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Nancy Wheeler, portrayed by starring cast member Natalia Dyer, is a major character in the first, second, and third seasons of Stranger Things. At first, concerned with simple teenage high school issues, her world is turned upside down when her best friend Barbara Holland 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 friends named Cathy and Ally, although they weren’t as close as Barbara and her.

1983

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.

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 while 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, just before the portal closed.

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 had 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 the 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 out of anger because Jonathan took the pictures.[7]

1984

On the evening of October 29, 1984, Nancy entered her room to discover Mike stealing money from her piggy bank. She tried to stop him, but he managed to outrun her.

While in the school parking lot the following morning, Nancy was looking over Steve's college essay when they witnessed Billy Hargrove and Max Mayfield arrive. Later that day, after receiving a flyer for Tina's Halloween party, she tried to convince Jonathan to attend. However, he refused.

That night, Nancy and Steve had dinner with Mrs. and Mr. Holland. When Nancy inquired about the 'For Sale' sign in their yard, they revealed they had hired Murray Bauman, a private investigator, to investigate Barb's "disappearance". Overcome with grief, Nancy excused herself to the bathroom, where she began crying over the loss of her friend.

The next day, as Nancy and Steve were studying in the school library, she noticed a person who resembled Barb, reigniting her grief. She then told Steve that they should tell Barb’s parent’s the truth about her death. After reminding her that it would be too dangerous to do so, Steve managed to convince Nancy not to say anything and to go to that night’s Halloween party so that they could have a normal night.

That night at the party, Nancy became intoxicated. Steve tried to get her to stop drinking, accidently spilling Nancy’s drink on her costume. While attempting to clean herself, Nancy revealed to Steve that she did not really have feelings for him. Upset, Steve left the party. Nancy was later taken home by Jonathan.

At school the next day, Nancy tried talking to Steve, wanting to know why she had not seen him that morning. Steve recounted the events of the party to her. Nancy tried to assure Steve that what she said wasn’t true, but when she didn’t tell him that she loved upon his request, he left.

During lunch, Nancy spoke with Jonathan for confirmation of the party’s events. She then confided in Jonathan, telling him how she’s had to pretend everything was ok and tired of how the people at the lab have gotten away with what they have done. Nancy then got an idea on a way to possibly expose the lab. They both skipped fourth period, going to RadioShack to buy a Walkman. After school, Nancy called Mrs. Holland, telling her that she hasn’t been honest about Barb and to meet her at Forrest Hills Park the next morning.

As Nancy and Jonathan waited in the park, they had a suspicion of being watched, prompting them to leave. After getting inside the car, they were then approached by agents who had been disguised as regular people. After being taken to the lab, Nancy and Jonathan were locked in an interrogation room. Eventually, Owens appeared and began giving them a tour of the lab, all the while explaining how the lab is trying to fix their “mistakes”, admitting culpability to Barb’s death in the process. After being warned not to say anything, they were allowed to leave. Once in the car, Nancy revealed the Walkman, having recorded everything that Owens had said.

Nancy and Jonathan then traveled in the direction of Bauman's location, spending the night in a motel. While there, they showed each other their matching scars, reminiscing about their previous adventure. Nancy asked what happened between them, saying that she waited for Jonathan before ultimately ending up with Steve again. Jonathan retorted by saying she only waited a month and he was busy looking after Will. No more was said and the two went to sleep.

When they arrived at Bauman’s residence, they presented the recording of Owens. Bauman claimed it wouldn’t be enough evidence to shutdown the lab, as it could easily be destroyed and the details of the story would be too extraordinary for the public to accept. He then proposed to Nancy and Jonathan that they “water down” their story in order to make it more appealing to the public. After altering their story to say that Barb died from a chemical leak originating from the lab, they placed the evidence in several envelopes to be sent to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Murray offered Jonathan and Nancy his guest room, presuming the two were a couple. When they denied this, he easily deduced that there was sexual tension between them. Murray bid them goodnight and left them restless over his statements of their issues withholding them from getting together. Eventually, Nancy and Jonathan gave in and kissed one another before sleeping together in the guest room.

The morning after, Murray cooked them breakfast, satisfied that his deductions were true. As they were saying goodbye to Murray, he told them to never return or contact him again.

Upon arriving back in Hawkins, they realized something was wrong upon seeing the Byers' household strewn with Will's drawings of the underground tunnel system. They traveled to Hawkins Lab where they were soon met by Steve, Dustin, Lucas, and Max emerging from the woods after hearing noises from the lab. Nancy also found that the power was turned off because there were no lights turned on and the gate to the lab was not opening.

When the power was restored and the gate unlocked, Nancy and the rest of the group went to the lab’s front entrance were they met up with Hopper, Joyce, Mike, and Will. The group then traveled back to the Byers’ house.

Once it was determined that they’d have to interrogate Will in order to discover the Mind Flayer’s weakness, Nancy assisted in turning the Byers’ backyard shed unrecognizable. During Will’s interrogation, he signaled in Morse code the way to stop the Mind Flayer: closing the Gate. Soon after, the phone in the Byers’ kitchen rang, allowing the Mind Flayer to know their location and send a pack of Demodogs their way. However, Eleven arrived and eradicated them. Together, the group came up with a plan: Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy would exorcise the Mind Flayer from Will's body while Eleven and Hopper would go to the lab and close the gate. After taking Will to Hopper's cabin, Joyce, Nancy, and Jonathan restrained him, surrounding him with numerous heaters. This eventually caused the piece of the Mind Flayer possessing Will to be expelled from his body.

Sometime later, Nancy attended the funeral for Barbara which was held after the revelations forced Hawkins Lab to acknowledge their involvement in the coverup of Barb's death. On December 15, Nancy volunteered at the Snow Ball, serving drinks. She and Jonathan were still together, sharing a smile as Jonathan was taking photographs. When Nancy noticed Dustin sitting on the bleachers alone after being rejected by numerous girls, she offered to dance with him. As they danced, she told him that girls that age are “dumb”, and assured him that in a couple of years he’d “drive them nuts.”

1985

Personality

Nancy is hyper-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, sympathetic, and studious. Her genius-level of intellect has led to finding the truth behind Barb’s disappearance even though she still felt guilty.

She was also shown to have a tremendous amount of bravery, resolve, and conviction 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 and Jonathan's blood to lure it out.

Skills and Abilities

Detective: Like her namesake, Nancy is a skilled detective. Upon seeing Jonathan's photos of Barb, she quickly deduced he was the last person to see her alive and sought his help in finding her.

Gunmanship: Nancy demonstrated proficiency with firearms such as a shotgun and handgun. She landed a few good shots on the Mind Flayer with Hopper's shotgun while protecting Eleven from the creature, then later shot at Billy with a stolen Russian handgun, albeit with little success.

Relationships

Nancy and Mike 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.

Nancy seemed to have a good but sometimes strained relationship with her mother. Nancy believed her parents never loved each other as her mom was young and her dad had a good job. She also disobeyed and lied to her mother, saying she and her friend Barbara were going to conference to help look for Will Byers, but really was going to a party at Steve Harrington's house. When Barbara was missing and Nancy became concerned, she confessed her worries to her mother. Nancy later confessed to having slept with Steve to her mom after being questioned by the police. When her house was being searched by government agents, Nancy was concerned for her mom and dad.

A year later, Nancy's relationship seemed to have improved a little bit, but Nancy still lied to her when she told her that she was going to sleepover at a friend's house, but was really planning to expose Hawkins Lab with Jonathan Byers.

In 1985, after getting fired from the Hawkins Post, Nancy was comforted by her mother. Karen agreed with her daughter that the employees at Hawkins were jerks, but it didn't matter by telling Nancy that she is and always will be a fighter. When her mother laments she doesn't know where she got her fighting spirit, Nancy assures her that she got her spirit. Nancy gets encouraged by her mother to finish her story if she still believes in it and Nancy, feeling emotional at her mother's support, gives her a hug.

Nancy and her father did not appear to have a strong relationship. Nancy believed her parents never loved each other as her mom was young and her dad had a good job. However, when her house was being searched by government agents, Nancy was concerned for her mom and dad.

Barbara "Barb" Holland was Nancy's best friend. They do everything together especially going clothes shopping when Nancy started dating Steve Harrington. However, when Nancy started dating, Barb became concerned for Nancy as Steve and his friends started to have an influence on her. When Barb told Nancy she wasn't being herself, Nancy told Barb to go home, inadvertently hurting Barb's feelings. Later, when Nancy realized Barb was missing, she became concerned, teaming up with Jonathan Byers to look for her, while distancing away from Steve. When Eleven used her powers to look for Barb and Will, she found Barb's corpse and sadly told Nancy that Barb was dead, making Nancy devastated.

A year later, Nancy was still shown to carry guilt and remorse for Barb's death while she was eating dinner with Barb's parents. Eventually, Nancy decided to avenge Barb's death by exposing Hawkins Lab. With Jonathan's help, she delivered a recording of Dr. Owens's confession to Murray Bauman and have her death be explained as being caused by a chemical exposure, as a way to keep the truth of the Upside Down. With the truth exposed, Hawkins Lab was shut down and Barb was finally given a funeral where Nancy attended with Barb's parents.

Steve and Nancy first began seeing each other shortly before the events of the first season. While Nancy initially believed that Steve wasn’t serious about their relationship, this turned out to not be the case. In truth, Steve really loved Nancy, claiming she’s “not like other girls”. After having sex at the party held at Steve’s house, they officially entered a relationship. However, when Nancy became distant due to the disappearance of her friend Barb, Steve grew worried. When he visited her house to check on her, he witnessed Nancy and Jonathan together in her room, making him believe she was cheating. When Nancy confronted him, Steve gave her a chance to explain herself, though, due to the extraordinary nature of the events, she was unable to. After realizing his mistakes, he went to the Byers’ house in order to apologize. There, he unexpectedly helped Nancy and Jonathan fight the Demogorgon. A month after these events, Steve and Nancy had gotten back together. The two had dated for nearly a year when their relationship was once again put in jeopardy; no longer being able to bear the guilt of Barb’s death, Nancy told Steve they should tell the Hollands the truth. Steve rejected this idea, reminding her that doing so would put them and their families in danger. At a Halloween party, Nancy became intoxicated, leading her to reveal that she did not have feelings for him. This emotionally crushed Steve, and he broke up with her the following day. Yet, Steve still had feelings for Nancy, and after being goaded by Tommy and Billy, attempted to apologize to her. He eventually came to terms with Nancy’s feelings for Jonathan, and told her she should be with him instead. Nancy tried to apologize to Steve, but Steve just calmly said she should go out with Jonathan. A year later after their breakup, Steve reveals to Robin that he no longer has feelings for Nancy as they consider each other as friends.

Nancy and Jonathan's bond goes through a dramatic change over the course of the series. When Will goes missing, Nancy reassures Jonathan that Will's going to be fine. When she finds out that Jonathan took pictures of Nancy and her friends at Steve's party, she did not show resentment towards him and later asks for his help when her friend, Barb goes missing. Nancy's affiliation with Steve causes Jonathan to be initially skeptical. They form a bond over their mutual goal of finding their brother and friend respectively and become close. While Nancy ultimately reconciles with Steve in Season One, in Season Two, she and Jonathan give into the sexual tension after being pressured by Murray and ultimately kiss (and are hinted at doing more). They work together to expose Hawkins Lab and later burn the Mind Flayer out of Will. And at the end, while at the Snow Ball, Nancy and Jonathan have started a relationship.

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

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 was worn by Eleven in the first season.
  • Nancy used to dress up for Mike's old D&D campaigns.
  • Her character might be inspired by Nancy Thompson from A Nightmare on Elm Street. For example, both girls become determined to destroy a supernatural being that has killed their best friend.

Gallery

View Gallery

Click the above image to view the gallery for Nancy Wheeler.


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"


The Upside Down
Locations The Upside DownThe GateHawkinsHawkins National LaboratoryPublic LibraryPortalsHawkins Middle SchoolHawkins Tunnel System
Entities D'ArtagnanThe DemogorgonDemogorgon (species)The Mind FlayerSlug-like creatureHawkins Tunnel SystemVinesHospital CreatureThe FlayedThe Flesh Thralls
The Flayed Billy HargroveHeather HollowayBruce LoweTom HollowayJanet HollowayDoris Driscoll
Visitors Joyce ByersWill ByersElevenSteve HarringtonDustin HendersonBarbara HollandJim HopperMax MayfieldBob NewbyShepardLucas SinclairMike WheelerNancy Wheeler
Miscellaneous Upside Down EggDungeons & DragonsThe VoidThe Keys
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