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 were still a ton of questions about our favorite lazy sheriff turned paranoid hero dad. Stranger Things 4 gave us answers to a few of our burning Hopper questions. Let’s take a look at his journey this season.
Jump To: Hopper in Volume 2
Hopper’s Story in Stranger Things 4 Volume One
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.
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.
“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 the issue of fully escaping the prison and getting back to Hawkins.
Hopper’s Story in Stranger Things 4 Volume 2
A few fights and heavy threats later, Jopper escapes with Murray, Enzo, and Yuri. They get to an outpost where shady Yuri claims he has a helicopter. And he does. But it is small, suspicious, and has never been flown. Hopper and Joyce also give fans what they have been craving since season one. A kiss (and presumably more hot action) goes down after so much pining. Love to see it. However, in the wildest decision yet, they decide to break back into the prison. Hopper knows that they cannot get to Hawkins in time to help the kids. But he figures if they can kill the creatures they saw in the prison, maybe that will benefit them somehow.
So that is what they do. It delivers some pretty epic fighting on their behalf, especially Hopper. And destroying those creatures does help weaken Vecna to a degree. So yay? They make it out once again and fly back to the states. Hopper gets a reunion with Eleven. And all is chaotic with massive gates open in Hawkins. Good times.
We don’t know where Hopper’s story will go next season. But he’s back in Hawkins, safe-ish, and ready to fight for his family.
Originally published May 31, 2022.