Twitter Can't Stop Fighting Over Hopper in 'Stranger Things 3'

[Warning: Spoilers for Stranger Things season three, ahead]

This article is not what you think. I’m not here to fight with you over whether or not Chief Jim Hopper is “The American” or dead or chillin’ in the Upside Down. That post is right over here. You’re welcome. No, this is about a different argument that has been simmering on Twitter (and many think pieces) since Stranger Things season three launched on July 4. Is Jim Hopper…toxic?

Sure, in the final scene of season three, Hopper seems to sacrifice himself in the name of saving the town of Hawkins from Russian spies and the Upside Down. Still, for the majority of the hot ’80s summer, Hopper consistently terrorizes his daughter’s boyfriend, rants and raves at Joyce while trying to get her to date him, and threatens a lot of different people with violence…But that letter to Eleven, though!!

Fans have a lot of thoughts on the matter. I can’t say it started with actress Evan Rachel Woods, but she has been one of the most vocal, calling out the “cop from Stranger Things” over his treatment of Joyce and Mike in the third season. Her argument: don’t date guys like Hopper or ship Joyce and Jim.

You should never date a guy like the cop from #strangerthings Extreme jealousy and violent rages are not flattering or sexy like TV would have you believe.
That is all.

Yes I am aware its “just a show” and its set “in the 80s” even though this stuff was unacceptable then too, but thats exactly my point. Its just a show and this is a gentle reminder not to fall for this crap in real life. Red flags galore.

She’s far from the only one upset over Hopper’s treatment of other characters on the show. Whether it was screaming at Mike and Eleven over exhibiting normal teenage behavior or aggressively demeaning Joyce for standing him up at a restaurant, some people could not wrap their heads around the actions of this fan favorite.

Hopper is toxic. Yelling at Joyce for standing him up after tricking her into a date that he swore wasn’t a date. He’s also an above-the-law cop who declares rules don’t apply to him before driving drunk. I don’t remember if he was always trash but he is now. #StrangerThings3

The most 1980s thing about #StrangersThings3 is how the borderline abusive relationship between an angry dude and his love interest is framed as “sexual tension.” Joyce and Hopper’s relationship is not cute or romantic, it’s toxic and very unhealthy.

I’m 20 minutes into “Stranger Things” and I’ve already learned that being a good father is about having a full-on psychotic break over the idea that your daughter might be horny

Despite the charges that Hopper was basically toxic masculinity in human form, many fans still stan:

hopper lost his daughter and el never had anybody that loved and cared for her, they filled the holes in both their hearts and became a family and i think that’s beautiful

Tony Stark. Jim Hopper


be an amazing father and sacrifice yourself to save the world#StrangersThings3

jim hopper. that’s it. that’s the tweet. #StrangerThings

listen here you big bitches… i’ll fight whoever says that mike is a bad boyfriend and that hopper is a bad dad

However, there’s something else we need to talk about. If we agree that Hopper is basically the Hulk in season three, has he been this angry old dude the whole time? Certain fans and critics seem to think this behavior is completely out of character for the police officer. AV Club writes, “Stranger Things season 3 ruined Hopper.” Mashable declares that in season two, Hopper “became the internet’s comfort, an unproblematic male figure even in a show set during an era of toxic masculinity,” which makes Hopper’s actions in the new season “more painful and inexplicable.” Vulture simply asks, “Why Is Hopper Such a Jerk-Ass in Stranger Things 3?”

But wait. Though it might seem like it, not everyone agrees. Some argue Hopper has always had issues. From the beginning, he’s suffered from PTSD, grief over losing his daughter, and anger over his divorce. Writer Lindsey Romain points to this particularly sad moment as an example of Hopper’s pain:

*me on my pro-hopper iceberg, all by my lonesome*

One responder, critic Chris Evangelista, thinks fans might be confusing their former fave for David Harbour the actor—and objectively nice man—that plays Hopper. Not a bad point. Lindsey then adds that Stranger Things is hardly glorifying this behavior, but placing it at the forefront:

yeah also i guess i’m missing the part where the show glamorizes his toxicity. joyce calls him out constantly and everyone is kind of afraid of him. i feel like it’s empathetic but doesn’t glorify him.

Chris happens to have also interviewed David for Slashfilm. Here’s what the actor has to say about Hopper’s different sides:

He continues:

So, what are we supposed to think? For every takedown of Hopper on the internet, there’s a defense. Ultimately, it’s up to you. Personally, I think Hopper is a lonely man who is trying his best. Was I turned off by most of his scenes with Joyce, where he used his height and build as a form of intimidation, viscerally mad over a perceived slight, while she’s just out here trying to save her kids from yet another big bad? Absolutely. Do I think he’s a good man who wants the best for those around him, especially Joyce and Eleven? Again, yes. But hey, even TV Guide doesn’t know what to think:

Maybe the fact that Hopper is so complicated and causes us to feel so many things at once is the whole point.

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