Last summer, Stranger Things became an overnight sensation, fusing time-tested favorites like ’80s nostalgia and sci-fi fandom. It followed a band of misfit pre-teens on the hunt for their best friend, Will Byers, a local Indiana boy who’d gone missing after stumbling into a dangerous parallel dimension called the Upside Down. It featured a knockout cast that included Winona Ryder, David Harbour, and plenty of fresh, young talent, but few would have guessed that one of its biggest breakouts would be Barb, a largely peripheral character who barely graced three episodes.
Played by newcomer Shannon Purser, Barb was Nancy’s (Natalia Dyer) frizzy haired, straightedge best friend. After Nancy abandons her during a late night get-together at cool kid Steve Harrington’s (Joe Keery) house, Barb is sucked into the Upside Down and killed. Viewers were hit hard by her death, which no one seemed to care about onscreen, and subsequently launched online campaigns with the tagline “Justice for Barb.”
While the character has been confirmed dead on multiple occasions, fans are still rallying for some sort of tribute, and executive producer Shawn Levy has promised the Stranger Things team will pull through. In an interview with Variety during the annual Oscars nominee luncheon on Monday, he told the outlet Barb’s memory will be honored in season 2. Referring back to the Golden Globes opening that jokingly revived the character, he said:
“Literally, ever since that Golden Globes where she’s in the opening, everyone’s like, ‘so she’s alive?!’ And [show creators the Duffer brothers] and I are like, ‘No, no, she’s dead. We saw a slug coming out of her throat. There’s no coming back from that. But I will say that her memory and the search for justice for her is a part of season 2.”
That will be at least one bright spot in the series’ upcoming second season, which looks darker, deadlier, and even more terrifying if the newly unveiled teaser is any indication. As for the premise, all we’ve received is a vague logline that reads, “A year after Will’s return, everything seems back to normal… but a darkness lurks just beneath the surface, threatening all of Hawkins,” and a promise that the show will return in time for this year’s Halloween.
Barb may not be a part of that, but it’s nice that the writers are giving her some credit, whether it was something they had already planned or was a result of her massive popularization. It was odd that her family didn’t seem too panicked that she was gone, and as they say in show biz, there are no small parts. Get yours, Barb.
An official release date for Stranger Things season 2 has not yet been announced, but it will debut on Netflix in time for Halloween 2017.