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El, are you there? El? It's me, it's Mike. It's day 352, 7:40 pm, I am still here. If you're out there, say something... or give me a sign, I won't, I won't even say anything, I just... I want to know if you're okay.

–Mike Wheeler, October 30, 1984


Michael "Mike" Wheeler, portrayed by Finn Wolfhard, is one of the main protagonists of Stranger Things.

When Mike's best 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 girl named 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 and quickly grew to like each other. 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 Demogorgon.

Still devastated by Eleven's disappearance one year later, Mike called for her every night while also assisting Will with a new supernatural issue. Eventually, he reunited with Eleven. He, along with his friends and Steve, then worked on burning the sprawling network of another inter-dimensional threat, using it as a distraction for Eleven to close the Gate for good. Mike later attended the Snow Ball dance with Eleven, which he previously promised her.

During the summer of 1985, Mike's romantic relationship with Eleven continued to blossom. After Hopper complicated it, Mike tried to amend their relationship, taking counsel from Lucas. Upon learning that the Mind Flayer was still alive and began flaying to get revenge on Mike, Eleven, and their friends, he joined his friends to defeat it. Three months since Hopper's apparent death, Mike and his friends had to bid farewell to Eleven, Will and the Byers who were moving out of Hawkins. Before leaving, Mike and Eleven made plans to visit each other at Thanksgiving while they professed their love for one another.

History

Main article: Mike Wheeler/History

Personality and Traits

Mike is shown to be an optimist, morally compassionate and highly committed to his friends usually going to great lengths to help them. His D&D role as Dungeon Master suggests that he, like Will, is a creative thinker. Out of the four boys, he is the most emotionally open and rather gullible, being 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. While his friends were initially skeptical about Eleven, Mike wholeheartedly trusted her to guide them and even developed a close relationship with her. Mike's slightly unorthodox approach led him to connect some of the dots explaining the mysterious Upside Down.

Mike's sheer resolve to helping his friends was so great that at one point, he jumped off the cliff to protect Dustin before Eleven came to rescue him. Additionally, Mike displayed strong morale and courage when he confronted Troy about his joke of Will's presumed death, showing just how much he cares for his friends. Even after Will was saved, Mike perceived that Will was struggling due to his connection with the Upside Down and tried to help him. Mike was also the only one out of his friends to stay with Will in the lab when he was suffering from memory loss and was manipulated by the Mind Flayer to kill them, proving that he was always ready to put himself in harm's way to protect his friends.

Moreover, when Eleven disintegrated the Demogorgon and vanished away, Mike was severely traumatized by her disappearance and struggled. Yet he still believed that she was alive and continued to try contacting her for 353 consecutive days, until his determination was rewarded when he finally reunited with Eleven after almost a year. His undying love and concern for her were also explicit when he endeavored to convince the group to distract the Demodogs from Eleven, defying Steve's orders, as well as keeping his promise to her by attending the Snow Ball.

Relationships

Familial

Mike and Nancy were hinted to have been closer when they were younger; Nancy would dress up 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. Despite this, however, Mike and Nancy are still shown to care for each other, despite getting on each other's nerves. Mike even refused to give Keith a date with Nancy, not wanting to prostitute his sister into discovering the identity of "MADMAX", however he is not above stealing from her piggy bank that as a consequence forces him to give away a box of his toys.

In 1985, Mike's relationship with his sister seemed to improve greatly after all they have been through for the past two years. When Nancy urged Mike to open the door, Mike did so as he could tell in her voice that something was wrong. The two worked together with their friends in investigating the Flayed and the Mind Flayer's plot. Mike even came to Nancy's aid when she was being attacked by a monster at the Hawkins Memorial Hospital. As they waited for Eleven to find the Flayed, Nancy was shocked to hear that Eleven broke up with Mike and criticized him for controlling Eleven, stating that Eleven is her own person capable of making her own choices. However, when Mike admitted that he's afraid of losing Eleven and that he truly loves her, Nancy is surprised to hear this. Later, when the Mind Flayer attacks Hopper's cabin, Nancy does everything to protect her brother and his friends. Nancy continues to help and protect Mike before the Mind Flayer is killed at Starcourt Mall. Three months later, Nancy and Mike share their sadness together as they watch the Byers family and Eleven leave Hawkins.

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. After being unable to accept Eleven's presumed disappearance, Mike started behaving peculiarly which caused Karen, unbeknownst to it, to compel him to pack a major portion of his toys, frustrating Mike even more. Mike also gets annoyed when his mom takes so many pictures of him in his Ghostbusters costume and his uniform for the Snow Ball. However, in 1985, after saying goodbye to Will and Eleven, Mike sought comfort from his mom, causing Karen to give him a hug, showing that Mike truly loves his mom.

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. Mike also kept Eleven's existence a secret from Ted. When Mike was urged by his mother to sell a big portion of his toys, Ted said that Mike's toys were pieces of "plastic."

Non-Familial

Mike and Eleven developed a special relationship in the six days they knew each other. He allowed her to stay at his house, provided meals for her everyday and also built a pillow fort for her in his basement. Mike was the first of his friends to develop trust for El, even falling in love with her. 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.

While in the cafeteria, Mike invites Eleven to be his date to the Snow Ball, an offer which she happily accepted. He then explains to Eleven that he liked her more than friends and kisses her to explain his love for her. Eleven then sacrifices herself to the Demogorgon leaving Mike and his friends in safety. Watching her apparent death devastates Mike as he mourns her loss.

However, he never gave up hope for her, calling for her on his Supercom for 353 days in a row as well as keeping the pillow fort in perfect condition in regards to her memory, unaware that she was actually alive and was attempting to communicate back. When they finally reunited after nearly a year, they shared a long awaited hug just to be separated again. Mike tells Eleven that he “can’t lose her” and she promises he will not. Eleven leans in to kiss Mike but is interrupted by Hopper calling her name. Concerned about her, Mike convinces the group and goes with them to burn the tunnels to distract the Demodogs from Eleven. With their help, Eleven manages to close the Gate. Afterwards, on the night of the annual Snow Ball' 84, Eleven shows up at the Snow Ball, keeping her promise to Mike. Mike and Eleven then shared their second known kiss as they danced to the song “Every Breath You Take”.

In 1985, their relationship was blossoming more and more, much to her father's dismay. Hopper even became concerned to the point of threatening Mike into not spending time with Eleven. Fearful, Mike did as he was told and kept his distance from El, lying to her and saying his nana was sick. With the help of Max, Eleven quickly saw through his lie and when Mike refused to explain himself, she broke up with him quoting Max earlier "I dump your ass". Max and Eleven leave quickly on the bus and Mike is left there with Will and Lucas heartbroken. Eleven was frustrated at Mike for seemingly wanting to control her and not believing in her, though he would later reveal to everyone except Eleven that he was only behaving like this because he loved her and he couldn't lose her again. Mike would then later reveal that he only avoided Eleven because Hopper had threatened him and they reconciled in the hospital while waiting for Nancy and Jonathan to get back. Mike saved Eleven's life 3 times. When she got seriously injured on her leg, he helped her walk and take care of her. When she was in pain he was very worried about her. When the Mind Flayer's strange growth continues to pulsate from Eleven's left leg, making El scream in severe pain, Mike kept holding onto her and holding her hand and trying to comfort her and help keep her still, while Jonathan attempts to get the creature out of her left leg. After the battle, they are seen hugging and then are seen together in the back of an ambulance. Three months later, Eleven was getting ready to move out of Hawkins with Will's family, although El is still unable to use her powers, Mike is hopeful that they will come back. El recalls how Mike expressed his feelings for her at the cabin and kisses him, telling him she loves him too. They share long tearful hugs outside of the Byers house. After El left, Mike returned to his house to a tearful hug with his mom.

Mike and Lucas lived next door to each other for most of their 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 and saved them from the agents of Hawkins Lab, he apologized and made up with both her and Mike.

In 1984, when playing at the Palace Arcade and trying to figure out the identity of "MADMAX," Lucas tried to urge Mike to give Keith a date with Nancy, which Mike refused. When Mike found out that Lucas, along with Dustin, had invited Max Mayfield (who was "MADMAX") into the Party without informing him, Mike was upset. However, he showed no hostility towards Lucas for it. When Mike worried for Eleven (after she revealed herself to alive) as she went with Hopper to close the Gate, Lucas tried his best to reassure him. When Billy Hargrove attacked Lucas, Mike was greatly concerned for him and once he was rescued by Steve, Mike embraced Lucas. After Max sedates Billy, Mike and Lucas, along with the rest of their friends, work together in burning the tunnels to distract the Demodogs.

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. When Dustin was held at knifepoint by Troy Walsh, who was seeking revenge on them for being publicly humiliated for wetting himself, Mike willingly decided to jump off Sattler Quarry just to save Dustin before they were saved by Eleven.

In 1984, when Mike found that Dustin, along with Lucas, invited Max Mayfield into the Party without being informed, Mike was upset, but showed no hostility towards Dustin for it. After Dustin introduced Mike to D'Artagnan, Mike was disgusted by D'Artagnan "Dart." Once realizing that Dart was from the Upside Down and began molting, Mike showed no hesitation to attack Dart before he was stopped by Dustin. Later, both Mike and Dustin worked together with their friends in burning the tunnels and watched as Dustin managed to convince Dart to let them pass. A month later, at the Snow Ball, Mike remained on good terms with Dustin and playfully teased him on his hairstyle.

Mike and Will met each other on their first day of kindergarten, becoming very close friends. 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 to have his best friend home safe and sound.

A year later, when Will was having visions and was overwhelmed by the Mind Flayer, Mike became even more committed to helping him, trying his best to comfort him and was the only one among his best friends to remain with him at his side at Hawkins Lab when he suffered from memory loss.

Their friendship was still mostly strong in 1985, but Will was upset about how much time Mike was spending with Eleven, and would have preferred more time for D&D campaigns. That said, Will still tried to help Mike when he grew dangerously close to getting dumped by Eleven, by helping him and Lucas look for an apology gift in the mall. When this failed and Eleven dumped Mike, Mike and Lucas were very eager to make up as soon as possible, whereas Will had a different approach to the situation and likely believed it would've been better to wait, and use the time in the meantime for D&D and other friend activities. During a D&D campaign, Mike and Lucas' disinterest greatly disheartened Will to the point of which he snapped and cut the campaign short. After they realized what they'd done, both attempted to apologize, but he brushed them off. Will left the house, and Mike caught up to him. They had a heated argument before Will stormed off to Castle Byers, which he would partially destroy.

When discovering the Mind Flayer had returned to Hawkins, Will worked together with Mike to stop it. Will eventually managed to reconcile with Mike and smiled when Mike confessed how much he loves Eleven. The two later continued to work together in defeating the Mind Flayer. Three months later, Will says goodbye to Mike before he and his family move out of Hawkins. He told him that he would never join another party, resulting in a big smile from Mike. Mike suggested to Eleven that she and Will return to Hawkins for Christmas as he thought that it would be fun to open their presents together on Christmas Day.

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.

Mike had a great deal of respect for Bob, given his significant contribution to the funding and raising of Hawkins Middle AV Club from the grounds up, along with his close friendship with Will. After Bob's heroism saved their lives, Mike grew inspired by his efforts and urged the group to find a way to avenge him by defeating the shadow monster, reminding that they couldn't let him die in vain.

Mike and his friends first met Max Mayfield when Mr. Clarke introduced her to the class. While Dustin and Lucas grew curious of her since she had beaten Dustin's high score on Dig Dug, Mike wasn't interested on her and was much reluctant to let her join the Party. However, his seeming apathy towards her was because he was still reeling from Eleven's disappearance. After Mike eventually reunited with Eleven, he gave up his hostility towards Max and accepted her in the Party.

In 1985, Mike has fully accepted Max into the Party and treated her as an equal like with the rest of his friends, being on friendly terms with her. However, after Jim Hopper complicated his relationship with Eleven, causing Eleven to hang out with Max, Mike grew irritated and upset as he did not want Eleven to be with Max, believing Max to be influencing Eleven into conspiring against him. This along with Max, blaming Mike for wanting to control Eleven, put a strain on their relationship and became even more strained after Max and Eleven spied on him and Lucas. However, when Mike admits he's worried for Eleven and that he loves her, this causes Mike and Max to reconcile, as they both care for her, as her boyfriend and best friend. Mike later admits to Eleven that he does enjoy her being friends with Max, and that he was just jealous at first of their friendship. Both Mike and Max continued to care for Eleven after she was injured and help each other out during the battle against the Mind Flayer at Starcourt Mall.

Hopper and Mike did not get off to a good start. When being questioning on Will's whereabouts, Hopper ordered Mike and his friends to not go searching for Will, but Mike secretly disobeyed him and started searching for Will. When Hopper contacted Mike through Will's super-com, telling him he can protect him and his friends from the government agents, Mike decided to reveal the Party's location to Hopper.

In 1984, Mike went with Will, Joyce, and Bob to rescue Hopper in the Upside Down tunnels, showing he's willing to come to Hopper's aid. However, when Mike found out that Hopper had been hiding Eleven for nearly an entire year, he became furious with Hopper, blaming him for hiding her as he tried to justify his actions. When Mike took all of his anger out, Hopper stopped and comforted a sobbing Mike, apologizing to him as he realized how wrong he was to keep Eleven hidden.

However, in 1985, Hopper and Mike weren't on good terms again, especially when Hopper was irritated with how much time his adopted daughter, Eleven, spends being with Mike. Eventually, it boils over when Mike becomes too arrogant and Hopper forces Mike to be distant to Eleven, resulting in Eleven not hanging out with Mike, and eventually breaking up, much to Hopper's joy. Despite their differences, Hopper still wants Mike safe, telling him to be careful before the final attack, hinting he does care for Mike and is starting to support his relationship with Eleven.

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
Season Three appearances
Suzie, Do You Copy? The Mall Rats The Case of the Missing Lifeguard The Sauna Test
The Flayed E Pluribus Unum The Bite The Battle of Starcourt

Comics

Volume 1 appearances
Issue 1* Issue 2* Issue 3* Issue 4

*Can be seen in flashbacks

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

Mike:

  • "What was your test on again? Human anatomy?"
  • "It's a trap!"
  • "You want her? You have to kill us first!"

Mike to Dustin, Lucas & Will:

  • "Something is coming... something hungry for blood. A shadow grows on the wall behind you, swallowing you in darkness. It is almost here..."

Mike to his mother:

  • "If anyone asks where I am, I've left the country."

Mike to Lucas:

  • "We're no use to Will if we're dead."

Mike to Max:

  • "I'm our paladin, Will's our cleric, Dustin's our bard, Lucas is our ranger, and El's our mage."

Mike to Hopper:

  • "You're just a stupid lying piece of shit!"
  • "You're crazy!"

Mike to Steve:

  • "First of all, this isn't some stupid sports game. And second of all, we are not even in the game. We're on the bench."

Mike to Eleven:

  • "Maybe we can call you El, short for Eleven."
  • "Friends don't lie."
  • "No, El, you're not the monster. You saved me, do you understand? You saved me."
  • "I was thinking, maybe we can go to the Snow Ball together."
  • "It's day 353. I had a bad day. I don't know, I guess I wish you were here. We all do. If you're out there, just please, give me a sign....Eleven?"

Mike & Eleven:

During Mike and Eleven's reunion-

  • Mike: "I never gave up on you. I called you every night. Every night! for-"
  • Eleven: "Three hundred and fifty three days.....I heard."

Mike & Will:

Following a discussion about Will's vision-

  • Mike: "Well, if we're both going crazy, then we'll go crazy together, right?"
  • Will: "Yeah, Crazy Together."

Behind the Scenes

Character development

Originally, Mike's character was intended to be more like "a straight man", a typical American boy on the cusp of adolescence who had a fervent desire for escapist adventures. However, after Finn Wolfhard was cast as Mike, the Duffer Brothers sought to readjust Mike by incorporating Wolfhard's charisma and winning optimism into the character.[1]

The Duffers likened how Finn was "less cliché" and more "fidgety" as opposed to how they imagined Mike and adjusted the character, giving him more of a leadership type of role. Ultimately, Mike's character became funnier. In the original plan, Mike also had a birthmark on his cheek, but the Duffers decided to remove it as they thought him being natural was better.[1]

Casting

Due to sickness, Wolfhard had to film the entire audition tape for Stranger Things from his bed. The Duffers saw great potential in his performance and invited him for a screen test in mid-2015 with Gaten. Four weeks later, Wolfhard was cast as Mike.[1]

While Wolfhard auditioned for the show around the same time when he auditioned for the 2017 film "It", but as the movie was pushed back, he was able to star in the show.[2]

Trivia

  • When playing Dungeons & Dragons, Mike usually plays as the Dungeon Master.[3] However, his DMPC is a Paladin.
  • In the Worlds Turned Upside Down companion book, he is erroneously stated to be a Cleric.
  • 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 Eleven wore was given a backstory; it originally belonged to Mike's grandmother, who passed away due to cancer.[4]
  • In the original pilot script, he had a crush on Jennifer Hayes. Additionally, he had a birthmark on his cheek and was originally intended to be the first character to enter the show's alternate dimension.
  • He has a poster of The Dark Crystal on his bedroom wall. Additionally, he has a poster of The Thing on the wall in the basement.
  • Mike is the first character to refer to the show's 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.[5]
  • Mike possesses toys from the Star Wars film series: a Yoda figure and a model of the Millennium Falcon.
  • Mike Wheeler and Jim Hopper are the only characters to appear in all episodes of season 1, season 2, and season 3.
  • In early development, Mike was referred to as Elliot.[6]
  • At the Hawkins Middle school in the Season 1 finale, Mike asked Eleven if they could go to the Snow Ball dance together. In the Season 2 finale, they got their chance to dance together, at the same place.
  • In "E Pluribus Unum", Mike mentions Eleven's mother Terry Ives, before Eleven goes into Billy's mind; hinting that Mike and the rest of the Party now know about Eleven's mother and what happened to her.
  • In the Hawkins Middle School Yearbook, he was shown to be voted as the "Friendliest Face". His career goal is also stated to be a Writer. His favorite subject is English. His hobbies are watching movies and being the Dungeon Master for his D&D campaigns. When he's not studying he is listening to the airwaves on his walkie-talkie. The extracurricular activities he did are the AV Club and the Science Fair.

Gallery

View Gallery For this subject's gallery, see Mike Wheeler/Gallery.


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down
  2. ‘Stranger Things’ Casting Director Carmen Cuba On Finn Wolfhard’s Bizarre First Audition
  3. "Behind The Scenes Of Stranger Things - Lully Of Truth 293"
  4. Confessions From The Set Of Stranger Things Season 2Refinery29. December 14, 2016.
  5. "Interview: The Duffer Brothers & Shawn Levy of "Stranger Things"" Cut Print Film. August 3, 2016.
  6. "'STRANGER THINGS' Duffer Brothers Have Proof THEY DIDN'T STEAL THE SHOW!!!"TMZ. April 6, 2018
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