Scream 6: How does Kirby return, and is she the killer?

kirby scream 6Paramount Pictures

Scream fans are super excited to see Kirby back in the franchise – but how does she return in Scream 6, and is she the killer?

Scream 6 is the newest addition to the Scream film series, and it’s certainly a fun entry. With new leads, locations, and – of course – a new Ghostface, it’s set to be one of the best films in the franchise.

And while this time there’s no Dewey or Sidney, there is another familiar face that helps keep the legacy of the franchise: Kirby Reed. Despite only appearing in Scream 4, Kirby is considered to be one of the best characters in the franchise, so fans were extremely excited for her return.

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But how does Kirby return, and does she come back as a friend, or a foe? We’ll explain all, but first, warning: spoilers for Scream 4, 5, and 6!

Who is Kirby Reed?

Kirby, played by Hayden Panettiere, first appeared in 2011’s Scream 4, as the best friend of Jill, aka the film’s Ghostface. She quickly became a fan-favorite character, due to her snarky attitude and wide knowledge of the horror genre.

Generally the best friend of the lead doesn’t manage to survive in the Scream films, but thankfully Jill wasn’t actually the lead we expected her to be – and as much as Jill wanted to be. Therefore, Kirby’s death by Ghostface was ultimately left ambiguous.

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See, she gets caught into a trap by Ghostface, quizzed on horror trivia, and then gets betrayed by her friend Charlie, who reveals himself as one of the Ghostfaces. He stabs her in the gut, and we see her bleeding out. However, we don’t actually see her die.

But we also don’t see her recover, and many assumed that she was dead, since she didn’t appear in Scream 5… or did she?

We actually see Kirby get referenced in a brief moment when one character is watching YouTube videos, as an interview with Kirby can be spotted in the suggested section next to it.

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And thus we now arrive at Scream 6. In this film, Kirby actually admits that she did die in Scream 4… for four minutes. Then she was revived and ultimately lived to fight another day – but this reveal isn’t all she does in the new Scream flick.

How does Kirby appear in Scream 6?

Kirby appears as a pivotal role in Scream 6, as she is an FBI agent that assigns herself to the new bout of Ghostface murderers.

New leads Samantha and Tara meet Kirby – with some nostalgic music playing when the old face first appears -at the police station after a Ghostface attack. Sam and Kirby actually know each other, since Sam was a freshman at Woodsboro high while Kirby was a senior.

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Kirby also reconnects with Gale, which lead to many funny moments, as the two lord the power of their respective jobs and investigative abilities over the other. Gale also continually refers to Kirby as a child, despite her now being in her 30s.

Kirby spends most of the film helping our leads try to catch Ghostface, when she’s not battling horror movie trivia with Mindy. She helps by tracking his phone calls, tracing the pattern of the murders, and attempting to lay out a trap for the killer.

Dexerto was actually able to speak to the creators of the film, Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin – who are both also know for 2019’s Ready or Not.

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When we asked them about how Kirby’s return came to be, they said: “Yeah, we loved Kirby in Scream 4, you know in a franchise that is, I mean all the movies are ensembles, to have a character that sticks out the way Kirby does, and Hayden [Panettiere] is just an otherworldly talent.

“We wanted to bring her back for [Scream] 5, but as we sort of got into the prep of that movie, it felt like the only way to bring her back was gonna be in a small cameo, and it didn’t make sense for us.

“We felt like, Kirby is such a beloved character for us, and of course for the fans as well, that it felt like, we should wait and do her justice in 6 and actually bring her back in a way that felt like a more fully formed idea, and like there would be real consequences and a real arc for her. And so we planted that little easter egg in 5, knowing that in 6 she would definitely have a bigger role to play.”

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Is Kirby the killer in Scream 6?

No, Kirby is not the killer, though for a moment you really believe she is.

See, when the new lead cast are setting a trap for our favorite slasher villain, they shut themselves in a building to which only Kirby has the key. Kirby is also the only one with a weapon. Sam then gets a call from Detective Bailey, a police chief that had also been helping them with the case. He had secretly been investigating Kirby, and in a panic he reveals to Sam that Kirby had actually been fired from the FBI 2 months prior after having a severe psychological break.

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Throughout the film it had been hinted that a previous victim of Ghostface could have snapped from the trauma and become a killer themselves. And in this moment, it seems like Kirby has done just that.

Kirby, Bailey, Tara, and Sam all proceed to have a standoff, with Kirby proclaiming her innocence. Then, the true killer gets revealed in that moment, which we won’t actually spoil here. But if you’re wanting to know, read all about it here.

Kirby also manages to survive the film, despite taking multiple bullets and stabs, which means we could very well get to see her again in any future Scream instalments. There is a part of you that may wonder if she’s set to take on the role that Neve Campbell aka Sidney Prescott did in Scream 5, as a legacy survivor, but hey, that’s for future films to confirm.

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Scream 6 is now playing in cinemas. Check out the rest of our coverage of the film here.