David Harbour teases Stranger Things 4 will reveal a "big, huge" piece of Jim Hopper's backstory as "pay off" from a Season 2 episode where Hopper's adopted daughter Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) uncovered boxes marked "New York" and "Vietnam." Season 2 episode 4, "Will the Wise," hinted at a secret Harbour has kept "since the first frame of the first shot" of the series created by the Duffer Brothers for Netflix, which seemingly killed Hopper in its third season finale, "The Battle of Starcourt." The Hawkins, Indiana police chief was later confirmed to be alive — and now the prisoner of a Russia gulag — in a new look at Stranger Things Season 4.
Eleven discovers "five boxes, one of which has Brenner's stuff from Hawkins Lab, one of which says 'Dad,' and one of which says 'Vietnam,' and one says 'New York,'" Harbour said during a recent appearance at Liverpool Comic Con. "So there are these three things that we've established in the season that if we don't pay off, it means that they're bad writers. And the Duffer brothers are very good writers. So I know specifically that in Season 4 we will give you a big, huge reveal about Hopper's backstory."
Fans have "sort of sensed that in certain ways, but we haven't really told you about [it]," Harbour added, pointing to past revelations that Hopper lost young daughter Sara (Elle Graham) to cancer and that he was a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.
"I'm so excited about revealing this aspect of the character," Harbour said. "It's one of the things that I’ve known since the first frame of the first shot, and we haven’t expressed it yet. And finally we're gonna express it in a big way. It's my favorite thing about him that you guys don't know about him yet, but it has to do with these backstories of New York, Vietnam, and dad. And I'm really excited for you guys to know more about that, and it relates, of course, to things he’s doing with Eleven and Joyce and things like that."
He added, "It's a big reveal, and I'm really excited for you to see it. So whenever it comes out in 2050, when the next season comes out, you'll get to see that."
In March, Netflix suspended production on Stranger Things 4 amid the coronavirus crisis. The new season currently has no release date.