Conception and design
Designed by Tetsuya Nomura, Barret was present in Final Fantasy VII from its early development. Initially, the game was to have only three playable characters, with Barret one of those three, along with the protagonist Cloud Strife and the heroine Aerith Gainsborough. During a phone call to project director Yoshinori Kitase, it was suggested that at some point in the game, one of the main characters should die, and after much discussion as to whether it should be Barret or Aerith, the producers chose Aerith, as they felt Barret's death would be "too obvious."
Barret's name is based on the Japanese transliteration of the English word "bullet", and he was developed with the "Gunner" character class in mind. Standing 6 feet 5 inches (197 cm) tall, he is the first black playable character in the series, and has a high and tight haircut and full beard, and an earring in his left ear. His attire consists of a jacket with torn sleeves, dark green pants, boots, a fingerless glove on his left hand, and metal bands surrounding his abdomen and left wrist. His left upper arm is covered by a bowgun; this was later changed by replacing his right hand with a prosthetic gatling gun (called a "Gimmick Arm") which he refers to as his "partner" in-game. He was originally planned to have a medallion around his neck, described as a gift from his deceased wife, but this was later changed to a set of dog tags.
When developing Advent Children, Nomura stated that because of the comparisons between Barret's original design and Mr. T, they decided to take it in a different direction for the film, implementing co-director Takeshi Nozue's suggestion to give him cornrows for his hair, while Nomura designed his face. Artist Yusuke Naora influenced the design as well, developing his attire, which originally consisted of white overalls, before instead having him wear him a down vest. Barret's arm tattoo was changed as well, although it retained the "skull and fire" motif of the original. Other aspects of his design included the loss of the metal bands around his body, a white sleeve extending from the middle of his right forearm to his elbow fastened by straps, a black band on his left forearm surrounded by a pink string and bow, and a fishnet shirt that ends in torn fibers below his waist. The dog tags were altered to a bullet and medallion supported by a chain around his neck, and three rings covered his left hand. His Gimmick Arm was modified into a robotic prosthetic hand, developed by Nomura, with the only guideline being "a huge, over-the-top gun that transforms in a huge, over-the-top way." Nozue stated that these specifics made it difficult to work with, and decided to conceal the hand's transformation sequence into the gun as much as possible. His Advent Children design was also planned to be used for the Final Fantasy VII remake. However, the staff later decided to give every character in the party a new look.
When choosing a voice actor for the film, Nomura was initially unsure of whether to have Masahiro Kobayashi do the role of Barret or another character, Loz. Kobayashi described his performance as treating Barret as "unrefined [...] but also dependable and unique," trying to keep his "upbeat character and good outlook in mind." He tried to give him a booming, confident sounding voice, though at times was instructed to "take it up a notch."