Stranger Things is all about El, Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Will, and their ever-expanding crew, but Chief Jim Hopper is perhaps one of the most important characters on the show.
Hopper is one of the few Hawkins adults who actually knows what the hell is going on. He helped Joyce negotiate a deal to save her son, took in El as his own child, knocked out and murdered an uncomfortable amount of antagonists, and has always been there when virtually every main character needed his help.
So, it’s natural that Hopper has had his fair share of memorable moments over the last three seasons that took him from a wisecracking (and somewhat lazy) police chief to a full-blown action hero who has put himself directly in harm’s way to save others.
Of course, it’s impossible to capture every single great Hopper moment (because he’s always great, right?) but these are a few times where he has proven himself to be a truly awesome character:
*Please be aware of mild spoilers from season 3*
Hopper’s Greatest Hits – season 1
Coffee and contemplation
Hopper’s introduction to the series was perhaps one of the greatest truths about mornings – they are indeed for coffee and contemplation.
It’s not that serious
His lack of urgency when Joyce came in to file a missing person report about her son hilarious, sad, and slightly offensive all in one swoop as he pondered whether Will was sneaking off to hang out with a girl.
Most people would have continued to ignore the signs that something was really strange about this Will Byers situation, but Hopper decided to dig deeper (and knock a few people out). He discovered that Joyce was right and didn’t hesitate to help out his old friend.
The Lab Takeover
Ahhh, there’s no better Hopper than a solo mission rogue one. He knew going in the lab probably wouldn’t end well, but he did it and got pretty far until he was sedated.
A Marvin’s Room moment
The chief showed his less humorous and tough side when he called his ex-wife to say that he didn’t regret any part of their life together. Fans already knew his daughter Sarah had died, but this moment really gave him more backstory and emotional depth to make his determination to find Will (and Eleven) even more understandable.
Hopper the hero
Oh no! Mike’s crew and El are stuck on a bus with bad men surrounding them. What will they do? Nothing, because Hopper is really good at hand-to-hand combat. He saved the day once again and when he said it was time to go, the kids went quickly.
The Will rescue
Joyce was willing to do anything to get her son back and Hopper was there every step of the way, including facing Brenner and his crew to make a deal in exchange for access to the Upside Down. He entered the dark world with his high school friend and helped her find Will alive. Honestly, everyone needs a friend like Hopper.
I just wanna eat
Christmas parties are for…food. That’s it and that is the only reason why Hopper showed up to his work party at the end of season 1. He is me. I am him. We are the same.
Hopper’s Greatest Hits – season 2
The Father Hopper dance
Ahhh there’s nothing like doing a little jig to try to make your kid happy and looking ridiculous in the process. His dance moves are not legendary, but they have become in immortalized in GIF form.
Eating Dinner w/ El
Finding out that El was alive and living with Hopper was awesome news. It gave him a second chance to have a daughter in his life again and she finally got an annoying strict, but loving father who wasn’t doing weird experiments to her and making her rock a buzz cut. Double win.
The punk rock pickup
When El took a walk on the wild side, Hopper was right there to recollect his daughter and let her know that he was sorry for pushing her away. After telling her she looked like an MTV punk (spot on description), he made her giggle a little bit and they went back home again.
Joyce’s right-hand man
Hopper is really the real MVP for Joyce, who has the worst luck when it comes to romance. Her kids’ father Lonnie is a deadbeat dad and her sweet new boyfriend Bob was killed by a demidog but Hopper was there through it all.
He went to the weird therapy appointments, helped with exorcist activities, gave life advice to Johnathan, comforted Joyce as she grieved over Bob, and continued to defend her against people who caller her crazy.
If Stranger Things ever wanted to do a prequel, they could totally go back to the days when Hopper and Joyce snuck cigarettes under the bleachers.
Standing by (and adopting) El
El had the tough task of closing the gate, but Hopper was right there by her side. And, he took his dedication to caring for her to another level by officially making her his legal daughter and allowing her to go to a school dance with the D&D crew. Awww.
Hopper’s Greatest Hits – season 3
The dad of a teenager conundrum
Life with a teenager is hard but life with a telekinetic teen is even harder. El is growing up, kissing Mike, and slamming doors with her mind and Hopper cannot deal. He tells Joyce he could simply kill Mike and cover it up because he’s the chief of police, but he decides to try to talk to them instead.
BRB gotta go threaten Mike
Speaking of that talk…it didn’t go well. Hopper threatening Mike to stop being a little jerk and back off of his daughter was absolutely hilarious and left the poor kid shook.
And, Hopper celebrated later on by singing with the windows down and celebrating his victory over the kissing issue.
Mr. Smooth Moves
Hopper’s intended date with Joyce may have gotten thrown off by magnets, but he came at her with all the right energy when he asked her out for dinner.
Their relationship continues to be one of many highlights about this series and his strategy to ask her out proved why the librarian was totally into this chief.
Hopper vs. Murray vs. Alexei
Hopper argued with everyone. He fought with Murray like they were brothers over pretty much everything. He threatened Alexei more than was necessary and brought him the wrong flavored Slurpee.
And they gave him a taste of his own personality right back by grating his nerves, pointing out his obvious affection for Joyce, and doing everything they could to irritate him.
Every moment he was on screen with these two characters is worthy of a Hopper YouTube compilation.
All the moments with Joyce
There wasn’t a moment with Joyce that didn’t make fans ship them this season. They argued like an old married couple, dodged bullets, and even dressed up like Russian soldiers on a seemingly impossible mission.
Joyce put up with Hopper’s tendency to think he knows it all sometimes and Hopper begrudgingly admitted when she was right. The look he gave her right before the gate closed is enough to make the toughest person get teary-eyed.
And, Murray was right…the sexual tension was all over this pair.
Taking the big stand
This time, Hopper masterminded a brilliant plan and protected Joyce so she could close the gate. It was an intense and shocking scene but it made sense for him to step in after El’s injury to save the world.
His selflessness and penchant for going straight towards the danger no matter what is exactly why he is one of the best people in Hawkins.
A letter to his daughter
Ahhhhh…the letter. That precious letter to his daughter about how she brought joy into his life and how he missed doing dad-daughter things with her now that she’s growing up was absolutely heartbreaking.
It’s hard for any parent to watch their kid slowly come from under their wing and create their own life but it has to happen. And, this moment is perhaps the saddest part of this series so far.
So, this one’s for you Hopper. An extraordinary chief, a street fighter, a friend, a dad, and a true hero who deserves all the praise.