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7 facts about Barb from ‘Stranger Things’ that will turn you upside down

SALT LAKE CITY — She left us way too soon.

Barbara “Barb” Holland, the loyal best friend of Nancy Wheeler who was never afraid to speak her mind, disappears during the second episode of “Stranger Things.”

And although little is seen or known of Barb, something about her vanishing — and eventual death — sparked community outrage and heartbreak.

Perhaps it was her short red hair, frilly collared shirts and now-retro glasses — the show takes place in 1983 — that drew people in.

Perhaps it was the unabashed way she’d tell Nancy she was acting strange or walking into a dangerous situation.

Perhaps it’s the fact that no matter what silly thing Nancy did, we knew Barb would always be there.

Until she wasn’t. Thanks a lot, Demogorgon.

Barb’s quick disappearance from “Stranger Things” and the lack of attention her town gave to the matter turned social media into a mourning forum, particularly expressed with the hashtags #WeAreAllBarb and #JusticeForBarb.

And although it’s been confirmed that Barb doesn’t make it out of the Upside Down, that doesn’t mean Hawkins, Indiana, will be devoid of the beloved character’s presence. In fact, a recent article in Entertainment Weekly assures us that #JusticeforBarb will play a major role in season two of “Stranger Things” as Nancy grapples with grief and guilt over her best friend’s death.

To honor Barb and celebrate the upcoming release of “Stranger Things” on Oct. 27, here are seven facts about the actress behind the gone but certainly not forgotten character.

  1. Playing Barb in “Stranger Things” marked 20-year-old actress Shannon Purser’s screen debut, according to She was a senior in high school when she took part in the sci-fi/horror show. Talking about the show with Deadline, the actress said, “‘Stranger Things’ really is everything that I love. I’m a big science fiction fan; I love films from the ’80s, so it was such a cool, interesting combination of that. I really couldn’t have asked for a better thing to start off with.”
  2. Her first acting credit landed Purser an Emmy nomination in July 2017. Utahns who are fans of “Stranger Things” will be delighted to learn that the actress was actually in the Salt Lake City International Airport — en route to shoot season two of The CW show “Riverdale” — when she discovered her role as Barb had earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actress in a drama series, according to To calm her nerves as she was standing at her boarding gate, Purser petted two golden retriever service dogs that were close by, stating in her interview that “It was absolutely what I needed."
  3. When asked by Glamour magazine if she would consider herself to be a Nancy or a Barb, Purser remains loyal to her character: “I’m definitely a Barb. I don’t have a problem with that. I think she’s great. I totally am dorky and weird, and that’s fine with me.”
  4. Prior to playing Barb, Purser worked at a movie theater in her Roswell, Georgia, hometown. In fact, she was watching a movie with her mom at the theater when she learned she got the part. The actress told Elle magazine, "I can't for the life of me remember what movie we were seeing, but it was just me and her in the theater. I was obsessively checking my phone, and then I got an email telling me I got the part. I turned to my mom, like, 'Mom, I got it!' Then we watched the rest of the movie."
  5. Purser returned to her job at the movie theater after shooting “Stranger Things,” but ended up quitting when people began showing up to see Barb in person, according to her interview with Glamour magazine.
  6. Since her role in “Stranger Things,” Purser has starred in The CW drama series “Riverdale” and recently made her film debut in the horror flick “Wish Upon.
  7. The actress had no idea what Barb’s fate would be, telling Glamour magazine that there was a “weird air of secrecy” about the seventh episode when Barb’s body is discovered. Although Purser knew things were certainly not looking good for her character — we see the Demogorgon drag her down to the bottom of a pool in the third episode — finding out what would eventually become of Barb was a waiting game. But she did say in her interview that if “(The Duffer brothers) ever wanted to bring Barb back, I would be 100 percent OK with it.”