Jim Hopper is one of the most beloved and popular characters on Stranger Things. The Chief of Hawkins Police seemingly perished at the end of the third season after a fight with Grigori, though it has been highly speculated in the fandom that he might have survived after all.
Hopper has had many highlights and low-points throughout the series. He has fought against the government, shot Demodogs and parented a telekinetic teenager during the throes of a tantrum. Here are five times the police chief was a genius and five times he wasn't.
10 Genius: Saving Eleven
Hopper and El were two lost souls who found each other in the second season of Stranger Things. Hopper builds a relationship with the telekinetic teenager and earns her trust by leaving Eggos in the woods for her to find, gradually becoming a parental figure to her.
Hopper cleans out his old cabin and makes a home for himself and El. It is the first taste of a normal childhood for El, and his relationship with the superpowered runaway helps Hopper confront his grief for his daughter, Sarah.
9 Not A Genius: Isolating El From The Party
Hopper had El's best intentions in mind when he forbade her from leaving the cabin. The government was still looking for her and she was in danger of being captured again and sent back to Hawkins Lab.
However, Hopper fails to realize just how much Mike and the Party mean to Eleven. They were her first friends and keeping her isolated from them only made her leave the cabin to see them without his permission.
8 Genius: Knowing His House Had Been Bugged
When Hopper wakes up in his house after breaking into Hawkins Lab, the police chief knows immediately that his residence has been bugged. He tears apart his furniture and eventually finds the device, before helping Joyce do the same.
This highlights Hopper's practical intelligence that comes in handy continuously throughout the series. He may lack tact at times, but the Chief of Hawkins Police gets the job done.
7 Not A Genius: Breaking Into Hawkins Lab
Hopper had a definitive badass moment when he broke into Hawkins Lab in season one, taking out several guards and coming face-to-face with the Upside Down whilst searching for Will Byers. It was a lucky chance that the government subdivision didn't simply kill him though, as he didn't seem to have a safe extraction plan in mind.
Hopper wakes up after the encounter at home, luckily. However, this could easily have ended in tragedy for the police chief, who broke into a secret government facility with no clear plan to escape.
6 Genius: Investigating Will's 'Body'
In one of the strangest scenes in Stranger Things, Hopper breaks into a morgue to investigate the supposed body of Will Byers only to discover that it is a dummy. This is a defining moment that brings Hopper and Joyce together as he begins to believe her about the Demogorgon and the disappearance of her son.
There is a reason why Hopper is the Chief of Police. He is quick-thinking and willing to go further than most people to protect innocent people, and in this instance, his determination paid off.
5 Not A Genius: Threatening Mike
Hopper was problematic in Stranger Things 3. Although his heart was in the right place as he loved his adopted daughter El and worried that they were drifting apart, threatening her teenaged boyfriend Mike wasn't a great thing for him to do.
Mike may have been antagonistic but he was also a child, and threatening him in a locked car wasn't a good look for Hopper. Mike was there for El before Hopper was, something the police chief eventually comes to accept.
4 Genius: Bartering Eleven's Freedom With Dr. Owens
El spends the majority of the series on the run from Hawkins Lab, the shady government subdivision who took her from her mother at birth to weaponize her psionic abilities. At the end of season two, Hopper agrees with Dr. Sam Owens to ensure her safety and freedom, at last, officially adopting her as his daughter.
Hopper learns from his mistakes and realizes that it is not fair to El to keep her isolated from the world forever. He understands how much her friends mean to her and does everything he can to give her a normal life in Hawkins.
3 Not A Genius: Not Giving Joyce More Time
Hopper is the only person in the town who understands Joyce's grief in the first season of Stranger Things. Having lost his daughter, he connects with Joyce during her search for Will and the two characters form a strong bond with underlying romantic tension.
In season three, however, Hopper is much less understanding when it comes to Joyce's grief. He fails to see that she still needs time to heal as Bob had only been killed by Demodogs less than a year ago, reacting loudly when she stands him up for their date.
2 Genius: Tricking Alexei Into Talking
When Hopper and Joyce take Alexei to Murray's in season three, it seems for a moment as though Hopper has made a grave mistake. After Alexei rebuffs the flavor of his drink the police chief loses his temper and kicks him out, declaring that he will realize he can't survive on his own and return on his own accord to a baffled Joyce and Murray.
It looks as if Alexei is indeed going to flee but he changes his mind at the last minute, returning to Murray's with a more co-operative attitude. Hopper demonstrates his forward-thinking and understanding of people again.
1 Not A Genius: Exploring The Tunnels Alone
In season two, Hopper investigates the tunnels that have been spreading from Hawkins Lab. He discovers the Upside Down's presence underneath Hawkins but decides to walk through the tunnels on his own and becomes trapped after the vines close around him.
Luckily for Hopper, he is discovered using Will's connection to the Mind Flayer and saved him from certain death. Hopper lives to fight another day... until season three.