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Whatever Happened To Barb From Stranger Things?

It really says something that out of the many memorable characters introduced over the years, one of its most beloved names has only appeared in "Stranger Things" Season 1. Barbara Holland was far from the most eccentric addition to the cast of the 2016 first season, but that's what made her so lovable. Her gentle approach and non-judgmental nature made her friendship with Nancy Wheeler (Natalia Dyer) all the more endearing. Similarly, it made her eventual demise at the hands of the Demogorgon especially hard to stomach. In fact, her death became so infamous amongst the show's fanbase that the hashtag #JusticeforBarb spread like wildfire throughout social media, which the creators kept in mind when making Season 2.

Imbuing Barb with such universally-appealing charm is actress Shannon Purser. The Atlanta native is perhaps most well-known for her appearance in the sci-fi horror Netflix series, marking her debut in the acting world and even getting her a Primetime Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actress in a drama series. Thankfully, Purser's story has ended more happily than Barb's, as the actress has gone on to have a fruitful career in several notable projects. 

She returned to the world of horror in Wish Upon

Shannon Purser's next project following her acclaimed debut in "Stranger Things" would see the actress return to the world of horror with the 2017 film "Wish Upon." Helmed by "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" and "Anabelle" director John R. Leonetti, "Wish Upon" tells the story of Clare Shannon (Joey King), who discovers a magical box that can grant her up to seven wishes. However, each time a wish is made, there is a deadly tradeoff for those close to her.

Released in the summer movie season of 2017, "Wish Upon" became a modest box office success, earning $23.5 million on a $12 million budget. However, critics were not so fond of the supernatural horror, with many finding its premise unoriginal and not very scary. Regardless, for Purser, who portrays one of Clare's ill-fated friends June Acosta, the experience was valuable. Speaking with The Movie Times, Purser explains how excited she was to work with one of the creative leads of "The Conjuring" franchise, describing her character as" ... a really cool character, she's very laid-back, bit of a tomboy, kinda just wants to live her life very relaxed."

Riverdale gave Purser one of her biggest roles yet

Not long after making a splash with "Stranger Things," Shannon Purser joined the cast of another team of teens for the hit CW show, "Riverdale" (which has moments that go too far). Based on the long-running Archie Comics, "Riverdale" reimagines the franchise as a supernatural horror where its characters get mixed up in a series of twisted mysteries. 

You probably don't need us to tell you how popular "Riverdale" has become since airing in 2017. The series would see Purser take on the role of Ethel Muggs, one of the students of Riverdale High School. Ethel is mostly mild-mannered and quiet, but we later learn that she has a more devious side, as seen in her interactions with Veronica (Camila Mendes). Purser has appeared in every season of the hit horror drama except for the fifth. And while she hadn't read an Archie comic before being brought onto the show, she soon came to admire the realistic hardships portrayed in "Riverdale." 

Talking to Teen Vogue, Purser says, "They're all teenagers, you know? They're living their lives and doing normal teen things, but they're also dealing with really intense stuff. Ethel especially, I think she could easily come off as sort of one-dimensional, but she's not ... I think Ethel is really just trying to prove herself as a person."

Rise allowed Purser to show off her singing chops

As if Shannon Purser wasn't talented enough, "Rise" helped the actress unleash her phenomenal singing chops. Inspired by the 2013 Michael Sokolove book "Drama High," the musical drama tells the true story of the drama department at Harry S. Truman High School and the school's determined teacher Lou Volpe who is renamed Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor) in the show. Despite its sweet message and cast of such talents as Marley Shelton, Rosie Perez, and Auliʻi Cravalho, "Rise" didn't do much for critics and audiences. Many reviewers found the show far less compelling than its inspiring backstory, with some even criticizing "Rise" for straightwashing its main character as the real Lou Volpe is a gay man. The series didn't last long, with only one season consisting of ten episodes being made. 

Short-lived or not, "Rise" was an excellent opportunity for Purser to show off her singing capabilities. Purser, who portrays Annabelle Bowman on the show, tells TVLine, "I like to think of it as kind of like a 'Friday Night Lights' with music ... I'm so excited about it, and it's an amazing cast, and I get to sing, which I've been doing since I was a kid." 

Sierra Burgess is a Loser put Purser front and center

2018 was a busy year for Shannon Purser. Along with starring in the aforementioned TV show "Rise,"  Purser also made another feature-length appearance. But rather than being a supporting player, Purser took the lead role in Netflix's "Sierra Burgess is a Loser." In the film, Purser portrays the titular high schooler whose world turns upside down when her crush Jamey (Noah Centineo), accidentally texts her thinking she's Veronica (Kristine Froseth), one of the most popular girls in the school. Sierra and Veronica must then reluctantly work together to ensure that Jamey never learns the truth. 

Purser took on the part excitedly, passionate about what her character's journey could mean for many others. Talking with ET Canada, Purser explains, "I hope that a little girl watching will see my character and be like, 'Oh, I don't have to conform to be beautiful; I'm beautiful the way that I am.'" While her performance has been praised, the film itself received mainly average reviews and criticism for its problematic depiction of catfishing.

Purser got animated for Final Space

After wowing viewers with her acting and singing talents, Shannon Purser revealed that she is equally as skilled behind a microphone when she provided the voice of Shannon Thunder for the sci-fi animated series "Final Space." First airing back in 2018, "Final Space" follows the plucky astronaut Gary (Olan Rogers) as he embarks on adventures with his dynamic crew throughout the depths of outer space. The show lasted for three seasons with 36 episodes, with its cancellation occurring due to the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery in late 2021.

In the series, Purser plays the recurring character of Thunder, a resistance fighter and Tribore's (Rogers) second-in-command. We soon discover that Thunder has deeper feelings for Tribore and even reveals them in the Season 2 episode "The Closer You Get." While Tribore turned down Thunder, it didn't change her place as one of his most important team members.