Since Stranger Things 3 debuted, fans have been speculating as to the fate of fan-favorite Chief Jim Hopper. The police chief seemingly perished in "The Battle of Starcourt Mall" along with high school bully Billy Hargrove, who was killed by the Mind Flayer after rejecting the entity's control and protecting Eleven.
With the post-credits scene dropping hints about a mysterious American locked in a Russian cell, audiences have been guessing whether Hopper is alive and well after all. His death was never shown as explicitly as Billy's - though this doesn't rule out Billy's survival either. Stranger Things could have a huge twist up their sleeve, throwing the audience a dramatic curveball. Here are five reasons why Billy is the American in the cell and five reasons why it's Hopper.
10 Billy: Adds Shock Value
Most Stranger Things fans are anticipating Hopper's return in the fourth season. Whilst it would be satisfying to see the police chief reunite with El it would subvert expectations if the American in the cell is a revived Billy Hargrove.
Although it has been speculated by some that Billy survived, it would still be a shock to the majority of audiences. Stranger Things is known for its twists and this could create further opportunities in the show's narrative.
9 Hopper: We Didn't See Him Die
Billy's gruesome death at the hands of the Mind Flayer was shown on-screen in "The Battle of Starcourt Mall," but fans didn't explicitly see Hopper die in the same way. Though it seems impossible that he could have survived, a television death doesn't seem to be resolute if a body is never recovered.
Hopper met his end after a brutal fight with the Russian soldier Grigori. Joyce Byers had to make the heartbreaking decision to close the Gate to the Upside Down, causing Hopper to 'die' in the crossfire.
8 Billy: He'd Have A Redemption Arc
Billy was an unlikeable character in Stranger Things. His introduction in the second season portrays him as a meaner replacement for Steve, as the bully quickly usurps the fallen jock and demonstrates his aggressive nature.
Billy's backstory is admittedly sad and he had a moment of redemption in the season three finale, breaking free of the Mind Flayer's control and sacrificing his life to protect El. If he was to return in Stranger Things 4 then maybe fans could see a complete redemption arc for him yet.
7 Hopper: We Want To See His Reunion With Eleven
Hopper's death was a tragic moment for El, who lost her father and her powers in one day. The scene in which she reads his letter is a tearjerker, promising an equally emotional reunion between the two should Hopper return.
El has had bad luck with parental figures. Her mother was left in a vegetative state after undergoing electric shock therapy at the hands of Dr. Brenner, and Brenner himself kept El in captivity for years. It would be uplifting for the character to have a second chance with her new father.
6 Billy: He Could Join The Party
It looked unlikely that Billy would ever join the Party due to his bullying ways, but coming back from the dead could be what truly humbles him. In that case, it would add an interesting dynamic if he were to join the Party reluctantly alongside stepsister Max.
The teenage group in Hawkins is arguably the weakest currently, though this was improved with Robin's introduction. It would create more possibilities in the storyline if another member was added to the group.
5 Hopper: His Return Could Be A Winter Soldier Story
With Hopper's character, there is a perfect opportunity for a Winter Soldier-like storyline. The Russians could brainwash the captive former police chief into becoming a weapon for the Soviets, leading him to a confrontation with El.
A reunion with El could be what triggers Hopper's memories to return, as Bucky's interactions with Steve did in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Stranger Things is heavily inspired by sci-fi and comic books and this story offers brilliant inspiration for the fourth season.
4 Billy: Hopper Could Be In The Upside Down
Billy being revealed as the American in the cell would be a shock, but that doesn't mean that Hopper cannot return as well. Hopper was last seen next to the Gate before Joyce closed it and could have jumped into the Upside Down to save his life.
If Hopper is in the Upside Down then things are not looking good for him. With Eleven temporarily depowered, it remains unlikely that he will be rescued anytime soon.
3 Hopper: He Could Help El Regain Her Powers
El lost her powers after her confrontation with the Mind Flayer in "The Battle of Starcourt Mall," though it seems likely that she will regain them in the fourth season. If Hopper were to return then he could help his adopted daughter reclaim her gifts in time for another showdown with the Soviets or Hawkins Lab.
Hopper has been a big help to El and has already taught her valuable life skills. It would be a touching moment to see the father-daughter duo bond in the same manner as Kali and El's telekinetic training in "The Lost Sister."
2 Billy: Neil Could Get His Comeuppance
Billy's backstory was partially portrayed in the season two finale "The Gate." The bullying teenager is shown to be subjected to violent abuse at the hands of his father Neil, continuing the cycle of aggression by taking his pain out on other people.
Neil hasn't faced repercussions for his behavior yet and if Billy were to return then he could finally confront his father and force him to face justice. It would give closure to Billy's character arc and make way for his redemption.
1 Hopper: He Has A Date With Joyce
Not only would Hopper have a guaranteed emotional reunion with El if he were to return from death, but he could also finally have that date with Joyce. The two characters finally agreed to give things between them a chance before Hopper's death and there is always hope that they will eventually get that chance.
It would be a poignant end to Hopper's arc if he could finally find happiness with Joyce and El. After all the police chief has done to protect Hawkins, there is no doubt that he deserves it.