Ross Barton is a fictional character in the Emmerdale franchise. He served as the quaternary antagonist in 2013, the anti-villain in 2014, the protagonist villain in 2015, and the anti-hero turned major protagonist in 2016.
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. Ross realized, however, that Laurel wasn't 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 couldn't 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 twenty 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 wasn't 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 behaviour, Laurel realized she'd left her handbag in the kitchen and returned to get it. 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 she wasn't 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, however 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.
3 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! however this was just an act. Over the next months, Ross tried several times to get revenge on Pete. On September the 25th 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, who didn't know what Ross had been up too, asked Ross too move in. Ross agreed. They went to tell Pete together.