Stranger Things 4 Actor Talks About [SPOILER]'s 'Brutal' Legacy

As if you needed the warning, but there are mad spoilers in the following piece. Read with caution. 

If you're one of the record-breaking number of viewers who tuned in to the "Stranger Things" finale this weekend, you know it was a heartbreaker. The climactic two-episode ending had quite the body count, killing off three villains (though one doesn't seem to actually be dead) and critically injuring Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink). But few moments rocked the fandom harder than the untimely demise of Eddie (Joseph Quinn), Hawkins' resident metalhead and this season's new fan-favorite character.

Eddie went out like a hero, trying to draw away a swarm of bloodthirsty demo-bats in the Upside Down so that Robin (Maya Hawke) and Steve (Joe Keery) could take down the villain, Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower). It was a moment of bittersweet growth for the character, who earlier in the season explained that he's always been prone to running from his problems. Unfortunately, the town of Hawkins didn't get to see it: in the show's final scenes, it's revealed that Hawkins' recent apocalyptic woes are being posthumously pinned on the Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast, in a mirror of the real-life Satanic Panic.

I participated in a recent roundtable interview with Quinn, in which he shared his thoughts about his character's death — and his infamous reputation — in the wake of the finale. Although the actor says Eddie's misunderstood legacy isn't "very fair" to him, he also explains that it fits into the larger tonal shift that happens during this increasingly dark season.

'It's more mature'

"I don't think it's very fair," Quinn says of Eddie's legacy, "but I think it kind of fits into the rest of the theme of this season, which is it's more adult, it's brutal, it's more frightening." It's true that the season, with its horror movie villain and themes of depression and isolation, has stopped following the show's typical heroes-always-win pattern. The end of the season sees the town in full end-of-days mode: if the biblical signs and news reports about a portal to hell are any indications, they didn't learn anything from Jason's (Mason Dye) angry mob mentality.

Quinn points out that "we'd all like Eddie to be celebrated and kind of get the hero's death that he deserves," but says that the painful ending is "classier storytelling" as opposed to a less complex conclusion. It's true that in the past, some parts of "Stranger Things" have felt a bit too easy, with all our heroes earning their triumphant '80s movie moments. "Stranger Things" is a fantasy horror show, but even its story elements grounded in reality have always felt a little fantastical. Not anymore, though.

The season finale seems to want to shatter the child-like sense of security the show has built, as its final revelation — that the Upside Down has begun bleeding into Hawkins — is anything but a happy ending. Quinn seems to think the harsh way Eddie went out is a part of that, too. "I think it's this sense that life isn't always easy, and I think you feel that this season," the actor says. "You feel like it's more mature."