"Barney is a dinosaur
From our imagination,
And when he's tall, he's what we call
A dinosaur sensation."
Live action television series aimed at pre-school and younger children that started airing on PBS
. Created by Texan teacher Sheryl Leach in 1987, Barney started out as a regionally successful home video series called Barney and the Backyard Gang
before being picked up by the network for a regular series. The inspiration behind the show's creation was that there were very few shows that educated young children (Sesame Street
included) at the time. Starring the title character as a friendly authority figure, a surrogate for the young girls in the form of Baby Bop, two other dinosaurs named B.J. and Riff (introduced 2006), and an ever-shifting cast of young kids
, its setting was once a elementary school, but now takes place in a local park. The story (such that it is) focuses largely on the importance of imagination and delivering Aesops
suitable for very young children.
The show has a mammoth amount of merchandise in dolls, clothing, blankets, CDs, and virtually everything else a kid can use. There has also been a 1998 theatrically released film
called Barney's Great Adventure
, countless home videos, and a touring stage act. While the figures are undisclosed, it's not unreasonable to think that it makes somewhere in the range of eight or nine digits a year.
The show is infamous for not exactly being very well-liked among older kids, adults and teenagers, to the point that anti-Barney humor
became a borderline fad in The Nineties
. As for parents, well, 30 minutes of free babysitting buys you a LOT of tolerance. And we will say no more
This show provides examples of:
- An Aesop
- Alphabetical Theme Naming: Barney, B.J., and Baby Bop. Riff averted the trend.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: In addition to being a recap of the episode that just played, "Barney Says" reinforces the lessons that were taught in said episode.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Baby Bop, though BJ is often an Annoying Older Sibling from season 3 onwards.
- Carlos occasionally gave this report of his little brother, Juan.
- Art Evolution: In the first few shows Barney looked way different.
- Aside Glance: The song "Icky, Squishy, Gooey, Ooey" has a pause at the end of the second verse where the kids all pause from their artwork, look at a camera overhead, and cry "EW!"
- Birthday Episode: Birthdays are a plot point in several Barney & Friends episodes and stage shows.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Barney did this in later episodes starting in Season 7.
- Barney also did this in the 1999 video Sing and Dance With Barney. He said to the viewers, "Thanks for being a special friend." Then he waves to the viewers.
- Broken Aesop: In one episode, Barney preaches about healthy foods. Then later on, he sings about ice cream.
- Call Back: Chip is on a baseball team. This is brought up a couple of times.
- Tina's broken arm and Tosha's parents having a baby were referred to numerous times in Season 2. The latter was the plot point in the season finale when it was revealed Tosha's mom had twin boys.
- Sing and Dance with Barney, being an anniversary special, throws a number of shout outs to previous episodes and videos. One notable example is when Min, Jason, and Kim are reading a castle book, Min notes that Barney once took them to see a castle, referencing Barney's Magical Musical Adventure.
- Captain Colorbeard: An early episode had Barney and co. find the treasure of "Rainbow Beard the Pirate," by using a Treasure Map filled with color and shape related clues. The treasure turns out to be a rainbow.
- The Cast Showoff: The earlier cast displayed a range of talents. Min in particular did not miss an opportunity to dance, and aspired to dance professionally. Her actress actually did grow up to be a dance teacher, in addition to dancing professionally.
- Cast Herd: In Sing and Dance with Barney, everyone arrives in groups, which rotate for the rest of the show.
- Catch Phrase: "Super Dee Duper" - Barney
- "Stu-u-u-pendous!" - Barney
- "Ay-yie-yie" - B.J.
- Carnivore Confusion: Despite being a Tyrannosaurus rex, Barney is mostly vegetarian, with his favorite snack being peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
- Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Barney & Friends
- Characterization Marches On: In most of the Barney & The Backyard Gang videos, Barney was more sluggish in his movements, in addition to his deeper voice as noted in Vocal Evolution below. Beginning in Barney in Concert, he went from a lumbering t-rex to a jolly and energetic playmate. His kind demeanor was the only consistent trait between the original Backyard Gang Barney and his portrayal in the TV series.
- Chewing the Scenery: Early on, certain cast members would put the Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe
- Clip Show: A number of Direct-To-Video episodes, notably in recent years.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Prof. Tinkerpot from Imagination Island.
- Colorful Song: The Rainbow Song, Colors All Around, and Colors Make Me Happy
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: In "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy," Shawn claims he doesn't like carrots, despite bringing them to school. The other kids convince him that they're good for your body. By the end of the episode, he tries one and he ends up liking it.
- Confetti Drop: Used in a number of parties. Very common in the stage shows.
- Cool Old Guy: Mr. Boyd, the school janitor. He can play the piano quite well, and when Barney moved his meeting place to a park, Mr. Boyd took up a job there.
- Couch Gag: Each episode of the TV show ends with a shot of toy Barney involving something relevant. For instance, one episode about weather ends with Barney being peppered with flurries.
- Creative Closing Credits: The credits for "Best of Barney" fall neatly into Barney's memory box.
- Crossdressing Voices: BJ and Riff were voiced by female actresses. BJ was voiced by Patty Wirtz, and Riff was voiced by Michaela Dietz.
- Cover Version: Various occasions:
- Hi Neighbor (in the title episode)
- I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream (also in Hi Neighbor)
- Throw Your Hands Up, Move it Like This, and What I Like About You in Barney Live in Concert - Birthday Bash
- We are Family for a 2005 controversial music video where Barney sings with Sesame Street characters, along with many other characters and celebrities.
- Cross Over: Not on the TV show per se, but in addition to the We Are Family cover, Barney and other popular 90's children's characters (as of 1996, when the video was released) team up to teach kids about the importance of character in Kids for Character.
- Cultural Translation: In the Israel coproduction of the show, "London Bridge" was changed to "Yarkon Bridge," ironically filmed prior to the bridge collapsing. In addition, in an episode about music (known as "Practice Makes Music" in the original American version), the guest pianist plays traditional Israeli songs.
- Dark Fic: Day Of The Barney (found here), which proposes an even ghastlier Alternative Character Interpretation for Barney and Baby Bop than noted on the YMMV page.
- Death Fic: Hundreds of death fics... hundreds of them...
- Distaff Counterpart: The point of both "The Sister Song" and "I'm Glad I Have a Brother" is that even though siblings may sometimes get on each other's nerves, they should be appreciated.
- Don't Try This at Home: Why Barney lights his own birthday candles.
- Baby Bop says this in "Live in New York City" just before "Three Little Monkeys".
- Dutch Angle: Used to simulate things such as airplane flights.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Carlos and Kathy were introduced on media besides TV. Other cast members have been introduced as guest characters, before becoming part of the show's main cast.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The Barney & the Backyard Gang video series has quite a few differences compared to the television series. In addition to I Love You being sung towards the beginning of the videos, Barney was also the kids' secret that they hid from their parents (at least, in the first three videos).
- Everything Is Big in Texas: Some episodes have this appeal. "Barney in Concert" was performed in Dallas's Majestic Theatre.
- Eye Glasses: A number of characters have had them, but they didn't all start out with them.
- Fake Interactivity: From Season 7 onward, the viewer is treated like a character, and is addressed directly. After "I Love You," we are assumed to have left Barney behind, and he turns back into a doll. Averted in the first six seasons, save for the "Barney Says" segment.
- First Name Ultimatum: Always done in jest.
- Five-Token Band: The child cast usually consists of children of different ethnicities.
- Fleeting Demographic Rule: Because the show's setup is contingent upon the presence of a child cast, said cast goes through wholesale changes about once every five years, creating an opportunity for plots to be reused.
- Foreshadowing: In "Rock with Barney," "Barney & Friends" can be seen on Barney's clapboard. It's noteworthy because "Rock with Barney" was the last Backyard Gang video, released nationally just before "Barney & Friends" began airing on PBS.
- Fourth Wall Greeting: Happens in several home videos and the "Barney's Favorite Memories" featurette.
- Friendless Background: Derek, Tosha, and Kenneth, at first.
- Friendship Song: In addition to the song of the same name, there's Best of Friends, Someone to Love You Forever, and more (in)famously, I Love You.
- Friend to All Children: Barney is friends with all the kids who play with him.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The episode Play Ball! goes between this and Accidental Innuendo, especially with the Barney Says segment:
Barney: Today, we played with different kinds of balls...
Barney: There sure were a lot of balls around Baby Bop!
- Golden Moment: Sometimes, just before leaving, a child will take a moment alone with Barney to thank him for his help, or to just be affectionate with him.
- The Golden Rule: In the video Kids for Character, Barney and friends teach Baby Bop about respect through a song with skits in between.
- Hailfire Peaks: A Magic Misfire causes the park to be evenly split between tropical heat and freezing cold.
- Help, I'm Stuck!: In an early episode, Barney gets stuck on the school's playset and the kids pull him out.
- Herbivores Are Friendly: More like "friendly dinosaurs are herbivores", but it still fits the trope.
- Hey Lets Put On A Show
- Huddle Power: The children sometimes confer in this manner.
- "I Am" Song: Each of the dinosaurs has one. Just to give you an idea, here's Riff's.
- Barney's "I Am" song is the show's theme song.
- "I Know What We Can Do" Cut: This happens in "Rock With Barney" at least three times.
- Just Eat Gilligan: Everyone could have saved themselves a lot of grief in "Live in New York City" if Barney and the kids had simply retrieved the Barney Bag during the Winkster's introduction song.
- The Kiddie Ride: One car, one tractor, one train, among others. The train and tractor are common worldwide.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, and Dinosaur(s)...
- Large Ham: Baby Bop.
- Leaving Food For Santa: Michael and Amy leave milk and cookies for Santa in the Backyard Gang video "Waiting for Santa". It's how they know that they beat him to their house after their North Pole visit.
- Leitmotif: Each dino's "I Am" Song is often their leitmotif. Baby Bop had a unique one in the first three seasons.
- Long Runner: The show has been running for 20 years. While new episodes are not being produced (Notably, with owner company HIT Entertainment being sold to Mattel), videos of recent episodes are being released. In addition, a 14th season was produced in 2010, consisting of reruns from the 10th and 11th seasons.
- Magical Guardian
- Make a Wish: It's probably going to come true.
- Merchandise-Driven: Subverted. While "Barney & Friends" is based on a video series, selling merchandise wasn't the main focus of the franchise's creators, rather a genuine interest in providing a show for young children.
- Mickey Mousing: Very common for things such as turning off the lights.
- Milestone Celebration: Both the 10th and 20th anniversaries of the Barney franchise led to the video specials "Sing and Dance with Barney" and "The Best of Barney," respectively. The former even brought back a few Barney alumni to join the (then) new child cast for a "sing along."
- The one hundreth episode of Barney and Friends is more lighthearted than usual, and Old King Cole comes over to party.
- Moral Guardians: Reverend Joseph Chambers went on a crucade against Barney for using magic on the series as well as the show's message of love and tolerance.
- Musicalis Interruptus:
Kids: *singing* Sunday Monday, Tuesday Wednesday, Barney's birthday... *music stops* Barney's birthday?!?
- Named After Somebody Famous: Booker T. Bookworm in Season 5.
- Miss Kepler, the school's science teacher, in a few of the Barney videos (named after Johannes Kepler)
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: See Alternative Character Interpretation in the YMMV tab.
- No Antagonist: Generally, though Barney Live in New York City had a Harmless Villain Antagonist (The Winkster) who did a Heel-Face Turn.
- Cody in Barney's Great Adventure is also an aversion of this trope, but he too did a Heel-Face Turn towards the end.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up: Baby Bop turned 3 in Season 2, while BJ turned 7 in the "Barney's Big Surprise" stage show. Since then, neither of them have increased in age.
- Or Was It a Dream?: It is implied in "Barney's Campfire Sing-Along" that the Backyard Gang is transported to and from the campground in their sleep.
- The Power of Friendship: Despite what the title says, the message of the ending song "I Love You" is more about friendship than love. In the Backyard Gang videos, it was towards the beginning and (in the very early videos) brought Barney to life.
- The Power of Rock: "Good Manners."
- "Colors All Around" in the video "You Can Be Anything"
- The Pratfall: Choreographed into songs like "Three Little Monkeys" and "Old King Cole".
- Product Placement: Averted on the TV series and most videos. The Barney dolls sold in stores are very different to the ones on the TV series, due to the production company's strict "anti-product placement" measures. When the Israel Barney production was taping, it was noted a Barney umbrella was visable on set in one episode, so the scene had to be reshot.
- Played straight with Barney's Great Adventure, where a Luvs diaper box can be seen in the background. A promotional deal between Lyrick and P&G was made at the time to feature Barney on the diapers to promote the video release. In addition, the stuffed Barney doll is one of the ones sold in stores, unlike on the series.
- Protagonist and Friends
- Public Domain Soundtrack: A number of the songs sung on the show are in the public domain (only the arrangements are copyrighted)
- Punny Name: Get it? Miss Etta Kette? Like "etiquette"?
- Reading Is Cool Aesop: Season 5 included scenes in a school library.
- Reality Warper
- Really 700 Years Old: Barney is over 200 million years old. It's justified as he's a t-rex, but how he's still light on his feet is a mystery. Averted with the other dinos, whose ages are in the single digits.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: There was a lawsuit over the lyrics to the "I Love You" song in 1994, so it was omitted from "Live in New York City" and "Imagination Island."
- Rearrange the Song: A notable example includes a lullaby version of "Everyone is Special," used to accommodate newborn twins.
- Through the show's run, most songs sung on the show have been rearranged, notably the show's theme and I Love You.
- Rule of Fun: Mr. Knickerbocker is used for the characters' own amusement, and usually in concert.
- Salt and Pepper: Derek and Michael hang out together a lot. Kathy and Tosha are classmates.
- Scenery Porn/Bizarrchitecture: Definitely Miss Goldfinch's garden and treehouse in the movie.
- Serious Business: Lyons Partnership, the company that owns Barney, doesn't take too kindly to parodies where children can see them, particularly on websites. Their lawyers have threatened people with lawsuits in the past, but after losing to EFF in a 2006 lawsuit, the company's law firm has backed down.
- Contrary to what their lawyers say, Barney's creators have gotten a kick out of a few of the parodies. Sheryl Leach once stated that, while she isn't the biggest fan of Barney parodies, she and the others at the company could get a kick out of them.
- Sesame Street Cred: Children's author Tomie dePaola appeared on three episodes.
- The Season 2 finale A Very Special Delivery had singer Ella Jenkins stop by. The direct to video special Barney in Outer Space had astronaut Ken Reightler make an appearance and teach the kids about NASA.
- She Is All Grown Up: After Min (who was played by Pia Manalo-Hamilton in all her appearances) left the Barney set, she returned for two specials.
- Erica Rhodes (who played Kim) showed up at the 2010 Dallas American Idol auditions and Hollywood tryouts as well. The Hollywood one did not go over well.
- Other cast members have reprised their character roles (most notably in Sing and Dance with Barney).
- No Doubt the Years Have Changed Us
- Shave and a Haircut: Played at the end credits of the first three seasons.
- Shout-Out: In "Live in New York City", the teddy bears that join Kathy on stage for her song were almost certainly borrowed from the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
- In "The Land of Make Believe":
- Show, Don't Tell: "I could tell you, but it would be more fun to show you."
- Signature Laugh: Barney's (in)famous chuckle
- Simpleton Voice
- Sleep Mode Size
- The Something Song
- Something We Forgot: From "Look at Me! I'm Three!"
Kids: We forgot to make the (birthday) cake!
- Stock Sound Effect: Baby Kate Cry
- Strictly Formula: Barney is brought to life by the imagination of some children, they play around and/or address some issue, sing the infamous "I Love You" outro song, Barney goes back to being a doll, capping off the episode with a closeup of the doll and a twinkle in its eye (or in the case of the early Backyard Gang videos, a crudely drawn animated eyelid giving off a wink).
- Sugar Bowl
- Sure, Let's Go with That: Baby Bop received her name because she really likes the song "Mr. Knickerbocker".
- Suspiciously Apropos Music
- Theme Tune Rap: Season 14's intro... No, we're not joking.
- Third-Person Person: Baby Bop (In the first season. Averted afterwards)
- Time Lapse: Shows up in the "Backyard Gang" videos and occasionally in Barney & Friends episodes whenever the producers want to make Barney and co. appear to do something fast or speed it up for the sake of time.
- Too Smart for Strangers: As noted in the Beam Me Up, Scotty! reference in the Trivia tab, a segment of safety episode Playing It Safe focused on how to deal with strangers.
- Treehouse of Fun: In Seasons 3-6. Once the show switched sets, the treehouse was abandoned.
- Trans Atlantic Equivalent: In addition to dubs, the show has had co-productions in Israel and South Korea, both mostly following the plots of the original episodes.
- Trash the Set: The Season 3 episode "Classical Cleanup" has Baby Bop dancing in and wrecking the classroom.
- Twin Tropes:
- Theme Twin Naming: Tosha's twin brothers, Kevin and Kyle, as well as two school-age girls named Ashley and Alissa.
- Making Use of the Twin: In their first appearance, Ashley and Alissa are introduced one at a time and are mistaken for each other, before they show up together and explain themselves. They also team up for a Mirror Routine in a talent show.
- Variable Mix: Beginning in season 7, a saxophone was mixed into some existing song arrangements.
- Verbal Tickety Tick: That's Riff, for you.
- Vocal Evolution: Barney's voice sounded deeper and more mature in the early Backyard Gang videos. Then, over the years, he started to sound younger.
- B.J. also had this effect, starting out with a huskier drawl, then beginning to sound a little higher and squeakier.
- Baby Bop too has had some vocal evolution. She sounded much more infant-like in her early appearances, but by the third season, she began to sound more like a three year old.
- Even new dino Riff has had some vocal evolution, though minor compared to the original trio.
The Movie provides examples of: