In “The Flintstones,” what was Barney Rubble’s job?

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Dear Cecil: You are my last resort. In the TV series The Flintstones, what was Barney Rubble’s job? We all know that Fred worked at the quarry, but Barney’s job was never directly referred to, except in a couple episodes where he worked as a TV repossessor or a short-order chef, after having been fired from his regular (unknown) job. Please help! Nancy B., Chicago

Cecil replies:

I love this gig. Where else would I get the chance to be on the front lines of journalism, tracking down the questions all America is buzzing about? Actually, Barney’s occupation was left up in the air in the early years of the series, which ran 166 episodes from 1960 through 1966. The folks at Hanna-Barbera, the studio that created the series, say Barney was a TV repossessor in one episode and a geological engineer in another —not your typical white-collar career path, but hey, it’s the cartoons. They don’t recall him being a short-order cook but admit it’s possible. In later years Barney settled into a more comfortable existence working with Fred at the quarry. In one episode he was even made Fred’s boss by Mr. Slate, the head honcho.

The problem with settling questions like this is that TV continuity ain’t what it could be. In one episode, for example, Mr. Slate’s first name was George and in another it was Sam. Once his company was called the Slate Rock and Gravel Company and another time Bedrock Quarry and Gravel. A little disconcerting, especially for hard-core Flintstones viewers, whose grip on reality has to be pretty shaky to start with. I’m sure the people at Hanna-Barbera are suitably chastened and won’t let it happen again.

Cecil Adams

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