Mike Was Failed by Stranger Things Long Before His Divisive Will Story

5 Mins read

Will incorrectly identifying Mike as the “heart” of the celebration highlights the issue with Mike’s character development throughout Stranger Things.

Backlash has surrounded Mike Wheeler’s Stranger Things season 4 plotline, but the show neglected his character before his contentious Will subplot. As Mike Wheeler, played by Finn Wolfhard, brought the characters’ relationship to Eleven and the hunt for Will together at the start of Stranger Things season 1, he may have been set up as the male lead for the children. The fourth season of Stranger Things more emphatically illustrates the issues with how far gone Mike’s character is from where he began, yet the show has progressively forgotten Mike’s key role.

Mike Wheeler, Nancy’s younger brother, is at the core of an emotional plotline in Stranger Things season 4 that also involves Will Byers, Eleven, and Mike. Mike and Eleven quarrel after they realize Mike can’t say “I love you” and Eleven lied about her time in high school as they travel to California for spring break together. Mike, along with Jonathan, Argyle, and Will, set off on a perilous cross-country road journey when Eleven is taken to the Nina Project to regain her powers.

The Will and Mike subplot in the California tale from Stranger Things season 4 was particularly noteworthy since it almost proved that the former has love affections for the latter. Will’s paintings and monologues appear to be cryptically confessing his affections for Mike, but when Mike is finally able to speak about his love for Eleven, it creates a devastating plot for Will.

Stranger Things has failed Mike Wheeler more and more as his storylines become repetitious and further stray from his original motives, despite the fact that he may have started out as an essential figure in the supernatural plots of the show. Mike’s polarizing Stranger Things season 4 plot was a culmination of the issues with his character development, and he is no longer a major player whose many connections serve an essential function in the wider storyline. The other party members have come to better embody the traits that made Mike the group’s leader in season 1 as Stranger Things has developed, overshadowing Mike’s crucial position.

Why Mike’s Story From Stranger Things 4 Is So Divisive

The California subplot from Stranger Things season 4 received major criticism for misrepresenting Mike’s character development, in addition to being criticized for not clearly confirming Will’s sexuality. The biggest disagreement started when Will referred to Mike as the “heart” of the party, which was true in Stranger Things season 1 but is now out of date. At the start of Stranger Things, Mike’s role as the mostly selfless leader of the group was a vital feature of his persona, but the show has failed to uphold this relevance in his later plots.

The main reason Mike’s Stranger Things season 4 plot is controversial is that the character doesn’t accomplish anything other than worry over not telling Eleven “I love you.” Mike was not only absent from any of the action—helping Eleven regain her abilities, retaliating against the military, or defending his friends—but he also had very little growth in his own plotline, aside from getting to the point where he could publicly declare his love for Eleven.

Since Mike’s position in the fourth season of Stranger Things was primarily limited to his ignorance in the investigation of Will’s emotional journey, Mike’s tale was intriguing in terms of what was occurring around him. This is most clearly shown in the devastating scene where Will cryptically confides in Mike and starts to sob softly while Mike is entirely oblivious to Will’s feelings. In the season 4 finale of Stranger Things, Mike was given a significant monologue to support Eleven against Vecna, although his arc was otherwise somewhat one-dimensional.

The plot of Mike’s Stranger Things 4 is identical to that of Season 3.

Mike’s tale remains the same as it was in season 3, even if Stranger Things season 4 adds some additional significant events to the subplot. The third season of Stranger Things focused on Mike’s relationship with Eleven and his efforts to win her back while demonstrating his love for her (without saying “I love you” out loud). Will only wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons with his buddies like he used to, but Mike was too preoccupied with his infatuation with Eleven to give any attention to his friendship with Will.

Mike is once again completely preoccupied with his connection with the momentarily helpless Eleven in Stranger Things season 4, but his biggest challenge is mastering the “I love you” phrase. Similar to Mike, Will’s friendship suffers as a result of Mike focusing only on Eleven, with the stakes rising as it becomes more obvious that Will is in love with Mike.

In neither instance was Mike particularly driven by the desire to bring down the supernatural bad guy, and in Season 3 of Stranger Things, Mike was mostly opposed to Eleven engaging the Mind Flayer head-on. In Stranger Things season 4, Mike isn’t even vaguely aware of Vecna’s presence or the threat facing his Hawkins pals, not to mention the fact that the antagonist formerly attacked his sister.

To give some variety to his dynamics, Mike at least appeared in a few scenes with Lucas and Max in Stranger Things season 3, but in season 4, he mostly interacts with Will or Eleven. Will and Eleven have always played significant roles in Mike’s tale, but until his other dynamics were tested, he contributed significantly more to the show.

Stranger Things didn’t work Subplot: Mike Wheeler Long Before His Will

In Stranger Things season 4, Mike Wheeler is not the same person he was in season 1. Mike’s character has changed from having a wide character arc to having a very specific motivation, while the rest of the characters have become better with greater depth and stakes after each season. Unlike Mike in Stranger Things season 3, who had no idea where Dustin was and didn’t really care, Mike in season 1 of the show leaped over a cliff that would have killed him since Dustin held a knife to his throat.

Mike last felt like the “heart” of the group at the start of Stranger Things season 2, although even then he drifted farther apart from the others due to his attention on Will’s Mind Flayer possession and his rejection of Max’s invitation to join the group. In Stranger Things season 1, Mike was a leader who put his friends’ welfare above everything else, yet in season 4, Mike is blind to Will weeping right next to him.

In Stranger Things season 4, Will could be deceived by his love for Mike because Dustin now appears to be the group’s soulmate. Since the second season of Stranger Things, Dustin has been the protagonist most committed to uniting the many factions as he confronts the evil monsters. With his friendship with Eddie serving as an illustration, Dustin is a ferocious protector of his pals. Dustin would risk his own safety to clear the names of the people he cares about.

If Mike had been a part of another plot or had a selfless heroic moment in Stranger Things seasons 3 or 4, the character may have kept his first-season reputation. As season five of Stranger Things draws to a close, the science fiction program needs make up for its shortcomings with Mike Wheeler and demonstrate that he contributes more than just his emotional clashes with Will and Eleven.