Warning: Major Spoilers in This Article!
Stranger Things season 2 honored the tradition of the first season by giving fans a new Barb to mourn. This time, the tragedy befell Bob Newby (Sean Astin), Joyce Byers' new boyfriend, a happy-go-lucky tech geek working at the local Radio Shack.
Like with Barb in season 1, there's been an immediate #JusticeForBob fan movement, in part joking, but partly serious, as well. A lot of fans seem to think that Bob (like Barb) was a character who seemed significant at first, but got very little real backstory or depth before being violently dispatched.
However, if you were a fan who thought that good old Bob got a the short end of the stick in Stranger Things season 2, wait to you get a load of what showrunners The Duffer Brothers originally planned for Bob's untimely demise!
In one of Bob's only character-building scenes during the season, he's playing chauffeur for Will. During the car ride, Bob confides in will that when he was a kid, he had some terrible bad dreams. Bob tells Will that his nightmares ended the day he stopped running away form his nightmare monster, and faced it head on. It sounds good in the moment - though it ultimately backfires big time, when Will tries to stand up to the evil Mind Flayer monster, and pays the price.
However, as the Duffer Brothers reveal, Bob's big character-building scene was originally meant to have a much different effect: it was supposed to serve as a death scene that would've been shocking AF for fans. As producers Dan Cohen and Shawn Levy explained to Collider:
"The death of Bob was initially much earlier. In fact, in an early outline, Evil Will kill him in like Episode 3.... Will just straight-up murders Bob in that car."
The way things play out, the horrific scene of Will being possessed by The Mind Flayer is cut with a flashback to Bob's misguided words of advice during the car ride, in order to show how little the idealistic advice applies to real life. However, if Will had been going through the mental battle during Bob's speech, and then murdered him out of nowhere, it would've been a moment that Stranger Things fans would've never forgotten, for sure.
While we didn't get the shocking and awe of Bob's sudden death while in the car with Will, the writers found a pretty solid alternative path. Will's possession was no less horrifying the way we saw it occur, and he still managed to freak us out with his "Evil Will" persona.
Meanwhile, Bob got a much better exit than Barb ever did: when Hawkins National Laboratory is attacked by The Mind Flayer's Demodogs, Bob resets the computers so that Will, Joyce, Hopper, and Co. can escape the massacre. Bob almost makes it out, but ultimately dies horrifically, but consumed while still alive by Demodogs, in the Hawkins Lab lobby.
As producer's explain it, "We wanted to keep him alive longer, and then use his death as Joyce’s engine,” Levy said. “The avenging of that would become Joyce’s engine for the finale."
Bob's was the only major death that occurred in Strangers Things season 2, and producers confirm that it was always going to be that way:
“That was never on the table. We had talked about the death of some major characters, that may or may not happen in the future near or far. But that was never part of the discussion for Season 2."
Given how Stranger Things season 2 ended, the threat of The Mind Flayer and the invasion of Earth by the Upside Down is literally looming closer than ever over Will and friends. With certain characters having been exposed to the infectious gas of that dark other world, and The Mind Flayer now aware of Eleven and her considerable power, it seems inevitable that someone is going to die... or worse.
Stranger Things season 3 is currently in the works.