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Stranger Things Season 4 Volume II featured two lengthy episodes. In episode 8, the Byers boys, Mike, and Argyle search for Eleven in the middle of the desert. During the trip, Will and Mike have an emotional conversation that ends with Will in tears. Although there’s no outright explanation, there are several pretty solid theories about why he broke down in this scene.

[SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers ahead for Stranger Things 4 Volume 2.]

Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler and Noah Schnapp as Will Byers in Stranger Things Season 4. Mike looks at Will at the skate rink.
Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler and Noah Schnapp as Will Byers in ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 | Ursula Coyote/Netflix

Will broke down in ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Episode 8

In Stranger Things Season 4 Episode 8, Mike confessed his fear that Eleven might not need him anymore to his friend Will. To make Mike feel better, Will produces the painting that he made for his friend. The painting shows their group of friends fighting a dragon, with Mike in the center leading them. Will tells Mike that he is the heart that holds their party together.

To reassure his friend, Will also lies and says that Eleven commissioned him to create the painting. However, fans know that this isn’t true because Eleven states at the beginning of the season that she hasn’t seen the painting. Moments after Will’s conversation with Mike, he turns to the window and begins to sob, though Mike doesn’t notice. There are several possible explanations for why Will broke down.

‘Stranger Things’ fans theorize that Will has romantic feelings for Mike

Fans have speculated for a while that Will Byers is gay and secretly has feelings for his best friend Mike. If that’s the case it’s understandable that seeing Mike so in love with Eleven might bring up some complicated emotions, especially if he feels that he can’t tell his friend the truth.

However, Will has not outwardly come out as gay, and there isn’t really a need to label his sexuality in Stranger Things Season 4. “I feel like they never really address it or blatantly say how Will is,” Schnapp told Variety, referencing the show’s creators, The Duffer Brothers. “I think that’s the beauty of it, that it’s just up to the audience’s interpretation, if it’s Will kind of just refusing to grow up and growing up slower than his friends, or if he is really gay.”

Schnapp added, “I find that people do reach to put a label on him and just want to know, so badly, like, ‘Oh, and this is it.’ He’s just confused and growing up. And that’s what it is to be a kid.”

Will is still dealing with trauma in ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4

Will has been through a tremendous amount of trauma at a young age. In Stranger Things Season 4, it’s clear that the lack of communication between Will and Mike after the move to California bothers Will. It’s perfectly possible that Will’s emotions in this episode 8 scene stem from his fear that he is losing his best friend. Will talks to Mike about Eleven, but the hidden context seems to imply that he is really talking about himself.

“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 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.”


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“If she was mean to you or she seemed like she was pushing you away it’s probably just because she’s scared of losing you just like you’re scared of losing her. And if she was going to lose you 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.”

It’s worth noting that Jonathan seems to notice Will’s emotions in this scene. Jonathan knows that Will has been through a lot and in episode 9 he apologizes to his brother for being so distant (and stoned) over the past year. This seems to comfort Will, who breaks down again. It seems like the younger Byers brother has been feeling especially lonely and isolated over the past year, which could explain his tears in episode 8.

All episodes of Stranger Things are currently streaming on Netflix.