When “Stranger Things” finally returns to Netflix with its highly anticipated fourth season, the show will have to answer its biggest question yet: How did Hopper survive the “Stranger Things 3” finale? The last fans saw of David Harbour’s fan favorite character, he was sacrificing himself to close the gate between the Upside Down and Hawkins. Then came the “Stranger Things 4” teaser trailer, which revealed Hopper had somehow survived and was now a prisoner in Russia. How is that possible? Whatever the answer may be, Harbour tells Total Film magazine his resurrection arc will be similar to Gandalf’s in “The Lord of the Rings” franchise.
“I’ve had those discussions with [the Duffer brothers] from the very first season,” Harbour said. “We were always interested in that idea of the Gandalf resurrection – Gandalf the Grey who fights the Balrog and then becomes Gandalf the White. It’s the idea of the resurrection of the character. And mythologically, Hopper, in a sense, had to change. I mean, you couldn’t go on the way he was going on. He has to resurrect in some way.”
While the show never confirmed Hopper’s return during the time between the “Stranger Things 3” finale and the “Stranger Things 4” teaser, Harbour knew the entire time he would be back for a fourth season in a role that made him the “Stranger Things” version of Gandalf the White. As the actor explained, “I knew. We knew. We had talked about it. I just wanted to preserve the fantasy for everyone. And it’s such a weird position that we’re in now with so much media, that everybody wants to talk to you about it.”
Harbour previously said “Stranger Things 4” will include a huge backstory reveal for Hopper. In a “Stranger Things 2” episode, Eleven finds boxes in Hopper’s attic labeled “Dad,” “Vietnam,” and “New York.” These parts of the character’s backstory will come to the forefront in the new season.
“I’m so excited about revealing this aspect of the character,” Harbour said. “It’s one of the things that I’ve known since the first frame of the first shot, and we haven’t expressed it yet. And finally we’re gonna express it in a big way. It’s my favorite thing about him that you guys don’t know about him yet, but it has to do with these backstories of New York, Vietnam, and dad. And I’m really excited for you guys to know more about that, and it relates, of course, to things he’s doing with Eleven and Joyce and things like that.”
Netflix has not announced a release date for “Stranger Things 4,” but it won’t premiere until at least 2021 as production was suspended due to the pandemic.