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this article contains spoilers from Stranger Things Season 4 Vol 2

Artwork: 1212Screenshots: 3737Stills: 1313
“Do you remember the first day that we met? It was... It was the first day of kindergarten. I knew nobody. I had no friends and... I just felt so alone and so scared, but... I saw you on the swings and you were alone, too. You were just swinging by yourself. And I just walked up to you and... I asked. I asked if you wanted to be my friend. And you said yes. You said yes. It was the best thing I've ever done.”
— Mike to Will, The Mind Flayer

Byler is the slash ship between Mike Wheeler and Will Byers from the Stranger Things fandom.

Canon

Mike and Will met on the first day of kindergarten in 1976. Mike approached Will while he was alone on the swing set and asked him to be his friend, to which Will agreed. Mike later tearfully described this as the best thing he had ever done.

Season 1

In 1983, while playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) with their friends - Dustin and Lucas - Mike, acting as Dungeon Master, summons a Demogorgon which ultimately defeats Will's character when Will rolls a low number. Mike is, however, not aware of this since he doesn't get to see the result of the dice roll. Although Lucas tells Will that his roll doesn't have to count since Mike didn't see it, Will still lets Mike know that he rolled too low before leaving for home.

When Will goes missing, Mike begs his mother to let him search for Will, which she refuses, leading Mike to angrily claim that he is the only one in his family who cares about Will. Mike then convinces Lucas to go look for Will by reminding him how, when they were playing D&D, Will chose to help the Party (the name they call their group) instead of playing it safe, thus putting his character in danger.

After Will is presumed dead, Mike becomes very upset and sits in his basement, dejectedly looking at a collection of Will's illustrations. However, when Eleven proves that Will is still alive, Mike is determined to find him. After Will is found and hospitalized, Mike sits awake at the hospital as he waits for him to wake up. Upon reuniting with Will, Mike and his friends embrace him and share the chain of events that occurred while Will was gone.

Season 2

In 1984, when Will experiences visions and episodes due to his time in the Upside Down, he shares them with Mike and begs him not tell the others as he believes that they wouldn't understand. Mike claims that Eleven would understand and admits that he sometimes senses her presence, and wonders if he is going crazy. When Will says that he feels like he is going crazy too, they promise each other that if they both go crazy, then they will go crazy together.

After Will is possessed by the Mind Flayer, Mike is committed to helping him. He goes to Will's house and comforts him, assuring him that they wouldn't let the monster spy back on him. Mike is the only friend to stay by Will's side when he is taken to Hawkins Lab for inspection. When Will awakens, he suffers memory loss and is only able to remember Mike and his mother, Joyce, out of those present.

While attempting to bring Will's memories back and to learn the Mind Flayer's weakness, Mike tearfully tells him about their first meeting on the first day of kindergarten and how asking Will to be his friend was the best thing he had ever done. Joyce and Will's older brother, Jonathan, also share stories involving Will that are personal to them, which enables Will to signal them in Morse code how to stop the Mind Flayer.

Season​ 3

In 1985, Mike, Will, Lucas and Max sneak into the movie theatre at the Starcourt Mall with the help of their older friend, Steve, to watch Day of the Dead for free. After a sudden power outage, Will feels a strange sensation at the back of his neck. Mike senses that something is wrong and asks Will if he is alright, to which he replies that he is fine.

Will is later upset with how much time Mike is spending with Eleven, preferring more time for D&D campaigns. After Eleven breaks up with Mike, Will tries to play D&D with Mike and Lucas but their disinterest in the game upsets him. When they attempt to apologize, Will brushes them off and storms out of the house. Mike catches up to him and in a heated argument, he says that it's not his fault that Will doesn't like girls which leaves Will speechless. He adds that they've grown up and they can't spend the rest of their lives playing games in his basement. However, Mike regrets his words as he watches Will leave in tears. When Mike and Lucas go to his house to apologize, Will, having realized what the sensation in his neck means, tells them that the Mind Flayer has returned.

Three months after defeating the Mind Flayer, Will and his family, along with Eleven, are moving out of Hawkins. When Will puts his D&D items in the donation box, Mike suggests that Will should keep them in case he ever wants to join another Party but Will assures him that he will never do so, causing them to smile at each other. Mike and Will are later emotional as the Byers and the Party tearfully say goodbye.

Season 4

In 1986, Mike reads a letter from Eleven, where she says that Will has been working on a painting which he refuses to show anyone and Eleven assumes it's for a girl he likes. When Mike visits them in California, Will and Eleven are both eager to see him. However, while Mike joyfully reunites with Eleven, his reunion with Will is short and awkward. Will had brought the rolled-up painting with him but when Mike asks him about it, Will simply says that it's a painting he's been working on.

Will, Mike and Eleven later go to a roller rink where Eleven lies to Mike about her social life. Will grows annoyed at her lies and privately confronts her, saying that Mike doesn't deserve being lied to but Eleven, although affected by his words, ignores him. Mike and Eleven then skate together while a dejected Will skates behind them. When Will tells Mike that Eleven hasn't been telling him the truth, Mike doesn't believe him until he sees her being humiliated by the people she claimed to be her friends. She runs off and as they look for her, an annoyed Mike accuses Will of being unkind to her only for Will to point out that he's been forced to third-wheel all day and how miserable he has been. Mike brushes him off and Will asks Mike why he barely contacted him and only wrote letters to Eleven. Mike replies that Eleven is his girlfriend while Will is his friend, and Will retorts that they used to be best friends. Mike then points out that Will is equally to blame for not reaching out more.

When Eleven is taken away by Dr. Owens, Will listens as Mike admits that he fought with Eleven before she left and regrets not having told her what she wanted to hear. Will comforts him, saying that Mike can tell Eleven whatever he wants to say when they find her. Mike later thanks Will for comforting him and apologizes for the way he behaved towards him. Will attempts to say that he deserved it for not being more considerate towards Eleven but Mike immediately disagrees, saying that Will didn't deserve being treated that way. Mike then reveals, much to Will's surprise, that Hawkins has not been the same without him and that they would work better as a team or best friends, to which Will happily agrees.

On their way to find Eleven, Mike grows worried over her not needing him anymore and shares his concerns with Will. Attempting to comfort him, Will shows Mike the painting he has been working on, lying that Eleven asked him to make it. Mike is amazed by the painting which turns out to be their Party's D&D characters fighting a dragon. Will points out that Mike's character is the heart of the group and that they would fall apart without him. Will then emotionally expresses his romantic feelings for Mike, disguised as Eleven's, and says how Mike makes "Eleven" feel better for being different and that "she" will always need him. Will's words reassure Mike about his situation with Eleven but he remains oblivious to Will's feelings and doesn't notice when Will turns away and cries silently.

When Eleven is trapped by Vecna, Will reminds Mike that he is the heart of the group and watches in pain as Mike confesses his love for Eleven, giving her the strength to break free of Vecna's grasp. Although they were able to wound Vecna, Will senses his presence when they get back to Hawkins and tells Mike that Vecna won't stop until he's killed everyone. Mike comforts him and assures him that they will stop Vecna once and for all.

Quotes

Will“It was a seven.”
Mike“Huh?”
Will“The roll, it was a seven. The Demogorgon, it got me.”
— Will tells Mike his character in D&D was captured despite Lucas saying it didn't count since Mike didn't see it, The Vanishing of Will Byers
“I'm the only one that cares about Will!”
— Mike, The Vanishing of Will Byers
“I'm worried about Will.”
— Mike, The Vanishing of Will Byers
Mike“I was thinking... Will could've cast Protection last night, but he didn't. He cast Fireball.”
Lucas“What's your point?”
Mike“My point is... he could've played it safe, but he didn't. He put himself in danger to help the party.”
— Mike convinces Lucas to go look for Will, The Vanishing of Will Byers
“It's not Will. It can't be.”
— Mike when a body believed to be Will's is found in a quarry lake, Holly, Jolly
“Will! Will, what's wrong? I couldn't find you. Are you hurt?”
— Mike, Trick or Treat, Freak
Mike“I don't know. Sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy.”
Will“Me too.”
Mike“Hey, well, if we're both going crazy, then we'll go crazy together, right?”
Will“Yeah. Crazy together.”
— Trick or Treat, Freak
“Do you remember the first day that we met? It was... It was the first day of kindergarten. I knew nobody. I had no friends and... I just felt so alone and so scared, but... I saw you on the swings and you were alone, too. You were just swinging by yourself. And I just walked up to you and... I asked. I asked if you wanted to be my friend. And you said yes. You said yes. It was the best thing I've ever done.”
— Mike to Will, The Mind Flayer
Mike“Hey. You okay?”
Will“Yeah.”
Mike“Are you sure?”
Will“Of course.”
Mike“Okay.”
— Suzie, Do You Copy?
Will“You're destroying everything, and for what? So you can swap spit with some stupid girl?”
Mike“El's not stupid. It's not my fault you don't like girls. I'm not trying to be a jerk. Okay? But we're not kids anymore. I mean, what did you think, really? That we were never gonna get girlfriends? We were just gonna sit in my basement all day and play games for the rest of our lives?”
Will“Yeah. I guess I did. I really did.”
— The Case of the Missing Lifeguard
“Will! Will, I'm sorry, man, all right? I was being a total asshole. Please, can you just come outside and we'll talk? Will!”
— Mike knocking on Will's door after their argument, The Case of the Missing Lifeguard
Mike“Whoa, dude. That's the donation box.”
Will“I know. I'll just use yours when I come back. I mean, if we still wanna play.”
Mike“Yeah, but what if you want to join another party?”
Will“Not possible.”
— Will donates his D&D items and assures Mike that he will never join another group, The Battle of Starcourt
“I just... I don't think Mike's gonna like that you're lying to him. And he doesn't deserve that. When he finds out, he's gonna be mad.”
— Will confronting Eleven for lying to Mike about her life, Vecna's Curse
Will“Well, what about us?”
Mike“What?”
Will“You're mad that I didn't talk to you? Seems like you made it super clear that you're not interested in anything I have to say.”
Mike“That's just not true.”
Will“You've called maybe a couple times. It's been a year, Mike. Meanwhile, El has a book of letters from you.”
Mike“That's because she's my girlfriend, Will.”
Will“And us?”
Mike“We're friends. We're friends.”
Will“We used to be best friends.”
Mike“Then maybe you should've reached out more. I don't know. But why is this on me? Why... Why am I the bad guy?”
— Vecna's Curse
Mike“You don't trust Owens?”
Will“No. I don't know. I mean, he's been good to us and good to El, but he wasn't able to protect me. That was you guys who saved me. That was you guys.”
Mike“Looks like it's gonna be up to us again.”
Will“It always is, isn't it?”
— Dear Billy
Mike“Thanks, by the way.”
Will“For what?”
Mike“For knocking some sense into me. I mean, I was being a total self-pitying idiot.”
Will“Oh, I didn't say it.”
Mike“You didn't have to. Hey, also, about the last few days--”
Will“You don't have to say anything. I... I was being a total jerk to El. I deserved it.”
Mike“No. No, no, no. You didn't deserve anything. Listen, the truth is, the last year has been weird, you know? And I mean, you know, Max and Lucas and Dustin, they're... they're great. They're great. It's just... It's Hawkins. It's not the same without you. And I feel like maybe I was worrying too much about El, and I don't know, maybe I feel I lost you or something. Does that make sense? I have no idea what's gonna happen next. But, whatever it is, I... I think we should work together. I think it'll be easier if we're... we're a team. Friends. Best friends.”
Will“Cool.”
Mike“Cool.”
— Dear Billy
Mike“I didn't... I didn't know what to say.”
Will“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. Because, what if... what if they don't like the truth?”
— The Nina Project
“Anyway, my point is, see how you're leading us here? You're guiding the whole party, inspiring us. That... That's what you do. And see your coat of arms here? It's a heart. And I know it's sort of on the nose, but that's what holds this party together. Heart. Because, I mean, without heart, we'd all fall apart. Even El. Especially El. These past few months, she's been so lost without you. It's just, she's so different from other people, and... when you're... when you're different, sometimes... you feel like a mistake. But you make her feel like she's not a mistake at all. Like she's better for being different. And that gives her the courage to fight on. If she was mean to you or she seemed like she was pushing you away, it's because she's scared of losing you, like you're scared of losing her. And if she was going to lose you, I... I think she'd rather just get it over with quick. Like ripping off a Band-Aid. So, yeah, El needs you, Mike. And she always will.”
— Will expressing his feelings for Mike by disguising them as Eleven's, Papa

Behind the Scenes

Interviewer“It seems like Will's feelings for Mike are shifting towards a more endearing, kind of heartfelt, romantic affection. Can you comment on that?”
Finn Wolfhard“Yeah! Uh, well, I think you find out slowly kind of through this season, Will's kind of love towards Mike and I think it's a really beautiful thing.[2]
Interviewer“What did you understand about what that personal journey would look like, what Will was going to be contending with?”
Noah Schnapp“I mean, it's pretty clear this season that Will has feelings for Mike. They've been intentionally pulling that out over the past few seasons. Even in Season 1, they hinted at that and slowly, slowly grew that storyline. I think for Season 4, it was just me playing this character who loves his best friend but struggles with knowing if he'll be accepted or not, and feeling like a mistake and like he doesn't belong.[3]
Interviewer“The conversation that Will and Mike have in the van, where Will is essentially telling Mike how he feels about him, but through the prism of Eleven - that was so heartbreaking. What do you remember about shooting it?”
Noah Schnapp“I remember it was just all day. We started in the morning and went straight through, past lunch, for hours and hours. I remember when I was doing the scene, I was bawling, like, going all out the whole day. And when I saw it on screen, it was actually more subtle. I liked how they edited it together. The day was a lot of fun. I love just playing with Will. This scene was really important for him, because it really solidified that truth, that he loves his best friend and he doesn't know how to tell him.[4]
Interviewer“As you alluded to earlier, the implication that people perceive Will as gay is baked into the very first episode of the show. But in past interviews, including one that you did with me for Volume 1 of Season 4, you've talked instead about how you saw Will as still figuring out that aspect of his identity. Did it feel like it was a spoiler to say outright, "Yes, Will is wrestling with being gay and coming out"?”
Noah Schnapp“Yeah, I think it is. Obviously, it was hinted at in Season 1: It was always kind of there, but you never really knew, is it just him growing up slower than his friends? Now that he's gotten older, they made it a very real, obvious thing. Now it's 100% clear that he is gay and he does love Mike.[5]

Fanon

Although Mike and Will had little interaction in the first season since Will went missing for most of the season, the pairing was still fairly popular, mostly due to Mike's determination to find Will. After the second season was released, they grew in popularity due to their increased interactions that often involved heartfelt conversations. Although they had become pretty popular by the third season, they were still overshadowed by Mike's canon pairing, Mileven. However, interest in the pairing grew considerably following the fourth season where it was revealed that Will is in love with Mike.

Most fanfiction revolve around Mike expressing his feelings for Will after realizing Eleven wasn't for him. Newer fics delve into Will's heartbreak over Mike dating Eleven, and Mike finding out how Will feels about him. On AO3, Byler is the most written ship for both Mike and Will. It is also the third most written ship under the Stranger Things (TV 2016) tag.

Byler is often shipped alongside Elmax or Lumax.

Fandom

FAN FICTION

Will/Mike tag on AO3
Will/Mike tag on FanFiction.net
Byler stories on Wattpad

TUMBLR

Byler posts on Tumblr
Mike x Will posts on Tumblr

Lists

Fandometrics
1st JUN 6th 2022 JUN 13th 2022
2nd JUN 20th 2022 JUL 11th 2022 JUL 18th 2022 JUL 25th 2022
5th MAY 16th 2022
10th MAY 23rd 2022
13th JUL 8th 2019 APR 18th 2022

Trivia

  • The official Netflix India instagram account included a Byler moment in a post captioned, "How to say 'I love you' without saying 'I love you' 101".[6]
  • Noah Schnapp, who portrays Will, liked a video on TikTok showing Will's romantic interest is Mike.[7][8]
  • NetflixGeeked tweeted a picture showing a visual parallel between Byler's argument in Season 3 and the one in Season 4.[9]
  • Shawn Levy, an executive producer and director of Stranger Things, liked a tweet mentioning Will being in love with Mike.[10]
  • In an interview with Variety, Noah Schnapp stated that he believes it is clear that Will is gay and in love with Mike.[11]
  • Grace Van Dien, who portrays Chrissy Cunningham in Stranger Things, said that she likes "Mike with both Eleven and Will".[12]

Gallery

Screenshots

Miscellaneous

Fan Art

References

Navigation

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Stranger Things ShipsStranger Things Characters
SHIPS het LumaxEdssyJancyJopperMilevenStancy
slash BylerHarringroveSteddie
femslash ElmaxRockieRonance
friendship Fruity FourStobin
CHARACTERS male Steve Harrington
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