‘Stranger Things’: Joe Chrest Compares Ted Wheeler to Jessica Rabbit

Throughout Stranger Things, Joe Chrest portrays the clueless ’80s dad Ted Wheeler. The character, while not entirely essential to the plot, has become known for his amusing one-liners. The Wheeler parents aren’t seen much in Stranger Things Season 4, as there is a lot more pertinent action to focus on. Ted himself seems especially useless this season, but Chrest has an interesting comparison for his character.

Joe Chrest as Ted Wheeler in Stranger Things Season 4. Ted looks up from his newspaper..
Joe Chrest as Ted Wheeler in ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 |

Joe Chrest plays Ted Wheeler in ‘Stranger Things’

Throughout Stranger Things, Joe Chrest’s character Ted Wheeler has become known as the quintessential ’80s dad. With shots of him mowing the lawn and falling asleep in a La-Z-Boy, it’s easy to understand why. “So many people have responded to Ted,” Chrest told Vulture. “Dads in particular. They gravitate toward that ‘What did I doooo?’ line. I’m told, ‘That’s how I always feel: What the hell did I do?'”

According to IMDb, Chrest has appeared in over 100 screen roles, and over 60 plays and musicals. He’s tackled the “nerdy dad” role before, portraying Schmidt’s dad in 21 Jump Street. In some of Chrest’s other roles, however, he is completely unrecognizable from his Stranger Things character. For example, is currently set to portray a villainous character named Isaac in the absurdist dark comedy film The Cran.

Joe Chrest compares his ‘Stranger Things’ character to Jessica Rabbit

In Stranger Things Season 4, all the parents beside Joyce Byers have taken a backseat, and Joe Chrest understands the reason. “As the stories veered away from Hawkins and the kids growing up, it’s difficult to also incorporate the adults. Karen, who was a lot more involved in the first few seasons, has tapered off. With season four, there are so many stories to tell. If you start veering toward the parent lanes, you get taken off the story,” Chrest told Vulture.

Yet in previous seasons, what Ted is really known for is his cluelessness and inaction. Chrest, for his part, knows that some fans may only see one side to the character. “It’s interesting because when we first started out — and I still contend this — I feel like … if you remember Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the vixen, Jessica Rabbit, is like, ‘I’m not bad; I’m just drawn that way.’ Ted is like that.”

“Even though there wasn’t a lot there for Ted, he’s a loving dad. Like a lot of dads I saw while my kids were growing up, they focus on being providers. They think that’s more important than their time. When we see Ted, he’s wiped out from work. I never approach it like he doesn’t care.”

Chrest continued to explain the Jessica Rabbit comparison. “That quote, ‘I’m not bad; I’m just drawn that way,’ really sums it up. It’s what’s there on the page for Ted. If you’re napping while Hawkins burns, that’s what you’re doing. We’re defined by our actions.”

‘Stranger Things’ fans think Ted Wheeler will redeem himself

Despite his lack of screen time in Stranger Things Season 4 Volume I, some fans agree that there’s more to Ted than meets the eye. In fact, there’s speculation that his inaction will lead to a pretty epic reveal. “This is total fan theory, but I have a strong feeling that sleepy Ted Wheeler will have a moment to shine as a hero while offering a little glimpse into his mysterious past,” one Reddit user wrote.

Chrest is certainly on board with the idea. “I would love a chance to get out there and defend the kids,” he told Vulture. “Ted really loves his family and would do really well in that Upside Down scenario. It’s the ’80s, too. It’s a chance for Ted to fight for his country. I’m sure he served in the military. The dude’s a patriot, for God’s sake.”

All episodes of Stranger Things are currently streaming on Netflix.

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