Warning: Spoilers for Stranger Things season 3 are ahead. Stop reading now if you haven't watched the full series.
We’re still reeling after the death of Hawkins, IN beloved Police Chief Jim Hopper. In a moment of selflessness, he stayed behind to help close the portal between the real world and the Upside Down. We can’t imagine a Stranger Things world without him in it, but according to some cleverly disseminated clues, we might not have to.
While we were mid-mourning the loss of our favorite grumpy father figure and dance meme inspiration, fans of the Netflix hit series started buzzing about a hidden voicemail. What hidden voicemail, you might be asking? It all started with a surprise scene tucked away in the show’s end credits. The scene reveals that an unnamed American is being held captive in Kamchatka, Russia. That teaser alone had fans believing that Hopper didn’t die in the explosion and was instead imprisoned.
The flames of this fledgling fan theory were fanned when David Harbour, who plays Hopper, started changing his Instagram profile picture to a series of numbers. Just when Stranger Things had us feeling as confused as Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) in season 1, the sequence revealed a phone number – 618-625-8313. Fans who called the number got the voicemail of Hopper’s friend, private investigator Murray Bauman (Brett Gelman). “Hi, you have reached the residence of Murray Bauman,” his voicemail says. “Mom, if this is you, please hang up and call me between the hours of 5 and 6 p.m. as previously discussed, okay? If this is Joyce, Joyce, thank you for calling, I have been trying to reach ya. I have an update. It’s about, well, it’s probably best if we speak in person. It’s not good or bad, but it’s something…”
With all the mysterious things going on in Hawkins, Murray could have had any number of things to tell Joyce, but given that the number was revealed on Harbour’s Instagram, surely it has to be about Hopper, right? It’s possible that he’s being held captive and Murray has figured out where he is. Given that clue, we can’t imagine who else the unnamed American could be. At least, that seems to be what the Duffer brothers want us to believe.
It’s also worth noting that Harbour is contracted to the show through season 4, according to TVLine. Harbour’s contract doesn’t require him to be in the fourth season, but instead gives showrunners the option of writing his character into the season. It’s not a clear answer, but it’s not not an answer. Speaking of non-answers, Harbour himself tried everything he could to dodge the answer to this question in a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight. “I have no idea! I mean that, of course, is my hope too. It seems pretty crazy though,” he said. “You know, that machine went off and blew up and Hopper seemed to be trapped there. He did glance around a little bit, but he seemed to be trapped and the machine exploded.”
It hasn’t been officially announced that season 4 of Stranger Things is happening, but given the enormous success of the show, it seems inevitable.