WARNING: This list contains massive spoilers for Stranger Things 3.
Stranger Things 3 premiered on July 4, 2019, and the children of Hawkins were once again tasked with saving their small town from a disturbing new enemy. Netflix announced that 40 million people streamed the show in the first four days of its release, breaking records and cementing Stranger Things as a bonafide pop culture phenomenon. People are so obsessed with the show that they've already been forming predictions and fan theories for Stranger Things 4.
The latest season ends on a lot of bleak notes. Hopper's demise, Billy's sacrifice, and the loss of El's powers are all huge bombshells that will have massive repercussions in the next season. What will happen next to our already weary and traumatized team of heroes? These Stranger Things 4 fan theorists think they have the answers.
The Duffer Brothers really teased everyone with that reference to the "American" being held at the Russian base, and it's probably sprouted more theories than the rest of the season combined. Hopper is one of the most popular candidates to be the mysterious "American," and Redditor /u/JediSabre thinks they have the evidence to support it.
This theory points out some additional clues that Hopper survived. They point out that Hopper repeatedly tells El to keep the door open three inches. This could be interpreted as foreshadowing, as the writers have left the door open metaphorically for Hopper to be alive. They also note that, during the scene with El reading Hopper's letter, the filmmakers make a very deliberate music choice. The soundtrack of that scene is the same music that plays in Season 1 when police find the "fake Will" in the reservoir. This could suggest that Hopper's passing is also a fakeout.
Even everyone's favorite Russian translator, Murray Bauman, has something to say about it. Brett Gelman, who plays Murray, posted the character's official phone number on his Instagram: (618) 625-8313. In season 3 episode 6, Hopper gives Bauman's number to Dr. Sam Owens at the US Department of Energy so he can warn him about the Russian's in Hawkins. Fans who called the number reached Bauman's voicemail which says:
Hi. You have reached the residence of Murray Bauman. Mom, if this is you, please hang up and call me between the hours of 5 and 6 pm as previously discussed. Okay?
And if this is Joyce, Joyce, thank you for calling. I've been trying to reach you. I have an update. It's about - well, it's probably best if we speak in person, it's not good or bad but it's something.
And if this is anyone but my mother or Joyce, well, you think you're real clever getting my number don't you? Well, here's some breaking news for you. You're not clever. You're not special. You are simply one of the many, many nimwits to call here, and the closest you'll ever get to me is this pre-recorded message. So, at the beep, do me a favor. Hang up and never call here again. You are a parasite. Thank you and good day!
Theorists believe Bauman's message to Joyce refers to Hopper's fate and the possibility that he is alive and being held in the Russian bunker.
Winter is coming for Hawkins, or at least that's what Redditor /u/TheNotoriousAvocado seems to believe. Their theory suggests that the next season will take place in December and focus on Christmas.
This fits in with the theme of the last few seasons occuring near seasonal holidays, and they haven't done a winter season yet. In the last episode, we learn that the Byers family plus El are moving out of Hawkins. Mike then suggests that Elle and Will should visit Hawkins for Christmas, which is more evidence that we'll be getting a Christmas season in the near future.
Redditor /u/blank_U has a theory about a real-world event that could influence Season 4. If the next season continues the trend of being one year after the prior season, then Stranger Things 4 will be set in 1986.
The Chernobyl disaster occurred that year, and since the Soviet Union has become a major plot point in the show, it's likely that the meltdown will somehow be referenced in the next season. The show could even suggest that the Russian meddling in the Upside Down is responsible for the meltdown, or maybe that the meltdown is really a cover up for a catastrophic disaster relating to the Upside Down.
This theory from Redditor /u/Strangerthingsideas- might make a lot of people happy. They believe that Hopper didn't perish in the explosion, but instead managed to slip inside the portal to the Upside Down and is hiding out in there. They point out that Hopper has already been to the Upside Down before and may know how to survive in there for a prolonged period of time.
It might be a while before anybody finds him though, especially since El presumably won't get her powers back at the beginning of next season. This could end up being one of the biggest plot points of Stranger Things 4.