- Stranger Things -Ranking 11 Hopper Theories From ‘Stranger Things’ Reddit, From Least To Most Likely
Look, we all knew that Jon Snow wasn’t really dead when the petulant Olly and traitorous members of the Night’s Watch stabbed Westeros’ secret Targaryen “to death” back on Season 5 of Game of Thrones. In the same vein for the Stranger Things fans, no one believed Hopper was truly gone after that explosion at the end of Season 3 in the Battle of Starcourt.
Just when Jopper was finally going to happen (even David Harbour ships it), Hawkins’ doting sheriff who reserves mornings for coffee and contemplation seemingly sacrifices himself to make sure the portal to the Upside Down stays closed for good this time.
But cut to the mid-credits scene set in “Kamchatka, Russia,” and we see some Russian officers pass by a door housing “The American.” Instead of dragging him away, they cut a Russian prisoner loose in the basement as food for...a DEMOGORGON.
Then, last September, we learned that Dorothy wasn't in Hawkins anymore...
And months later in February, Netflix bestowed us with a Valentine’s Day treat from Russia, with love, revealing Hopper *alive* and hammering some nails into a train track — even if he isn’t exactly whistling while he’s working.
What does that mean for where we find Hopper in Season 4? Is he in the Upside Down? In Russia? Did he time travel? Well, I pored through Reddit to discover some of the internet’s wildest and more plausible theories.
11. Jim Hopper Was Teleported To The Hell Dimension
Explanation of Theory: CornWarbler23 posits that this Hell Dimension was “where he fought for all of eternity, waging war on the demon hordes when lesser, mortal men could not. Jim Hopper is actually the Doom Marine they find in the sarcophagus in DOOM 2016.”
Probability: Not even in the Upside Down.
Why?: Netflix isn’t one for many crossovers between properties, unless it’s between fellow Netflix fare. Take the name drop of the kingdom of Aldovia from The Christmas Prince in The Princess Switch, for example. So it’s fairly out of bounds for the Duffers to have partnered up with the Doom video game franchise and incorporated it into the show.
10. A Darker Turn — Hopper Was Held Captive, Brainwashed, & Turned Into The Red Guardian From Marvel’s Black Widow
Explanation of Theory: Reddit users u/Sudoball and u/Leather_Salt both suggested a potential crossover with Marvel. In essence, proposing “the possibility that he was held captive for several years following the events of Stranger Things Season 3/4. He was then brainwashed into thinking he was a Russian native, given super soldier serum, and turned into the Red Guardian aka Alexei. Brainwashing is an established tactic in the MCU, and in the trailer for Black Widow we see him breaking out of what appears to be a prison.”
Additionally, u/Sudoball notes that “The MCU has also established that brainwashing is not foolproof, and often leaves fragmented memories in the affected person. His change of name from Jim Hopper to Alexei could be a result of his fragmented memories of Dr. Alexei who he formed a close bond with during Stranger Things Season 3.”
Why?: In theory (ha), this is actually a fairly inventive way to imagine two of David Harbour’s characters merging together, and Marvel was the OG studio for pushing forward the idea of a cinematic universe. Ahem, the MCU.
But like with the Doom video game, Marvel and Netflix do not go hand in hand, especially as of late with Netflix no longer producing Marvel television series like Jessica Jones and Daredevil to air on the streamer. Those are more Disney+’ bag now.
But anyway, Harbour also spoke at Liverpool Comic-Con in the “Before” months of March and shed light on what it’s like to work with two of the biggest production studios on the planet right now. “... Working with Netflix and working with Stranger Things is like my marriage. Like I love them and also I can get annoyed with them and I can have it out with them,” he said. “And it feels like this durable, wonderful relationship. And being with Marvel was kinda like dating a very pretty movie for a couple months.”
9. Is His Daughter Alive?
Explanation of Theory: Reddit user TheNerdiestGuyEver shared, “I'm expecting his daughter to be alive...and different.”
Why?: Well, a ways back on Stranger Things, Hopper gave Eleven his daughter’s blue ribbon for a reason. Don’t think he would have given away something so precious to him if he had any inkling his daughter was still out there somewhere. And devastatingly, we saw him hold his deceased daughter in his arms after she passed away from cancer. Don’t think she’s someone we’ll be seeing again unless it’s via flashback.
8. Hopper Is Going To Adopt Eleven And Her “Siblings”
Explanation of Theory: @theyusedthelamppost offered: “His fate? He will end up adopting the super kids and be forced [to] put up with them using their powers to defy his authority and engage in other cheeky shenanigans.”
Probability: Not totally out of the question...
Why?: Despite Hopper’s curmudgeonly ways, we all know inside he’s a total softie whose fatherly relationship with Eleven gives the series such heart. And we very well could have a Stranger Things meets Brady Bunch scenario by the series’ end, with Joyce and Hopper finally together, co-parenting Will, Eleven, and her whole Supes gang she met in her Season 2 standalone episode that brought us her punk look and apt use of the word “bitchin’.”
Every Sunday, Hopper could easily pop in some Eggo waffles and top them off with whipped cream and candy for the whole gang. He’s stern but fair, as long as everybody remembers to leave the door three inches open. This feels more like a long game theory, and it’s something that could be explored if not this season, then a future one.
7. Hopper Forges A Friendship With Lucas’ Dad
Explanation of Theory: @Shadybug wants more of the Lucas, Erica, and the whole Sinclair clan on Stranger Things. Their wishlist for Season 4 would feature looping Lucas’ Dad into the game. “It gives the Sinclair family greater dimension and can incorporate Lucas into present day scenes involving Hop and his dad.” @trixie1088 added that “maybe Lucas/Erica and their dad could be key in rescuing Hopper.”
Why: Who knows how long it will take for Hopper to come back to Hawkins, or if we’ll see the Stranger Things kids somehow make their way to Russia to track him down. And if they do so, they might just need a little help from friends — even adults, which could be where Lucas’ dad comes in. Once they’ve bonded over their escape and rescue mission, who’s to say Lucas’ dad and Hopper couldn’t drink some beers together on the front porch?
6. Hopper Knew Eleven’s Biological Father In Vietnam
Explanation of Theory: @FatRambo backpacked on the Lucas’ dad thread, suggesting: “I suspect, rather than Lucas' dad, that Hop knew El's biological father. El's father was shipped off to 'Nam by Brenner and died there. Maybe they were in the same regiment.”
Probability: Not out of the realm of possibility, here.
Why?: David Harbour has often referenced the boxes hidden in Harbour’s basement in his cabin marked “Dad,” “New York,” and “Vietnam,” as well as one with Brenner’s belongings from Hawkins Lab.
In a Q&A held at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, he shared the following:
"We know that he was a cop in New York in probably the ’70s, so I wonder if he knew Frank Serpico and if there are a lot of things we could go into in terms of that and his police training in New York. And we know that he was in Vietnam, so I’m curious as to how his tours in Vietnam might have shaped him to be who he is and if some of that stuff doesn’t still linger or haunt him in various ways.”
Also in his appearance at Liverpool Comic-Con, Harbour was very excited to announce that “in Season 4 we will give you a big, huge reveal about Hopper’s backstory” that ties right on into those mysterious “New York,” “Vietnam,” and “Dad” boxes. Maybe Hopper did meet Eleven’s dad when he was in Vietnam and didn’t know it at the time. Perhaps a long lost photo of the two war brothers sparks a memory in Eleven’s mind…
5. Hopper Is “The American”
Explanation of theory: Via @/uekdig17: “If you’ve watched (hopefully) the last episode, you have seen the end credit scenes, with two Russian guards referring to an unseen person as ‘The American.’ Well, if you [thoroughly] watch the season, you will notice that Mr. Russian Terminator and his friends refer to Hop as ‘The American’ pretty much the whole season.
In fact, the scene where Hopper guns down all of the guards in Episode 8 and the Russians follow up behind them, the only line spoken by Russian Terminator are the words, ‘The American.’ So, it’s assumed that Hopper is indeed the one in the prison cell.
Probability: Possible! But may be too on the nose.
Why?: As one is want to do, I did go back and comb through the season to see Mr. Terminator himself call Hopper “The American.” But, there were many Americans back in 1985 so it could be a tad presumptive to assume they are talking about this particular American in question. Plus, plainly making Hopper “The American” could come across as too on the nose for the Duffer Brothers, and might just be a misdirection.
4. “The American” Is Really Brenner, While Hopper Is In the Upside Down
Explanation of theory: The same user who suggested Hopper is the prisoner also gave quite the compelling contradictory theory: “Because we know the Duffer Brothers are cinematic geniuses, it’s not a bad thought to believe that the whole ‘Hopper is the American”’ thing is actually a misdirection. As for who is the actual prisoner, my personal choice would be Dr. Brenner.”
Probability: Definitely up there!
Why?: As to why, u/ekdig17 lays it out fairly clearly here:
“As revealed in Season 2, the Dr. is still alive. But how would he have any effect on Season 4? Well, Dr. Brenner has a very good idea of what the Upside Down is actually like, something the Russians would most likely pursue in a heartbeat in order to somehow take advantage of its power.
... Now, if Brenner is really the prisoner, then where is Hopper? Because at the beginning of Season 3 we see the machine blow up, turning people into goo, we assume that the same outcome will happen at the ending of episode 8, which it does. However, not in Hopper’s case. There’s no body, no goo. Which means Hopper most likely jumped through the Gate and ended up in the Upside Down, which could set up a major plotline in Season 4.”
3. Hopper Went Into The Upside Down “Russia Version” Before The Explosion Hit
Explanation of theory: @ThePowerThatsInside thinks “the Russians were trying to create a portal so they could invade America. So if Hopper jumps into the portal he would have popped out in Russia and would have been captured. The Russians would have referred to him as ‘The American’ because they don’t know anything about him yet and have to interrogate him before they can kill him.”
Probability: Consider it possible!
Why?: The whole last season was centered on Russian operatives using Starcourt Mall to infiltrate Hawkins, Indiana, with eagle-eyed Robin decoding Russian. And their headquarters were in fact under the mall (oh, the secrets behind the closed doors of capitalism, huh?) Plus, the teaser did say “From Russia, With Love,” so it doesn’t feel too far-fetched that we will be hearing from Hopper in the Kremlin.
2. Eleven Sees Hopper In The Void And Joyce Comes Back To Hawkins To Save Hopper
Explanation of theory: Extending on the theory that Hopper is alive, went through the portal, and is now in Russia theory, @derekamoss suggests that he didn’t “jump into the portal on purpose, he was ready to die. But when the machine blew, the shockwave sent him through the portal unconscious." They continue to the theory:
"Somehow the Russians find him and he comes to realize he didn't die after all and is now stuck in Russia wishing he would have with no hope. So anything else would pretty much be a cop out. I for one hope he is alive. I really like the character and that can be the ONLY reason Joyce would [endanger] her and her kids again for them to be back in the picture.” Additionally, she thinks Eleven is going to be the one to find out Hopper is still alive “in the dark water thing she goes to.”
Probability: It's actually pretty logical!
Why?: We’ve seen Eleven communicate by going into her black Void space before, seeing Billy’s memories with his mom last season when he was under the Mind Flayer’s control and using it to try to reach out to Mike when they were separated for a year. She even found the Demogorgon in a different dimension, for crying out loud!
So the idea she would be the one to find Hopper not only sounds like divine justice after that letter he left her to make us all cry along with her in the finale, but also logical. As far as Joyce is concerned, she and the gang left Hawkins at the end of last season, bidding farewell to all the painful memories and the dangers of the Demogorgons and Mind Flayers.
It doesn’t seem outlandish that the only reason she would come back and risk Will being pulled into the Upside Down (again) or being controlled (again) would be to save Hopper.
1. Hopper’s Season, Here We Come
Explanation of Theory: @trixie1088 writes: “Season 4 sounds like Hopper's season - we'll follow him through a prison break and get his backstory. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing at this point."
Probability: Yes, ma’am. The more Hawaiian shirts, the merrier.
Why: This dissection of Reddit theories has really run the gamut from his “death” all the way to the season being centered around this guy. But hear me out: There has been so much buildup to finally learn what happened in Hopper’s past and Harbour himself wanting to explore it. So the season we all go looking for him just might be the perfect time to unpack his gruff exterior.
Plus, the “From Russia, With Love” trailer is centered around Hopper’s return. So naturally, we’ve got a big homecoming to pay off if that’s the impression Netflix left on us for whenever the fourth season comes out. As Harbour himself joked at the Liverpool Comic-Con, maybe in 2050? Who knows. But whenever that is, the Scoops Troop will be ready.