Hopper was flat-out unlikable in Stranger Things season 3, which upset his fans; season 4 can fix this mistake by redeeming him in Russia.
Netflix has a chance to fix its mistake with Hopper in Stranger Things season 4. Promotional material for the upcoming season revealed that Jim Hopper’s death in Stranger Things season 3 was a fakeout, and that the Hawkins sheriff is stuck in Russia at a high-security prison. This is good news for fans of the show because many were disappointed with the negative portrayal of Hopper throughout season 3: He was uncharacteristically mean to Eleven and Mike, and distant with his longtime confidant Joyce Byers. It all led to Hopper seemingly being killed in the Starcourt battle sequence, which would have left audiences remembering him as nasty, strict, and gone too soon.
This is not how the viewers would have wanted to remember David Harbour’s character after all of his personal growth in Stranger Things seasons 1 and 2. Thankfully, the Sheriff is confirmed to be returning and audiences are going to receive all new information about him in season 4, including new information about his past. Season 4 will reveal secrets about Hopper that no one knows about, particularly concerning his life before the Will Byers fiasco of season 1. With that in mind, how can the show writers make Hopper likable again?
The fact that Hopper is stuck in a Russian gulag is reason enough for audiences to immediately sympathize with the character. The situation at hand is bound to bring a version of Hopper who is tough and resilient. Whether the prison establishment humbles him or he humbles the prison establishment, audiences will likely be treated to an all-out brawl and/or a sneaky getaway. Hopper can’t stay in Russia forever — Hawkins needs him. Once he gets back to his hometown, Hopper will have the opportunity to fix his damaged relationships. Arguably, Stranger Things season 3 was full of mistakes, but Hopper’s character shift is one that the showrunners cannot afford to ignore. To make Hopper a fan favorite once again, his relationships with the fellow characters will need to improve significantly.
One of Stranger Things‘ many strengths is its unlikely team-ups between characters and the relationships that develop from such unlikely pairings. The show managed to transform Steve Harrington, played by Joe Keery, from forgettable jock into one of the series’ best characters after he teamed up with young Dustin in season 2. There are sure to be many more character team-ups in Stranger Things season 4, and Jim Hopper will need to be a part of one of these so that audiences can be reminded of his cordial and helpful side — rather than his tendencies to be brash and stubborn. A team-up might be the only way that Hopper can get out of Russia and back to Hawkins, but there is currently little to no info regarding the plot of the long-awaited fourth season, so fans will need to wait and see just how Hopper’s arc continues.
The mistakes that have been made regarding Jim Hopper’s character in season 3 of Stranger Things should be an easy fix in the upcoming season and can be transformed into character development if done neatly and tidily. For Hopper to be adequately redeemed, he’ll need to genuinely regret how he treated Eleven and Joyce. The burgeoning romantic relationship between the curmudgeonly sheriff and the kooky single-mom was a major part of season 2’s appeal, and many fans of the pairing were disappointed by how Hopper treated his romantic interest in season 3. How he’ll return to the main story remains a mystery, but it would be fitting if Joyce goes to Russia to save Hopper in Stranger Things season 4 — but unless more hints are dropped for the next installment, fans will have to wait to learn what’s next for Hopper.
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