At the end of Stranger Things Season 3, a post-credits scene revealed something surprising to fans. But now everyone’s asking: “Who’s the American?” Here are the top theories and clues. Warning: This post has major spoilers for Stranger Things Season 3’s ending and post-credits scene, so only read on if you’re OK being spoiled or if you have already watched all of Season 3.
In the post-credits scene for the final episode, the show cuts to Kamchatka, Russia, where we see the Russians feeding a prisoner to the Demogorgon. When they choose the prisoner, the guards are told “Not the American.”
We never see the American who’s being held in Russia or get any clues as to who this person is, so now fans have a lot of theories about this mysterious American’s identity.
The Evidence for Hopper Is Compelling
Some fans think it’s Hopper. They argue that Hopper might still be alive and was taken by the Russians when he survived the blast after Joyce closed the gate. (Other fans think Hopper’s dead, so there’s a lot of debate about this one.) This behind-the-scenes tour from the Stranger Things cast for Season 3 also has a clue that fans are focusing on to support their Hopper theory. Check out 2:59 in the video below.
This photo is seen in Will’s room during the tour:
Viewers have pointed out that the photo above on the left looks like Hopper is being held in prison somewhere and a child is helping release him. (But others have said this looks more like Murray than Hopper.)
The counterpoint to this theory is the question of just how the Russians would have gotten Hopper out. The U.S. military storms the base at the end shortly after the explosion and the Russians aren’t there. It would be tough to get Hopper out if he didn’t disintegrate. Tough, but not impossible. Some believe that Hopper escaped down a ladder in the room where he was fighting the Russian. You can see the ladder in this photo below, shared by Redditor nerdyginger27.
If Hopper did take that ladder to somehow escape, then he really could be the American that the Russians are holding hostage.
And then there’s this Instagram post.
Alert fan Zeger_Jake on Reddit found the above photo on Instagram and shared it. Cara Buono plays Karen Wheeler on Stranger Things. She posted a Jazzercise video as her character and David Harbour, who plays Hopper, responded. He wrote: “O. M. F. G. Cara Buono, congratulations. You’ve stolen not only the internet, but also my heart.” And she responded: “carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart) i am never without it(anywhere i go you go, BUT unlike mr. cummings I ’m carrying your heart to a gulag in Kamchatka Love, e.e. and ME.”
That seems like a pretty clear hint that it’s Hopper in Kamatchaka, doesn’t it?
David Harbour told ET Online about the ending: “That machine went off and blew up and Hopper seemed to be trapped there. He did glance around a little bit, but he seemed to be trapped and the machine exploded. And then you cut to… some town in Russia right? Where there’s some American and some prisoner. I don’t know, I mean, it seems strange. … I know as much as you. I’ve seen the final episode — it’s extraordinary… And then there is this mystery at the end. I don’t really know what’s going to happen, but if you find out from the Duffer Brothers, let me know.”
Brenner Is Another Compelling Theory
Other fans think the American they’re talking about is Dr. Martin Brenner. They say the Russians know about the Upside Down in the first place because of Brenner. In case you don’t remember, Brenner raised Eleven in Hawkins National Laboratory, testing and growing her powers. During one experiment he accidentally opened a gate to the Upside Down, released a monster into Hawkins, and allowed Eleven to escape. Brenner was the one who planted the fake corpse, trying to make it look like Will was dead in Season 1. We haven’t seen Brenner since we saw the Demogorgon attacking him. He wasn’t seen in Season 2, but Ray Carroll (a former DOE agent) told Eleven that Brenner was still alive and he knew where he was. Some fans think the Russians took Brenner at some point and he is the source of their information about the Upside Down and the gate, gathered through torture. However, Brenner wouldn’t know that the gate had been closed and was still healing, so some fans think the Russians have a different person who was around in Season 2.
Executive producers Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen confirmed with Collider that Brenner is indeed still alive. So that puts an interesting twist on the Brenner theory.
Murray Seems Less Likely
Some fans think the Russians took Murray, the journalist who was with Joyce after Hopper disappeared. We certainly didn’t see Murray again after he and Joyce escaped. But I think this one is less likely. Even though they didn’t show Murray much at the end, we did see him with Joyce when the Americans stormed the base and he was yelling about how they were American and not Russian. I think Murray is fine and was not taken by the Russians.
Who do you think is the “American” on Stranger Things‘ post-credits scene?