That Stranger Things 4 Breakout Character Was Never Going To Get A Happy Ending

Warning: Major spoilers ahead for "Stranger Things" season 4.

The Duffer Brothers had ominously warned us not to expect a "happy ending" for "Stranger Things" season 4, and they were right, as the ending was bittersweet at best. Although almost all the beloved characters in the central gang of the show are alive (for now), season 4 breakout character Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) met a terrible end after he sacrificed himself fighting demo-bats in the Upside Down.

Although this sacrifice is supposed to carry extremely heavy weight, fans of the show have expressed their anger/disappointment at the show's decision to kill such a loveable character off so abruptly. Going on record on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Matt Duffer clarified that even an alternate ending for Eddie would be a sad one, as he was always conceived as "a bit of a doomed character:"

"In a way, we saw Eddie as a bit of a doomed character. Even imagining the flip side of that where he does survive the battle is not a great life awaiting Eddie back in the right side up either. He was always really designed from the get-go as a doomed character."

This is extremely sad to hear, as while it is true that Eddie's life would have been an especially tough one even if he had survived the events of the season finale, it comes off as a rather unconvincing reason to kill the character for good. However, at least now we know that there's no better "could-have-been" outcome for Eddie, at least according to the Duffers.

Perceived as a killer even after death

The whole situation surrounding Eddie is infuriating for many reasons. First, there is no solid evidence tying Eddie to the murders except that the first one (Chrissy's) takes place in his trailer. While this is ammunition enough for the local police force and residents to pin everything on Eddie, all the evidence is merely circumstantial and does not explain how a mere teenager can go about serial killing four kids in such a heinous fashion.

The Duffers point this aspect out when justifying their decision to kill off Eddie, as they believe that he would simply be jailed for his perceived crimes and the townsfolk would only make his life worse after the events of the finale:

"At the very end, you see people still drawing devil horns on his head – no one in Hawkins is going to accept a supernatural explanation for this. He would have wound up in jail and this fantasy that he would have been able to walk and graduate sadly was not ever a realistic outcome for him."

While this is true, this outcome could have very well been turned around in Eddie's favor, as the opening of the gates is a clearly unnatural event that Hawkins has to come to terms with. Things are bound to get worse with time, with the creatures of the Upside Down potentially running amok in the streets, forcing the residents to reckon with the harsh, ugly truth of the matter.

What season 5 could do to honor Eddie's sacrifice

The final episode of season 4 featured snippets of the still-ongoing Satanic Panic that has gripped the masses after the catastrophic opening of the gates, and how Eddie and the Hellfire Club are connected to summoning the devil and opening the gates of hell. While this is a convenient way for the people of Hawkins to explain the unexplainable, this explanation is not only implausible (outside of radicalized religious dogma) but also does not explain why the town is rapidly undergoing environmental degradation, marking the beginning of the end.

Furthermore, it is, in my humble opinion, a great character disservice if someone is killed off in an act of sacrifice that was not necessary in the first place — Eddie never did anything morally wrong, hence his "redemption" arc feels rushed and undeserved. He was simply a scared teenager unsure as to how he must deal with a terrible, bleak situation, and tried his utmost to be brave in the face of doom, losing his life in the process.

Season 5 of "Stranger Things" could set the record straight for Eddie by clearing his name of the deeds he has been unjustifiably accused of. The characters could spend a little more time grieving his death, acknowledging his bravery despite the fact that he did not necessarily have to fight with them, but he chose to do so anyway. Hopefully, after the events of the final season, Hawkins will realize where the evil truly lies (in Vecna, of course, but also in their fear-mongering, prejudiced hearts), and recognize Eddie for the hero he is.

"Stranger Things" season 4 is currently streaming on Netflix.