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Chrissy Cunningham: ‘Stranger Things’ character whose gruesome death impacted viewers

Chrissy Cunningham: 'Stranger Things' character whose gruesome death impacted viewers

In the chilling opening episode of season four of Stranger Things, viewers were introduced to “Chrissy Cunningham”, a character who would leave an indelible mark throughout the season. As a popular cheerleader at Hawkins High School, Cunningham emanates warmth and youthful energy, instantly capturing the audience’s affection.

However, beneath her cheerful exterior, she battled inner demons that resonated deeply with viewers. Tragically, her life was cut short by a villain, making her untimely demise all the more heart-wrenching.

Join us as we delve into the impact of “Chrissy Cunningham” and the remarkable actress who brought her to life.

Who is Chrissy Cunningham?

Chrissy Cunningham smile

Chrissy Cunningham is a character in the Netflix mystery drama series Stranger Things. Cunningham is a popular cheerleader at Hawkins High School in Indiana, where the series takes place. On the surface, she appears to have it all—popularity, good looks, and a relationship with the school’s basketball star, Jason Carver.

However, beneath her seemingly perfect exterior lies a different reality. Cunningham carries the weight of serious self-image issues and battles with depression stemming from the emotional abuse inflicted by her mother. Throughout season four of the series, viewers witness her struggle as she experiences disturbing and disorienting hallucinations. In one particular haunting vision, she is chased by a terrifying creature from another dimension.

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Viewers catch glimpses of Cunningham’s complex relationship with her mother and hints of a budding friendship with Eddie, portrayed by Joseph Quinn.

Chrissy Cunningham and other cheerleaders

Tragically, Cunningham becomes the first victim of a menacing entity known as Vecna. Vecna preys on children, using their secrets against them in a cruel manner. He ensnares his victims by haunting them with the knowledge he possesses before ultimately pulling them into the treacherous Upside Down, where he ends their lives.

Through Cunningham’s demise, viewers are introduced to the true danger and power that Vecna possesses.

Chrissy Cunningham origin

According to the series, Cunningham is a resident of Hawkins, a city situated in the U.S. state of Indiana. Her presence and involvement in the story unfold within the context of the small town’s mysterious and supernatural happenings.

Hawkins is where all the strange and spooky things happen in Stranger Things. It is the place where the characters live and where their lives are connected. Cunningham, like the other characters, has her own experiences and adventures that take place in Hawkins as part of the exciting Stranger Things story.

What happened to Chrissy Cunningham?

Chrissy Cunningham afraid

On  Stranger Things Season 4, Chrissy Cunningham finds herself caught in a terrifying web. She becomes the unfortunate target of “Vecna”, a sinister entity with a knack for exploiting people’s secrets and tormenting them.

Cunningham’s journey begins with unsettling nightmares that haunt her every night. These vivid dreams show the lifeless bodies of her loved ones, filling her with fear and despair. She feels trapped, unable to break free from the grips of her mind.

Sadly, Cunnigham’s search for solace takes a tragic turn. In a desperate attempt to escape her nightmares, she turns to Eddie Munson for help. But her choice leads to a devastating outcome, sealing her fate in a heart-wrenching manner.

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Vecna’s power unleashes a wave of horror upon Cunningham. She is violently thrown against the ceiling, her limbs twisting and breaking in unnatural ways. Her once bright eyes become lifeless as they are gouged out, leaving her in darkness. Her jaw shatters and contorts, marking the end of her story in a bone-chilling moment.

Chrissy Cunningham death

Cunningham’s death had a lasting impact on the characters in the season. Eddie, who saw the horrifying incident, is seen as suspicious and scary by both the police and his basketball team. Jason, her boyfriend, is profoundly affected by her absence, becoming overly worried and causing panic wherever he is.

Following Cunningham’s tragic murder, a gate began to slowly open at the location of her demise. Meanwhile, both Eddie and Jason vowed to seek justice for Cunningham, but they approached it in contrasting ways. Jason suspected Eddie of being involved in Cunningham’s death as part of a twisted game, while Eddie joined forces with “The Party”, a group already acquainted with the terrors of the “Upside Down”. As the fourth and final gate opened, the one at the site of Cunningham’s murder expanded, converging with the other three gates at the centre of Hawkins.

Who played ‘Chrissy Cunningham’?

Grace Van Dien

“Chrissy Cunningham” is played by Grace Van Dien.

Van Dien is an American actress who was born on October 15, 1996, in Los Angeles, California. Her parents are actors Casper Van Dien and Carrie Mitchum. Her father, Casper Van Dien, is known for his roles in “All American” and “Starship Troopers” and has been a supportive presence in her career.

Van Dien is the great-granddaughter of Hollywood Golden Age star Robert Mitchum. Her stepmother is actress Catherine Oxenberg. Van Dien has one older brother and two half-sisters. Van Dien’s ancestry includes Dutch, Swedish, French, and English roots on her father’s side.

In 2005, Van Dien and her family appeared in the reality TV series I Married a Princess. During her childhood, she had minor roles in her father’s films. Van Dien had initially planned to pursue a writing career but developed a passion for acting while working on Sleeping Beauty in 2014. From 2015 to 2017, she appeared in various television series and feature films and had guest roles in the series Code Black and White Famous.

Van Dien’s breakthrough television role came when she played “Brooke Osmond” in the Netflix teen drama series Greenhouse Academy. She portrayed the character in the first two seasons from 2017 to 2019.

In 2018, she starred as “Sharon Tate” in the biographical film Charlie Says, which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival. She was cast as “Katie Campbell” in the lead role for the NBC drama series The Village in 2019, but the show was cancelled after one season.

In 2022, Van Dien made an appearance in the fourth season of the Netflix series Stranger Things, in which she played the character “Chrissy Cunningham”.

Beyond Stranger Things, Van Dien is keeping herself busy with multiple projects. IMDb lists upcoming works such as Janus, VengeanceAaah! Roach!, Alaska, Silver Star and The Fix. She is actively exploring various avenues within the entertainment industry.

Additionally, she began streaming on the video game live-streaming service Twitch and has gained over 200,000 followers at the time of this piece’s publication. She signed with United Talent Agency for representation in August 2022. In March 2023, Van Dien revealed during a Twitch live stream that she would focus more on streaming than acting.

Furthermore, it was announced in May 2023 that Van Dien would join the esports organisation FaZe Clan as a content creator.

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