Throughout the first two seasons of Stranger Things, it was easy to ship Jim Hopper and Joyce Byers together. They seemed to have developed a genuine friendship that could blossom into a potential romance at any moment. But in the third season, that all came tumbling down. Although the finale had fans theorizing whether Hopper was dead or alive, his overall behavior left some viewers with a bad taste in their mouth. So what really happened to Hopper in Stranger Things 3? The Hawkins police chief probably shouldn't return for Season 4, and Evan Rachel Wood's tweets support my point.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for Stranger Things Season 3.
In the Stranger Things 3 finale, Joyce and Hopper found their way to the Russian secret lab beneath Starcourt Mall. They wanted to close the gate to the Upside Down by destroying the gate generator. But of course, their plans were thwarted by a security guard — aka the Russian Terminator — who had been following them throughout the season. Hopper fought off the guard and ended up killing him. However, by doing so, Hopper was trapped in the room with the gate generator. With time running out and their kids on the line, Joyce and Hopper realized what they had to do. The couple gave one final look in agreement and Joyce destroyed the gate generator, incinerating Hopper in the process.
While the scene could be a clear indication that Hopper is dead, the Stranger Things 3 post-credits scene teases his survival. The clip starts off in an ominous building within Kamchatka, Russia. Two Russian soldiers are shown and one tries to unlock a door. "No, not the American," the second soldier says before moving on.
Most fans seem to think that Hopper is behind the door, but Netflix has yet to confirm or deny the theory. And it doesn't look like fans will get a straight answer anytime soon. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, David Harbour admitted that he doesn't know whether or not Hopper is the American in the scene.
"I mean, I have no idea," he laughed. "I mean that, of course, is my hope too. It seems pretty crazy though."
That being said, fans have been questioning if Hopper should even return for Stranger Things Season 4 if Netflix greenlights the show for another round. Throughout the third season, Hopper displayed a few red flags of abusive behavior, including a few violent outbursts that basically screamed toxic masculinity.
Following the Season 3 premiere, Evan Rachel Wood called out Hopper for his toxic and "unacceptable" behavior.
"You should never date a guy like the cop from #strangerthings," she wrote. "Extreme jealousy and violent rages are not flattering or sexy like TV would have you believe. That is all."
Most fans seemed to agree with Wood's statement. One viewer wrote, "Yeah, I've liked Hop generally, but this season the way he's furious that his daughter is dating, & jealous of a guy who Joyce spoke to (despite emphasizing to her that it wasn't a date) wasn't a good look. He had a right to be upset at being stood up, but the Scott thing was 😕"
That said, other fans were quick to tell the Westworld actress that Hopper was a "fictional character" that was intentionally flawed. However, Wood revealed that this was exactly the point she was trying to convey.
"Yes I am aware its 'just a show' and its set 'in the 80s' even though this stuff was unacceptable then too, but thats exactly my point," Wood wrote. "Its just a show and this is a gentle reminder not to fall for this crap in real life. Red flags galore."
Although part of me doesn't want to admit it, Wood is right. Not going to lie, I felt uncomfortable after witnessing Hopper's character act out in rage throughout the entire season. While I'm all for complicated characters, fans shouldn't exactly romanticize Hopper as an ideal father or romantic partner either. And that's the tea.
Stranger Things 3 is now streaming on Netflix.