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Barb deserved better … but did Bob?
Whether you were all about his dorkiness (especially that eyeroll-inducing vampire costume) or just wanted something to eat him already, the Radio Shack guy played by Sean Astin had even less of a future in the hands of Stranger Things producers Dan Cohen and Shawn Levy before the second season was filmed.
Bob is one of those nice guys who verges on annoyingly nice as he tries to gain the trust of Will and the often leery Jonathan, which might have made you wonder whether Joyce Byers’ boyfriend was really conspiring with the forces of the Upside Down to bring mass destruction to Hawkins. There must be a reason Jonathan is always giving him the side-eye. Mass chaos happened anyway, though not because Bob intervened. You could say it consumed him in the end. Literally.
While Bob was never destined to stay long in this mortal coil, Cohen and Levy revealed his even darker original fate.
“We had talked about the death of some major characters, that may or may not happen in the future near or far,” the producers told Collider. "But that was never part of the discussion for Season 2. The death of Bob was initially much earlier. In fact, in an early outline, Evil Will kills him in like Episode 3.”
Levy and Cohen were going to have Will in the car scene where he is trying to give the troubled teen some sort of advice on the shadow monster looming over his subconscious. Their vision was that Will, having morphed into Evil Will, “just straight-up murders Bob in that car,” which would have unleashed Evil Will much earlier and tragically cut off the character’s story arc, in which even the anti-Bob have to admit he redeems himself from his saccharine nice-guy first impression.
“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.” Was it ever.
There was another reason the producers kept Bob on proverbial life support as long as they did. The Duffer brothers thought his performance was just too outstanding to feed to the Demogorgons until a much later episode. It’s sort of the same thing that happened with Steve, who wasn’t supposed to hang around Nancy too long until Joe Keery’s performance changed the Duffers’ minds, except Steve is still alive.
So is Bob the new Barb? Sort of. He’s the sacrifice of Stranger Things 2, but unlike Barb, you actually get to know him. #JusticeForBob should go viral soon.