It’s been more than six years since Bob Newby was brutally killed and eaten by a pack of demodogs in the Hawkins National Lab in Stranger Things season 2, and Sean Astin recently revealed how hard it was for showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer to write Bob’s death.
During a panel at Fan Expo San Diego, Astin shared that the Duffers were “sobbing” while writing the scene where Bob dies, according to Collider. He also shared how he thinks Bob could have made it out alive.
Here’s what Astin told fans in attendance:
"You know, the Duffers, I’m like ‘Did it hurt to write it?’ And he’s like ‘I was sobbing, I was sobbing writing it.’ And I’m like, well you could’ve put a comma, ‘and realizes the dogs are still behind him and so, therefore, he exercises great wisdom and judgment and continues to sneak out of the building, slamming the doors behind him, trapping the dogs forever, takes Joyce’s hand in his.’"
Bob Newby’s death is one of the most devastating from Stranger Things
Bob’s death on Stranger Things is easily one of the most devastating deaths from the series. While other characters had died in Hawkins, Bob’s death was the first major loss for our group of young heroes. Yes, we lost Barb in season 1, and that was a catalyst for many later events. The Hawkins National Lab was overrun with demodogs sent by the Mind Flayer in season 2, and there was a lot of death and destruction. Bob’s death marks a huge turning point for the series.
While we knew through two seasons that no character was safe, it wasn’t clear how the Duffers would handle big character deaths. Bob’s death paved the way for the deaths of Heather, Billy, and Alexei in season 3 and Eddie and the rest of Vecna’s victims in season 4.
We can go back and forth about which death was more impactful: Bob, Billy, or Eddie. Fans will choose one or the other for personal reasons, but how Bob’s death was executed was especially heartbreaking for me. Bob sacrificed himself to save the group, much like Billy and Eddie. The difference is that it looked like Bob was getting away! Billy and Eddie each put their life on the line, but it was clear from the moment they made their choices that they were doomed. With Bob, he was out of danger! All he had to do was keep running, but he let his guard down and became demodog dinner.
Stranger Things is not Game of Thrones
Despite the Duffers willingness to kill off some of the important supporting characters, we still haven’t seen the Duffers kill off any of the main characters. In season 1 and season 2, Will survives against steep odds. Eleven comes back after disappearing at the end of season 1. Hopper, somehow, survives the blast in the Russian base under the Starcourt Mall in season 3 and ends up in Russia in season 4. Max is “killed” in season 4, but she somehow is still alive, barely, as we head into season 5.
Honestly, I don’t mind this approach from the Duffers. After Millie Bobby Brown called them “Sensitive Sallies” before the season 4 premiere, the Duffers defended their position of keeping the main group of characters alive and fighting the bad guy(s). Here’s what Matt Duffer told Variety about their decision to keep the main characters alive:
"What did Millie call us? She said we were ‘sensitive Sallies.’ She’s hilarious. Believe us, we’ve explored all options in the writing room. Just as a complete hypothetical, if you kill Mike, it’s like. … That’s depressing. … We aren’t ‘Game of Thrones.’ This is Hawkins, it’s not Westeros. The show becomes not ‘Stranger Things’ anymore, because you do have to treat it realistically, right?"
It might feel cheap at times, but I’d urge fans who want to see more deaths on the show to consider how those deaths would change the tone of the series. Stranger Things likes to strike a balance between fun and funny, dark and scary, and heartfelt. Killing off beloved characters could and probably would upset that balance.
Stranger Things season 5 starts filming soon! Stay tuned for more information about the latest season of the series.