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I meant what I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just gonna kill ya.
~ Ross to Joe Tate

Ross Barton is one of the central protagonists of the British soap opera Emmerdale. He appeared as a major antagonist in 2013, an anti-hero in 2014, the protagonist villain in 2015 and one of the main protagonists of 2016 and 2018.

First appearing as a car hijacker who victimized established character Laurel Thomas in a incident between them, Ross Barton turned out to be the nephew of Moira Barton, the matriarch of the Barton Family. It was then Ross' story arc featured many of his storylines, including a romantic partnership with policewoman Donna Windsor; an affair with Debbie Dingle during her relationship with his older brother Pete; being revealed as the father of Charity Dingle's baby and Robert Sugden's shooter in two mysterious whodunits; becoming a prime suspect in the murder of his mother Emma Barton, and being the victim of a crucial acid attack amid the Dingles' conflict against Joe Tate.

He was portrayed by Michael Parr.


Ross Barton is a professional criminal and completely estranged towards his family, especially his big brother Pete. He's made a couple of enemies of his own and is shown to be a lady's magnet.



Waiting at the side of the road for Rhona Goskirk to return from a chemist in July 2013, Laurel Thomas was attacked by Ross whilst tending to a crying Leo Goskirk. Dressed in a black hoodie, he demanded Laurel to drive and when she wouldn't, he put his hand over her face and struggled with her. Laurel fought him off and managed to force herself and Leo out of the car and away from him. Ross drove off with Laurel's car leaving them at the side of the road.

Laurel struggled to get over the attack and attempted to discover the identity of her attacker. Shortly afterwards in August, she tracked down Ross to his flat in Maple Grove and brandished a pair of scissors at him, telling him she wanted him to feel as scared as she did when he attacked her. However, Ross realized that Laurel was not going to physically harm him and called her bluff, knocking her to the ground. Realizing Laurel had gone after her attacker and knowing Cain Dingle had dealings with Ross in the past, Marlon Dingle got Cain to help to track them both down. They arrived in time to witness Ross about to attack Laurel for a second time. Cain defused the situation while Marlon took Laurel home.

In October, Cain abandoned an attack on a gang of drug dealers he was supposed to be assisting in and recruited Ross as his replacement. When the job went wrong, Ross burst into Butler's Farm with a gunshot wound to the neck. Covered with blood after being shot, he blackmailed Cain into helping him by threatening to tell Moira Barton about the job whilst she was out of the room. Moira wanted to call an ambulance but Cain and Ross insisted that she could not, otherwise they would both be arrested. Instead, they had Vanessa Woodfield assist to the wound. Cain tried to force Ross to leave at the earliest opportunity but Moira soon realized that Ross was James Barton's boy, and therefore her nephew, whom she had not seen for around 20 years after James and her late husband John Barton fell out. Moira allowed Ross to stay at Butler's Farm until he recovered, leaving Cain feeling uneasy.

Also discovering that Ross had fallen out with his father, Moira chose to contact James for the first time in years in an attempt to patch things up between the pair. When James arrived at Butler's Farm, however, an argument ensued and it became clear that a reunion was not on the cards as Ross insisted he wanted nothing to do with his father. Cain tried to convince Moira to get Ross to leave, but feeling sorry for Ross she wanted him to stay for a couple more days. Cain then informed Moira that Ross was Laurel's carjacker, leading to Moira to also want to get rid of him, but she was forced to reconsider when Vanessa insisted he need a few more days of rest. After visiting Ashley Thomas at the farm to discuss Gabby Thomas's behavior, Laurel realized that she had left her handbag in the kitchen and returned to get a pocketbook. She spotted Ross on Adam's quad bike and shouted for help when she thought he was stealing it. Telling Moira and Adam that Ross was her carjacker, she was devastated when Moira informed her that she already knew and that Ross is her nephew. When the police became involved, Laurel let slip that she had once turned up at his flat and brandished scissors at him. Laurel was arrested and told she would face a trial by jury. Before disappearing from the village, Ross helped Cain out by obtaining money from stealing Declan's car, allowing Moira to keep the farm as they handed the money to Declan.

The next time Ross was seen in the village was following Laurel's trial, where she had been found guilty and fined. Ross arrived at Tall Trees Cottage threatening Laurel for his money, stating he wanted it now. Laurel realized that she was not scared of him anymore and that he would have to wait for his money to be paid back in the way that the courts had agreed. Having nowhere to stay, Moira once again put Ross up, not knowing that Ross was still being harassed by one of the drug dealers from the previous month. The drug dealers eventually caught up with Ross and got their revenge by terrifying Moira and beating up Adam before wrecking Butler's Farm. Despite all of this and later discovering that Ross's father, James, and brothers Pete and stay at Butler's Farm, inviting his family to join him as well.

Ross began to be accepted by the village when he saved Gabby Thomas from being hit by a car when she ran into the road. Bernice Blackstock couldn't think of enough ways to thank Ross and even Laurel had to swallow her pride to at least thank Ross for saving Gabby's life.

Ross has sex with Charity Sharma, as she is intent on making estranged husband Jai Sharma jealous. He is seen on occasions with a woman called Laura Atkinson, and Ross' lodger Debbie Dingle's daughter, Sarah becomes fond of her. Debbie tells Sarah she will probably never see Laura again.


Ross becomes close to Donna Windsor, who he enjoys flirting with and teasing. He realizes she is a dodgy policewoman and he agrees to help her burgle the house of Gary North, a prolific local criminal. However, Pete overhears Donna saying that she is only luring him into this position so she can arrest him, as she is fully aware of his previous crimes. But Donna convinces Ross that she was only saying it to keep things under wraps and they go ahead with the burglary. Later on Gary North attacks Ross' brother, Finn, and nearly kills him. To keep his family safe, Ross agrees to do a dodgy job for Gary. Everything goes terribly wrong and the outcome of the job leads Donna to throw herself of a building while handcuffed to Gary to their deaths. Ross is left devastated as she was the first person he ever truly loved.


Ross and Debbie begin an affair, whilst she is engaged to his brother Pete. They plan to run away a few days before the wedding, but Cain stops them and announces he is the father of Debbie's half-brother, Moses. Debbie panics and breaks up with Ross after Cain adds that Ross made a deal with Charity to keep the paternity of Moses quiet if he broke up Cain and his wife, Moira. Ross tells Finn everything and he manages to get the letter Debbie had addressed to Pete, in which she confesses to the affair and planning to run away with Ross, before Pete can read it. Debbie and Pete still intend to get married.

On the wedding day, Cain ties Ross up and puts him into the back of a van, which he parks at the edge of a cliff. Ross escapes by jumping into water below and is unconscious for a while. When he wakes up, he goes back to the village to witness Cain and Pete putting a lifeless Debbie into the car as a result of a helicopter crash. He goes to the hospital and asks Pete whether Debbie is alive or not, Pete does not respond, worrying Ross. Ross goes back upstairs to see Debbie, but Pete sees him again and attacks him. Security guards throw them out of the hospital, but they continue to fight outside. After Ross punches Pete to the ground, Pete charges at Ross, causing him to hit his head on a stone wall. Pete keeps hitting him and stops when he thinks that he has killed him. Instead of finding help for his dying brother in the hospital they are right outside Pete places Ross into the boot of his car and drives to the woods, where he hides him a ditch and covers his body with leaves.

Three weeks later, Pete and James went to the woods to find the body of Ross, but it was nowhere to been seen. The pair return to inform Chas, Cain and Debbie that the body is gone and that they believe he is still alive. Unbeknownst to anybody, Ross is lying in a hospital bed but in a coma. The next day, Ross wakes up from the coma. The hospital thought that he was named Stephen having found a passport given to him by Cain. Ross tried to get out of talking to the police and left the hospital, returning home. He found Pete and they argued about the events with Ross being angry that Pete had told everyone what he had done and not been reported to the police. He collapsed when he tried to punch Pete and returned to the hospital where his parents and Finn were reunited with him. Ross shocked everyone when he forgave Pete for his actions, but this was just an act. Over the next months, Ross tried several times to get revenge on Pete. On September 25, 2015, Ross made a deal with Andy, Andy would kill Pete and Ross would kill Robert. Later that night, Ross shot Robert and left the village. Ross, upon his return in October, was shocked to find that Robert and Pete were both still alive. The deal was dropped. Debbie did not know what Ross had been up too, so she asked Ross too move in. Ross agreed. They went to tell Pete together.

Debbie, who didn't know what Ross had been up too, asked Ross to move in. Ross agreed. They went to tell Pete together. Later on, that year, after Debbie learnt that Ross shot Robert, she left for her safety of her and her children. Ross rapidly ran after the car but he was too late.

After Pete was released from prison in May 2016, he and Ross put their differences aside and set up a taxi firm with Finn.

In September 2016, Ross was left fuming when he found out James told Moira he loved her and that he'd nearly had sex with her in the back of their cab. A few weeks later, Ross was upset when he learnt his cousin Holly died of a heroin overdose. While helping James and Emma move in to Wylies Farm, he berated James for messing with Emma's feelings and accidentally pushed him down the stairs, breaking his leg as a result. While in hospital, Emma overheard Ross and James arguing about James' feelings for Moira and overcome with jealousy, she kept James hostage in their own home but he later escaped and was pushed off a bridge onto a motorway after a final confrontation with Emma. He succumbed to his injuries and died in hospital as Emma, Pete, Finn, Moira, Adam and Victoria watched on, heartbroken. The next morning, Ross arrived home after spending the night with a girl and was distraught when told of James' death. He lashed out at everyone, namely Cain and Moira, desperate to put the blame on someone. On the day of James' funeral, Ross broke down in Emma's arms, devastated that he never made up with his dad before he died. He resented Adam's role at the funeral, and made a pass at Adam's wife Victoria, leading her to slap him. Ross left town for a while to clear his head.

Pete and Ross had a bet over who could bed a woman first. Kerry, girlfriend of Ross' garage co-worker Dan, was upset over his kissing another woman, and slept with Ross. Kerry got pregnant and had a termination. Dan was furious when the truth came out. Ross warned him off, finally knocking Dan out with one punch when he tried to start a fight.

In January 2017, Ross was shocked when Debbie returned to the village. He was saddened to learn her daughter Sarah's cancer had returned, and asked Debbie to give their relationship another go. Debbie gently declined, telling Ross her daughter comes first. With Moira's help, Ross set up a chop shop at Butlers in order to raise money for Sarah's cancer fund. Some months later, Debbie and Ross had sex, and planned to announce their reconciliation, but changed their minds due to Sarah's continuing problems.

Ross began sleeping with Rebecca, unaware of her feelings for Robert. They broke up after he learned of her one-night stand with Robert. When she revealed she was pregnant, he ruled himself out as the father due to using protection.

In trying to end Finn's obsessive relationship with his boyfriend Kasim, Emma burnt out one of their cabs. Finn went away on holiday to Australia not revealing huge debts to Pete and Ross until some time later.

Ross and Finn found marijuana plants at Wylie's Farm whilst going there to collect Emma's belongings from her brief stay with James, and they decided to start selling the product. However, a feud with Robert and Aaron led to the destruction of the plants as well as their other taxi.

As Finn slowly learned of Emma's role in James' death, Pete and Ross were left in the dark. When they were told of Emma confronting Moira at the farm and Moira being rushed to hospital, they went to see her for answers, only to see Finn, suffering from a gunshot wound, wheeled in. Ross was devastated as he watched Finn die.

When Ross learned Emma had accidentally shot Finn, he went searching for her, and found her in her car. He bundled her into his car and took her to the viaduct. He berated her, yelling at her to go ahead and kill herself. He left and then returned, only to find her dead. He blamed himself, but kept quiet about his involvement.

He and Pete began to believe Adam might have pushed her, and they worked to have him sent down. After Adam went on the run, Moira confessed to them that she was responsible. Ross pushed her against a wall, but the next day, told her he forgave her and wanted to move on.

When Debbie's new boyfriend Joe left her jobless and homeless as part of a revenge scheme against her family, Ross agreed to act as a double agent for her, getting a job as Joe's driver. Debbie was unappreciative of his help, and he began to enjoy the lifestyle of beautiful women at his disposal. He decided to genuinely work for Joe, but Joe had already discovered his duplicity and fired him.

Ross stole one of Joe's cars and drove back home, unaware that Debbie had asked drug dealer Simon to "mess" Joe up. Simon, unable to see clearly at night, doused Ross with acid.

Joe and his associate Graham stumbled upon him screaming in pain while they were tracking the car down, doused him in water, and got him to hospital. A horrified Ross learned he had facial scars which might never heal. Charity brings Moses to visit Ross in hospital. Ross is overjoyed to see his son but his joy soon turns to devastation when Ross realises Moses is scared of the way he looks. He orders someone to get Moses out of the room then orders everyone else out too. Later, Pete visits him and shows him a picture of Moses and he cries after Pete leaves. A few days later Ross goes to see Moses at the playground but when Moses spots Ross, he gets scared and Ross retreats into the church. Ross states he sees his injuries - he doesn't recognise himself anymore. Cain questions how Moses is meant to recognise him then. Debbie and Cain play with Moses in the playground when Ross approaches. Ross takes over pushing Moses on the swing, and in terms, the youngster will understand, he explains to Moses that he's still his daddy despite his different appearance.

The scarring left Ross feeling very self-conscious and after being discharged from hospital, he spent all of his time in Dale View, refusing to leave. Pete tried to convince him to go out on multiple occasions, but Ross refused, not wanting people to gawp at him. However, after Pete snaps and tells him that James and Finn can't go to a cafe now, Ross reluctantly agrees to go to the cafe with Pete. As he got to the cafe, everyone tried to act normal around him, but Ross ends up snapping at Brenda when she tells him his food is on the house. He yells at everyone, calling Rhona Pete's tart before storming out.

He later pursues a relationship with Rebecca White, bonding over both their traumatic experiences. He helps her remember things and getting her head sorted after her brain damage while she helps him with is views on his appearance.

On November 2, 2018, Ross Barton leaves the village with Rebecca White and her son Sebastian White to move to Liverpool. The pair decided to leave Emmerdale for a fresh start after Ross was offered a job in Liverpool. Ross originally planned to bring Moses with him, but Charity stopped him from doing so after Ryan told her about Ross' cocaine use that had led to him collapsing in front of Moses leaving his son to wander off alone. Ross begged Charity not to cut him out of his son's life and Charity took pity on him, agreeing to let him have contact with Moses whenever he pleased as long as he dropped the custody battle idea and sorted his life out. Ross agreed to leave Moses in Emmerdale on the basis that he would still get regular access.