|“||I wanna finish what we started. I want to kill it.||„|
|~ Nancy Wheeler.|
Nancy Wheeler, portrayed by starring cast member Natalia Dyer, is secondary female protagonist of Stranger Things.
At first, concerned with simple teenage high school issues, her world is turned upside down when her best friend Barbara Holland vanishes, encouraging her to seek out the truth. Still grieving for the death of her best friend, she and Jonathan Byers took on a journey on themselves to expose Hawkins National Laboratory as a threat. Eventually, she helps Jonathan and his mother Joyce Byers in removing Will Byers from the Mind Flayer.
Nancy was the first child of Karen and Ted Wheeler, and she would later be joined by younger siblings Mike and Holly. Together, the family of five lived at their home in Hawkins, Indiana. Nancy suspected her parents never truly loved one another, and that they married solely to create a "perfect nuclear family". As Nancy and Mike grew up, Nancy became distant from Mike and his friends, although they were close at some point. By the time Nancy attended Hawkins High School, she had become best friends with Barbara Holland. Nancy also had friends named Cathy and Ally , although they weren’t as close as Barbara and her.
In 1983, Nancy began dating Steve Harrington, a popular boy at school, making out with him "a couple of times". Nancy and Barb went clothes-shopping one weekend, with Nancy seeking to impress Steve. On the evening of November 6, Nancy was in her room talking over the phone with Barb, discussing Steve. Dustin interrupted, asking if she wanted a slice of pizza; she answered him by slamming the door in his face.
After finding a note in her school locker the next morning, she met Steve in the bathroom where they briefly made out before going back to class. Before Nancy left, Steve asked if they could go out that night. She initially declined but eventually agreed to meet him at Dearborn and Maple “to study.” That night at dinner, Nancy lied to her mother, saying she was going to study at Barb's house. However, her mother forbade this, fearing for her safety due to the recent disappearance of Will Byers. When Nancy blamed Will's disappearance for her not being allowed to leave, Mike revealed her relationship with Steve. Outraged, Nancy stormed away from the table, going upstairs to her room. Later, Steve climbed in through Nancy's bedroom window to help her study for a test and tried to have sex with her, but Nancy rejected his advances. Nancy was invited to a pool party at Steve's house when he was home alone and dragged Barb along. Nancy eventually decided to go up to Steve's room and told Barb to go home. Nancy, unaware of the fact that Barb had been taken by the Demogorgon while sitting alone by the pool, lost her virginity to Steve.
The following day, she noticed that Barb was not at school and grew increasingly worried when neither her friends nor Barb's mother had seen her. Nancy went back to Steve's house to look for her and was startled by a creature in the forest. Jonathan Byers was revealed to have taken pictures of Nancy in her underwear at the party the previous night, so Steve, along with his friends, destroyed the photos and broke his camera. Nancy shared her worry about Barb with Steve, but he was more concerned that a police investigation would lead his parents to find out he had a party. Police officers Callahan and Powell questioned Nancy, and she told them she thought Barb was taken by the creature she saw in the forest. They had already searched the forest and found that Barb's car was gone. They theorized that Barb might have run away because she was jealous of Nancy and Steve and revealed to Nancy's mother that Nancy had slept with Steve. Feeling like something terrible had happened to Barb and nobody was listening to her, Nancy began taking matters into her own hands.
She taped together the pieces of one of Jonathan's photographs and saw a creature behind Barb at the pool. She questioned Jonathan about the night he had taken the photographs and told him about the creature, which he recognized from his mothers' description. They went to enlarge the photo, and Nancy was certain it was the same creature she had seen earlier. At Will Byers' funeral, Nancy and Jonathan decided to return to the forest to look for the creature, and Jonathan took a gun from his father's car. As Nancy was practising swinging a baseball bat, Steve came by to apologize for his insensitivity and invited Nancy to see a movie, but she had other plans and told him she was busy with the funeral.
She later went to practice shooting with Jonathan and confided to him that she thought her parents married out of convenience, not love. In the forest, Nancy and Jonathan talked about the photo he took and Steve's reaction and ended up lashing out at each other. After dark, they found a wounded deer. They agreed to kill it out of mercy, but before they could it was suddenly dragged away. Following the blood trail, Nancy entered a hole in a tree and found herself in a different dimension. She saw the Demogorgon feeding on the deer and ran away as it gave chase. Following Jonathan's voice, Nancy made her way out of the dimension unscathed, just before the portal closed.
Traumatized by the experience, she had Jonathan sleepover. The following day, she theorized about the Demogorgon's nature based on her knowledge about animals, and they bought weapons to face it again. While downtown, she found Steve and his friends tagging slurs about her. She realized that Steve had seen Jonathan in her room last night and tried to explain that he misunderstood. Jonathan and Steve ended up in a fistfight, which had led to Jonathan's arrest. After Chief Hopper and Jonathan's mother Joyce met Nancy and Jon at the police station, they shared everything they knew about the Demogorgon.
After finding Nancy's brother Mike and his friends Lucas, Dustin and Eleven, the group decided to build a makeshift sensory deprivation tank, which Eleven could use to look for Barb and Will in the Upside Down. They broke into Hawkins Middle, using the resources there and creating the bathtub in the gymnasium. Eleven floated in the bathtub, entering her deepened psychic state in which she looked for Will and Barb. Although she found Will (barely) alive, she also discovered that Barb had been killed by the Monster. Nancy, angry at the loss of her friend, became more determined than ever to kill the Monster. She and Jonathan lured the Demogorgon to the Byers household with blood; with the aid of Steve, they managed to injure the Demogorgon, which would later be killed by Eleven. Nancy reconciled with Steve, who celebrated Christmas at her house. She gifted Jonathan a camera as a replacement for the one Steve broke out of anger because Jonathan took the pictures.
On the evening of October 29, 1984, Nancy entered her room to discover Mike stealing money from her piggy bank. She tried to stop him, but he managed to outrun her. While in the school parking lot the following morning, Nancy was looking over Steve's college essay when they witnessed Billy Hargrove and Max Mayfield arrive. Later that day, after receiving a flyer for Tina's Halloween party, she tried to convince Jonathan to attend. However, he refused. That night, Nancy and Steve had dinner with Mrs. and Mr. Holland. When Nancy inquired about the 'For Sale' sign in their yard, they revealed they had hired Murray Bauman, a private investigator, to investigate Barb's "disappearance".
Overcome with grief, Nancy excused herself to the bathroom, where she began crying over the loss of her friend. The next day, as Nancy and Steve were studying in the school library, she noticed a person who resembled Barb, reigniting her grief. She then told Steve that they should tell Barb’s parent’s the truth about her death. After reminding her that it would be too dangerous to do so, Steve managed to convince Nancy not to say anything and to go to that night’s Halloween party so that they could have a normal night. That night at the party, Nancy became intoxicated. Steve tried to get her to stop drinking, accidently spilling Nancy’s drink on her costume. While attempting to clean herself, Nancy revealed to Steve that she did not really have feelings for him. Upset, Steve left the party. Nancy was later taken home by Jonathan.
At school the next day, Nancy tried talking to Steve, wanting to know why she had not seen him that morning. Steve recounted the events of the party to her. Nancy tried to assure Steve that what she said wasn’t true, but when she didn’t tell him that she loved upon his request, he left. During lunch, Nancy spoke with Jonathan for confirmation of the party’s events. She then confided in Jonathan, telling him how she’s had to pretend everything was ok and tired of how the people at the lab have gotten away with what they have done. Nancy then got an idea on a way to possibly expose the lab. They both skipped fourth period, going to RadioShack to buy a Walkman. After school, Nancy called Mrs. Holland, telling her that she hasn’t been honest about Barb and to meet her at Forest Hills Park the next morning.
As Nancy and Jonathan waited in the park, they had a suspicion of being watched, prompting them to leave. After getting inside the car, they were then approached by agents who has been disguised as regular people. After being taken to the lab, Nancy and Jonathan were locked in an interrogation room. Eventually, Owens appeared and began giving them a tour of the lab, all the while explaining how the lab is trying to fix their “mistakes”, admitting culpability to Barb’s death in the process. After being warned not to say anything, they were allowed to leave. Once in the car, Nancy revealed the Walkman, having recorded everything that Owens had said. Nancy and Jonathan then traveled in the direction of Bauman's location, spending the night in a motel. While there, they showed each other their matching scars, reminiscing about their previous adventure.
Nancy asked what happened between them, saying that she waited for Jonathan before ultimately ending up with Steve again. Jonathan retorted by saying she only waited a month and he was busy looking after Will. No more was said and the two went to sleep. When they arrived at Bauman’s residence, they presented the recording of Owens. Bauman claimed it wouldn’t be enough evidence to shutdown the lab, as it could easily be destroyed and the details of the story would be too extraordinary for the public to accept. He then proposed to Nancy and Jonathan that they “water down” their story in order to make it more appealing to the public.
After altering their story to say that Barb died from a chemical leak originating from the lab, they placed the evidence in several envelopes to be sent to the Chicago Sun-Times. Murray offered Jonathan and Nancy his guest room, presuming the two were a couple. When they denied this, he easily deduced that there was sexual tension between them. Murray bid them goodnight and left them restless over his statements of their issues withholding them from getting together. Eventually, Nancy and Jonathan gave in and kissed one another before sleeping together in the guest room. The morning after, Murray cooked them breakfast, satisfied that his deductions were true. As they were saying goodbye to Murray, he told them to never return or contact him again. Upon arriving back in Hawkins, they realized something was wrong upon seeing the Byers' household strewn with Will's drawings of the underground tunnel system. They traveled to Hawkins Lab where they were soon met by Steve, Dustin, Lucas, and Max emerging from the woods after hearing noises from the lab.
Nancy also found that the power was turned off because there were no lights turned on and the gate to the lab was not opening. When the power was restored and the gate unlocked, Nancy and the rest of the group went to the lab’s front entrance were they met up with Hopper, Joyce, Mike, and Will. The group then traveled back to the Byers’ house. Once it was determined that they’d have to interrogate Will in order to discover the Mind Flayer’s weakness, Nancy assisted in turning the Byers’ backyard shed unrecognizable. During Will’s interrogation, he signaled in Morse code the way to stop the Mind Flayer: closing the Gate. Soon after, the phone in the Byers’ kitchen rang, allowing the Mind Flayer to know their location and send a pack of Demodogs their way.
However, Eleven arrived and eradicated them. Together, the group came up with a plan: Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy would exorcise the Mind Flayer from Will's body while Eleven and Hopper would go to the lab and close the gate. After taking Will to Hopper's cabin, Joyce, Nancy, and Jonathan restrained him, surrounding him with numerous heaters. This eventually caused the piece of the Mind Flayer possessing Will to be expelled from his body. Sometime later, Nancy attended the funeral for Barbara which was held after the revelations forced Hawkins Lab to acknowledge their involvement in the coverup of Barb's death. On December 15, Nancy volunteered at the Snow Ball, serving drinks. She and Jonathan were still together, sharing a smile as Jonathan was taking photographs. When Nancy noticed Dustin sitting on the bleachers alone after being rejected by numerous girls, she offered to dance with him. As they danced, she told him that girls that age are “dumb”, and assured him that in a couple of years he’d “drive them nuts.”
Skills & Abilities
- Gifted Intelligence: Nancy is hyper-intelligent and studious, having a high GPA and studying vigorously for tests. After realizing Barbra went missing since the party she and her went to at Steve's house, she went back over there to search for clues and saw what she described as a man with no face until she looked over ripped pieces of pictures taken by Johnathan and went to talk to him for help. Then the two of them found out about the creature in the woods known as the Demogorgon they saw in the edited photo and decided to go after it, Nancy found a tree that was an interdimensional doorway into the "The Upside Down" and caught it feasting on a Deer and escapes out of the dimension before the door closed. Then the next morning, she thought over the Demogorgon eating the Deer and figured out it had the ability to detect blood and plotted her and Jonhathan test it out to lure it into their trap. In the second season, after months of grieving over the lose of her best friend, she felt the weight of the world over her to put an end to the people who were responsible for it and had a plan to get them shutdown with the help/assistance of Johnathan, they called Ms.Holland's telling her to have a dicussion over the death of her daughter at a park knowning the D.O.E were listening to their conversation on the telephone and would come after them. And when they were confronted by them, they took them to the headquarters to reveled the truth about all their work and managed to catch it all on a tap recorder in order to bring to a P.I. named Murray Bauman and had him publish the tap to the entire world and successfully got away with avenging her friend's memory and lived.
- Gun Proficiency: Her determination helped her to become a very skilled gunwoman when fighting against the Demogorgon. When Johnathan and Nancy Wheeler set out to find the monster in Myrkwood she practiced shooting at soda cans with a pistol for the first time and shot it with ease, then the day after she later uses it to fight the Demogorgon and got a few shots at it. She was able to both offensively and defensively fight against the Mind Flayer by shooting it while wielding a shotgun and quickly reloaded its ammunition. Nancy also shot a few rounds at Mind-Flayer Billy with a pistol while he drives towards her position before being bashed by Steve.
- Expert Investigator: Nancy is highly skilled, in doing detective work. She was capable to reconstruct a crime scene in Heather’s house with Jonathan by in her own mind by looking around at the trail of blood, chemicals, and materials around the scene of everywhere and figured out about the victims and suspects.
- Smith & Wesson Revolver: Nancy was given this weapon that used to belong to Johnathan's father and set out and use it to fight the Demogorgon.
- Mossberg 144 LS: When defending the house against the Demo-dogs, Hopper hands a rifle to her.
- Remington Shotgun: She used this weapon to fend her and allies off against the Mind Flayer.
- Browning Hi-Power: After being recused from the Russians, she grabbed this gun off of them to then wield it against enemies.
- She is similar to Nancy Thompson from the Nightmare of Elm Street series, as both want to kill the antagonist for killing their best friend.