How Hopper Survived Season 3’s Ending

How Hopper Survived Season 3's Ending

The new Stranger Things season 4 trailer confirms that Jim Hopper is still alive – but how did he survive the destruction of the Gate Room?


Stranger Things season 4 confirms that Hopper is alive, and here’s how he survived his apparent death in Stranger Things season 3. Police chief Jim Hopper (played by David Harbour) seemingly paid the ultimate price to close the Russian Gate to the Upside Down, but he apparently lives to fight transdimensional monsters another day.

The brawl between Hopper and a key Russian operative – nicknamed the “Terminator” by viewers – spilled out into the Gate room itself. Although Hopper emerged triumphant, he realized there was no safe way to escape, and prioritized closing the Gate over trying to find a way to survive. It was a heartbreaking end for Hawkins’ chief of police, but entirely appropriate given he knew his adopted daughter Eleven was at risk every moment the Gate stayed open. Joyce turned the keys, and the Gate exploded, seemingly vaporizing Hopper’s body.


Related: Stranger Things’ Original Plan Was Very Different

During the marketing build-up for Stranger Things season 4, Hopper’s survival for season 4 was confirmed in the trailers. He’s shown working on a railroad in the Soviet Union, under armed guard and under blizzard conditions. So how did Hopper survive the Gate Room explosion and wind up in Russian custody?

How Hopper Survived The Gate Room Explosion

Jim Hopper survived season 3’s explosive finale by jumping to a safe space below as the gate to the Upside Down closed. The key to Hopper’s survival lies in the structure of the Gate Room itself. Stranger Things season 3 opened with a similar malfunction at the Russians’ Kamchatka Gate, with a number of key technicians vaporized in an energy surge. This appears to have led the Russian scientists to realize they could only open a Gate at Hawkins, where the powerful Eleven had previously used her powers to tear down the barrier between the real world and the Stranger Things’ Upside Down.

Indeed, when the Russians constructed their Hawkins Gate, they learned important lessons from the previous disaster; several shots in episode 8 showed a ladder off the gantry Hopper stood on, that in season 4 took him down to an area where he was outside the blast radius. No doubt, this wasn’t added for humanitarian reasons; rather, Russia couldn’t afford to keep losing accomplished scientists. Hopper had no way of knowing about the ladder, or about the shielded area. As a result, he didn’t make a run for it but instead gave Joyce a nod as he resigned himself to death. However, he leaped over the edge of the gantry to the safe zone below – badly injured and certainly knocked unconscious, but still alive.

How The Russians Took Jim Hopper

Season 4’s first episodes reveal that Hopper was taken prisoner immediately after the explosion, having woken from unconsciousness after the explosion to a group of Russian soldiers; they grabbed him and ferried him away. Presumed dead by everyone who knew him back in Hawkins, no one is looking for him, and he’s in a brutally stark, oppressive environment, revealed in episode 1 to be engaged in hard labor. Despite his botched prison break with Dmitri in episode 1, he reconnects with Joyce via a mysterious package and she starts working to organize his escape.

Related: Stranger Things Theory: The Mind Flayer Is 001

Curiously, when Stranger Things season 3’s post-credits scene returned to the Kamchatka site and revealed the Russian Gate project now had an American prisoner, there was some speculation he could be Doctor Brenner, founder of the US Government’s Hawkins plant. Brenner had been mysteriously absent, even though Stranger Things season 2 revealed he was still alive. However, the American prisoner was considered low-value enough that Russian soldiers thought about feeding him to a Demogorgon, so Hopper is instead tortured for information on his friends and, on refusing to turn them over, deemed tough enough for manual labor at Kamchatka.

What Jim Hopper’s Russian Labor Camp Detention Sets Up

Stranger Things Season 4 David Harbour as Jim Hopper Russian Prisoner

Stranger Things season 4’s first episodes reveal that big things are in store for Jim Hopper during his time at the Russian prison labor camp in Kamchatka. Indeed, the clues about Hopper in Stranger Things season 3 checked out once the series rolled around. In one trailer, prisoners in the labor camp armed with weapons brace themselves for an unseen attacker. While Hopper intones, “I was convinced I was put here for some other reason. Maybe I can still help, even if it’s the last thing I do,” he lights a makeshift spear on fire and appears to fight a Demogorgon. Curiously, the Russians have been performing experiments on Hopper as well, likely due to his proximity to the explosion – has he been granted powers? An escape plan is underway during Stranger Things season 4 part 1, but seeing as newcomer Yuri the smuggler appears to have his own game going on, he could use the extra help.

As Stranger Things season 4 draws on, it will reveal more not just about the fate of Jim Hopper, but also about what happens to Eleven and her friends after being relocated away from Hawkins. Indeed, the cast of Stranger Things season 4 might even decide to break out Hopper once they find out that he’s still alive and where he’s being held. As the latest trailer shows, however, Hopper might be more than capable of doing that himself. In any case, it will be interesting to see how Hopper fares after serving time at a prison labor camp, how the experiments could change him, and what the Upside Down might look like from outside of Hawkins.

More: Stranger Things Sets Up More Test Subjects For Season 4

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Thomas Bacon
(5058 Articles Published)

Tom Bacon is one of Screen Rant’s staff writers, as well as a Peer Mentor for new writers and a member of the Care Team, offering support and a listening ear to members of the Comics group. A lifelong fan of major franchises including Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Marvel, Tom is delighted his childhood is back – and this time it’s cool. You can find him on Twitter @TomABacon.

A graduate of Edge Hill University, Tom remains strongly connected with his alma mater as a volunteer chaplain. He’s heavily involved with his local church, and anyone who checks him out on Twitter will swiftly learn he’s into British politics too.

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