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Barney & Friends

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Barney & Friends
Created by
Based onBarney & the Backyard Gang by Sheryl Leach[1]
Voices of
  • Bob West
  • Duncan Brannan
  • Tim Dever
  • Dean Wendt
  • Julie Johnson
  • Patty Wirtz
  • Michaela Dietz
Opening theme"Barney Theme Song"
"Barney Theme Song Series 400 Version" (1997–2002)
Ending theme"Barney's Dilemma" (1992–2000)
"Barney Theme Song" (2002–2010)
  • Philip Parker (1990–1999)
  • Bob Singleton (1990–2000)
  • Joe Phillips (1996–2009)
  • Holly Doubet[2]
  • Angelo Natalie[3]
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons14
No. of episodes268 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Sheryl Leach (1988–1998)
  • Kathy Parker (1988–1993)
  • Dennis DeShazer (1988–2002)
  • Randy Dalton (2002–2005)
  • Karen Barnes (2006–2009)
Production locations
Running time30 minutes (1992–2005, 2008–2009)
15 minutes (2006–2007, 2010)
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseApril 6, 1992 (1992-04-06) –
November 2, 2010 (2010-11-02)

Barney & Friends is an American children's television series targeted at children aged two to five, created by Sheryl Leach. The series first aired on PBS on April 6, 1992, and features Barney, a purple anthropomorphic Tyrannosaurus rex who conveys educational messages through songs and small dance routines with a friendly, huggable and optimistic attitude.[6][7][8][9] The series ended on November 2, 2010, although new videos were still released on various dates after the last episode aired. Reruns aired on Sprout from 2005 to 2015, and from December 17, 2018 to January 25, 2020 on Sprout's successor network, Universal Kids. On October 6, 2015, the series was initially renewed for revival with a new season to premiere in 2017, but that season was cancelled.[10] A CGI-animated series will air on Cartoon Network's Cartoonito and stream on Max.[11]

While popular with its intended audience, Barney & Friends drew severe negative reaction from the older set, who mocked the title character in popular culture through song parodies and comedy routines such as being beaten up by NBA star Charles Barkley on a Saturday Night Live episode.[12] Barney & Friends has also received immense praise from parents for being a wholesome yet engaging show for children that delves into common, kid-friendly topics.

History and development

Barney & Friends was created by Sheryl Leach of Dallas, Texas.[13] She came up with the idea of a children's program after noticing that her son outgrew Wee Sing Together,[14][15] and then recognizing that there were no videos to appeal to her son. Leach then brought together a team who created a series of home videos, Barney & the Backyard Gang, initially released in 1988. The first three videos starred actress Sandy Duncan.[16]

One day in 1991, the daughter of Connecticut Public Television executive Larry Rifkin rented one of the videos and was "mesmerized" by it. Rifkin thought the concept could be developed for PBS. Rifkin thought Barney had appeal because he was less neurotic than Big Bird. He pitched it to CPTV president Jerry Franklin, whose preschool son also fell in love with it. Franklin and Rifkin pitched the idea to all of their colleagues with preschoolers, and they all agreed that kids would love a Barney show. Franklin and Rifkin convinced Leach to let CPTV revamp the concept for television.[17] The show debuted as Barney & Friends in 1992.[18] The series was produced by CPTV and Lyrick Studios (later bought by HIT Entertainment).[19]

Although the show was a runaway hit, PBS initially opted not to provide funding beyond the initial 30-episode run. When Rifkin and other CPTV executives learned this, they wrote letters to their fellow PBS member stations urging them to get PBS to reconsider. The Lyons Group, meanwhile, sent out notices through the Barney Fan Club, telling parents to write letters and make phone calls to their local PBS stations to show their support for Barney & Friends. By the time of the yearly member stations' meeting, station executives across the country were up in arms over the prospect of one of their most popular shows being canceled. Faced with an atmosphere that Rifkin later described as "like an insurrection", PBS ultimately relented.[17]

For several years, the show was taped at the Color Dynamics Studios facility at Greenville Avenue & Bethany Drive in Allen, Texas, after which it moved to The Studios at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, and then Carrollton, a suburb of Dallas. The TV series was produced by WNET from 2006 to 2010.

Episode format

Opening sequence

The episodes open with the theme song (over clips from various episodes) and the title card before it dissolves into the school (in seasons 1-6) or park (in seasons 7-14). The children are seen doing an activity, occasionally relating to the episode's topic. They eventually cause Barney to come to life from a plush doll, transforming into the "real" Barney, how he appears in the children's imaginations. Beginning in season 9, Barney's transformation occurs in a clip at the end of the theme song.

Main sequence

Here, the main plot of the episode takes place. Barney and the children learn about the main topic of the episode, with Baby Bop, BJ, or Riff appearing during the episode and numerous songs themed relating to the subject featured in the series. The roles of Baby Bop, BJ, and Riff have grown larger in later seasons and later episodes venture outside of the school to other places within the neighborhood, and in season 13, to other countries around the world.

Closing sequence

Barney concludes with the song "I Love You", then the children say goodbye to him and leave. Barney dissolves back into his original stuffed form and winks to the audience. The first story in season 10-11 episodes end with the characters singing "A Friend Like You" instead and Barney remaining alive.

The sequence transitions to Barney Says (in seasons 1-8 and 12 only) where Barney, who is off-screen, narrates what he and his friends had done that day, along with still snapshots from the episode. Barney ends the segment in seasons 1 and 2 by saying "I love you!" before the credits roll. In seasons 3-8 and 12, the segment ends with a pre-recorded clip of Barney saying "And remember, I love you!" and waving goodbye.

Characters and cast


  • Barney (voiced by Bob West 1992–2000, and Dean Wendt 2001–2010; people who wore the Barney suit included David Joyner 1991[20]-2001[21] and Carey Stinson[22]): The main character is a purple and green Tyrannosaurus in stuffed animal likeness, who comes to life through a child's imagination. His theme song is "Barney is a Dinosaur", whose tune is based on "Yankee Doodle". Barney often quotes things as being "Super dee-duper". Episodes frequently end with the song "I Love You", sung to the tune of "This Old Man". Despite being a carnivorous type dinosaur, Barney does not have a carnivore's fearsome teeth. He likes many different foods such as fruits and vegetables, but his main favorite is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk.
  • Baby Bop (voiced by Julie Johnson): A green Triceratops, who was originally two years old, but turned three in "Look at Me, I'm 3!". Baby Bop has been on the show since her debut in "Barney in Concert" on July 29, 1991. She wears a pink bow and pink ballet slippers and carries a yellow security blanket. She sings the song "My Yellow Blankey" to show how much her security blanket means to her. She likes to eat macaroni and cheese and pizza.[23] She is the younger sister of BJ.
  • BJ (voiced by Patty Wirtz): A seven-year-old yellow Protoceratops,[24] BJ has been on the show since September 27, 1993. He is the older brother of Baby Bop, whom he frequently calls "Sissy" and occasionally calls by her name. He sings "BJ's Song" about himself. He wears a red baseball cap and red sneakers. He lost his hat in the episode "Hats Off to BJ!". Pickles are his favorite food and he has tried them in various ways, such as on pizza.
  • Riff (voiced by Michaela Dietz): An orange six-year-old[citation needed] Hadrosaur, who is Baby Bop and BJ's cousin, Riff has been on the show since September 18, 2006. He wears green sneakers. His theme music is "I Hear Music Everywhere". Riff loves music and it is in almost everything he does. In the episode "Barney: Let's Go to the Firehouse", it was revealed that Riff also likes to invent things; he created a four-sound smoke detector (the first three were different alarm sounds and the final one his voice). He is shown to have an interest in marching bands and parades.[citation needed]

Adults and children

The adults and children on the show often appear as teachers, storytellers, or other characters.

Multiple appearances

Role Actor/Actress Description and Appearances
Mother Goose Sandy Walper, Michelle McCarel,
Julie Johnson
The rhyme master herself appears in the episodes "Let's Help Mother Goose", "Honk! Honk! A Goose on the Loose", "A Little Mother Goose", "Barney's Big Surprise", and "Mother Goose/Fairy Tales".
Stella the Storyteller Phyllis Cicero Stella travels all around the world, collecting new stories to tell Barney and friends, among other people. She appeared in several episodes from seasons 3 to 6 but reappeared in the video The Best of Barney, where she gave Barney a photo album of his friends over the years she made herself. After she finishes a story and when she says goodbye in every foreign language, she says her catchphrase "Toodles!" before closing the door.
Tomie dePaola Himself The famous children's author is also a good friend of Barney and usually meets his friends in the episodes he appeared in, which are "Picture This", "It's Raining, It's Pouring", and "Oh Brother, She's my Sister".
Mom Sandy Duncan Michael and Amy's mother in the first three Barney & the Backyard Gang videos.
Duncan also appeared as Molly the Mermaid in A Day at the Beach.
Dad Bob Reed Michael and Amy's father in the first three Barney & the Backyard Gang videos.
Mr. Boyd Robert Sweatmon His full name is Grady Boyd and he has a niece named Colleen and a dog named Bingo. He worked as a musician in "Classical Cleanup", "Barney's Band", "Come Blow Your Horn!", "Play Piano with Me!", a janitor in seasons 3 to 6 and a park keeper in seasons 7 and 8. He later reappeared in The Best of Barney.
Colleen Claire Burdett Colleen is Mr. Boyd's niece, who comes to town for a visit and is introduced to Barney and the Children. She is a congenital amputee born without her right hand, as is her actress. She appeared in two episodes, "A New Friend!" and "A Perfectly Purple Day".
Linda Adrianne Kangas Linda is Chip's older sister who appeared in Seasons 5-6, as well as two home videos.
David Robert Hurtekant David is a boy in a wheelchair who appeared at the beginning of two episodes: "Falling for Autumn!" and "Shawn and the Beanstalk".


A lot of puppets appeared in many seasons. The most notable puppets were:

  • Scooter McNutty, a brown squirrel (seasons: 4–6, 1997–2000) performed and voiced by Todd Duffey
  • Miss Etta Kette, a purple bird (seasons: 4–6, 1997–2000) performed and voiced by Brice Armstrong; Armstrong also voices Beauregard the Cat in the video It's Time for Counting.
  • Booker T. Bookworm, an orange worm with interests in books (season 5: 1998–1999) performed and voiced by Earl Fisher


Throughout the series' run, over 100 children have appeared in the series, with most of them from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.[citation needed] Only a small portion of these actors have made notable appearances in media since their roles, including:


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
130April 6, 1992 (1992-04-06)May 15, 1992 (1992-05-15)
218September 27, 1993 (1993-09-27)October 20, 1993 (1993-10-20)
320February 27, 1995 (1995-02-27)October 6, 1995 (1995-10-06)
420November 3, 1997 (1997-11-03)November 28, 1997 (1997-11-28)
520November 2, 1998 (1998-11-02)November 27, 1998 (1998-11-27)
620November 1, 1999 (1999-11-01)April 14, 2000 (2000-04-14)
720September 2, 2002 (2002-09-02)November 22, 2002 (2002-11-22)
820September 15, 2003 (2003-09-15)May 14, 2004 (2004-05-14)
920September 6, 2004 (2004-09-06)May 13, 2005 (2005-05-13)
1020September 18, 2006 (2006-09-18)October 13, 2006 (2006-10-13)
1120September 17, 2007 (2007-09-17)October 12, 2007 (2007-10-12)
1210September 15, 2008 (2008-09-15)September 26, 2008 (2008-09-26)
1310September 7, 2009 (2009-09-07)September 18, 2009 (2009-09-18)
1420October 4, 2010 (2010-10-04)November 2, 2010 (2010-11-02)


Other than the United States, the series has aired in Canada, Mexico and Latin America, France, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Spain, the United Kingdom, Japan (on English-based DVDs under the name "Let's Play with Barney in English! (バーニーと英語であそぼう!, Bānī to Eigo de asobō!)" and on television as simply "Barney & Friends (バーニー&フレンズ, Bānī ando Furenzu!)"), the Philippines, Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand, among others. Australian based company and distributor Southern Star handled non-US rights to the series from the mid-'90s[25] until 2001 when HIT revoked the deal after acquiring Lyrick.[26]

Two known co-productions of Barney & Friends have been produced outside of the US. The Israeli co-production Hebrew: החברים של ברני Hachaverim shel Barney (The Friends of Barney) produced from 1997 to 1999 in Tel Aviv, Israel, was the first of these. Rather than dubbing the original American episodes in seasons 1 to 3, the episodes were adapted with a unique set and exclusive child actors.[27][28] The second co-production was broadcast in South Korea from 2001 to 2003 on KBS (under the name "바니와 친구들" (Baniwa Chingudeul (Barney and Friends))). This one, however, adapted the first six seasons (including the first three that the Israel co-production did).


A majority of the albums of Barney & Friends feature Bob West as the voice of Barney; however, the recent album The Land of Make-Believe has Dean Wendt's voice.

Barney's song "I Love You" was among those used by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay detention camp to coerce detainees.[29]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Recipient Result
1993 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series Sheryl Leach, Kathy Parker, Dennis DeShazer Nominated
1993 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Children's Series Stephen White, Mark S. Bernthal Nominated
1994 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Live and Tape Sound Mixing and Sound Effects Ron Balantine, David M. Boothe Nominated
1994 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children's Series Sheryl Leach, Kathy Parker, Dennis DeShazer Nominated
1996 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series Sheryl Leach, Dennis DeShazer, Jim Rowley Nominated
1998 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lighting Direction Ken Craig, Murray K. Campbell Nominated
1998 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing Ron Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary French Nominated
1999 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Directing Jim Rowley, Fred Holmes, Steve Feldman Nominated
1999 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound Mixing Ron Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary French Nominated
2000 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound Mixing Ron Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary French Nominated
2001 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound Mixing Ron Balantine, David M. Boothe, Gary French Won (tied with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire)
2003 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Sound Mixing – Live Action and Animation Patrick Sellars, Neal Anderson Nominated
2006 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Directing Jim Rowley, Fred Holmes, Steve Feldman Nominated
2008 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design/Styling Lisa Odette Albertson, Traci Hutton, Lyle Huchton Nominated
2009 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design/Styling Lisa Odette Albertson, Traci Hutton, Lyle Huchton Nominated

Reception and legacy

Several people have concluded that episodes contain a great deal of age-appropriate educational material, including Yale University researchers Dorothy and Jerome Singer, who called the program a "model of what preschool television should be".[30] Others have criticized the show for a lack of educational value, as well as being repetitive.[31]

The show is often cited as a contributing factor to the perceived sense of entitlement seen in millennials, who grew up watching the show.[32][33] One specific criticism is:

His shows do not assist children in learning to deal with negative feelings and emotions. As one commentator puts it, the real danger from Barney is "denial: the refusal to recognize the existence of unpleasant realities. For along with his steady diet of giggles and unconditional love, Barney offers our children a one-dimensional world where everyone must be happy and everything must be resolved right away."[34][35]

In 1992, the Barney franchise generated $500 million in retail sales.[36]

The creator and performer of the San Diego Chicken mascot, Ted Giannoulas, called Barney a "ubiquitous and insipid creature" in a 1999 court case.[37][38][39]

Barney & Friends ranked No. 50 on TV Guide's 2002 list of the 50 worst TV shows of all time.[40]

In a 1993 newspaper article, Jerry Franklin, the head of Connecticut Public Television, which co-produced Barney & Friends at the time, was quoted thus:

When adults say they do not like Barney, Franklin says, 'in a way, we take that as a compliment. Barney is not designed for parents, whereas Sesame Street is designed for parents and children. We made a conscious decision to make Barney simple. It is not a program for parents. Barney relates to preschoolers. We think he speaks to them at their level, which is in simple terms and with music.[41]

Howard Blumenthal, producer of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, said "Even the most knowledgeable people … can't really understand why that [Barney] phenomenon happened and another didn't".[42]


  1. ^ a b Hofmeister, Sallie (October 20, 1994). "A Blue Year for the Purple-and-Green Dinosaur". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  2. ^ Nunn, Brittany (November 29, 2021). "Dallas-Produced Musical 38 MINUTES Tells a First-Hand Story of the Hawaiian Missile Crisis". Dallas Observer. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  3. ^ Laguarda, Ignacio (May 13, 2023). "As a young composer, this Stamford man penned songs for 'Barney.' At 71, he's getting his music degree". StamfordAdvocate. Retrieved November 16, 2023.
  4. ^ "Richard Leach; Bankrolled Creation of 'Barney' Dinosaur". Los Angeles Times. June 2, 2001. Retrieved September 9, 2010.
  5. ^ Carter, Bill (March 21, 1994). "A Cable Challenger for PBS As King of the Preschool Hill". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  6. ^ Gorman, James (April 11, 1993). "TELEVISION VIEW; Of Dinosaurs Why Must This One Thrive?". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  7. ^ "Stuuuupendous!". Time. December 21, 1992. Archived from the original on August 12, 2010. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  8. ^ Cerone, Daniel (April 3, 1993). "Dinosaur Is a Star, Spreading Love With Hugs, Kisses, Songs". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  9. ^ "Barney the launching pad". Los Angeles Times. January 30, 2009. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  10. ^ Vlessing, Etan (October 6, 2015). "MIPCOM: 'Barney & Friends' Set for Relaunch by Mattel, 9 Story". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  11. ^ Porter, Rick (February 13, 2023). "Barney the Dinosaur Gets Relaunch from Mattel". The Hollywood Reporter.
  12. ^ Mitchell, W.J.T. (1998). "Chapter 37: Why Children Hate Dinosaurs". The Last Dinosaur Book: The Life and Times of a Cultural Icon. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-53204-6.
  13. ^ Lev, Michael A (December 10, 1992). "Barney! Barney! He's Kid Dinomite". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved September 9, 2010.
  14. ^ Wakin, Edward; Ericksen, Gregory K.; Young, Ernst (April 26, 1999). Women Entrepreneurs Only: 12 Women Entrepreneurs Tell the Stories of Their Success. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780471324393.
  15. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "The Dinosaur Sensation: The History of Barney – Episode 1 (Barney's Beginnings)". YouTube.
  16. ^ Lawson, Carol (December 3, 1992). "Why Young Children Scream". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  17. ^ a b Grandjean, Pat (April 2013). "CPTV Celebrates 50 Years: Present at the Creation". Connecticut Magazine.
  18. ^ Heffley, Lynne (April 6, 1992). "Dinosaur 'Barney' to Join PBS Gang". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  19. ^ Heffley, Lynne (March 28, 2008). "Barney is far from extinct". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 9, 2010.
  20. ^ Ramirez, Marc (January 25, 2018). "Where's Barney now? Actor who played purple dinosaur a tantric sex therapist". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  21. ^ Sager, Rebekah (January 23, 2018). "The Guy Who Played Barney the Dinosaur Now Runs a Tantric Sex Business". Vice. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  22. ^ Giggy, Sean (March 14, 2019). "Purple Tales: The stories and secrets behind Barney". WFAA. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  23. ^ "Barney & Friends | Universal Kids". www.universalkids.com.
  24. ^ "THIRD DINOSAUR JOINS CAST OF 'BARNEY'". Buffalo News. September 14, 1993.
  25. ^ "Special Report – MIP' Asia: southern star brings nonviolent and educational shows".
  26. ^ "Hit takes Barney off Southern Star".
  27. ^ Zacharia, Janine (December 25, 1997). "Why Barney Doesn't Wear a Yarmulke". Jerusalem Report.
  28. ^ Precker, Michael (June 8, 1998). "The purple dinosaur arrives in Israel". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  29. ^ "BBC NEWS – Middle East – Sesame Street breaks Iraqi POWs". bbc.co.uk. May 20, 2003.
  30. ^ IPTV Archived January 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ "Advertising; Barney's Image Gets Makeover For New Crop Of Toddlers". The New York Times. August 12, 2002. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  32. ^ The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy. Broadway Books. 1997. ISBN 9780767900461.p. 248
  33. ^ Berglas, Steven (December 10, 2008). "Entrepreneurship (Or Lack Thereof) In Millennials". Forbes. Retrieved July 20, 2015.
  34. ^ Lyons Partnership v. Ted Giannoulas, 179 F.3d 384, 386 (5th Cir. 1999), citing Chava Willig Levy, "The Bad News About Barney", Parents, Feb. 1994, at 191–92 (136–39).
  35. ^ Chava Willig Levy. "The Bad News About Barney (Parents Magazine, February 1994)". chavawilliglevy.com. Archived from the original on February 5, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  36. ^ Clark, Doug (December 14, 1993). "Godzilla shows Barney bad side of dinosaur life". The Spokesman-Review. p. 21. Retrieved April 16, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  37. ^ "Lyons Partnership, Plaintiff-appellant, v. Ted Giannoulas, Doing Business As Famous Chicken; Tfc, Inc.,defendants-appellees, 179 F.3d 384 (5th Cir. 1999)". Justia Law. Retrieved November 28, 2022.
  38. ^ Halberstadter, David (March 2003). "But It's a Joke! Balancing the Interests of Parodists Against Copyright and Trademark Owners without Clear Guidelines" (PDF). IP Litigator. 9 (3): 5.
  39. ^ Champion, Walter T.; Willis, Kirk D. (March 28, 2014). Intellectual Property Law in the Sports and Entertainment Industries. ABC-CLIO. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-313-39164-4.
  40. ^ "The Worst TV Shows Ever". CBS News. February 11, 2009. Archived from the original on March 19, 2021. Retrieved March 25, 2023.
  41. ^ "'Barney & Friends' Thrills Kids But Makes Many Parents Nauseous". tribunedigital-thecourant. Archived from the original on August 30, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  42. ^ Behrens, Steve (March 6, 1995). "What did Barney earn, and why didn't PBS get more?". Current. Retrieved May 8, 2021.

Further reading