We went into Stranger Things season 4, volume 2 bracing ourselves: for deaths, for heartbreak, and for a two-plus-hour-long finale with no bathroom breaks. (That is, if you couldn’t bear to pause in the middle of Will and Mike’s heart-to-heart or Eleven mind-battling Vecna.) And even though we approached the season’s closing chapter with plenty of warnings that not everyone would make it out alive, these killings were still gutting—or in some cases, pretty satisfying—to watch.
The first bit of ST4 was deadly enough already, with cheerleader Chrissy Cunningham, student journalist Fred Benson, and basketball player Patrick McKinney all falling victim to Vecna’s bone-snapping clutches. Let’s also not forget all those who were slain in the massacre of Hawkins Lab, or the prisoners obliterated by a Demogorgon in the Russian jail. Volume 2 followed up with a body count of its own, though, we’d argue it wasn’t as devastating as we’d expected. (Millie Bobby Brown might agree.)
Here’s who we lost in those last two episodes—and who we still have questions about.
When the feds raid Dr. Brenner’s makeshift lab in the desert, he helps Eleven flee but gets shot several times in the back during the escape. In his final moments, he unlocks El’s collar (down to the very end, he was trying to restrain her) and tries to make peace with her—after years of holding her captive, running tests on her, molding her into some sort of supernatural weapon, and chasing after her again and again. Eleven refuses this peace offering and leaves him. As the camera pans out, Dr. Brenner dies alone in the desert; El is finally free. But actor Matthew Modine says he “would love to have the opportunity to come back.”
Dear Eddie, we hardly knew ye. While this season’s beloved “freak” and new fan favorite spent most of his journey on the run—from the authorities, from Vecna, and from the disgruntled citizens of Hawkins—in the end, he took a stand and fought to save his friends (especially his BFF Dustin). He takes on a whole swarm of Demobats in the Upside Down by himself, which ultimately killed him. At least he got to shred a wicked Metallica cover before his final bow.
This basketball jock-turned-deranged bully probably got the goriest send-off in the episode, but did he deserve it? I’m not going to say no. After Lucas knocks him out cold in the Creel house, Jason (Mason Dye) remains lying on the attic floor for the duration of Vecna’s attack on Max. When Vecna triggers a merge between the Upside Down and real-life Hawkins, the ground begins to split open directly beneath Jason, and his body is literally ripped in two. Yeah, there’s no way he’s surviving that.
It seems like we also lost Dr. Sam Owens (Paul Reiser) in the desert lab raid. In his final scene, he is handcuffed to a pipe during a standoff with Lieutenant Colonel Sullivan, who does not set him free. Outside, Eleven brings down an army helicopter and it crashes down on the lab and explodes. We don’t see Dr. Owens again, which leads us to believe he perished in the blast, but it’s also possible that he was safe underground in the bunker-like lab. Only time will tell.
It doesn’t look like Vecna perished, but the kids make a valiant attempt at squashing him out for good. Eleven fights Vecna in Max’s mind, while Nancy, Steve, and Robin shoot and throw molotov cocktails at real-life Vecna in the Upside Down. The trio of teens are able to light him on fire and knock him out of the attic window, from which he plunges three stories down onto the front lawn. By then, he looks like a burning corpse, but when the kids go out searching for his body, it’s no longer there.
It’s likely Vecna will return for the final season, but Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays him, is staying coy about it. “My lips are very sealed, very, very much sealed in terms of Season 5,” he told Collider. “Matt and Ross [Duffer, the showrunners], I’m sure, have plans and designs, so we’ll leave it up to our captains to tell everyone what they’re thinking.”
She’s technically alive by the very end of the season, but she also technically died for a brief moment after her close encounter with Vecna. Lucas says that, according to the doctors, Max’s heart stopped for over a minute, but she came back to life mysteriously. Turns out, Eleven was able to revive her in some curious way. The Duffer brothers confirmed that when the season comes to a close, Max is “brain dead, blind, and all of her bones are broken.” But when Eleven goes searching for her in the Void, she’s nowhere to be found. We investigate this further here.