David Harbour Has His Own Theories About Hopper’s ‘Stranger Things’ Sacrifice and He’s Tracing It Back to Season 1

David Harbour might not know if Hopper died on Stranger Things, but just like every other fan of the series, he has some theories. The actor claims that he’s not even sure whether Hopper will return in Season 4, but he’s hopeful there will be more opportunities to play “the greatest character ever written.”

david harbour stranger things hopper season 4
David Harbour | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Harbour thinks there were signs that Hopper had to die from the start

Putting the ending of Stranger Things Season 3 aside, Harbour thinks that there were signs right from the beginning of the series that pointed to Hopper being on a doomed path.

In an interview with the LA Times, he explained: “When I read that first scene with Joyce [Winona Ryder] and Hopper and he resists helping her find her child and even makes a bit of a homophobic joke about him, you see this guy has really sort of died on the inside as a result of the death of his daughter. The fact that he lives with a certain amount of internalized rage and had been slowly killing himself with pills and alcohol… he needed to make a sacrifice.”

Harbour shares his theories about Hopper’s sacrifice

There are plenty of Stranger Things theories out there and Harbour had some of his own to add to the mix. He believes that the sacrifice Hopper made could go a couple of ways, explaining, “One way it could be viewed is he has to die to make it up to [his daughter] Sara and see her in the afterlife.”

“The other view,” he continued, “is that because of this newfound relationship with Eleven [Millie Bobby Brown], he needs to shed his skin, make a sacrifice that allows his character to re-emerge. He was finally able to really take a bullet for a child, which he had never been able to do because Sara died of cancer. I think there’s a perfection to it.”

Will Hopper return in Season 4?

As for what happened after Hopper’s sacrifice at the end of Season 3 and the Russian guards’ reference to “The American” that they are keeping prisoner, it’s anyone’s guess right now — including Harbour’s.

He shared during the interview: “Now whether or not there’s some sort of second-act resurrection would be very interesting to me, clearly, for obvious reasons. The fact that I desperately love the show and desperately love the character… but that remains to be seen. He would certainly have to emerge a different individual.”

Harbour shared that while he’s got his own ideas, “I’ve read a lot of fan theories,” adding, “Sometimes when I’m looking for punishment, I’ll go online and see what people are saying. I will say that the fact that he was called ‘The American’ [earlier] by Grigori during the season and there’s someone the Russians are calling ‘The American’ points to Hopper, but there are a lot of theories out there.”

Is Hopper dead? Harbour tried to get the answer

During an October 2019 appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Harbour tried to get answers about the fate of his character by calling up the show’s creators during his interview.

He asked during the FaceTime call: “I have a question. Am I dead? Is Hopper dead?”

Ross Duffer responded: “I mean, we’re still figuring it out, David.”