During the summer of 1985, Jim Hopper wrote a letter for the "heart to heart" speech he was going to give to his adopted daughter Eleven after being concerned about the burgeoning intimate relationship between her and Mike Wheeler.[1] He completed the speech having reflected on his life with Eleven, then adding to the beginning written by Joyce. However, Mike and El's disrespectful behavior towards him when he attempted to deliver the speech angered him, so he instead decided to threaten Mike into backing off of Eleven.

Three months after the apparent death of Hopper, while packing a number of his belongings Joyce Byers discovered the letter within a pocket while folding his shirt. Following Eleven’s pausing at the room where Joyce had been packing, and a request asking, “Can I read?" Joyce gave the letter to Eleven for her to read. Reading it, she discovers that Hopper was afraid of losing her and still thought of her as a little girl who played with him all the time. He says that even though the changes in life can be painful and sad, the hurt from that should be embraced, saying that it means you're out of that "cave". He ends the note by asking El to do him a favor and to "keep the door open three inches". El chuckles but soon begins to cry. Joyce comes in and asks if she's okay, and El says yes through her tears. She then asks if it's time to leave, to which Joyce confirms. As El picks herself up, she folds Hopper's letter in her shirt pocket and leaves.


There's something I've been wanting to talk to you both about. I know this is a difficult conversation, but I care about you both very much. And I know that you care about each other very much, and that's why it's important that we set these boundaries moving forward so we can build an environment where we all feel comfortable, trusted, and open to sharing our feelings.

Feelings. Jesus. The truth is, for so long I'd forgotten what those even were. I've been stuck in one place. In a cave, you might say. A deep, dark cave. And then I left some Eggos out in the woods and you came into my life. 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. I miss playing board games every night, making triple-Decker Eggo extravaganzas at sunrise, watching Westerns together before we doze off.

But I know you're getting older, growing, changing. I guess, if I'm being really honest, that's what scares me. I don't want things to change. So I think maybe that's why I came in here, to try and make stop that change. To turn back the clock. To make things go back to how they were. But I know that's naive. It's just not how life works. It's moving, always moving, whether you like it or not. And yeah, sometimes it's painful. Sometimes it's sad. And sometimes, it's surprising. Happy.

So you know what? Keep on growing up kid. Don't let me stop you. Make mistakes, learn from 'em. When life hurts you, because it will, remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you're out of that cave. But, please, if you don't mind, for the sake of your poor old dad, keep the door open three inches.

–Hopper's "heart to heart" speech, June 29, 1985



  1. Stranger Things Season 3: "Chapter Eight: The Battle of Starcourt"
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