Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Stranger Things: The Hopper & Joyce Theory That Would Have Changed Everything

People love "Stranger Things," and they really love the relationship between Hopper (David Harbour) and Joyce (Winona Ryder). Season 4 finally had the characters fully lean into Joyce and Hopper's relationship, but a fun theory suggests they could have done so earlier, with Hopper being Jonathan's (Charlie Heaton) biological father. 

"I love this theory," Harbour said at Calgary Expo over the weekend. "Winona and I both love this theory." In short, the actors figured out that when Hopper was away in Vietnam, at some point, Lonnie was also out of the picture and couldn't be Johnathan's father.

"They broke up. Lonnie was in the picture for a while, and I guess they dropped out in-between one of Hopper's tours in Vietnam," Harbour said. "[Hopper] came back and just brought a pie to Joyce's house one day, and they conceived Jonathan, then she got back together with Lonnie and never told him, and so the secret is that Jonathan is Hopper's kid, and that's why in the first season, there's a lot of male bonding stuff between me and Jonathan." 

While Harbour and Ryder remain champions of the fan theory, that isn't the case for the Duffer Brothers, who shot Harbour down directly after he suggested adding it to the show.

Harbour doesn't think Hopper was ready for 'Jopper' before Season 4

From the beginning, "Stranger Things" teased a past relationship between Hopper and Joyce. Since David Harbour and Winona Ryder have a loving and complicated off-screen relationship too, the two have always been interested in exploring their characters' history.

With the upcoming "Stranger Things" season being the last, it's unlikely that the Duffer Brothers will divert from the main storyline to focus on a young Hopper and Joyce. Instead, Season 5 will probably explore how the two move forward together, which is for the best, as Harbour doesn't think Hopper was ready to love Joyce before Season 4. 

"I think he had to become a different person," Harbour told Netflix after the premiere of Season 4. "He wasn't the man in Season 3 that could effectively be with Joyce. He really had to deal with these secrets that he's been living with and deal with a lot of his turmoil that has to do with getting close to people. I think that, in this situation where he goes to his darkest night of the soul, his most hopeless, he realizes that he wants to live, and he realizes that he wants to love, and he wants to take care of people." 

With "Stranger Things" Season 5 on the horizon, Harbour enters new territory with Hopper. Now back in Hawkins with Joyce, he reunites with his surrogate daughter, Eleven (Milly Bobby Brown). It'll be interesting to see where they go from there, and fans hope "Jopper" at least get the happy ending they deserve.