Will is the son of Joyce and Lonnie Byers, and the younger brother of Jonathan Byers. Will was close to his mother and brother, but not to his father. Because of this, Jonathan became a much larger role model for him than their father. Ultimately, Joyce and Lonnie divorced, resulting in Lonnie moving out. Joyce, Jonathan and Will remained at their home in Hawkins, Indiana.
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. 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.
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. At one point Jonathan gave Will a mixtape, which included a Clash single, 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' which Will became very fond of.
Abduction by the Monster
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.
Trapped in the Upside Down
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.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.
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.
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.
Will was immediately hospitalized in Hawkins General Hospital. There, Jonathan, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Nancy visited him at the local hospital and recounted the events that occurred during his absence.
That December, 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. 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.
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.
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".
Visions of the Upside Down
October 31On 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 teach 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 him not to tell anyone about the vision as no one else would understand.
Possession by the Mind Flayer
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.
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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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
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, Joyce, Johnathan, and Nancy decided to take Will to Hopper's cabin to free Will from the Mind Flayer's possession.
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.
After his recovery, 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.
The Snow Ball
When Will and his friends attended the Hawkins Middle School Snow Ball for the first time, a girl in Will's class asked him to dance, to which he reluctantly agreed.
June 28On 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.
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.
June 30In 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. Will tried to get them to stop their search by suggesting to play Dungeons & Dragons, only for Mike and Lucas refusing. 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 1Will woke the others the next morning, urging them to play a D&D campaign. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, he told Mike 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.