One of many, to be sure. But I have to admit, I’m struggling. I love me some Stranger Things, so much so that I wrote a story loosely based on Steve and Eddie (#steddie) that has since become my most popular work. (The sequel is due out in November, so go pre-order “One Night in Wyland High.”) All this to say that I adore Eddie as a character, and I mourn him as much as most fans. (And I have a fic that may or may not bring him back, but that won’t be on AO3 until I finish it.)
But that’s just it. Fan fiction is where fans go to change the narrative. Either to write it or read it, to join in all that wishful thinking. At least, that’s where it should happen. But more and more, with social media making showrunners, writers, the industry at large, more accessible, fans feel… compelled? entitled? to push their desires. They want to make their head canons actual canon. And I think that’s a bad thing.
Let’s just say, I’ve never know good work to come from groupthink. Stories written by committee often lack substance and cohesion. Trying to please everyone, or even a majority, generally results in something watered down to the most common denominator level.
All of this came to mind when I saw something about a petition to bring Eddie back having reached 50k signatures. Sigh. He had his arc, and it was a solid, if tragic, one. Calls for him to come back as a vampire just make me more sad.
I’m not saying it can’t be done, or even possibly done well. But as a writer myself, I know that the pressure to gratify the audience frequently comes at the price of compromise. It often means not being able to tell the best story, the one I want to tell. To fit in the things that readers or viewers clamor for, the writer has to retrofit, do a number of storytelling gymnastics, even subvert established characters and plot. It’s not easy, and the result usually negates much of what made the story or show so great to begin with. Instead of sticking the landing, you end up undermining your foundation, and everything collapses.
Would I like to see Eddie again? Absolutely. But only if that was in the plan to begin with. Honestly, I sort of see Eddie Munson as a local legend. The boogeyman that parents warn their kids about. “Don’t go in the woods, or Eddie Munson will get you.” That kind of thing.
Then again, Stranger Things makes no secret of its love for Stephen King. And as Uncle Stevie says: Sometimes They Come Back…