Hopper has gone above and beyond to help out the kids throughout Stranger Things. However, the reason why Hopper does this is quite tragic.
One heartbreaking Stranger Things scene explains why Jim Hopper (David Harbor) helps the kids out throughout the show. The Netflix show establishes Hopper as a lousy cop, so it’s interesting that he would go above and beyond to help find Will (Noah Schnapp) in Stranger Things season 1 and protect the Party from danger in subsequent seasons. Though Hopper is initially established as a typical jerk cop, he proves himself to be more than that when Will goes missing, as he seems determined to discover the true secret behind the kid’s disappearance. As it turns out, a glimpse into Hopper’s backstory explains why he’s so willing to help out the kids when they’re in need.
In the Stranger Things season 1 episode “Chapter 8: The Upside Down,” a flashback from Hopper’s past is revealed while he’s helping Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) search for Will in the Upside Down. In the flashback, Hopper is married to Diane (Jerri Tubbs) with a seven-year-old daughter, Sara (Elle Graham), who is diagnosed with cancer and ultimately dies. It’s understandable that a still-grieving Hopper would sympathize with Joyce, someone he clearly has a history with. Essentially, Hopper wants to save another parent from the experience of losing a child. However, Hopper’s sympathies also extend to the kids, and there’s a reason why he risks his life to come to their aid.
Why The Stranger Things Kids Remind Hopper Of His Daughter
A big reason why Hopper is willing to help out the kids in Stranger Things is that they remind him of his daughter. Like the Stranger Things characters in the Party, Sara was born in 1971, so they’re as old as she would’ve been had she stayed alive. This fact would have definitely evoked sympathy in Hopper, especially when it comes to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who he adopts and raises as his own daughter starting in Stranger Things season 2. It’s likely that Hopper sees a second chance with these kids and an opportunity to save and protect them the way he couldn’t with his own daughter.
There’s another way the Stranger Things kids bring to mind memories of Hopper’s daughter. In Stranger Things season 1’s first episode, Hopper mentions to Mr. Clarke (Randy Havens) during the search party for Will that Sara was a big science fan. Will and his friends also show an interest in science, another commonality with Hopper’s daughter, Sara. It’s understandable that Hopper would be drawn to these children with the same interest as Sara. Though Hopper admitted to Mr. Clarke that he had a distaste for science, he clearly admired that Sara was interested in the subject, and he gets to see this passion continue with the Stranger Things kids.
Hopper’s Daughter Could’ve Been One Of The Stranger Things Kids
If Sara were still alive, she could’ve been one of the Stranger Things kids. Since she was born during the same year as Will and his friends, Sara would probably be in the same grade. It’s likely that they would share classes together as well. If Sara continued being interested in science, she could bond with the Stranger Things kids through the Hawkins Middle School A.V. Club, which could’ve led to her joining the rest of their gang on their adventures with Eleven in Stranger Things season 1. Perhaps after Hopper adopts Eleven at the end of Stranger Things season 2, Sara and Eleven could’ve even bonded like sisters.
Sara being part of the Party would probably make Hopper even more inclined to help out the kids. It’s likely that Sara would turn to her police chief dad for help finding her friend Will. Hopper would also be willing to put his life on the line to save his daughter and her friends from the various threats—whether supernatural or not—that befall Hawkins throughout Stranger Things. Although Sara’s death was tragic, it led Hopper to start caring for and helping out the Party in Stranger Things. Hopper will always remember his biological daughter, but now he has other kids in his life — including Eleven, aka Jane Hopper — to love as well.