"Stranger Things" Season Four Teaser Sparks New Fan Theories

Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 3.

Valentine’s Day this year might’ve been filled with an array of sweet moments and surprises, but for Stranger Things fans, a particularly memorable part of the holiday was the sudden revelation that one of the series’ most beloved characters is back, against all odds, for the latest season.

On Feb. 14, the Stranger Things official Twitter account tweeted their own “love letter” with a 50-second teaser trailer attached. As the camera pans over a desolate field in Siberia and sweeps through workers laboring over a railroad, the focus zooms in on a face that many fans had only hoped of seeing again: a bald and withered-looking Jim Hopper. 

With the cryptic mention of an “American” in the after-credits scene of the previous finale and the fact that viewers never actually saw a physical body, theories have been flying since the end of season three. Some included the more obvious assumption that Hopper is the supposed “American,” while others speculated that he ended up in the Upside Down. 

But with the release of the trailer and the news that Hopper is certifiably alive (Entertainment Weekly sites a quote from the Duffer brothers who confirm that Hopper’s return is just the beginning of season four), new theories have been devised and old ones adjusted.

One Reddit thread suggests that although it now seems obvious Hopper is the imprisoned American, the notorious Dr. Brenner - who hasn’t been seen since season one - is still a possibility. If the trailer is a purposeful tactic to mislead viewers, Dr. Brenner as the American would be an even more shocking twist. 

And while Hopper’s presence in Russia seems to negate the idea that he could’ve ended up in the Upside Down, many fans believe that the trailer doesn’t give us all the information. Hopper and the other prisoners working on a railroad might not be just a generic Russian punishment—it may be a road-in-progress to the Upside Down

Other fans think season four might dive deeper into Russian and Soviet history and use the nuclear Chernobyl disaster as a convenient “cover-up” for a final battle between Eleven’s gang and the dark forces of the Upside Down. The Reddit user behind this theory explains that each season of the show has taken place in a different part of the year: season one during winter of 1963, season two in fall of 1984, three in summer of 1985 and season four prospectively during spring of 1986—right around the time Chernobyl occurred. 

Some fans took an entirely different approach and noticed the keen similarities between David Harbour’s roles as Hopper and the Red Guardian, a Russian supervillain in the upcoming Black Widow movie. Twitter users ironically suggested that Stranger Things/MCU crossover may not be too far out of reach. 

The decision to reveal the truth about Hopper’s death in a trailer has its critics. One columnist for Forbes explained his belief that it was a poor choice to bring back Hopper at all. But the fact that such a large spoiler was revealed well in advance of the show’s release (a highly uncommon, if not unprecedented choice) has viewers questioning what type of actual twists and surprises are in store for the newest season. 

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