David Harbour may have confirmed this dark Stranger Things Season 4 fan theory

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 3.

When we all first learned that Hopper will be returning to Stranger Things Season 4, we were ecstatic to know our lovable, huggable, stern-yet-soft father figure would come back to us. So many of us thought we had seen the last of him in Stranger Things Season 3. (Dude was vaporized during the closure of the Upside Down, remember?) But the teaser trailer reminded us that some unforgettable and seriously-dark ish has gone down in Hawkins up to this point, and the Hopper we once knew and loved may not be the same Hopper anymore.

“To me, what happens in this season…we get to see some of Hopper’s really deep backstory that we hinted at with the boxes in Season 2,” David Harbour, who plays Hopper, teased during a virtual Deadline event. He appeared alongside the Duffer Brothers (Matt and Ross), who explained that they approach each season of Stranger Things like it’s its own movie.

The Stranger Things star is referencing something he hinted at back in May: that Hopper’s boxes, that we only glimpsed in Season 2, could play into it. In his cabin basement, you can spot boxes that say “Dad,” “Vietnam,” and “New York.”

Harbour continued, “I’m really excited to let people see these really deep colors in [Hopper].”

In the new season, Harbour said, Hopper is “painted in more of a darker palette,” and he’ll be expressing more deep emotions that have been hiding under his “wackiness” since the beginning.

“Darker palette” seems to only confirm that Hopper has been through hell at the Russian labor camp he materialized in after sacrificing himself to save Hawkins from the Mind Flayer. And what would turn Hopper “dark” if not Russian brainwashing, as was theorized on both Reddit and Twitter after the February teaser was released on social media? The brainwashing would essentially make Hopper the Season 4 villain.


Wouldn’t it be tragic if Hopper survived his vaporization only to not remember those he saved by doing so? Wouldn’t it be awful if he turned against Joyce, Eleven, Mike, Will, Lucas, and Dustin after the gang went through hell to save him from his dark thoughts of an even darker past—the bad guys would *definitely* use his late daughter Sara as brainwashing ammo, right?

Stranger Things Season 4, whenever it hits Netflix (which is still unclear due to the coronavirus pandemic), will be an emotional doozy. That’s for sure. Something tells us that if Hopper is going dark, we’re going to need the Starcourt Mall comedic-relief tag team—Steve, Robin, Dustin, and Erica, preferably in Scoops Ahoy uniforms—more than ever.

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