Stranger Things fans knew Jim Hopper didn’t really die in the season 3 finale, and they were proven right when the season 4 teaser revealed that Hawkins’ erstwhile sheriff had indeed survived that explosion – but he was now being held as a prisoner in Russia. The question we’re left with, then, is: how is he going to escape and get back to his loved ones? Unless, of course, there’s actually still more to the story, as this wild fan theory suggests.
As put forward by ScreenRant, this theory wonders if the Hopper we see in the season 4 teaser is actually a clone. The idea stems from the way season 3’s post-credits scene had strong The Thing vibes, as it featured a monster attacking folks in a snowbound outpost. Given that ST always wears its influences on its sleeve, maybe John Carpenter’s classic horror – a known favorite of the Duffer brothers – will inspire season 4. Hence two versions of Hopper.
Yes, this theory doesn’t suggest that Hopper is dead, just that the one in Russia is a clone. There are two possible explanations for this. One is that he’s been created by the Mind Flayer. Billy met a clone of himself in the Upside Down in season 3, and now that it’s more powerful the creature could perhaps send a Hopper clone out into our world. The reason why would be to get revenge on Eleven. What better way to do that than take the form of her adoptive father, right?
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Alternatively, there’s the second option: the Russians have created the Hopper clone. Their reason for doing so would be similar. They’d send Clone Hopper back to Hawkins to infiltrate the group that foiled their plans last time in order to find out what they know about the Upside Down. Remember, the Russian soldiers spared the unseen American prisoner – who we can now assume was Hopper – from the Demogorgon in the season 3 credits sequence. They must have big plans for him, then.
Stranger Things is full of high-concept twists, so the idea of a clone Hopper running around really isn’t as crazy as it sounds.