Movies - TV
Stranger Things 4 and the Satanic Panic Around D&D Explained
Content Warning
The following story contains discussions of suicide and violence.
"Stranger Things" 4 forgoes super-malls and scrunchies in favor of a darker sign of the times: the Satanic Panic. While the show avoids delving into the real-life horrors of the moral panic that gripped North America in the 1980s, the shadow of Satanic Panic is introduced through the tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons.
James Dallas Egbert III, a D&D player, went missing during a depressive episode in 1979 and later committed himself in 1980, marking the first instance of D&D-related panic. Irving Lee Pulling, a high school student, committed suicide two years later, and his mother attempted to sue Dungeons & Dragons' creators and launch a campaign against the game called Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons.
In 1984, Ronald G. Adcox and Darren Lee Molitor, two D&D players, strangled a teenager in Missouri. The New York Times writer Clyde Haberman says, "Much of the finger-pointing seemed rooted in a classic fallacy in logic: Mr. Adcox and Mr. Molitor played D&D. Mr. Adcox and Mr. Molitor became killers. People who play D&D become killers."
Although experts found no link between the game and a propensity for violence or suicide, D&D was long rumoured among worried parents as a type of gateway activity to evil deeds. While the true stories at the center of this phenomenon are heartbreaking, most of them don't appear to have a single root cause, especially not one that stems from a tabletop game.