The finale of Stranger Things Season Three left as many wet eyes as it did questions. Was Hopper really dead? What happened to Eleven’s powers? Who is the American? We have many months ahead of pondering these questions and—for the time being—mourning the loss of Hopper. But, for anyone looking for a fresh cry, there’s one small, heartbreaking detail fans noticed which details the connection between Hopper and Eleven.
As one Reddit user posted last week:
Though it’s never directly talked about in the show, it appears Hopper saved his daughter’s blue hair tie after she died and wore it as a bracelet until Eleven came into his life when he gave it to her. It’s a tiny but powerful detail that really describes the relationship between Hopper and Eleven. He clearly thinks of her as his own daughter by giving him a second chance at being a father. In many ways, Eleven saved Hopper from totally becoming the bitter, angry, and broken lonely police chief he was in Season One.
You’ll notice that in the finale, after Hopper’s “death,” Eleven is still wearing the hair tie as she prepares to move out of Hawkins.
Although it’s never explained in the series, actor David Harbour has discussed the meaning of the hair tie bracelet in interviews.
“It’s something subtle we do, and in fact if you watch the first [scene] of Jim Hopper in Season One, he wakes up in the morning and before he even checks his watch he touches that bracelet on his arm,” Harbour told Insider after Season Two. “It’s the first thing he does every morning because he never wants to forget her. Sara and the death of his daughter is his grounding place for reality.”
At the end of Season Two, the hair tie ends up on Eleven’s wrist—though we never see Hopper give it to her—and it remains there through the end of Season Three. In fact, as Harbour explained in that interview, there might be even more of a connection to Hopper, his daughter, and Eleven—noting that it appears his daughter died in the same facility that Eleven was raised, and there’s a stuffed animal which appears with his daughter and with Eleven.
“Yes — there is a connection there perhaps that we may go into further down the line,” Harbour said. “Again these are little things that highlight mysteries that I don’t want to give too much away from but I don’t think anything is done randomly in this show. So the fact that you’re picking up on these things is something that will pay off in some way.”
So, it could be possible that this bracelet is more than just a small, sentimental detail—it could connect to an even greater mystery to be explored in Season Four.