Hopper Is Officially Alive and Hot AF in 'Stranger Things' Season 4

Amy Mackelden
·7-min read
Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

From Harper's BAZAAR

Spoilers for Stranger Things Season 3 below. 🚨

  • Stranger Things Season 3 finally hit Netflix on July 4, and fans who have been binge-watching the series have some questions.

  • Just as Season 1 inspired #JusticeforBarb and Season 2 created #JusticeforBob, Season 3 has its own slew of devastating storylines.

  • In particular, fans want to know exactly what happened to Hopper at the end of Stranger Things 3.

Stranger Things 3 hit everyone's screens on July 4, and within hours, it was breaking hearts all over the globe. One of the main reasons for the plethora of crying GIFs on social media is the unexpected fate of everyone's favorite resident adoptive father: Detective Jim Hopper.

Here, we take a look at what happened to Hopper at the end of Season 3 and whether David Harbour's character is really … dead? (Hint: he's not).

Hopper and Joyce worked together to save the world.

The main storyline in Season 3 revolved around a group of Russians who had made a machine that could open the gate to the Upside Down, which lies beneath Hawkins. While the kids were on a quest to stop Billy, the Mind Flayer, and the flayed residents of Hawkins, Hopper and Joyce took on a quest of their own: to stop the Russians.

Photo credit: Netflix
Photo credit: Netflix

With the help of scientist Alexei (who we're crushing on hard) and journalist-turned-conspiracy theorist Murray Bauman, Hopper and Joyce figured out how to stop the gate to the Upside Down from being reopened. However, they were also being stalked by a Terminator–like figure intent on killing them both—and who succeeded in fatally shooting Alexei (be still my beating heart).

After taking the Starcourt Mall elevator all the way down to the Russian's underground Hawkins lair, Hopper killed a bunch of guards and stole their uniforms. Once inside the war room, and using Alexei's intel, Joyce and Hopper figured out how to turn off the machine. However, the Mr. Terminator guy ruined their plans.

Hopper had a fist fight with the Terminator … and won.

While Joyce was left to try and stop the machine on her own, Hopper fought the Russian Terminator, dangerously close to the huge machine that was blasting into the Upside Down's gate below Hawkins. However, Hopper miraculously won, throwing the Terminator into the machine's rays, seemingly killing him in the process.

However, Joyce ended up having to hit the machine's kill switches before Hopper could make it back to the safety of the war room. In a devastating but pretty beautiful moment, Hopper said goodbye to Joyce—and to dedicated viewers. As Joyce stopped the machine, everything in its wake was destroyed, with hazmat-suited Russians literally evaporating into thin air. Hopper, too, disappeared and was presumed dead.

Season 3 ended with an emotional letter from Hopper, which he'd originally written as an impassioned speech to Eleven and Mike about keeping the door open three inches when they were together. In the heartbreaking note, Hopper also went into detail about all of the ways in which Eleven had opened him up to his feelings and what a privilege it was to watch his adopted daughter grow up. However, the post-credits sequence left viewers with some questions.

He's stuck in a Russian jail.

In Season 3's post-credits sequence, Russian guards were seen choosing a prisoner to feed to a Demogorgon. At the first cell, one of the guards said, "No, not the American," and instead picked a Russian prisoner, and many fans believed that the "American" in question was Hopper.

On Valentine's Day, it was officially revealed that Hopper isn't dead. A press release explained, "We’re excited to officially confirm that production on Stranger Things 4 is now underway—and even more excited to announce the return of Hopper! Although it’s not all good news for our "American"; he is imprisoned far from home in the snowy wasteland of Kamchatka, where he will face dangers both human... and other."

Everyone that previously guessed that David Harbour's loveable cop was the imprisoned "American" will be dancing for joy, and quite simply relieved that the beloved character isn't dead.

Although Hopper is alive, he's very much a prisoner. In the show's Season 4 teaser trailer, he's put to work on a railroad in the snow. He also looks impossibly sexy with a shaved head. Thank you, Netflix.

He was transported to Russia at the end of Season 3.

Esquire discussed this particular theory, noting that scientist Alexei actually gave a detailed explanation of how the Russians' machine worked. In Episode 7, Murray translated Alexei as having said the following.

He calls it the key and this key emits a great energy. It requires much strength and power. Those houses like the ones they found they're stealing from your town's energy supply. There are many of these keys before in Russia, but they turned out wrong ... They're using this energy to break through a barrier to open a doorway between worlds. But it seems this key was only half the equation. Location was the other half. In Hawkins this door had been opened once, it was still healing. It is opening.

Perhaps the machine can transport matter between separate locations, or keys, as well as between the real world and the Upside Down. If so, Hopper could've been zapped from Hawkins and transported to the Russian location we saw at the start of the season. In which case, he's very much alive but in danger of being fed to a Demogorgon.

Fans also theorize that Harbour's new beard is evidence that Hopper is still alive. Perhaps the actor wasn't allowed to shave his facial hair so that when Stranger Things Season 4 starts filming, he'll have a rugged look for Hopper's time in the Russian prison. According to Seventeen, the speculation escalated after Millie Bobby Brown posted photos from her "daddy daughter date" with Harbour on Instagram.

His "death" mirrors Han Solo's in The Empire Strikes Back.

Speaking on the Behind the Scenes: Stranger Things 3 (via Entertainment Weekly), Matt Duffer revealed that Hopper's supposed death was inspired by Han Solo's in The Empire Strikes Back.

Duffer explained, "We always talk about Empire Strikes Back, we always wanted to give him a darker ending, we always wanted to give him a Han Solo sacrifice moment." He continued, "It was emotional to shoot but it was really, really quick."

Duffer's comments suggested that Hopper wasn't really dead at all. As all Star Wars fans know, Han Solo was frozen in carbonite in Empire only to be thawed out in Return of the Jedi. According to SyFy, this was done because Harrison Ford wasn't sure if he wanted to return to play Han Solo for a third movie. But at the same time, rather than definitively killing off the character, it left the door open for a reprisal.

Plus, Men's Health explored all of the parallels between Stranger Things and Star Wars, with all signs pointing to Hopper's return.

There are so many possibilities for the plot of Season 4, most of which revolve around finding out what happened to Hopper, and we're thankful for that.

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Photo credit: .

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