With Stranger Things' surprisingly metal fourth season concluding with an even more hesher-friendly finale (no spoilers, don't worry), real-life metal bands like Metallica haven't just been given a bump in the mainstream zeitgeist, but fictional metal characters. One of the show's leading figures is a Dio backpatch-wearing, B.C. Rich Warlock-shredding teenage thrasher, and another one of the show's most brooding characters was directly influenced by the evil black-metal of Darkthrone and Mayhem.
Therefore, while metalheads of the fantastical realm are in the air, we thought we'd ask our readers who their favorite fictional metalheads are from throughout all of pop culture history. We're talking all the way from Airheads, Hesher, Bill and Ted and Anthony Soprano Jr., to the cast of Metalocalypse, Beavis and Butt-Head and the bus driver from the Simpsons. They were all in play.
It was a tough choice, we know. Why? Because IRL metalheads have a sort of hyper-real personality to begin with. Therefore encountering a metalhead in fiction is a lot like meeting with an old friend, or at least an overly simplified but hysterical version of one. That's what is perhaps most surprising about our readers's picks. Turns out its not the fictional serial killers, monsters and tough guys that got the votes — it was the guys that just know how to make people laugh.
It's fitting that the avatar for one of the most celebrated and ubiquitous metal bands kicks off this list. Nothing says "metalhead" like an Iron Maiden shirt with cutoff sleeves and there is no more iconic metal mascot than Eddie. Eddie has taken myriad forms and adapted his image on each of Maiden's album covers, which makes him a super fun fictional metalhead — you never know how he's gonna be dressed or what weapon he'll be wielding at any given time. What you can expect is for him to trot out onstage during Maiden's shows and rock the fuck out like there's no tomorrow.
Wayne's World! Party time! Excellent! While the Saturday Night Live sketch that originated this metal-loving duo surely won the pair some votes, Garth's everyman metalhead demeanor from the Wayne's World movie is what makes him such a relatable character. Whether he's air-drumming in the driver's seat or jamming out in the music store, gleefully fantasizing about playing a Neil Peart-style kit in front of a sea of fans, anyone with an enthusiasm for metal has felt like Garth at some point in their life.
From occult-worship and lifestyle excess to genre-hopping borne of commercial lust, Spinal Tap does an amazing job lampooning metal's most cartoonish tropes. The fictional band's guitarist, Nigel Tufnel, in particular satirizes the classic blues rip-off/worship of many early metal bands, and their yearning to be seen as brilliant composers. In the film, Tufnel discusses how he's composing a "Mach piece," which has characteristics of the work of both Mozart and Bach in D minor, the "saddest of all keys." He titles it "Lick My Love Pump." Then there's his obsession with gear, from the Fender Bass IV he never plays to his custom amps that "go up to 11." He's so lovably stupid.
Someone from Metalocalypse had to make onto this list, and while we personally would've gone with Dr. Rockso ("I DO COCAAAINE"), the frontman of Dethklok, Nathan Explosion, certainly deserves this honor. He's penned such classics as "Birthday Dethday," "Hatred Copter," "Impeach God." and "I Ejaculate Fire." It's a shame, though, that he'll probably never top his chart-topping smash, "Murmaider." Its hard to see how anyone could come up with a better song about slaughtering mermaids. "Murmaider! Murmaider! Murmaider!" We salute you, Nathan.
Beavis and Butt-Head turned us on to a lot of the bands we love today by chuckling over their music videos back in the early Nineties. The list of bands they exposed to a massive new audience is long — from Crowbar ("This music is slow and fat.), Type O Negative and Pantera ("You treat your stepmother with respect, Pantera!") to Korn, King Diamond, Rollins Band (LIAAAAAR! LIAAAAR!) and Death. For many, the two made the often unapproachable genre a bit more human and easier to understand. It's because of their noble and true service to metaldom that we will allow both of them to enter at the number one spot. "Breaking the law! Breaking the law!"