Other than tragic teen hero Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn), who else did we lose of monumental importance to fans during Stranger Things Season 4?
Sure, Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown) “papa,” mad scientist Doctor Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) dies, but his passing is his defeat, and a moment of triumph for those of us on Team El. The deaths of Hawkins teens Fred Benson, Chrissy Cunningham, and Patrick McKinney were all equally disturbing and difficult to watch, but fans weren’t necessarily shedding tears for these one-off, side characters, either.
The impact of Eddie’s supposed death was a fluke. Stranger Things masterminding duo, The Duffer Brothers, hadn’t intended for fans to fall hard for the Dungeons & Dragons devotee with a chronic case of senioritis. Yet audiences couldn’t resist Eddie’s charisma, his brotherly love for Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo), nor his rockstar swan song to Metallica’s “Master of Puppets.”
Perhaps the most meaningful “death” of Season 4 was that of Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink), but even then, the show’s creatives couldn’t help but resurrect her to appease anxious fans — she may be comatose and in a vegetative state, but Max is still technically alive.
Even Brown, the actress who portrays Stranger Things protagonist Eleven, couldn’t help but vocalize her disappointment with how relatively low the stakes were for the ensemble cast in Season 4. “The Duffer Brothers are sensitive Sallies who don’t want to kill anybody off,” she said in an interview with The Wrap. “We need to have the mindset of Game of Thrones. Kill me off! They tried killing David off and they brought him back,” she added, referring to David Harbour’s Stranger Things character Jim Hopper.
“What did Millie call us? She said we were ‘sensitive Sallies.’ She’s hilarious,” Matt Duffer said in response to Brown’s comments in Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast. “We aren’t Game of Thrones. This is Hawkins, it’s not Westeros. The show becomes not Stranger Things anymore because you do have to treat it realistically, right?”
This past Sunday, however, Matt and Ross Duffer revealed in a For Your Consideration panel hosted by the Television Academy that a two-hour pitch meeting to the Netflix team, in which they mapped out the overall plan for Stranger Things Season 5, had executives in tears.
“Just as important as the supernatural, we have so many characters now, most of whom are still living,” Ross Duffer said. “It’s important to wrap up those arcs because a lot of these characters have been growing since Season 1. So, it’s a balancing act between giving them time to complete their character arcs and also tying up these loose ends and doing our final reveals.”
The duo added that the tone of Season 5 would be most like Season 1.
Could this mean that, perhaps, Netflix was shedding those tears over the death of many main characters, who have been fan favorites since Season 1, but need their arcs wrapped up by the show’s conclusion?
It’s hard to say for sure. From the way that Stranger Things Season 4 ends, it appears Eleven and Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) will be the most integral in defeating the threat of Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) and the hivemind under his control in the Upside Down — which, by the end of Season 4, is bleeding into the Right Side Up of Hawkins, if you will. The return and strengthening of El’s powers will be instrumental in taking down Vecna, and Will’s own connection to the Upside Down seems like it will be, too. They’d seem like the most likely candidates for being killed off in Season 5 — an act of martyrdom to save their friends and family from total annihilation.
Then again, David Harbour (who plays Jim Hopper) was recently interviewed by Collider, and quoted stating that he will be pouring his soul into portraying one of Stranger Things’ main adult characters in preparation for his “goodbye” to the character. Harbour could very well have been referring to the goodbye that Stranger Things audiences will all have to inevitably endure considering Season 5 is the show’s last season, but could he have been hinting at Jim’s death?
“I know those Duffer brothers are very specific, and I know they want to get that last season,” he said. “I mean if you look at Season 4, I have a feeling that Season 5 may not be as long, but it certainly will be packed to the brim with good stuff that you love. I mean, they really are getting better at giving you that home run that the audiences love. And I think that Season 5 will do that so much.”
The Inverse Analysis — While we have no idea what’s going to happen in Stranger Things Season 5 (and we probably have at least a year and a half until the show’s final season debuts on Netflix), we do think the stakes will inevitably get raised for Stranger Things’ core characters. They may all deserve a happily ever after, but not everyone in Hawkins is going to get one. The question is who ends up on the Duffer Brothers’ butcher’s block, and how they wind up getting slashed from the series.
Stranger Things Seasons 1-4 are available to stream on Netflix.