The biggest question Stranger Things fans have after the end of Season 3 involves whether or not Jim Hopper survived the explosion in the season finale that shut down the device opening a rift to the Upside Down.
An persisting theory that emerged when the season debuted offers evidence that Hopper, played by actor David K. Harbour, may have survived. He’s might also be “the American” teased in the Season 3 post-credits scene with the Demogorgon.
After the release of Season 3, Stranger Things star and Jim Hopper actor David Harbour revealed a phone number — 1 (618) 625-8313 — via a series of posts on his Instagram.
When you call the number it plays a pre-recorded message from Murray Bauman. In it, Murray complains about his mother and then speaks to Joyce Byers.
“If this is Joyce — Joyce, thank you for calling,” he says. “I have been trying to reach you. I have an update. It’s about, well, it’s probably best if we speak in person. It’s not good or bad, but it’s something …”
Not even Murray Bauman actor Brett Gelman knows what this voicemail message truly means, but based on the context, a lot of people assume he’s been investigating the Russians and may have heard chatter about Hopper. Why else would the number be revealed via David Harbour’s Instagram? It has to be related to Hopper in some way, right?
We know from the Stranger Things 3 epilogue that Joyce Byers left town three months after the final battle at Starcourt Mall with Will, Jonathan, and Eleven in tow. This voice recording is probably from some time after.
Bauman has always been paranoid about Russians, so that’s why he’s light on details in the pre-recorded message. He wouldn’t say anything about the Russians or Hopper or anything sensitive in a place where any random person could hear it.
TV Line’s Michael Ausiello reported as part of a Q&A column with readers that David Harbour’s Stranger Things contract extends into Season 4, providing strong evidence that we haven’t seen the last of Hopper.
“[Harbour]’s current contract carries him through a potential fourth season (and possibly beyond), but that doesn’t necessarily mean producers will pick up his Season 4 option. FWIW, the latest Vegas odds put the chances of him/her returning at duh.”
What does that mean? Harbour’s contract with Netflix for Stranger Things has an option to tap him to appear in a fourth season, but it’s not like Netflix is required to do so. That’s why it’s called an “option.” The contractural means for Harbour’s return to Stranger Things exists, but is it actually possible?
Earlier in the series, we saw other people get vaporized by the machine in gruesome fashion, but we never actually see Hopper’s death. He’s standing right next to the device when it explodes, and in the chaos of trying to escape, Joyce doesn’t see his remains. He may have turned to dust and been transported into the Upside Down like Eleven at the end of Season 1, or some fans think he might’ve leapt right through the open gate before it closed.
If the latter is true, then Hopper could’ve traveled through the Upside Down and emerged in Kamchatka, Russia where he’s been imprisoned ever since. We won’t know the truth about the post-credits scene or Hopper’s fate for quite some time, but let’s all hope this Sheriff lived to dance another day.
Stranger Things Season 3 is currently available to stream on Netflix, and while Season 4 remains unconfirmed, there’s no reason to doubt it’ll happen.