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"The Demogorgon... it got me."

–Will Byers, November 6, 1983


William "Will" Byers, portrayed by Noah Schnapp, is a recurring character in the first season of Stranger Things and a main character in the second season.

On the night of November 6th, 1983, Will was abducted by the Demogorgon and taken into an alternate dimension dubbed the Upside Down. For a week, Will evaded the creature while his family and friends desperately searched for him. Although he was eventually rescued and returned to normal life, his time in the Upside Down left him with a mysterious connection to the alternate realm.

A year later, Will became possessed by the Mind Flayer, becoming a part of his hive mind. Through this connection, Will was able to understand the creature's motives and weaknesses. However, the Mind Flayer exploited Will's connection to use him to massacre the scientists at Hawkins National Laboratory. Finally, with the help of his mother and brother as well as Nancy, the monster's possession over Will was alleviated and he returned safe and sound.

History

Main article: Will Byers/History

Personality and Traits

Will is soft-spoken, amicable, and honest. Like his friends, he is exceedingly intelligent for his age, having an enthusiasm for science and being a member of their school’s AV club. He also displays a lot of the same interests as his friends, such as Dungeons & Dragons, comics like the X-men, and films like Ghostbusters. He is also creative, having a passion for art and writing stories. However, his interests and social status resulted in him being bullied. This, along with his father’s prior poor treatment of him, most likely led to feelings of alienation.

After his ordeal with the Upside Down, Will became even more alienated due to his peers labeling him “Zombie Boy” (due to the cover story conceived to conceal what actually happened to him). Additionally, he had grown frustrated with everyone’s sensitive treatment towards him, especially with his mother and brother’s overprotectiveness. Following his possession by the Mind Flayer, Will developed an aversion to heat and became increasingly distressed by his connection with the entity. The connection also caused him to experience physical pain whenever the vines and biological matter originating from the Upside Down were burned. As Will’s mind was gradually taken over, he began to experience memory loss and was manipulated into aiding the Mind Flayer. Eventually, the Mind Flayer’s influence over Will was so great, he was able to speak through him and control his body. After the Mind Flayer was exorcised from his body, Will seemingly returned to his usual self with no visible adverse effects.

One of Will’s most notable traits is how he often put other people before himself. This was implied by his actions during the Dungeons & Dragons campaign in “The Vanishing of Will Byers”, were he decided to attack the Demogorgon to help the party instead of playing it safe. In “The Mind Flayer”, Joyce recounted a story of how when he was younger, Will gave away his toy truck to a saddened girl in order to make her feel better, even though they wouldn’t be able to afford another one. This side of his personality is also displayed somewhat in “The Gate”, where he reluctantly accepted a girl’s invitation to dance though he clearly had no desire to do so. It’s also possible one of the reasons he waited to tell his family and friends about his visions was so he wouldn’t worry them.

Will also had a profound sense of responsibility, drawing a picture of Bob as a superhero to commemorate his sacrifice to save everyone.

Abilities

Psychic abilities

After his rescue from the Upside Down, Will developed “True Sight”, where he began seeing visions of the Upside Down. While originally believed to be episodes related to post-traumatic stress disorder, what Will was experiencing was not only real, but signs of an approaching interdimensional threat. After being taken over by the Mind Flayer, Will also acquired what he called “Now-memories”, being able to see what the entity could.

A telling characteristic of these abilities is that Will appeared to have no control over them, with him experiencing visions at seemingly random intervals, and his Now-memories being more of a side effect of the Mind Flayer’s possession. Will also displayed none of the traditional side effects associated with using psychic abilities, such as nosebleeds. Will most likely lost these abilities once the Mind Flayer was expelled from his body.

  • True Sight: Will began seeing visions of the Upside Down following his rescue from the dimension. Mike compared this ability to “True Sight” from Dungeons & Dragons, described by Dustin as “the power to see into the Ethereal Plane.” During an episode, Will would essentially be in both the regular world and the alternate dimension simultaneously, allowing the Upside Down to seep into the regular world through his mind. Will could not control these visions, experiencing them against his will unpredictably. The visions happened more and more frequently until the Mind Flayer took control of Will’s body.
  • Now-memories: Following his possession by the Mind Flayer, Will acquired the ability to see what the creature could see, as well as feel what he could feel. Will was able to use this ability to spy on the Mind Flayer, allowing him to know of the tunnels beneath Hawkins and even the Mind Flayer’s weakness. However, this ability was a double-edged sword, also allowing the Mind Flayer to spy through Will.

Regular abilities

  • Artistic ability: Will's drawings were exceedingly detailed and remarkable, especially considering his age. Will could explain many complex events by his drawings which he couldn't verbally. When Will was overwhelmed by the shadow monster, his drawing skills were very useful to inform Joyce and Hopper about the growing corruption of the Upside Down beneath Hawkins and also determine Hopper's location when he was trapped.
  • Gunmanship: As displayed in "The Vanishing of Will Byers", Will appeared to have knowledge of how to load and use a gun, a skill he most likely learned from his father. However, his proficiency in using it is unclear.
  • Morse code: Will knew Morse code, as shown in “The Mind Flayer” where he managed to signal the Mind Flayer’s weakness.

Relationships

Will had a deep and affectionate relationship with his mother. Joyce encouraged Will to be his own person and allowed him to be creative, praising his artistic ability and letting him build his own little fort in the nearby woods. Will felt comfortable discussing his D&D campaigns with her as he would with his friends. While he was trapped in the Upside Down, he repeatedly tried to contact her, often putting himself at risk of being found by the Demogorgon. Joyce became determined to find him, and even entered the Upside Down to save him.

A year later, when Will's condition deteriorated after the shadow monster possessed him, Joyce promised that she will keep him safe, attempting earnestly to figure out a way to save him and encouraged him to explain his memories by drawing. Joyce was extremely dismayed when Will started suffering from memory loss and berated the doctors for failing to treat him. Eventually, she forced the shadow monster out by exposing her possessed son to extreme heat, saving Will in the process.

Lonnie was unsupportive of Will and his interests, and as a result they weren't very close. That being said, Will tried his best to have a good relationship with Lonnie, attending baseball games and other activities with him, even though he had no personal interest. However, Will got little to nothing back from him; in fact, Lonnie even made derogatory remarks towards him. This questionable behavior was likely a factor in Lonnie and Joyce's divorce.

Will saw his brother Jonathan as a role model, who in some ways was a substitute father figure to him. They would often listen to music together, and Jonathan even made him two mixtapes. Jonathan would also defend Will from Lonnie, who didn't approve of his interests. After Will vanished, Jonathan, like his mother, became desperate to find him. Upon waking in the hospital, one of the first things Will did was to ask Jonathan about his injured hand; they clearly greatly cared about each other's well-being.

Will and Mike met each other at the kindergarten at an early age, becoming very close friends. When Will vanished, Mike and his friends quickly decided to search for him. After he met Eleven and discovered that she recognized him, he believed she was the key to finding Will. Mike became very upset following Will's presumed "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.

Moreover, when Will was having visions and episodes, he shared it with Mike because he knew that the others wouldn't understand. Mike, in return, was even more committed to helping his friend and was also prepared to sacrifice Dart to save Will. And ever since the Mind Flayer overwhelmed Will, Mike was the only one out of his best friends to stay with him all the time, trying his best to comfort him. After his memory loss in the lab, Will was also able to remember only Mike out of everyone else, besides his mother. It was clear that Mike was very sympathetic and cared a great deal for Will when he revealed that his approval of being his friend was the best thing he ever imagined.

Will, Mike and Lucas met Dustin when he joined their school in the fourth grade, quickly becoming close friends. Dustin was determined to stay cool and collected while searching for the missing Will (unlike Mike and Lucas), as he realized that he needed to be level-headed​ if he wanted any chance of saving his friend. Dustin wanted the group of kids to stick together no matter what, as he knew that together, they would make the most progress.

As with Mike, Will had met and become friends with Lucas from an early age. Like Dustin and Mike, Lucas was determined to find Will, but Lucas became tired of both Mike and Dustin's approaches to doing so. He saw Eleven's presence as a distraction from finding Will, and he did not accept Dustin's plea for them all to work together. For a while, Lucas instead attempted to seek out Will on his own.

Will 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.

Though Will and Eleven were never formally introduced to one another, they could definitely be considered allies. Eleven was more than willing to help Will's friends and family find him, which they were deeply thankful for (especially Joyce). Eleven's only direct interaction with Will took place while she was immersed in her mental void; she found him in Castle Byers, comforting him and telling him to "hold on a little longer" while Joyce and Hopper searched for him.

Will had a very close relationship with Bob Newby, since he didn't treat him any different after his disappearance, unlike Will's brother and mother who were over-protective of him. He was passive-natured and empathized strongly with Will, providing him a good deal of advice to face his fears with good intentions, though that indirectly deteriorated Will's conditions. Will later drew a picture of Bob as a Superhero in regards to his valiant sacrifice at the lab.

Troy and James

James and Troy often bullied Will and his friends. Due to his interests and small stature, they would call him demeaning names. Even when he was missing, and later presumed dead, they continued making crude remarks about him, until Eleven scared them off.

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

*Can be seen in a flashback/is manipulating electricity

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

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Joyce Byers Family Tree icon 001
Joyce Byers
 
Lonnie Byers Family Tree icon 001
Lonnie Byers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jonathan Byers FamilyTree icon 001
Jonathan Byers
 
Will Byerd Family Tree icon 001
Will Byers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Memorable Quotes

Will:

  • "Let me go! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go."
  • "I'll take your X-Men 134!"

Will to his mother:

  • "Sometimes the bad guys are smart too."
  • "It's like home, but it's so dark... It's so dark and empty!"
  • "[Referring to the Mind Flayer] He likes it cold."

Will to the Mind Flayer:

  • "Go away!"

Will to Mike:

  • "That's my friend....Mike."
  • "Crazy together."

Will & Mike:

Following the Mind Flayer's possession over Will-

  • Will: "At first, I felt it on the back of my head. I didn't know it was there. Now, I feel it, I feel it all the time."
  • Mike: "Maybe...maybe that's good."
  • Will: "Good?"
  • Mike: "Just think about it Will. You're like a spy now, a super-spy. If you know what he thinks, maybe that's how we can stop him."
  • Will: "You think so?"
  • Will: "Yeah...I really do."
  • Will: "What if...what if he figures out we're spying on him? What if he spies back?"

Will & his mother:

After learning the shadow monster's exploitation-

  • Will: "I am sorry. [Referring to the Mind Flayer] He made me do it."
  • Joyce: "Who? Who made you do what?"
  • Will: "I told you, they upset him. They shouldn't have done that. They shouldn't have upset him."


Trivia

  • Will's family owned a dog.
  • In "The Vanishing of Will Byers", Will tells Mike his character was defeated by the Demogorgon, foreshadowing his abduction by the Monster.
  • In the first season, his Dungeons & Dragons character was a wizard named Will the Wise.[2] In the second season, his character was changed to a cleric.
    • So far, he is the only one of the boys shown to have named his D&D character.
  • The comic that he won from the race with Dustin was X-Men 134. In this issue of the comic, the telepathic mutant Jean Grey uses her powers to pin Mastermind to a wall, putting him in a coma. This is similar to how Eleven ultimately stopped the Demogorgon, by pinning it to the wall and making it disintegrate.
    • In the original pilot script, he wanted Dustin's Uncanny X-Men 269. This would've been an anachronism, as that issue was released on October 10, 1990.
  • The password to enter his tree fort is "Radagast," the name of a wizard in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
  • He has a Jaws poster on his bedroom wall.
  • According to his brother, he is good at hiding. This could've been one of the reasons he was able to evade the Demogorgon for so long.
  • He suspected one of his Christmas presents to be an Atari. The Atari was a home video game console manufactured by Atari, Inc that was popular during the late '70s to mid '80s.
  • He owns a plush lion that is identical to the one Eleven had while living in the lab. Both are similar to a stuffed animal that was owned by Sara Hopper, though hers was a tiger.
  • Will's possession by the Mind Flayer draws some parallels to Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist, who is also a young child possessed by a powerful otherworldly force.
  • One of Will's favorite songs is "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by the Clash. The line "If I go, there will be trouble And if I stay it will be double" may be foreshadowing that in season one when Will would disappear in Season 1, but in Season 2, things would get worse.
  • In early development, Will was named Benny.[3]
  • In an early outline, Will was originally going to have Bob killed by episode four as a result of the Mind Flayer's manipulation.[4]
  • There are some inconsistencies concerning his date of birth. In a video posted to the show's official Instagram account, his birthday was shown to be August 28. However, in "The Mind Flayer" his birthday was revealed to be March 22.

Gallery

View Gallery

Click the above image to view the gallery for Will Byers.


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Stranger Things Season 1: "Chapter Two: The Weirdo on Maple Street"
  2. "Behind The Scenes Of Stranger Things - Lully Of Truth 293"
  3. "'STRANGER THINGS' Duffer Brothers Have Proof THEY DIDN'T STEAL THE SHOW!!!" TMZ. April 6, 2018
  4. "[1]" Insider. November 8, 2017


The Upside Down
Locations The Upside DownThe GateHawkins National LaboratoryPublic LibraryPortalsHawkins tunnel system
Entities D'ArtagnanThe DemogorgonDemogorgon (species)The Mind FlayerHawkins tunnel systemVines
Visitors Joyce ByersWill ByersElevenSteve HarringtonDustin HendersonBarbara HollandJim HopperMax MayfieldBob NewbyShepardLucas SinclairMike WheelerNancy Wheeler
Miscellaneous Upside Down eggThe Upside Down (episode)Dungeons & DragonsThe Void
Articles may contain spoilers.