The first few seasons of Stranger Things portrayed Mike Wheeler as a fiercely loyal friend. But in season 4 of the hit Netflix series, the teen seemed far less sensitive to his buddies’ feelings. It’s quite a departure from the hero that fans fell in love with, and many are unhappy about the change.
Mike Wheeler was a hero in the early seasons of ‘Stranger Things’
The first season of Stranger Things introduced Mike (Finn Wolfhard) as a sweet and caring kid who tirelessly fought to help his friends. He took Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) in when she needed sanctuary. And he led his crew of middle school nerds on a mission to find their friend Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) and rescue him from the Upside Down.
But in season 4, Mike Wheeler is living back in Hawkins while Will and El have moved to California. And when the three reunite, Mike’s emotional distance is immediately noticeable.
For starters, he refuses to tell El he loves her. And when she’s bullied at the skating rink, he doesn’t step in to defend or help her. Then, when a tearful Will pours his heart out, Mike is oblivious and insensitive to what his friend is feeling.
Some fans aren’t happy with Mike’s change in season 4
Season 4 of Stranger Things paints Mike as a stereotypical teen who’s so self-involved that he doesn’t notice what others are feeling. However, many fans don’t understand why he’s changed so much since the first season. And some aren’t happy with the personality shift.
“What is going on with Mike?” one Reddit user wondered. “He has always been very kind, attentive to other people’s feelings and needs, very protective of El … but this time he seems to be really out of place and not empathetic towards El and Will. I know they all changed because they have grown up, but only Mike’s change doesn’t make much sense to me.”
But others felt the change was needed to highlight how his time away from Will and El affected him.
“I was thinking it was the distance between them since Will and Eleven moved across the country, like he hasn’t seen them in so long he doesn’t know how to act around them anymore,” another Redditor suggested.
Can Will’s drawing bring the old Mike back for ‘Stranger Things’ Season 5?
Mike may seem disconnected from his friends. But one thing could bring him back to his old self.
Earlier in Stranger Things Season 4, El revealed Will was working on a painting that he wouldn’t share with anyone. Later, in episode 8, Will shows the artwork to Mike, hoping to inspire him to be their group’s heart once again.
“That’s what holds this part together — heart,” Will tells Mike, pointing at the heart drawn on Mike’s armor in the painting. “Because without heart, we’d all fall apart.”
Let’s hope Will’s inspirational art and speech will help Mike find his way back and become the hero he was in season 1.
Stranger Things Season 5 has no official release date yet. But with an August 2022 start date for production, fans might get new episodes in 2023 or early 2024.