Warning: contains SPOILERS for Stranger Things season 4, volume 2.
Eddie Munson's (Joseph Quinn) Stranger Things season 4 sacrifice provided an adequate sense of closure for his character arc, but was it worth it in the first place? After witnessing Chrissy Cunningham's (Grace Van Dien) death at his trailer, Eddie immediately runs off to his drug dealer's house and remains in hiding for the rest of the season from Hawkins. Running away from Chrissy's gruesome supernatural death was a completely understandable reaction, even if Eddie saw it as proof of his cowardly nature. Running away also protected him from the angry mob of Hawkinites framing him for Chrissy's murder.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Regardless of how justified his choice to run away was, Stranger Things rightfully takes Eddie out of hiding and into the show's action. Eddie becomes involved in the plan to kill Stranger Things' Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) before he destroys Hawkins by distracting the Demobats encircling the Upside Down's Creel House. Throughout Stranger Things' season 4 finale "The Piggyback," Eddie experiences many satisfying character moments, such as his iconic "Master of Puppets" guitar solo scene and his heartfelt death in Dustin's (Gaten Matarazzo) arms. Given the fact that Eddie was in the show for only one season and was introduced simply as Hawkins High's eccentric heavy metal-loving D&D club leader, Eddie's character provided more substance to Stranger Things than perhaps initially expected.
Related: Of Course Eddie's Upside Down Song Was Perfect!
After Dustin and Eddie lure the Demobats to Eddie's Upside Down trailer, their defense forces quickly become overtaken by the creatures. Haunted by his perceived sense of cowardice, Eddie cuts the rope line leading to the Right Side Up and guides the bats away. It's an undeniably brave act that irreversibly leads him into becoming one of Stranger Things season 4 deaths. However, while the death was poetically heroic, the circumstances leading up to his sacrifice seem forced and could even lead to potential ramifications for Stranger Things season 5.
Eddie Dying Technically Does Work
Many characters leading up to Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 were theorized to die, with Eddie being one of them. Stranger Things has built a habit of killing off likable characters within one season, as such characters provide enough of an emotional blow upon their death without risking the overall story. Especially with the show guiding towards his need to overcome a tendency to run away from conflict, Eddie was heavily marked for death at some point.
Looking further at the reasons why Eddie had to die in Stranger Things, the Satanic Panic grip on Hawkins and the incriminating evidence against Eddie for Chrissy's death made his reputation essentially irredeemable in the town. Painting Eddie as the hopelessly doomed outcast is a bitter narrative to watch, but it's realistic for 1980s Hawkins. A town that calls its interdimensional happenings a vague "curse" would naturally accept that generalized Satanic rituals run by the metalhead leader of the "Hellfire Club" is an easy, understandable explanation. Therefore, the question isn't whether Eddie should have died or not - his death was fitting, albeit tragic, for his character. However, the manner in which he sacrifices himself is worth looking into.
Was Eddie's Sacrifice Worth It?
Eddie's path towards death starts when he changes his mind about coming back into the Right Side Up when the Stranger Things Demobats break into his trailer. By going so far as to cut the cloth line to safety, Eddie prevents Dustin from risking his life to save him while also understanding that his mission will likely be final. By distracting the Demobats, Eddie buys more time for Nancy (Natalia Dyer), Steve (Joe Keery), and Robin (Maya Hawke) at the Creel House, which the Demobats would likely go back to if Dustin and Eddie both came into the Right Side Up and temporarily covered the portal. There's also the understandable risk that the Demobats could enter the Right Side Up if the portal isn't covered in time, if at all.
Related: Hang On, Did Stranger Things' Other Characters Just Forget About Eddie?
Still, setting Eddie up against a hoard of Demobats with nothing but a spear and a spiked shield seems like a transparent way to set his death up. It's also by sheer luck that, because Stranger Things' Russian Demogorgons died, the Demobats collectively died as well while Eddie was being attacked. As noble as his intentions were, Eddie wouldn't have been able to keep the Demobats away from both his trailer and the Creel House for long anyway because of the means that he was provided and the pace at which the Demobats were gaining up on him. Therefore, even though he does guide the Demobats away from his friends and the Right Side Up for a brief period of time, Eddie's sacrifice was destined to become a bit moot. With his death against them being so inevitable, the Demobats were bound to return to a target soon and take lives anyway. If anything, Eddie's sacrifice was more about him not running away than about the Demobats actually being taken care of.
Major Demobat Plot Hole Destined Eddie's Sacrifice
Even though Vecna wasn't dying in Stranger Things season 4 from the start, there's a glaring error in the Vecna attack plan that greatly risks Eddie being killed - if not the rest of the Upside Down crew as well. Eddie and Dustin lure the Demobats away from the Creel House by guiding them towards the most accessible and most convenient Right Side Up portal for Nancy, Robin, and Steve to go through. Even when entertaining the idea that Nancy, Robin, and Steve would simply traverse through the dangerous Upside Down to one of the other two portals, luring the Demobats to an open Right Side Up portal in the first place doesn't make sense. While Eddie and Dustin do add makeshift fortifications to the trailer, guiding the Demobats somewhere entirely away from the portal would be less risky and more logical.
The Vecna attack plan was central to the Stranger Things season 4 ending, and there was potential for the Demobat part of the plan to be even more effective. The Demobats conveniently act in a cluster, so even luring the Demobats into an enclosed trap away from both the Creel House and Eddie's trailer is feasible. Regardless of where Dustin and Eddie could have lured the Demobats, they could have still been armed with better artillery against them. Even fire and explosives, which the Hawkins crew could make with materials outside of the War Zone, would have been more damaging and distracting than spears and shields. The flawed Demobat plan does deserve a little suspension of disbelief; this plan was, after all, made by a group of well-meaning high school kids. Still, considering that the Demobats could only be taken care of through convenient circumstances, Eddie's sacrifice becomes all the more tragic.
Did Eddie Have To Die in Season 4?
Many clues ranging from Eddie's Stranger Things tattoos to the witch hunt on his tail marked Eddie for death. With that said, Eddie's death didn't necessarily need to happen in season 4. Something TV writers always have to strongly consider when killing off a character is the impact their absence will have going forward. It's why killing off major characters is such a bold move, as not only does it cause an emotional response for the viewer, but it provides the show with a unique challenge. Stranger Things is yet to kill off a truly major character, which can be seen as a point of contention. However, keeping its main characters alive is completely understandable, especially for a show with a charismatic and mostly useful cast like Stranger Things.
Related: Stranger Things: Biggest Unanswered Questions & Mysteries After Season 4
However, Eddie wasn't necessarily minor enough to be completely disposable. Eddie's essentially Stranger Things' Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) replacement due to his effortless connection between the older and younger kid groups in the show. The fact that a new character is more useful than a character present since the beginning draws its own criticisms, but it nonetheless presents the case as to why Eddie probably should have stayed on the show longer. Eddie also proved himself to be quite useful to the group, despite his self-doubts and looming murder accusations. For example, he was able to hot-wire the RV to transport everyone to the War Zone and the Creel House. Plus, his virtuosity makes him a uniquely-skilled character to musically save anyone against Vecna.
Also, even though his death seemed appropriate for his character, Eddie still died before his name was cleared. Especially with Stranger Things' Satanic Panic subplot, Hawkins is becoming more of a hopeless case when it comes to understanding the Upside Down. Still, resolving Eddie's murder convictions by conveniently killing him off takes away a major chance for Hawkins to grow. Not only is this unfortunate for Eddie, but a town continuously facing the dangers of the Upside Down is further defenseless because of its own unchallenged ignorance.
Will Eddie Come Back in Season 5?
The Duffer brothers claim that Eddie's death is permanent. Despite the potential Eddie still had, bringing characters back from the dead weakens the risk level death has in the show and reverses any closure that the dead characters received. However, even if Eddie's death is permanent in a literal sense, this doesn't mean that Eddie can't make an appearance in Stranger Things season 5. Like Dacre Montgomery's Billy returning in Stranger Things season 4 to haunt Max (Sadie Sink), Eddie could appear as a flashback or vision after his death. The nature of Stranger Things also gives the show a host of creative possibilities. This is a show, after all, in which a scene luring interdimensional bats from a haunted house with a Metallica song makes perfect sense. Of course, if Eddie is to be brought back into Stranger Things, there needs to be an appropriate reason. Hopefully, season 4 doesn't show the last of Eddie. With that said, Eddie's death provided closure to his arc, even if there were flaws in his overall sacrifice.