This post contains spoilers for Stranger things.
Ah, Will. From the beginning of Weird stuff, he’s always been the outlier, the boy wrested from the gang by dark, supernatural forces. In the first two seasons, he faced huge dilemmas that end the world when he got stuck in the Upside Down and then became an unwilling host for the Mind Flayer. But for the past two seasons, Will’s world has cooled (somewhat). His inner life takes center stage and fans have been able to focus on more personal details about the character. As they did, a question arose: Is Will gay?
Now that season four, volume two has arrived, the answer is…probably? But the show still hasn’t outright explained it. Over the past two seasons, the show has dropped hints here and there that Will is not like the rest of his friends. However, it was never explicitly stated in season three or season four, part one, leading fans to conclude that Will’s sexuality would be revealed in part two, which was released on Netflix Friday. Unfortunately, the show still hasn’t taken a firm stance on the character’s sexuality, rambling fan theories that there would be some clarity about this part of Will’s life once and for all.
However, some solid directions were given along the way. At the beginning of episode eight, Will and Mike are heart-to-heart in the back of a van while Jonathan, Will’s big brother, drives. Mike beats herself up about Eleven, convinced that one day she’ll realize he’s nothing special. Will gives him a motivational speech, reminding him that Eleven probably isn’t feeling superior. “She’s so different from other people,” Will says. “When you’re different, sometimes you feel like a mistake.” He seems to talk as much about himself as he does about Eleven, and he immediately gets emotional with his coded speech. Then he looks out the window and starts to cry, while Jonathan looks in the rearview mirror and gives his little brother a knowing look.
In episode nine, Jonathan gently confronts his brother. He regrets that their relationship has become distant and that he has not always been there for him. But Jonathan continues: ‘You are my brother and I love you. And there’s absolutely nothing in this world that could change that.” Will immediately starts to cry. It’s a warm and cathartic scene, a small step in the right direction for Will to get comfortable and finally open up. about who he is.
And maybe he will by the time season five rolls around, since it’s the last season of the entire show. Maybe he opens up to his brother and his friends. Perhaps he will prove that fans’ theories are correct and confess that he was in love with Mike all along. Or maybe the show will start fresh and introduce a new love interest for Will, like the Duffers did for Robin (Maya Hawke), the only openly gay character in the group.
Noah Schnap, who plays Will has responded to speculation about the character’s sexuality in the past. In an interview in May with Variety On part one of season four, Schnapp said that the Duffer brothers, who created the show, “never really tackle it or brazenly say what Will is like. I think that’s the beauty of it, that it’s just up to the audience’s interpretation.” is, whether it’s Will just refusing to grow up and grow up slower than his friends, or whether he’s really gay.
co-star Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven, added that “it’s 2022 and we don’t have to label things. He’s just a human going through his own personal demons and problems.” Schnapp agreed: “I find people reaching out to him to put a label on them and just so eager to know, like, ‘Oh, and this is it.’ He’s just confused and growing up, and that’s what it’s like to be a kid.”
There were subtle clues in part one that sparked fans’ interest in Will’s sexuality. Eagle-eyed viewers noticed that when Will had to do a class project about a historical hero, he picked Alan Turing, the scientific genius who was persecuted for being gay. He is also the only boy in the core of the Hawkins friend group who has never had a romantic storyline. Plus, he’s been frustrated all season that his best friend Mike is so involved in his relationship with Eleven. Their relationship also caused friction in season three, causing Mike to blurt out, “It’s not my fault you don’t like girls!” As sharp as that line appears to be, executive producer Shawn Levy, who also directed the episode, told Weekly entertainment that “it’s not specific to sexual orientation or anything.”
But perhaps Levy was trying to mislead viewers before the show could somehow take a firm stance. After all, secrecy is the party line with a show this big. However, it seems that Will’s sexuality journey was actually an integrated part of the show’s beginnings. In the Duffer Brothers’ original show bible for the series – when it was still called Montauk instead of Weird stuff—Will is described as a “sweet, sensitive boy with sexual identity issues. He only recently came to realize that he doesn’t fit the 80s definition of ‘normal’.’
Of course, Will spends much of season one in the Upside Down, and most of season two hosting the Mind Flayer, so he doesn’t have much time to research his own identity issues. Two seasons – and several extreme long episodes later – it looks like Will’s personal journey is finally beginning.