This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things 3. When Netflix released the first teaser for Stranger Things 4 on Feb. 14, it answered one major question — is Hopper still alive? — and left fans with dozens more. While fans will have to wait until the new season premieres to get the answers to all of those questions, these Stranger Things 4 theories about Hopper based on the teaser might provide a few hints about what is coming for everyone’s favorite police chief.
Here’s what fans do know, based on the short clip that Netflix released: Hopper (David Harbour) is alive, he’s bald, and he’s being held prisoner in a remote part of Russia. At the end of Stranger Things 3, he appeared to have been killed in the explosion at the Russian facility in Hawkins. An end credits scene teased that he had actually survived and ended up in Russia with a demogorgon, calling him "the American."
The theory that Hopper was "the American" has finally been confirmed with this new teaser, and the accompanying press release obtained by Bustle. "[Hopper] is imprisoned far from home in the snowy wasteland of Kamchatka, where he will face dangers both human … and other," the show’s creators, Matt and Ross Duffer teased.
The dangers he’s facing will hopefully lead him back to Indiana, as the Duffers hinted that "a new horror is beginning to surface" there that "connects everything." So, what could this new horror be — and what happened to Hopper in between seasons? Here are the best theories.
Hopper Will Be The New Villain
The teaser reveals that Hopper is alive, and looking a little different than the last time fans saw him — and according to one Reddit theory, there’s a reason for that. Back in July, Reddit user u/Conor_mc7 proposed that Hopper could potentially be brainwashed by the Russians during his time in the prison, which would turn him against Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) and the rest of the Hawkins gang. If that’s the case, it would tie both Hopper’s storyline and the Indiana one together even tighter, and potentially force El to make some devastating choices in order to save her friends and possibly, also her adoptive father.
Hopper Is The New Eleven
Okay, this one is solely based on Hopper’s new hairdo, but hear us out: When Stranger Things introduced Eleven, she had arrived from experiments in the Upside Down with a buzzed head and psychokinetic powers. In Stranger Things 3, the Russians were clearly experimenting with the forces from the Upside Down, and as of yet, fans don’t know how Hopper survived the explosion at the end of the season, but it’s possible that he ended up in the Upside Down, which means he could have developed powers.
Hopper Goes Back In Time
Stranger Things loves a good ’80s pop culture reference, and one of the most prominent ones in the third season was Back to the Future. And that reference could actually turn out to be a major clue. It’s possible the reference could have foreshadowed Hopper traveling back in time to prevent the events of Stranger Things from ever occurring in Hawkins. His death coincided with the closing of the door to the Upside Down, and we know that the Russians somehow have a demogorgon when he’s their prisoner — is it possible that the blast sent him through the Upside Down and back in time, causing the demogorgon to return once more?
The Storyline Is Building Towards The Chernobyl Disaster
Stranger Things 3 took place in the summer of 1985, and introduced the element of the Russian government’s interest in the Upside Down. Shortly after the season premiered, Reddit user u/blank_U pointed out that the Chernobyl explosion occurred on April 26, 1986, which opens the door for potential connections to Hopper’s future storyline on Stranger Things. After all, the Russian government played a major role in covering up the impact and devastation of the nuclear meltdown, which could make for an interesting way for the Duffer brothers to connect the Russians’ experiments in Stranger Things with a real-life event.
Stranger Things 4 & Black Widow Are Connected
This one might seem a little far-fetched, but think about it for a second. Harbour is playing the Red Guardian in the upcoming Black Widow film, and his character on Stranger Things is being held hostage in Russia. Since it’s not entirely clear yet when the events of Black Widow take place — although it’s definitely before Avengers: Endgame, so somewhere in the recent past — it’s not totally impossible that Hopper adopts a Russian accent, grows and beard and ultimately becomes the Red Guardian.
Hopefully fans will finally get some answers to the question of the Red Guardian’s origins — and whether or not the Upside Down really is a portal through time and space — when Stranger Things 4 returns.
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