Warning: This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things season 4.
Fans of Stranger Things posed a theory after watching season 3. A game of Dungeons & Dragons had turned sour when Will (Noah Schnapp) and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) fought about their friendship and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). “It’s not my fault you don’t like girls!” Mike shouts at Will.
Executive producer Shawn Levy, who directed that episode, tells EW Mike was referring to them being at different stages of pubescent development. “It’s not specific to sexual orientation or anything,” he says. Yet he admits, “Ever since then, a lot of these questions have come up.”
The questions all have to do with whether or not Will could be gay and in love with Mike. Schnapp himself has weighed in on the matter over the years, but Stranger Things season 4 now seems to be leaning in a definitive direction.
Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix Noah Schnapp stars as Will Byers in ‘Stranger Things’ season 4.
In episode 5, Mike, Will, Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), and Argyle (Eduardo Franco) are on the run after armed soldiers shot up the Byers home. With their government guardian dead and with nothing but a pen to find the location of Eleven, Will and Mike have a heart-to-heart moment in a canyon.
“Sometimes I think it’s just scary to open up like that, to say how you really feel, especially to people you care about the most,” Will tell his friend, “because what if they don’t like the truth?”
The sense is that Will is talking about something beyond the current situation here. The earlier episode 2 sees Will getting frustrated with Eleven for lying to Mike about the bullying she faces at school. “He doesn’t deserve that,” he tells her. While this may be a much smaller clue, episode 1 also shows that Will is doing a project on Alan Turing, the World War II codebreaker who was charged with gross indecency for having a sexual relationship with another man.
“Without getting into where we go later in season 4 [Volume II]I guess I’ll just say that there aren’t many accidents on Stranger Things,” Levy tells EW when asked about Will’s sexuality.” There is clear intention and strategy and real thought given to each and every character. So, if you came away from Volume I feeling those bread crumbs of plot and character, it’s probably no accident.”
Schnapp had previously spoke about the theory to press in 2020.
“It’s really up to interpretation,” the actor told The Wrap at the time. “While all the characters were out developing and growing up, Will was in the Upside Down and he was alone there, not interacting with or connected to his friends or the rest of the world. And when he got back, he expected everything to just go back to how it was before, how it was when he was normal and when he was a kid and he wanted to go back to the basement and play D&D… I just interpret it like he’s not ready to grow up and he doesn’t really want to move on to dating and relationships yet.”
Then, this year saw some of the cast members shot a promo video for season 4, adding more juice to the fan theory.
“If you’ve been watching the show you should know that Will is not interested in El,” David Harbor said. “He’s interested in someone else in the group.”
“Yeah, you’ll see soon,” Wolfhard added. “He’s interested…”
“He’s very interested,” Harbor chimed in.
It looks like we’ll have a more definitive answer come Volume II, which is premiering on Netflix with two supersize episodes on July 1. In the meantime, Volume I of season 4 is streaming now. Read our full recap.
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