Eddie Munson's 'Stranger Things' Storyline Is Inspired by a True Crime

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Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

As Stranger Things has grown in popularity with each new season, so too has the cast, with the Duffer Brothers writing in a growing ensemble of characters to highlight different aspects of life in Hawkins, Indiana. Season 2 gave us Max, season 3 gave us Robin, and in season 4, the first part of which is now streaming on Netflix, we are introduced to Eddie Munson, the ringleader of the D&D-playing "Hellfire Club."

Eddie's storyline sees him become the prime suspect in the death of cheerleader Chrissy Cunningham, and as the season progresses, the hunt for Eddie gains fervor, with a group of concerned members of the community whipped up into an angry mob.

While the supernatural elements of the story are unique to the show, the rest of Eddie's story very much draws on real events from the 1980s, when the public consciousness of middle America was taken over by the idea that devil-worshiping cults were corrupting the younger generations. The Hellfire Club is targeted because of its links to Dungeons & Dragons, a game which came under similar suspicion in real life due to its purported demonic messaging. (A D&D stand-in called Gryphons & Gargoyles is the center of a similar storyline in the third season of Riverdale.)

"The satanic panic of the time was definitely at the spine of my character," 29-year-old British actor Joseph Quinn, who plays Eddie, told Men's Health.

A recent tweet from the official Netflix Geek account has confirmed that the character of Eddie was specifically inspired by the true story of Damien Echols, otherwise known as one of the "West Memphis Three," after the Duffer Brothers saw the documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills.

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Who is Damien Echols?

Along with fellow teenagers Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin, Echols was arrested in 1993 for the murder of three eight-year-old boys (Steve Edward Branch, Christopher Mark Byers, and James Michael Moore) in West Memphis, Arkansas. Their trial, conviction, the role that satanic panic played in the prosecution, and the conservative, evangelical Christian leanings of the wider community are all explored in the Paradise Lost documentary and its subsequent sequels, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory.

The West Memphis Three spent many years on death row, until their convictions were eventually overturned following a retrial in 2010 in which DNA technology which had not previously existed enabled the defense to present new evidence exonerating them. All three were immediately released from prison.

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