Emma Barnes is the daughter of Alan and Zoe Barnes and the younger sister of Anne Barnes.
Originally, Emma used to be a relatively nice individual, but an assault from ABB thugs traumatizes her and changed her for the worse. For a long time, she became determined to be strong no matter what, going out of her way to get rid of everything she saw as a weakness. After Taylor is outed as Skitter, Emma is both shocked and terrified. She is later reduced to trying to slander Taylor when investigators contact people who knew Skitter.
While Taylor was her favorite target she also bullied others (including a disabled girl at a photoshoot.)
Emma was the informal leader of "the trio" consisting of herself, Madison Clements and Sophia Hess. She called Sophia her best friend, despite Sophia's survivor philosophy leading her to assault one of her best friends from childhood just so Emma could prove her strength.
Alongside the Trio, she bullied Taylor mercilessly since the first day of high school.
Emma was a tall, curvy redhead, who was pretty enough to do amateur modelling.
During the summer before Emma started Winslow High, she was attacked by members of the Azn Bad Boys and was saved by Shadow Stalker after she fought back. After this traumatic event, she felt the need to purge everything about the old, "weak" her which included her friendship with Taylor Hebert.
Emma then started bullying Taylor and used the psychological weaknesses Taylor had revealed to her when they were friends to hurt her. This bullying continued on for a year and a half before she, Madison, and Sophia started planning something big. After winter break, their plan was revealed to trap Taylor inside a locker full of used feminine products.
Emma made sure that no one tried to help Taylor out of the locker.
The story opens with another act of harassment with Emma holding the door shut on Taylor while her friends doused the girl with juice.
In July Emma returns to Brockton Bay, and at her first day at Arcadia tries to bully Taylor. After everything she went through, including fighting the Slaughterhouse Nine and Coil, Taylor is able to ignore and resist Emma's taunts and instead manages to rile Emma up, to the point where she lashes out with physical violence. In the Principal's office, Emma is forced to contend with a principal who was already in Tattletale's pocket (though she and Taylor were both unaware), and Principal Howell looked through the records and discovered that text messages Regent had forced Sophia to send, which outlined the years of bullying that Taylor had undergone. Howell decided to expel Emma from the Summer classes, and when Emma protested by saying that her dad was a lawyer, Howell simply responded that they would have many conversations. When the Wards led by Dragon and Defiant attacked the school, Emma was in the cafeteria when Dragon revealed Taylor's identity as Skitter. She became shocked upon hearing Taylor's confirmation, and afterwards when Taylor demonstrated her powers by making a centipede crawl on Emma's hand. When over 100 students sided with Taylor and tried to help her flee, Emma stood with her fists clenched muttering under her breath. Taylor couldn't waste effort to find out what she was saying, uncaring.
At some point, Director Tagg interviewed her and tried to persuade her to file charges against Taylor for an incident in which Taylor had punched her.
Emma dies during Gold Morning as a result of refusing to leave her room to evacuate. When Taylor encounters the Barneses at a refugee camp in Brockton Bay, Emma's father and sister look at her accusingly. Later, Taylor visits Sophia in prison and tells her that Emma had died, but Sophia already knew.
- The circumstances of her death have led some readers to speculate that Emma took her own life, but Wildbow says this is not what happened.
|Teachers||Mr. Gladly * • Mrs. Knott * • Mr. Quinlan *|
|Students||Taylor Hebert ‡ • Greg Veder ‡ • Sophia Hess ‡ • Emma Barnes ‡ • Madison Clements ‡ • Charlotte ‡|