[Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers for “Stranger Things 3.”]
The “Stranger Things 3” finale left fans shocked when David Harbour’s Jim Hopper died after sacrificing himself to help close the gate between the real world and the Upside Down. Harbour’s character has been one of the driving forces of “Stranger Things” for its first three seasons, making his death a major game-changer for the series moving forward. But is Hopper really dead? A mid-credits scene revealed the existence of an unknown American prisoner in Russia. Fans have been buzzing that Hopper is said prisoner, although there are theories out there that the imprisoned American could also be Matthew Modine’s Dr. Martin Brenner from the first season.
Whoever the prisoner ends up being, Hopper’s return to “Stranger Things,” despite his death, seems likely. TVLine founder Michael Ausiello reports that Harbour is contracted through a potential fourth season of “Stranger Things.” Netflix has yet to officially announce “Stranger Things 4,” but it’s all but guaranteed considering the record-breaking success of the current season.
According to Ausiello, Harbour’s “Stranger Things” contract possibly extends beyond a fourth season. It’s important to note that just because Harbour is contracted for “Stranger Things 4,” it doesn’t mean he’s required to appear. Showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer have the ability not to pick up Harbour’s Season 4 option, but will “Stranger Things” continue without Hopper in any capacity? Most fans are skeptical.
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Even if Hopper is not the American prisoner and is really dead, the supernatural elements of “Stranger Things” mean the character could appear in various ways. “Stranger Things” notoriously uses popular sci-fi and horror films for inspiration, so Hopper becoming a force ghost mentor to Eleven a la Yoda in “Star Wars” wouldn’t entirely be out of the question. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) ended “Stranger Things 3” without her powers. Perhaps her fourth season journey to regain them will include a visit from her late father figure.
Harbour remained coy when he was recently asked by Entertainment Tonight about Hopper returning in “Stranger Things 4.” The actor replied, “I mean, I have no idea! I have no idea! I mean that, of course, is my hope too. It seems pretty crazy though. You know, that machine went off and blew up and Hopper seemed to be trapped there. He did glance around a little bit, but he seemed to be trapped and the machine exploded.”
“Stranger Things 3” is now streaming on Netflix.