When Stranger Things first debuted on Netflix in the summer of 2016, no one could have possibly predicted that the relationship between curmudgeonly Chief of Police Jim Hopper and the gifted little hero Eleven would become one of the series’ most pivotal stories. Stranger Things has always been driven by the friendship between its core child characters, but the unexpected father-daughter bond that was forged between two of the series’ most damaged characters, without question, absolutely stole the show.
As a result of their unexpected connection, Hopper and Eleven both grew leaps and bounds as characters and as people, opening themselves up to emotions that they’d never experienced before or had purposefully cut themselves off from. Given the way Stranger Things 3 ended, it’s possible we may have sadly seen the last of this dynamic duo, so we’re taking a look back at the ten scenes these two shared that gave us all the feels.
10 Triple decker Eggo extravaganzas
It was a heartwarming and totally shocking surprise when, at the end of the second season’s first episode, it was revealed that Eleven was alive, and safe, and in the company of Chief Jim Hopper. It was clear that these two cared for each other a lot already, settling into comfortable dinner routines with frozen TV dinners and Eggos for dessert.
Hopper shared lessons about life and how to communicate properly with her, and the two discussed Halloween plans and the nature of compromise. He even once playfully ruffled her hair, earning him a signature embarrassed daughter smile, as they shared a meal of Eggos. And like a true dad trying to win his daughter’s forgiveness, he once even bribes her over a breakfast of triple decker Eggo extravaganzas.
9 Moving in together
After Hopper discovered Eleven hiding in the woods of Hawkins during the second season, he quickly took the young girl under his wing, moving with her into a secure cabin in the woods. A montage in the third episode of the season, “The Pollywog,” flashes back to Hopper and El settling into their new home, and it’s absolutely adorable.
Starting off with the now iconic Hopper dance sequence, where Hop plays “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” by Jim Croce on the turntables, Hopper and Eleven take turns sweeping the cabin, try out Morse code signaling devices and the television, play board games together, and Hop even stocks the freezer with Eggos.
8 “You did good, kid. You did so good.”
Given the sheer physical strain of Eleven’s powers, it’s no surprise that she’s often totally exhausted and almost barely lucid after she’s required to use them to save the day. In the second season finale, Eleven roars with telekinetic fury when she closes the Gate in Hawkins Lab. As soon as the act is done, she practically collapses into Hopper’s waiting arms.
As she cries and clings to him for dear life, he lets her know just how proud of her he is, and how clearly relieved he is that she survived the ordeal: “You did good, kid. You did so good.” When she snuggles into him further, and he even begins to show the signs of welling up with tears, it’s virtually impossible to do anything other than cry right along with them.
7 A welcome home hug
The second season’s seventh episode, “The Lost Sister,” was an incredibly polarizing installment in the series. But Eleven’s journey of self-discovery and reinvention would lead to one of the most touching moments shared between the future father-daughter duo. As soon as Eleven returned to Hawkins and saved the day again, Hopper was one of the first people to embrace her.
Even though the duo had been at odds, and were still angry with each other for their respective disappearing acts, they quickly melted into each other in a warm bear hug. The relief was clear as day in both of their expressions, for very many reasons.
6 “You are like Papa.”
In the second season of the series, Eleven is living with Hopper in the woods, and unable to interact with her friends or let them know she is even still alive. Time and again, Hopper promises her that she’ll be able to leave soon, and that she’ll be able to see her friends, soon. But in the fourth episode of the season, “Will the Wise,” a total blowout fight ensues.
Eleven makes her frustration with Hopper’s refusal to let her go out in the world known, even leveling him with the harsh accusation that he’s just like Papa, the mercilessly cruel Dr. Brenner. The two scream at each other for minutes, going back and forth in a war of words and, eventually, objects, as Eleven begins to throw things at Hopper, and even blows the windows out in the cabin with her anguished screams.
5 Hopper and El hold hands at the Gate
For the majority of her life, Eleven had lived in a world devoid of comfort and support. She was seen as a machine, a weapon, not even a human being worth nurturing or caring for in any way. But as soon as she entered into the world of Hawkins’ close knit group of friends, that all changed. She had people who cared about her, believed in her, supported her and stood by her side every step of the way.
And in the second season finale, “The Gate,” Hopper was right by her side and there for her through the biggest test of her powers yet. When they went to Hawkins Lab to close the Gate to the Upside Down for good, Hopper held Eleven’s hand and remained with her, supporting her all throughout her most exhaustive display of strength yet.
4 Hopper tells Eleven about Sara
Hopper’s character has in large part been defined by the trauma he experienced as a result of the tragic death of his young daughter, Sara, and the subsequent dissolution of his marriage and his downward spiral into alcoholism and self-loathing. But throughout the series, Hop has grown and matured and opened himself back up to to the possibility of feeling again.
It’s in the second season finale that he first begins to give voice to some of these thoughts, telling a clearly shocked Eleven all about the daughter he had lost. Sara, he explains, had fallen victim to the black hole that is his life, and she was taken away from him: “The black hole. It got her. And, somehow, I’ve just been scared, you know. I’ve just been scared that it would take you, too.”
3 Hopper’s message for El
A recurring theme in the early episodes of Stranger Things 2 involves the many occasions on which Hopper misses curfews and events that he had promised Eleven he would be present for. He was late for dinner, and he was late for their planned Halloween festivities. Midway through the season, Hopper finds himself quarantined in Hawkins Lab, unable to leave and return to Eleven for days on end.
So, in the season’s sixth episode, “The Spy,” he finally attempts to reach out to her via his scanner, revealing his true feelings in a tear-jerking monologue: “I know that I’ve been gone too long, and I just want you to know that it’s not about you, and it’s not about our fight, okay? Something came up. And I will explain it all when I see you. I just want you to know that I’m not mad. I’m just sorry. About everything. I don’t want you to get hurt at all. And I don’t want to lose you. Just make sure you heat up some real food, okay? Not just Eggos. And I want you to eat all the peas, even if they’re mushy and gross. And I will be home, soon.”
2 “I need you safe.”
Eleven has always been the hero in this story, but at the end of Stranger Things 3, she’s almost entirely out of commission. After suffering a gruesome Mind Flayer induced injury, Eleven is still willing to carry on the fight in the climactic battle against the monster, vowing that it’s her duty to fight. But good old dad Hopper is having none of it.
He knows she can fight, and has seen it himself firsthand throughout the entire series. But right now, he tearfully tells her, “I need you safe.” It’s Hopper’s turn to fight, Hopper’s turn to sacrifice, and Eleven’s first real chance to have someone else save the world for a change. It’s a real change in their dynamic, and a real sign of growth for both of their characters.
1 Hopper’s letter
Hopper’s message to Eleven – one that she never heard, since she wasn’t present – in the second season was just the first of total tears-inducing monologues that we would receive from the proud papa bear. Stranger Things 3 ended with one of the series’ most heartbreaking scenes of all, as Eleven finally gets to read the emotionally honest and vulnerable speech that Hopper had written to give her regarding growing up.
Hopper shied away from actually ever delivering the speech, but seeing Eleven reading it on her own, while wearing one of Hopper’s own shirts, and with David Harbour’s narration, made the moment all the more impactful: “I left some Eggos out in the woods, and you came into my life and for the first time in a long time, I started to feel things again. I started to feel happy. But, lately, I guess I’ve been feeling distant from you. Like you’re pulling away from me or something. … But I know you’re getting older. Growing. Changing. And I guess, if I’m being really honest, that’s what scares me. I don’t want things to change.” And as we know now, with how the season ended, things have changed… possibly forever.
NEXT: Stranger Things: 10 Things That Make No Sense About Eleven