When the Netflix series Stranger Things premiered, it was an instant runaway hit. Fans were drawn into the the dark fantasy series about a missing child and a terrifying monster, The Demogorgon, from the scary parallel world known as The Upside Down. Adding to the tone and feel of the show was a strong 1980s vibe, both as the time period for the show’s setting and the nostalgic writing which was clearly inspired by the movies, TV, and books of the decade. While the show is beloved overall by fans, there is one character that holds a special place in their hearts – Barb.
Barb, played by Shannon Purser, was the best friend to main character Nancy (Natalia Dyer). Nerdy and not very popular, Barb accompanied Nancy to a party, and after being abandoned by her friend, vanishes into thin air. No one seems at all concerned about Barb’s disappearance besides Nancy, even though she is the second child to go missing in a matter of days. Eventually, her corpse was seen in The Upside Down, seemingly confirming her death. Fans however had come to love Barb and the internet was soon filled with claims that she was somehow still alive, or would return to the show in season two. They just don’t want to say goodbye to the beloved character who was taken too soon and forgotten too quickly.
However, actress Millie Bobby Brown, who plays the mysterious Eleven on the show, confirmed to EW at The Golden Globes that Barb is indeed dead:
‘No, she’s not alive!’
Brown’s quick response is most likely due to her involvement in the opening musical number, where she dressed as Eleven and rapped about the show, along with co-stars Gatan Matarazzo (Dustin), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), and Finn Wolfhard (Lucas). At the end of their rap, they all shouted ‘Barb is still alive!’ which was followed by Purser emerging from a pool and surrounded by synchronized swimmers, all wearing Barb’s not iconic costume. For fans of Barb, Brown confirmed that the rap was not a spoiler, simply a joke to support the internet’s love for Barb and conspiracy theories about her survival.
Even if there was a plan to bring Barb back from the dead, there would be potential scheduling conflicts, as Purser has been cast in her next project. She’s set to play Ethel Muggs in Riverdale, the CW’s adaption of the Archie comics with a murderous twist. While initially only signed for three episodes, Muggs has quite a presence in the comics and she may be invited back for more episodes in time.
As for those who feel that Barb was mistreated in season one of Stranger Things she has not been forgotten. Co-creator Matt Duffer has assured audiences that Barb will get her long overdue justice in season two. So even if the character won’t be seen again, her many adoring fans should be able to take solace in that.
Stranger Things will return on Netflix this year.