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The Heartbreaking Part Of The Flintstones You Never Noticed

In 1960, America met "The Flintstones," a modern Stone Age family that rocked the pop culture world by being one of the first animated series on primetime TV. Few could forget that catchy theme song, countless prehistoric puns, or talking dino-appliances breaking the fourth wall. With its sitcom format, the lives of Fred and Wilma Flintstone and their neighbors Barney and Betty Rubble laid the foundation for other family-centric animated series. After all, there probably wouldn't have been any Homer J. Simpson or Peter Griffin without Fred.

Nostalgic memories and casual glances at those Boomerang reruns might have offered the idea that "The Flintstones" is simply a kid-friendly cartoon about a family and their neighbors. And while it's certainly no "American Dad!" or "Family Guy" in terms of flinging its G rating away, "The Flintstones" isn't 100% light fare. Diving into "The Flintstones" can get heavier than what Fred deals with daily at the Rock Quarry. And when we shine a light on Barney and Betty in the Season 4 episode, "Little Bamm-Bamm," and their difficulty in starting a family together, we see that "The Flintstones" can be plain heartbreaking at times.

Barney and Betty struggled with fertility

The episode "Little Bamm-Bamm" (via Flintstones Fandom) starts innocently enough. With Pebbles born in the prior season, Barney and Betty constantly visit the Flintstone home to dote on the cute child, much to the annoyance of Fred. It reaches a point where Fred explodes on the Rubbles and tells them to get out. Yet when Wilma visits the Rubbles to apologize for Fred's outburst, we're hit with a heartbreaking realization. Despite desperately wanting a family, the Rubbles have been having fertility issues. However, after wishing on a star, Barney and Betty find Bamm-Bamm on their doorstep.

And that would make for a heartfelt happy ending, except that the Rubbles nearly lose Bamm-Bamm in a custody battle while trying to adopt him officially. That's right, instead of the Rubbles instantly getting Bamm-Bamm in a fairy tale ending with a star wish, they're put through the wringer in court and nearly lose their child. The thought of losing Bamm-Bamm also almost drives Barney to drown himself. If not for the Rubbles ultimately winning Bamm-Bamm, the episode could have made for the series' most tragic episode. Still, the idea of a couple dealing with the real-world obstacle of infertility grounds "The Flintstones" in reality, despite its unrealistic animated stone-age setting.

Barney and Betty's adoption of Bamm-Bamm is explored again in the live-action movie

The 1994 "The Flintstones" live-action movie pulled a lot from its animated predecessor. The film was full of familiar gags, such as the oversized order of ribs and the use of animals as appliances. It also, once again, brought up the heartbreaking fact that Barney and Betty couldn't produce children of their own. In fact, it kind of plays mainly into the film's plot. Again, desperate for a family, Barney accepts a loan from Fred so that he and Betty can afford to adopt Bamm-Bamm at the adoption center. The scene at the adoption center is a little less heartbreaking than its episode counterpart. And there's no star wishing. There's just the matter of a friendly loan and later an act of loyalty from Barney as a result.

"The Flintstones" movie is still lighthearted family fun, but like the cartoon, it's anchored with a bit of reality thanks to the subject of infertility and adoption with the Rubbles. Really, "The Flintstones" as a whole should probably be recognized for getting a little too real, especially with the 2016 DC Comics series. Per Vox, the comic adventures of the modern stone-age family deal with the subjects of PTSD from war and humanity's negative impact on nature, for starters. Even the animal appliance gags have more of an edge, as the comics often highlight that the creatures are essentially being exploited. While applauded by fans for its grittier take, the comics are easily chock full of more unexpected heartbreaking moments.