As seen in the opening sequence
|First Appearance||A Hero for Earth|
James Wheeler is the feisty and iron-willed bearer of the Fire Ring and the third Planeteer to be summoned in the first episode. When summoning Captain Planet, he is the second Planeteer to call out their element. He comes from North America (more specifically, Brooklyn, New York). He found his ring after saving a man from a thug that was trying to mug him. The ring then shot out from a flaming drum and landed in Wheeler's hand.
Wheeler has red hair and blue eyes. He's somewhat handsome and has a very muscular body. This can be seen in Population Bomb, Frog Day Afternoon, and Never the Twain Shall Meet. Many young females have often noticed this.
For the first five seasons, he wears a sky blue Planeteer shirt that has a yellow globe emblem on it and is usually half-tucked and half-untucked. His laces are rarely tied. He also wears blue jeans and a brown jacket with the sleeves rolled up.
In the final season, he wore a red Planeteer T-shirt with a green emblem under a brown vest, gold belt, blue jeans, and red and white sneakers.
Wheeler is all about action and does not always think things through before acting. He often goads the Eco-Villains, taunting them and infuriating them with quick remarks and insults. Although not necessarily lazy, he is often tempted to abandon work in order to have some fun. However, he is very loyal and can be counted on in a crisis if someone is depending on him.
Wheeler is usually the Planeteer who asks the questions or needs things explained to him. This is usually a tool to explain the situation or problem to the audience.
Wheeler often wants to have fun, rather than work, and takes pleasure in games and flirting with girls. He appears to have a strong crush on Linka throughout all six series of the show, though not to the extent he won't look at or flirt with other women.
Family and relationships
- (See also: Linka and Wheeler)
From the moment he sees her, Wheeler makes no secret of his attraction to the beautiful Linka. He often calls her 'babe', and flirts with her heavily throughout several episodes. Linka, however, usually rejects his advances. Most of the time he accepts this with good humour, but occasionally he will question her further about going out with him, or he will display a hurt look, indicating that his feelings go deeper than simple flirting.
Several times, Wheeler and Linka come close to kissing during quiet, intimate moments with one another, such as in the episode Beast of the Temple. However, they are usually interrupted before they can kiss.
Occasionally Wheeler will flirt with other female characters, which causes Linka to become openly jealous. Whenever he is rescued from a tight spot, she displays obvious relief and is more open with her affections towards him.
Wheeler had a rough childhood. His father was an alcoholic, and his mother appeared passive in response to the aggression present in the home. Wheeler appears to be close to his mother - he returns to visit his parents in the episode Talkin' Trash, and he appears on good terms with her. However, he at first refuses to speak to his father, who verbally abuses him and indicates that he believes Wheeler is no good and will amount to nothing. But after being invited to see his son, Wheeler's father tells him he's doing good and they share a hug before Wheeler leaves.
During the episode A Mine is a Terrible Thing to Waste Part II, we learn that Wheeler often spent nights away from home, on the streets or in the park, even at a young age. This is because going home often resulted in conflict with his father, who sent him out to purchase alcohol.
The episode Talkin' Trash was based upon an idea by Joey Dedio, who voiced Wheeler throughout all six seasons.
The names of Wheeler's parents are never revealed.
Trish was Wheeler's girlfriend before he joined the Planeteers. He sees her again in the episode Talkin' Trash and discovers she is part of a gang vandalizing the neighbourhood. Trish successfully mugs Wheeler at the start of the episode without realizing who he is and steals his ring. He manages to steal it back, before trying to convince her to drop her criminal behaviour and take more pride in the place she lives.
Wheeler saves Trish's life after she sabotages Verminous Skumm's helicopter and falls into the river. He pulls her out and they share a kiss.
It is unclear whether or not the other Planeteers are aware of Wheeler's relationship with Trish.
Ma-Ti and Wheeler have a brother-like relationship as Wheeler often refers to Ma-Ti as "little buddy", "little bud", or simply "buddy". Ma-Ti often comes to Wheeler about women. Also, Ma-Ti sometimes joins Wheeler in shirking off. Wheeler often hugs him when he comes back from peril.
Despite not being as close as Ma-Ti, Wheeler and Kwame have a stable friendship. Kwame often comforts Wheeler and Wheeler explains modern things such as women and gangs to Kwame.
Gi and Wheeler have a strong friendship. She taught him how to windsurf and teaches him about the sea life and marine conservation.
- A Hero for Earth - Wheeler is summoned as the Fire Planeteer.
- Beast of the Temple - Wheeler risks his life to save Linka from danger and is abducted by Hoggish Greedly. This is also an episode where Linka displays a lot of affection towards him.
- A Twist of Fate - Wheeler suffers amnesia during a mission and wanders about aimlessly in a small town while the other Planeteers try to find him.
- A Mine is a Terrible Thing to Waste Part II - When Wheeler was young, he was being pushed around by his drunk father for more money to buy more alcoholic liquor and beer. He tried to get more money to get him another bottle so he could come home and not have any more conflict but decided he'd had enough of his alcoholic dad and everyone in his home town pushing him around and calling him a loser.
- Talkin' Trash - Wheeler receives a letter from home, telling him that his father is ill. He returns to Brooklyn to make peace with him. He also meets up with his ex-girlfriend, Trish, and they share a kiss.
- Numbers Game - Wheeler experiences life as a middle-aged man, and married to Linka. However, the future doesn't look as ideal as he thought it would be.
- Wheeler had a tough upbringing, growing up with an alcoholic father who, at the very least, often verbally abused him.
- Wheeler is probably the Planeteer who uses his ring the most - either to hold enemies back, cut through locks, or free people from bonds. His ring can produce flames or a laser-like force.
- Wheeler's character, much like the rest of the series, seems a bit muddled. In the first season, as if the writers were trying to make him represent all American kids; he's supposed to be an intercity kid from the east coast, and yet, he surfs and talks like a surfer dude.
- One detail that was carefully stepped over in the special 'Teers in the 'Hood, we learn Wheeler was a high school dropout when he expresses regret for being back in school. This was a detail that the writers did not want to point out, as Wheeler was 17 at the start of the show, and clearly didn't graduate early. This was further aggravated by the fact that Wheeler tended to be very lazy, spending more time surfing and having fun than anything else.
- In January 2012, Barbara Pyle (executive producer/creator/writer) confirmed via the Captain Planet Facebook page that Wheeler's first name is James, though this is not referenced in-universe.
- It's been strangely known for quite sometime over the years that fans believe that he bears a strong resemblance to a younger character of another TV show named Arnold Perlstein from Scholastic's The Magic School Bus.
- Wheeler's Fire Ring glows red when used, and its colour is red when first teleported to Hope Island.
- The episode If It's Doomsday, This Must Be Belfast appears to confirm that Wheeler is a Catholic. He went to Northern Ireland in that episode and met a Catholic and Protestant who were each armed with the trigger for a nuclear bomb. The Catholic, Sean, was friendly to Wheeler when they first met, while the Protestant Stuart was aggressive and hostile towards him.
- Wheeler: Sorry I lost it at you. It's really been a long time since I had to lean on anyone. I remember when I was a kid back in Brooklyn, I was pretty much on my own.
Little Wheeler: (picking on another boy for money) Come on, tough guy! Pay up! You owe me!
Wheeler's dad: What are you doing down there?!
Kid:(punching Wheeler) Later, loser!
Wheeler's dad: I thought I told you to get me a bottle.
Little Wheeler: I tried, Dad, but...
Wheeler's dad: I'm tired of your excuses. Try harder or don't come back you no-good loser!
Little Wheeler: (having had enough his dad calling him a loser) Who wants to come back to this dump? (kicks an empty soda can)
Wheeler: I wandered the streets for hours until I didn't know where I was.
Gang leader: Hey, punk, don't you know it's dangerous at the park at night?
Wheeler: Hey, what are you doing?
Girl: Hey, you okay, kid?
Wheeler: Yeah, thanks. Man, that was incredible! Right outta Robin Hood or something. Where did you guys come from?
Boy: Man, we live in the park.
Girl: Right up there in the trees.
Wheeler: Get outta here.
Boy: Seriously, we built our homes in the trees.
Girl: Yeah. And we do it without hammering a single nail into the trunks.
Boy: So, uh, what are you doing out here all alone?
Wheeler: I don't have anywhere else to go.
Girl: Stay with us, kid. If you're not afraid of heights, that is.
Wheeler's flashback ends.
Wheeler: It turned my whole life around, finding people who really believed I was worth something.