Will, Noah Schnapp’s character on Stranger Things, has never had it easy. Season 1 centered on his abduction, and his appearances in 2 and 3 pretty were pretty much all about the resulting trauma. His struggles in the season that dropped earlier this month are technically less extreme, but because they’re so relatable, Will is at his most pitiful. His closest friends only spend time with their girlfriends. And when he’s forced to move, he simply can’t fit in with his classmates at his new high school—in large part because his sole friend is Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who’s relentlessly teased in a manner that can only be described as cruel. And when her boyfriend, Mike (Finn Wolfhard) pays them a visit, Will’s dreams of having his best friend back are immediately crushed. Mike is purely there to see Eleven, making Will the definition of a third wheel.
As if all that weren’t enough, according to Schnapp, things were even worse for Will than we thought. (And that’s saying something, given how miserable he looked skating around a roller rink by himself on Mike and Eleven’s first date in months.) While Schnapp has refused to explicitly answer questions about Will’s sexuality in the past, to him, it’s always been obvious: His character is gay, and has been in love with Mike all along. He was simply waiting for the scene in one of the final episodes of season 4 in which Will passionately describes Eleven’s intense love for Mike, who’s completely unaware that Will is really speaking about himself.
“I mean, it’s pretty clear this season that Will has feelings for Mike,” the 17-year-old actor told Variety, adding that he thought there were small hints of his requited love even in season 1. “I think for season 4, it was just me playing this character who loves his best friend but struggles with knowing if he’ll be accepted or not, and feeling like a mistake and like he doesn’t belong,” Schnapp continued. “Will has always felt like that. All his friends, they all have girlfriends and they all fit into their different clubs. Will has never really found anywhere to fit in. I think that’s why so many people come up to me and tell me that they love Will and they resonate with him so much, because it’s such a real character…I think it is done so beautifully, because it’s so easy to make a character just like all of a sudden be gay.”
It may all be awful for Will, but there’s been a silver lining for fans. The shot of him crying next to Mike, who’s fully in his own world after their emotional conversation, has inspired memes on memes.
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