Spoilers ahead for the Stranger Things Season 4 finale. Now that you’ve watched and processed the Stranger Things Season 4 finale, you know that the show’s writers are experts at making viewers cry. (Will’s speech to Mike, hello?!) But as it turns out, the actors themselves are pretty good at it, too. As the official Stranger Things writers’ Twitter account revealed a day after that heartbreaking Season 4 finale, several of the second volume’s most tragic lines of dialogue were not scripted at all — rather, they were improvised by the stars while filming.
The first such moment happens between our resident Hellfire besties, Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Eddie (Joseph Quinn). After Eddie sacrifices himself to save his friends from the Demobats, Dustin finds him dying — and he’s shattered. Though he tells Eddie that they’ll get him help, he soon realizes that there’s no coming back from those kinds of injuries. And Eddie knows it, too. “I didn’t run away this time, right?” Eddie asks, referencing his moment of fear when Chrissy (Grace Van Dien) died earlier in the season.
Dustin confirms that no, Eddie definitely did not run — and reluctantly promises to “look after those little sheep” for his fallen friend. “Good, because I’m actually going graduate,” Eddie says. “I think it’s my year, Henderson. I think it’s finally my year.”
The character’s next (and last) words are the tragic bit improvised by Quinn. “I love you, man,” Eddie says, prompting Dustin to respond, tearfully, “I love you, too.”
The next bit of improvisation happens during Max’s (Sadie Sink) death scene literally one minute later (Netflix, you’re sick for this!). Max’s second confrontation with Vecna turns out to be way more dangerous than the first — because this time, her Walkman was smashed and she had no Kate Bush to help her run up that hill to safety.
Her bones snap and eyes bleed — and when she finally falls from the air, she tells Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) that she can’t see or feel anything. Lucas tries to assure her that she’ll be OK, but he’s clearly terrified himself. “I don’t want to die; I’m not ready,” Max cries.
“You’re not going to die, please hang on,” Lucas says, as Max takes a turn for the worse and actually dies in his arms — and knowing, now, that she technically comes back to life doesn’t make the scene any less tragic.
Despite not being scripted, the tragic moment works perfectly with Lucas’ character arc this season. As McLaughlin recently told Netflix, “He’s usually a pretty stable, level-headed kind of guy. He’s the guy who’s like, ‘We’ll be fine. We’ll figure it out. It’s friends. It’s family. We’re going to do this,’” he said. “This season, he’s more vulnerable.”
As we wait to find out what, exactly, happens to Max in Stranger Things Season 5, it’s safe to say that these improvised moments will make your Season 4 rewatch (whenever you’re ready!) that much more emotional.