Picture via Netflix
Why are stranger things fans eagerly await the death of a main character?
And the follow-up question is, why haven’t there been many (if any) main character deaths over the show’s four seasons?
There is a simple answer to why the stranger things creators and writers are afraid to kill off a main character. The stranger things the characters are all cats, and since cats have nine lives, they can’t actually kill them.
Since the influential films of the 1980s – such as freddie — have been widely used as source material for stranger thingsis it really so shocking for the writer and creators to be so reluctant to kill off a main character?
Well, in those movies, you could say Freddie Kruger was the main character, not the kiddos who kept meeting their end in every movie.
More, stranger things must rely on characters over a longer period of time than a single film.
Fast forward to the 80s and think of a mid-90s movie that killed off an unsuspecting character that shocked audiences. It was a shock because it’s not normal (we talk about Drew Barrymore in Scream – although she wasn’t a main character per se, she was introduced as one before the movie was released).
Why do fans need/want a main character to die so horribly wrong? Is it shock value? Have something to discuss with other fans? Cry? For some sort of sadistic fulfillment?
It’s the time
When it comes to all of character and world-building these days, especially with the ability to chat and even delve into things thanks to the internet, it’s actually not that big of a shock that the main cast of stranger things keep kicking.
The Duffer brothers, Matt and Ross, have even addressed the question (more than once) and it’s usually the same answer – it doesn’t have to be.
Maybe we should ask ourselves why are we all obsessed with them killing off a main character? Most of them are/were kids anyway.
How would fans react if all of a sudden they killed Will, or Mike, or hell, even El for that matter.
“Believe us, we explored every option in the writing room,” Matt Duffer said on the Happy Sad Confused podcast in July. “Just like a complete assumption, if you kill Mike, it’s depressing.”
Yes, yes it would. Some might think it’s the freaks that make the show, the 80s tropes, the cool scenes and music, but deep down, stranger things is a show about unbreakable bonds, friendships and love, and especially in the 80s, these are things that have lasted.
And, when the writers killed off someone the audience thought was a major character from the first season – Barb – fans didn’t take it too well. They still want her back today, and every time there’s a mention of Barb on the show (like this season when they returned to the pool where she died), fans go nuts.
It could also be that the main cast has intelligent agents and they all have multi-year contracts or contain a clause that they can’t be killed.
If we really think about it, it’s because the formula works.
Keep the core team going, even with nicks, bruises, broken bones, and even being possessed, spin phenomenal support characters for a season (or two), and if anyone should die, shoot from the second pool.
We now know that a main character almost died in season four, according to Matt Duffer. Except, well, when people talk about a main character, they probably don’t have in mind who made Matt.
“In terms of who does it, who lives or dies. I think there was a version where Dimitri, aka Enzo, didn’t make it,” Matt Duffer said. Collider. “Then he ended up succeeding. But it’s [the most] radical departure from the original idea compared to what we ended up with.
Yeah, not really a main character now, are you?
Let’s be real (about a totally crazy fictional supernatural thriller that features monsters and time travel, among other things) – some people who want a character killed off are watching stranger things for a different reason and in a different way than people who just want a good show to watch, good themes to follow, and characters to identify with and enjoy.
If it ain’t broke…
Should they really kill off a character just to satiate some of the audience and the internet?
Is it really worth the show? Some people think so, including this writer in the UK.
Are fans logging in or out over the lack of major character deaths? Well, the ratings seem to be leveling off.
Again, Millie Bobby Brown, the person who plays the “main” character, Eleven, publicly said that they had to start slaughtering people, at least because there were too many characters now.
“It’s way too big,” Brown said, according to Variety. “Last night [at the premiere], we didn’t even get to take a group photo because there were about 50 of us. I was like, you gotta start killing people. The Duffer Brothers are two sensitive Sallies who don’t want to kill anyone. We have to be game of thrones. We must have the spirit of game of thrones.”
On this same Happy Sad Confused podcast episode, Matt Duffer responded to this, and under audience members still hoping for a more impactful death.
“What did Millie call us? She said we were “sensitive sallies”. She is hilarious. Matt said. ” We are not game of thrones. It’s Hawkins, it’s not Westeros. The show becomes no stranger things more, because you have to deal with it realistically, right? »
It’s still an ’80s thriller (with feature-length episodes now) that aims to captivate audiences and continue to strengthen the bond between fans and these main characters. Killing them would make fans upset or wonder why one was killed instead of another, and that’s just not in the archetype or theme of a show that relies on the source material. 80s – where it usually worked for the main characters.
Now if this was an outright horror show then yes they would get killed like in some Friday 13e Where Chainsaw Massacre way, but it’s not, it’s a thriller, a scary show and, even still, a show for younger audiences.
Is a main character already dead?
Technically, the biggest character to die is Billy Hargrove (played by Dacre Montgomery), based on how long he’s been on the show and his role in the storytelling.
Or maybe it was Sean Astin’s Bob Newby, who also appeared for two seasons as Joyce’s (Winona Ryder) love interest.
Hargrove was quite prominent in season two as Max’s (and Steve’s) executioner, and then he played a significant role in season three as well, as he was eventually overtaken by the Mind Flayer. And he continued to appear in season four as well, albeit mostly in flashbacks.
But there wasn’t a huge emotional attachment to Billy. Or really Bob, for that matter, in a way that would satiate those who crave a great death.
Other characters died, but they debuted and died in the same season.
Of course, the most obvious and recent example of this was the death of Eddie Munson (played by Joseph Quinn) in season four. The build-up to his death wasn’t all that shocking or surprising though, and some fans have even speculated that he’ll somehow return next season. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t, when it comes to killing someone – or anyone – in stranger things.
Imagine if a main character died, would fans want them to be resurrected as well? Yes, of course!
And fans have even revisited the show’s saddest moments and united around them, so maybe the death of a main character would create an online funeral or memorial that would bond them even more (in their mind).
Looking ahead, since season four has started to turn into a pure horror show at times, if season five goes that route, expect someone to be killed off. Also, it’s widely reported that season five is the show’s final season, so killing someone isn’t that bad.
They don’t have to save them for season six after all, so might as well go ahead and prune a few of those series mainstays, right?