Stranger Things: 3 ways Hopper could’ve survived the season 3 finale

Stranger Things - Credit: Netflix
Stranger Things - Credit: Netflix /

Stranger Things 3 ended with Chief Hopper making an abrupt exit, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone for good. Take a look at three ways Hopper could return below.

Spoilers for Stranger Things 3 below!

In the finale of Stranger Things 3, Jim Hopper (David Harbour) has to fight off the Big Russian, Grigori, trying to keep the Upside Down open. Hopper kills him but gets trapped behind a wall of electrical discharge in the process. Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) then turns the keys and destroys the machine, which seemingly kills her old friend.

Since word got out on Hopper’s fate, speculation has mounted on the possibility of his survival. The Duffer Brothers and the cast also spoke to Entertainment Weekly wherein they touched on the matter, building the case for Hopper’s return in season 4.

No one revealed anything groundbreaking but both Harbour and Matt Duffer left room open to speculate, and they’re the two people who’d have knowledge of a surprise resurrection before anyone else. That being said, it’s not farfetched to start considering scenarios where Hopper escaped.

As far as possible explanations go, there are a few reasonable ones that come to mind. Check them out below.

Hopper is flung into the Upside Down

With such a chaotic flurry of events happening in the laser room, it’s difficult to discern exactly what took place. And since the finale didn’t show Hopper being disintegrated like the Russian scientists nearby, he probably didn’t share their fate.

The question of where he could’ve found refuge is up for debate but perhaps the explosion sent Hopper hurtling into the Upside Down. He was on the opposite side of the electrical field that separated him from the Russian scientists, and there didn’t seem to be a huge backfire of discharge either. That means he could’ve avoided being disintegrated altogether.

In the off-chance that Hopper did get sent to the Upside Down, he’s far from safe. The dark universe is inhospitable to humans and one can only imagine how long Hopper can last inside, that is without a generous supply of oxygen. Of course from Hopper’s perspective, surviving anywhere is better than being melted alive.

The Russians take Hopper captive

Another popular theory floating around suggests that the post-credits scene which referenced an American prisoner was talking about Hopper. The prisoner’s identity wasn’t revealed but fans are holding out hope that Jim is in the Russian prison glimpsed at the end.

The obvious question of how Hopper wound up in the Russians’ custody is the more interesting aspect of his escape. He must’ve found a way out of the room through an escape hatch underneath the machine or the ladder leading down into the chasm. However, that doesn’t explain how he becomes a prisoner.

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What more than likely happened was Hopper found a way out of the room only to run straight into a troop of soldiers escaping, too. Perhaps, he scurried down the ladder and ran into the fleeing Russians?

Hopper wouldn’t have been arrested right away but his apprehension seems like a guarantee. He couldn’t smile his way past a few guards during the breach, one can only imagine Hopper trying to escape the facility by himself.

Jim Hopper becomes infected

The final theory for how Hopper survived is that he became infected by the Upside Down. Joyce didn’t find any remains, but she didn’t have much time to look around either. Several Russian soldiers approached the room shortly after so Joyce had to leave. But in doing so, she may have glanced over Hopper’s singed body.

One might ask why Hopper’s body wouldn’t be found nearby and that can be explained by the explosion’s destructiveness. It caused massive damage to the machine and could’ve very easily flung Hopper towards another area. But the release of energy is what’s most important here.

Seeing as how the energy released became infused with elements from the Upside Down, it goes to reason that the discharge would leave particles infused in anything left alive. If Hopper were to be exposed to the same, he’d probably wind up like Billy (Dacre Montgomery). Max’s brother redeemed himself in the end but it took quite a long time for him to fight the control imposed on him.

Fortunately, the gate closed shortly after the explosion, which blocks the link between the monster and its prey.

The other downside to Hopper being infected is that he may become a monster, too. Season 3’s Mind Flayer showed fans how characters exposed to it could be absorbed and reshaped at will. Hopper becoming a part of their hive mind means he’s just as susceptible.

It’s not likely Hopper could have been “flayed” that quickly, but he could have been exposed to something from the Upside Down that would allow the Mind Flayer to access it at another time.

Do you think Hopper survived the Stranger Things season three finale? Let us know in the comments.

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