Netflix’s iconic sci-fi horror series, Stranger Things, has consistently captivated audiences, but its fourth season reached new heights of popularity, thanks in part to the introduction of the beloved character Eddie Munson, portrayed by Joseph Quinn. Eddie, the Dungeon Master of Hawkins High School’s Dungeons & Dragons group, the Hellfire Club, epitomizes one of the show’s central themes: the journey of misfits navigating a world that often marginalizes them. Whether it’s Mike Wheeler and his friends engaging in basement D&D sessions or Eleven seeking a normal life away from the clutches of Dr. Brenner, the show’s characters consistently embody the outsider experience.
Season 4 places a strong emphasis on this theme, particularly within the Hellfire Club, a group consisting of Eddie, his bandmates, and key characters like Mike, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair. Despite the club’s innocent nature, Eddie faces accusations of being a satanic cult leader due to its name. Matters escalate when he’s falsely accused of the murder of students like Fred Benson. The Hellfire Club plays a substantial role in season 4, drawing inspiration from real-life 18th-century organizations.
The historical Hellfire Clubs of 18th-century Britain and Ireland shared a common thread of exclusivity and indulgence in activities considered morally objectionable. The first Hellfire Club, founded by the Duke of Wharton, was a satirical gentlemen’s club that openly ridiculed religion. Meanwhile, Sir Francis Dashwood’s Order of the Friars of St Francis of Wycombe was infamous for its mockery of religious rites, excessive drinking, and banqueting.
While the 18th-century Hellfire Clubs may seem different from their Stranger Things counterpart, they share two vital connections: providing refuge for outcasts and being misconstrued as satanic cults. Eddie, a self-proclaimed “freak” with a passion for ’80s heavy metal and D&D, founded the Hellfire Club in Hawkins. Despite accusations of devil worship, Eddie’s sole concern was fostering a sense of empowerment and freedom for himself and his friends. Tragically, Eddie meets his end in season 4, but his legacy endures as a testament to misfits uniting – a core theme of the show itself. Stranger Things’ fourth season not only pushes the boundaries of its narrative but also explores the enduring concept of finding strength and belonging among those who defy societal norms.