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Stranger Things: Inside Dustin, Eddie and Steve's platonic love triangle

Alexandra Ciufudean July 1, 2022
Stranger Things: Inside Dustin, Eddie and Steve's platonic love triangle
Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Stranger Things Season 4 threw a wrench in the efficient machine that is Dustin and Steve’s friendship. Its name? Hawkins High’s eccentric Dungeon Master and misfit king Eddie Munson.

How will Stranger Things’ best bromance fare when it gets turned into a “three-way platonic love triangle“?

We have some news: it gets downright adorable.

As season 4 introduces a third element to the Dustin & Steve bromance – Eddie Munson – this wild card competing for Dustin’s friendship elicits some hilarious reactions from Steve.

STRANGER THINGS. Joseph Quinn as Eddie Munson in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Steve and Dustin’s unlikely bromance is a fan favourite

Dustin and Steve’s friendship was by far one of the highlights of Stranger Things season 2 and there are countless fan-made tribute reels to prove it. The two first started their unlikely friendship while hunting down Dustin’s pet baby demogorgon (remember Dart?) and bonded over girl trouble. Some of Steve’s charisma apparently rubbed off on Dustin, who grew into a more confident character and started dating his first girlfriend, Suzie.

Meanwhile, Steve’s friendship with unapologetically nerdy Dustin revealed a whole new side of his character. He wasn’t just Nancy’s jock boyfriend, but Dustin’s (and later the group’s) protector, a big brother figure who stood up to the popular crowd for his underdog friends.

Steve’s friendship with Robin and his ability to safekeep the secret about her sexuality basically assured his role as many fans’ favourite character.

As some fans pointed out, Dustin’s bond with Steve is that much stronger because Dustin doesn’t seem to have an older brother or father figure to look up to. And Steve for all his popularity and supposed self-confidence seemed to struggle to form meaningful connections (we also get a hint about his troubled home life in the first season).

What makes this even better is that Steve and Dustin’s friendship extends into their off-screen lives. As the two forged their unlikely bond, the actors who play them (Gaten Matarazzo and Joe Keery) discovered they got along just as great IRL, to the delight of fans everywhere.

How Dustin became Eddie’s protégé

Eddie Munson is season 4’s wildcard and quickly becoming a fan favourite. As Hawkins High’s resident Dungeon Master and head of the Dungeons And Dragons group, Hellfire Club, he’s by definition a misfit and an underdog. He’s been held back from graduating, lives in a trailer with his uncle and deals drugs to make ends meet.

When word gets out that the most popular girl in school died a brutal death in Eddie’s trailer during an apparent drug deal, he goes on the run as the town’s scapegoat. It doesn’t help that Eddie is a consummate metal head during the 1980s so-called Satanic Panic.

Dustin and Eddie first meet through Hellfire Club, which Mike, Dustin and (reluctant) Lucas join when they enter high school. Dustin quickly becomes Eddie’s protégé and the two quickly become inseparable when Eddie has to go into hiding. During Eddie’s time on the lam, Dustin becomes his connection to the outside world and to the wider gang.

The group even brings Eddie supplies and “Dustin-approved snacks” while he’s out in the woods, which accentuates the connection between the two.

And then season 4’s tragic conclusion cements it as canon.

A platonic love triangle: Dustin, Eddie and Steve forever

Once a kind of resentful joke between the two, Steve now misses his role as Dustin’s “babysitter” after Dustybun begins spending more time with his new friend, Eddie and Hellfire Club.

As Steve grows jealous of their connection, the showrunners take this opportunity to develop his character further. Jealous Steve is cranky, resentful and prone to bickering with Dustin – whether as a joke or for real isn’t quite clear.

In the first episode, Dustin even calls him out on it. Steve rejects Dustin’s offer to play D&D on a Friday night, saying he won’t move his date to hang out “with you and Eddie The Freak Munson” and Dustin shoots back with:

“You’re just jealous ’cause I have another older male friend.”

“Ugh,” Steve shudders at that phrase.

What is clear, however, is that Dustin and Eddie’s friendship is getting to him. Steve has to decide whether to stick it out or cut loose and potentially lose his buddy.

If you’ve watched the last episodes of season 4 part 1, you’ll know what Steve chooses. SPOILER WARNING!

Steve eventually decides to step into his role as the group’s protector and dives into Lovers’ Lake to check out Vecna’s lair. If they can catch Vecna, that will clear Eddie’s name and let him stop running from the police. So it looks like Steve is now on team Eddie.

The bromance extends to their off-screen lives

Just like in Stranger Things, the actors playing Dustin, Eddie and Steve are also friends in real life. The trio bonded after a covid-19 lockdown shut down filming for season 4 and kept Eddie actor Joseph Quinn, who is British, in the US.

“We had rock climbing, working, that’s it,” says Keery. They also had lots of time to investigate the friendship – or platonic love triangle, as they call it, between Dustin, Eddie and Steve.

Initially, showrunners the Duffer brothers had wanted Eddie to throw a wrench in the mix and become a rival of sorts to Steve and a potential alternate future to Dustin. But the character turned out so charismatic that they instead went with a three-way bromance for the ages.

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Alexandra is Head of Entertainment at The Focus, managing a growing team of outstanding graduate and experienced writers. She has worked previously as an editor, writer and content specialist across web, video and social platforms and has a bachelor's in English Linguistics and a master's in Comparative Literature.