Season 1 of Stranger Things centered around Will, a little boy who was captured by a monster from a parallel universe called the Upside Down. Throughout the season, his family and friends struggled to find him — and struggled to keep up hope that he was even alive. The breakout star of the season, though (besides Eleven and waffles), was Barb. Barb was part of the teenage cast of the show, and unfortunately was only in a few scenes before she met a tragic end in the Upside Down. So is Barb in Stranger Things Season 2? She had an untimely end, so I'm thinking probably not. (As much as I hate to admit it.)
But who was Barb, anyway? She was the best friend of Nancy, Mike's older sister. She was hesitant to support Nancy and Steve's relationship. The night she disappeared, Barb tagged along to a party with Nancy. She didn't really fit in; she tried to cut open a beer can with a knife, but she ended up cutting her hand instead. Frustrated, she sat by the pool alone... and a drop of blood fell in. The monster was attracted to her scent, and she all of a sudden vanished. Barb wasn't seen again until Eleven entered the Upside Down and discovered both her and Will. Thankfully, Will was still alive... but Barb wasn't so lucky.
Barb (and actress Shannon Purser) became one of the breakout stars of the series. Despite — or perhaps because of — Barb's death, audiences fell in love with both her demeanor and look. She first appeared to be Nancy's sidekick that viewers would learn more about as the season went on, but that was not the case. What's more, she was not rescued. The audience wasn't given closure to an innocent, relatable character. Perhaps Barb was naggy and a little judgmental of Nancy's choices, but the internet embraced her: #WeAreAllBarb trended for some time, and viewers showcased their Barb-like high school photos. Unlike Will, she suffered in the Upside Down, and the audience didn't even see it happen; there was only a brief (and gross) shot of her decomposing face.
This scene also sparked another hashtag: #JusticeForBarb. Why do viewers care so much about a character they know so little about? I wonder this myself, and I too want #JusticeForBarb. As Scott Beggs put so well in Nerdist, "Barb was the first person we cared about who is sacrificed to prove the show wasn’t playing around and that our investment was going to be meaningful." So meaningful, in fact, that she turned into a meme after Netflix released the series. Because of this, viewers may get the closure with Barb that they crave.
"Especially this season, Barb’s a big part of Nancy’s story line and that drive to — I don’t know how to say it otherwise — to find justice," Natalia Dyer, who plays Nancy, told Entertainment Weekly. Not only does Nancy struggle with guilt over Barb in Stranger Things Season 2, but Barb's family will play a role as well. "You met her mom briefly last year but we introduce her dad," co-creator Matt Duffer added during the same Entertainment Weekly interview. "The only thing that bothered me about the Barb criticism was people saying her parents didn’t care about her — of course they care. In their mind, Hopper has been slacking off and he’s a joke of a chief."
But as for whether or not Barb herself will be in this season, it doesn't seem likely. Barb is definitely dead, and IMDB only lists Purser's Stranger Things credits as 2016. I'm not going to freak out, though: from what the cast and crew say, it seems that Barb may get the ending she deserves — even if it's posthumous.
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