Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for Season 4 Part 1 of Stranger Things.
By the end of Season 3 of Stranger Things, most fans saw Hopper as their unofficial TV dad. He came into his own as Eleven's guardian and his death basically tore us to shreds. Well, that is, until it was revealed in the Season 3 finale that Hopper did not, in fact, die in the explosion that closed the portal to the Upside Down. So, how is Hopper alive on Stranger Things?
Hopper was believed to be dead at the end of 'Stranger Things' Season 3.
Joyce has to detonate an explosive in order to turn off the portal to the Upside Down in the Season 3 finale. Hopper sacrifices himself to hold off Russian soldiers while she does it and, it seems, he dies. But in an end credits scene, we learn about a mysterious American at a Russian military facility.
Joyce says herself in Season 4 that she never saw a body, and that's just television 101. If you don't see a body, then there's a good chance your favorite character was not, in fact, just blown to smithereens. And such is the case for our dear Hopper, who needs to get back home to Eleven stat.
How is Hopper alive on 'Stranger Things'?
And at the start of Stranger Things Season 4, we learn that Hopper actually survived the explosion. It turns out, he ran along the steel bridge that surrounded the portal and jumped off just in time to avoid the explosion.
But Russian soldiers captured him and brought them back home when they left Hawkins. Now, Hopper wants to get back home to Joyce and Eleven. He even sends Joyce a Russian doll in the mail with a secret message to let her know he's alive.
While conspiracy theorist Murray believes this to be a trick from the Russian government, Joyce is convinced that Hopper is alive and well and he wants to come home. Murray, on the other hand, is sure Hopper was already compromised by the KGB.
But if there's one thing we know about Hopper, it's that he is loyal to those he loves and this seems like a legitimate effort to get to Joyce.
Why is Hopper in Russia on 'Stranger Things'?
In Season 3 of Stranger Things, we learn that the Russian military is using a lab underneath the Hawkins mall to study the Upside Down. Hawkins is basically a hellmouth for the other world, so it makes sense that the Russians choose its location to conduct experiments.
In the last few moments of Season 3, we see soldiers in Russia testing the strength of men against a demon from the Upside Down.
They might have an end goal of weaponizing the demons. And capturing Hopper means they can also use him to test the strength of various demogorgon creatures.
Hopefully he gets back to the U.S. before the end of Season 4, though, because literally everyone needs Hopper in Hawkins right now.
Watch Stranger Things on Netflix.