is undoubtedly one of the best TV series of our generation.
Season four became’s most-watched English language series, but the show has one fundamental flaw – the creators of the show, the Duffer Brothers, never commit to killing off their main characters.
Fans were devastated by the heroic death of (Joseph Quinn), as he defended Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and met his gruesome end by a swarm of demobats.
Out of the recurring cast introduced this season, Eddie and Jason Carver died in the battle of Hawkins and the Upside Down – but in a way, these deaths were inevitable.
Sure, Dr Martin Brenner – who was introduced in – was also Ki**ed off in this season, after he was already thought to be dead in season one, but the point still stands: The core group of recurring characters seem to be untouchable to dying – and staying dead.
The Duffer Brothers have a track record for introducing new characters for a series only to kill them off in the finale. It’s as though the new additions are expendable as the ‘stakes’ are lower than killing off a main character.
It removes some of the tension from the series, as it becomes near impossible to believe that the beloved Steve Harrington or Nancy Wheeler could die for good. After all, if you’re sure they’re going to come out on top, the threats they face don’t seem that dauting.
Bob (Sean Astin) met a similar end in the finale of series two. Bob re-awakened Joyce’s joy and his computer skills allowed him to provide the key code to save his friends and Hawkins, before he died at the hands of the demodogs.
In series three, it was Max’s brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) that died to save the children from the mind flayer, who had been mindlessly controlled by all series. Billy lasted slightly longer than the other newcomers for two series, but the threatening big brother simmered in the background before his time as the villain and then momentarily the hero.
Similar to Eddie, the unsung heroes died to save the town rather than the writers risking the lives of one of the key characters.
However, the creators might have misjudged how fervently fans would rally behind series four’s unlikely hero, Eddie, as a .
On the other hand, Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink) was marked by the menacing Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) and in spite of her bone-crushing injuries, she survives and ends up in a coma.
The first volume of season four saw Max outrun the villain with the power of Kate Bush and escape by the skin of her teeth. In volume two, Max uses herself as bait to lure Vecna into a trap, but she this time ‘Running up that Hill’ wasn’t there to save her.
After a brief moment of consciousness in Lucas’ arms where she admits she can’t see and desperately pleads that she doesn’t want to die, Max dies.
It seemed as though Max’s death would be the first major character to definitively exit the series, but Elle performs a superhero feat she’s never attempted before and ‘reverses’ death.
The ‘miracle’ Elle performs brings Max back to life. Even though she’s in a coma, it seems very likely that Max will wake up next season rather than die for the second time.
It also follows the Duffer Brothers’ formula of their heroes having near-death experiences or being Ki**ed off the show (seemingly for good) to return in the next series.
The emotional finale of series three saw Jim Hopper (David Harbour) ‘die’ in an explosion to close the gate to the Upside Down. It was a poignant and triumphant end for the borderline alcoholic, depressive detective and the series ended with a heartfelt letter left to his daughter, Elle.
Yet, in series four, he returned. Hopper survived the explosion by jumping down a level with nothing more than a bump on the head.
While there is undeniable tension in the gripping series, it’s difficult to be convinced that the main characters are ever in any real jeopardy when the Duffer Brothers continue to avoid killing them off permanently.
Even Millie Bobby Brown admitted in an interview with The Wrap that the series could do with a ‘massacre’ of some of its ensemble.
She said: ‘The Duffer Brothers are sensitive Sallies who don’t want to kill anybody off. We need to have the mindset of Game of Thrones. Kill me off! They tried killing David [Harbour] off and they brought him back! It’s ridiculous.’
GoT instilled a ‘no one is safe’ mantra into viewers, as time and time again, main characters would die in shocking and brutal ways. Ned Stark was lined up as a key protagonist in series one, before he was executed by the end of the ninth episode.
The show’s ‘Red Wedding’ episode in season three is one of the most gruesome and shocking moments in television, and countless characters met their end, including Robb (Richard Madden) and Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley).
It was a brutal and intimate death as Roose Bolton pierced a dagger into Robb Stark’s heart and most importantly, it was irreversible.
It’s a moment that is etched in many GoT viewers minds, as it was so shocking. It reminded viewers that they aren’t in control of the characters’ fate and there’s the rising anticipation and thirst to see what happens next.
It’s doubtful that Stranger Things would ever be this bold and bring a definitive end to several characters at once. After all, the show is too successful to wipe out the Hawkins’ heroes (and there’s a spin-off in the works).
On the Happy, Sad, Confused podcast, the saying they have to be ‘realistic.’ Matt Duffer added: ‘There is logic behind it and has nothing to do with my sensitivity.’
Yet, in a world of demogorgons, flesh-eating demobats, and child-powered superheroes, it seems there is a new kind of ‘logic’ needed for the show. After all, if logic is in place, high school students shouldn’t have all survived that world-shattering ordeal in Hawkins.
The lack of clear-cut endings for characters removes an element of shock and waters down any emotional punch that the series offers. As a result, the series loses some of its conviction and the Upside Down’s next victim becomes predictable.
There’s only so many times you can bring characters back from the supposed dead in one universe, without it feeling overused.
Compared to the king of resurrections, Marvel’s Loki (Tom Hiddleston), there isn’t a cinematic universe or multiverse for these reincarnations to happen, it’s all fixed in one timeline and one series.
Stranger Things doesn’t have the luxury of time and space to spread out these deaths and it becomes obvious that there is a pattern of ‘pretending’ to kill off characters, only to bring them back.
The Duffer Brothers could still pull a ‘Red Wedding’ out of their sleeves for the fifth and final season, but it seems too big a leap from their perfected formula.
The stakes have never been higher for season five, but it’s hard to imagine the series ending any other way than the kids finally getting some of their childhood again.
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