“I don’t think it’s very fair,” Quinn says of Eddie’s legacy, “but I think it kind of fits into the rest of the theme of this season, which is it’s more adult, it’s brutal, it’s more frightening.” It’s true that the season, with its horror movie villain and themes of depression and isolation, has stopped following the show’s typical heroes-always-win pattern. The end of the season sees the town in full end-of-days mode: if the biblical signs and news reports about a portal to hell are any indications, they didn’t learn anything from Jason’s (Mason Dye) angry mob mentality.
Quinn points out that “we’d all like Eddie to be celebrated and kind of get the hero’s death that he deserves,” but says that the painful ending is “classier storytelling” as opposed to a less complex conclusion. It’s true that in the past, some parts of “Stranger Things” have felt a bit too easy, with all our heroes earning their triumphant ’80s movie moments. “Stranger Things” is a fantasy horror show, but even its story elements grounded in reality have always felt a little fantastical. Not anymore, though.
The season finale seems to want to shatter the child-like sense of security the show has built, as its final revelation — that the Upside Down has begun bleeding into Hawkins — is anything but a happy ending. Quinn seems to think the harsh way Eddie went out is a part of that, too. “I think it’s this sense that life isn’t always easy, and I think you feel that this season,” the actor says. “You feel like it’s more mature.”