After seeing the mid-credits scene in the finale of Stranger Things Season 3, fans are torn over the identity of the American the Russians are keeping locked away in their underground laboratory. If you need a refresher, here's what happened: In the middle of the eighth episode's end credits, the audience is transported back to the Russian facility from the beginning of the season. Two guards walk through a row of cells and stop at a door. One says, "No, not the American," before going to a second cell, grabbing a random Russian captive, and feeding him to a Demogorgon.
After this quick scene, fans only had one thing on their minds: who is the American in Stranger Things? Evidence could suggest several different characters behind that door, from the obvious to the outlandish. The only thing we know for certain is that the American, whoever they are, will play a huge role in the next season of Stranger Things.
A popular TV rule of thumb states that if someone perishes offscreen, they're probably still alive. Not only is offing a major character without showing their demise a huge cop-out, but audiences are too savvy to allow such a thing without questioning the reasoning behind it. With no closeup of Jim Hopper's remains, many fans are saying the same thing: Hopper lives.
With that being said, there's seemingly no way he could have escaped the facility. Some fans have pointed to a ladder he could have climbed down, while others claim he could have somehow been zapped to either the Upside Down or Russia.
Several breadcrumbs and clues hint at the American's identity, but the biggest of these came from the show's cast. In a July 2019 interview, David Harbour essentially confirmed that Hopper is in the cell, though he didn't explicitly spoil anything.
When the interviewer said they were going to "dance around" the season's ending, Harbour responded, "Well, did you see the post-credits scene?" The interviewer then asked point-blank if Hopper was behind the door in the finale, and Harbour responded that's most likely what's happening.
Harbour also pointed out that throughout the season, the Russian Terminator stand-in continuously refers to Hopper as "the American." Many believe this is enough proof to solve the mystery.
The Stranger Things cast really doesn't care about spoilers - or at least appearing as though they're giving away spoilers. On June 8, 2019, David Habour commented on an Instagram post promoting the new season with a fun Jazzercise video reminding fans to stretch during a binge watch.
After Harbour wrote, "You’ve stolen not only the internet, but my heart,” Buono responded with a piece of an E. E. Cummings poem before writing, “unlike mr. cummings I’m carrying your heart to a gulag in Kamchatka...”
Another likely candidate for the American is Dr. Brenner, Eleven's evil father figure from Season 1. Many surmise he has been in Russia since he was trounced by the Demigorgon. After Brenner was attacked in Hawkins Middle School, many assumed his life was over; however, in Season 2, Ray Carroll, an orderly from Hawkins Lab, tells Eleven that Brenner is alive.
Fans believe that Brenner was either recruited by the Russians due to his in-depth knowledge of the Upside Down, or that he traveled to Russia to continue his experiments and wound up in a cell miles underground. Brenner being the American would explain how Russia managed to acquire such dangerous equipment in a short period of time.