‘Stranger Things’ Metalhead Eddie Munson Based on West Memphis Three’s Damien Echols
Did you know that Eddie Munson, the beloved metalhead from Netflix's Stranger Things 4, was based on a real-life person who was also accused of murder?
Munson, the Metallica-playing Stranger Things character, was inspired by Damien Echols, a writer who was part of the West Memphis Three, a group of teenagers convicted of murder in Arkansas in the '90s. Echols, now in his 40s, was released from prison in 2011 alongside West Memphis Three members Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin.
And, as it turns out, Munson's fictional storyline was loosely modeled on Echols' real ordeal being convicted as part of the 1993 murder of three boys, as Netflix Geeked pointed out.
"Stranger Things's Eddie Munson, played by Joseph Quinn, became one of the breakout characters of the show's most recent season," BuzzFeed writes in an article about film characters based on real people.
"His storyline, which involves him being accused of a murder he didn't commit because of his love for playing Dungeons & Dragons with the Hellfire Club, was inspired by Damien Echols, who was similarly accused of murder in 1994 as part of the West Memphis Three."
Now that's something that might not be known by every Netflix subscriber. But Stranger Things fans surely remember Munson from his crucial scene in Stranger Things 4 when he plays guitar to Metallica's classic 1986 thrash metal single, "Master of Puppets."
Munson + Metallica in 'Stranger Things'
In fact, there was no band but Metallica in mind for the pivotal Stranger Things part. From first drafting the season's screenplay, series creators the Duffer Brothers had already envisioned Metallica's "Master of Puppets" in the now-iconic scene led by Munson.
That's what Hannah Davis, the director of creative sync licensing for Metallica‘s management company Q Prime, explained in a column on Metallica's "So What!" blog.
"The song was scripted in by the Duffer Brothers," Davis said. "It was in their mind from the very beginning. Nora [Felder, music supervisor] reached out to me in November 2020. … Nora ran me through the scene and explained the character of Eddie Munson to me."
In writing Munson, the Duffer Brothers "really wanted to get into this year was the Satanic Panic," they explained to Netflix. "So that brought us back to the Paradise Lost documentary series with the Memphis Three, and it brought us back to Damien Echols. We really wanted that character who's a metalhead, he’s into Dungeons & Dragons, he's ultimately a true nerd at heart. But from an outsider’s point of view, they may go, ‘This is someone that is scary.’ So that’s really where the idea for Eddie came in."
Metallica Continue Their Ascent
Metallica, well embedded in pop culture already, have seen their songs reach new listeners thanks to music placements such as Stranger Things. Last summer, the group even duetted the scene on TikTok, showing their willingness to engage in social media trends. And due to the influx of fresh fans, Metallica subsequently welcomed the newcomers before some seemingly attempted to "cancel" the band.
Tye Trujillo, the 17-year-old son of Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, contributed the guitar solo used on the recording for Stranger Things. It's also part of the Stranger Things 4 soundtrack, which also features songs by KISS, Journey and Talking Heads.
Munson, played by the actor Joseph Quinn, waves the heavy metal flag throughout Stranger Things 4, which first premiered on Netflix last May. Quinn even listened to metal to prepare for role.
Last November, Metallica released "Lux Æterna," the first single from their recently announced album — and their first since Stranger Things — 72 Seasons. It arrives April 14, 2023. The band will tour the world again this year. Get Metallica concert tickets here.