The third season of Stranger Things has been out for a whopping four days, so it seems only fair to assume that everyone has already seen the entire thing, since how else could one possibly spend a four-day holiday weekend besides barricading yourself indoors and slamming through eight hours of Netflix? But if you are one of those people who somehow chose human interaction over Stranger Things 3 this weekend, be warned: spoilers for the entire season ahead.
Are you ready? OK.
In the season three finale, Sheriff Hopper appears to die in a massive explosion while they're closing the Russians' secret portal into the Upside Down hidden under Starcourt Mall (no, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense but it also doesn't matter). But in a surprise post-credits scene at the tail end of the episode, it seems like the guy might not be dead, after all. The short clip takes place in Russia, where the Soviets have torn another hole in the dimensional fabric or whatever and have brought the Demogorgon back to our reality. During the scene, one Russian soldier references a prisoner they call "the American"—likely Hopper himself, unless Barb is about to make the biggest surprise comeback of all time.
Last week, Entertainment Weekly caught up with David Harbour, who plays Hopper on the show, to ask him if the Hopper in Russia theory was correct. Harbour kept it pretty coy with EW, saying that he has "no idea," but according to SlashFilm, Harbour totally does know—and confirmed that Hopper was alive in an interview.
“This is the question I’m going to have to dance around–” I began, only for Harbour to interrupt me and ask, “The ending?” “Right,” I said. “Is there a way you can talk about the future of Hopper without…” I trailed off here, only for Harbour to ask: “Well, did you see the post-credits scene?”
I had, of course. And so I straight-up asked: is that Hopper behind the door? According to Harbour, yes. Throughout the season, the main Russian baddie refers to Hopper as “the American”, and having another Russian refer to the mysterious prisoner in the same way was the big giveaway.
Now, it isn't a huge surprise that Hopper will be back for the inevitable season four. The guy didn't exactly get the tidy, redemptive narrative arc that you'd expect from a major character death—he's still got loose threads with Joyce and Eleven that need resolution, and the Duffers wouldn't have just blown him to bits without at least having him and Joyce get it on at least once. But Harbour's acting is one of the emotional cores of Stranger Things, so it's good to know that Sheriff Hopper isn't gone forever.
Netflix has yet to confirm _Stranger Things 4—_but at this point, come on, it's definitely going to happen. Until then, head over to SlashFilm and read the full interview with Harbour.