|“||After Sarah... I saw her too. And I heard her. I didn't know what was real. And then I figured out that it was in my mind, and I had to pack all that away... otherwise I was gonna fall down a hole, that I couldn't get out of.||”|
–Jim Hopper, November 9, 1983
Jim Hopper, portrayed by David Harbour, is a major character in the first and second seasons of Stranger Things. Hopper is Chief of Police in the small, sleepy town of Hawkins, Indiana, where he lives out a carefree existence - yet he is haunted by a troubled past. After the young son of an old friend disappears into thin air, Hopper's life becomes infinitely more complicated.
BackgroundJim Hopper attended school with Joyce Byers and Bob Newby in Hawkins. Hopper hints that he wasn't exactly the model student while in high school; on at least one occasion, he lied to his mother about his whereabouts, so he could secretly hook up with girls such as Chrissy Carpenter.
He later married a woman named Diane and moved to a "big city," where he worked in the police force. Together they had a daughter, Sarah. However, Sarah was diagnosed with cancer. Despite receiving cutting-edge chemotherapy treatment, Sarah was unable to recover, passing away at a young age.
After her passing, Jim and Diane divorced. He moved back to Hawkins in 1979 where he became Police Chief at Hawkins Police Department, a largely carefree occupation. He started to rely on alcohol and prescription medication to get through his days and began sleeping around with women much younger than himself.
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 complicated than it initially appeared 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 taken the road where Cornwallis and Kerley meet on his way home the previous night. Hopper looked along this road with Officers Powell and Callahan hoping to find evidence, eventually finding Will's bicycle on the side of the road. He theorised that 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 to 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.
Hopper went to the public library with Powell to search newspapers, where he learned that the laboratory and Dr. Brenner had been involved in the experiments known as Project MKUltra. He began to believe that the lab was responsible for Will's disappearance, but Powell thought it was too big of a reach. They were then notified by Callahan to head over to the quarry.
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 out David O'Bannon 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 knocked out by agents in hazmat suits before he could investigate 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 initially believing her. He also revealed his theory that he may have unintentionally been tracking down the daughter of Terry Ives the whole time he had been looking for Will.
Arriving at Terry's house, Hopper and Joyce were greeted by her sister, Becky Ives, who recounted Terry's involvement in MKUltra. 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, and Jonathan suggested using Will's mobile radio. Hopper found the boys and Eleven in an abandoned bus located in a deserted junkyard, encountering and incapacitating several agents who were also looking for them. Hopper took El and the boys to the Byers' house.
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 as Dustin and Lucas set up a kiddie pool. Eleven entered the pool, and entering 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. They were apprehended before they entered the building.
Hopper and Joyce were separated and interrogated by Brenner, Agent Frazier, and another agent. Hopper told them he was aware of the experimentation on Eleven and the fact that they had made it look like Barb had run away. 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 the monster's 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 the 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 a Christmas party at the police station, taking some leftovers with him. Driving out to Mirkwood, he placed the food, along with some Eggo waffles, in a concealed box before returning to his car.
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 died of 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 remarry a man named Bill and have another child with her new husband.
- Joyce and Hopper attended high school together and at one point were in a relationship. However, they separated when Joyce and Lonnie got together.
|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|
|Diane's second child||Sarah Hopper|
- "You wanna know the worst thing that’s ever happened here in the four years I’ve been working here? You wanna know the worst thing, was when an owl attacked Eleanor Gillespie's head because it thought that her hair 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?"
- "I know you do experiments on kidnapped little kids, whose parents' brains you've turned to mush. And I know you went a little too far this time and you messed up in a big way."
- 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.
- 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. 
- 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.
- The truck he drives is a GMC K5 Blazer. 
- His license plate number is 98Y5, with the state shield displayed next to the number. 
- ↑ "Season 1 Chapter 8: "The Upside Down"
- ↑ Season 1 Chapter 1: "The Vanishing of Will Byers"
- ↑ Season 1 Chapter 4: "The Body"
- ↑ Season 1 Chapter 6: "The Monster"
- ↑ Season 1 Chapter 7: "The Bathtub"
- ↑ "David Harbour's Reddit AMA"
- ↑ "Montauk Pilot"
- ↑ "Interview: Actor David Harbour Embraces ‘Stranger Things’"The Young Folks. August 3, 2016.
- ↑ Screenshot from The Vanishing of Will Byers
- ↑ "Screenshot"
- ↑ "Screenshot"
- ↑ "Screenshot"
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