The Flintsones combined the genre of the situation comedy with animation. Based on popular sit coms of its day, The Flintstones was an attempt by Hanna-Barbera Productions to re-capture a lost adult audience.
That is not actually from The Flinstones. The image is actually from the Tex Avery cartoon 'The First Bad Man' which was a rather obvious Influence over the Flintstones.
Tex Avery's 1955 short also included dinosaur visuals which would prove to be an obvious influence on The Flintstones.
The great controversy about the origins of The Flintstones is the comparison between the Flinstones and the popular sitcom The Honeymooners.
There does seems to be a rather un-mistakeable resemblence between the characters. Reportedly, Gleason did not sue because of the public relations damage being "the man who took The Flinstones off the air" would have caused. Even more bizarre, the man who provided the voice of Fred Flintstone Alan Reed...
Had also professionally done voice over work for Jackie Gleason. Reed's voice had been used as Gleason's voice.
Hanna-Barbera had felt boxed in by their own success with Tom and Jerry. The studio had become a strictly 'kids only' venture. The Flintstones, with a primetime slot and humor emulating popular adult sitcoms of the day, was their successfull attempt to re-capture an adult audience. However, the 'Stone Age' was not the first suggestion for The Flintsones' setting. There was also The Roman Empire...
As well as putting the whole thing in a Native American setting. This might have put the Flintstones a bit closer to this....
It wasn't always the The Flintsones either. The original short was called The Flagstones.
Of course, there was also the suggestion of using the Gladstones. One can only imagine how that would have affected this site....
Fred Flintstone - Fred Flinstone is established as an everyman with everyday problem. Fred has a wife, a young family, and a job down at the quarry. Fred has problems with money, enjoys bowling, and relaxes at the local Water Buffalo lodge. The central premise of the show is that Fred will often get into trouble in everyday situations and be forced to overcome them. Fred is the archetype for other characters who would follow him in the same mold.
Wilma Flintstone - Wilma Flintstone nee Slaghoople is Fred's loving long suffering wife. Wilma has a mother who continually believes she could have 'done better' in her choice of husband. She also seems to be perpetually caught in many of the issuesthat faced women in the 1960's. Wilma seems to be happy being a housewife and a mother. However, there seems to be a societal pressure to 'do more' with her life which often leads Wilma on her own adventures.
Barney Rubble - Barney Rubble was voiced by the legendary Mel Blanc. Barney started out as a higher voiced character. However, due to an auto accident, Blanc had to lower the voice for the character. This made the 'classic' Barney Rubble voice sound more like Art Carney. Barney is fun loving and a little dim witted. Barney is either frequently unemployed or does odd jobs. Many times, there is no clear discussion of how Barney makes money. Like Fred, Barney enjoys bowling as well as hanging out at the Water Buffalo lodge. In many ways, Barney lacks Fred's smarts and natural ability but makes up for it with sheer opitimism as well as good humor.
Betty Rubble - Betty is Barney's raven haired well porportioned wife. Betty often serves as a willing 'partner in crime' for Wilma in various plots to spy on or figure out what 'the boys are up to.' Betty's main frustrations will arise when Fred and Barney's shenanigans will come between her friendship with Wilma. Though the Rubbles appear to possess less, Betty seems to be more materialistic. Betty also has a strong desire to 'keep up with The Flintsones' and even convinces Barney to adopt as a counterpoint to the newly born Pebbles.
Dino - Dino occupies the role of a family pet for the Flinstones. Dino has many canine characteristics. In the Flintstones, Dino appears to be what is known to them as a Snorkasaurus. As a matter of fact, in what seems to be a flashback episode Dino is shown to be a talking character. Dino outwits Fred and Barney, who are trying to hunt him, and comes to live with the Flintstones as a butler. Dino's actual dinosaur origin appears to be that of a sauropod 9although a relatively small one.) A running Dino gag is his love of Fred and desire to topple Fred every time Fred comes home.
Pebbles Flintstone - Pebbles Flinstone's birth during the third season of The Flintstones is actually a signifigant development in animation. Wilma was shown as being pregnant with Pebbles. There was also a signifigant story arc leading up to Pebbles' birth which was covered in TV GUIDE magazine. Prior to Pebble's birth, The Flintstones had been mostly self contained stories with little consequence. However, that all changed when Pebbles came along. In subsequent movies, series, and specials; Pebbles would go to high school, grow up, move to Hollyrock, marry Bamm Bamm, and have twins of her own.
Bamm Bamm Rubble - In the cartoon series, Bamm Bamm was found by the Rubbles in a basket. The Rubbles then adopted Bamm Bamm as their own. In the live action movie, Bamm Bamm was a four year old who was at an adoption agency when the Rubbles adopt him. Either way, Bamm Bamm is possessed with super human strength from a very young age. A running theme of the Flintstones episodes is that the toddler Bamm Bamm has no ability to control his strength. In the later series The Pebbles and Bamm Bamm Show, Bamm Bamm is shown as a teenager. Later on, Pebbles would work in the advertising industry in Hollyrock while Bamm Bamm would make his living as a mechanic.
Mrs. Slaghoople - Mrs. Slaghoople is Wilma's mother and Fred's nemesis. While Wilma loves her mother and wants her as a frequent visitor, Mrs. Slaghoople constantly causes consternation for Fred with continual insults about Fred's appearance as well as his ability to provide for his family. Fred often referred to her as the 'old battleaxe.' Pearl Slaghoople was portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor iin the live action movie.
Mr. Slate - Mr. Slate is Fred's boss. Slate is constantly on Fred to improve his work performance. Slate's catchphrase is actually screaming "FLINTSTONE!!!" Fred assumes that Slate's life is easy and full of mean spirited ire at his underlings. However, in a later episode, Fred gets a mystical taste of a day in the life of Mr. Slate. Fred learns that Slate has bosses and owners of the quarry who yell at and belittle Mr. Slate as well.
Arnold The Paper Boy - Arnold is nemesis and nuisance for Fred Flintstone. Arnold and Fred enjoy their rivalry and seem to unneccesarily heightened their attempts to get at each other for fun. Even such, Arnold will often outsmart Fred and may have served as inspiration for creepy paper boys to come.
The Great Gazoo - The Great Gazoo is an alien who is banished from his home planet and possibly back in time for creating a 'doomsday device.' Gazoo never makes it back home and is assigned to begrudgingly help out Fred and Barney. In truth, Gazoo enjoys causing more chaos in Fred and Barney's lives as we referring to our heroes as 'dum dums.' Gazoo featured heavily in the live action film The Flinstones in Viva Rock Vegas.