|"When you capture the right moment, it says more."
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Jim Hopper attended school with Joyce Byers and Bob Newby, in Hawkins. He later moved to a big city with his wife Diane, where he worked in the police force. Together they had a daughter, Sarah, who passed away due to cancer at a young age.
After her passing, Jim and Diane divorced. He moved to Hawkins in 1979 where he became Police Chief at Hawkins Police Department. He started to rely on alcohol and prescription medication to get through his days.
In November 1983, Joyce's son Will Byers disappeared. Initially Hopper did not take the case too seriously. He suggested Will was probably "playing hookie" when talking to Joyce at the police station, however he soon realised the situation was much more unclear and would require in-depth investigation.
Hopper entered Hawkins Middle School and briefly discussed Will with his friends Mike, Lucas and Dustin. The boys informed him that Will had took the road where Cornwallis and Kerley met on his way home the previous night. Hopper looked along this road with Officers Powell and Callahan in the hopes of finding evidence, eventually finding Will's bicycle on the side of the road. He theorised that perhaps Will had returned home due to the close vicinity to the Byers household. Hopper decided to investigate the house, where he found little evidence to support his theory. He investigated further, going into the garden shed where he heard strange noises. He decided to organise a search party to look for Will. That night, the party walked all the way to Cartersville and back, but found nothing.
Hopper headed over to the Byers house to check up on Joyce, informing her of the search results and taking a look at her "barbequed" phone. Later that day, Hopper was summoned to Benny's Burgers after Benny was found dead inside, who appeared to have committed suicide. Hopper then talked with Earl, as he had been present at the diner the day before. Earl told him about an incident involving a kid with a shaved head, who entered the diner and stole food from the kitchen. When pressed as to whether this child could've been Will but with a buzzcut, Earl agreed that it could've been.
After a torn piece of clothing was found at the end of a drainpipe near the diner leading to Hawkins National Laboratory, Hopper went to the laboratory with Powell and Callahan to investigate. He was allowed to see the security tapes from the night of Will's disappearance, but he noticed there was no storm on the tapes as there had been that night.
Will's body was discovered in the quarry by State Police officer David O'Bannon, but Joyce insisted to him that the body wasn't her son, and claimed that he was being hunted by a man with no face. Hopper dismissed these worries as grief-induced delusions, similar to delusions he experienced after the loss of his daughter.
Hopper became suspicious after talking to the local morgue's usual coroner, who informed him that state coroners had replaced him when examining the body. Hopper sought David O'Bannon out in a bar and discovered he was lying. He beat him up to get more information about who told him to lie, and saw that a black car was watching them. Hopper broke into the morgue, cutting open Will's body. He found that the body was stuffed with cotton. With his suspicions confirmed, he decided to break into the laboratory compound.
Inside the compound, Hopper broke into a high security area after confiscating a pass from one of the guards. He found a solitary confinement room containing a child-sized bed and a drawing on the wall. Delving deeper into the laboratory, he found a room overgrown with strange biologic matter, unfurling from a Gate to another dimension. He was rendered unconscious by agents in protective clothing before he could learn any further.
Hopper awoke the next morning in his own house, and searched thoroughly to find a hidden microphone in one of his lights. He went directly to Joyce's house to explain all he knew and to apologize for not initally believing in her. He also revealed his theory that the daughter of Terry Ives was a test subject at the laboratory.
Arriving at Terry's house, Hopper and Joyce were greeted by her sister, Becky Ives, who recounted how Terry had fallen into a catatonic state. Hopper was disgusted to hear that Terry had been willingly paid to test drugs while concurrently being pregnant. He learnt to his surprise that Terry had miscarried, although he was aware the 'miscarriage' may have been a cover-up, as with Will's fake body.
Hopper received notice from Powell that Will's elder brother Jonathan had been arrested for assaulting an officer. At the station, Hopper demanded that Jonathan be released, but later learnt that he and Nancy had accumulated a box-full of weapons in the trunk of his car. He worryingly learnt that he and Nancy had been preparing to fight the monster. Now fully aware that the government officials were descending on the town, Hopper attempted to contact the three friends of Will, with Jonathan suggesting to use Will's mobile radio. Hopper found the boys and Eleven in an abandoned bus located in a deserted field, encountering and seemingly killing several agents who were also looking for them. Hopper took El and the boys to the Byers' household.
Eleven attempted to contact Will and Barbara using her psychic abilities, but she was limited in what she could achieve. Dustin had the idea to create a makeshift sensory deprivation tank in order to amplify Eleven's abilities. The group broke into Hawkins Middle School, with Hopper and Jonathan fetching bags of de-icing salt. Eleven floated in a bathtub into which the salt was poured, creating saltwater. While in a deep psychic state, Eleven discovered that Barb had been killed, but she had found Will, barely clinging to his life. In a desperate attempt to save the boy, Hopper traveled to the laboratory with Joyce in the hopes of entering the Upside Down via the Gate. Upon infiltrating the building, they were both apprehended.
Hopper and Joyce were separated and interrogated by Brenner, Agent Frazier and another agent. Hopper told them he was aware of the experimentation on Terry Ives and her daughter, the faked miscarriage and the fake body they made to cover up Will's disappearance. They threatened to kill Hopper and stage an overdose if he did not cooperate, but he realised they needed him to locate Eleven. He came to an "agreement" with them; they gave him and Joyce access to the Gate and promised the safety of the three boys, and in return he told them Eleven's location.
As the laboratory officials left to apprehend Eleven, Hopper and Joyce were freed from confinement and allowed access through the Gate to the Upside Down, wearing hazmat suits. They walked through the woods, where Hopper found and briefly studied a mysterious egg. They looked on at the tattered remains of Castle Byers before continuing to the Byers household, where they found a trail of Monster blood. Hopper and Joyce followed the trail to the town library, where they found Will strung up in webs of strange biologic matter, with a tendril extending down his throat. Hopper pulled out the creature before shooting and killing it. He coached Joyce through a combined CPR effort, which revived Will. They returned to their dimension, taking Will to hospital immediately.
Hopper left through the back door of the hospital. As he began to walk away, a black car pulled up near him. After an agent got out of the car and indicated to him, Hopper entered the vehicle, which drove away to an unknown location.
A month later, Hopper left the police station with Christmas party leftovers, including Eggo Waffles, and placed them in a concealed box in the woods.
Personality and traits
The loss of his daughter and family life left Hopper emotionally reserved and cynical. To manage his pain, he regularly drank alcohol, smoked several cigarettes a day and developed an addiction to anti-anxiety drugs. Instead of making real connections with people, he slept around with several women who he never contacted again.
Despite being the Police Chief, he didn't care about his job, as he regularly slept in and showed up late, and had an indifference to the cases brought to his attention. Only when Will Byers went missing and it turned out to be a government cover-up did he start caring about doing his job properly, as he had a personal interest in the case.
Jim once had a daughter named Sarah, who brutally died due to something that looked like cancer.
His ex-wife, Diane, was Sarah's mother. She and Hopper have been divorced since Sarah's passing, and Diane has gone on to re-marry a man named Bill, and have another child with her new husband.
- "You wanna know the worst thing that’s ever happened here in the four years I’ve been working here? The worst thing that has ever happened here was when an owl attacked Eleanor Gillespie's head because it thought it was a nest."
- "Mornings are for coffee and contemplation."
- "Bike like this is like a Cadillac to these kids."
- "You know what I would give? For a chance? You know what I would give?"
- The name "Gillespie" (from Hopper's quote about the owl) could be a possible reference to the famous Silent Hill franchise (a series that largely focuses on many things - among which: deformed human-like creatures, other worlds and dimensions, as well as a town seemingly in the middle of nowhere and in which strange things happen. Also, the plot in the first game revolved around a father trying to find his missing daughter - as opposed to a mother looking for her missing son).
- In the 1987 movie Predator, the first man ever killed by a Predator was named Jim Hopper.
- The pills Hopper takes in the beginning of the series are Tuinal, a popular sedative/anti-anxiety drug that was discontinued in 1991. (Source )
- The blue bracelets around his right wrist are his daughter's hair ribbons--every time he wakes, he looks at them before he does anything else. (Source)
- When Hopper approaches the guard at the morgue, the guard is reading Cujo by Stephen King. Hopper's line "That's a nasty mutt" is a reference to the book being about a rabid dog.
- Hopper drinks Schlitz beer.
- He takes his coffee black.
- Not only does he rearrange Powell's cards when he arrives at the station, he has a box of gambling chips on his kitchen table; leading the audience to believe he may have an affection for gambling.
- The typewriter in the first scene between Hopper and Joyce is an IBM Selectric III.
|Season One appearances|
|The Vanishing of Will Byers||The Weirdo on Maple Street||Holly, Jolly||The Body|
|The Flea and the Acrobat||The Monster||The Bathtub||The Upside Down|