Is Hopper dead in Stranger Things?

David Harbour as Jim Hopper in Stranger Things
Did Jim Hopper die in Stranger Things Season 3? Pic credit: Netflix

Stranger Things Season 3 delivered a huge shock to fans with the apparent death of the beloved chief of Hawkins Police Department Jim Hopper (David Harbour) in the final episode of Season 3, titled The Battle of Starcourt.

Within hours of Stranger Things 3 dropping on Netflix yesterday, distraught fans who had binge-watched all eight episodes of Season 3 took to social media to speculate about whether Jim Hopper really died at the end of Season 3.  Others who assumed he had died only took to social media to protest or mourn the death of the beloved character.

Here is everything we know about what happened to Police Chief Hopper.

Is Jim Hopper really dead?

In Stranger Things 3, Hopper and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) team up to stop the Soviet Russians who are secretly trying to use a machine they invented to gain access to the Upside Down.

Dr. “Smirnoff” Alexei (Alex Utgoff) was the Russian scientist in charge of the project to build the mysterious machine. The machine was then smuggled to Hawkins where it was installed in an underground facility beneath Starcourt Mall to open the gates to the Upside Down.

Hopper and Joyce were able to trace the source of the mysterious power outage in Hawkins to the farm that formerly belonged to Mayor Larry Kline (Cary Elwes). There they find Alexei and another Russian. They arrest Alexei and take him to Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman) so that he can help to translate Alexei’s Russian language.

With Murray’s help they learn from Alexei that the Russians are in Hawkins under Starcourt Mall with the machine they built to open the gate to the Upside Down. The Russian scientist originally in charge of the project to build the machine was killed when the supervising Soviet commander became enraged because the machine broke down. The commander then ordered Alexei to fix the machine.

Alexei apparently succeeded in fixing the machine, but then ran from his Russian handlers. So he offers to help Hopper and Joyce turn off the machine in exchange for protection from the Soviets.

With help from Alexei and Murray, Hopper and Joyce try to prevent the Russians from using the machine to open the gate to the Upside Down. But they are being trailed by a Terminator-like Russian hit-man who finally kills Alexei at the Fourth of July fair.

Hopper and Joyce eventually gain access to the Russian underground facility. Hopper kills the Russians guards, steals their uniforms and they enter the facility. Using the information that Alexei gave them, Joyce tries to shut down the machine in the control room as Hopper fights the Terminator-like Russian hit-man in the machine room.

Hopper throws “Terminator” into the machine, but  Joyce turns the switch to shut down the machine before Hopper could make it to safety. Hopper has just enough time to say smile and say goodbye to Joyce before the entire machine room explodes in a blinding flash.

Post-credits scene suggests Hopper is held captive by Russians

Although Hopper appears to have died in the explosion, most fans just can’t believe that the show would permanently kill off the beloved character who has been a father-figure to Eleven and the kids, and also has a developing relationship with Joyce that fans have been anxious to see blossom into romance.

The Season 3 ending in which Eleven reads Hopper’s heart-to-heart “speech”, which he wrote but never got the chance to deliver, appears to confirm that Hopper is dead.

However, in the post-credits scene, we see a Russian officer leading a guard to select a prisoner to feed to a Demogorgon. When the guard is about to open the door to the first cell, the officer says in Russian, “Not the American.”

We don’t get to see the American prisoner before the guard selects a Russian-speaking prisoner.

Although some fans believe that Hopper was transported to the Upside Down in the explosion, most fans believe that the American prisoner is Hopper, meaning that he did not die in the explosion but was translocated to Russia, where he is being kept a prisoner at the remote location called Kamchatka.

Stranger Things Season 4 will reveal what happened to Hopper

Based on the post-credits scene, Stranger Things Season 4 will likely focus on what actually happened to Hopper after the explosion. While many fans believe he is the American in the Russian jail, others suggest that he probably wasn’t immediately transported to Russia when the machine blew up in the Season 3 finale. He might have first been transported to the Upside Down before he finally ended up in the Russian jail.

If that fan theory is true, then Stranger Things Season 4 will reveal what happened to Hopper immediately after the explosion in the Season 3 finale and how he ended up in the Russian jail in Kamchatka.

Stranger Things Season 3 is currently streaming on Netflix. 

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