Stranger Things season 3 seemingly killed off a main character, but there are many clues that point at beloved Jim Hopper not being dead. The Duffer Brothers' hit series Stranger Things has built a solid (and passionate) fanbase in only three seasons, and one that was pretty heartbroken when they decided to kill Hopper – but it’s that same fanbase which has pointed out some details that show Hopper might still be alive.
A lot of elements in Stranger Things are still a mystery, both to viewers and characters in the series, such as the Upside Down and everything the Russians have been doing unbeknownst to everyone else. The fate of some characters has also been left open to interpretation, with only Dr. Brenner confirmed to be alive, somewhere. All this has made way for all types of theories on how those dead characters are either alive or could come back in a near future, with most of these now focusing on how Hopper is going to make it back for season 4.
Fans witnessed Hopper’s apparent demise in Stranger Things season 3’s finale, after being trapped between the gate to the Upside Down and an electrical barrier from the machine trying to open the gate. When Joyce closed the gate, a shock-wave was released, disintegrating all those near the machine. It was pretty obvious at first that Hopper didn’t make it – but as it turns out, there are many clues that show he survived. Some of these complement each other, others stand on its own, and a few can be counterargued. Here’s all the evidence (so far) that Hopped isn’t dead.
The American Prisoner
Following the post-credits scene trend, Stranger Things season 3 finale had a mid-credits scene that gave hope to many viewers. The scene is set in a Russian base in Kamchatka, where prison guards feed a prisoner to a Demogorgon, but while choosing the prisoner, one of the guards says “not the American”. This has made many fans believe Hopper either made it to the Russian base through the gate or he was somehow captured after his apparent death and is now being held prisoner on the other side of the world.
It’s unclear if the mid-credits scene takes place after the events on the final episode of the season or if they happened simultaneously. Because of that, it’s very possible that Hopper is not the American prisoner, and instead it’s Dr. Brenner. “Papa” was last seen at the end of season 1 when he was attacked by the Demogorgon, but his body wasn’t shown, and it was later confirmed that he’s alive. Brenner made a brief appearance as an illusion created by Kali in season 2, but his whereabouts haven’t been revealed yet. It makes sense that Brenner is the Russians prisoner, as he could be the one guiding their experiments on the Upside Down, and because he has proven to be a valuable asset for them, he should be spared from being the Demogorgon’s dinner.
But anything can happen in the world of Stranger Things, and many fans still hope the American prisoner is Hopper, although how he made it there can be confusing. Then again, the writers have found ways around some apparent “dead ends”, so the possibility of Hopper being trapped in Russia shouldn’t be ruled out just yet.
Murray’s Answering Machine Message
Murray Bauman is quite an eccentric individual, but he has been very helpful in seasons 2 and 3 – and a message left on his answering machine might be key in proving Hopper’s survival. Fans discovered that Murray’s home phone number is actually in service and has a recorded voice message that can be divided in three. First, it’s a message to Murray’s mom, which doesn’t really offer anything that can be of use. The second part, however, is what caught fans’ attention, as it’s directed at Joyce. In it, Murray says he has an update – it’s not good or bad “but it’s something”, and it’s best if they speak in person. The third part is directed at everyone else and it’s basically Murray being Murray.
It’s important to remember that Murray is a private investigator, and as he was heavily involved on the mission to close the portal at the Russian base underneath Starcourt Mall, is very possible he continued investigating, especially after Hopper’s “death”. His findings might not be much, but as he says on the recorded message, they’re “something”, and could be the basis for a rescue mission or at least for a deeper investigation to find out where exactly Hopper has been.
Hopper’s Body Was Never Found
Just like Dr. Brenner was never shown to be dead – unlike Barb, Bob, and Billy – Hopper’s body was never shown. In fact, it wasn’t even found. All those who disintegrated after Joyce closed the gate didn’t disappear completely (their bodies exploded and, as gory as it sounds, some pieces were left there), but there was nothing where Hopper was standing. In addition to that, fans noticed in a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment between Joyce closing her eyes and the machine going off, that Hopper was not where he was supposed to be.
Following the example of Dr. Brenner – and Eleven too, who some thought was dead after defeating the Demogorgon in season 1 but hey, her body was never found and she’s still very much alive – Hopper’s body (or what could have been left of it) not being shown or found at all certainly leaves the door open for his return. Again, how he managed to survive is the biggest mystery.
The Light In Season 4’s Announcement Teaser
In September 2019, Stranger Things was officially renewed for a fourth season, and the announcement came with a teaser. Of course, the video didn’t reveal any substantial plot details, but it provided some clues about the direction season 4 might take, most notably how it won’t be exclusively set in Hawkins and the possibility of time-traveling. But there’s another detail that gave fans even more hope on Hopper’s survival. When the video changes to the Upside Down, a light can be seen on the background, on the left side of the screen. The light seems to be coming from a cabin, very much like the one Hopper and Eleven used to live in.
Given that the Upside Down is a (dark and twisted) copy of the real world, and connecting with the theories that say Hopper is trapped in that dimension, that light could be a sign that Hopper is hiding at his cabin in the Upside Down. How he could manage to survive on the other side for so long is yet to be seen... if he is indeed trapped there, of course.
Stranger Things Season 4 Set Photos Show Hopper’s Car
As much secrecy as there is around Stranger Things season 4, some stuff just can’t escape from curious fans. A photo floating around the internet showed a Chevy Blazer, very much like Hopper’s car, at what appeared to be the set of season 4 in Rome, GA. This revived hopes and dreams of fans about Hopper not being dead, but there are some details to consider here. First off, the engine of Hopper’s car exploded in season 3, and the car in the photo was intact. If it really is Hopper’s car, it’s probably from a flashback scene – or one involving time-traveling. Second, the Blazer isn’t Hopper’s car per se, but a vehicle from the Hawkins Police Department, and its presence doesn’t mean Hopper survived and is back as police chief
Last but not least, Stranger Things will reportedly begin filming in January 2020, so the aforementioned set pic could be from the set of another project. A Reddit user pointed out that it was the set for a film called Blue Bayou, which is the working title for Marvel’s Black Widow. How much this piece of evidence can be trusted is up to every Stranger Things fan.
David Harbour’s Instagram Teases
David Harbour knows fans are full on invested in Stranger Things and what happened to Hopper, so he has been dropping some cryptic clues on his Instagram account. Among those are updating his profile picture to the digits in Murray’s phone number, an image from the Milgram Experiment, photos of sunflowers, rainbows, “450 volts”, and a fragmented, upside down pic of Hopper and Eleven fan art. These could mean nothing (really, Harbour could just be messing) or they could be hinting at some of the things coming in season 4, including Hopper’s return.
Nobody is really dead in Stranger Things unless explicitly shown (a moment of silence for Benny, Barb, Bob, and Billy), and while many fans mourned the loss of Harbour’s Hopper mustache, which for some was a sign of him not returning to the series, Hopper will most likely be part of season 4 – and fans can’t wait to learn what happened to him on those last seconds before the machine went off, where he has been, and how he will go back to Hawkins and Eleven.