‘Stranger Things’: Joe Chrest Thinks Ted Wheeler Is Secretly in the CIA

Stranger Things fans have come to love Nancy and Mike Wheeler’s dad, Ted Wheeler, since the first season in 2016. While he doesn’t add much to the story, his obliviousness and sarcasm always provide comic relief. But is Ted really as clueless about his kids’ adventures in Hawkins as he seems? His actor, Joe Chrest, doesn’t think so. In a recent interview, the actor opened up about his character and weighed in on a fan theory suggesting that Ted could be in the CIA.

Joe Chrest as Ted Wheeler in Stranger Things Season 4.
Joe Chrest as Ted Wheeler in ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4. | Netflix

Ted Wheeler is the oblivious dad of ‘Stranger Things’

In all four seasons of Stranger Things, Ted Wheeler has been a background character. He shows interest in only a few things, such as his lawn and his La-Z-Boy. While Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Nancy (Natalia Dyer) are off fighting monsters from the Upside Down, Ted is usually taking a nap. He never knows what’s going on, but he’ll be the first one to make a sarcastic remark about his kids spending too little or too much time at home.

At a glance, it might seem like Ted simply doesn’t care what his kids are up to. However, as Chrest recently told Vulture, that’s not the case at all.

“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,” he said. “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.”

‘Stranger Things’ star Joe Chrest believes in the Ted Wheeler CIA theory

Stranger Things definitely drills down the idea that Ted is clueless and uninvolved — maybe a little too clueless. Back when season 3 premiered in 2019, many fans began to suspect the father of three could be a CIA sleeper agent. As International Business Times noted, the theory pointed to Ted’s cooperation with CIA agents throughout the series. Some viewers even thought Ted was the “American” that the Russians held captive at the end of season 3.

Of course, fans now know that the American was actually Jim Hopper (David Harbour). And with only one Stranger Things season to go after season 4 vol. 2, the idea of Ted as a CIA agent is becoming less likely. Still, Chrest said he’s holding out hope.

“A lot of the cast, pretty much from season 2, have been encouraging the [Stranger Things creators, the Duffer brothers] to get Ted more active in the show. The speculation is that he’s with the CIA — is he part of it? Will it merge with the story? I’m very curious about that. With season 5, I’d like to see, as would a lot of us, more of Ted,” the Killing Reagan actor said.

Joe Chrest thinks Ted is ready to jump into action

Even if Ted Wheeler isn’t a CIA agent in disguise, Chrest still hopes the dad will become a hero. In his interview with Vulture, he talked about Ted heading into the Upside Down to defend his family.

“Ted really loves his family and would do really well in that Upside Down scenario. It’s the ’80s, too,” he concluded. “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.” 

Stranger Things 4 Vol. 1 is available now on Netflix. Vol. 2 premieres on July 1.

RELATED: ‘Stranger Things’ Star Joe Chrest’s Villainous Role in ‘The Cran’ Revealed