) alive, she also discovered that Barb had been killed by the Monster.

Nancy, angry at the loss of her friend, became more determined than ever to kill the Monster. She and Jonathan lured the Demogorgon to the Byers household with blood; with the aid of Steve, they managed to injure Demogorgon, which would later be killed by Eleven.

Nancy reconciled with Steve, who celebrated Christmas at her house. She gifted Jonathan a camera as a replacement for the one Steve broke.[7]

Season Two

Following the events of Season One, Nancy is overcome with grief and guilt over the death of Barb. Mr and Mrs Holland tell Nancy and Steve that they have sought the help of disgraced journalist and conspiracist Murray Bauman to try and fit the pieces together.

At a party, Nancy attempts to drown her sorrows by drinking heavily, until Steve tries to console her. A drunken Nancy confesses to Steve that everything is 'bullshit', including their relationship. Steve storms out of the party, heartbroken. Jonathan ends up finding Nancy and drives her home, putting her to bed.

At school, Nancy and Steve effectively break up following what was said at the party. Nancy then gets Jonathan on board to help her get justice for Barb.

Nancy forms a plan involving ringing the Holland family, telling them she knows the truth about Barb, knowing that the members of Hawkins Lab will be tapping the phone lines and track them down. What follows is the staff of the lab guiding Nancy and Jonathan through what they are doing, studying and experimenting on the organisms from The Upside Down. Unbeknownst to them, Nancy has secretly recorded them on a tape recorder, to use as evidence against them in order to expose their role in Barb's death.

Nancy and Jonathan then travel in the direction of Murray's location, spending the night in a motel, reminiscing about their previous adventure. Nancy asks what happened between them, saying that she waited for Jonathan before ultimately ending up with Steve again. Jonathan retorts by saying she only waited a month and he was busy looking after Will. No more is said about it and the two go to sleep.

The next day, they make their way to Murray's lair, where they give their input into the Hawkins mystery. Murray, an alcoholic eccentric, suggests they slightly alter the story to make it more credible, going with the compromise that Barb was exposed to radiation from the lab, resulting in her death. After tweaking the evidence, they send the tape to a local news station, satisfied that justice will come for Barb.

Murray offers Jonathan and Nancy his guest room, presuming the two are a couple, which the pair are quick to deny. Murray laughs at this and easily deduces that there is sexual tension between them. Murray bids them goodnight and leaves them restless over his statements of their own issues withholding them from eloping. Eventually, Nancy and Jonathan give in and passionately kiss one another before sleeping together in the guest room.

The morning after, Murray cooks them breakfast, satisfied that his deductions were true, grinning at the awkward looks the couple give one another. They say goodbye to Murray, who tells them never to contact him again.

Upon arriving back in Hawkins, they realise something's wrong when they see the Byers' household strewn with Will's drawings of the underground Demogorgon trail. They travel to Hawkins Lab where they find Steve and the kids emerging from the woods.

Meeting with the rest of the characters, Nancy is present during the forced interrogation of possessed Will, resulting in Eleven closing the Gate to the Upside Down.

A month later, Nancy is volunteering at the Snow Ball at Hawkins Middle School, serving drinks. It is implied that Nancy and Jonathan are still going strong, as the two share a smile, as Jonathan is also volunteering, taking prom photos.

As the night goes on, Nancy notices Dustin, upset and embarrassed after being rejected by a number of girls to dance. She walks over to Dustin, who is crying by himself on the bleachers, and offers to dance with him out of sympathy. They catch the eye of the girls who had previously rejected Dustin. Nancy tells Dustin that he is her favourite out of all her brother's friends and that girls at his age are 'dumb' but give them a couple of years and he'll 'drive them nuts.' The two continue dancing together, in a touching moment.

Personality

Nancy was intelligent and studious, having a high GPA and studying vigorously for tests. However, after entering a relationship with Steve she became more rebellious, lying and participating in activities she most likely wouldn't have done otherwise. While her actions were being influenced by her new “friends”, she still remained kind and sympathetic.

She was also shown to have a tremendous amount of bravery and resolve, going to great lengths for those she cared for. When she was looking for the missing Barb, she boldly entered a portal to another dimension in an attempt to save her friend. Later, determined to kill the Monster, she willingly used her own blood to lure it out.

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
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

  • "It's not like that..."/"It wasn't like that..."
  • "My mom was young. My dad was older, but he had a cushy job, money, came from a good family. So they bought a nice house at the end of the cul-de-sac and started their nuclear family." — On her parents' marriage.[5]
  • "I wanna finish what we started. I want to kill it."
  • "Girls this age are dumb."

Trivia

  • Nancy's old dress is worn by Eleven.

Gallery

References

  1. "Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
  2. "Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street"
  3. "Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly"
  4. "Chapter Four: The Body"
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat"
  6. "Chapter Six: The Monster"
  7. "Chapter Eight: The Upside Down"



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