Hawkins' resident police chief and part-time badass Jim Hopper has been an absolute fixture of the series from season one. David Harbour totally nails the role of our relatably cynical working man, although he's definitely still every bit the hero the Hawkins AV Club needs him to be when the Upside-Down comes knocking. But season three managed to shake up his established persona a bit, and he more than once went unhinged enough for most fans to grow the tiniest bit concerned about his state of mind.
Indeed, season three's Jim Hopper showed audiences a much darker side of the character than they'd seen before, and it all may have been a little too much for some of us to handle. For reference's sake, below you'll find five of Hopper's most amazing moments over the course of Stranger Things' third season, contrasted with five times he got entirely too carried away in the heat of the moment.
10 THE BEST: The Hall Of Mirrors
This action sequence is too distinctly within Hopper's style to go without a mention here. After he and Joyce are recognized by the mayor at the Hawkins festival, the Russians move in to apprehend them. Old Jim's got other plans.
Purposefully leading them into a fun house, he handily dispatches the first one to follow him and sets up an ambush for Grigori, or the "Russian Terminator" as he's become known within the fandom, inside the hall of mirrors. Hopper uses the reflections to distract him, then approaches from his flank and empties an entire pistol magazine into his torso. The plan's foiled by a bulletproof vest, but it's still a scene that truly captures Hopper's ingenuity.
9 TOO MUCH: Losing His Temper With Eleven & Max
Hopper does lose it a bit when Eleven and Mike aren't following the "three inch" rule with El's bedroom door, but it's pretty tame compared to what happens when he assumes Mike has come over again after waking from a drunken stupor.
There's a sheer volume of anger in his voice, but he's struck drunkenly dumb when he sees not Mike in Eleven's room, but Max. What follows afterwards is a comical exchange in which a stunned Hopper assents to Max sleeping over, but the level of rage he'd prepared to let loose just moments ago is almost scary.
8 THE BEST: Gambling With Alexei
This scene might initially seem like too much. After all, Hopper's been being pushed past his limit for a good while at this point in the series. So when he shoves Alexei out of Murray's safehouse and flings the car keys at him, it feels as if he's come thoroughly unhinged, and is sacrificing their one and only bargaining chip.
Even as he explains why he believes Alexei won't leave them, it looks as if the wily Russian scientist fully intends to flee. However, Hopper's theory ends up striking the nail on the head - Alexei can't return to the Russians, as they'll believe he's been compromised.
7 TOO MUCH: Threatening Mike
Hopper's papa bear instincts concerning Eleven are incredibly strong, and at a few key points, they go just a little bit overboard. There's no better example of this than when he decides that Mike and Eleven are spending way too much quality time together.
After lying to get Mike alone, Hopper really lets his crazy flag fly by locking him in his car and proceeding to verbally tear into him. Sure, Mike definitely needed to be set straight after his mild disrespect of Hopper, but this definitely wasn't the way to go about it.
6 THE BEST: His Heroic Arrival At Starcourt Mall
Season three's final episode has all of the main crew crossing paths at long last, and not a moment too soon. After Eleven's been attacked by the Mindflayer, the kids find out that she's been afflicted by some sort of subdermal parasite, and engage in a grisly sequence involving its removal.
After pulling it out and flinging the nasty creature across the Starcourt Mall, it looks as if it might get away and rejoin its host. Until a big, booted foot crushes it dead, anyway. As the camera pans up, the audience sees that this foot belongs to none other than Hopper, who has finally arrived on the scene in perfectly heroic fashion.
5 TOO MUCH: Beating & Torturing Mayor Larry Kline
It's really difficult to say that the scumbag mayor of Hawkins doesn't deserve to be roughed up, primarily because he sort of does. Still, actively engaging in the torture of a city official is not just extreme, it's incredibly reckless given the sensitivity of the situation.
After his first violent encounter with the mysterious Russian Terminator, Hopper vaguely recalls seeing him leaving the mayor's office earlier on, and goes directly to Larry in order to get more information. When Mayor Kline proves less than cooperative, Hopper goes totally medieval on him, even threatening to cut off one of his fingers after a brutal beating.
4 THE BEST: Knowing He Had To Go
Season three's climax is a traumatic one, because face it, no one wants to lose Hopper. Unfortunately, fighting Grigori out of the control room leaves him in a position where has no option but to accept his fate. And although it's certainly tragic, he does it marvelously.
Having finally dealt a deathblow to the almost unstoppable Russian Terminator, the reactor opening the portal is going haywire and cutting him off from escape. With the Mindflayer preparing to kill Eleven, and presumably everyone else, he knows there's no other way. He gives Joyce an understanding nod and one last smile before she turns the keys, and he disappears. However, the question does remain - is Hopper actually gone for good?
3 TOO MUCH: Jealously Disregarding Joyce's Concerns
It's understandable to be a little put off when you're stood up for a date, but when you've got an excuse like Joyce does, it helps to listen at the very least. Given Hopper's prior experience with the Upside-Down, you'd think he would know to pay attention when weird stuff starts happening around Hawkins - especially with Joyce.
When Joyce tries to put together the pieces for him, and explain the series of events that caused her to miss their date (and keeping in mind that it should deeply concern him), he chooses to fixate on the fact that it involved her visiting Scott Clarke. Being unreasonably jealous, he practically ignores the big picture and continues to bicker with her.
2 THE BEST: His Letter To Eleven
One of the most heartfelt moments in the entirety of the series is produced by none other than old Hop himself, surprisingly. Eleven discovers the rewritten version of the speech he'd intended to give her about the "three inches" rule for her bedroom door after he's gone, and what follows is heartbreaking in the best of ways.
Though the world-weary Hopper usually has trouble expressing his feelings, he really opens up the floodgates concerning his paternal feelings towards Eleven, in his own distinctly brusque way of showing it. Anyone finding themselves with a dry pair of eyes by the end of it should check with a doctor to make sure their soul is intact.
1 TOO MUCH: Grand Theft Auto
Hopper might be the chief of police, but as Grigori once put it, there are still "rules" he needs to follow. And over the course of his career, he's likely broken every single one that he can break. For season three, he really took this attitude to new heights.
Keep in mind that by the time he steals a car from "The Toddfather" in a 7-11 parking lot, he's already assaulted and kidnapped the mayor, broken into his home, and hasn't reported in to his job as the Chief of Police in several days. Maybe he expects Sam Owens to help cover it up for him once he gets in touch, but that's an awfully big set of footprints he's left behind.