By Ashley Hoffman
Updated: July 8, 2019 11:41 AM ET | Originally published: July 5, 2019

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Stranger Things Season 3

Stranger Things season 3 left one of its most disheartening plot developments for the very end: Chief Jim Hopper is dead, at least if you believe what you read in the Indianapolis Gazette.

“Hawkins mourns the loss of Police Chief Jim Hopper, who perished in the line of duty on July 4th in the Starcourt Mall fire, which claimed the lives of at least thirty others,” the front page read.

“He was a good man. He will be greatly admired,” Hopper’s deputy, Phil Callahan (John Reynolds), told the paper. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he was doing the right thing and attempting to save someone in that fire.”

One thing’s confirmed for sure. Hopper, played by David Harbour, is indeed missing from Hawkins.

In the postscript to the Stranger Things season 3 finale, we are treated to a bittersweet voiceover of Hopper’s emotional letter to Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who will ship out of town to live with the Byers in her new life without him.

Stranger Things
Courtesy of Netflix

Given the story’s swirling intrigue around government conspiracy, there may still be hope for Hop. After all, in season 1 of the Netflix show, the villains went so far as to produce a fake replica of Will’s body so the townspeople of Hawkins would stop looking. And strangest of the many strange things, in the finale, Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murray (Brett Gelman) don’t find him among the survivors of the explosion that engulfed the underground facility beneath Starcourt Mall. But they don’t find his remains either. Curious! And would the Duffer Brothers really allow one of the lead characters to die offscreen?

Hopper? Coffee and contemplation Hopper? The Hopper who gave us this dad dance? Our guard-punching officer of the law? Joyce’s potential mate? Eleven’s well-intentioned father figure? The guy who really made an effort to look sharp for date night at Enzo’s with a “cutting edge” shirt?

His disappearance may be yet another development in the cover-up storyline that could shape season 4. He would certainly be missed enough to inspire an investigation. There are plenty of fan theories that suggest he made it.

Whatever the case, people are already demanding justice for the fan favorite, demanding to know why the show would deign to “mess around with Jim,” as the song goes. Or if — considering that his arc was just getting cooking — he’s out there somewhere, getting ready for a season 4 comeback.

See a smattering of reactions to what appears to be Hopper’s “death” in Stranger Things season 3 below.

And of course, people were wistful.

Dustin and Suzie were called out.

Of course, many people held out hope that “The American” was Hopper.

We’ll always have this look.

Perhaps Eleven herself said it best.

“Like father like daughter.”

Some even suggest that Suzie may have played a role in his fate.

Relive some of his Hopper’s best moments here.

Write to Ashley Hoffman at Ashley.Hoffman@time.com.

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