6:45am PT by Josh Wigler
'Stranger Things': 11 Burning Questions After Season 3
[This story contains major spoilers for season three of Netflix's Stranger Things.]
When Stranger Things returns for its fourth season (not yet confirmed, but virtually guaranteed), it will necessarily come with some major changes in tow.
Case in point: Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), the resident superhero of Hawkins, Ind., isn't so superpowered anymore. Indeed, she's not even a Hawkins resident, having moved away from home along with the Byers family at the end of season three after the death of her father — or the apparent death, more accurately, as there are countless reasons to suspect Hawkins police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) is actually very much still alive.
How will all those loose ends play out when the Duffer Brothers' breakout hit returns to Netflix in the future? For now, we have no answers — but we do have tons of questions, and some attempts at puzzling the mysteries out. Ahead, The Hollywood Reporter presents 11 questions (and possible new directions for the series) stemming from the events of season three.
1. Is Hopper dead?
It's one of the biggest questions at the end of season three, even if it's not exactly presented as a question. David Harbour's hard-hitting hero apparently dies after Joyce (Winona Ryder) destroys "the key," but viewers never see the man's body. Hopper's corpse never crosses our screen; even if it did, it would be hard to take seriously, given Will Byers' initial fate in season one's "The Body." There's simply way too much story still invested in Hopper, still way too much for him to accomplish as a character, for him to die off now.
2. If he's not dead, what happened to Hopper?
A bunch of different possibilities! In season two, he was exposed to spores from the Upside Down; one wonders if it granted him an ability to operate in the shadow universe without having to fear for his health. A more tin-foiled theory suggests Hopper may be the victim of some sort of time-travel plot; look no further than all the Back to the Future shenanigans for more on that one. The likeliest bet: Hopper is in Russia, the very same "American" spoken about in season three's post-credits scene. Then again…
3. Are we sure Hopper and "The American" are the same person?
Probably, but if we want to reach at a scarier possibility, here's some food for thought: the American is none other than Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine), apparently killed in season one. It's long been assumed Dr. Brenner would return in some capacity at some point down the line, and after two full seasons on the bench, there's no better time than now.
4. Will season four take place in Russia?
Partly, probably! The post-credits scene makes it pretty clear that there's still some Upside Down business happening abroad, with the Russians right at the heart of the deadly activity. If Hopper is in Russia, it's very likely a significant portion of the story will center on his attempt to break free and return home to save the ones he loves.
5. But aren't we done with Hawkins?
Maybe! Season three ends with the Byers family moving away from Hawkins, with Eleven in tow, now that Hopper is gone. It's doubtful we have seen the very last of Hawkins, but Stranger Things has definitely earned the right to explore new corners of the world, unlike the relatively jarring jaunt to Chicago back in season two's "The Lost Sister."
6. Chicago sounds like a nice detour for a season, doesn't it?
It does! It's close enough to Hawkins so many characters could still reasonably cross over into season four territory. Perhaps Joyce, Jonathan, Will and Eleven move to the Windy City, and season four sees Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Max (Sadie Sink) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) on their first big trip to the city to see their estranged loved ones. Beyond the Byers, a Chicago setting relocation would pave the way for folks like Steve (Joe Keery) and Robin (Maya Hawke) to have left Hawkins behind for new lives as roommates in a bigger world than the one we left behind.
7. If Stranger Things heads to Chicago, will we see Kali (Linnea Berthelsen) again?
For those who don't remember or chose to forget, Kali was Eleven's superpowered "sister," with the ability to warp people's perceptions of reality, first introduced in season two. She went completely unseen and unmentioned in season three, last seen parting ways with Eleven in the Chicago-based episode "The Lost Sister." Whether or not Stranger Things relocates to a setting like Chicago, Kali's eventual return feels inevitable.
8. Is Kali the only superpowered person we'll meet in season four?
Hopefully not! Among the many things the season three finale accomplishes, it gives Stranger Things the freedom to actually strike far outside the Hawkins blast radius. The stage is well and fully set for the series to get stranger than ever before, which includes incorporating new characters from the Hawkins Lab contingent into the mix.
9. How about Eleven's powers? Are they gone for good?
Almost definitely not, but with any luck, they will be gone for a good little while. Eleven's powers make her a walking, talking nuclear weapon against the Upside Down. Season three finally presented some true opposition to her abilities, but it's time to see what she's made of without them entirely. With any luck, a powerless Eleven will show both her and the audience what she's like without all the telekinetic pressure.
10. Will the Mind Flayer return?
Hopefully not, but probably. Season three furthered the story of the Upside Down's number one villain, even after it was apparently destroyed in season two. Bringing it back for yet another season feels like overkill, but if there's a plus side, it's this: the Mind Flayer could speak through its "flayed" human hosts in season three, so one wonders if it will do the same in season four, finally articulating its true agenda.
11. How about the Demogorgon?
It's back! The original and most iconic Stranger Things monster is back on the board, at the heart of the final post-credits scene. What does it mean? With any luck, it signals a return to the tightened and frightening stakes of season one, a lone menace capable of so much vicious destruction. Even if the Demogorgon winds up with backup before too much longer, here's hoping it embarks on a one-on-one battle or two with Hopper in Russian — or whoever else is unlucky enough to be stuck at the isolated Kamchatka compound.
Follow THR.com/StrangerThings for more coverage.