David Harbour
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Stranger Things: David Harbour drops tantalizing clues about Hopper & Eleven’s future beyond Season 4

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Jul 7, 2021, 7:40 PM EDT

With the Duffer Brothers hinting that a fifth season of Stranger Things is all but certain, there’s still plenty of hype to go around for the upcoming premiere of Stranger Things 4. But whatever loose ends the Netflix show plans to tie up (or unravel further) after leaving Chief Hopper (David Harbour) to an uncertain fate at the end of the most recent season, Harbour himself already seems to have a road map in his head for where the hit series might take his character farther down the road.

Calling in recently to SiriusXM’s Pop Culture Spotlight with Jessica Shaw, Harbour was delightfully candid in revealing some big-picture concepts about how Stranger Things might mine his character’s unique relationship with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) for further exploration beyond the fourth season. 

“Yeah, I think on my Netflix talking points list, I'm not supposed to say that there is a fifth season,” he joked. But that didn't stop him from spilling more.

“If you were on set with someone doing a show that possibly might have a fifth season, I'm sure that those people, if you were close to them, as I am with the Duffer Brothers, would probably bring up things that might move forward into that next season,” Harbour confessed. “I mean, you know, from the very start of this show, I've talked to them about the arc of this guy [Chief Hopper] and sort of what would be, and they've talked to me about him, and what would be really profound and moving.”

Hopper’s history with Eleven dates all the way to the early days of Season 1, when he discovered the escaped Hawkins lab refugee frightened, alone, and beset with a serious case of the cravings for frozen Eggo waffles. The unspoken father-daughter dynamic, coupled with Chief Hopper’s own personal history of loss, means the two likely share a long-arcing storyline that finds its way into Stranger Things 5 — no matter the yet-unknown outcome of what might take place in Season 4.

“[W]e’re starting to set up things this [fourth] season in particular that are going to pay off very much in terms of that arc construction,” said Harbour. “I mean, one of the things was the resurrection of this life that he had in terms of fathering, fathering Eleven and revisiting that. And he has to be resurrected now to sort of create something new. And so we have this false death and this resurrection, and now we'll see, but they do have a plan and it's very exciting.”

The “false death” Harbour’s talking about is, presumably, his gesture of self-sacrifice in the secret Russian bunker buried deep beneath the bubbly 1980s pop-culture veneer of the Starcourt Mall. At the very end of Season 3, Hopper vanished from the scene after saving the gang, turning up in a mysterious ending scene far away from Hawkins in a snowy area that looked like decidedly hostile territory.

Harbour was on the air, in part, to promote his role as the Red Guardian in Marvel’s hugely-anticipated Black Widow, which makes its long-awaited debut this weekend. Among other fun behind-the-scenes insights, Harbour joked that the on-set vibe while making the MCU movie ended up yielding enough cast camaraderie to become the subject of its own feature film.

“I mean, there's stuff, there's an entire movie on the cutting room floor of me and Rachel Weisz flirting,” he teased, adding that he and star Scarlett Johansson also hit it off with a dynamic that felt like a mutually antagonistic and playful brother-sister relationship.

With Black Widow set to hit theaters and Disney+ as a premiere access title on July 9, we’ll likely know much more about Harbour's possible MCU road map long before we connect the dots between Stranger Things’ latest season and those yet to come. Netflix hasn’t yet revealed a firm debut date for Stranger Things 4, though the show’s official writers’ room Twitter account pledged this week that “everyone has been working their b*tts off and a half to get it out ASAP. Really truly.”

We can’t ask for more, can we? Until then, catch Harbour as the Red Guardian alongside Johansson (Natasha Romanoff), Weisz (Melina Vostokoff), Florence Pugh (Yelena Belova) and more when Black Widow takes a bite out of the box office beginning this Friday.