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This page chronicles the history of William "Will" Byers, a major character in Stranger Things.

Background

Born March 22, 1971, Will is the son of Joyce and Lonnie Byers, and the younger brother of Jonathan Byers. As a child, Will was quite compassionate of others, giving a crying little girl in the sandbox at the playground his Tonka Truck, despite him knowing his mother couldn't afford to buy another one for him. He was also very sensitive, having nightmares from scary movies and his mother's impersonation of a witch when he was five. Will was extremely close to his mother and brother, but not to his father. Lonnie would say that he was queer due to Will's sensitivity and interests, while also calling him a 'fag'. Because of this, Jonathan became a much larger role model for him than their father. Around this time, Jonathon introduced Will to "real music", bestowing a mixtape that included the Clash song 'Should I Stay or Should I Go', a song Will became quite fond of. Ultimately, Joyce and Lonnie divorced, resulting in Lonnie moving out. Joyce, Jonathan, and Will remained at their home in Hawkins, Indiana, along with the family dog, Chester.

The day their father left, Jonathon and Will spend the rest of the day building a fort for Will called "Castle Byers". They followed Will's drawing of it as their blueprint. It took a long time to build due to Will's incapability to hammer the nails, missing every time. Despite rain beginning to fall, the brothers didn't care and proceeded to build the fort. They later had gotten sick for a week afterward.

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

Will and Jonathan listen to a mixtape.

Around 1976, Will started kindergarten, attending the same class with Mike Wheeler. Mike didn't know anyone and was lonely until he noticed Will alone on the swings. Mike walked up to him and asked if he wanted to be his friend, to which Will agreed. He eventually met Lucas Sinclair, due to him living close to Mike. In fourth grade, around 1979, Dustin moved into the neighborhood and soon joined the friend group.

March of 1979 was also when Will celebrated his 8th birthday. Though he received many Star Wars toys from his friends, he was especially happy to be given a 120 crayon set by his mother. He used every crayon in the box and eventually drew a large, original spaceship he called a "Rainbow Ship". Joyce took it with her to her job at Melvald's, proudly proclaiming that her son drew it to everyone who came into the store, much to Will's embarrassment.

Will and his friends would often gather at Mike's house to play Dungeons & Dragons; this hobby was developed as early as 1979. On one occasion while playing the game, the party had escaped into the sewers, where there were insects. The group was still on Level One. Will cast Fog Cloud and saved the whole party. The four boys had a great relationship with their science teacher Mr. Clarke, and they were members of 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 and cried. In 1982, Joyce brought him tickets to see the horror film The Poltergeist after changing her mind to let him see it.

1983

Abduction by the Monster

November 6

Chapter One – Dustin and Will race

Will and Dustin race home

On the evening of November 6, 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 dice, 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 decided to shoot the Demogorgon. But as he did, he vanished into an alternate dimension with the Monster.[1]

Trapped in the Upside Down

November 6-12

After figuring out that the Demogorgon was still alive, Will attempted to find his brother and mother. On returning to his home however, he realized he wasn't actually in the real world. Memories of the D&D campaigns reminded him that splitting the party can have terrible consequences. He began exploring the place and wandered out in Mirkwood to look for a way out. He came across Eleven but before he could reach her out, she disappeared. Desperate to contact his friends, Will checked on his supercom only to hear his mother's voice. However, before he could respond the Demogorgon found him.[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, 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 after performing CPR and safely brought him back escaping the alternate dimension.

Back home

November 12

Will was immediately hospitalized in Hawkins General Hospital. As he woke up, his mother and brother happily and emotionally greeted him and comforted him, with Jonathan bringing a box of his things, including the mixtape of the Clash. Soon, Jonathan lets Mike, Lucas, and Dustin reunite with their best friend, and they all embrace him. They excitedly explain the chain of events that happened while Will was gone.

The boys see Will

Will's friends visit him in the hospital

December

A month has passed, and Will is now back to normal and resumes his life with his friends. One night right before Christmas, the boys ran another 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. Will opens Jonathan's present from Nancy and Steve and is impressed by the new camera. Back at the Byers, Will feels the weight of his presents while Jonathan takes pictures of him and Joyce preparing dinner. As they sit down to eat, Will confidently says one specific green present is an Atari since he felt Dustin's earlier and it was the same weight, while Joyce mockingly says he'll have to wait and see. At dinner, Will excuses 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. He returns to his dinner, confirming to his mother everything is fine, and the family of three soon talk about Will's win in Dungeons & Dragons while they eat and the snow falls outside the Byers home.

1983 - 1984

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 reappearance, 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 explained that another child had drowned at the quarry, who was confused with the then-missing Will due to their "super decomposed" body, and that Chief Jim Hopper found Will alive in an abandoned cabin a few miles out of Hawkins.

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", though bullies Troy and James had vanished.

1984

Visions of the Upside Down

October 29

On the evening of October 29, 1984, Joyce dropped Will at the Palace Arcade so that he would play games with Mike. Dustin and Lucas. After the Party discovered that an unknown person using the alias "MADMAX" had beaten Dustin's top scores on both Centipede and Dig Dug, Will began having an episode, being in an abandoned version of the arcade in the Upside Down. Concerned, Mike noticed, and was able to snap Will out of it by calling his name. He then led Will back inside.

October 31

Will experiencing another episode at the Upside Down

Will has another vision at the Upside Down

On Halloween night, Jonathan let Will go trick-or-treating as a Ghostbuster with his friends. Mike, irritated that Max had joined them, told Will that she was ruining the best night of the year before going ahead, leaving him behind. When Will fell behind, he experienced another episode in the Upside Down with a large shadow-like creature attempting to catch him. Before the creature was able to reach him, Mike lapsed Will out of the vision and took him back to the Wheelers' basement. Will revealed to Mike that he felt he was trapped in between the real life and the Upside Down and also requested that he not tell anyone about the vision as no one else would understand.

Possession by the Mind Flayer

November 1

The next day, Will was taken to school by Bob and during a conversation between them, Bob, unaware of Will's vision of the shadow creature, revealed that he'd once been traumatized by an encounter with Mr. Boldo but overcame it by standing up to his fears, inspiring Will. At school, Dustin revealed a pollywog-like creature, Dart, which was similar to what Will threw up last year, leading Will to conclude that Dart was from the Upside Down. Before they could do anything, Dart escaped the AV room, prompting the group to split up to find it.

Will-Shadow-Monster-Possession

Will being taken over by the Mind Flayer.

However, Will experienced yet another episode of the Upside Down when he tried to retrieve Dart. As he tried to run away from the shadow monster, remembering Bob's advice to confront his fears, Will stopped and angrily told the creature to go away. In response, the monster imparted part of itself within Will; despite his body being in Hawkins, he became "possessed" by the entity, allowing him to understand its motives and intentions.

After Joyce took him back home and pleaded him to reveal the truth, Will acknowledged that the shadow monster got him and that he felt it inside him.

November 2

When Hopper and Joyce asked him about the Shadow Monster, Will told them he could see and know whatever the shadow monster did, calling these visions "now-memories". In order to better understand these visions, Will began drawing them. At first, they appeared to be random scribbles, but after being assembled in the correct order, they depicted a strange maze-like pattern. Believing the drawing depicted vines, Hopper left to investigate the pumpkin patch.

As Will's connection with the Mind Flayer grew deeper, he started becoming more demoralized and scared. Mike came back to the Byers house and comforted him, assuring that they wouldn't let the shadow monster spy back on him.

November 3

After Hopper became trapped by the tendrils in the tunnels, Will's connection with the Mind Flayer allowed him to know of the impending danger. Having revealed this to Mike and Joyce, he drew Hopper's location within the tunnels. With help from Bob, the group figured out the location and left to rescue Hopper.

Mike is helpless to see Will convulsing on the ground as Hawkins scientists approach

Will began convulsing as the tendrils burned

Will soon became overpowered by the Mind Flayer's influence, having become part of the hive mind. As a result, after Hopper was rescued from the tunnels and the soldiers arriving from Hawkins Lab burnt the tendrils, the connection caused Will to experience severe pain and he collapsed to the ground, convulsing.

November 4

Will is asked by Owens if he remembers Mike

Will, suffering from memory loss, was asked if he recognized Mike

Will was immediately taken to Hawkins Lab for inspection. Upon awaking, he suffered from memory loss as he recognized only Joyce and Mike, but didn't seem to recall Bob, Hopper or even Dr. Owens. After a test involving burning a tendril and observing Will's painful reaction, Dr. Owens confirmed that Will was connected to a hive intelligence with the other hosts. While Joyce became impatient and attempted to pass through the guards, Will told Mike that he may know how to stop the monster.

Will used the photos of the tunnels and located a place that the Shadow Monster tried to hide from him. Dr. Owens and Hopper, being convinced, sent some soldiers to investigate the place.

A possessed Will wakes up and asks Joyce

Will being interrogated by Joyce, Hopper, Jonathan & Mike

When the soldiers entered the tunnels to scrutinize the location, Will apologized to Mike and Joyce as he revealed that the Mind Flayer had coerced him to send the soldiers into a trap. He also implored Joyce to go away as the Demodogs were reaching them. Mike tried to warn the scientists but it was too late as the Demodogs massacred the soldiers and started invading the lab. Taking Mike's advice, Joyce sedated Will as he pointed out that the Mind Flayer could be spying on them. With the help of Hopper, Joyce, Bob, Dr. Owens and Mike, Will was taken out of Hawkins Lab, in spite of the swarming Demodogs and returned home to the Byers' household.

After some discussion, the group planned to interrogate Will to find out the shadow monster's weakness as he was connected to it. To keep the Mind Flayer from finding their location, the Byers' shed was remodeled and Will was tied to a post in the middle of the shed where they attempted not only to bring Will's memories back, but also to find out how to defeat the monster.

However, despite Will being essentially part of the monster's army, he was able to communicate the instructions to foil the Mind Flayer's plans by covertly using Morse Code with his hand to spell: 'Close Gate', which referred to the portal at the lab.

Defeating the Mind Flayer

November 5

Soon after, the phone in the Byers' kitchen rang, alerting the Mind Flayer to their location. The Mind Flayer then sent several Demodogs to their location. The group sedated him once again, and after a brief fight with Demodogs that ended with Eleven's reappearance. Eleven revealed that she was well-aware of Will's condition and decides to close the Gate. As the group plans on how to close the Gate, Mike reveals that now Will is part of the Mind Flayer's hive mind, he will be killed. Joyce, remembering how Will always told the Mind Flayer likes cold temperatures, realizes that they need to burn the Mind Flayer out of Will in order to free him. So, Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy decided to take Will to Hopper's cabin to free Will from the Mind Flayer's possession.

Will is forced by the Mind Flayer to choke Joyce

Will is forced by the Mind Flayer to choke Joyce

Reaching the cabin, they restrained Will to a cot and made his body uninhabitable by increasing his body temperature with several space heaters. Will broke free of his restraints and attempted to strangle Joyce, but was subdued by Nancy burning him with a fire iron. Unable to bear the pain, the portion of the Mind Flayer fled from Will's body and out into the sky. This alleviated Will of the monster's possession once and for all. As Will was hugged by his family, he watched all of the cabin's electricity glowing bright as Eleven closed the Gate, sealing the Mind Flayer for good.

The Snow Ball

November-December

Sometime after his recovery, Will was informed of Bob's death who had risked his life to get him and his friends to safety from the Demodogs' invasion at the lab. Though saddened to lose a father- figure, Will hung a picture of Bob Newby that he drew to honor his memory, due to Bob's valiant sacrifice to ensure everyone's safety at Hawkins Lab.

Will-and-Friends-Snowball

Will and his friends at the Snow Ball.

December 15

Will attends the Hawkins Middle School Snow Ball for the first time along with Mike, Lucas, Dustin, Max, and El. At the Byers, he practices dancing with his mother, who dances old-timely while Jonathan laughs as he records it on the video recorder. At the Snow Ball, he, Lucas, Mike, and Max tease Dustin's new hairstyle when a slow-song starts playing, causing the student body to start slow-dancing. After Lucas shyly asks Max to dance, the three other boys stand alone until a girl comes over. She shyly asks "Zombie Boy" if he'd like to dance. Will is nervous, but Mike's urging causes him to say yes, much to her happiness. They are then seen awkwardly but happily dancing along with Max, Lucas, Mike, El, Nancy, and Dustin.

1985

The Summer

June 28

Will having a familiar sense (2)

Will having a familiar sense.

On the evening of June 28, 1985, Will, Lucas, and Max were waiting for Mike at the Starcourt Mall. When he finally arrived, the Party headed toward Scoops Ahoy where Steve helped them sneak into the cinema through the back doors to view an early screening of Day of the Dead. During the film, there was a sudden power outage across Hawkins, resulting in the entire mall losing power. While the power returned shortly after, Will felt a strange sensation at the back of his neck. Sensing something was wrong, Mike inquired if Will was alright, to which he responded that he was fine.

June 29

The next day, Will and the other party members hosted a surprise for Dustin celebrating his return from Camp Know Where. When Dustin unveiled Cerebro, a radio he created to contact his girlfriend Suzie, the Party departed from the Henderson residence and set out to find a suitable location to construct the device. On their way there, Mike and El lied about having to meet a curfew, leaving the rest of the Party to assemble the device. As Will continued on with the others, the strange sensation he felt the previous night returned. When Dustin’s numerous attempts to contact Suzie were futile, Will left for home along with Max and Lucas.

Childhood Denied

June 30

In the Wheeler basement the following day, Will was setting up a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. However, Mike and Lucas were too preoccupied with Mike’s relationship problem concerning his lie to El. When Lucas suggested that Mike buy El a gift to make it up to her, Will went with them to the Starcourt Mall where they scoured the stores for a suitable present. Unfortunately, their search yielded no results.
ST3-Will-Mike-Lucas

Will's childhood interests being brushed off by his friends.

Will tried to get them to stop their search by suggesting to play Dungeons & Dragons, only for Mike and Lucas to refuse. As the boys were preparing to leave, they unexpectedly met El and Max at the mall’s entrance. Will witnessed El confront, and subsequently break up with, Mike. Once El and Max boarded on the bus, Will asked if his friends want to play D&D, which again was declined as Mike and Lucas were heartbroken by their girlfriends breaking up with them.

That evening, while Mike and Lucas were discussing their break-ups, Will was not interested, only wanting to play Dungeons & Dragons and urging the others to forget about the incident. Unbeknownst to the boys, El witnessed their conversation while spying on them in the Void.

July 1

S03E03-Will Byers-sad

Will sad and angry of his friends growing up.

Will woke the others the next morning, urging them to play a D&D campaign, and proclaimed that it would be a day without girls. When they did not take the campaign seriously, Will became upset and stormed out. Mike followed him outside where he tried to make Will understand, stating they were growing up and they could not spend the rest of their lives playing games in the basement. This had the opposite effect, causing Will to leave and seek the shelter of Castle Byers. Realizing that the dynamic of their Party was changing, he partially destroyed the fort in frustration. Suddenly, the same sensation he had felt the night at the mall and the day after returned. When Mike and Lucas caught up to him in order to apologize, Will, now aware of what the feeling meant, announced the Mind Flayer had returned.

A Threat to the Mind Flayer

July 2

Once the Party had assembled in the basement, Will proposed that the part of the Mind Flayer that had possessed him the year prior was still in their world and had attached itself to a new host. When El relayed all that she had seen, they began to suspect that the new host may be Billy. While spying on Billy at the Hawkins Community Pool, they came up with a plan to trap him in the sauna to confirm his status as a host. Lucas tried to apologize to Will for what had happened in Mike's basement but Will told him to forget about it as they should be more focused on Billy and the Mind Flayer.

Once the pool had closed and Billy was alone, the group enacted their plan, luring him into the sauna. Once he was trapped, the group looked on as Billy became more and more unstable due to the increasing heat and the Mind Flayer’s influence. When Billy was fully under the entity’s control, he escaped the sauna. In the ensuing battle, El threw Billy through the wall, allowing his escape.

July 3

The following day, Will, Lucas, Mike, El, and Max gathered in the Wheeler basement; they discovered that Hopper and Joyce were heading to Illinois through El’s abilities. When Nancy and Jonathan arrived and explained Doris Driscoll had exhibited behavior identical to Will’s when he had been possessed by the Mind Flayer at the same time as Billy’s sauna test, they concluded that Doris had also become "Flayed"-- a host to the Mind Flayer -- and suspected there were potentially several more. This lead to the realization that Heather Holloway, a lifeguard from the pool, and her parents had also become hosts.

At the Holloway residence, they found that the inhabitants had consumed several household chemicals. When they investigated further, they surmised that Heather’s parents had been attacked, tied up, and taken to an unknown location where they were flayed. Will then proposed that they use Driscoll to find the source--the location where the flaying was taking place.

At the hospital, Will and the others were forced to stay behind in the waiting room while Nancy and Jonathan went to see Doris. During their wait, the lights suddenly began flickering, which, along with Will sensing the Mind Flayer, alerted the Party that Nancy and Jonathan were in danger. They caught up with the couple just in time for El to save Nancy from a gruesome monster by throwing it out the window. Outside, they witnessed the creature escape through a grate into the sewers.

July 4

At the cabin, Will and the others waited for El to locate the Flayed. When El announced she had found Billy situated in his room, everyone agreed it was a trap. However, El made the decision to return to Billy in the Void and through his memories, discovered Brimborn Steel Works to be the Mind Flayer’s lair. In doing so, however, she allowed the Mind Flayer to learn their location as well.

Seeing that the Mind Flayer was headed toward the cabin, the group prepared for battle. In the assault, the Mind Flayer grabbed El by the leg with one of his tentacles. After being freed from the creature’s grasp, El severed the Mind Flayer’s head in half, temporarily incapacitating him and allowing the group to escape.

The group went to Bradley's Big Buy to dress El’s wound and gather supplies. When Mike was contacted by Dustin, the group traveled to the mall where they arrived just in time to save the Scoops Troop from Russian soldiers. When El collapsed, it was revealed a piece of the Mind Flayer was still stuck under her skin. Using her powers, El managed to remove the piece. Just then, Hopper arrived along with Joyce and Murray.

Battle against the Spider Monster

Once everyone was briefed on the situation, the group came up with a plan: Hopper, Murray, and Joyce would infiltrate the Russian bunker to shut down the Key and close the Gate with the aid of Dustin and Erica, who would be driven to Cerebro by Steve and Robin. Nancy, Jonathan, and the remaining Party members would seek shelter at Murray’s warehouse in Illinois.

In the Starcourt parking lot, Nancy discovered that the car wouldn’t start due to the car missing its ignition cable. With Billy blockading the mall’s parking lot, the group was forced to retreat back into the mall. While trying to get in touch with the Scoops Troop for emergency transportation, they realized they could use the ignition cable from the car El had thrown before.

Immediately after retrieving the component, the Mind Flayer crashed through the glass roof into the center of the mall. After successfully evading the creature, Will, Lucas, Nancy, and Jonathan escaped through the front out to the car, where Billy was waiting. Just before Billy crashed into them with his Camaro, Steve arrived and crashed into Billy’s car, saving them. The group, now including Steve and Robin, drove away, distracting the Mind Flayer away from El, Mike, and Max in the process. When the Mind Flayer was alerted to their location through his connection with Billy and headed back toward the mall, they followed the entity. When they returned to the mall, Will and the others began pelting the Spider Monster with fireworks in an effort to save El. While the effort successfully impeded the creature, their supply of fireworks ran out. However, El was saved by Billy, who had been freed from the creature’s control. Soon after, the creature died following the destruction of the Key and closing of the Gate.

Following the arrival of military, Will and the others were escorted to the mall’s parking lot, where he tearfully reunited with his mother.

Farewell & moving out of Hawkins

October

In October, Will and his family, along with El, said goodbye to their friends before leaving Hawkins, moving to an unknown location. As Will put his D&D manuals and games in a donation box, Mike suggests to keep it if he ever wants to join another Party, but Will simply says, "Not possible", causing them to smile at one another. 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. After packing everything, the group said goodbye to Will, Eleven, Jonathon, and Joyce, with Will crying silently as he hugged his best friends. With Jonathon driving, He is last seen staring out the car window crying in silence as they (following Joyce and El in the moving van) leave Hawkins.

1986

References

  1. Stranger Things Season 1: "Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers"
  2. Stranger Things (comic series): "Issue 1"
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