Yogi Bear was one of the most successful characters to have been created by Hanna-Barbera. He began as just another backing segment, forming part of The Huckleberry Hound Show in 1958. By 1961 he was headlining his own series, The Yogi Bear Show, with supporting segments Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle.
Yogi lived in Jellystone National Park, and from the very first episode made the park rangers question their career choice. For his part, Yogi suffered mainly from boredom, hunger and hunters. On occasion he attempted to escape the confines of the park and the repetition of his daily routine, only to find that life inside the park was actually soft and easy compared to the unprotected habitat outside its boundaries. In early episodes he either begged for food from campers when looking for an easy meal or attempted to snatch unguarded goodies. Adding to his problems, Yogi sometimes had to contend with hunters who were either after him or other woodland creatures he tried to protect. When faced with opposition Yogi often proclaimed himself, “Smarter than the av-er-age (fill in the blank)”, although this boast turned out to be overly optimistic a good deal of the time.
Ranger Smith was another common supporting character, although it wasn’t until the 24th episode “Lullabye-Bye Bear” that one of the rangers first referred to himself by that name. Prior to that episode, all of the rangers had simply been called “ranger” or were identified by various first names. It was at this point in the series that the stories began to focus on the thing that Yogi Bear is popularly remembered for—namely, carrying out clever schemes to deprive campers of their “pic-a-nic” baskets or otherwise con a meal, and his personal struggle with the ever-harassed Ranger Smith, who did his best to uphold park policy.
Yogi was too big a star to let fall into obscurity once his own series ran its course, so for several decades he served as the front man for numerous Hanna-Barbera cartoons that brought together large casts of characters who formerly had their own series. In addition to numerous specials, Yogi starred in Yogi’s Gang (1973), Yogi’s Space Race (1978) and its spin-off series Galaxy Goof-Ups (also 1978), Yogi’s Treasure Hunt (1985), The New Yogi Bear Show (1988) and Yo Yogi! (1991). He was also team leader of the Yogi Yahooeys in the 1977 series, Scooby’s All Star Laff-A-Lympics.