Stranger Things 3 spoilers ahead! The residents of Hawkins, Indiana have survived some pretty wild things in the past (Demogorgon, Mind Flayers), but by the end of Season 3 it appeared as though Jim Hopper's luck had finally run out. But before you start mourning the death of this beloved sheriff, keep in mind that these clues that Hopper is still alive on Stranger Things are pretty convincing, despite what the series wants you to believe.
In the Season 3 finale, Hopper had one final showdown with the Terminator-inspired hitman from Russia. But even though Hop defeated the foe once and for all, it trapped him next to the big laser machine, leaving him in clear range of the explosion. He knew he was doomed, yet he was more than willing to sacrifice himself in order to save everyone else. It was a very heroic moment for the character, but one that left fans in tears over Hopper's demise. But what if he didn't die in the explosion? What if there was a way he could've survived? Get ready to have your world turned upside-down, because if these clues are any indication, it's extremely likely that Hop will live to see another day.
His Body Was Never Found
Sure, it's possible that the explosion turned him to dust a la Thanos-style, but it's a general rule of thumb on shows like this that no death is legit until you actually see a body. And since Hopper's was MIA, all bets are off in regards to his fate.
The Ladder Theory
Reddit user tierfonyellowaces astutely pointed out a tiny detail in the Stranger Things 3 finale that all but proves Hopper's survival. In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, you can spot a ladder near the base of the laser machine located on the very side of the weapon Hopper was stuck on. If he was somehow able to discover the ladder was there, it's possible he could've gotten out of range in time. This series never does anything without having a reason, so why else have a ladder appear there if it wasn't going to amount to anything?
The Post-Credits Scene
As the final episode came to a close, the scene cut to a bunker facility in Russia where an unnamed, mystery "American" was being held prisoner. It could be anyone at this point, but what if the person turns out to be Hopper? He was in a Russian lab at the time of his supposed demise, so it's definitely plausible.
Hopper's Letter To Eleven
This may be a stretch, but some fans might try to read more into Hopper's sweet letter to El, which she reads at the end of the season. There are a few terms in there that suggest there could be more to this note than meets the eye. For instance, Hopper talks about being in a dark cave, which is meant to serve as a metaphor of his emotional state prior to having El in his life. But what if it serves a double purpose and hints at his current location? Maybe he's hiding out in the Upside Down, having jumped through the opening before it closed.
Furthermore, at the end of the message, he tells her to "keep the door open three inches." Sure, it's a nod to him wanting her bedroom door open that amount when Mike is over, but it could also be a reference to the Upside Down portal. He would need it to open in order for him to get back, which makes you wonder if this note was actually instructions about how to save him.
Maybe this is all just wishful thinking and Hopper truly is gone. But considering all of the twists this show has thrown at us in the past, that seems unlikely. Stranger things have happened!