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David Harbour Points Out Awesome Arnold Schwarzenegger Easter Egg From Stranger Things' Season 4 Finale

Hopper in Russian jail in Stranger Things
(Image credit: Netflix)

Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched Stranger Things' Season 4 finale, so tread lightly through the Upside-Down.

After being put through the wringer both physically and mentally throughout the entirety of Stranger Things’ fourth season, David Harbour’s Jim Hopper finally achieved a renewed taste of freedom in the 142-minute finale, which allowed him a tearful reunion with Millie Bobby Brown’s not-quite-as-battleworn Eleven. Considering the abject hell he went through before that, though, it’s understandable that show creators Matt and Ross Duffer would want to give the character a big victory moment to release his built-up aggression. But I’m not sure anyone would have predicted it would involve a prop-based callback to one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most classic films.

As fans no doubt remember, Stranger Things’ fourth-season capper, “The Piggyback,” featured Hopper and Joyce’s prison-breaking crew taking on the monstrous task of hunting down the Demogorgons within the Russian facility. It was admittedly easy-peasy when Murray’s flamethrower was running smoothly, but once that fizzled out, Hopper had one last one-on-one with one of the Upside-Down beasts, lopping its gross-ass head off using one of the swords that was previously dropped in the pit. And therein lies the Arnold Schwarzenegger-ness of it all. 

David Harbour excitedly explained to the British GQ that the sword Hopper used to take down that Demogorgon is quite the Hollywood relic. In his words:

I don’t know if you saw this, but that sword I pick up — it’s the actual prop sword they used in Conan the Barbarian. It’s the sword that Schwarzenegger swings in the movie.

That’s about as nutso a prop cameo as one could imagine, at least in terms of sheer randomness. Granted, it did seem pretty specific for Stranger Things’ creative team to set up that sequence flipping between Natalia Dyer’s Nancy using a shotgun to blast Vecna in the Upside-Down and Hopper showing off his sword-swinging skills in Russia. So in that respect, at least, it’s not so surprising to hear that blade had more background significance than other weapons used in the episode. 

Hopper holding sword in Stranger Things

(Image credit: Netflix)

Considering Conan the Barbarian was released in the United States in May 1982, the early Arnold Schwarzenegger hit could very well have been viewed and enjoyed by Hopper and other Stranger Things characters. Though Conan isn’t technically in the sci-fi and horror realm that the Netflix series usually pays homage to — such as Season 4’s Star Wars nod, for instance — anything fantastical and toy-friendly from the 1980s is applicable. 

Would it have also been cool if Hopper had used a sword prop from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? Definitely, even though that was released in 1990 and was filmed after the show’s timeline so far. Still, though, if there’s ever been a show primed for tons of Ninja Turtles references, it’s Stranger Things. I fully believe most of these characters (at least those with D&D knowledge) will be nerding out over TMNT when the comics, cartoon series and films hit. 

In any case, as awesome as it is to know that Hopper decapitated a Demogorgon with an iconic Arnold Schwarzenegger prop, I can’t imagine how hot and bothered the Stranger Things viewership would be if fan-favorite survivor Steve Harrington was rocking a Conan-inspired costume and abs in Season 5, with or without the sword. Maybe after those demo-bat bite wounds heal first, though. And while we’re fantasizing about things, who do we have to talk to about getting Joe Kerry cast in that in-development Conan TV show?

While waiting to hear more about Stranger Things Season 5, check out what star Joseph Quinn told us about filming Eddie’s final Season 5 scene. And head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way.

Nick Venable
Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.