After Sara... 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.



Jim 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.
The Upside Down - Hopper, Sarah and Diane 1

Jim and Diane realise there is something wrong with their daughter

Storage boxes kept at the cabin of Hopper's grandfather indicate that Jim served in the Vietnam War, and that he also spent some time in New York.

He later married a woman named Diane and moved to a "big city" - likely New York - where he worked in the police force. Together they had a daughter, Sara. However, Sara was diagnosed with cancer. Despite receiving cutting-edge chemotherapy treatment, Sara was unable to recover, passing away at a young age.[1]

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 due to the town's low crime rate. Hopper started to rely on alcohol and prescription medication to get through his days and began sleeping around with women much younger than himself.[2]


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.

Vanishing of Will Byers - Hopper with the boys

Hopper talks to the boys in the principal's office

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.

Vanishing of Will Byers - Will's bike is found

Hopper and his deputies find Will's bike

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.

The Body - Hopper beats up O'Bannon

Hopper beats up O'Bannon outside the Hideaway

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.[3]

Flea and the Acrobat - Hopper at the Gate

Hopper looks out for attackers outside the Gate

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 learned, to his surprise, that Terry had miscarried, although he was aware that 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.[4] 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.[5]

The Upside Down - Hopper and Brenner negotiate

Hopper and Brenner negotiate

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 staged Barb's 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 tendril before shooting and destroying it. He coached Joyce through a combined CPR effort, which revived Will. They returned to their dimension, taking Will to the hospital immediately.

The Upside Down - Hopper is picked up by agents

Hopper is picked up by agents

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.

The Upside Down - Hopper leaves food

Hopper puts food in the box

A month later, Hopper left a Christmas party at the police station, taking some leftovers with him to give to Eleven. [6] Driving out to Mirkwood, he placed the food, along with some Eggo waffles, in a concealed box before returning to his car.


In December, he was reunited with Eleven, having escaped from the Upside Down and found his box of food. He then took her to a cabin in the woods that would serve as their new home. Together, they cleaned the cabin and rigged nearby trees with trip wire to alert them of any intruders. In order for them to communicate safely, Hopper taught Eleven how to read and signal Morse code. Hopper created a set of rules for Eleven's safety, requiring her to always have the curtains drawn, to always have the door locked, and to never leave the cabin.


On October 30, Hopper was met by Murray Bauman, a private investigator, outside the police station. Agreeing to give him five minutes to talk, Hopper listened as Bauman tried to convince him of a Russian spy presence in Hawkins, eventually coming to the conclusion that Barbara Holland had been taken by Russians. As Bauman was talking, Hopper received a phone call requesting that he investigate Merrill's pumpkin patch and had to leave, cutting their time short.

At the pumpkin patch, a strange rot had destroyed all the pumpkins. Merrill told Hopper he believed that Eugene had poisoned his field, though Hopper was skeptical of the idea. His attention was then drawn to a sound coming from the nearby cornfield. Hopper went to investigate the source of the noise, but was interrupted by a crow.

Later that day, Hopper met Joyce and Will at the lab, accompanying them during Will's check-up. Will explained his episode that he had experienced at the arcade to Dr. Owens, telling him that an evil force wanted to kill everyone. Owens told Joyce and Hopper the reason for the increased number of episodes was because of the “Anniversary Effect.” He advised them to just treat Will as normally as possible.

That night, Hopper arrived at the cabin late. This frustrated Eleven because Hopper did not signal to tell her ahead of time. The two then ate dinner together.

The next morning, Eleven tried to convince Hopper to let her go trick-or-treating, arguing that she wouldn't be seen by the bad men because of her ghost costume. Hopper refused, as it would have been too big of a risk. He then came up with a compromise, telling her he would get off work early and they'd watch a scary movie together. While not completely happy with the compromise, Eleven agreed to it.

At the police station, Hopper questioned Eugene about poisoning Merrill's pumpkins. He denied any involvement, and instead accused Merrill, since his, as well as several other local farmers' crops, had also succumbed to the same rot. At Eugene's field, Hopper discovered the rot had begun affecting nearby trees. As he was marking the effected area, he lost track of time, resulting in him arriving to the cabin late again. This angered Eleven, and when Hopper finally arrived at the cabin, she refused to come out of her room.

The following morning, Hopper managed to convince her to come out of her room. At breakfast, Eleven asked Hopper when she would be able to see Mike again. He tried to placate her by saying she'd be able to see him “soon,” but Eleven's patience had reached its limit. She lashed out at Hopper and stormed away to her room, slamming the door.

Hopper realized that the rot was originating from Hawkins Lab. When he told Owens this, he dismissed Hopper's worries, assuring him that everything was contained. Hopper wasn't satisfied, and demanded that Owens convince him otherwise. They, along with a team of scientists, traveled to one of the contaminated pumpkin patches. While there, Hopper received a call from Powell, who had been called by a woman who had witnessed a strange girl manipulate her child's swing. Realizing this to be Eleven, he left the pumpkin patch and headed to the cabin.

When she arrived at the cabin, Eleven discovered Hopper waiting for her. The two got into an argument, with Hopper grounding her and revoking her television privileges. However, Eleven held the television in place with her powers, resulting in Hopper destroying the device's cord. Furious, Eleven told Hopper she hated him and went to her room. As Hopper tried to convince her to open the door, she had a psychic tantrum, breaking all of the cabin's windows.

Before leaving for work the following morning, Hopper told Eleven he'd consider fixing the television if she cleaned up the mess she had made the night before. After heading to his car, he was informed by Flo that Joyce had been trying to contact him. After arriving at the Byers' house, Will explained to Hopper that he now knew things he hadn't before, through memories that “were happening all at once”, which he called “now-memories”. When Will couldn't make sense of these now-memories, Joyce asked him to draw what he saw. He began frantically drawing what at first appeared to be random scribbles, but Joyce and Hopper soon realized that the drawings were all connected. After assembling the drawings in the correct order, they discovered the drawings depicted a strange maze-like pattern. Assuming that the drawings depicted vines, Hopper made the connection to the pumpkin patch and left.

After digging a hole in the pumpkin patch's soil, Hopper descended into a subterranean tunnel overgrown with biological matter originating from the Upside Down. As he was exploring, he encountered a strange growth that sprayed some type of spore-spray in his face, causing him to lose consciousness. When he awoke, he vomited a dark substance. Realizing he was trapped, Hopper continued through the tunnels looking for a way out. He eventually came to a point where several of the tunnels intersected, filled with several animal carcasses. Discovering that the vines were vulnerable to fire, he fashioned a makeshift torch out of a piece of an animal carcass and one of his sleeves. As he futilely tried to dig a way out, he was overcome by exhaustion and stopped to rest. He was then ensnared in a mass of vines. Eventually, he was found by Joyce and Bob, who had discovered his predicament through Will's connection with the shadow monster. After Hopper was freed, soldiers from the lab arrived and urged them to leave shortly before burning the tunnels. Suddenly, Will, who was waiting above ground with Mike, collapsed and began convulsing on the ground.

Hopper, Joyce, Bob, and Mike were taken to Hawkins Lab, where Will was quickly treated. When Will awoke, he could not remember Hopper, Owens, or Bob, and was barely able to remember Mike. In a test involving a severed vine from the Upside Down, Owens asked if Will could feel anything as another scientist used a blowtorch to burn the vine. Through this, they determined that Will had some sort of “virus” that connected him to all other infected hosts in a hive intelligence. Back in the infirmary, Will claimed he knew of a way they could possibly stop the shadow monster. Using images that the lab personnel had taken of the map, Will directed the scientists to an area, stating “he doesn't want me to see there.”

As soldiers traversed the tunnels, Will revealed that the shadow monster made him deceive the soldiers. Realizing it was a trap, Mike tried to warn the scientists, but it was too late; the soldiers were ambushed and killed by a pack of Demo-dogs. Shortly after, Demo-dogs began invading the lab. To prevent the shadow monster from knowing their location, Mike urged them to sedate Will. Once Will was unconscious, the group took refuge in a surveillance room, where they witnessed the lab being overrun by Demo-dogs before the power went out. To restore the power and allow them a way out, Bob volunteered to go down to the basement and reset the breakers. Once the power was restored and the doors unlocked, Mike, Joyce, Hopper, and Will made it to safety while Owens stayed behind to guide Bob. Just when it seemed Bob was safe, he was tackled and killed by several Demo-dogs. Outside, the group met up with Nancy, Jonathan, Steve, Dustin, Lucas, and Max. Together, they escaped the lab.

At the Byers' house, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Max speculated about the shadow monster's weakness. When they realized that the shadow monster controlled everything in a hive mind, they compared it to the Mind Flayer, a monster from Dungeons & Dragons that similarly controls the minds of its victims. They also speculated that, if they killed the Mind Flayer, they would kill everything it controlled. Mike then proposed that, in order to discover the Mind Flayer's weakness, they'd have to take Will someplace he couldn't recognize and try to get through to him. After making the backyard shed unrecognizable, they attempt to interrogate Will. While the Mind Flayer had taken over a majority of Will's mind and body, a part of Will managed to subconsciously signal to them in Morse code. Deciphering his message, they discovered the way to stop the Mind Flayer: by closing the Gate. Soon after, the phone in the Byers' kitchen rang, giving away their location.

As the house was being surrounded by a pack of Demo-dogs, the group armed themselves. Before the pack could attack, however, Eleven arrived and eradicated them. Together, the group came up with a plan: Joyce, Jonathan, and Nancy would exorcise the Mind Flayer from Will's body while Eleven and Hopper would go to the lab and close the Gate.

At the lab, Hopper and Eleven came across Owens, wounded but still alive. After making their way through the complex, they eventually reached the Gate, receiving the signal from Joyce to destroy it. After being lowered down to the Gate's underground entrance, Eleven began closing it. Now aware of her presence, the Mind Flayer attempted to stop Eleven by sending the Demo-dogs after her, though Hopper managed to keep them at bay with gunfire. The Mind Flayer then resorted to attacking Eleven directly. By channeling her anger, she was able to overcome the Mind Flayer and close the Gate for good.

A month later, Hopper met with Owens at the Hideaway. He received a forged birth certificate with the name “Jane Hopper”, indicating he had taken her in as an adopted daughter.

On December 15, after taking Eleven to the Snow Ball, Hopper met Joyce in the school's parking lot. He comforted Joyce, who was still grieving over Bob's death.

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.

Skills and Abilities

As an Army veteran and Police Chief, Hopper is proficient with a variety of firearms, ranging from revolvers, handguns and .22 LRs to shotguns, submachine guns and assault rifles.

He also seems to have some experience as a radio operator, and teaches Eleven how to communicate over the radio using Morse code.



Sara Hopper

Jim once had a daughter named Sara, who died of cancer.


His ex-wife Diane was Sara's mother. She and Hopper have been divorced since Sara's passing, and Diane has gone on to remarry a man named Bill and have another child with her new husband.


After her defeat of the Demogorgon at the end of the first season, it is revealed that she comes back through a Gate, and escapes the school. Hiding in the woods, Hopper had been leaving food for her in a lock box until she one day arrives during one of his drops. Hiding her for almost a year in his grandfather's old cabin, for what he believed to be her own safety, the two form a father-daughter bond. At the end of the events of Season 2, Hopper adopts Jane officially.


Joyce Byers

Joyce and Hopper attended high school together and at one point were in a relationship.[7] 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

Family tree

Unseen and Unnamed Character Family Tree icon
Diane Family Tree icon 001
Jim Hopper Family Tree Icon 001
Jim Hopper
Unseen and Unnamed Character Family Tree icon
Diane's second child
Sara Hopper Family Tree icon 001
Sara Hopper
Jane Ives Family Tree icon 001

Jane Ives

Jim's Adopted Daughter

Memorable Quotes

  • "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.[8]
  • 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. [9]
  • 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. [10]
  • 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.[11] [12]
  • His license plate number is 98Y5, with the state shield displayed next to the number. [13]


View Gallery

Click the above image to view the gallery for Jim Hopper.


  1. "Season 1 Chapter 8: "The Upside Down"
  2. Season 1 Chapter 1: "The Vanishing of Will Byers"
  3. Season 1 Chapter 4: "The Body"
  4. Season 1 Chapter 6: "The Monster"
  5. Season 1 Chapter 7: "The Bathtub"
  6. The person receiving the food from Hopper was revealed at the 2017 Stranger Things Comic Con Panel.
  7. "David Harbour's Reddit AMA"
  8. "Montauk Pilot"
  9. "Interview: Actor David Harbour Embraces ‘Stranger Things’"The Young Folks. August 3, 2016.
  10. Screenshot from The Vanishing of Will Byers
  11. "Screenshot"
  12. "Screenshot"
  13. "Screenshot"

The Upside Down
Locations The Upside DownThe GateHawkins National LaboratoryPublic LibraryPortalsHawkins tunnel system
Entities D'ArtagnanThe DemogorgonDemogorgon (species)Library TendrilThe Mind Flayer
Visitors Joyce ByersWill ByersElevenBarbara HollandJim HopperShepardNancy Wheeler
Miscellaneous Upside Down eggThe Upside Down (episode)Dungeons & DragonsThe Void
Articles may contain spoilers.

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