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"The Demogorgon... it got me."

–Will Byers, November 6, 1983


William "Will" Byers 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.

History

Background

Will is the son of Joyce and Lonnie Byers, and the younger brother of Jonathan. Will was close with his mother and brother, but not with his father. Because of this, Jonathan became a much larger role model for him than their father. Ultimately, Joyce and Lonnie divorced, resulting with Lonnie moving out. Joyce, Jonathan and Will remained at their home in Hawkins, Indiana.

Will-Jonathan-Should-I-Stay-Or-Should-I-Go

Will and Jonathan listen to a mixtape.

Will was best friends with Lucas Sinclair and Mike Wheeler from a very young age. He met Mike on the first day of kindergarten and instantly accepted his request to be friends, a memory which Mike would always treasure. In fourth grade, 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 first place almost every year. On one occasion when the boys biked together, Will fell off his bike and broke his finger.

At one point Jonathan gave Will a mixtape, which included a Clash single which Will became very fond of.

Will was exceedingly creative. His drawings were hugely detailed and distinctive for a child of his age, and he had built his own little wooden fort in the local woods.

Chapter One – Dustin and Will race

Will and Dustin race home

1983

On the evening of November 6, 1983, Will, Dustin, Mike, and Lucas 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 Mike's mother insisted it was time for Mike's friends to leave. Will rode his bike home alongside Lucas and Dustin. Lucas turned down another street while Dustin and Will continued riding forward. Dustin suggested that the two race, and the winner would win a comic. Will took off ahead of Dustin and shouted that he wanted his X-Men #134.

While riding on Mirkwood, a humanoid monster crossed Will's path. Will panicked; he rode his bike off the road and crashed to the ground. He rushed to his house looking for his family, but there was no one home. He ran to the shed and loaded a rifle to protect himself, but was stunned when the Demogorgon appeared behind him. The light bulb glowed brightly before Will vanished, taken into an alternate dimension.[2]

Joyce communicates

Will communicates with his mother via the Christmas lights

In the Upside Down, Will evaded the Demogorgon for a week, showing his great ingenuity, ability to hide, and creativity. Somehow or other, Will figured out that his presence in the Upside Down could affect electrical devices in his home dimension, and Will began attempting to communicate with his mother. He first tried using the landline at his house, with very limited success. On several further occasions he attempted to communicate, manipulating the electricity in the Byers household.
Ep7-WillinCastleByers

An exhausted Will rests in Castle Byers

Eventually weakened from hunger and thirst, in addition to the Upside Down's toxic air, he collapsed in the Upside Down's Castle Byers. The test subject Eleven managed to find him there after entering a deeper psychic state, where they briefly communicated. Will told Eleven to hurry, as he was only becoming weaker and more vulnerable.

As Will sang one of his favorite songs, the Demogorgon found him, destroying his wooden fort. Will was taken to the library and strung up in the strange biological webbing prevalent throughout the Upside Down, unconscious and alone with only corpses and skeletons for company.

WillUpsideDown

A captured Will, with a tendril extending down his throat

Joyce and Chief Hopper entered the Upside Down via the Gate to search for Will. They eventually found him entangled in the web, attached to some kind of tendril extending down his throat and into his stomach; Hopper pulled it out before shooting and killing it. Joyce and Hopper managed to resuscitate Will and safely return to their home dimension, where Will was hospitalized immediately. There, Jonathan, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Nancy visited him at the local hospital.

The boys see Will

Will's friends visit him in the hospital

There was some surprise in Hawkins after Will returned to normal life, since his death had been widely acknowledged within the town. A cover story was put out to explain Will's miraculous re-appearance, which, according to Lucas, became accepted as public knowledge. It had appeared that Will had drowned at the quarry, due to the fake body that Hawkins Lab had planted there. The cover story explains that another child had drowned at the quarry, who was confused with the then-missing Will due to their "super decomposed" body.

That December, the boys ran a Christmas Eve campaign of Dungeons & Dragons, encountering the dreaded Thessalhydra—but this time, Will's character triumphed over the enemy. Jonathan picked up Will from the Wheelers' house and brought him home in his car. At dinner, Will excused himself to wash his hands. This was not his true intention—in the bathroom, he threw up and washed away a slug-like creature down the sink. Before Will left the bathroom and returned to dinner, he momentarily saw the Upside Down flicker around him.

1984

Will-Shadow-Monster-Vision

Will's vision of the Mind Flayer.

Despite having only spent a week in the Upside Down, Will developed a psychic connection to the shadowy entity residing there. He began experiencing psychosomatic episodes similar to those related to post-traumatic stress disorder (as attested by Dr. Owens). However, the increasing frequency and intensity of these episodes led Joyce to realize they were something more than just flashbacks. At school, Will was not readily accepted by the rest of the students and became more of an outcast than before, being given the nickname "Zombie Boy".

Will-Shadow-Monster-Possession

Will being taken over by the Mind Flayer.

Taking Bob's advice to confront his visions of the shadow monster, Will angrily told the creature to go away. In response, the monster imparted part of itself within Will: despite Will's body being in Hawkins, he became "possessed" by the entity, allowing him to inexplicably understand its motives and intentions. Will soon became overpowered by the Mind Flayer's influence, having become part of the hive mind. The connection also caused him to experience physical pain whenever the vines and biological matter originating from the Upside Down were burned.

However, despite's Will being essentially part of the monster's army, he was able to communicate the way to defeat the monster: by closing the Gate. Joyce, Johnathan, and Nancy made Will's body uninhabitable by increasing his body temperature, because the monster can only survive in the cold. Will broke free of his restraints and attempted to strangle Joyce, but was subdued by Jonathan burning him with a fire iron. Unable to bear the pain, a portion of the Monster fled from Will's body and out into the sky. This alleviated Will of the monster's possession once and for all.

Will-and-Friends-Snowball

Will and his friends at the Snow Ball.

Later, at the Hawkins Middle School Snow Ball, a girl in Will's class asked him to dance, to which he reluctantly agreed.

Relationships

Familial

Joyce Byers

Will clearly 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 Monster. Joyce became determined to find him, and eventually entered the Upside Down to save him.

Lonnie Byers

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.

Jonathan Byers

Will saw his brother Jonathan as a role model, who in some ways was like 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.

Non-Familial

Mike Wheeler

Will and Mike 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.

Dustin Henderson

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 realised 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.

Lucas Sinclair

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. It could be argued that, out of Will's three friends, Lucas was the most intent on finding him.

Scott Clarke

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.

Eleven

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.

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.

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

  • "I'll take your X-Men 134!"
  • "Sometimes the bad guys are smart too."
  • "It's like home, but it's so dark... It's so dark and empty!"
  • "He likes it cold."

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.
  • When playing Dungeons & Dragons he plays as a Wizard named Will the Wise.[3]
    • He is the only one of the boys 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 Monster, 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.

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. Stranger Things Season 1: "Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
  3. "Behind The Scenes Of Stranger Things - Lully Of Truth 293"


The Upside Down
Locations The Upside DownThe GateHawkins National LaboratoryPublic LibraryPortalsHawkins tunnel system
Entities D'ArtagnanThe DemogorgonDemogorgon (species)Library TendrilThe Mind Flayer
Visitors Joyce ByersWill ByersElevenBarbara HollandJim HopperShepardNancy Wheeler
Miscellaneous Upside Down eggThe Upside Down (episode)Dungeons & DragonsThe Void
Articles may contain spoilers.

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