Now that we've all had time to absorb that Stranger Things 4teaser and the fact that, yes, Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) will be back in the flesh for the sci-fi/fantasy series' next season, fans are starting to piece together theories about how he might've survived that laboratory explosion and what it may mean that he is "the American" in Russian captivity right now. While some of these ideas are less likely to prove true than others, there are some solid points being made on social media right now.
For starters, there are quite a few people who are positively convinced Hopper's relocation to Russia will somehow connect the story to Black Widow and turn him into Red Guardian, thus bridging the Stranger Things realm with the MCU. (Sure, it's a little silly, but the similarities here are pretty spooky.)
Meanwhile, there are other fans who suspect Hopper may have absorbed Eleven's (Millie Bobby Brown) powers at the tail end of Stranger Things 3, which could explain why her telekinetic talents suddenly faded and how he wound up transporting himself to another location before or during the blast.
There's also the possibility that Hopper went to the Upside Down and was retrieved by the Russians, who have their own gate going on.
But what if the Mind Flayer got ahold of him during that time on the other side?
And what if his eventual reunion with El is anything but cheery?
One thing we do know is where Hopper will be when Stranger Things returns to Netflix for Season 4. In a letter to audiences, show co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer teased, "he is imprisoned far from home in the snowy wasteland of Kamchatka, where he will face dangers both human... and other."
Stranger Things 4 is now officially in production. Seasons 1-3 are now streaming on Netflix.