Here's What Happens to Hopper in STRANGER THINGS 4 - Nerdist
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Here’s What Happens to Hopper in STRANGER THINGS 4

Hopper is back like he never left because, well, he never really left. We cannot speak for every viewer but the Stranger Things fans here at Nerdist knew Hopper didn’t die at Starcourt Mall. And our suspicions became fact with new images and trailers for Stranger Things 4. But there’s still a ton of questions about our favorite lazy sheriff turned paranoid hero dad. What’s going on with Hopper over in Russia? Will Joyce and Murray find him? Can Hopper escape Russia and come back to Hawkins to reunite with Eleven? Stranger Things 4 Volume One gives us answers to a few of our burning Hopper questions. Let’s take a look at his journey this season. 

Spoiler Alert

Surprisingly, the revelation that Hopper is alive comes in the first episode. Joyce gets a cryptic letter (inside a Russian doll, no less) that he’s still alive. She ropes in Murray so they can dial a number, which leads them to a guy named Enzo. If you can remember, Enzo is the restaurant where Joyce and Hopper were supposed to go on their date. This kicks off the Joyce/Murray storyline with them traveling to Alaska to exchange money with Yuri, who will help them get to the Russian prison where Hopper is held captive.

David Harbour's Hopper, trapped in a Russian prison in Stranger Things 4
Netflix

Meanwhile, episode two takes us back to that fateful Fourth of July where we discover what happens to Hopper. And, honestly, its rather anticlimactic. He didn’t somehow fall through a portal and end up in Russia. Instead, a few straggler Russians caught Hopper and presumably flew him to the prison. In the last six months, he’s been in a living hell, enduring physical and mental abuse and losing weight as a result of poor nutrition. His beard and hair are no more and he’s desperate to escape. Oh, and there’s also a Demogorgon there that gets to feast on prisoners for sport. 

Thankfully, he’s not alone. A Russian soldier whom we call Enzo (real name: Antonov) has become a friend of sorts, even if his motivations are selfish. (We love that he calls Hopper “American.”) He’s all about getting money and surely thinks Hopper will die. Stranger Things 4 Volume One shows Hopper and Enzo’s friendship take shape, especially after Hopper’s initial escape attempt goes awry with Yuri’s betrayal. At least he got some JIF peanut butter out of it.

They become equals, both prisoners with time to talk to each other. Hopper hits the point of no hope in episode five, believing that he’s somehow cursed. He talks to Enzo, revealing that he went into the military at 18 to prove he wasn’t worthless to his dad. Hopper ends up in the Chemical Corps and comes into frequent contact with Agent Orange, which affects him and later leads to his daughter’s cancer diagnosis and death. 

David Harbour as the former Police Chief Hopper in Stranger Things 4.
Netflix
“After that… I just hid myself in drugs and alcohol. And then people started coming into my life. This girl El and Joyce just happened, and I told myself that they needed me. That wasn’t true. That’s a lie. They didn’t need me. I needed them… the minute I sent for Joyce, the minute I sent for her, I sentenced her to death. Just like I did with Sara. Everyone I love, I hurt. See I was wrong this whole time. I wasn’t cursed. I am the curse.”

Hopper a.k.a. “American”

It’s a truly heartbreaking sentiment for a man going through a dark night of the soul moment. And things appear to be getting darker for him with the prospect of having to fight in a losing “entertainment match” against a Demogorgon. But, Hopper finds purpose in this, fighting in hopes that he can do something to make Eleven proud of him. He reflects on his relationship with Eleven, knowing that she was rejecting him to grow up and hoping she’s coming into her own. They make a pact to get out of there and return to their children. 

At the end of Volume One, Hopper and Enzo defeat the Demogorgon with Joyce and Murray’s interference. Hopper and Joyce enjoy a sweet, sweet reunion; however, there’s still a big question. How the hell are they going to fully escape this prison and get back to Hawkins?! We will have to wait and see in Volume Two. Hopper’s Stranger Things story will continue to unfold with sacrifice and his desire to protect the ones he loves.

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