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The Scary Real-World Chemical Weapon Referenced In Stranger Things 4

Contains spoilers for "Stranger Things 4" Episode 5

Jim Hopper (David Harbour) is a world-class sulker at the best of times, but he has a particularly wide selection of things to be grumpy about in "Stranger Things" Season 4, Part 1. Stuck in a cold Russian prison compound, he tries to orchestrate a dangerous escape, only to be caught and locked in a frosty cell with his co-conspirator, a guard called Dmitri (Tom Wlaschiha). 

By Episode 5 of the show, Hop has all but lost his vim and vigor, which he explains to Dmitri in a lengthy monologue that explains his grim outlook on life. Hopper has come to believe that he's a curse that affects everyone he touches, and as part of his monologue, he mentions his time in Vietnam — and a dangerous chemical he had to handle, called Agent Orange. As students of history might know, Hopper is actually referring to a very real, scary chemical weapon. Here's what Agent Orange is. 

Agent Orange is a Vietnam War defoliant that's dangerous to humans, too

Considered to be one of the most messed-up things from the Vietnam War, Agent Orange is a dangerous chemical that was used as a herbicide in order to rapidly destroy jungle areas and enemy crops (via Britannica). This wasn't just a one-off spray mission, either. Over the war, an estimated 13 million gallons of the stuff was used in Vietnam, and as it turned out later, the substances it contained did a whole lot more than kill foliage, especially in the long run.  

The fact that Hopper mentions that the precautions for preventing exposure among the U.S. troops were insufficient is a historical fact, as it caused an array of cancers and various other health issues in soldiers who were sufficiently exposed. However, the toll Agent Orange took on the Vietnamese was much heavier, as the population in areas that were exposed to the stuff started suffering from a large number of truly grievous health problems. 

Name-dropping one of the most infamous chemicals in the history of warfare is a pretty dark reference for "Stranger Things," a show that's generally more comfortable dabbling with 1980s pop culture than 1970s war horrors. Then again, it's a perfect reference to illustrate Hopper's incredibly dark state of mind.