Mike Wheeler is one of the best characters in Stranger Things season 1. However, one of the four original Hawkins boys also presents an issue.
Mike Wheeler has been one of the most important characters since Stranger Things season 1, but he has also become one of its biggest problems. The character, played by Finn Wolfhard, is one of the core characters in season 1, alongside his friends Dustin Henderson, Lucas Sinclair, and Will Byers. His relationship with Elevent is one of the high points of the first season, but Mike has since become an issue for the Stranger Things screenwriting team.
Finn Wolfhard’s Mike is arguably the secondary main character of season 1 alongside Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who he quickly develops a strong bond with. Mike and Eleven become close friends as the seasons go on, and after she is revealed to be alive and living with Jim Hopper at the end of season 2, they become a couple in season 3. Mike’s arc sees him ignore his friends including Will Byers to spend time with Eleven in Stranger Things season 3, though the friends reconcile in season 4 as Mike acknowledges how distant he has been.
Compared to his friends, Mike Wheeler has not had much to do in the last few seasons of Stranger Things. While he is absolutely essential to the plot of Stranger Things season 1, his relationship with Eleven not only gets in the way of his friendships with Will, Dustin, and Lucas, it also gets in the way of his character arc. Lucas becomes a jock and Dustin becomes close friends with bully-turned-babysitter Steve Harrington, while Will Byers deals with his traumatic experience in the Upside Down and may also be going through a more personal arc, as Stranger Things hints Will is gay. Mike has received no such arc, making him the least interesting of the four original Hawkins boys, and that will need to be fixed moving forward.
Why Mike’s Stranger Things Character Journey Must Be A Season 5 Focus
Mike’s character arc has quickly become less and less interesting as the seasons of Stranger Things have gone on as he now exists mostly to further Eleven’s arc, standing in contrast to the more active role played by his sister, Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer). Since Stranger Things season 1, his arc has revolved around his feelings for Eleven, culminating in the end of season 4 when he gives her the courage to break Henry Creel / 001 / Vecna’s restraints and save Max Mayfield. However, Mike’s relationship with Eleven has become his sole personality trait, something season 5 must fix.
Season 5 will reportedly focus heavily on Will Byers, but Mike Wheeler also needs to become a central part of the story once again. Mike needs a story arc that does not rely on his connection to Eleven and allows him to reclaim the leadership role he enjoyed in season 1, actively investigating the parallel universe of the Upside Down. Vecna is coming for Hawkins in Stranger Things season 5, and Mike needs to play a major part in his defeat if his arc is to go down as satisfying.
Next: Did Stranger Things Get Its Will Byers Gay Scene Right? It’s Complicated
Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 is now streaming on Netflix.
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