The Flintstones is an American animated sitcom produced by Hanna-Barbera for ABC.
The series takes place in a romanticized Stone Age setting, depicts the lives of the titular characters and their next-door neighbors and best friends. It was originally broadcast from September 30, 1960, to April 1, 1966, in a prime time schedule, the first such instance for an animated series.
The continuing popularity of The Flintstones rested heavily on its juxtaposition of modern everyday concerns in the Stone Age setting.
The Flintstones was the most financially successful network animated franchise for three decades, until The Simpsonsdebuted decades later.
In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Flintstones the second Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time (after The Simpsons).
- Fred Flintstone is the main character of the series. Fred is an accident-prone bronto-crane operator at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company and the head of the Flintstone household. He is quick to anger (usually over trivial matters), but is a very loving husband and father. He is also good at bowling and is a member of the fictional "Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes" (Lodge No. 26), a men-only club paralleling real-life fraternities such as the Loyal Order of Moose. His famous catchphrase is "Yabba Dabba Doo!"
- Wilma Flintstone is Fred's wife. She is more intelligent and level-headed than her husband, though she often has a habit of spending money (with Betty and her catchphrase being "Da-da-da duh da-da CHARGE IT!!"). She often is a foil to Fred's poor behavior.
- Pebbles Flintstone is the Flintstones' infant daughter, who is born near the end of the third season.
- Dino, is the Flintstones' pet dinosaur that acts like a dog. A running gag in the series involves Fred coming home from work and Dino getting excited and knocking him down and licking his face repeatedly.
- Baby Puss is the Flintstones' pet saber-toothed cat, which is rarely seen in the actual series, but is always seen throwing Fred out of the house during the end credits, causing Fred to pound repeatedly on the front door and yell "Wilma!", waking the whole neighborhood in the process.
- Barney Rubble is the secondary main character and Fred's best friend and next-door neighbor. His occupation is, for the most part of the series, unknown, though later series depict him working in the same quarry as Fred. He shares many of Fred's interests such as bowling and golf, and is also a member of the "Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes". Though Fred and Barney frequently get into feuds with one another (usually due to Fred's short temper), their deep fraternal bond remains evident.
- Betty Rubble is Barney's wife and Wilma's best friend. Like Wilma, she, too, is slightly more intelligent than her husband and has a habit of spending money.
- Bamm-Bamm Rubble is the Rubbles' preternaturally strong adopted son, whom they adopt during the fourth season; his name comes from the only phrase he ever speaks as a baby: "Bamm, Bamm!"
- Hoppy is the Rubbles' pet hopparoo (a kangaroo/dinosaur combination creature), which they purchase in the beginning of the fifth season. When he first arrives, Dino and Fred mistake him for a giant mouse and are frightened of him, but they eventually become best friends after Hoppy gets help when their owners are in an accident. He babysits the kids as he takes them around in his pouch, which also serves as a shopping cart for Betty.
Over 100 other characters appeared throughout the program.
- Mr. Slate is Fred's hot-tempered boss at the gravel pit. Mr. Slate fires Fred on several occasions throughout the series, only to give him his job back by the end of the episode. A running gag is Slate's ever-changing first name, which was revealed to be Sylvester, Nate, Oscar, and George as the series progressed. In the episode "The Long, Long Weekend" which originally aired on January 21, 1966, he is shown as being the founder of "Slate Rock and Gravel Company"; still in business two million years later, the company is operated by his descendant, "George Slate the Eighty-Thousandth". Note, in the early Flintstones episodes, the more recognized "Mr. Slate" character was known as "Mr. Rockhead" and was a supervisor of Fred's. Mr. Slate was a short character. During the course of the cartoon, the two men switched identities and the shorter character faded away from existence.
- Arnold is the Flintstones' paper boy, whom Fred absolutely despises, mainly because Arnold is frequently able to best and outsmart Fred at a number of tasks and also because he often ("unintentionally") throws the newspaper in Fred's face.
- Joe Rockhead is a mutual friend of Fred and Barney. Usually, when Fred and Barney have some kind of falling out, Fred mentions doing something (such as going to a baseball game) with Joe. Joe was, at some point, chief of the Bedrock Volunteer Fire Department (as shown on the episode "Arthur Quarry's Dance Class", which originally aired on January 13, 1961). His appearance varied throughout the run of the series, but his appearance in the episode "The Picnic", which originally aired on December 15, 1961, was the one most commonly used.
- Pearl Slaghoople is Wilma's hard-to-please mother, who is constantly disapproving of Fred and his behavior. Their disastrous first meeting was recounted in the episode "Bachelor Daze", which originally aired on March 5, 1964. They briefly reconciled in the episode "Mother-in-Law's Visit", which originally aired on February 1, 1963. That is, until, she found out that she became Fred's "nice fat pigeon" when he suckered her out of money that he needed to buy a baby crib for Pebbles. They reconciled again at the end of the TV movie I Yabba Dabba Do.
- The Great Gazoo is an alien exiled to Earth that helps Fred and Barney, often against their will. He is actually from the future, and is quite dismayed when he realizes he has been sent back to "the Stone Age". He can only be seen by Fred, Barney, Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm, other small children, Dino, and Hoppy. Gazoo appeared in the final season only.
- Uncle Tex Hardrock is Fred's maternal uncle and a member of the Texarock Rangers. He constantly holds Fred's future inheritance over his head.
- Sam Slagheap is the Grand Poobah of the Water Buffalo Lodge.
The opening and closing credits theme during the first two seasons was called "Rise and Shine", a lively instrumental underscore accompanying Fred on his drive home from work. The tune resembled "The Bugs Bunny Overture (This Is It!)", the theme song of The Bugs Bunny Show, also airing on ABC at the time, and may have been the reason the theme was changed in the third season.
Starting in season 3, episode 3 ("Barney the Invisible"), the opening and closing credits theme was the familiar vocal "Meet the Flintstones". This version was recorded with a 22-piece jazz band, and a five-voice singing group called the Skip Jacks.
The "Meet the Flintstones" opening was later added to the first two seasons for syndication.
The night after The Flintstones premiered, Variety called it "A pen and ink disaster", and as late as the 1980s, highbrow critics derided the show's limited animation and derivative plots.
Despite the mixed critical reviews at first, The Flintstones has generally been considered a television classic and was rerun continuously for five decades after its end. In 1961,
In January 2009, IGN named The Flintstones as the ninth-best in its "Top 100 Animated TV Shows".