I have to agree with James Hunt from Screenrant on this one no matter how unpopular the idea is, Hopper really should have been killed off in season three of Stranger Things. There might be a collective gasp that goes up when this is uttered around fans of the show, but it’s the honest to goodness truth since the fake-out were given instead, confirmed by the season 4 peek that was shown online, was kind of a cheap move on the part of the show. There are a few reasons why Hopper should have died in the last season, not the least of which is that he was standing in the general vicinity where a blast big enough to take out the machine creating a gateway to the Upside Down would have vaporized him. This is the kind of thing that movie magic usually explains away, such as ‘he got lucky and was blown clear with massive injuries, though he was still alive’. It’s almost like a soap opera at this point when you’re certain one character is dead for good since there’s no earthly way that they could possibly come back from the kind of dire circumstances they’ve been thrust into, and yet they surprise you and do just that. It’s like the old joke that goes ‘how do you trick a blonde? You tell them to sit in the corner of a circular room. How does a blonde trick you?
They do it.’ Believe me, being a blond myself I still get a good chuckle at that joke every now and then since the truth is that it applies here in a big way. How in the world could Hopper survive a blast like that? There’s no way, right? He’s human, and humans tend to be fragile when it comes to such things as high explosives. The concussive force alone would turn his organs to a pulp. But then again, we’re talking about a fictional story here, so apparently anything goes. So what that means is that the Russians had impeccable timing and spirited him away before Joy could see them, or they picked up his unconscious, broken body and somehow discovered that he had a little life left in him.
Or there is a third option, but it sounds even sillier than the other two. What if Hopper was sucked into the Upside Down and somehow made his way to the Russian gate? It takes a lot of suspension of reason and rationality, but what if the distance between the gates is a relative thing in the Upside Down? What if, just what if, Hopper could make his way far enough, or was blown far enough through the gate that he somehow found his way to the corresponding gate in Russia thinking that it was a way home? It’s a thin premise at best, but it actually works a little better than thinking he survived the blast or that the Russians were just that quick to get him out of there. In any case, being dead would have been better since it would have made the mystery of “the American” that much stronger at the end of season 3, and it would leave the rest of the group needing to come up with a way to come together yet again when things start happening once more, which they will. Kim Renfro of Insider has more to say on the matter.
The death of Hopper would have been tragic for certain, there’s no denying this, but it would have been an impact that could be used to draw the rest of the group together at some point as they try to figure out how to combat the Upside Down with Hopper and how they’ll get by without him. At the moment they’re already doing that of course since they believe he’s well and gone, but for the audience the revelation is kind of bittersweet since, as brutal as it sounds, Hopper has become something of a loose end. Unless Eleven and the rest of the group figure out where he’s at, or even get it in their heads that he might not be dead, he becomes a part of the story that does have a purpose but is currently located so far out in left field so to speak that it’s a wonder as to how the story is going to be knit together once again.
How many people were relieved to see that Hopper was coming back? How many rolled their eyes and said something along the lines of ‘yep, I knew it’ in an annoyed voice? Sometimes characters have to die whether fans like it or not since it adds a little more of an emotional impact to the rest of the show. This cheap shot of faking out the fans with Hopper’s ‘death’ is just one reason why Stranger Things is already headed on a downward grade.