Stranger Things 5's Will Story Sets Up 1 Hated Character's Return
Stranger Things season 5’s focus on Will Byers’ arc means that a hated character from season 1 must return. Following Vecna’s takeover of Hawkins in Stranger Things season 4’s ending, the series is heading toward its final confrontation with the Upside Down in season 5. In addition to Eleven continuing to lead the series, the show’s creators have confirmed that Will Byers will be a major focus in Stranger Things season 5, thus amending the failures of sidelining his character in seasons 3 and 4.
Teasing that a character will be a big focus isn’t always a good sign, as it could indicate that Will Byers’ story will end with his death in Stranger Things season 5. However, given Stranger Things’ reluctance to kill off main characters, Will receiving a major spotlight is more indicative of a critical confrontation with Vecna in order to go full circle from his abduction in season 1. Still, facing Vecna means that Will Byers – like Max and Eleven – will have to face his personal demons, trauma from his childhood and battles with the Upside Down, and even abandonment from his father Lonnie (Ross Partridge), who hasn’t appeared in the series since Stranger Things season 1.
While Stranger Things season 4 sidelined Jonathan and Will, they’ll be returning to the forefront in season 5 as their storylines come to a close. Given their familial strife with their father Lonnie Byers – who Jonathan implies abandoned them to move to Indianapolis and has never truly cared about them as a father should – was a significant subplot for Jonathan and Will in Stranger Things season 1, his return in Stranger Things season 5 is an important way to conclude their character arcs. Jonathan and Will have dangerously battled the Upside Down before, but Stranger Things season 5 is the first time Lonnie will believe in its existence and potentially reunite with his sons.
Lonnie hasn’t appeared since Stranger Things season 1, episode 5, “The Flea and the Acrobat,” which ended with Joyce kicking him out after he tried exploiting Will’s faked “death.” Even when Will returned to Hawkins in Stranger Things’ season 1 finale, Lonnie didn’t come back to see him, meaning they’ve never even shared a scene. Over the next three seasons, Stranger Things never referenced Lonnie’s whereabouts or whether he objected to Will and Jonathan moving to California. This makes it more unlikely that Lonnie will appear in Stranger Things season 5, but since this story is finally about Will and his Upside Down connections again, each of Will’s season 1 storylines, including Lonnie, are apt to return.
With Will being such a major focus of Stranger Things season 5, there must be a reckoning with each part of his character development, including Lonnie as a significant part of his arc. Even in the first episode of Stranger Things, Joyce referenced that Lonnie was homophobic and bigoted toward young Will. Since Stranger Things’ creators have hinted that Will may officially come out as gay in season 5, Lonnie’s rejection of Will as a kid will seemingly come back into play. Lonnie shouldn’t have a “hero” moment in Stranger Things season 5 by returning to save Will – because Lonnie doesn’t deserve it – but he’s still important to Will’s story and should appear in some fashion.
Will’s full character journey can’t receive a proper conclusion without Lonnie, so leaving him out of Stranger Things 5 would be a mistake. Since Stranger Things season 1 already highlighted the effects that Lonnie’s bad parenting had on Will and Jonathan’s futures, season 5 coming back full circle could mean including a confrontation between Will and Lonnie. On the other hand, Jonathan’s story is coming to a close as well, with his resentment for Lonnie being a driving force behind his protection over Will and support for Joyce. If both Will and Jonathan are cursed by Vecna, Lonnie’s abuse is even more likely to return through traumatic visions.
Like he did to Max with Billy in season 4, Vecna may torment Will with visions and flashbacks of his traumas in Stranger Things season 5. Lonnie is a major source of Will’s pain growing up, so he would be a crucial character for Vecna to use in order to bring out Will’s darkness. When trying to torture Max, Vecna transformed into Billy and made her confront her feelings regarding his death and mistreatment of her, which could be the case for Vecna making Will confront Lonnie’s poor parenting. If so, Lonnie wouldn’t need to have a big return in Stranger Things season 5, but would still properly be included for closure in Will Byers’ story.
Next: Oh No! Stranger Things 4 Finale May Confirm Huge Vecna/Will Theory