"Once Upon a Coward" is the fifteenth episode of the fourth season and the one hundred and third overall episode of The Flintstones. It aired on December 26, 1963.


Fred complies with an armed robber's demand that he offer no resistance, but sweats thereafter with the fear that he has been a coward.


Arriving at the fence to their yard after an evening of bowling, Fred and Wilma are robbed at gunpoint from behind them by a gravel-voiced, masked hoodlum who orders Fred, hands holding one bowling ball each and already reaching skyward, not to turn around and to count to 1000, "Nice and slow, see. 'Dat's the way to do it." Frightened of the menacing miscreant behind his back, Fred complies with the bandit's commands as the mysterious man grabs Fred's wallet and flees.

Later, while Fred and Wilma are waiting to report the incident to the Bedrock P.D., Fred thinks that Wilma is inferring that he was a coward not to have resisted, fought, and subdued the culprit. In defense, Fred endeavors to prove to everybody who will listen, that with the criminal behind him and a gun trained at his back, he would not have had any advantage in a life-or-death struggle.

Yet, when Fred reenacts the crime in the role of the robber, every person whom he casts in the role of the victim (himself), succeeds in reaching behind them, grabbing Fred's arm, and throwing him in various directions, demonstrating that Fred could have citizen's-arrested the thug. Flintstone's self-esteem therefore hinges on showing bravery to Wilma- in a challenge to boxing champion Sonny Dempstone that never happens due to a police raid of Bedrock's only boxing ring because Dempstone lacks a license to fight in Bedrock.

One night, at the Bedrock Bowling Alley, while Fred and Barney are practicing bowling ball delivery, gravel-voice, loitering at the bowling lanes and unaware that Fred is one of his prior heist targets, offers advice on bowling, "Nice and slow, see. 'Dat's the way to do it."

Recognizing the intonation and words of the "hold-up man", Fred chases him out of the building and, with Barney and a couple of bystanders as witnesses, throws his bowling ball to trip and foil the bandit, upon whose prone back Fred sits. The Man of Valor is Fred's true designation in the Bedrock newspaper.





  • Bowling ball bags
  • News-slab
  • Cactus tea (only mentioned)
  • Wagon (only appearance)




Alan Reed Fred Flintstone
Jean Vander Pyl Wilma Flintstone
Pebbles Flintstone
Gladys Schwartzquartz
Mel Blanc Barney Rubble
Bea Benaderet Betty Rubble
Don Messick Bamm-Bamm Rubble
News Reader
Howard Morris Pterodactyl
Hal Smith Holdup Man
Guy #3
Janet Waldo Mrs. Sitstone
Woman #2
Woman #3
Doug Young Bamm-Bamm Rubble
News Reader


  • Barney has a cousin named Florabelle.
  • The Barnum & Shaley Circus is a spoof of the defunct Barnum & Bailey Circus.
  • The title comes from the first line of The Raven written by American writer Edgar Allan Poe and first published in January 1845. "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore..."
  • According to the book, The Flintstones: A Modern Stone Age Phenomenon, the writer for this episode was not available.


  • None known.

Season 4 of The Flintstones
"Ann-Margrock Presents" • "Groom Gloom" • "Little Bamm-Bamm" • "Dino Disappears" • "Fred's Monkeyshines" • "The Flintstone Canaries" • "Glue for Two" • "Big League Freddie" • "Old Lady Betty" • "Sleep On, Sweet Fred" • "Kleptomaniac Pebbles" • "Daddy's Little Beauty" • "Daddies Anonymous" • "Peek-a-Boo Camera" • "Once Upon a Coward" • "Ten Little Flintstones" • "Fred El Terrifico" • "The Bedrock Hillbillies" • "Flintstone and the Lion" • "Cave Scout Jamboree" • "Room for Two" • "Ladies' Night at the Lodge" • "Reel Trouble" • "Son of Rockzilla" • "Bachelor Daze" • "Operation Switchover"
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.