David Harbour Says Hopper And Joyce Were Not Ready To Be Together In Stranger Things Season 3

Have you watched the new episodes of "Stranger Things" yet? Even if you haven't, you likely know the fourth season finds ex-police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) alive but not exactly well, fighting for his life in a Russian prison. The character's supposed season 3 death apparently didn't take, as the character's true fate was revealed way in advance of the new season.

But according to Harbour himself, Hopper's season 3 flirtation with former high school flame Joyce (Winona Ryder) couldn't have had a happy ending, even without the Upside Down getting in the way. "I certainly feel like, from what happened in season 3, it couldn't work," Harbour told Variety. "The guy from season 3 and woman from season 3 could not work."

The actor revealed that he and Ryder have their own theories about the couple's future: "Winona and I postulate a bunch of stuff, we have a bunch of theories. Some of them are very wild, and some of them are very tame." The actor says that the team behind the show has mapped out the direction they want the couple to head in, but that he sees their love as a lot more complicated than a simple romance.

They love who they used to be

"They knew each other when they were super innocent, and they had all this potential, both of them. Now they don't have much potential," he says, referencing the couple's high school near-romance and the paths their lives have taken since. The way the actor sees it, the pair's love is based on being able to see one another for both what they are–failures and all–and what they used to be to each other. "Knowing someone who, when you look in their eyes, you see that young person they were, is part of the bond between the two of them."

Despite what Harbour calls their "complex love," he seems to think the Hopper and Joyce of last season still had some work to do on themselves. "Clearly there's some chemistry and there is a longing for them to be together," he says in reference to season 3, "but they would they would have to become different people."

Luckily, they've been doing just that across the new season's first seven episodes. In Russia, Hopper's life has become cold, painful, and scary, but it's also made him reflect on his deepest wounds, like his time in the military and his daughter's death. Meanwhile, Joyce is braver than ever, negotiating with shady smugglers and even surviving a plane crash.

So does Harbour think Joyce and Hopper should end up together by the end of the show's fifth and final season? He's leaving it up to the showrunners, saying the Duffer Brothers get to decide whether "they need to live happily ever after" or "suffer in silence." With respect to Harbour's tragic take on the couple, we're hoping for the happy ending.

"Stranger Things" season 4, volume 1 is now on Netflix. The last two episodes of the season will drop July 1, 2022.