Is he really "the heart" of the Hawkins gang?
Mike Wheeler is no longer a lovely nerdy D&D fan we remember from the first seasons of 'Stranger Things'. Like all characters, he has changed, but some fans are taking issue with who he grew up to be.
In season 4, Mike is struggling to learn how to communicate his feelings after Eleven confronts him about their relationship and the lack of romantic confessions she receives from him. Mike takes it very seriously and tries his best to be a better boyfriend, focusing entirely on Eleven and their relationship… and that is, according to many fans, his problem.
While everyone is cool with Mike being in love with Eleven, the fact that he seems to sideline and forget his friends, particularly Will, does not sit well with people.
Despite Mike and Will figuring things out and confirming their commitment to being best friends, many fans still don't recognize Mike Wheeler. He fails to notice that his friend is emotionally struggling, and he never seems to consider his feelings, focusing exclusively on El.
"Whoever thinks these two are the same mike are wrong. One jumped off a cliff to save his friend and the other couldn’t see his friend crying RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM." – @jocelynnvalntin.
When Mike was ranting about how his life started on the day he met El in the woods, a lot of Will Byers fans were ready to smash their screens. Because that was the day Will went missing, and there was perhaps nothing less sensible Mike could say in front of his best friend.
Fans seem to be missing Mike from the first two seasons, who slept by Will's side in the hospital until his friend woke up and would look out for Will as he was being haunted by the Upside Down. That Mike somehow managed to balance his feelings for El and commitment to his friendships, fans argue.
Naturally, the wave of criticism towards Mike immediately had his fans rising to defend him.
"Mike Wheeler doesn't owe any of the other characters (except El) ANYTHING. He's pulled his weight every season, he's been there for his friends when he was needed, he developed MOST of the good plans and he's apologized where he needed to," one Twitter user argued.
But even those willing to slam Mike over how he treated Will this season understand that we are still talking about a teenage character who is most likely going through an identity crisis, let alone an actual underworld-induced apocalypse.
No matter how things work out in season 5 for Mike and the rest of the Hawkins gang, fans hope for the final chapter of the story to bring all closures and explain all mysteries – not only those connected to the supernatural part of the show but those tied to human relationships as well.