Everyone's favorite Hawkins police chief has always been following a bumpy path, but Jim Hopper of Stranger Things has learned a lot over his stint in the small, sleepy town. Little did he know that by moving away from the violence of the big city and his tragic past, he'd enter a whole new realm of gruesome terror.
Even though Hop's made enormous strides through sobering up, becoming a parent and attempting to maintain the safety of Hawkins throughout its many monster invasions, he still manages to flub it up about half of the time. Chalk it up to inexperience, bad habits dying hard or something else, but Hopper's made some terrible decisions in his time.
10 He Didn't Listen To Joyce The First Time
How many times in Stranger Things could something be avoided, prevented or fixed much more quickly if the people in the show simply listened to one another? Hopper's refusal to listen to Joyce when she knew that something was wrong, and that Will was missing and not drowned in the quarry, only lengthened the problems they faced.
We can waste days on could-have, should-have scenarios, but at the end of the day, any time wasted could have been time saving Barb, preventing Will's possession by the Mind Flayer and generally better protecting the people of Hawkins.
9 He Self-Medicated On The Job
One of the most obvious lapses of judgment that Hopper had was self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. While no one is here to judge him on what he does on his own time, when he let his behaviors get in the way of his job to the point of making Joyce wait on him after "coffee and contemplation," it was too much.
Hop had a mess of a personal life, between his habits and his random dates, much of which surely stemmed from his heartbreak over the loss of his daughter. None of that should have ventured into his professional life, though, and while that was one of his worst mistakes, one of the best things he did was get clean and be a better cop.
8 He Didn't Tell Joyce Right Away About Will's Body
After discovering Will's fake body, instead of going straight to the kid's grieving mother and telling her, Hop went straight to Hawkins Lab to confront them for answers.
It's a typical response by an arrogant character who demands the respect and answers "he deserves," completely disregarding the people actually affected in the process, and it's not Jim at his best at all. Not only should he have admitted that she was right, but would have given her solace in the fact that her son was still possibly alive.
7 He Didn't Listen To Joyce About The Magnets
Once again, Hopper causes things to get worse in Season Three by not listening to Joyce when she tells him something is wrong. He's made this same mistake every season and it looks worse on him every time. He should have been investigating alongside Joyce, rather than blowing off her concerns. In fact, it might have given him the time he claimed to crave with her.
Season Three really did portray Hop in his worst light. After everything he's been through and learned, he should have known to listen to Joyce.
6 He Made A Deal With The Devil
Knowing that Will's life was on the line and he held a card Brenner couldn't refuse, Hopper exchanged Eleven's whereabouts for the entry into the Upside Down to rescue Will. While they were able to rescue the kid, this was an egregious lapse in judgment from Hop, who not only knew that they would capture Eleven once again, but that he was also putting all of the other kids at school in danger!
Does Eleven even know what her father did with... her other father? Perhaps Jim thought she could handle them all, but in her weakened state, it was unlikely.
5 He Accosted Joyce About Spending Time With Another Man
Someone needs to tell Jim Hopper that spending time with another man --particularly one who holds answers to your scientific inquires and actually listens to your concerns instead of brushing them off-- isn't automatically romantic. Besides, when you aren't dating someone, you don't have a right to get jealous anyway.
Hopper's outrageous fury over Joyce spending time with Mr. Clark was so incredibly out of line that it made fans start to question whether or not they still loved him. Sure, it was fine to be upset about being stood up, but once he realized it was to get help with the issues he wanted to ignore in the first place, he should have apologized for his behavior.
4 He Didn't Give Mike And Eleven Compassionate Guidance
After demonstrating how much growth he'd had while parenting El the previous season, Hop seemed to regress while dealing with Mike and El. In his defense, it's frustrating to watch teens not listen, make jokes, not take you seriously and grow up before you're ready, but he's also the adult in the situation.
Hop's door rule was sensible enough, but he wasn't willing to talk about his feelings with the teens as Joyce advised. Had he done that and been more open with Mike and El, all three could have enjoyed a closer, more healthy relationship. He also could have prevented many of the issues that he inadvertently caused between the teens.
3 He Bullied Mike Wheeler
One of Hopper's absolute worst moments came in Season Three. He not only lied about Mike's "nana" being sick, worrying the poor kid, but he bullied him all the way home like a giant jerk. It's bad enough that he was a grown man talking to a smirking teenager, but it was worse that he was also a cop and the father of Mike's girlfriend.
The fact that Hopper was so self-satisfied afterward, claiming his goal was met when he so obviously left his daughter miserable, makes it even worse. He felt no remorse, only elation because he made his own life better by isolating El once again without even trying to help her make other friends.
2 He Isolated Eleven
During the teen years, peers become more important than parents to kids. As they might say on Game of Thrones, "It is known." Hopper admittedly doesn't have much experience with teenagers, and not only does he have to quickly adjust to his new role as a parent of one, but he also fears for Eleven's safety.
Even so, he is the 'safest' person in Hawkins, and he could have let in a friend or two to visit once in a while, moved away to protect her better... or done a whole host of other things rather than cruelly keep her locked up for months on end, which many would consider cruel and unusual treatment for a growing teen.
1 He Stopped Listening And Learning
During the second season of the show, Hop proved that he could listen and learn, especially after hearing the heart-to-heart he had with Eleven after she returned from her adventure to find her mother. As angry and scared as Jim was, not only did he calm down and deal with El like a grown man, but he also allowed Mike to have his feelings out in a furious temper tantrum when he learned that Hop had been hiding Eleven from him all along.
Not so in Season Three: it was as if all of the learning that woke-Hopper had done was simply unraveled. Every episode displayed a snarling, jealous rage-beast without any regard to the people he supposedly loved, which ultimately may have contributed to his demise. Had he listened sooner, things could have ended differently.