Why did Sean Astin leave Stranger Things? (Was Bob supposed to live?)

Stranger Things - Credit: Netflix
Stranger Things - Credit: Netflix /

Stranger Things season 4 is almost here! Volume 1 is set to premiere on Friday, May 27 with volume 2 making its land on Friday, July 1. As such, fans of the hit Netflix original series are likely in binge mode, rewatching previous season to get ready for this next terrifying adventure.

In this show, death looms around every corner. And, while the majority of the characters have made it through at least physical unscathed, others haven’t been so lucky. On that list is a fan favorite played by Sean Astin, the adorkable Bob.

Joyce’s late boyfriend was a good man with a joyful spirit who wanted to take care of her and her boys the best way he knew how. Yes, he was a bit of a bumble and wasn’t the coolest character, but his heart was big. His death in season 2 hit fans hard. So hard that #JusticeforBob trended for awhile as viewers lamented his loss.

When actors who strike a chord with the audience through their portrayal only last for a few episodes in a season, fans start wondering if they had to leave because of other roles. Perhaps there were filming conflicts or they landed a bigger part elsewhere. Or, maybe their character wasn’t meant to go the long haul with the series.

What was the case for Sean Astin on Stranger Things? Here’s what we know!

Was Bob supposed to survive on Stranger Things?

We actually had Astin for longer than was planned. In an interview with Collider, producer Shawn Levy said the following: “The death of Bob was initially much earlier. In fact, in an early outline, Evil Will kills him in like Episode 3.”

Ultimately, they kept Astin on because of what they call “The Joe Keery Effect,” as in the actor was too likable to let go of. Keery’s Steve Carrington was supposed to die in season 1, but his charisma and screen presence bought the character time and now he continues to be a standout performer in the cast.

Bob’s days, however, were always going to be numbered despite the Duffer brothers taking a shine to Astin’s portrayal of the character.

Levy went on to say, “We wanted to keep him alive longer, and then use his death as Joyce’s engine. The avenging of that would become Joyce’s engine for the finale.”

It also allowed Bob to have a stronger arc in the season that resulted in heroism despite his tragic death. So, while Joyce’s kindhearted boyfriend was never long for this world, the delay in his death gave Sean Astin the opportunity to bring Bob to life in a way that cemented his status as a fan favorite.

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