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It's gonna be okay. Remember, Bob Newby, superhero.

–Bob reassuring Joyce that everything will be okay.[1]


Bob Newby, portrayed by Sean Astin, was a major character in the second season of Stranger Things. The boyfriend of Joyce Byers, he worked as the manager at the town's local Radio Shack.

In October of 1984, Bob and Joyce were infatuated with one another, with Bob seeing a future with her and her sons by proposing moving out of Hawkins to start somewhere new. However, his plan was delayed when Joyce's son, Will, began having memory issues and seizures, related to a tunnel slowly growing in Hawkins. While tending to Will at the Hawkins National Laboratory, strange dog-like creatures from the tunnel began attacking the lab, trapping the Byers and others inside. Using his computer skills to turn off the security system, Bob helped Joyce and the others escape, but was unfortunately mauled to death in front of her by a juvenile Demogorgon.

History

Background

Bob Newby was born to his unnamed parents in 1947 in Hawkins, Indiana.

As a child, an extremely unsettling encounter with a clown traumatized Bob immensely. While standing in line for the ferris wheel at the Roane County Fair, a large clown named Mr. Baldo tapped him on the shoulder and scared him. This encounter effected Bob's sleep, with Mr. Baldo scaring him in his dreams, so much so that Bob's mother had to stay with him until he fell asleep. One night, however, everything changed when Bob finally stood his ground in the dream and told Mr. Baldo to go away, and he never saw him again.

While attending middle school, he founded the Hawkins Middle AV Club through his own fundraiser by buying equipment for it, teaching another young student, Scott Clarke, to do so. In high school, Bob was nicknamed "Bob the Brain" by fellow classmate Jim Hopper. He was also classmates with a girl named Joyce, though she didn't realize he existed.

Sometime later, Bob's parents had moved to Maine, while Bob became employed at the town's local RadioShack, eventually becoming its manager.

1984

Sometime during 1984, Bob began dating Joyce Byers, now divorced. Unlike her first husband Lonnie, Bob was completely devoted to Joyce, both loving her and her sons. The two would often have dinner together and watch the show Cheers at Joyce's home together.

On October 30th, 1984, he visited Joyce while she was working at Melvald's General Store. Later that night, Bob, Joyce, Jonathan, and Will had a movie night together.

Joyce and Bob on Halloween.

The following night, Bob was at the Byers’ house for Halloween. He lent Jonathan and Will his video camera. Later, when the two were alone, Bob put a record on and they started to dance. When Joyce couldn’t stop worrying about Will, Bob tried to assure her that he’d be fine. Bob then proposed that they move out of Hawkins to Maine. Joyce was hesitant about the idea.

The next morning, Bob offered to take Will to school. On the way there, Bob recounted how he had once been traumatized by an encounter with a clown named Mr. Baldo and gave Will advice, telling him to stand up to his fears. Later that day, Bob met Joyce for lunch. He informed her that the tape from Halloween night had shown Will being bullied by several teenagers in costumes. As Joyce was trying to set up the tape, she called Bob for his help. After seeing a figure on the tape that resembled one of Will’s drawing, Joyce became worried and went to the school to pick him up. When she got there, Will was experiencing another episode, encountering the enormous Mind Flayer. Inspired by Bob’s advice, he tried to yell at the entity to go away. However, the Mind Flayer did not listen and using one of his tornado-like appendages, overwhelmed and possessed Will.

Soon after, Will began experiencing “now-memories”, being able to see and know what the Mind Flayer could. He began drawing what he saw in order to better understand it. At first, the drawings appeared to be random scribbles, but after being assembled in the correct order, they depicted a strange maze-like pattern. When Will saw that Hopper was in trouble through his connection with the Mind Flayer, he was able to see where Hopper was in his drawings but did not know the actual location. Just then, Bob arrived with several games for Will. Joyce enlisted his help to solve the mystery of the drawings because of his love for puzzles. After recognizing the shapes of several bodies of water, Bob realized that the drawings were a map of Hawkins, and was able to pinpoint Hopper's location. Arriving at the location, Bob and Joyce descended into the tunnels while Mike and Will waited above ground. Eventually, Hopper was found entangled in a mass of vines. After freeing him, soldiers from the lab arrived and urged them to leave shortly before burning the tunnels. Suddenly, Will collapsed and began convulsing on the ground.

Bob went along with Joyce, Hopper, and Mike to Hawkins Lab, where Will was quickly treated. When Will awoke, he could not remember Dr. Owens, Bob, or Hopper, and was barely able to remember Mike. Through a test involving the burning of a vine from the Upside Down, it was determined that Will had a “virus” that connected him to a hive intelligence.

Bob running from a Demo-dog minutes before his death.

Through the Mind Flayer’s connection to Will, he was able to successfully infiltrate and unleash a pack of Demodogs throughout the lab. Once Will was sedated, Bob, Joyce, Hopper, Owens, and Mike managed to find shelter in a control room. Soon after, the lab’s power went out, placing the complex on lockdown. In order to turn the power back on and reset the locks, and because he was the only one who knew BASIC, Bob volunteered to be the one to go down to the breaker room. Before leaving for the basement, Bob urged Hopper to get the group out of the lab as soon as the power came back and insisted on not waiting for him. After being guided by Owens, Bob made it to the breaker room and successfully restored the power. While Hopper, Joyce, and Mike went ahead, Owens stayed behind in order to guide Bob out of the lab. Just when it seemed Bob had made it to safety, he was tackled and shockingly killed by several Demodogs.

Will's drawing of Bob.

A month later, Will had drawn a picture of Bob as a superhero, along with the words "Bob Newby Superhero" , which the Byers had hung on their refrigerator. Outside the Hawkins Middle School, Hopper comforted a still-mourning Joyce over Bob's death, saying that “it never seems like it get easier, but it does.”

Personality and Traits

Bob was very clever and enjoyed solving riddles and puzzles. He had very conventional tastes (for instance, he did not enjoy horror movies, preferring more lighthearted films and TV shows like Mr. Mom and Cheers); Jonathan considered him boring and found his overly-friendly nature somewhat off-putting. Will, on the other hand, liked Bob because Bob didn't treat him any differently after his disappearance. Although most of Bob's affection was focused on Joyce, whom he clearly loved, his attempts to befriend and connect with her sons were also genuine. He empathized strongly with Will, as they were both highly intelligent but passive-natured, making them easy targets for bullying. His contribution to the Hawkins Middle AV Club gained him admiration from Will and his friends, particularly Mike, who became inspired by his efforts and ultimately prompted them to avenge Bob later on. Unfortunately, his advice to Will about facing one's fears inadvertently allowed the Mind Flayer to enter Will's body and eventually control him, but as Bob was completely unaware of the Mind Flayer's existence and abilities he cannot really be held responsible, although his actions were not always helpful, his intentions were.

Ultimately, despite being somewhat unnerved by the truth of Will's disappearance and encountering the horrors of the Upside Down, Bob proved to be extremely brave, compassionate, and resourceful. He was the one who realized that Will's visions of the tunnels to the Upside Down actually formed a map of Hawkins by following bodies of water. Furthermore, it was his knowledge of electronics and computer technology that allowed them to escape from the Hawkins Lab, and in the process, he did not hesitate to put himself at risk if it meant saving Joyce and her sons, despite clearly being terrified. Tragically, his heroic nature cost him his life.

Skills

Programming & Technology Familiar: Unlike his friends, Bob was incredibly adept at electronics and computer tech and had a decent knowledge fr computer programming languages, such as BASIC.

When Joyce was facing a problem with the Halloween's video camera, Bob easily advised her of the steps to fixing it over the phone, giving her the opportunity to find a clue regarding Will's health. Later on, when the Demodogs invaded the Hawkins Lab and caused a power surge, trapping Bob and his friends, his vast knowledge of BASIC came to be very useful. With the lab's terminal, he rebooted the computer system and overrode the security to open the gates and also distracted some of the Demodogs away, allowing the group to escape with ease.

Relationships

Non-Familial

Joyce Byers

Bob and Joyce both attended high school together, but Joyce didn't know Bob existed. Sometime by 1984, Bob and Joyce met and began dating. Unlike Joyce's ex-husband Lonnie, Bob brought a sense of normalcy and sweetness to Joyce's life. Bob saw a future with Joyce, wanting to be a father figure to Jonathan and Will, and also possibly moving out of Hawkins for a clean start in Maine. Joyce also comforted Bob when it came to her sons, telling him that she can tell Will likes Bob. When Joyce requested him to pin down Hopper's location from Will's scribbles without disclosing any of the reasons, Bob didn't hesitate to help her locate it. Later on, Will's convulsion forced them to take help from Hawkins Lab, Bob would comfort and calm her down. Shortly after the Demodogs invasion leaves them trapped, in an attempt to save everyone, including Joyce, he decided to restore the power system. However, Bob had to tragically die at the hands of some Demodogs, but not before one last smile seeing her alive and safe. Joyce screamed in horror as Bob was viciously attacked, and had to be dragged out of the lobby by Hopper, before being shaken by him that Bob was gone. Back at the Byers, Joyce sat in her room in shock and in tears. Bob's death ultimately fueled Joyce's fury and goal to vanquish the Mind Flayer out of Will's body. A month later, Joyce is shown to still be grieving outside the middle school parking lot, all while Hopper comforts her. Six months later in 1985, a lonely Joyce eats dinner by herself while she watches Cheers, remembering on one occasion her and Bob laughing together while watching the show. However, it's clear Bob's proposal of moving out of Hawkins effected her, as she secretly put her house up for sale without her sons' knowledge. When Joyce and Hopper once again investigate a now closed Hawkins Lab, Joyce enters the lobby and has memories of Bob's death, but when asked by Hopper if she's okay, she snaps out of it and confirms she's fine.

Jim Hopper

Bob and Jim Hopper were old friends from high school. Even though they didn't cross paths often, the two still had a good deal of respect for each other. After Hopper got bounded by the vines, Bob along with Joyce helped free him up. The two would also watch each other's back, as seen during the Demodogs' ambush at the lab.

Appearances

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*

*Can be seen in photograph in 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*

*Can be seen in flashbacks in Suzie, Do You Copy? and The Case of the Missing Lifeguard. Also appears in a photograph in The Battle of Starcourt.

Memorable Quotes

Bob:

  • "Mr. Mom! Whoo, perfect!"
  • "Kenny Rogers? I love Kenny Rogers."

Bob to Hopper:

  • "Shall I teach you French while I'm at it, Jim? How bout a little German?"

Bob to Will:

  • "Easy-peasy, right?"
  • "Go away, Go away, Go away!" (referring to something he said in a dream to a clown named Mr. Baldo)

Bob to Joyce:

  • "Are we in Will's map?"
  • "I always thought stuff like this happened in movies and comic books; certainly not in Hawkins and certainly not to someone like you."

Behind the scenes

When speaking about the new characters in Season 2, the Duffer Brothers said that one of the adults will be involved in Joyce's life, probably alluding to Bob.[2] On November 7, 2016, it was revealed that Sean Astin had been cast in the role of Bob Newby.[3]

Bob was originally intended to die during the third episode.[4] During the car scene in an early outline of "The Pollywog", Will was taken over completely by the Mind Flayer and killed Bob.[5] His death kept getting delayed due to the character's likability and growing importance to the plot. When his death was eventually written, it distressed the Duffers so much that they thought about the possibility of him leaving the lab alive. They ultimately decided to kill the character off, feeling it was the best thing to do narratively.[4]

Trivia

  • His line about pirate treasure spoken in "Dig Dug" is a nod to the 1985 film The Goonies, in which Sean Astin (who portrays Bob) was notably cast in as Mikey Walsh.
  • Bob's fear of clowns and overcoming it actually holds a hidden reference to Stephen King's horror novel/film, It.

Gallery

View Gallery.png For this subject's gallery, see Bob Newby/Gallery.


References

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