Born in Burbank, California, he became a full-time actor at the age of 8, scoring small roles and a large voice-acting credit for the classic The Secret of NIMH. Then in 1986, he was cast as the lead in the Rob Reiner movie based on Stephen King's novella The Body, called Stand by Me. This got him plenty of public exposure, enough for him to land the job that he's most known for:
Imagine that you're playing a character that you know is hated by the fandom that you're a part of. Imagine reading the hate mail it gives you, despite the great feelings you have of the cast, the crew, and the creator himself. Now, imagine you're 15, and thus interpreting all the hate as hate against you (which, unfortunately, some of it was). Now you'll understand Wil Wheaton's demeanor towards fans until his epiphany in the late '90s (as chronicled in his story The Saga of Spongebob Vega$pant$, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Star Trek).
Believe it or not, he hates Wesley, or rather what the writers had him do as Wesley. His reviews of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes are sure to mention exactly how annoying Wesley is each time he appeared in the show. Unfortunately his review column was discontinued in early 2008 when TV Squad was bought by AOL, but he has collected his reviews of the first 13 episodes, expanded them and put them in a book called Memories of the Future: Volume 1 released in late 2009. Memories of the Future Volume 2, due to be released whenever, will cover the rest of the first season, most of which he didn't get the chance to review before the aforementioned discontinuing.
Since embracing his inner geek, he's written four compilations of memoirs, has a famous blog, and is embraced by geekdom as their avatar. It doesn't hurt that many of the mostly guest acting gigs he's scored these days are as geeks or voices of comic book heroes such as Aqualad and the second Blue Beetle. He was a caustic comic book collector on an episode of NUMB3RS that took place at a comic convention, a supremely creepy unsub (as if there's any other kind) on Criminal Minds and a Jerkass computer hacker on Leverage, a role which he has reprised several times.
He also did a hilarious take on Kent Brockman News as Richard Burns on GTA Radio, plays Fawkes on The Guild and was a frequent guest on the Dungeons & Dragons podcast alongside his fellow geek luminaries from Penny Arcade and PvP. He also plays Darkstar (imagine if Wesley was more obnoxious and villainous) in Ben 10: Alien Force, Ultimate Alien, and Omniverse. He also had a recurring role as Dr. Isaac Parrish, a Jerkass Ace, unsuccessful astronaut candidate, and Fargo's long time rival, on Eureka. He is also the host of Tabletop and its RPG spin-off Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana, and plays a gleefully evil version of himself as a recurring character in The Big Bang Theory. In addition, Wil, like his The Guild co-star Felicia Day, has a voice role in Fallout: New Vegas, as the voice of the Robobrain enemy. In Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., he voice-acts Abraham Lincoln. He used to host The Wil Wheaton Project, a show which could be described as The Soup for sci-fi/fantasy and geek culture in general, but it was cancelled after a single season. In 2014, he was cast as recurring character Earl Harlan in Welcome to Night Vale.
Offscreen (well, and on, really), he's become pretty much the poster boy for One of Us.
At PAX 2007, he coined what has become known as Wheaton's Law: "Don't Be a Dick." The irony of this, considering most of his TV roles are Jerkass characters, has not been lost on the fandom. This has led to the corollary of Wheaton's Law, "Don't be a dick, but you can play one on TV."
This actor provides examples of:
- As Himself/Adam Westing: On The Big Bang Theory: He plays Sheldon's (ex-)Arch-Enemy, an antagonistic version of his real life persona ("Evil Wil Wheaton").
- Berserk Button: A gaming convention organizer unintentionally hit his by questioning if he had actually done anything for the gaming community.
- Born Unlucky: Wil's dice rolls are legendarily terrible, to memetic degrees. It's at a point where Wil has legitimate reason to fear his bad luck rubbing off on those in his immediate vicinity; to quote the man during one of his guest appearances on Critical Role:Wil: I would like to apologize in advance to Liam for having to share a table with me. I am sorry for what's going to happen to your dice on account of how close we are to each other tonight.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: From his website:"I specifically requested that my information not be shared, rented, given, sold, gifted, delivered, or handed off in a dark alleyway dead drop to any third parties."
- He ends nearly every episode of Tabletop by imploring the audience to "Play More Games!"
- He's also quite known for the simple life advice "Don't be a dick!"
- Celebrity Paradox: In The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon. Wheaton was, of course, Wesley Crusher on Next Generation and also was on the former As Himself. Wallace Shawn was Dr. John Sturgis on the latter and Grand Nagus Zek on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which is a Spin-Off of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Friend to All Children: In the Catan Jr. episode of Tabletop, as opposed to the massive salt in most episodes, he's all smiles when playing with the children in the episode.
- Never Heard That One Before: In 2016 he went on record to say he's now instantly blocking anyone on Twitter who tells him to "Shut up, Wesley", even in jest.
- Playing Against Type: He played a rapist/serial killer on Criminal Minds and a cowardly hipster-lumberjack in Broken Age.
- Promoted Fanboy: He was a big Star Trek fan. Not as much as nowadays, of course, but...
- Real Men Hate Sugar: He's stated on Tabletop that he hates sweets.
- Running Gag: Wil has horrible luck with dice, to the point where thanks to Tabletop and Critical Role, he is said to be haunted by "The Wheaton Dice Curse." This extended to Acquisitions Incorporated as well as his own TV show.
- Superpowered Evil Side: In Tabletop episodes featuring games with a traitor mechanic, Wil almost always ends up being evil and winning, in contrast to his prolific losing streak in free-for-all games.
- Tabletop Games: He's really good at it.