Stranger Things Season 3 started out as a celebration of summer but ended tragically thanks to Hopper's death. That is, it ended on what looked like Hopper's death. Although he seemingly perished when Joyce had no choice but to activate a deadly device to shut the Upside Down out of Hawkins, fans seem to agree that there's no way he's gone for good. Not when he could have leapt into the Upside Down at the last minute or wound up in Russia! Now it's possible that Season 4 could deliver more Hopper than we'd dared hope for.
Although nothing is confirmed, we can connect some dots and speculate that some significant Hopper storyline is on the way. According to TVLine, a fan-favorite character might have his/her origin story told in Season 4, and Season 4 may run for nine episodes like Season 2 did. Season 2's bonus episode told Eleven's origin story but wasn't especially well-received; would a Season 4 origin story for another character be more of a success?
Only time will tell if the episode count for Season 4 is bumped up to nine to potentially accommodate this origin story, but why did my mind immediately jump to Hopper as the character referred to in the rumor? Join me in some speculation based on what has been reported so far and what arguably makes sense for the fourth season!
Why The Fan-Favorite Is Probably Hopper
There are a number of popular characters after the three seasons that have released so far, so why did my mind jump to Hopper when there are characters like Steve, Eleven, Robin, Erica, and Joyce out there? Especially since Hopper is seemingly dead at the moment?
Well, of the popular characters of Stranger Things who are important enough to have their origin story told, I would argue that Hopper is the only one whose backstory would likely be relevant since Eleven's was already covered in Season 2's "The Lost Sister" and throughout flashbacks in Season 1.
There is still a lot of mystery surrounding Hopper's past, and David Harbour dropped an intriguing comment back in July 2019 that could point to more story surrounding Sara's death. Speaking with Business Insider about the fact that the hospital stairwell from Hopper's Sara flashback in Season 1 matches the Hawkins Lab stairwell from Season 2, Harbour noted it "is the same location," or a "similar location," then said this:
So yes – there is a connection there perhaps that we may go into further down the line. Again these are little things that highlight mysteries that I don’t want to give too much away from but I don’t think anything is done randomly in this show. So the fact that you’re picking up on these things is something that will pay off in some way
Clearly there is still material from Hopper's past relevant to Stranger Things' future, so why wouldn't he be the fan-favorite whose story needs to be told in Season 4? I think most fans are assuming that David Harbour will be back as Jim Hopper in some form or other, and flashbacks could fit the bill if Stranger Things wants to keep his fate unconfirmed for a while. It worked for Matthew Modine's Brenner in Seasons 2 and 3!
Why Hopper's Origin Story Could Be Told In Season 4
Practically speaking, Hopper is one of maybe two or three major characters from the first few seasons whose origin stories could really be told and matter. The four boys (who could be around less in Season 4) were all 12 in Season 1, and all signs pointed toward completely ordinary childhoods to that point. The same seems more or less true for Jonathan, Nancy, Steve, Robin, and even Max. Eleven's origin story has been told.
This pretty much leaves Joyce and Hopper of the main cast, with Brenner as a wild card if we count him as a villain that fans love to hate. Joyce is old enough to have a backstory, but would it be strange enough for Stranger Things? Hopper is old enough, has that mysterious history, and if he's alive, then he's almost certainly in circumstances that would prompt flashbacks to bizarre days gone by.
How Hopper's Origin Story Could Be Told
Believe it or not, I think Hopper's origin story could be told via flashback whether he's alive or dead. Let's start with the assumption that he is alive, though. Hopper's origin story could easily unfold via flashbacks, as Eleven's did in Season 1 and to a lesser extent in Season 2. Stranger Things wouldn't have to deal with David Harbour getting too old for semi-recent flashbacks, whereas young Millie Bobby Brown was noticeably older in her Season 2 flashbacks vs. Season 1.
In fact, if a living Hopper's journey in Season 4 somewhat parallels Eleven's in Season 2 insofar as Eleven was isolated from the main cast for quite a while, then flashbacks could be a way to keep him connected to the main story without hanging with his Hawkins pals. He has flashed back in the past, as the Season 1 finale proved his with memories of Sara's illness. The stage is set. If he's stuck in the Upside Down or Russia or somewhere else, he could easily be triggered.
Who knows? Maybe Season 4 could go all-in on the parallels and let most of the characters think he's dead until he shows up to save the day in the penultimate episode. Along those lines, Stranger Things could technically tell Hopper's origin story via flashbacks from other characters. Joyce knew Hopper through high school, and some at Hawkins Lab may have known Hopper due to the potential Sara connection. Then, surprise everybody with a reveal that Hopper is alive!
Admittedly, there are a whole lot of "ifs," "coulds," and "maybes" in this speculation, but I think what was teased about a potential ninth episode and origin story in Season 4 and what we can deduce makes Hopper a likely candidate. He's not really dead and gone, right?
Find out if I'm right or way off base about a Hopper origin story when Stranger Things Season 4 arrives on Netflix. The streaming giant hasn't released an official premiere date just yet, but a Twitter post from the writers suggests that it will at least come before the end of 2020. The Season 4 premiere title is a big X-Men reference, and the next batch of episodes could get off to a hellfire start.
For now, you can catch the first three seasons streaming on Netflix, and the streamer has plenty of other releases already scheduled for this year that you can find on our 2020 Netflix premiere schedule.