These are the two real-life people that probably inspired Stranger Things’ Eddie Munson

eddie munson joseph quinn stranger things 4
Image via Netflix

It’s safe to say that Eddie Munson is fans’ favorite new character from the fourth season of Stranger Things. The metalhead dungeon master from the Hellfire Club, played by British actor Joseph Quinn, is an outcast with a heart of gold, and it did not take long for him to catch the public’s attention. But some fans also noticed that Eddie’s name, style, looks, and story seemed familiar. And it looks like the Duffer Brothers drew inspiration from two specific real-life people to create the character.

Warning: spoilers for Stranger Things season four below!

1. Eddie van Halen

Eddie van Halen was one of the greatest and most well-known guitarists of his time, and of rock and roll as a whole. He was also the founder, songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist for the hard rock band Van Halen. Other original members include drummer Alex van Halen and vocalist David Lee Roth, as well as bassist Michael Anthony, who joined a year after the band was established.

The band was formed in the 1970s and remained active until Eddie’s death in October 2020. Some of their biggest hits include “Panama,” “Jump,” and the ballad “Can’t Stop Loving You.” The guitarist was also behind the iconic solo in “Beat It” by Michael Jackson.

Aside from his name and the fact that Eddie Munson also plays the guitar, the hairstyle is also similar to the one van Halen had around the time Stranger Things is set. It was quite popular in the hard rock and “hair metal” scenes in the 1980s, and it was worn by musicians like Jon Bon Jovi as well. The character of Eddie is most likely a reference to that genre as a whole, and an homage to van Halen specifically, because this is the first season released since his death.

2. Damien Echols (West Memphis Three)

Image via Netflix

Having a metalhead dungeon master as a character is a great opportunity for the Duffer Brothers to explore the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. And that is exactly what they did. Back then, the metal genre was considered “the devil’s music,” and Dungeons & Dragons players were often ostracized and seen as belonging to a satanic cult.

For Eddie, already a misfit in Hawkins, things get even more serious when Chrissy, a cheerleader classmate, dies in his trailer. He is immediately seen as the only possible suspect, and the Hellfire Club is then cast as a satanic cult led by him. Even after sacrificing himself in the Upside Down to save the town from Vecna, even after his death, his reputation remains that of a killer connected to the occult.

The West Memphis Three were a group of teenagers wrongfully accused of the murder of three young boys in the 1990s. Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were accused of performing a satanic ritual with the kids, then sentenced to death row (Echols) and life imprisonment (Baldwin, Misskelley). There was no evidence to support the accusations made against any of the three, and they were released after a plea deal was made in 2011.

They were misfits who did not fit into the idea the highly conservative and religious city of Memphis had of what is acceptable, whether for being introverted artists or, in Echols’ case, for listening to metal music. Two of them had been previously arrested for minor crimes such as vandalism, while the other was known to have a strong temper and get into fights at school. All of that made locals see them as the type of people who would end up committing a murder eventually.

For the Duffer Brothers, the three Paradise Lost documentaries, which critically examine the case, were major sources of inspiration, as was the 2012 documentary West of Memphis. They also cite Echols specifically as inspiration. “[Eddie] seemed like a really great character and a means to explore satanic panic, and that’s why that character kind of had tragedy etched all over him,” Matt Duffer said to Deadline. “Even had he survived the season, you know it wouldn’t have ended well for him. He would have been demonized and blamed for all this.”

Another possible nod to the case is the fact that Eddie plays a Metallica song in the Upside Down. Paradise Lost, in 1996, was the first movie Metallica allowed their music to be used in. On Stranger Things, Eddie plays “Master of Puppets” — a feat shared by actor Joseph Quinn and guitarist Tye Trujillo, the son of Metallica’s bassist Rob Trujillo.

Bonus Track: Eddie, Iron Maiden’s mascot (not a real-life person)

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Image via Iron Maiden

Despite his looks and storyline, the first thing that will come to the mind of any metal fan with a metalhead named Eddie is Iron Maiden’s mascot. Especially by the eighth episode, when the character himself nods to the band by holding a cassette copy of their album Piece of Mind (1983) and shouts, “This is music!”

We obviously could not include Eddie, the mascot, on this list of real-life people who inspired the character of Eddie Munson, but still, the list would not be complete without it.