David Harbour Is Done With ‘Stranger Things’, but Hopper Will Return

in Movies & TV

Jim Hopper (David Harbour) being "killed off" at the end of Stranger Things Season 3

Credit: Netflix

After seven years of playing Jim Hopper in Netflix’s Stranger Things (2016), it’s fair to say that David Harbour is now synonymous with the character. But that may not always be the case. While Harbour’s role as the demonic superhero Hellboy in the 2019 reboot of the name was short lived after it tanked at the box office, many are now starting to associate the actor with Santa Claus. Well, a version of him at least, from the successful R-rated Christmas comedy-thriller Violent Night (2022). The film is now due a sequel, with Harbour reprising his role as the not-so-jolly Saint Nick.

But while he’s probably in for another action-packed and blood-splattered Christmas Eve, the future’s looking pretty bright for the 48-year-old star. So bright, in fact, that Harbour is finally prepared to bid Stranger Things farewell. In a recent interview with Insider while promoting his new film, Gran Turismo (2023), which is based off the popular video game series, the actor talked about many things, from past projects to future ones, including Marvel’s Thunderbolts (2024), in which he’ll be reprising his role as Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian. And naturally, the conversation gravitated, of course, to Stranger Things.

Violent Night movie poster
Credit: Universal Studios

Related: New ‘Stranger Things’ Trailer Hints at Major “Reset” for the Series

Last year, the fourth season of Stranger Things broke several records on Netflix, and while the fifth and final season has been delayed due to the ongoing WGA (Writers Guild of America) strikes, anticipation couldn’t be higher. Perhaps the same can be said about Harbour himself, who admitted during the interview that he doesn’t want to be forever associated with the character of Jim Hopper, and is now ready to move on to pastures new.

“The first year of Stranger Things, I remember having a discussion with a publicist and her saying, ‘Maybe you don’t want to be associated with the show so much,’ and I was like, ‘Why? I love this show. I love the character.'” Harbour said. “And I do love the show. And I do love the character. But I don’t want to be just that character. I don’t want to be just that guy.”

David Harbour as Jim Hopper in Stranger Things
Credit: Netflix

Related: David Harbour Speaks Out on ‘Stranger Things’ Getting “Canceled”

He then talked about how George Clooney, who was at one time famous only for the medical drama ER (1994 — 2009), but went on to become a global megastar.

“I think about George Clooney leaving ER. Now we just see him as George Clooney,” he said. “But there was a time when it was, The guy from ER is doing a movie with Nicole Kidman. I’m trying to navigate some of that, and it’s tricky because you don’t want to sh*t on the people that love you for this thing that you did that you also love. But at the same time, you kind of want to leave the nest. I got more in me. I got different stuff in me, and I want you guys to see that. I don’t want people yelling ‘Hopper’ on the street every five minutes the rest of my life.”

Hopper in Stranger Things
Credit: Netflix

Related: ‘Stranger Things’ Is Bringing Back a Fan-Favorite Character

While there are several Stranger Things spinoffs in development, including an animated series and a live-action series, none of the cast members from the flagship show are expected to return.

However, while David Harbour will exit the show along with the likes of Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers), Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler),Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), and Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), his character will return to the Stranger Things universe without him.

The upcoming stage production, Stranger Things: The First Shadow (2023), is set to premiere in London’s West End later this year, and it will focus on young versions of Bob Newby, Joyce Byers, Henry Creel (One/Vecna), and Jim Hopper, which will, of course, involve a complete recasting.

Dmitri Antonov (Tom Wlaschiha), Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman), Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder), and Jim Hopper (David Harbour) in Season 4 of Stranger Things
Credit: Netflix

Related: ‘Stranger Things’ Is Temporarily Replacing Its Main Character Lineup

Check out the official trailer for Stranger Things: The First Shadow below:

As per the official website for The First Shadow, here’s the synopsis:


Hawkins, 1959: a regular town with regular worries. Young Jim Hopper’s car won’t start, Bob Newby’s sister won’t take his radio show seriously and Joyce Maldonado just wants to graduate and get the hell out of town. When new student Henry Creel arrives, his family finds that a fresh start isn’t so easy… and the shadows of the past have a very long reach.

Brought to life by a multi-award-winning creative team, who take theatrical storytelling and stagecraft to a whole new dimension, this gripping new adventure will take you right back to the beginning of the Stranger Things story — and may hold the key to the end.

Nancy Wheeler in in Stranger Things Season 3 poster
Credit: Netflix

Related: ‘Stranger Things’ Is Returning This December, but Not Everyone’s Coming Back

As per Netflix, here’s the official synopsis for Stranger Things Season 4:

It’s been six months since the Battle of Starcourt, which brought terror and destruction to Hawkins. Struggling with the aftermath, our group of friends are separated for the first time – and navigating the complexities of high school hasn’t made things any easier. In this most vulnerable time, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.

Stranger Things artwork poster
Credit: Netflix

Related: ‘Stranger Things’ Could Recast Eleven This Year

Stranger Things Season 4 stars Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers), David Harbour (Jim Hopper), Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven/Jane Hopper), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), Joseph Quinn (Eddie Munson), Paul Reiser (Dr. Sam Owens), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler), Matthew Modine (Papa/Martin Brenner), Maya Hawke (Robin Buckley), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), and Jamie Campbell Bower (Vecna/One/Henry Creel).

Stranger Things Season 4 is currently streaming on Netflix. Stranger Things: The First Shadow is set to premiere in London’s Phoenix Theater on December 14, 2023.

Will you be sad to see David Harbour leave Stranger Things? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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