Prior to the Arklay Mountains incident in the original Resident Evil, little is known about Barry Burton. From the game's instruction manual and the occasional in-game plot point, it's stated that Barry is the most experienced member of the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team as he had served in both the SWAT and the U.S. Air Force. It was here where he first met Chris Redfield, and the two became close friends. Through Chris, Barry discovered the Special Tactics and Rescue Service, S.T.A.R.S., and became a member of the Alpha team several years prior to their mission in Spencer Mansion.
Barry is a family man, and is shown in his epilogue via Resident Evil 3: Nemesis that he has a wife and two daughters, one of whom is formally introduced in Resident Evil: Revelations 2 as Moira Burton.
During Chris Redfield's storyline, Barry goes missing after the opening cutscene and is not seen again; he is thusly presumed dead until he is mentioned in Resident Evil 2. As such, this version of Barry's story was deemed non-canon and the Jill Valentine scenario was figured to be the main canon until Code Veronica X. It's now been established that the official take is made up of multiple factors from both Chris and Jill's story, including the survival of both Barry Burton and Chris' story side-kick equivalent, Rebecca Chambers.
Throughout the original game and Deadly Silence, Barry often appears out of the blue to save Jill from several traps, including the infamous 'You were almost a Jill Sandwich!' ceiling trap, and help her on her way through the mansion. However, he is not as helpful as he first seems as he is being blackmailed by S.T.A.R.S. captain and Umbrella spy Albert Wesker, so as to erase any information implicating Wesker to be a traitor.
It is implied that Barry was made aware of the traps of the mansion. After Jill heads to investigate the right side of the mansion's ground floor, she inadvertently sets off the ceiling trap. However Barry soon conveniently arrives despite stating he was going to investigate the dining room; this implies that he may have known what Jill was stumbling into, then suffered a crisis of conscience and opted to save her.
Bravo Team Captain Enrico Marini, however, wasn't as lucky and is killed by Wesker thanks to Barry helping track him down under the guise of assisting Jill in the catacombs. Unlike Jill, Barry (and also Chris) were disliked by Enrico as he feared they would usurp him and take over his position as Bravo team leader, which may explain why he wasn't as opposed to inadvertently leading to his death. Though by the end of the game, Barry ultimately regains his morals and escapes the Mansion with Jill, Chris, Rebecca and Brad Vickers.
In the remake, Barry's change of heart is seen during the confrontation between him, Jill and the mutated form of Lisa Trevor. Here, he pulls his custom Samurai Edge Magnum on Jill and intends to kill her. Instead, he hesitates giving Jill enough time to restrain and disarm him. If the player chooses to give Barry his weapon back, he remains faithful for the rest of the game. If not, he gets knocked off the platform by Lisa Trevor and dies; a note describing his manipulation by Wesker and the guilt he's suffering is dropped as well for players to read.
In Barry's Resident Evil 3 Epilogue that also details the guilt he suffered due to his betrayal of his comrades, and that he must temporarily place his family in hiding while he goes on to help investigate the Umbrella Corp.
While Barry canonically survives the Mansion Incident, Barry can also die across both the original and the remake. There is first the aforementioned death concerning Lisa Trevor, where if players don't return to him his magnum he will be killed. Though even if he is given his gun he can still die should Lisa knock him off into the chasm below during the battle. Another is during the very end against the T-102 Tyrant on the helipad; if Barry is still alive, he will then assist as a friendly NPC against the monster. Though he is just as vulnerable as the player and can be killed by it; he must also reload his magnum when necessary, though he has infinite ammo.
Those two deaths can only be triggered in the remake, however. In the original he will be killed should players not wait for him to return with a sling of rope, once the player goes to investigate a hole in the ground. If players continue further into the underground passage without waiting for Barry, this triggers the event where he won't return at the very end to save Jill from Wesker. He will then be found dead soon after, from what was likely attacks from the Chimera creatures that are roaming throughout the laboratory.
Following Resident Evil, Barry Burton has not had any substantial appearances in any of the canonical sequels. In Resident Evil 2 there is a passing mention of him and Rebecca surviving the outbreak, and in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis Barry has a cameo appearance in one of the endings as the pilot in the helicopter that rescues Jill and Carlos, just before the destruction of Raccoon City.
In 2001, Capcom released a Resident Evil spin-off, titled Resident Evil: Gaiden, on the Game Boy Color that starred Barry as the protagonist, who has been sent to rescue Leon S. Kennedy from the STARLIGHT cruise ship which has been overrun by zombies and Umbrella's all new B.O.W. However, the game has been confirmed as non-canon and also features storyline elements which go against the main canon such as Leon potentially being a clone.
Barry also makes the occasional cameo in some of Resident Evil's unlockable minigames. He is featured as a playable character in Resident Evil Deadly Silence as apart of the multiplayer portion and is playable as apart of the Mercenaries Reunion mode for Resident Evil 5. He has a set of tongue in cheek melee attacks, and when performing certain actions will yell out some of his classic quotes such as ''I-Have-THIS!'' and ''What-IS-this?!?'', complete with the same awkward speech inflections and delivery.
Barry continued his non-canon spout as a Resident Evil Mercenary with the following playable appearance in the 3DS title, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, however he will no longer ad-lib any of his classic quotes mid-game.
Barry was always seen to be equipped with a 44. Magnum Colt Python Revolver, that is just as synonymous with the character as is the infamously bad voice performances behind him and his manly man's lumberjack appearance. It was notorious for being one of the most powerful weapons in the original Resident Evil, and although a copy could be found, Barry's own was never attainable.
The Resident Evil remake, however, actually had Barry's hand-cannon available for use, but only during Jill's story, and only if Jill refused to give Barry his gun back during the Lisa Trevor boss battle. It had the same power and ammo count as the regular 44. magnum, but was found to be a slightly different model that couldn't use the magnum ammo players would find in the game.
Weirdly enough during both versions of the original Resident Evil, when Barry is forced to down the first zombie in the dining room, the zombie is able to withstand three shots from Barry's magnum and, should Jill have ran away from the zombie instead of trying to kill it herself initially in the hallway where she first encountered it, will in fact get up and head back in the hallway from whence it came. It was more than likely intended to insert fear in the player, by way of showing how much punishment the zombies can take. However once the player comes upon their own magnum, every standard enemy, including zombies, can be killed with a single shot.
During his non-canon mercenary appearances, Barry couldn't actively use his original magnum, but would pull it out for some of his context-sensitive melee attacks -- such as using it to smash a majini's head open, or to execute one while they were downed.
Barry Burton is arguably most recognized for a multitude of silly and inappropriate lines of dialogue, courtesy of a pretty rough translation from the Japanese version. Combined with the hammy voice acting, many of Barry's lines have even reached the status of a lesser-meme and have been parodied and acknowledged in other games -- including some of Capcom's.
''I hope this isn't Chris' blood...''
Heard early on as Barry locates a small pool of blood (after Jill bluntly asks what it is) and laments that it isn't Chris Redfield's blood.
''You were almost a Jill Sandwich!''
Heard just after Barry saves Jill from the ceiling trap after she takes the shotgun. The line itself sounds an awful lot like Barry is in fact saying something closer to ''You were almost a gerbil sandwich''. This notorious piece of dialogue would later be referenced in the original Dead Rising release with a sandwich shop called ''Jill's Sandwiches''. In the Resident Evil remake, the line is altered to ''You would have fit nicely into a sandwich''.
''It might be handy if you, the Master of Unlocking™, take it with you.''
Heard as Barry hands Jill Valentine a lockpick, whilst complimenting her skills in ''unlocking''.
''It's a weapon, it's REALLY powerful, especially against living things!''
Heard as Barry hands Jill a stack of acid rounds. Is notable for the particular inaccuracy that it isn't a weapon exactly, but is ammunition for one: The Bazooka. The ''especially against living things!'' part should also be singled out for Barry's stating of the obvious, and against the fact that players only encounter undead creatures.
During the same scene after Barry hands Jill a stack of acid rounds, Barry compliments his Custom Magnum when asked by Jill how Barry will handle the horrors of the Spencer Mansion.
The emphasis on ''THIS'' and Barry's own particular love for his gun could lead for one to believe he is over-compensating for the size of his penis. Coincidentally in the original Resident Evil for the PS1 and its ports, the Colt Magnum models in the game are Anaconda models - an occasional euphemism for penis.
''There must be a backdoor somewhere; let's try to find it first shall we.''
Barry Burton awkwardly suggesting they [Barry and Jill] try and find an escape route from the Spencer Mansion first before they attempt to explore further. The it referring to the ''backdoor''.
''It's Forest! Oh my cod!''
Barry as he finds the bloodied corpse of Forest Speyer and expresses his surprise with a mispronounced ''Oh my god!''. This scene can only be encountered if Jill should trade a broken shotgun item for the working one during the ceiling trap, essentially trading in one ridiculous quote for another.
Multiple remarks of ''What is This/It/That?''
Barry has a strange consistency of asking what everything is during Resident Evil.