Warning: This contains potentially distressing discussions of murder, including violence against children.
While Stranger Things season 4 borrowed a lot from A Nightmare On Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger for its villain Vecna, the Netflix hit returned the favor by proving that a prequel based on the iconic slasher’s backstory could work. A lot of Nightmare On Elm Street viewers might understandably balk at the premise of a Freddy Krueger-centric prequel to the series. After all, the character’s backstory (while contradictory and not entirely clear) is potentially too dark and bleak to make for a fun watch.
Where the Friday the 13th franchise’s complicated story makes both Jason Voorhees and his mother relatively sympathetic at times, Freddy Krueger’s origins are a lot less empathy-inducing. According to the original 1984 movie A Nightmare On Elm Street, Freddy Krueger is a child murderer who was caught and killed by a mob after evading justice for his crimes. According to the character’s television show backstory (seen in the short-lived anthology series Freddy’s Nightmares), he also returned to haunt the police who almost caught him.
According to the 2010 Nightmare On Elm Street remake, Freddy was also a pedophile who abused his victims before murdering them, a crass twist that franchise creator Wes Craven wisely cut from the original movie. In all of these iterations of the character’s origins, he is a pretty tough character to feel for (to say the least). While Nightmare On Elm Street’s misjudged remake offered the most twisted version of Freddy, none of his backstories make the character a suitable hero for a prequel. However, Stranger Things season 4’s Vecna backstory proved that a villain didn’t need to be softened and turned heroic to earn an interesting backstory. Vecna’s origins offered a compelling explanation for his villainy without making the monster too sympathetic, something that a Freddy Krueger-focused Nightmare On Elm Street origin story could do if handled well.
Why A Freddy Krueger Backstory Is So Risky
At his core, Freddy is a sadistic child killer, so he is not a fun character to spend much time around and not someone who viewers are likely to empathize with. As if to prove this, the later sequels in the series made some attempts to ground Freddy’s evil in childhood abuse. However, getting Alice Cooper to play Freddy’s abusive stepdad in Nightmare On Elm Street 6: Freddy’s Dead ensured that these scenes weren’t exactly poignant horror drama and, even if Freddy were somehow to be made more understandable via a look into his troubled past, it is unlikely that viewers would be able to see past the horrific nature of his crimes and feel truly sorry for the guy.