The Flintstones is one of the most popular animated series of all time. Here’s all you need to know about these famous cartoon characters.
How it all began
American producers Hanna-Barbera created The Flintstones for ABC Television. First broadcast between September 1960 and April 1966, it took influences from the sitcom The Honeymooners. It was originally named The Gladstones and The Flagstones, before the producers’ settled on The Flintstones.
Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
166 episodes were created, and although the series was aimed at adult audiences, it soon grew in popularity with younger viewers.
Despite being met with initial criticism, the show proved to be a hit and broke new ground, influencing many other programmes that followed. Not only was it the first animated series for primetime TV, it was the first to show standalone episodes for a full half-hour. It was also the first American animated programme to show a couple sleeping in the same bed. Prior to The Simpsons, The Flintstones was the longest-running primetime TV cartoon show, and it’s been ranked as the second Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time.
The Flintstones is set in the Stone Age era, although many of the issues that the characters face are a little more contemporary. The setting takes place in the fictional town of Bedrock, although this was known as Rockville in early episodes.
Each episode focuses on the comical trials and tribulations of the Flintstone family and their neighbours, the Rubbles.
Fred Flintstone is the lead character and head of the Flintstone family. Famed for his frequent saying ‘Yabba Dabba Doo’, he’s a quick-tempered and accident-prone chap who works at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company, and has a penchant for bowling. Fred has a wife, Wilma, who’s more sensible and intelligent than him, although she’s easily parted with her cash. Further on in the series, Fred and Wilma welcome baby Pebbles into the world. The family own a pet dinosaur, Dino, who barks like a dog and frequently changes colour, as well as a sabre-toothed cat named Baby Puss.
Next door to the Flintstone family live the Rubbles. Head of the household is Barney Rubble, who’s also Fred’s best chum and fellow quarry worker. Fred and Barney share similar interests in sport and are often quick to quarrel with each other. Barney’s wife, Betty, is also Wilma’s best friend, and like Wilma, she enjoys a spending spree. During later episodes of the show, they adopt a son called Bamm-Bamm. The Rubbles have a pet that’s part dinosaur and part kangaroo, called Hoppy.
Other occasional characters include Fred and Barney’s fiery-tempered boss, Mr Slate, the Flintstone’s paperboy, Arnold, Wilma’s disapproving mother, Pearl Slaghoople, an alien called The Great Gazoo, and Fred and Barney’s pal, Joe Rockhead.
As a classic cartoon hit, The Flintstones has produced many standout scenes.
In particular, in the first episode to air, The Flintstone Flyer, Fred and Barney’s antics are revealed. They dodge an opera visit with their wives by making use of a hand-cranked helicopter that gets them to their preferred destination of choice – the bowling alley!
Other notable scenes include the episode Bachelor Daze, where Fred meets his mother-in-law for the first time – which doesn’t go at all well! Things take a turn for the worse in the Mother-in-Law’s Visit episode when Pearl discovers Fred fleeced her out of some money to buy a cot for Pebbles. In an episode named The Surprise, Wilma announces her pregnancy to Fred, with the birth of Pebbles featuring in the Dress Rehearsal episode. The adoption of Bamm-Bamm airs in the notable Little Bamm-Bamm Rubble episode.
Memorable episodes are accompanied by an opening and closing theme tune that’s as catchy today as it was when The Flintstones first aired. Although the first two seasons theme was called Rise and Shine, it was the more recognisable tune introduced from season three, Meet The Flintstones, that most fans of the show recall.
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