What's Going On In That 'Stranger Things 3' Post-Credits Scene, Explained By David Harbour

The latest season of Stranger Things got into the post-credit game with an unexpected scene that brought back an unexpected character and hinted at the fate of another. The moment comes as a big surprise – if you're not waiting for it, you might even end up turning the show off before the scene arrives. But just what is up with that Stranger Things 3 post-credit scene? And what does it say about the future?

Major spoilers follow.

Jim Hopper is alive. Sure, the fate of Hawkins's curmudgeon sheriff seemed sealed in the final episode of season 3, and it was heavily implied that Hopper was a dead man. We're even given a tear-jerking voice over (in the form of a letter) from the presumably deceased fan-favorite that goes a long way towards suggesting this is goodbye.

But deep down, we all knew that couldn't be the case. No way was Stranger Things going to get rid of David Harbour. And just in case there was any doubt, the post-credits scene all but confirms that. The scene unfolds at a Russian base in Kamchatka. In the dark bowls of the building, we follow Russian soldiers as they unleash an old foe – the Demogorgon, alive again and ready to feast on human flesh. An unlucky prisoner is hauled from a cell and fed to the beast, but before that happens, the Russian soldiers comment on someone in another cell.

A soldier moves to open the door to the cell, presumably to grab some Demogorgon food, when he's stopped, and told to pick a different cell. "Not the American," he's ordered. Who could "the American" be? Jim Hopper, of course. To be fair, the show never flat-out confirms Hopper is alive behind that door. But I almost know for a fact it is – because I got the info straight from the source.

During an interview with David Harbour, I attempted to delicately get around the fate of Jim Hopper. Harbour, however, came right out and gave it to me straight. "This is the question I'm going to have to dance around–" I began, only for Harbour to interrupt me and ask, "The ending?" "Right," I said. "Is there a way you can talk about the future of Hopper without..." I trailed off here, only for Harbour to ask: "Well, did you see the post-credits scene?"

I had, of course. And so I straight-up asked: is that Hopper behind the door? According to Harbour, that's the most likely scenario. Throughout the season, the main Russian baddie refers to Hopper as "the American", and having another Russian refer to the mysterious prisoner in the same way was the big giveaway.

Of course, knowing that Hopper is alive, and knowing how he survived and ended up in Russia, are two different things. We'll have to wait for season 4 to get that answer. And we'll have to wait to see how things unfold from there. Will a big chunk of season 4 involve Hopper escaping that Russian base, and trying to get back to America? Time will tell. One thing is clear: Hopper still has a long journey ahead of him; not just physically, but emotionally.

"I think the tapestry of Hopper is so large and interesting, and I also think that Hopper has karmic debts to pay for how dead he's been for a long time," David Harbour told me. "We have to decide who this man is...Is he a man of justice? Is he a father? Which one is he? And I think those two things are not always compatible. I don't know that you can stand for values or stand for relationships at the same time. At some point, you're going to have to choose. So I'm interested in that – in him as a human being, if he's faced with that choice, what he would choose?"