Some pretty serious spoilers within for Stranger Things season 3, and a lot of crazy conjecture for season 4, so consider yourself warned.
Cue all the crying gifs. This season of Stranger Things was pretty freaking incredible, and I found myself falling more in love with just about every character at one point or another. Yes, that includes the very yell-y and crazypants Hopper this season. He’s never been the most subtle of characters, but this season was his loudest, most outspoken one yet.
So, when he and Joyce find themselves on opposite sides of an energy wave thanks to a giant Russian electromagnet, I definitely cried. Wept. Sobbed. There were many, many tears as I watched Hopper’s last moments tick by.
Or were they?
That is the question isn’t it. Is Hopper really dead?
I definitely don’t think so. While I don’t think he’s the American that was hinted at in the Stranger Things season 3 finale mid-credits scene, I do think Hopper survived.
You see, there was only one place that Hopper could have gone to survive the energy blast given off when that electromagnet blew. He would have had to leap like a freaking gazelle off that catwalk and hurl himself toward the gate to the Upside Down with no hesitation.
And I really think he did. Hopper may have been ready to sacrifice himself to keep everyone, including Eleven, safe, but he also wouldn’t give up his one chance to maybe make it back to his daughter if he could help it.
It’s good to keep in mind that if Joyce Byers had kept her eyes open while she turned those keys, Hopper wouldn’t have had the time to make any sort of move (because he totally wasn’t going to break eye contact with her, even if it was to save his own life), and then the answer to “Is Hopper really dead?” would have been a resounding yes. If you need to watch this again for confirmation of this possibility, try here.
So, if you believe that Hopper isn’t truly gone and that he entered the Upside Down in an attempt to save himself, your next question has to be, “So, how will he get out?”
Here are my thoughts on exactly how Stranger Things season 4 is going to go (please note: I’m always wrong):
- Eleven’s powers start to return and the first chance she gets, she tries to reach out to Hopper in that dark space of hers. It worked with her mother, so she decides that she has to try, because in her heart of hearts she just doesn’t believe that Hopper is really dead. And BOOM! there’s Hopper, looking a little worse for wear after having spent some time surviving the Upside Down, but still very much alive.
- Because Hopper’s stuck, the gang has to figure out a way to open the gate for a few minutes to get to Hopper, without letting any other monsters out or permanently propping it open, making it a Hawkins/Upside Down free-for-all. In the meantime, Eleven continues reaching out to him, trying to make contact so he knows she’s doing everything she can to get to him.
- Shenanigans ensue, probably involving Demogorgons or Demodogs or some version of some very creepy thing wreaking all kinds of havoc around Hawkins. It wouldn’t be a season of Stranger Things without something tragic happening in Hawkins.
I feel like this type of thing would be a refreshing take for the show, after 3 seasons of monsters appearing in Hawkins and wreaking their Upside Down-version of havoc. It would be a proactive, action-packed season, what with the gang making choices and calculating risks to rescue Hopper, rather than just trying desperately to stop a terrifying monster.
As I said, these are just my hopes and dreams for Hopper’s future on Stranger Things because his and Joyce’s epic love story can’t end this way. Neither can his father/daughter bond with El. Or his very contentious relationship with Mike. There is so much more left to explore with Hopper that there is just no possible way he’s gone for good. I refuse to believe it.