The Andy Griffith Show

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

This idyllic and iconic Sitcom, which ran on CBS from 1960 to 1968, starred Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor. The Andy Griffith Show remains enormously popular in reruns. At any hour of any day, some television station in the US is playing the show (if you live in North Carolina, you cannot go a week without finding it in your local TV listings... which is not a bad thing).

Andy is The Sheriff of a small, friendly town called Mayberry, in North Carolina. Despite his authoritarian role, Andy is an easy-going, good-humored guy. He can be tough when the situation demands it, but he prefers to play loose with the rules, and adapt punishments according to the nature of the crime and the individual. His deputy and cousin friend Barney Fife prefers the opposite approach, but since he is clumsy and totally lacking in gravitas, no one takes him seriously. Most of the humor from the early years of the show comes from Barney's attempts to bring law and order to an already lawful and orderly town, and Andy's subsequent ribbing of Barney when his plans go wrong. Very frequently, Andy will resort to a counter-scheme to protect Barney's fragile ego and what's left of his reputation as a lawman.

The series also focuses on the widowed Andy's relationship with his young son Opie, with Andy trying to strike a balance between being a fun confidant and instilling a strong sense of right and wrong. Andy dated a few women over the course of the series, but Opie's mother figure was Aunt Bee, who lived in the Taylor home and took care of the housework. Andy was also alternately amused and exasperated by the eccentricities of the town-folk, like gossipy barber Floyd, highly repressed bureaucrat Howard Sprague, and totally moronic hayseed Gomer Pyle, who was spun off and replaced with his even more idiotic cousin Goober.

Supporting actors included Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife; Ron Ronny Howard (pre-Happy Days) as Andy's son, Opie; Frances Bavier as Andy's Aunt Bee Taylor, and George Lindsey and Jim Nabors as the Pyle cousins, Goober and Gomer Pyle.

Tropes used in The Andy Griffith Show include:
  • After Show: Mayberry RFD.
  • Alcohol Hic: Otis
  • The All-American Boy: Opie and his pals. Andy is arguably a grown-up example as well.
  • An Aesop: Several of the episodes have these.
    • Semi-Subverted from time to time. Often, Andy would attempt to teach Opie a lesson (don't be selfish) which Opie seems to misunderstand (buying a gift for a girl, instead). Turns out Opie already understands (the gift is a winter coat that the girl's family couldn't afford), and the lesson learned is that Andy should trust Opie.
  • The Barber: Floyd.
  • Bow Ties Are Cool: Barney and Howard both liked to rock the bow tie look.
  • Brats with Slingshots
  • Bride and Switch: Earnest T. Bass tried to steal a bride away from her wedding but it turned out to be Barney under the veil.
  • Brother Chuck: Ellie Walker, Warren Ferguson.
  • The Cast Showoff: Andy's singing was showcased in several episodes, as was Jim Nabors'.
  • Catch Phrase: "Nip it in the bud!"
  • Chain Letter: Barney gets one in "The Lucky Letter".
  • Christmas Episode
  • Clueless Deputy: Barney, who, while carrying a gun, is forbidden by Andy to keep it loaded, and furthermore is only allowed to carry one bullet.
    • To elaborate: The reason Barney had to keep his bullet in his pocket was because he was unable to holster a loaded gun without it going off.
    • After Barney's departure, the character of Warren Ferguson briefly filled this role before quietly disappearing.
    • Then there are the episodes where Andy or Barney are forced to temporarily deputize even more clueless characters such as Gomer, Goober, Otis, etc.
  • The Crime Job: "The Bank Job".
  • Dinner Order Flub: While in Mount Pilot, Andy and Barney go to a fancy French restaurant. Andy isn't too proud to say he can't read the menu and just orders a steak. Barney points to menu items and gets stuff he never thought of as food.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the pilot, Andy and Barney are cousins. This is never mentioned again after the first two episodes. Also, for most of the first season, Griffith played Andy more as a country bumpkin than the straight man role he played in the rest of the series.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk
  • The Eponymous Show
  • Everytown, America
  • Extreme Omni Goat
  • Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics
  • Grumpy Old Man: Ben Weaver is a combination of this and The Scrooge.
  • Half-Hour Comedy
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Andy's girlfriend (and Opie's teacher) Helen Crump.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Goober, initially; Sarah, Juanita.
  • Hidden Badass: Andy isn't exactly an action hero, but he's not to be messed with lightly.
  • Luxury Prison Suite, to some extent: home-cooked meals, harmless town drunk Otis being allowed to come and go as he pleases by means of a key deliberately left in reach of his cell, etc.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Played with; Andy and Opie are at first able to clean up the house really well while Aunt Bee is gone, but then they fear she will feel they won't need them. They decide they have to mess the house up all over again.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Barney often boasts about how he'd easily handle some troublemaker -- until the actual trouble starts.
  • Missing Mom: Andy is a widower.
  • Momma's Boy: Howard Sprague.
  • Nitro Express: Played with in an episode where two yokels who accidentally pick up a container of nitroglycerin (somehow mistaking it for fertilizer) manhandle it for the entire episode. It is only when it is dropped down a well that it finally explodes.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: "Mr. McBeevee".
  • Only Sane Man: Andy.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: By the later seasons, Andy seemed to have very little to do in the way of actual sheriffing. To the point where he didn't even need another deputy after Warren's departure.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: "Gomer Pyle, USMC", which had the character join the Marines and led to the spi-noff show of the same title.
  • Put on a Bus: Barney goes off to join the Raleigh police force at the end of Season 5.
    • However, he continued to return for annual guest appearances over the rest of the series.
  • Real Place Allusion: Mayberry, North Carolina, was based on Pilot Mountain, North Carolina according to Andy Griffith himself.
  • Recurring Character: Several, including crotchety storekeeper Ben Weaver, musical hillbilly family the Darlings, hotheaded mountain man Ernest T. Bass, itinerant Englishman Malcolm Merriweather, and Mt. Pilot "fun girls" Skippy and Daphne.
  • Reunion Show: The TV movie Return to Mayberry (1986).
  • Smoking Is Cool: Andy lit up several times during the black-and-white era, one prominent example being in the episode "Mr. McBeevee" (after a scene where Andy confronts Opie about whether McBeevee exists); in that same episode, McBeevee (a telephone lineman, played by Karl Swenson, a heavy smoker throughout his life) also smokes.
    • Most of the smoking was reserved for various bit and bad-guy characters. Deputy Barney Fife was a non-smoker, although Don Knotts was a real-life smoker.
  • Spin-Off: This series was a spin-off of The Danny Thomas Show, one episode of which actually was a sort of Poorly-Disguised Pilot for this series; and it spawned two spin-offs of its own: Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and Mayberry RFD (although the latter is probably better classes as an After Show).
    • There was also a 1971 series called The New Andy Griffith Show which was a sort of very obvious Spiritual Successor, featuring Griffith in a similar role. Bizarrely, the later show's pilot episode had three old TAGS characters - Barney Fife, Goober Pyle, and Emmett Clark - traveling from Mayberry to the new show's setting of Greenwood, NC to congratulate friend "Andy Sawyer" on his new job as mayor. It's pretty surprising none of them noticed how similar their friend Andy Sawyer was to their hometown sheriff pal Andy Taylor!
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Goober, Warren.
  • Syndication Title: Andy of Mayberry.
  • Technical Pacifist: Andy hates carrying guns, and much prefers to outwit criminals than rough them up or threaten them.
    • On at least one occasion, he borrows Barney's gun (and bullet) when he decides that he actually needs one.
  • You Look Familiar: Several, but the award goes to Allan Melvin appearing as 8 different characters, many of them central to the episode they appeared in.