Is Hopper Alive in 'Stranger Things'? Why Alexei May Be "The American"

Everyone's favorite Russian spy might still be alive.

Chances are good that if you’ve finished your Stranger Things Season 3 binge, you have a ton of questions about Season 4. And if you’re like me, then most of your questions are about that ominous post-credits scene, which hints at how the story will continue and how one fan-favorite character in peril might return with the Stranger Things Season 4 release date.

There’s been plenty of speculation about the “American” that post-credits scene teases, but a new clue from one Stranger Things cast member might reveal an unexpected option: Alexei.

More information about a key post-credits scene character who could return was revealed earlier this week thanks to Stranger Things actor Andrey Ivchenko, who played Grigori, the Russian hunting Hopper and Joyce. We need to break this down immediately.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Stranger Things Season 3.

On Wednesday evening, Andrey Ivchenko, who played Grigori, the Russian “Terminator” who hunts Hopper and Joyce, participated in a Reddit AMA where he may have hinted at the identity of “the American.”

It happened when redditor u/Freygea asked Ivchenko, “Would Grigori consider Alexei an ‘American’?” Ivchenko remained aloof with his answer — “Gotta watch season 4 ;)” — but his wording was suggestive enough to set off a flurry of reactions from fans, including my personal favorite reaction from Redditor u/versmoothsalads: “Holy shit, that ominous wink.”

Redditor u/psygeek2018 chimed in, writing, “Wait a second … don’t tell me Alexie is still somehow alive and he is the one referred to as “the American” at the end of the show!” Psygeek2018’s reaction is appropriate here because Stranger Things led us to believe Grigori killed Alexei (Alec Utgoff) at the Hawkins Fun Fair in Episode 7, “The Bite.” How could Alexei be the American, let alone be alive, if he was shot at point-blank range and his body left at a fair? Ivchenko’s Reddit AMA response implies there’s more to the story with Alexei’s demise than what we’ve been led to believe.

Alexei (Alec Utgoff) with Murray (Brett Gelman) on Stranger Things Season 3
Alexei shares with Joyce, Hopper, and Murray why the Russians are in Hawkins.

To quickly recap Alexei’s Season 3 arc: The Russian character is involved with the team in building the lab under the Starcourt Mall in Hawkins. They want to re-open the Upside Down gate, which is still healing after being closed by Eleven in Season 2. Joyce and Hopper take Alexei hostage, and the three travel to Illinois to see Murray Bauman, who speaks Russian and can translate for Alexei.

Alexei is compliant with Hopper and Joyce’s questions (although it takes some Burger King and a strawberry Slurpee to help loosen his tongue) and reveals the entirety of the Russian’s plan. From there on out, Alexei is an ally to Hopper, Joyce, and Murray. In the final moments, before he is shot at the funfair, Alexei talks with Murray about life in the United States. Their conversation implies Alexei might be considering defecting based on his interest in what Murray has to say about American life. By the end of his time on the show (maybe?), it’s easy to see how Grigori would view Alexei as a traitor and consider him an American simply because of how easily he befriended the other locals and appears to be having a good time with Murray at the fair.

Who the American might be is currently one of the biggest questions Stranger Things needs to answer in Season 4. The most popular theory right now is that it’s Hopper since we never actually saw him die in the Season 3 finale. It’s also been theorized that the American could be Dr. Brenner, the man who ran the MKUltra experiments on Eleven and others at the Hawkins Laboratory. But the jury is still out for the most part.

Alexei (Alec Utgoff) at the Hawkins Funfair in Stranger Things Season 3
Alexei cleans up nicely at a Hawkins Funfair game... and then his fortunes take a turn.

If Alexei is the American, Stranger Things would have to do their damndest to clearly and logically explain how Alexei survived being shot in the stomach, made his way out of the fair without being noticed, and fell back into Russian custody. The easy answer here is that Alexei’s body was retrieved by Grigori (before Grigori went to the Russian lab at the mall) and from there, Alexei miraculously survived his wounds. There’s just one big flaw: Joyce and Murray find Alexei’s body, head slumped, and they check for vitals. Their reactions indicate Alexei is, in fact, dead.

Bringing Alexei back and revealing him to be the American in the post-credits scene would be a shock to the system. Stranger Things features lots of sci-fi elements which stretch the limits of reality but this show has never been in the habit of reviving dead characters whose lifeless bodies we’ve seen onscreen. Then again, maybe keeping an open mind for Season 4 is the way to go. When it comes to this series, we’ve certainly seen weirder things happen.


Watch Stranger Things Season 3 now on Netflix.

Media via Netflix, Inverse