A Real Life Horror Story Inspired Stranger Things' Beautifully Broken Eddie Munson

Despite having just 42 minutes of screentime throughout all of "Stranger Things," heavy metal-loving outcast Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) is undoubtably a fan-favorite. The leader of Hawkins High School's "Dungeons and Dragons" club, Eddie's love of this allegedly "Satanic" tabletop game made him an easy target for his classmates and a social reject in the town of Hawkins, Indiana.

In "Stranger Things" Season 4, Eddie is implicated in the brutal murder of Hawkins cheerleader Chrissy Cunningham (Grace Van Dien) and is forced to flee the local police while trying to track down Chrissy's true killer. Although most "Stranger Things" fans will be familiar with Eddie's history as an outcast, most fans are probably unaware of the real-life murder case that inspired his tragic backstory. According to the official Netflix Geeked Twitter account, Eddie's story is loosely based on the experiences of writer and artist Damien Echols, a member of the West Memphis Three, who was convicted of killing three eight-year-old boys in Arkansas during the early 1990s.

Echols was a teenage metalhead and social outcast who was believed to have an interest in Satanism. His arrest and subsequent imprisonment were considered by many to be a gross miscarriage of justice, one fueled by the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s. During his trial, a cult expert even testified that Echols' musical tastes and clothing were indicators of a Satanic cult affiliation, and in 1994, Echols was sentenced to death.

Damien Echols was freed 17 years after his conviction

It's easy to see the real-life parallels between Damien Echols' story and the fictionalized background of "Stranger Things" Eddie Munson, as both teens found themselves falsely accused of murder due to circumstantial evidence and prejudice towards their outcast lifestyle. But while Eddie's tragic "Stranger Things" story ended with him being killed by monsters, Echols' ultimate real-world fate was much less tragic, although it took nearly two decades in prison before he and his friends were able to finally achieve justice.

Similar to Eddie's tragic tale, the story of the West Memphis Three struck a chord with people across the country who believed that the teens were innocent and falsely accused. The case was already a media sensation due to the Satanic implications of these murders, but it gained even more notoriety in 1996 with the release of HBO's "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills." This documentary film examined the gross misconduct at the heart of this case, and is cited by Netflix as a direct inspiration for Season 4 of "Stranger Things."

Following the documentary's release, people across America began to call for the release of the West Memphis Three, including celebrities like Eddie Vedder and Johnny Depp. The Arkansas Supreme Court eventually agreed to a hearing after new evidence came to light, and in 2011, Echols and the rest of the West Memphis Three were finally released from prison.