Understanding grief and denial through Eddie Munson's death.
Eddie was a high school senior from Indiana who loved playing DND and his guitar. Unfortunately, he died from a gruesome bat attack in an attempt to save his friends. He’s not real, of course, but to the many Stranger Things viewers who found comfort in this nerdy and hilarious character, his death seemed to have left a very real and nasty gash in their hearts.
I have never truly experienced what it’s like to grieve over the death of someone you love – but the thought of it inevitably happening keeps me up at night. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem like such a nice thing to go through and the responses to Eddie’s death confirms my inference.
Before conducting my observation (which was literally just me snooping the comment sections of every Eddie Munson edit that graced my fyp), I had to immerse myself into the community. That’s what makes a good anthropologist from what I vaguely remember from my one semester of anthro. So I had to find it within me to like this character which unsurprisingly, wasn’t that hard to do.
Disclaimer: Since this observation was over the death of a fictional character, I do not claim that the responses that came out of it are equivalent to that of a real person’s.
Denial, as they say, is the first stage of grief. So it was no surprise that this was the most prevalent reaction amongst fans. Everyone seemed to be invested in the idea that Eddie wasn’t actually dead despite witnessing his tear-jerking goodbye speech to Dustin as he died in his arms. Despite the Duffer Brothers confirming his death, fans desperately clung to any crumb of evidence and strung together theories suggesting his survival. I guess I understand how that feels. We go through denial all the time. We refuse to believe that our favourite TV show has truly ended, we hope that our favourite boyband would make a comeback even though it’s been a decade, and we hoot and cheer for our favourite singer to come back on stage for an encore.
Sorrow and yearning were obvious emotions too. The human need to immortalise someone, or rather, their memories of them can be seen through the multiple Eddie Munson edits featuring a sad Phoebe Bridgers or Taylor Swift song in the background - that definitely heightened the sadness of it all.
I would be lying if I said tears weren’t pooling in my eyes when I saw him die or that I wasn't rooting for them to bring him back too but I'm afraid that was his last rodeo, guys. Although Eddie wasn’t real in the sense that you and I are real, it didn’t make the attachment and connection that viewers had with this character any less genuine – and because of that, his death left a really depressing impression on all of us who watched the show.