Stranger Things: David Harbour is the reason you love Hopper


Even the creators of Stranger Things admit it’s primarily David Harbour who has made Chief Jim Hopper such a compelling and beloved character.

If you were to guess which character would be a fan-favorite on a sci-fi show with a primarily adolescent cast, like Stranger Things, the chief of police would be nowhere near the top of your list. And yet, you’d be wrong.

Granted, David Harbour’s Chief Jim Hopper doesn’t have quite the same status in the Stranger Things fandom as Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven, Joe Keery’s Steve Harrington or even Shannon Purser’s Barb Holland (R.I.P.) do. But Hopper has certainly become more popular than anyone, including the show’s creators, could have predicted.

In a featurette about the two-time Emmy nominee released by Netflix on Tuesday, Ross and Matt Duffer, aka the Duffer Brothers, explained why Harbour deserves much of the credit for making Hopper a fan-favorite.

According to Matt, they hadn’t originally intended for Hopper to be such a stand out character.

"He’s just making this character really pop and far more interesting than we originally imagined. He’s incredible."

In many ways, Hopper has served as the grounding force in a show premised on a girl having superpowers, a boy being trapped in an alternate dimension with literal monsters and a mother doing everything within reason, and everything far beyond it, to find her son.

Hopper, though he has layered storylines of his own, was always meant to be an inherently less interesting character by comparison.

Yet, Harbour makes Hopper impossible to ignore. Harbour brings integrity, natural comedic timing and a gruff, yet endearing presence to the role that makes you pay attention to and care about Hopper more than you’d expected to.

More from Stranger Things

If you’ve felt like Hopper and Harbour are more alike than not, you’re in good company. In the Netflix featurette, Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson) said much than the same thing.

"What I love about David and especially his performance is that it’s so natural. It seems like he is Hopper and that he really becomes Hopper in front of the camera."

Matarazzo wasn’t the only co-star to offer praise. Brown, Harbour’s scene partner for much of season two, spoke glowingly about what it’s like to work with him.

"I think honestly, for the rest of my life, I will always say it was David Harbour that helped me bring out and channel this character."

In a beautiful turn of events, Hopper took on a paternal role in season two, trying his best to look after Eleven and keep her safe in an increasingly dangerous world. Of course, he wasn’t entirely prepared for the difficulty of keeping a teenager indoors 24/7, let alone a teen with superpowers.

However, though their relationship was volatile for much of the season, Eleven also brought back a softer side to Hopper that was incredibly portrayed by Harbour. Everyone remembers his dancing scene, right?

A less hardened Hopper had previously only been seen in flashbacks to his life before his young daughter died from cancer. While he may never make it all the way back to the man he used to be, in season two, he was also not the apathetic man we met in the pilot. The fact that fans can see so many layers to Hopper is a further credit to Harbour’s dynamic performance.

Next. Stranger Things first look introduces Starcourt Mall and Maya Hawke’s Robin. dark

Unfortunately, Stranger Things won’t return until next summer, according to Entertainment Weekly. However, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Harbour teased the new season will be worth the wait.

"The scripts are really great this year. And in the new directions that we’re going, all of us are taking a lot of risks. We’re all a little bit out of our comfort zone."

Here’s to hoping we get to see more dancing Hopper, dad Hopper and maybe even boyfriend Hopper — there’s clearly something between him and Joyce (Winona Ryder) — in season three.