Stranger Things' formula for pulling our heartstrings
CREDIT: Netflix/Stranger Things
WARNING: If you haven’t seen Stranger Things Season 4 Vol. 2 in its entirety, don’t read this (what are you waiting for?)! There are spoilers in this article. You’ve been warned.
The season finale of Stranger Things 4 came out just two weeks ago, and we are, once again, reeling from the emotional damage that the Duffer brothers, the creators and writers of the show, have inflicted on us. We deserve an apology video (with tears).
If you’re reading this, I assume you’re all caught up on the haps of the season per my warning above, and you know that fan-favorite Eddie Munson heroically sacrificed himself in the last episode. No, I have not recovered.
The Duffer brothers are known for introducing characters at the beginning of a season, making us fall in love with them and subsequently killing them – always in an extremely heart-wrenching way.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
First, we lost Nancy’s best friend Barb to an unknown monster in the Upside Down in Season 1. Then Joyce’s boyfriend Bob was tragically killed by demodogs in Season 2. In Season 3, we lost Billy to the Shadow Monster. Granted, he had been an asshole for most of the time he was on the show, but in the end he saved Eleven’s life…and was brutally murdered right after. In Season 4, we were introduced to Chrissy Cunningham. The show alluded to a budding romance between her and another new character, Eddie Munson but, unfortunately, Chrissy was Vecna’s first kill of Season 4.
To make matters worse, the new season featured Eddie as an important character and showed how funny, caring and selfless he was only for him to die at the end. At this point, we all expected the Duffer brothers to hit us where it hurt, but it didn’t make it any easier.
After the season finale premiered, Eddie Munson gained a cult following. Even after he died, his name wasn’t cleared – the only people who knew he wasn’t a murderer were his uncle and Dustin. He gave his life to help save Hawkins, a town that hated him and wanted nothing to do with him.
Eddie had a beautiful character arc, starting as a scared teen who ran away from his problems, then blossoming into a man who faced a fatal challenge head on. His brave acts to distract the demobats bought time for the rest of the group to be able to take on Vecna. Through my tears, I struggled to watch his death scene. Seeing Dustin cry over his lifeless body just about took me out.
Introducing a lovable character just to kill them has been a plot formula implemented by the Duffer brothers time and time again, but it still has an impact. Why do they keep getting away with this? Well, although Stranger Things is known as a sci-fi horror show, at its core, it is about something much simpler: love and friendship. What keeps us coming back to this show is the characters; no two are the same, and they all exhibit real, raw emotions. These characters tap into our humanity, and that’s why we get so attached to them.
Stranger Things does something that few shows can achieve. It makes us feel like we are part of the journey by giving us intimate, touching snapshots of its characters. It makes us feel for each of them as if we knew them. Although it’s all fantasy, it’s ultimately relatable because it’s a show about growing up.
Under all the monsters, Russian plots and superpowers, it’s about a group of kids who are always ready to unselfishly face it all head-on. They don’t have to do what they do, and yet they save the world every time, fully willing to sacrifice themselves in the process.
Daniella Conde is an Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. When she's not lost in productivity while sipping on an overpriced caffeinated beverage at a coffee shop, you can find her binge-reading romance novels, obsessing over Taylor Swift Easter eggs or finding any possible way to flee Gainesville for the weekend.