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The Krebs character, portrayed by actor Bob Denver, begins as a stereotypical beatnik, with a goatee, "hip" (slang) language, and a generally unkempt, bohemian appearance. His abhorrence of conventional social forms is signified by comical reactions to three words: "work", "marriage", and "police". For example, whenever the word "work" is mentioned, even in passing, he yelps "Work?!" and jumps with fear or even faints. He serves as a foil to the well-groomed, well-dressed, strait-laced Dobie, and the contrast between the two friends provides much of the humor of the series.
Gradually, he becomes less of the stereotypical beatnik and more a free soul who "does his own thing," as he might say—including collecting tinfoil or petrified frogs, seeing the old Endicott Building get torn down and watching the movie The Monster That Devoured Cleveland. In one episode, he invites Dobie to accompany him to a double-feature of the film and its sequel, Son of the Monster that Devoured Cleveland. Maynard may be described as the prototype of the late-1960s hippie. Many of the later episodes center around Maynard, with Dobie more of an observer, but always as narrator. The series lasted four years (1959–1963), but its popularity extended into the 1990s and 2000s as channels like Nick at Nite and Me-TV re-broadcast it for new generations.
Maynard's middle name is Walter. Named for his aunt, the "G" is silent, he would explain.
Maynard G. Krebs became a well-known figure in American popular culture.