Public Domain Super Heroes

Real Name


First Appearance

Night of the Living Dead (Oct. 1, 1968)

Original Publisher

The Walter Reade Organization

Created by

George A. Romero & John A. Russo


In 1968, Barbara and her brother, Johnny, drove to a cemetery in Pittsburgh to visit their deceased father's grave. During the visit, Johnny often teased Barbara about their childhood, in which Barbara was often subject to cruel scare-jokes. Johnny then kept chanting, "They're coming to get you, Barbara!" and when a strange man was seen walking through the cemetery, he made cruel jokes about how that man was going to come after her, not realizing how right he was.

Annoyed, Barbara was about to walk up to the stranger and apologize for her brother's juvenile behavior, until the stranger attacked her. Johnny rushed to her aid and fought the stranger until he was thrown down on the ground and suffered a fatal blow to the head when the stranger threw it down on a gravestone. Frightened and unable to help her brother, Barbara ran off to the car, being stalked by the stranger. The stranger took a rock and smashed the window open to try and get to Barbara, who desperately released the emergency break and let the car roll off until it crashed into a tree.

Finding a nearby house as her only refuge, Barbara rushed in, pleading for help. While searching the house, she found a corpse on the second floor, its head having been skinned down to the bone. Horrified, Barbara was about to rush out of the house until she saw a truck pull up. A man named Ben rushed in to protect her, killing the other hostile strangers who were approaching and/or inside the house. While Ben worked to barricade the doors and windows, Barbara went into a catatonic state. During that state, she heard what was going on through the radio and learned that the person who attacked her was a cannibal and only one in thousands. She and Ben explained their stories and how they got here, and she tried to convince Ben to take her back to the cemetery and find her brother, but Ben, knowing her brother was dead, refused.

Going into a blinding rage, Barbara attacked Ben, who in turn, had to strike her and incapacitate her to keep her calm. After coming to, and returning to a calm state, Ben went upstairs to search for any other supplies. While waiting for Ben to return, Barbara noticed the door of the cellar open and screamed in fear, alerting Ben, who rushed down and stood to protect Barbara, until he found there were more survivors; Harry Cooper, his wife, Helen, their daughter, Karen, Tom, and his girlfriend, Judy. When the arguing between Ben and Harry started, more and more of the cannibals heard them and started approaching the house. A television was set up where the news broadcast revealed that the bodies of the dead were being reactivated by an unknown force and began feeding on the living. After Ben's plan to refuel his truck with the pump outside resulted in the truck exploding and the deaths of Tom and Judy Rose, Barbara suggested that they leave, knowing the house was not safe to stay in. When zombies started breaking into the house from every window and door, Barbara tried to help Ben keep the front door barricaded, until she saw her brother, now a zombie, breaking the door down. Frozen in fear, she let the zombies drag her away leaving her ultimate fate unknown.


  • Night of the Living Dead entered the public domain because the original theatrical distributor, the Walter Reade Organization, neglected to place a copyright indication on the prints. In 1968, United States copyright law required a proper notice for a work to maintain a copyright. Image Ten displayed such a notice on the title frames of the film beneath the original title, Night of the Flesh Eaters. The distributor removed the statement when it changed the title.
  • Some feminist writers have criticized the film for portraying Barbara, the chief female character, as catatonic and helpless.

See Also