There have been plenty of mysteries surrounding Stranger Things season 4, but one of the biggest questions has been: what did Will draw in his painting? Will has kept his artwork a secret, even from those living in his house. His painting is finally unveiled in Volume 2 of Stranger Things season 4.
While on the way to find Eleven, Mike is becoming increasingly panicked that Eleven isn’t going to need him anymore. He’s scared of losing her. In an effort to calm Mike down, Will shows Mike his painting. The painting shows a group of knights fighting a three-headed dragon.
When Mike asks if Will drew this, Will replies, “El asked me to. She commissioned it, basically. I mean, she told me what to draw.” Jonathan looks in the mirror at Will, knowing full well that Will isn’t telling the truth. Eleven hasn’t even seen the painting.
“See how you’re leading us here. You’re guiding the whole party, inspiring us. That’s what you do,” Will explains to Mike. Mike’s coat of arms is a heart. “That’s what holds this whole party together… heart,” Will says. “Without heart, we’d all fall apart.” Even Eleven, Will adds.
Will admits that Eleven has been “so lost” without Mike these past few months. “It’s just, she’s so different from other people, and when you’re different, sometimes you feel like a mistake,” Will says, tearing up. “But you make her feel like she’s not a mistake at all. Like she’s better for being different, and that gives her the courage to fight on.” (Noah Schnapp gives an incredibly layered and thoughtful performance here.)
Will goes on to tell Mike that Eleven needs him and is scared of losing him, too. Mike feels better after Will’s pep talk, but it’s clear Will has more to say and his words hold more weight than Mike realizes. After putting on a brave face for Mike, Will turns away from Mike and cries. Will’s selflessness when it comes to Mike comes at a personal sacrifice. Jonathan sees Will crying from the driver’s seat.
In the season 4 finale, Jonathan takes a moment to talk to Will while they’re alone. “I miss talking to you. I, like, really miss it,” Jonathan says to Will. Jonathan tells Will they need to talk more than ever.
Jonathan uses this opportunity to really tell Will just how much he loves him. “I don’t want you to forget that I’m here,” Jonathan says. “I’ll always be here no matter what. Because you’re my brother and I love you. And there is nothing in this world, okay? Absolutely nothing that will ever change that. You got that?”
That’s exactly what Will needed to hear. Will cries and hugs his brother. The Byers brothers’ bond is like no other.
In the first episode of Stranger Things season 4, Eleven writes a letter to Mike explaining how things were going in California. Eleven notes that Will has been working on a painting, but he hasn’t let her see it. “Maybe it is for a girl. I think there is someone he likes because he has been acting… weird,” Eleven says.
When Mike arrives in California for a visit, Will brings his painting with him to the airport. He still doesn’t show his painting to anyone. Later, when the Cali kids are fleeing the house during a shootout, Will makes sure that he grabs his painting in the midst of the chaos before leaving.
The mystery behind the painting caused a flurry of theories. Many believed Will’s painting was about his feelings for Mike, while others thought he could be drawing something that has to deal with Vecna and the Upside Down. The latter theory was echoed by the Volume 2 trailer where Will said to Mike regarding Vecna, “He’s not going to stop. Not until he’s taken everyone.” Both volumes of Stranger Things season 4 are now streaming on Netflix.