The character of Cletus joined the cast of The Dukes of Hazzard as a regular when the character Deputy Enos Strate (played by Sonny Shroyer) left the show in 1980.
Like Enos, Cletus regularly pursued the Duke boys in high speed car chases, which usually ended with Cletus landing in water, thus allowing the Dukes to evade the inept deputy. True to his family nature, he is a glutton (although not as much as Boss Hogg) and is often shown eating while on duty. Cletus made his first appearance in the first season episode "Money To Burn", in which he was the driver of the bank truck that became involved in Boss's latest plot. He acted as temporary deputy in season two's "The Meeting" and "Road Pirates" while Enos was away, and became permanent deputy in the same episode that Enos left, in the third season's "Enos Strate To The Top". Although his pursuit of the Duke boys was played mainly for laughs, his character turned serious in one episode when he was shown taking a suspected drunk driver into custody.
When Enos returned at the start of the fifth season, both served as deputies and shared the same patrol car for a few episodes before Cletus disappeared, said to have gone on vacation and never to return (until 1997's Reunion movie).