Stranger Things' David Harbour Knew About Hopper's Return the Whole Time, Compares Him to Gandalf

One of the most shocking moments in Stranger Things came in last year's third season finale when David Harbour's Chief Hopper was seemingly killed, only for the teaser for Season Four to confirm that he wasn't as dead as we thought, with actor David Harbour admitting that he knew the whole time that the plan was for the character to return. The stars of the series often play coy about what they do or don't know, with Harbour having teased that he was entirely unaware about what the future held for his character, though his recent admission also included his awareness that his character would "die" and return, experiencing a similar evolution to Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings.

"I knew. We knew. We had talked about it," Harbour shared with Total Film, per GamesRadar, regarding his character's return. "I just wanted to preserve the fantasy for everyone. And it’s such a weird position that we’re in now with so much media, that everybody wants to talk to you about it."

He added, "I’m very close to [creators] the Duffer brothers, and I know where the story’s going, and I’ve known from the get-go. And I think that’s been the great thing about this story. In terms of Stranger Things, you’ll be able to look back at Season One and see a lot of things that happen further down the line that relate to that."

The sci-fi nature of the series means that as soon as we saw Hopper's "death," we speculated about whether he was really gone, with the season's post-credits season planting the seed that he had merely been transported to Russia instead of meeting his demise. Rather than this relocation merely being a misdirect for the series, Harbour noted that the character will emerge as a changed individual, much like a famous wizard from Middle-earth.

"I’ve had those discussions with them from the very first season," the actor explained. "We were always interested in that idea of the Gandalf resurrection – Gandalf the Grey who fights the Balrog and then becomes Gandalf the White. It’s the idea of the resurrection of the character. And mythologically, Hopper, in a sense, had to change. I mean, you couldn’t go on the way he was going on. He has to resurrect in some way. So it was a great opportunity to do that. So we’ll see a very different guy going forwards. The same guy but in a different vein. It’s a very cool thing to be able to play."


Stranger Things Season Four began shooting earlier this year, though halted production due to the coronavirus pandemic. Stay tuned for details on when the new season of the series could move forward.

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