Stranger Things is an iconic show. Stranger Things Season 4 Theories After The End of Stranger Things 3. From creepy government conspiracies to interdimensional cosmic horror. From Dungeons and dragons to the delicious, nostalgic cheesiness of the 80s.
For many reasons, Stranger Things has taken the world by storm, not the least of which is its status as a love letter to the neon-lit, synthetic, era when the likes of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and David Cronenberg began to rise in film.
When the allure of government conspiracies grew rampant, sci-fi experienced a coming-of-age, exploding in film and pop culture, and western capitalism evolved beyond recognition. Stranger Things is an infectiously potent blend that taps into our obsession with crime and conspiracies, harkens to our fascination with the ethereal and unknown, and calls to our nostalgia for a fragment of time that we don’t know today.
Stranger Things Season 4 Theories
But perhaps another factor in Stranger Things’ massive success is the resonant, poignant struggles of its human characters. In a world of teenybopper influencer culture and Disney Channel-Esque celebredom. Stranger Things sets up characters that feel ordinary by contrast.
A focus on more than just the quirkier sides of youth; of life and death- adding to a relatively rare league of shows in mainstream media that feature a cast of child actors while exploring the raw vulnerability of what it is to be human. And don’t get me wrong, even though a major part of the cast is composed of kid actors.
Stranger Things is definitely not a “kids show”. The main threat in Stranger Things may be based in the realm of the alien and borderline supernatural, but it sets up challenges for our characters to overcome that aren’t by any means superficial. I’m not just talking about the awkward, hormonal period of adolescence, but of heavier things like abuse, addiction, and manipulation.
Through it’s characters, we feel the pains of mental illness- the complexities of post-traumatic stress, of depression, of coping with loss. And this brings us to one of Stranger Things’ most beloved, yet complex characters.
Hawkins Sheriff and Chief of Police, Jim Hopper. This is Stranger Things Season 4 Theories. The rough around the edges, no-bullshit cop, with a heart of gold, who can turn on the charm to get what he needs, or lay down the law with his fists if it comes to that- which it often does. Hopper’s heavy-handedness is an aspect of the character that’s often used to comedic effect, evoking certain cynical humor.
Especially in contrast with the goofiness of other characters, or his sheer powerlessness next to a child who can slam doors closed with her mind. Curiously, it seems that some fans were concerned about Hopper’s arc in Season 3.
More specifically that his more aggressive behavior might influence impressionable young viewers who look up to the character. But I think there’s actually a lot to learn from watching his inner complexities. He’s definitely one of the three main anchors of the show, but what is it about Hopper that makes him so fascinating?
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What makes us root for him? What causes his behavior? And what can we learn from exploring his psychology? As with most cases, one of the quickest ways to better understand a character’s psyche is to start by exploring their fears. So what is Jim Hoppers?
Throughout Stranger Things, Hopper’s general demeanor in interactions with other characters is this aura of indifference. This apathy. That no matter what’s being thrown at him, he isn’t really bothered. It isn’t exactly a cockiness per se, but there can be an aloof dickishness in the way. He goes about interacting with others.
Whenever he’s dismissive, I don’t think it’s intentional or personal- he’s not actively moving through the world trying to be an asshole, but he’s not really trying not to be one either. Sometimes he’ll show remorse when someone points it out, reflecting a slight pang of guilt- that he’s not really a bad guy- but at the same time, this is amazing Stranger Things Season 4 Theories. despite how off-putting his behavior can be for others, there’s a part of him that almost seems to be slightly amused by it- reflecting that perhaps we’re all bad guys. If we look at the word “apathy”.
This lack of concern or enthusiasm, it eludes toa suppression of emotions and excitement in the face of pretty much everything in theworld. A base search on apathy goes as far as to say that it’s often a sign of depressionor misuse of alcohol or drugs- which sounds presumptuous and specific for a general descriptionbut also not inaccurate in this case.
It may echo a setback at some point in a person’s life, leading to a lack of purpose, of worth,of meaning in things. It’s been cited as a natural response to disappointment, dejection, or stress- andit’s something we all experience to some capacity. I don’t have to feel those negative emotions, if I just stop feeling. It’s very in theme with the idea of the cynical personality.
I think there’s a little cynic in every one of us. As we grow older and continue to navigate the confusing world around us, we grow moreaware of how monstrous it can be. Of the terrible things that can happen. Of how foolish or naive it can be to believe in something like a happy ending. That oblivion waits for us all in the end. We grow cold. And yes, it is a defense mechanism.
It shields us from being hurt- from disappointment. It gives us this illusion of control. We won’t be made a fool, ever again. The reality is however, we’re hardly in control, and when we try to stop feeling-we spiral even further out of it, cutting off our empathy in others, pushing peopleaway, becoming less aware of ourselves; a fragmented perception. But that’s exactly the point- it’s an illusion. The truth is, we don’t stop feeling.
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As much as we can keep them in check, we can’t really control what emotions we have. We only mask it to protect ourselves. And I think that’s what’s going on with Hopper. Deep down, there’s a profound source of pain that has thrown him into a spiral ofanger and depression. There’s an irony in that for someone as apathetic as he is, he’s sort of these emotionspersonified.
He wants people to think he doesn’t care- but the truth is, he cares too much. Really what it’s about is the suffering coming from within. It’s been said thatthe death of a child is a type of grief that never ends; a devastating trauma that feelsunnatural and out of order, even when a death is expected like with a terminal illness.
Something that can have lasting psychological effects on a surviving parent. Hopper has been emotionally reserved and cynical ever since. By the time we start off in Season 1 he’s still in a deep state of grief after the deathof Sara and the subsequent divorce from his wife. Generally uninvested, especially in emotions and people.
He’s left the city, to Hawkins were nothing extraordinary happens- where there’s noassociation to the hurt. It’s apparent that although he brings the occasional mate home, Hope you understand Stranger Things Season 4 Theories. he doesn’t get attached. He drinks and smokes frequently, takes prescribed medicine infrequently, and has a mediocrediet at best.
It’s almost as if he’s given up, mindlessly wading throughout the rest of his meaninglessexistence. We all have chapters in our lives that aren’t so pretty. In the times when we’re at our lowest, it can be difficult to climb back out of thathole. To see the forest for the trees.
Things become overwhelming and it can feel easier to just stop trying. What makes Hopper a decent person in the end, is that despite this bitterness and generalmalaise, deep down, he does feel compassion for others in pain.
The distress and fear from the vanishing of Will Byers for example harkens to a surgeof old pain. It resonates deeply with him, throwing him into a realm of familiar emotions and bringinghim out of this apathy. Psychologist Denisse Morales who runs the blog Shrinks & Geeks wrote an insightful articleon bereavement and grief.
She says, “research suggests that helping others is one way parents cope with the deathof a child. ”Indeed, helping Joyce recover Will might not bring Hopper a complete sense of closure,but perhaps it does help him begin to heal in some way. This is all about Stranger Things Season 4 Theories After The End of Stranger Things 3 You’ve probably heard it said before that change is scary. Metathesiophobia is the fear of change.
Meta, being Greek for change. As human beings, we desire routine. It gives us a sense of comfort, knowing what to expect. An article on anger from the educational site HowStuffWorks, suggests that “Anger is anatural emotion that alerts us when something has violated the natural order of how we thinkthings should go. ”And anger can be boiled down to two things: violation of expectations and blockage ofgoals. One of the easiest ways to piss off virtually anyone is to agree on something and then goback on that agreement.
Expectations are significant. We really don’t like it when things go against our plans. Change is something that we reject naturally. There can be trauma associated with a change in environment, especially at a young age. When it comes to change with people, there can be lingering effects from the falloutof a divorce, or the unexpected death of a loved one.
The thought of adapting to a new environment can be overwhelming. Hopper has already experienced these sorts of traumatic events. With Eleven coming into his life and his undeniably growing affection for Joyce Byers, he’sin a place where for once, he’s experiencing a change for the better. It softens him and enables him to consciously feel again.
He’s given another chance, something to truly fight for- a family. And it engenders a human vulnerability. And before long, Stranger Things Season 4 Theories After The End of Stranger Things 3. he’s faced with the reality that his daughter is growing up- too fast,not long after he’s adopted her- before he’s really been given the chance to getused to being a father again.
His attempts to court Joyce don’t really go as planned. This puts him back in a fragile state. He’ll do whatever it takes to maintain his bubble, his happy place. He rejects change. Avoiding change is a symptom of Metathesiophobia- though it’s also a pretty instinctual thingwe do in general.
We tend to create the idea of a comfort zone, an ideal world- and we’re unwilling to leaveit behind. Introducing anything new to that bubble feels bad, and we’ll prevent it at all costs. We may break ties, lie, or make excuses and even if we’re aware of how crazy or irrationalwe might be behaving.
The fear of change can be so great that we’re unable to overcomeit. Hopper sets boundaries for where Eleven is allowed to go, to keep her powers under wrapsand keep her safe, but also because it slows her from growing up too fast, giving him moretime to enjoy a second chance at fatherhood.
He pursues Joyce Byers more aggressively, turning up the charm, finding a cool shirt,picking out a fancy restaurant. With Eleven as his daughter and Joyce as his partner, perhaps, just perhaps, he can havea family again.
It’s the “perfect plan”. But he’s in a fragile state- the slightest threat can easily send him back to old habits-which it does. He wants to protect those he cares about. When Joyce spends time with other men or forgets about their dinner or when Eleven activelyrebels.
It serves as a reminder that ultimately, he’s not in control. And it’s infuriating. As we’ve learned, we really dislike not feeling like we’re in control. Stranger Things Season 4 Theories After The End of Stranger Things 3. For Hopper again, it’s not fair. Whenever he perceives a threat to those he cares about, fear gets the better of him becauseeven though he’s in a better place than before, he still often has difficulty confrontinghis own emotions or articulating them to others.
When the world is so unfair to us, it’s easy to see vulnerability as a weakness. The pain of loss is too much to bear. But he’s terrified of being alone again. And this fear, this frustration, this anger- it manifests instead as his more generallyaggressive behavior and radiates to his demeanor in general. Displaced aggression is when negative emotions caused by one person trigger aggression towarda different person.
We see this when Hopper lashes out towards Alexei for being associated with the Russians. Or lashes out to Mike for being associated with his own inability to articulate his feelingsto his daughter. In an article on PsychologyToday, clinical psychologist Leon Seltzer wrote about therelationship between guilt, fear, and anger.
Much of our anger is motivated by a desire not to experience guilt, hurt, or fear. Anger reflects deeper pains such as feeling disregarded, unimportant, accused, guilty,untrustworthy, devalued, rejected, powerless, and unlovable. Many of us go to great lengths to distance ourselves from these feelings.
“Anger is the emotion of invulnerability. Even though the immediate self-empowerment it offers is bogus, it can be extremely temptingto get “attached”—or even “addicted”—to it if we frequently experience another asthreatening the way we need to see ourselves.
This is how all psychological defenses work. Simply put, they allow us to escape upsetting, shameful, or anxiety-laden feelings we maynot have developed the emotional resources—or ego strength—to successfully cope with. Stranger Things Season 4 Theories After The End of Stranger Things 3”Throughout Season 3, Hopper becomes overly aggressive, manipulative, jealous, and problematic. To others on the outside, he’s become a full time asshole. But inside, it’s all a misguided attempt at maintaining his happy place, his comfortzone, his “ideal family life”.
A poorly handled struggle to processing his emotions. To articulate his feelings and frustrations. And Maury even points this out:It’s probably noteworthy to add that studies have shown aggressive behavior is more likelywhen a person is under the influence of alcohol, as well as experiencing negative emotionslike fear, anger, pain, and frustration- all of which can further exacerbate the problemand feed back into itself.
For an addictive personality struggling with insecurities, this can create a vicious cycle-and sometimes we need help from the outside to get us out of that hole. So why do we root for him?There’s something interesting and in some ways inspiring about a member of the law enforcementbreaking the rules left and right, emulating the notion of a vigilante, taking the lawinto his own hands in order to achieve true justice. Audiences love a flawed protagonist.
Flawed protagonists are just more interesting to watch. If the good guy is too good, then it’s boring. There needs to be something they struggle with to form a goal for development, for redemption. The more complex it is, the more intriguing it can be to watch. As viewers, we enjoy being challenged. Good character writing forces us to question ourselves.
When there’s a flaw for a character to overcome, it gives the audience a stake in seeing thatprogression, and in many cases, even makes that character someone our audience can identifywith. We become invested. Morally grey characters are more potent because they’re more relatable. In real life.
We play the good guy sometimes and at other times we’re the bad guy. And that can often change depending on who’s perspective you’re being viewed from. We may have good intentions, though we don’t always make the best decisions or choices. When we’re given the opportunity to see into a character’s struggles with moraldilemmas, it’s more engaging and visceral because it’s something we struggle withwithin ourselves everyday.
Hopper is angry at life. He’s perpetually at odds with expressing his emotions in a healthy way- a fragmentedperception of self. If Season 1 Hopper was outwardly selfish in a “life sucks, get over it” way, Season 3 Hopper is inwardly selfish in a “that’s mine get away from it” way. Either way, these are very human traits and we’ve all been petty or experienced jealousyat some point.
It’s why we root for the Beast. For Daenaerys. For Walter. For Anakin. And that’s why we root for Hopper. Because we see more of ourselves in a flawed character. In a morally grey hero. We can identify with those emotions, those fears, those flaws.
And we can identify with that aspiration to overcome them. There’s something visceral about it. Because in the end, it’s human. Like his arc, the look he gives Joyce as he sacrifices himself is complex. Something both sad, but glad. He doesn’t get what he wants, but there’s a certain peace in knowing that he gainedso much from where he started. In his time with new friends since the events that started these stranger things, he wasable to feel human connection again- no longer alone.
It’s almost as if he finally realizes that what he feared losing, he had all along. It made him a better person. The smile he gives Joyce almost says “thank you”. Stranger Things Season 4 Theories After The End of Stranger Things 3 Sometimes articulating our raw truth face to face with someone we care about- or evento ourselves, is near-impossible.
Often times, it’s easier to write down our feelings to get the message across. The jury is still out on whether or not Hopper met his demise at the end of Season 3. Luckily, the note he left behind was found and brought some level of closure. In real life, we don’t always get that chance, which is why- as much as it’s way easiersaid than done- a little bit of vulnerability goes a long way.
Just like Hopper began to understand in his final monologue, change is inevitable. Life keeps on moving whether you like it or not. Pain is a part of that- but so too is growth. Rather than shy away from our fears, our pain- perhaps it’s healthier to face it. To understand it. And to keep trying even if we don’t.