- “Okay, Fred.”
- ―Barney Rubble
Barney's personality was based on that of Ed Norton on the 1950s television series The Honeymooners, played by Art Carney. Like Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners, Fred was constantly on the lookout for get-rich-quick schemes, while Barney, like Norton, found life satisfactory as it was, but participated in said schemes because Fred was his friend. Usually, after Fred had hatched one of his plans, Barney showed his agreement by laughing and saying, "uh hee hee hee... Ok, Fred." or "hee hee hee... whatever you say, Fred."
Barney is more jovial, easy-going and good-natured than Fred is, though he often plays funny little insult jokes on his best friend. He’s very caring and devoted to his wife Betty as he never wanted to be romantically involved with another woman. Barney is childlike, respectful, noble, encouraging, judicious, responsible, understanding, big-hearted, benevolent, and extroverted. Also, he’s a loving father to his adopted son, Bamm-Bamm.
Although Fred and Barney are best pals, Barney loses his patience with Fred occasionally. The best example comes in I Yabba-Dabba Do! after losing his patience with Fred for ruining Pebbles's and Bamm-Bamm's wedding, Barney decides to leave Bedrock. He changes his mind after Fred owes him an apology. Fred is often aggravated by Barney's inveterate cheerfulness, but he does truly care for him.
Barney is not as emotional as the other characters including Fred, and rarely cries. He cries, however, after saying, "I hate to see a grown man cry," or "Oh gee, if there's one thing I can't stand is to see a grown man cry."
Barney is a short and diminutive caveman with fair skin, tan beard stubbles, yellow hair, thick black eyebrows and eyes that are depicted as two ovals or (occasionally) circles and shown only as dark circular outlines in the first through fifth seasons and later with black, very similar to Wilma's eyes in the sixth and final season of the original series. He also wears a brown loincloth with a black letter X-shaped shoelace on the top.
Occupations and Interests
Barney's interests included bowling, playing pool, poker, tinkering around in Fred's garage and playing golf (though there were episodes where Barney did not know how to play golf). He, like Fred, was also a member of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes and its predecessor in earlier episodes, the Loyal Order of Dinosaurs. He is also a talented pianist and drummer. In the first episode of the original series he was an inventor of a hand-powered helicopter called the Flintstone Flyer.
While the subject of Barney's occupation (or even if he had one) was never given during the original series (only implied at best), subsequent spin-offs suggest Barney went to work at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company alongside Fred at some point after the original series; possibly in some office role. An episode of the original series does have a brief scene of Barney working at the Granite Building and one episode depicting him as a furniture reposessor after Fred got him fired from his first job, although after this episode, the nature of his job became ambiguous once again later on. The first instance of Barney working alongside Fred at Slate's company was in the 70s primetime specials and The New Fred and Barney Show. Barney would continue working there for most subsequent media, and in The Flintstone Comedy Show, Barney along with Fred would briefly join the Bedrock Police force as part-time officers late in Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm's teen years while still working at the quarry. By the time of I Yabba-Dabba Do!, Barney and Fred are seemingly no longer working part-time as police officers, with Fred once again working full time at the quarry, however Barney is back to working at his unidentified job which Fred picks him up from.
When speaking to an upper-crust snob in another episode, Betty declares Barney is in "top-secret" work; but that might have been a cover for a low-level job or unemployment, or perhaps an in-joke meaning that Barney's job was unknown even to the show's writers. It could also be possible that both Fred and Barney work at the quarry, but may work in different sections of it, under different bosses.
In one episode, Barney's boss tells him to "put down his broom," which implies some sort of janitorial works is involved. But in the majority of depictions after the original show's run including the highly successful 1994 film, Barney has been portrayed as working in the quarry as a dino-crane operator, alongside Fred, and its become somewhat cemented with the character. Notably in the the 1990s, Cartoon Network featured a musical remix of The Flintstones theme for their Groovies segment which included trivia about the show, with one bit of trivia claiming that Barney was "frequently unemployed". If this was the case, it would explain Barney's constant change in occupation and the obscure nature of his jobs.
Not much of Barney's life growing up is known, and while the mid-1980s spin-off series The Flintstone Kids depicts Barney as a child, the series seems to be mostly apocryphal. What is known is that Barney has known Fred since infancy, with them even being taken on strolls together as babies and even being on the same sports teams together back in their high school days, all the while getting into all sorts of shenanigans even back then as reveled in "Feudin' and Fussin'".
Barney and Fred would first meet their future wives Betty and Wilma in their teenage years at the Honeyrock Hotel sixteen years prior to the episode "Bachelor Daze" (although "Fred Strikes Out" implies they may have met before then, possibly having lost track of each other after childhood or simply the result of a retcon). There Barney and Fred had just started working as bellboys. One day they were goofing off and pretending to be millionaires in a fancy car they were watching when they first met Betty and Wilma (who also worked at the hotel as maids) who were also goofing off and pretending to be rich girls while hanging out in a fancy car that wasn't theirs.
It was essentially love at first sight for the youths, but both parties were too afraid to pursue their relationships further out of fear that they would be exposed as lowly hotel workers. In the end though, the truth was revealed at the hotel party that night and both parties were greatly relieved to find out they weren't rich, and after being fired for goofing off, they were picked up and taken home by Wilma's mother Pearl Slaghoople who was less than pleased with her daughter's new boyfriend, Fred.
It is unknown when Barney would formally propose to Betty, but it would presumably be sometime after Fred proposed to Wilma six and a half years after their first meeting (although how many years they've been married exactly always varies between episodes and media). Barney and Betty also presumably moved to Bedrock with Fred and Wilma sometime after their weddings, with Barney moving into the house next door to Fred's. Several episodes and spin-offs suggest that Barney, along with Fred, spent some time in the army early in their marriages, though said references may be to Barney and Fred's military service in the episode "The Astra' Nuts" which was very short lived and ended with them being unsuccessfully launched to the moon.
After their marriages, Barney got a job somewhere in Bedrock, although the details concerning it were always a bit obscured, while Fred got a job at Slate Rock and Gravel Company, although Barney briefly had some involvement at Fred's workplace. With their new home and jobs in place, the duo would spend most of their lives going through many shenanigans and trials, most of which involved Barney serving as Fred's lackey in many of his get-rich-quick schemes.
The most eventful day of Barney and Betty's lives after marriage would come shortly after the birth of Fred and Wilma's first daughter Pebbles Flintstone. After her birth, Barney and Betty were made the newborn's godparents and the two would spend every night with her, an activity they cherished dearly due to Barney and Betty's difficulty in having children of their own. However, one night a disgruntled Fred lost his temper and told the couple to leave his daughter be after Pebbles' first words turned out to be something Barney taught her rather than what Fred had been teaching her. This greatly upset the Rubbles who ran off to their home, deeply saddened and heartbroken. Fred naturally realized he had overreacted and quickly went to apologize, but the Rubbles' held no ill will, realizing that they had been spending too much time with Pebbles to make up for their lack of a child and had been relying too much on Pebbles to fill that need.
That night both Barney and Betty saw a wondrous shooting star over their house and both wished with all their heart on it, with their only desire being to be blessed with a child of their own. The next morning, Barney walked out to fetch the paper when he saw, much to his amazement and delight, an orphaned baby on his doorstep.
With all haste, Barney took the child to Betty and read the note that accompanied it, which simply said that the child's name was "Bamm-Bamm" and that he needed a good home. The couple were ecstatic at the prospect of finally having a child of their own and Barney could only thank his wishing star for this miraculous opportunity. Although Barney and Betty would have some legal problems at first during the official adoption process, they eventually won out in the end and finally had their first true child, Bamm-Bamm Rubble who they would lovingly raise from then on.
Barney's life from there continued to be a hectic one with many more shenanigans alongside Fred while also knowing the joys of fatherhood. Barney would also get to go on even more fantastic adventures with Fred after meeting the mysterious alien known as The Great Gazoo, and although their time together was short, it would prove to be a very troubling but exciting time.
From then on Barney and Fred would still be inseparable as the years rolled by, with Barney even going to work in the same occupation as Fred, and they watched their children grow up to become teenagers and a lovely couple, who would fittingly enough become much like their parents, with Pebbles often acting as the scheming and adventurous planner while Bamm-Bamm would act as the unwilling but loyal sidekick in all her schemes, much like his father before him, much to his father's amusement. Eventually, Fred and Barney decided to pursue a new career path for themselves by joining the Bedrock Police as part-time officers. It was there that Barney and Fred would first meet the mysterious Shmoo, who proved to be a loving and faithful police partner and pet to the duo both on and off duty.
Many more years passed and now the Rubbles' and the Flintstones' children had grown to adulthood with lives of their own, with Barney's son Bamm-Bamm going on to become a mechanic and amateur script writer while still living with his parents. However the Rubbles and the Flintstones would received some life changing news when Bamm-Bamm announced that he and Pebbles had finally become engaged, a union which would finally seal the Rubbles and the Flintstones together as family forever more.
In, The Flintstone Kids, Barney had at least one younger brother, Dusty, who was a childhood friend of Fred, and the son of artist Flo Slate Rubble and car dealer Robert "Honest Bob" Rubble might be taken as valid. The original series also suggested in one episode that Barney was the maternal nephew of Fred's boss, Mr. Slate, though subsequent episodes and spin-offs don't seem to support this claim.
Unlike Fred, Barney has never been shown with any woman aside from his wife. However, an exception for this is made in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas when he is invited to go to a buffet with Chip's secretary, Roxie, though he is not married to Betty at this point, but they are dating. Betty sees Barney wiping cream off Roxy after he accidentally knocks a cake onto her. Betty is hurt, mistakenly believing this to be an intimate gesture.
- As revealed in "The Flintstone Canaries", he is known to sing whilst having a bath.
- In early episodes of the original series, Barney had a New Jersey accent but was soon changed to a deeper, more chuckle-like voice. In On the Rocks, Stone Age SmackDown! and Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs, his Jersey accent returns.
- Barney has made cameo appearances on the shows Dexter's Laboratory, Family Guy, Robot Chicken and Saturday Night Live, and in the 1985 movie, Better Off Dead.
- Barney appeared as a supporting character in the 1995 series, Johnny Bravo, in the 2004 episode "A Page Right Out of History".