That Stranger Things 3 Ending: Is [Spoiler] Really Dead?

Two major deaths punctuated the end of ST3, but is that second one for real? Or does that credits scene suggest another fate?

by | July 7, 2019 | Comments

Stranger Things SEASON Season 3 PHOTO CREDIT Netflix PICTURED Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Sadie Sink, Caleb McLaughlin

No season of Stranger Things has been without casualty, but the two major deaths at the end of the series’ third season are the biggest yet. Like, really big. (This is the part where we tell you there are major spoilers ahead regarding the ending of Stranger Things season 3.)

SPOILER WARNING: We’re not kidding, we are going to spoil the heck out of this season in the next paragraph.

Stranger Things 3, Dacre Montgomery as Billy (Netflix)
(Photo by Netflix)

First, Billy (Dacre Montgomery): A tragedy, but a death for a good cause. Billy spent the season possessed by the Mind Flayer, and in the final moments of the big battle, he regained his consciousness as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) reminded him of the childhood memories she’d seen while doing some of her supernatural exploring earlier in the season. Billy remembered who he was, and he ultimately sacrificed himself to stop the Mind Flayer.

Billy was not a good dude — he pretty much spent the entirety of season 2 being a violent, abusive jerk — but after seeing how he became that way in Eleven’s glimpses into his past, it was satisfying seeing him tap into his humanity and realize what he needed to do for the greater good. He won’t exactly be missed — again, he was a real d-bag — but his abs might be, at least for the thirsty moms of Hawkins.

Stranger Things 3, Winona Ryder as Joyce, David Harbour as Hopper (Netflix)
(Photo by Netflix)

Second, and most devastating of all, Hopper (David Harbour). Yes, Hopper! We’ll pause here for a moment of silence, particularly for this season’s fabulous Tom Selleck mustache–patterned shirt combo.

OK, back to the saddest moment of the series — yes, even sadder than the flashbacks to Hopper’s daughter or Eleven’s past — when Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper locked eyes as they realized what had to be done to close the newest gateway to the Upside Down, which was hidden in the secret Russian bunker deep underneath the Starcourt Mall. Joyce had the power to press the button to close the door, but Hopper was standing next to the opening and would immediately be incinerated if she did.

Both Joyce and Hopper knew what would happen if she closed the gateway, but they also knew what would happen if they didn’t. And as Hawkins Police Chief, Hopper wants to protect the greater good — and ensure the safety of his daughter, Eleven. So he nodded to Joyce, knowing they’d never get to have dinner like they’d planned, and she pulled the metaphorical trigger.

Here’s the thing, though: We never saw what happened to Hopper after that. Joyce returned to the surface and broke the news to Elle (with a super-sad, wistful look), and subsequently gave her the practice heart-to-heart speech he’d written earlier in the season that turned out to be a lovely goodbye letter, filled with advice for her future — the one he ensured she’d have by sacrificing himself in that bunker. But what actually happened to him?

Stranger Things SEASON Season 3 PHOTO CREDIT Netflix PICTURED Noah Schnapp, Caleb McLaughlin, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Sadie Sink, Charlie Heaton, Natalia Dyer

While the emotional ending would’ve played perfectly well if Hopper’s fate were final, this is Stranger Things — and a mid-credits scene revealed that maybe it wasn’t a death that we saw. Deep inside a Russian prison, two guards took a prisoner from his cell, making sure he was “not the American.” The American, hmmmm? Who could that be referring to?

Why, Hopper, of course. Think about it: when the feds finally got to Hawkins, the Russians had disappeared without a trace. How did that happen? It shouldn’t be too far-fetched of a leap to assume that maybe they took Hopper with them.

Though the ending of ST3 seemed quite permanent, with the Byers family and Eleven leaving town, the Duffer brothers have said that they’d envisioned four seasons for the series. Which means that season 3 might not be the end after all, and a fourth season, potentially, could include a discovery that Hopper is still alive and then trying to get him back from the Russian prison where he’s theoretically residing. Hypothetically.

Either way, this can’t be the end of Hopper and his exquisite dad bod — whether in flashback or in the flesh, Stranger Things wouldn’t be the same without him.

What did you think of the ending? Do you think it’s Hopper in that Russian prison? If so, do you think he’ll escape or will those resourceful Hawkins kids and their elder siblings, parents, and friends find their beloved Hopper and hatch a plan to rescue him? Tell us in the comments!

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Summer Set visit television richard e. Grant Showtime Holidays Epix Esquire Acorn TV what to watch south america Creative Arts Emmys period drama Trivia Amazon Prime Video kids Cannes Columbia Pictures NYCC Action Sneak Peek Awards Tour transformers sitcom facebook spy thriller politics Marathons USA Network Watching Series NBC Rocky Anna Paquin TruTV A&E political drama docudrama Netflix zero dark thirty Red Carpet series The CW 24 frames The Witch cats psycho ABC Family natural history VH1 adaptation Starz American Society of Cinematographers aliens Food Network First Reviews Lifetime LGBTQ CBS crime thriller CNN Rocketman FX Paramount Song of Ice and Fire Vudu YouTube Premium New York Comic Con Disney Channel Tarantino biography Countdown Disney streaming service Oscars 2018 2016 BET Thanksgiving children's TV revenge Pixar dc Pop blaxploitation BBC America Character Guide vampires Super Bowl Sony Pictures Fall TV Britbox sports supernatural medical drama adventure TCA 2017 Infographic harry potter crossover stand-up comedy Calendar singing competition Ellie Kemper robots Film jamie lee curtis Best and Worst Pride Month Brie Larson SXSW Dark Horse Comics PaleyFest LGBT DC Universe spanish language CW Seed Walt Disney Pictures Captain marvel Lionsgate DC streaming service green book cooking Apple CBS All Access CMT zombies Grammys El Rey Awards comiccon DGA OWN serial killer dceu disaster Trophy Talk TNT Opinion finale Rom-Com social media Cosplay YouTube Red Bravo psychological thriller TLC Mary Poppins Returns TCM Syfy Superheroe Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TIFF Ovation space TV See It Skip It sequel History Tumblr WarnerMedia SundanceTV toy story National Geographic Western Biopics Tomatazos police drama true crime Country AMC Pirates Cartoon Network anthology Crackle zombie Elton John Election Black Mirror Animation Lucasfilm hist Sundance Now Reality Competition 21st Century Fox HBO elevated horror spinoff YA Toys historical drama spain Spring TV witnail movies mockumentary game show crime nature Martial Arts Mary poppins TV Land Mindy Kaling ABC Sundance Comic Book Comics on TV Video Games Shondaland Pet Sematary Interview cars X-Men MSNBC Extras award winner Masterpiece USA Adult Swim strong female leads Hulu HBO Max Universal based on movie Mystery Binge Guide FOX casting Drama war Emmys Shudder Winter TV Comedy Central 20th Century Fox cinemax Sci-Fi dragons VICE miniseries Logo technology Valentine's Day dramedy TBS GIFs 2019 RT History Mary Tyler Moore Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt theme song GLAAD Quiz Mudbound binge TCA spider-man diversity 2017 comic teaser book science fiction Marvel Freeform Heroines Box Office Disney FXX ITV Emmy Nominations The Arrangement ghosts cults Women's History Month quibi Amazon Prime Music Family Year in Review Superheroes boxoffice PBS foreign Fox News Paramount Network Winners Film Festival Nominations E! Horror anime talk show unscripted justice league Star Wars Certified Fresh IFC Christmas festivals Writers Guild of America Kids & Family Amazon animated Photos First Look cops doctor who Musicals 007 Star Trek Chernobyl APB game of thrones mutant Podcast 2015 composers Warner Bros. latino travel streaming tv talk San Diego Comic-Con ratings ESPN Stephen King Spike GoT Trailer thriller Nat Geo Ghostbusters Rock E3 Comedy hispanic romance SDCC DirecTV Schedule IFC Films Spectrum Originals RT21 MTV WGN 45 Polls and Games MCU Premiere Dates Musical Fantasy discovery Reality DC Comics crime drama golden globes BBC Teen President Nickelodeon