Will Burrows, also know as Seth Jerome, is the main protagonist of the Tunnels series.
Will was born and raised in the Colony as Seth Jerome and was the oldest child of three sons. When he was nearly three years old, his mother Sarah took Will and his brother Cal away from the Colony to escape to Topsoil. After reaching the surface to Highfield, Sarah left him at a church graveyard for a moment to find food, water, and shelter, but passed out.
When she returned to find her son, Will had already been discovered by the police and taken to foster care. He was later adopted by Roger and Celia Burrows, where he received his current name, Will Burrows. Approximately one year later, the Rebeccas were planted in the family by the Styx to keep tabs on him.
Will, at some point, acquired his well-known shovel, which he used in many of his excavations. Over the years he built a collection from the artifacts he dug up from his make-shift excavations, all the while keeping his shovel in perfect condition.
He got in a fight at school with the bully known as Speed, which ended with Will hitting him in the face with his shovel and even breaking his nose. He was an outcast at school, with Chester Rawls being his only friend, as he was an outcast too. They bonded over their skin issues. Will is albino and so burns easily in the Sun. Chester has a severe case of eczema.
During the events of Tunnels, Will is 14 years old and spends his spare time excavating forgotten sights in Highfield with Dr. Burrows. They are seen discovering an abandoned train station underneath the city after months of excavation. They hide it, hoping to explore in better the next day, but instead, he decided to show Chester his underground base. Over the course of several days the two worked together to expand the base, soon finding a strange brick structure (more than likely built by the Styx), which was buried by Colonists a few days later. During this time, Dr. Burrows disappeared, leading Will to begin a search.
After searching Highfield, being chased by Colonists, and putting together the pieces of the mystery, Will and Chester soon discovered a caved-in tunnel in Will's basement. Over the course of several weeks they excavate the tunnel, nearly getting caught by Rebecca(s) several times. They eventually dig their way to an old grotto, and from there they find an elevator that takes them to the Quarter. They are quickly apprehended by the Colony's police force. After he and Chester are taken to the Hold, they are introduced to the Styx and the Dark Light for the first time, where Will secretly has directions implanted in his brain to jump to his death from a height in the event that he escapes to the surface.
After several days, Will meets his real father, John Jerome, and his younger brother Cal. They bring him back to his home in the Colony where he meets his grandmother and Uncle Tam Macaulay, and their pet Hunter, Bartleby. There he is given more insight to his past, about his mother Sarah and her escape to the surface. Cal shows him around the Colony and teaches him about their culture. As Will learns about the Colony, he looks for any whereabouts of Dr. Burrows (who at the time was lost in the Deeps), as well as a way to break Chester out of his prison in the Hold.
When the time came for Chester to be Banished, Will and Tam come up with a plan for Will to break him out, with Tam providing him with an escape route, on the condition that Will never mentions any of his family in the Colony if he were to get caught. After a successful breakout, he and Chester reached one of the doors that would lead to the Eternal City and then the surface, but the plan went amok when Cal and Bartleby unknowingly followed them. The appearance of Rebecca put a dead stop to their escape, which revealed her true nature as a Styx. In the resulting skirmish, Chester is recaptured while Will, Cal, and Bartleby escape through the tunnel.
Will slowly began to develop a sickness due to the foul air in the Eternal City, since he gave Cal the only gas mask By the time they crossed the city and reached the surface, Will was completely drained and near the point of collapsing. Cal quickly disapproved of the surface world and had trouble adapting. Soon they reached the Burrows house, which by this time had been abandoned after the family had broken up. Here, they spent a few days regaining their strength and making plans, although Will's sickness finally got the best of him and he collapsed. Cal helped to take him to his Auntie Jean's home. She and Cal helped Will to get better before the boys (and Hunter) returned to the Colony to save Chester and get Cal home.
Upon returning to the Eternal City, the boys were ambushed by a group of the Styx Division. Using fireworks to distract the dogs, Will and Cal made a blind run through a dense fog but were unable to escape. One of the stalkers pounced on Will and began to maul on his shoulder, but Bartleby fiercly attacked the dog. Tam and his partner Imago intercepted Will and Cal and got them out of the city. The appearance of the Styx commander Crawfly, Tam's rival, yet again stopped their plans, and Tam was forced to duel the Styx. He succeeded in killing the him but knew there was no way he could stop the Styx army. Saying his goodbyes to the group, Tam gave Will a jade-colored trident-like pendant, saying Will would need it where he was going, before sacrificing himself to stop the oncoming Styx army, with the others escaping through another tunnel. They spent the next day holed up in a cave known as the Cauldron, located above the railway tracks for the Miner's Train, the train that was to bring Chester down to the Deeps. As the train passed them, Imago gave Will the journal of Dr. Burrows that was left in the Colony before hauling him and Cal onto the train below.
Will continues the search for his father with both Cal and Chester. They, led by Will, find a Coprolite burial tomb, where he accidentally destroys one of the Coprolite mummies while trying to get a photo of it. Later the three find Crevice Town, where they stock up on supplies and rest. Will realizes his father had been at Crevice Town, seeing the carving on the walls. While exploring the Great Plain, Cal is lost and assumed dead in a sugar trap along the way.
Grief-stricken, Will and Chester meet (or rather, are captured by) Drake and Elliott at a renegade execution being carried out by a Limiter squad. The duo takes the boys back to their base. They proceed to show him the ropes of survival in the Deeps. Drake also tells Will about his suspicions that the Styx are up to something, and how they will stop at nothing to eliminate rebellion. (Will.) Will initially doesn't trust them, but Drake proves their loyalty by rescuing Cal. Will notices how his brother has become more stoic and willing to obey the two renegades. One day, Elliott invites Will out on a patrol. However, they see that the Limiters have been killing the Coprolites. A horrified Will has to climb up behind a decaying Coprolite in a dust suit to hide from the Limiters, who appear. He then explodes at Elliott about letting them nearly be caught. This puts a strain on their friendship, (although it is later revealed that Elliot realize then that he can take care of himself so she starts to try to teach Chester) and Elliott starts to spend time with Chester.
A Limiter ambush causes Will to become separated from the group. With limited supplies, he gets lost in the seemingly endless lava tunnels of the Deeps. Soon his flashlight (or torch for all you Brits) battery goes out, and he is trapped in pitch black darkness. After five days of wandering, he comes upon The Subterranean Sea. Luckily Chester, Elliott, and Cal all meet up at the Sea, where Elliott explains the ambush in the Bunker, Drake staying behing, and the Styx virus testing. Elliott takes Will to see Drake being tortured on a stake. Elliot is unable to kill her best friend and mentor (the closest thing she has to a father because her real father had abandoned her to keep her mother and her from being executed) which forces Will to make the shot. Will and her then go back to the Sea, where they make camp on the island. Will is amazed at the flora and fauna of this underground wonder, but cannot easily wash his hands of what he has just done.
After the Limiters catch up to the group, Elliott takes the group on the run. She blows up the island using Drake's charges, killing the Limiters. Will, Chester, Cal, and Elliott escape by boat to a foggy rocky part of the Deeps. While there, Will discovers flying lizard creatures- they amaze him but disgust Chester. This turns into an argument about Will's exploration obsession, which puts a strain on his friendship with Chester. Elliott plans to take them to the Wetlands, but they come across Sarah Jerome in a tunnel. Elliott had blindly shot at her thinking she was a Limiter. Sarah and Will embrace for the first time, sharing stories. Will tells her that he did not kill Tam, and she tells them about the Dominion virus plot. The dying Sarah tells Will she is proud of him, and that they have a chance to stop the Styx. The group then passes through the Sharps, but a Limiter attack forces them to run. Will, Cal, and Chester fight and kill one Limiter, while Elliott effectively neutralizes a multitude of Styx and the Sharps with charges set by her and Drake in the past. When they reach the Pore, Elliott realizes it is a trap.
Rebecca, some Limiters, the Styx Division, and stalkers are all cornering them at the massive void. Rebecca reveals her twin sister, and the Dominion plot. The twins taunt Will about how so many of his family members are dying in his fight against the Styx. After failing to surrender, the Limiters shoot Cal, killing him. Then the whole group, tethered by a rope, is thrown into the Pore. Will apologizes to Chester before they fall in, realizing he was wrong to argue with him. The Division bombards the group into the Pore. What awaits them at the bottom is a mystery.
In the beginning of the book, Chester awakes to find that he has landed on some sort of fungal shelf jutting out from the side of the Pore. He finds he is stuck in some sort of fungus and has to rip himself out. Upon doing this he quickly gathers his things and helps a sad Will and an unconcious Elliott from the fungus. Will mopes about how he will never see his father again, and how people around him keep dying. However he quickly recovers and Chester and he rapidly discover that the gravity where they are is about one third of Topsoil's. Carrying Elliott and the Bergens, the two are attacked by a gigantic crab-like spider but are saved by a strange, disheveled woman named Martha. She explains the crab things are called spider-monkeys, and she takes them to her shack, which she says is the only safe place in the area. Martha feeds Will and Chester and lets them stay in the shack. Martha also loves Chester very much because he reminds her of her son who died, Nathaniel. Elliot catches a fever and nearly dies, much to Will and Chester's shock. However, she recovers, thanks to the medicines salvaged from a Russian submarine in one of the tunnels branching off from the Pore
Will, Dr. Burrows, and Elliott are busy exploring the Garden of the Second Sun. Will and Elliott are skeptic of Dr. Burrows' s claim of seeing a Stuka in the sky. Both teenagers seem to get along better, and Will even considers confessing his love to her, although they're always interrupted.
Will and his father decide to explore the interior of the pyramids and after various events, both of them are captured by Rebecca and a group of Limiters. Rebecca asks for the phials of Dominion, but Will refuses to give them to her. To show how serious she is, she shoots Dr Burrows and starts torturing Will. Elliott comes to rescue him and they escape together with Bartleby.
They have a little fight, but in the end they manage to return to the Topsoil. They meet there with Celia, Chester, Mr. Ralws and Colly. They go to Parry's state and in the final scene, they are watching the news of the attack on the Bank of England.
The story begins with Will and his gang living comfortably at Parry's estate, as they prepare for their next encounter with the Styx. After Drake arrives with Colonel Bismark, he takes Will and Chester to recruit Captain Sweeney and Danforth, the later of which reverse Darklights the trio. Soon after he and Chester run into Stephanie, while looking for Bartleby, they get cornered by a group of Styx they find out are led Eddie. Eddie breaks the news about the Phase, prompting them to make plans for an operation against the Styx from the Compound. They successfully destroy the Styx's base of operations, but defector Danforth destroys their exit from the underground military base. Several weeks later, they escape to the center of the Earth, leading to a final showdown with the Styx that leaves Will and Elliott in the center of the Earth. When there, Elliott confesses that she had fallen in love with Will.
Will and Elliott find a way out of the inner world with some help of New Germanians, and arrive on the surface. Once on the surface, Will and Elliott travel to what was once Dr. Burrows's museum, where they come face to face with a couple Armagi. Drake comes to rescue them in a tank but unfortunately, Will was grabbed by two Armagi. Drake decided there was no way to help Will at this point and drove the tank away, along with a panicking Elliott. They meet with the other members of the team, and find out that Will had been captured by a Styx woman participating in the Phase. Two male Styx drag a dazed beaten Will on top of a car so that the Styx woman could implant her eggs or grubs deep inside Will. Drake watches furiously shaking in anger while Elliott watches in a state of shock with a white toned face. The Styx woman explains that the eggs or grubs she implanted inside Will will quickly being to eat him from the inside faster than you can say " eat your heart out". They fight the Armagi, the last battle. Elliott wins it by sending everyone with Styx back into the inner world, including her by using a scepter.Once Will recovers, In a twist, Will finds out that the eggs implanted inside him may have turned him into a Styx.
Will is very adventurous and loves exploring underground. He has an especially deep relationship with his father, Dr. Burrows (who also is obsessed with exploring), and his friend Chester. Early in the series Will is eager to explore, discovering amazing things in the Colony, the Deeps, and eventually the inner world. He leads his friends on, even if it might be dangerous. Although he is insistent, he cares for the lives of those around him and will try to keep them safe.
However, in Closer and onwards, Will's character starts to change. He matures and realizes there are more important things than just exploring. He starts to like Elliott and forms a deep friendship with her. Also he becomes less naive and starts to realize just what he is up against. Especially with the death of his father, Will toughens up. He still enjoys exploring, though.
He is good friends with Chester, Drake, and especially Elliott. He is also very close to his mother, Mrs. Burrows, and Cal.
Like most residents of the Colony, Will is depicted as an albino, with white hair and very pale skin. He has pale blue eyes and a very square jaw. The majority of his appearance was inherited from his mother, as the rest of his family claims he has a striking resemblance to her.
- His name is most likely a pun of the word burrow, meaning 'to dig'.
- There may be a slight chance that his name could be based upon William A. Clark, developer of the United Verde Mine, who discovered the ore deposit which would lead to the founding of Jerome, Arizona. This would provide both "Will" and "Jerome" into the character's name.
- The authors did not give Will a definite picture in the series. However, in the back of the new edition of Freefall, a picture of him and Bartleby (painted by a Bavarian 19-year-old) is shown. He is also shown in the covers of the Japanese edition of Tunnels and Deeper.
- It's said in Deeper that Will's favorite candy is Milky Way, which is funny given that he was always bullied by his milky pallor. Later, in Freefall, this is contradicted by stating that his favorite is actually Caramac.