While Eddie Munson’s tragic self-sacrifice in the season 4 finale couldn’t have been more perfect, this creates a real problem for Stranger Things season 5. The way that Stranger Things handles the subject of death has changed considerably across the show’s four seasons. In Stranger Things season 1, death came with surprising swiftness and brutality to sweet, undeserving supporting characters like Barb and Benny. Meanwhile, the most impactful deaths in season 1, from the discovery of Will’s corpse to Eleven’s sacrifice, to Dr. Brenner’s Demogorgon attack, all turned out to be fake-outs. In Stranger Things season 2, the show took a harsher approach.
This season saw the arrival of some of the scariest moments in Stranger Things, with Bob’s death in particular standing out as a tragic, gruesome surprise. Stranger Things season 3 changed tack again, killing off swathes of Hawkins residents without much fanfare and massively increasing the show’s body count. However, even this tonally uneven outing turned Billy’s sacrifice into a moving moment, and the Stranger Things season 4 finale doubled down on this approach with the show’s saddest death yet. Unfortunately, while Eddie Munson’s death proved that Stranger Things finally knows how to address death, the scene could prove a problem for season 5.
Eddie’s Death Will Be Hard To Beat In Stranger Things 5
Major Stranger Things deaths have gradually grown in scale and impact, beginning with the barely-established Barb’s sudden death, graduating to the sweet minor character Bob’s demise, and then leading to Billy’s redemptive last stand. While the Stranger Things season 4 finale made some mistakes, one choice that the episode got entirely right was Eddie’s death. The problem now is that Stranger Things season 5 is expected to top Eddie’s sacrifice, and this would be no small feat. Not only is being consumed by bats in the Upside Down while ripping a guitar solo as spectacularly impactful as deaths get, but Eddie’s tragic backstory massively amplifies the emotion.
Eddie’s entire arc was predicated on the idea that he is an archetypical outsider. Throughout season 4, Eddie was a combination of the troubled kid from the wrong side of the tracks and the passionate nerd stock characters seen in countless teen movies. This mixture may seem like it wouldn’t work, but thanks to the satanic panic of the ‘80s, it made sense that the Dungeons and Dragons-obsessed dork was also a feared, misunderstood loner. Unfortunately, Stranger Things season 5 will struggle to establish a new character as memorable as Eddie. Even if the final outing manages this, the show won’t be able to top his death.
Killing Supporting Characters Won’t Work For Stranger Things’ Ending
The biggest problem that Stranger Things season 5 faces is that the show can’t simply create another memorable supporting star for the show to kill off. Season 1 had time to establish Barb (barely), season 2 set up Joyce and Bob, and seasons 2 and 3 made Billy a complicated anti-villain before his eventual redemption. However, Stranger Things season 4 devoted episodes to establishing Eddie’s story, and there simply won’t be time for that when season 5 has to wrap up the story of the entire series. As such, Stranger Things season 5 can’t rely on killing off supporting stars, but must imperil the main characters to make an impact.More: Stranger Things Season 4 Fixed One Major Series Villain