[SPOILERS for Stranger Things season 2 follow.]
With new seasons of hit TV shows comes the likely introduction of new characters, and that is certainly true of Netflix’s Stranger Things, as season 2 proved by bringing a whole host of new faces to Hawkins, Indiana. Among them, Paul Reiser’s Dr. Owens, Dacre Montgomery’s mullet-wearing weirdo Billy, Sadie Sink’s red-headed tomboy Max, and, of course, Sean Astin as Radio Shack’s very own Samwise Gamgee, Bob Newby. Now that most people have almost certainly binged their way through all nine episodes of season 2, the timing of one character’s untimely death has become a point of discussion.
After the death of Barb in season 1 resulted in an online campaign declaring the character deserved some justice, Stranger Things had a lot to prove when it came to killing off another of its characters. While season 2 made good (kind of) on bringing She Who Cannot Shotgun a Beer some closure, the raised stakes of the Upside Down creeping into the Right Side Up meant there was a good chance another of Hawkins’ finest would wind up as Demogorgon chow, or worse. As it turns out, that individual was none other than poor Bob Newby, the man who knows his way around Hawkins as well as he does a coaxial cable.
Bob doesn’t meet his end until nearly the end of the season, but, as it turns out, the Duffer brothers initially intended for Joyce’s new love interest to bite the dust a lot sooner. Speaking to EW, series co-creator Matt Duffer said Bob was supposed to check out around episode 4, but they liked Astin’s performance so much, he stuck around long enough for audiences to really get attached. Duffer said:
“Bob was always intended to die, but we fell in love with Sean and what he was doing with this character. He was supposed to die in like episode 4 and we just kept keeping him alive because he was so great and what he added to the show. Once we got to 8, we were like, we either got to do this or not do this. But I think it was important in terms of the stakes of the show. This is not a kids show and there are consequences and people do die. But we are sad to lose him because he really just blew us away.”
It’s easy to see why Bob (and Sean) would grow on the creators and make it that much harder to kill him off. After all, he did let his girlfriend’s kids take his video camera out trick-or-treating, and hardly said boo about it when it discovered it was a little “dinged up.” He was also game to help decipher Will’s initially inscrutable drawings and discovered their true nature. If that’s not prime boyfriend material for Joyce Byers, then what is?
As it turns out, the Duffers weren’t the only ones who got attached to Bob. Astin himself admits to trying to sway the creators’ minds when it came to the timing of his character’s grisly fate.
“Don’t get me wrong: I was certainly lobbying for good old Bob to hang around. I didn’t just show up to meet these kids and get out of there! I wanted to be part of it.”
So Bob got a stay of execution as it were, but in the end, he still came to a dark one. But with a big season 3 tease marking the end of Stranger Things 2, it’s certainly not the last we’ve seen of Hawkins, the Mind Flayer (or Shadow Monster), or the Upside Down, so who knows, maybe some version of Bob will be back also.
Stranger Things 2 is available in its entirety on Netflix.
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