Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CharacterExploration: Mike - The Comic, The Creeper, and The Generally Abused Dude

Mike Newton

Poor guy. He’s the runner up to the runner up – not even second place, as seen when he pukes his guts out at the movies in New Moon, while Bella enjoys a friendly snuggle with Jacob in the lobby. He’s a cliché: a friendly, unrelenting, and mildly clueless admirer of Miss Bella Swan, complete with metaphorical “wagging tale” and chivalrously covering her spot on the badminton court.

Over-eager Sycophant

In the published Twilight Saga, Mike Newton’s a pretty flat character – he’s always waiting in the wings, hoping for a shot at winning Bella’s heart. He has at least three classes with Bella during their junior year (English, Biology, and PE) and takes advantage of any proximity to impress upon her his very friendly attentions. His confidence in their friendship manifests itself in not-so-subtle forays into Bella’s personal space, such as sitting on her Biology desk to chat before class begins and making sure she’s riding shotgun on their way to First Beach. Unfortunately for Mike, his romantic intentions broadcast themselves as possessiveness, a quality that Bella seems determined to resist, though she does appear loathe to confront him directly. She explicitly denies his role as her boyfriend when speaking to others (to both Edward, while at the lunch tables, and Jacob, while at First Beach, for example), but hesitates to hurt Mike’s feelings when he makes her uncomfortable. In fact, it’s only when Mike’s pursuit of Bella steps on the feelings of her friend Jessica that Bella is bold enough to reprimand him for rudeness and, later in Twilight, redirect his attentions towards her friend. In subsequent books, it’s made clear that Mike is unwilling to accept that Bella holds no interest in him, as he quickly turns a friendly outing into a pseudo-date in New Moon, and once again Bella uses other people to insulate herself from the need to be direct in communicating her lack of feelings for Mike. Personally, I don’t blame Mike for carrying a torch for Bella – the only difference between Mike’s crush on Bella and Bella’s crush on Edward (at least at the beginning of the Saga) is that her feelings are reciprocated. Mike may have a hard time giving up on that crush, but in his defense, he was consistently friendly to Bella, and along with Angela, was quick to accept her back into the fold of their friend group when the Cullens abandoned her.

Lascivious Jack Ass

Okay, so he’s persistent and maybe a little annoying at times, but then we get to the unfinished Midnight Sun and observe Mike through Edward’s telepathic mind…and Mike becomes “vile” (according to a Puritanically proper vampire). And in a way, he is. He’s selfish and immature. Peeking into his mind, he apparently sees Bella as a piece of ass, a particularly well sought after piece of ass – remember, the “shiny new toy” line delivered by Jessica in the film is actually Edward’s observation as he is inundated with the teenage male population’s thoughts about the ‘new girl.’ As Edward becomes hungry for more than Bella’s blood and wants glimpses of her, it’s Mike’s mind that he often goes to, because, of course, Mike is watching Bella (just like Bella is usually watching Edward). Here, Edward comments about Mike’s perception of her:

The possessive way he viewed Bella – as if she were an acquisition to be made – provoked me almost as much as his crude fantasies about her. He was becoming more confident of her too, as time passed, for she seemed to prefer him over those he considered his rivals – Tyler Crowley, Eric Yorkie, and even, sporadically, myself. He would routinely sit on her side of our table before class began, chattering at her, encouraged by her smiles. Just polite smiles, I told myself. All the same, I frequently amused myself by imagining backhanding him across and into the far wall…it probably wouldn’t injure him fatally…

Even in a novel series lacking basic feminist principles, our author invites us to frown on Mike Newton’s tendency to diminish Bella’s personhood and penchant for viewing Bella as an object of lustful thoughts. (Of course, Edward himself is going to infantilize Bella and treat her as though she can’t make her own decisions, but I digress.) The reality is, Edward’s watchful gaze perceives things about Bella Swan that she herself--revealed in her narration of Twilight-- doesn’t know: she’s good, she’s selfless (she is?), she’s brave, etc. These are all things that Mike Newton can’t seem to pick up on, but he definitely notes that Bella’s pretty, she’s smart, she seems to like him, and she’s new. He is a teenage boy, after all.

Mike is really used by Stephenie Meyer as the “average” guy – the kind of guy that the Bellas of the world settle for, especially if they never meet an Edward, or even a Jacob. They’re okay…sort of. In canon, Mike is that lukewarm option that is neither hot nor cold, it just…is, but might just seem better than nothing at all. But, ah, fanfiction…the realm where an okay-but-not-spectacular guy can be transformed into a total douche!

In the predominant realm of All Human fics, the Twiverse has absorbed Mike Newton’s less likable qualities and amplified them, primarily for one of two effects: conflict or comedy. Mike is frequently found as either the catalyst to Bella’s self-discovery or simply around for comedic relief.

Drop-Kick-Him-To-The-Curb Mike

He’s the ex-boyfriend (or soon to be ex-boyfriend) we all love to hate. He’s insensitive, takes Bella for granted, refuses to support her growth or ambitions, and facilitates her more annoying character flaws – especially her inferiority complex. He represents the dead-end that every woman fears lies ahead of her when she’s shopping for a life partner. This Mike may be filled with good intentions or is simply selfish, but regardless of intent, he serves as an obstacle to be hurdled in Bella’s personal journey.

My favorite example of this type of Mike Newton is from
’s “
Deconstructing Dracula
.” In the following quote, Mike pushes Bella just a little too far:

I grabbed my duffle out of the bedroom, shoved all my things in, and tossed it over my shoulder. My back pack went over the opposite shoulder.

I crossed the living room as Mike’s law school buddies were chanting ‘Hail to the Victor” in anticipation of the football game.

Mike didn’t even realize I was in the room until I was at the door.

“Hey, are you headed for the library?” He called over his shoulder. He wasn’t looking in my direction. “If you see the pizza guy, can you give him a tip? I’m not sure where my wallet is.”

“No, Mike. I am leaving.”

“Okay, I’ll call you later.”

He was so distracted by his friends and the impending football game that he couldn’t pull himself away long enough to see I was carrying my backpack and my bag.

“Fuck you, Mike,” I muttered under my breath, and let myself out of the apartment.

There is something so vicariously exhilarating in watching door-mouse Bella grow a backbone and use it to jettison this kind of Mike Newton from her life. However, he’d piss us off more if we actually thought Bella would end up with him in the long run. Come on – he’s the Roy to Bella’s Pam: she’s not going to marry him.

Thinks-He’s-Got-Game Newton

While the previous type of Mike might be busy suppressing Bella’s true potential, this Newton is usually on hand for some comedic relief. It’s basically canon Mike’s love skills cranked up a few notches – which basically propels him into the stratosphere of ridiculous. He’s the Twilight version of Gob Bluth, but without the fun little Segue to ride around on. His pick up lines are eye-rolling; his finesse is nonexistent. This Newton is, let’s admit it, FUNNY, and it’s nice to laugh in the midst of both heartfail and fluff. You can only read about Bella’s clumsiness so many times – physical comedy doesn’t translate well on the page, but if there’s one go-to character that fanfic authors have found to insert a little levity into their tale, it’s usually in the likes of an overly confident and mojo-less Mike Newton.

Recently voted the Bellie Award for Best Use of Newton, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention
’s “
Boycotts and Barflies
.” The scene where Mike tries to impress Bella with his dance moves is a classic example of this Newton, who’s sure he’s God’s gift to women:

I did some weird spin move and managed to get in front of Mike again. He's probably staring at my ass now, but at least I can't see him doing it. I thought as I danced. Alice was on my right and Rose was on my left, waving her arm wildly to get Emmett's attention. Once Emmett saw our predicament, he gave Edward a shove and pointed to us on the dance floor and together they doubled over in laughter. I could feel Mike vibrating around behind me, but couldn't bring myself to see what the hell he was doing back there. Annoyed, I flipped them the bird, which only made them laugh harder.

I felt Mike 'accidentally' bump into me and grab my waist “Sorry.” He mumbled in my ear. I shuddered in disgust. I glanced over at Alice who chose to shoot Eric dirty looks to try and repel him, but he seemed to find it a turn on and moved closer to her, doing some horrible popping moves he saw in a music video I'm sure. Out of nowhere, Jasper appeared and scooped Alice up in his arms, and took her over to the safety of the bar. I, on the other hand, was left with mister touchy who continued leaning into me. When I felt his hand graze my rear, I snapped. Digging into my pocket, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed.

I couldn't make out words through the laughter and gasps I heard, when Edward picked up. I was only standing 20 feet away, glaring at him while Mike stroked my hair. “ he ...petting you now?” Edward gasped.

What can I say? He tries really hard. I’ve recently been laughing aloud at the antics of one Bella Swan in
’s story “
Edward Wallbanger
.” Here, Mike Newton’s lack of sexual prowess has cost Bella her much loved and longed for O. When she bumps into him at the sporting goods store, he tries to rekindle the romance:

Hey, no rush pretty thing. Did you want to buy those shoes? I can get you a discount, how does five percent off sound to you?” he said. If it was possible for a voice to swagger, his did.

“Wow, five percent. As much as that does sweeten the pot, I am gonna pass,” I chuckled.

“So Bella, when can I see you again? That night, damn. It was pretty fucking great huh?” he winked, and my skin begged me to tear it from my body and throw it at him.

“No. No Mike. And hell no.” I got out, the bile rising again. Flashes of in and out and in and out and in and out. My hoohah was beginning to shriek in its own defense. Granted, the two of us were not on great terms as of late, but nevertheless I knew how afraid my vajayjay was of being subjected to the jackrabbit again. Not on my watch.

“Oh come on baby, let's make some magic again,” he cooed. He leaned in, and I could tell he had sausage for lunch.

“Mike, you should know I am about to vomit on your shoes, so back the fuck up,”

He blanched and pulled back.

Oh man – it’s moments like that that make me love fanfic – where canon wrongs are righted and Bella gets to put him in his place!


Now, if you look hard enough, there ARE versions of Mike lurking in the world of fanfic that don’t make him into a complete caricature of the flirty, clueless boy we meet in Meyers’s novels. While I’ve never actually encountered a Mike Newton I’d prefer to Edward Cullen, there are still some authors who have chosen to utilize Mike in a way that, honestly, gives him more depth than one will find in canon. For example – have you checked out
’s stories? Because they are amazing, and her use of Mike as a foil for Bella, rather than Edward, is worth noting. In her story “
Innocent, Vigilant, Ordinary
,” both Bella Swan and Mike Newton are simply teenagers, trying to make the best of things and figuring out how to be themselves. Sure, he’s relentlessly interested, but not in an abrasive way, as demonstrated in the following scene, where one can honestly feel sympathetic for Mike:

“You busy tonight?” Mike asked off-handedly. I fixed my eyes onto the ceiling in order to keep them from rolling out of my head.

“Jessica says ‘hi,” I responded, just as casually. “Or technically, she said something involving you decomposing in hell, but the sentiment was still there.”

He groaned and locked up the cash register. Business had been slow for a Saturday, but that didn’t stop him from finding extra little chores for us to do around the store so I couldn’t skip out early like Mrs. Newton had told me I could at the beginning of my shift.

I whisked the broom across the floor, enjoying the sound of the bristles hitting the tile. “I think she misses you.”

I was probably breaking some rule in the Girl Code by voicing Jessica’s feelings, but I didn’t care; I needed him off my back. Ever since the hugging incident, Mike had been my shadow, guidance counselor, and social planner all rolled into one. I had it coming, but still—this needed to stop. And fast.

“She’s crazy. Like hide-in-the-bushes, watch-me-while-I-sleep crazy.”

I sighed. “She just likes you a lot."

The cyclical nature of the crushes in Oxy’s Alternate Universe story (Jessica likes Mike, who likes Bella, who likes Edward…) feels, well – authentic to the typical teenage experience. Even more sympathetic is the Mike Newton found in the gem of a one-shot Oxy’s published recently, “
We Were Nomads, Bathed in Concrete
,” crying into his beer and reminiscing with Edward long after Bella is murdered. I guess I appreciate a flawed but believable Mike Newton, someone you’d want to hang out with (occasionally) and stay in touch with after high school, even if he does need to be reminded every now and then that friends is all you’ll ever be. Come on, he’s just Mike!

Notable Mikes

AG: I did this via my Twitter. Thanks to Jeda, Rach, Nelson, & the rest for the recs. Please feel free to leave some excellent Mike fic recs in the comments!
  • What Impossible Means

    Bella Swan and Edward Masen have spent their whole lives together and Bella can’t imagine life without her best friend until a tragic car accident on a deserted stretch of highway steals him away. Four years later, the ghosts of her past resurface.
    Twilight - Rated: T - English - Romance/Angst - Chapters: 22 - Words: 101,555 - Reviews: 1494 - Updated: 10-19-09 - Published: 3-1-09 - Bella & Edward

  • The Sweetest Thing

    Bella is quickly on her way to being a married woman, but what happens when she questions her commitment? AU, AH, OOC. Rated M for future chapters. Nominated for Best Alternate Universe Human WIP at the Indie TwiFic Awards.
    Twilight - Rated: M - English - Romance - Chapters: 11 - Words: 70,294 - Reviews: 288 - Updated: 10-14-09 - Published: 2-28-09 - Edward & Bella

  • Coming to Terms
    GinnyW 31

    A one night stand, a handful of condom wrappers, and Bella decides she's meant to be alone. Fate has other plans. All human. Canon pairings.
    Twilight - Rated: M - English - Drama/Romance - Chapters: 25 - Words: 180,597 - Reviews: 8555 - Updated: 8-18-09 - Published: 10-30-08 - Bella & Edward

  • A House of Cards

    Highly anticipated sequel to The Forbidden Room. Edward Cullen's life is a precariously built house of cards. What happens when two of the cards holding it up are now gone? Ex? - AU/AH - GRAPHIC LEMON ALERT
    Twilight - Rated: M - English - Drama/Romance - Chapters: 34 - Words: 97,231 - Reviews: 6249 - Updated: 9-22-09 - Published: 5-29-09 - Edward & Jasper

  • But Inside I'm Screaming

    Jessica Stanley must deal with keeping up appearances, her slutty mother, amazing/annoying friend/zombies, being chubby, having "pent up anger", and falling in like with someone she hates. MikexJess
    Twilight - Rated: T - English - Humor/Romance - Chapters: 14 - Words: 17,790 - Reviews: 215 - Updated: 10-19-09 - Published: 11-26-08 - Jessica & Mike

  • Thriller

    A date gone bad, a car out of gas, & strange shadows in the dark. Evil is lurking in the town of Forks, and nothing is at it seems. Will Jessica make it home alive? Inspired by Michael Jackson's masterpiece. Part of The Thriller Series.
    Twilight - Rated: T - English - Horror/Suspense - Chapters: 1 - Words: 1,629 - Reviews: 5 - Published: 10-9-09 - Jessica & Mike - Complete

  • Looking Up

    LoveForTheUnloved Contest Entry: Life sucks for Mike Newton, until an unexpected adventure brings him all he's ever wanted and more. Rated M for bad language and graphic sex. AU/AH/OOC/Mike x Bella
    Twilight - Rated: M - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 2 - Words: 8,329 - Reviews: 7 - Updated: 10-4-09 - Published: 9-25-09 - Mike & Bella - Complete

  • Poison

    The only thing about him I was really sure of was his name. That and he's a vampire. But I could never bring myself to fear him. Why? Because I'd already given him my heart... Edward/Jasper, Renée/Esme, Alice/Bella, Riley/Rosalie, one-sided Mike/Jasper

  • Body and Soul
    Addicted To Edward

    What if Bella Swan and Jessica Stanley switched bodies? Written for One Shot to Twilight's Freaky Friday Challenge -
    Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 10344 [Reviews - 14]

  • Wanting

    New Moon. After Edward leaves, Bella is distraught and Charlie sends her to counseling. But Bella finds her own counseling in the form of Mike Newton. One Shot!
    Complete - Twilight - Rated: T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Angst - Chapters: 1 - Words: 2,258 - Reviews: 7 - Published: 3-20-08

  • The Wild and Wacky Adventures of Edward in PE!

    Hilarity ensues when Edward comes back at the end of New Moon and he and Alice get Mrs. Cope to change their schedules to put them in Bella's gym class. How can they appear human when their superhuman athletic aptitudes keep getting in the way?
    Twilight - Rated: T - English - Humor/Fantasy - Chapters: 12 - Words: 74,292 - Reviews: 1780 - Updated: 3-9-09 - Published: 2-27-07

wrote a oneshot,
Words are for Women
for the Charlie challenge, and looks to be a bit of a comma Nazi.
Archived Explorations:

Upcoming Characters:
AHward, Fic Bella, Jessica, Sam/Billy, The Volturi, James/Victoria, Rosalie, Seth, Lauren.


  1. Thanks for writing this Jackie - it's always interesting to see how some of the partially evolved characters come out. I was listening to the Twi audiobook in the car a few weeks ago (really long drive, and nothing else to do), and I was struck by how SM picked up on one or two character traits to evolve in some of these people. In the books, Mike wasn't a 'bad guy' - I guess he always reminded me of the guy we all knew in high school who was popular just for being popular. We never really got anything to perceive any depth or motivation beyond that first blush. It's true of a number of the characters, but Mike more so than most.

    Thank you for doing this!

  2. I'm always saddened when I see certain types of Mikes out there, especially the ones who are real bastards. I always pictured canon Mike to be Zack Morris of Saved by the Bell fame, to be honest. Bella is Mike's Kelly (except for the fact that it just doesn't happen in Twilight. Ever. Thank goodness for that.)

    Thanks for reccing the Mike in What Impossible Means. My reviews are more Mike-love than anything else which tells me that people are really looking for non-bastard Mikes.

    (hint hint fellow writers, I can has good Mike stories, please?)

    Awesome discussion of a little known and often abused character!

  3. Great Mike analysis. I'm thinking that Mike might make an appearance in one of my fanfics now. Another good Mike-to-Redeem-All-Mikes fic is A Walk Through Hell by mistresselektra:

  4. That was a good analysis :)

    I did the Jessica exploration, and I also found But Inside I'm Screaming and reccomended it! It was one of the few that portrayed Jessica and Mike in a different way.

    It's sort of depressing how SMeyer glossed over her human characters in her rush to develop the supernatural ones. The character explorations of these characters are always the most interesting.

  5. I have a sad that there are not more replies to the awesome that is Mike.


  6. I'm surprised that you did the Mike characterisation and didn't mention this fic:

    Read it - it's good for the Mike lovers.

  7. tellytubby: In Defense of Mike Newton has been formally rec'd here before ;)


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