Warning: This post contains tons of spoilers for Stranger Things 3.
Stranger Things 3 ended with a Marvel-like credits scene that teased not only the direction that season four might take but the survival of a certain fan-favorite character. With the Russians continuing their interest in locating the Upside Down — and perhaps weaponizing its Demogorgons — the biggest reveal of that post-credits clip came when one Russian guard referred to an unseen prisoner as simply “The American.” We have our theories on who that faceless patriot could be, so we’re placing bets on who the mysterious hostage is and how they factor into the show’s fourth season.
The American Is Sheriff Jim Hopper
Stranger Things 3 ended with a character death that shocked fans. Sheriff Jim Hopper — who had spent seasons babysitting this ragtag group of geeks while they ventured to an alternate universe, investigated secret government experiments, and busted covert Russian ops — sacrificed himself to destroy the machine underneath the Star Court Mall that was slowly opening the gate to the Upside Down. Losing the Hawaiian-shirted character should’ve caused fans to take the streets and riot, but there’s reason to believe Hopper might not be as dead as the show would like us to believe. First, we never witnessed Hopper kick the bucket, which is a red flag considering David Harbour is one of the biggest stars of the series. Second, we never saw the gory aftermath of the explosion (the machine should’ve turned Hopper’s innards to goo, but no intestines were coating the metal bridge Hopper was standing on when the blast hit). And third, Eleven’s powers mysteriously vanished right when she could’ve used them to discover what really happened to Hopper in his “final moments.” So it’s a safe bet that Hopper’s not truly gone, but is he the “American” in question? The Russian terminator the good sheriff does battle with throughout season three often refers to him as the “American,” which is why fans believe it might be Hopper in that cell. In fact, it’s that nickname that gives him the best odds of survival for season four.