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Nance, seriously, you're gonna be so cool now, it's ridiculous. -- You better still hang out with me, that's all I'm saying.

–Barbara to her best friend, Nancy Wheeler.


Barbara Holland, more commonly referred to as Barb, was a recurring character in the first season of Stranger Things. She was the best friend of Nancy Wheeler. In late 1983, Barb mysteriously vanishes, which leads Nancy and Jonathan Byers to investigate her disappearance. Eventually, it was revealed that she had been killed by the Demogorgon. In 1984, following an acknowledgment of Hawkins Lab's involvement in her death, she was given a proper funeral.

History

Background

Nancy's photos of her and Barb

Family portraits of Barb

Born September 13, 1967, Barbara Holland was the daughter of Mr. and Marsha Holland and was raised in Hawkins, Indiana. Prior to and up until the sixth grade, she was best friends with Robin Buckley, but afterwards the two lost touch.[1] She attended Hawkins High School and at some point became the best friend of Nancy Wheeler.

In 1983, Nancy began dating Steve Harrington, a popular boy at school, making out with him "a couple of times". Nancy and Barb went clothes-shopping one weekend, with Nancy seeking to impress Steve.

1983

Barb seemed cautious about Nancy's relationship with Steve and her growing popularity. She expressed her dislike of Steve's friends Tommy and Carol, telling Nancy she wanted to keep "hanging out" with her.

Barb reluctantly agreed to drive Nancy to a party at Steve's house. At the party, she attempted to shotgun a beer can, opening it with a knife so she would fit in with the others - however, she accidentally cut her hand in the process. This led to Barb going to the bathroom to tend to her hand whilst the others uncaringly carried on having fun without her.

Feeling frustrated, Barb confronted Nancy as she went upstairs to Steve's bedroom. She emotionally suggested to Nancy that she thought she was acting superficially, and not being true to herself. Nancy did not take her seriously, brushing her off and telling her to go home.

Barb sits by the pool alone

A lonely Barb sat by the now vacant pool, looking into her reflection and contemplating. As she did so, blood from her wound trickled through her bandage, splashing and dissolving in the water. The Demogorgon was attracted by the scent, suddenly appearing behind her and pulling her into the Upside Down. Jonathan Byers unknowingly captured this moment on camera as he hid in the nearby foliage.

Barb struggles to escape the pool

Hurt and disoriented, Barb woke up in the Upside Down's version of the pool, which was empty. Upon noticing the Demogorgon, she attempted to climb out of the pool, but she was dragged back down and killed by the Demogorgon. However, the Demogorgon didn't completely devour her.

At around the same time Barb had just awoken in the Upside Down, Will Byers was walking down the street nearby when he heard her cries for help as she cried out for Nancy repeatedly. Will ran as fast as he could, but by the time he reached the pool, Barb was long gone and all that was left of her were the pair of glasses that she had been wearing.[2]

Barbara was found dead by Eleven

Both Nancy and Mrs Holland grew increasingly worried about Barb when she did not show up to school the next day. When Will's (fake) body was found, a devastated Mike returned home where his mother and father were meeting with Barb's parents, Nancy finally having revealed that Barb was missing. A few days later, Eleven, while immersed in a deep psychic state, scoured the Upside Down to find Barb and Will Byers. She discovered Barb's body, witnessing a slug-like creature slithering from Barb's mouth and across her face.

Later that night, Chief Hopper and Will's mother Joyce entered the Upside Down of the public library as the search for Will continued; they walked past the remains of the Demogorgon's victims, including Barb's corpse.

1984

A year later, Barbara's death acted as the inspiration for Nancy and Jonathan in their endeavor to expose the Hawkins National Laboratory. With help from a private investigator, Murray Bauman, who was also investigating Barb's death, the three worked together to release evidence recorded from Dr. Owen's confession. Eventually it was a success that resulted in the shutdown of Hawkins Lab, and Barbara was finally given a proper funeral.

1985

In 1985, after the town's Starcourt Mall burned down and killed many townspeople, a special called Cutting Edge covered the strange events plaguing Hawkins over the last two years, including the mysterious deaths of Barbara and Bob Newby.

Personality

Barb was a kind, cautious, sensible and smart girl. When Nancy went to Steve's house, Barb wasn't at all happy about it, due to her dislike for Steve, Tommy H and Carol. Nevertheless, she agreed to chaperone her best friend even though she vehemently didn't want to attend the party. She was ultimately made fun of by Tommy H and Carol and brushed off by Nancy who was more interested in spending time with Steve. This caused her to reflect miserably by the pool instead of going straight home, which ultimately led to her death.

Relationships

Familial

Marsha Holland

Barbara and Marsha had a perfectly healthy mother-daughter relationship, though Barbara didn't have any qualms lying to her that she was studying at Nancy's when in reality she was attending Steve's party. When Barbara goes missing, Marsha, along with her husband, became increasingly worried. Over the next year, Marsha and Mr. Holland put all their savings (and even selling their own home) to hire Murray Bauman to investigate Barbara's disappearance. Marsha had no regrets of doing this, extremely hopeful he'd find their daughter due to his high status. When Murray, Nancy, and Jonathan reveal to the public a fake cover-up story that Barbara was exposed to a toxic chemical spill from Hawkins Lab, the lab was shut down and Barbara was given a proper funeral. As their daughter was finally put to rest, Marsha sobbed on her husband's shoulder.

Mr. Holland

Barbara and Mr. Holland had a perfectly healthy father-daughter relationship. When she disappeared, Mr. Holland was naturally distraught. Over the next year, Marsha and Mr. Holland put all their savings (and even selling their own home) to hire Murray Bauman to investigate Barbara's disappearance. Mr. Holland had no regrets of doing this, extremely hopeful he'd find their daughter due to his high status. When Murray, Nancy, and Jonathan reveal to the public a fake cover-up story that Barbara was exposed to a toxic chemical spill from Hawkins Lab, the lab was shut down and Barbara was given a proper funeral. As their daughter was finally put to rest, Mr. Holland silently cried while Marsha sobbed into his shoulder.

Non-Familial

Nancy Wheeler

Nancy and Barbara were extremely close best friends, hanging out together and calling each other on the phone constantly. When Nancy initially began seeing Steve, Barbara was extremely supportive, clothes shopping with her and telling her that her popularity will skyrocket, though all she asked in return was Nancy still hung out with her. When Nancy is invited to Steve's house for a party along with Tommy and Carol, Nancy later asks Barbara to come along with her because she didn't want to go alone. Though Barb was hesitant, Nancy told her to tell her parents she was sleeping over at her house to study. When driving to Steve's house, Nancy tells her to stop three blocks away so no one will see them. While in the car, Barb tries to convince Nancy that Steve just wants to get in her pants and that she's not this gullible, though Nancy denies this. As Nancy gets changed, she suspiciously asks her if she's wearing a new bra, to which Nancy says no. At Steve's door, Nancy tells Barb to chill. In the back at his pool, Barbara sits in annoyance while Steve, Carol, Tommy cheer for Nancy to chug a beer she shot-gunned with a knife. Noticing her alone, Nancy tried to get Barbara to join in on the fun. Barb attempts to copy Nancy, but only ends up cutting herself. Nancy tries to help, but Barb angrily tells her she's fine and asks Steve where his bathroom is.

While Steve and Nancy go upstairs to dry off, a bandaged Barb comes out and asks where Nancy is going. Explaining she fell into the pool and is getting changed, Nancy tells her she can go off. Hurt, Barbara tells her that this new personality of hers isn't who she truly is, but Nancy simply tells her to go home and leaves. Barbara scoffs, and goes outside to sit alone on the diving board. As blood leaks out of her bandage and into the pool, a monster snags her into another dimension. Waking up, a disheveled Barb calls out for Nancy, and begins to scream for her as she's confronted by the monster. But due to being in another dimension, Nancy is unable to hear her, which ultimately leads to Barb's unfortunate death.

The next morning, Nancy looks for Barb all over the school, but finds nothing. But when helping Jonathan pick up ripped photos, Nancy sees Barb in one of them and takes it. Later, she goes back to Steve's neighborhood and finds her car untouched. Upon seeing a shadowy creature in Steve's backyard, Nancy returns home in tears to her mother, saying something terrible happened to Barb. When being interviewed by the police, Powell and Callahan insinuate that Barb might have run away out of jealousy because of Nancy and Steve's relationship, but Nancy denies this. Returning home, Nancy glues together the photo she took and sees the shadowy figure behind Barb. She arrives at the local funeral home, and teaming up with Jonathan, the two investigate and conclude that the thing that took Barbara had also took Will, and finding it is to the key to rescuing them. However, when Eleven explores the void, she discovers Barb's corpse, causing her to scream "Gone!" and horrifying Nancy.

A year later, Nancy still keeps in contact with Barbara's parents, but is shocked to find that their selling their home to pay off a private investigator to find Barb. Seeing how optimistic they are, Nancy excuses herself and sobs in the bathroom, as she has been blaming herself for causing Barb's death. The truth of what happened to her best friend poisons Nancy, and although she desperately wants to tell the truth, Steve reminds them that the government can do dangerous things to them if they reveal anything. However, Nancy grows tired and pairs up with Jonathan to reveal the truth. Arriving at Murray Bauman's warehouse in Illinois, the three create a fake yet believable cover-up story saying that Barbara had been exposed to a toxic chemical leak and Hawkins Lab covered it. This leads to the lab shutting down, and Barb to be given a proper funeral, which Nancy attends.

Steve Harrington

Unlike his friends, Steve was friendly to Barbara, and had no qualms having her tag along with Nancy to his party. While shotgunning beers, Nancy and Steve encouraged Barb to try. When she cut her hand open, Steve showed concern and directed her to the bathroom. When Barbara disappeared, Steve was initially worried more of his parents grounding him for throwing a party without their knowledge instead of Barbara's well-being, much to Nancy's anger. He soon realized his selfishness, and apologized to her. A year later, Steve and Nancy are shown to keep contact with Barbara's parents, having dinner with them at their home. Unlike Nancy, Steve is less guilt-ridden lying to her parents about the truth. Although he understands Nancy wanting to tell the truth, he reminds her what would happen to them if the government found out if either of them told anyone the truth of Barb's death. He instead tries to distract Nancy by taking her to a Halloween party, but Nancy drinks too much alcoholic punch, and drunkenly blames the both of them for killing Barb. After Nancy and Jonathan reveal a fake cover-up story saying Barb died from toxic chemical leaks from Hawkins Lab, Barbara is given a proper funeral, which Steve attends with a bouquet of flowers, showing that he did indeed care for Barbara.

Jonathan Byers

Barbara and Jonathan had never had any true interactions with each other prior to her death. She, along with Nancy, Steve, Tommy, and Carol stared at him as he put up missing posters for his brother. When Nancy investigates her best friend's disappearance, she teams up with Jonathan, who also believes the monster that took Barb also took Will. A year later, Jonathan helps Nancy seek justice for Barb by shutting down Hawkins Lab with a fake cover-up story, and is later seen attending Barb's funeral.

Tommy Hagan & Carol Perkins

Both Tommy and Carol looked down upon Barbara due to her nerdy nature. When Steve talks to Nancy and Barb in the hallway, Tommy sticks his finger into Barb's ear as she swats him away. Barb tells to Nancy how provocative the couple is, mentioning they've been having sex since the seventh grade. When Barb cuts herself attempting to shotgun a beer, Carol chuckles while Tommy simply says, "Gnarly!". When Barb goes missing and Nancy asks them if they saw her leave, Tommy and Carol dance around the issue and make fun of her.

Appearances

Season One appearances
The Vanishing of Will Byers The Weirdo on Maple Street Holly, Jolly The Body*
The Flea and the Acrobat The Monster The Bathtub* The Upside Down*
Season Two appearances
MADMAX* Trick or Treat, Freak The Pollywog
Will the Wise Dig Dug The Spy
The Lost Sister The Mind Flayer The Gate*
Season Three appearances
Suzie, Do You Copy? The Mall Rats The Case of the Missing Lifeguard The Sauna Test
The Flayed E Pluribus Unum The Bite The Battle of Starcourt*

*Barbara's corpse was seen in "The Bathtub" and "The Upside Down" after her death in "Holly, Jolly". Barbara can also be seen via photograph in "The Body" as well as in "MADMAX", "The Gate" and “The Battle Of Starcourt”.

Family tree

 
 
 
 
Mr. Holland Family Tree icon 001.png
Mr. Holland
 
Marsha Holland.png
Marsha Holland
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Barb Holland Family Tree icon 001.png
Barbara Holland
Deceased
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Memorable Quotes

  • "Tommy and Carol have been having sex since like, 7th grade."
  • "I'm chill."
  • "This isn't you..."
  • ”NANCY!!” (Barb's final words before her death)
  • "Is that a new bra?"

Gallery

Trivia

  • Despite her minor role, Barb became a breakout character and popular among fans. Her early death has inspired trends such as "#JusticeForBarb" and "#WeAreAllBarb".
    • Barb's popularity among fans led to her death playing a larger role in the plot of Season 2, acknowledged by Nancy being angered that no one seems to care about her.
  • When Nancy is talking with Mrs. Holland on the phone, she tells her a lie about Barb being at the library. Ironically, this would turn out to be true, as her corpse was found in the Upside Down version of the library.
  • Barb was featured in the opening for the 2017 Golden Globes, where Millie, Finn, Gaten and Caleb revealed she was "still alive." While this was just meant to be a comedic nod to fans, it actually led to some confusion over whether Barb was actually dead. However, her death had long been confirmed, with Millie Bobby Brown also confirming that she was still dead.[3]
  • The childhood pictures of Barb seen in the Holland's home in MADMAX are the real childhood pictures of Shannon Purser, actress of Barb.
  • Barb has only met three main characters on screen, Nancy, Steve & Jonathan. It's possible she met Mike and Karen as she was friends with Nancy, and Karen is seen attending her funeral in the second season finale. Barb's corpse was seen by Eleven in a vision and her dead body was seen by Joyce and Hopper in the Upside Down. In the tie-in comic The Other Side (which focuses on Will's point of view of the first season), Will hears Barb's screams and runs towards the Upside Down version of Steve's house, only to find Barbara's shattered glasses remaining.
  • Barbara is the first teenager to die on the show; she would be followed by Heather Holloway and Billy Hargrove.


References


The Upside Down
Locations The Upside DownThe GateHawkinsHawkins National LaboratoryPublic LibraryPortalsHawkins Middle SchoolHawkins Tunnel System
Entities D'ArtagnanThe DemogorgonDemogorgon (species)The FlayedHospital MonsterThe Mind FlayerRussian DemogorgonThe Spider MonsterHawkins Tunnel SystemVines
The Flayed Billy HargroveHeather HollowayBruce LoweTom HollowayJanet HollowayDoris Driscoll
Visitors Joyce ByersWill ByersElevenSteve HarringtonDustin HendersonBarbara HollandJim HopperMax MayfieldBob NewbyShepardLucas SinclairMike WheelerNancy Wheeler
Miscellaneous Upside Down EggDungeons & DragonsThe VoidThe Keys
Articles may contain spoilers.
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