Following his character's apparent death at the end of season 3, David Harbour's future in Stranger Things season four looked bleak. Of course, it is never that simple, and a teaser for the new season revealed that fan-favorite Jim Hopper was in fact alive and being held prisoner in a labor camp in Russia. While on the promotion trail for his upcoming appearance as Red Guardian in Black Widow, Harbour was happy to discuss the "bigger and better" new season as well as tease a "definite ending" coming to the series.
Speaking to Collider, David Harbour said, "It's bigger, that's the first thing. In scope, in scale, even in the idea that we're not in Hawkins anymore. We, locale-wise, we're bigger. We're introducing new stuff, but we're also tightening and wrapping up in a certain direction to make it have a clear, clean specific, and definite ending at some point, which I can't really talk about."
Many fans were left distraught when Jim Hopper appeared to sacrifice himself at the end of season 3 and for just a short while it seemed like the end of Stranger Things may have arrived, with many loose ends seemingly tied up. Then came the final scene, of a strange facility where they seemed to be keeping a pet Demogorgon and spoke of "the American". Immediately fans began to suspect exactly who "the American" was, and it turned out to be Hopper as predicted. Now, out of his comfort zone, Habour says the new season is his favorite because the character is "at his purest."
"He's been, as we've seen, he's in this Russian prison, so we get to reinvent him in a sense. He gets to have a rebirth from what he had become, and we'd always sort of planned this almost resurrection of you have Gandalf die, Gandalf the White re-emerge, and I'm really interested in this resurgence of him," Harbour said, comparing it to the Lord of The Rings character. "We get to explore a lot of threads in his life that have merely been hinted at that we get to see a lot more of. And there's some real surprises that you know nothing about that will start to come out in this and play big as the series goes on."
Harbour revealed in a previous interview that the new season would be dipping deeper into some of Hopper's history that was touched on in season 2, when there were a number of boxes belonging to the Hawkins police officer, marked with the words "Dad", "New York", and "Vietnam". Some of this was explored away from the series, in the 2019 tie-in novel, Darkness on The Edge of Town, which told the story of Hopper's time as a police officer working in New York. Whether any of this novel is incorporated into the new season, or whether it is the other boxes that will be expanded upon we will have to wait and see.
Netflix has yet to announce a release date for Stranger Things season four, but with filming currently on-going, it is going to be at least next summer before we are likely to see the new episodes finally arrive, taking us back to Hawkins for the first time in what will have been a long three year wait.