Betty Lynn explained how Thelma Lou became Barney Fife's great love

There was no plan to bring Thelma Lou back until Betty Lynn got cast.

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"You know you're the only girl I care anything about,' Barney Fife tells Thelma Lou on a Mayberry dance floor.

The frequently fumbling deputy goes on, "You're the only one I really" — his mouth kind of gulps around the next word — "love."

"What!" Thelma Lou exclaims.

"I said you're the only I love!" Barney says, this time the word coming out insistently, louder and prouder.

"I can't hear you!" Thelma Lou teases.

"You're the only girl I love!" Barney shouts at the top of his lungs. The music around them stops and everyone on the dancefloor turns to see the scene the deputy is causing, only to soon break into applause as Thelma Lou beams at Barney.

This adorable scene where Barney first declares his love for Thelma Lou arrives in the fourth season of The Andy Griffith Show during an episode called "Fun Girls."

In it, Barney and Andy reunite with a wild pair of gal pals, Daphne and Skippy. The Fun Girls' attentions to the sheriff and deputy stir confusion in their longtime girlfriends, Helen Crump and Thelma Lou. But while we've told you time and again about the love story of Andy and Helen, we've maybe neglected to take a long look at the love shared between Barney and Thelma Lou.

Thelma Lou is introduced as a potential sweetheart for Barney in the first season of the show during the episode "Cyrano Andy." In the opening scene, Barney, Andy and Thelma Lou are singing a song called "Seeing Nellie Home," and if you happen to know the bluegrass song, then you might've caught a little foreshadowing of this song selection.

Look to the lyrics and you can see that "Seeing Nellie Home" is about a man whose dream of finding love is renewed: "On my life new hopes were dawning / and these hopes have lived and grown." Why? Because he was "seeing Nellie home," and feeling completely carried away with the possibility of being thrown into this new love.

That's the predicament in which Barney's soon found himself during "Cyrano Andy." He walks Thelma Lou home from Andy's house, but he's so tongue-tied, he prattles on in a boring way instead of successfully wooing this woman who’s already winning his heart.

Luckily, after a lot of hilarity, Andy helps Barney and Thelma Lou make it to the end of this first episode in each other's arms, as Andy sings another bluegrass tune about finding new love.

However, even though it was love at first sight for Barney and Thelma Lou, fans know that doesn't mean it was smooth sailing for Mayberry's newest couple.

In the second season, the couple breaks up and Barney even immediately starts seeing someone else in the fifth episode "Barney on the Rebound." It doesn’t take long for the deputy to go back to Andy for more romantic meddling, and again, Andy helps Barney reunite with Thelma Lou by episode's end.

From this point on, Barney and Thelma Lou are pretty steady, and by the third season, they're even the ones helping Andy navigate a break up in "Barney Mends a Broken Heart." Then they set him up with a slew of new potential partners in "A Wife for Andy."

Together, they make a great team, even if their intentions are always better than their execution.

Over the course of the series, she becomes the perfect partner for Barney, just as Andy was the perfect partner at work. Appearing in 26 episodes, Thelma Lou is right there for Barney, through thick and thin. As Barney's soulmate, she was a sweet and stable force in the twitchy deputy's Mayberry life.

In an interview with ArtistChronicle, Betty Lynn once explained that The Andy Griffith Show didn't necessarily plan to give Barney Fife a love like Thelma Lou that lasted. That kind of just happened, the way true love often does.

The actress said she came in to audition for Thelma Lou for "Cyrano Andy," and after that, the other television series to which she was contracted was canceled and she became available any time The Andy Griffith Show called her up.

"I didn't have any contract," Betty Lynn said, explaining that her appearances on The Andy Griffith Show simply came along, one episode at a time, building out the love story of Thelma Lou and Barney bit by bit.

But it was easy to see how everybody on the show would become a fan of Betty Lynn's work and ask her back. Knotts praised her as a fine actress, and she said their affection for one another both on and offscreen was mutual.

"They called me in occasionally," Betty Lynn said. "And I got to play opposite Don Knotts, who I loved."

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Mark091 43 months ago
How come Hilda Mae was dropped
As Barney Fife s girlfriend and was
Replaced by Thelma Lou ?
Also what was Thelma Lou's last name? And where did Thelma Lou
Work at In Return to Mayberry
Andy and Helen didn't mention
Their son Andy Taylor JR
What happened to Lou Ann Poovie
Sam Jones Millie Floyd Lawson
Warren Elly Walker Clara Edwards
Peggy MacMillan Mary Simpson
All of these characters either
VANISHED from the Andy Griffith
Show or Gomer Pyle USMC or
Were not mentioned in Return to Mayberry Emma Brand-Watson
Mayor Pike and Mayor Stoner
Were also interesting characters
MarthaWashington 45 months ago
In that hight school reuinion show, yes, it showed Thelma Lou married someone else, but in the reunion movie later on, (haven't seen that in years) Don't Barney and Thelma Lou get married after all?---Like Andy and Helens child, baptized on Mayberry RFD and not mentioned in the reunion movie--series inconsistencies
* 3 children were named after Andy: [1] Charlene Darling Wash's daughter Andelina [2] The quiet farmer's newborn son and finally [3] Andy & Helen's son Andy Junior. BUT these 3 babies were later never seen or mentioned ever again!
trogg888 45 months ago
wasnt the actress who played thelma lou a different character in the high school reunion episode and played andys ex?
BAMorrison trogg888 45 months ago
Thelma Lou wasn't in the "High School Reunion" episode. She was an old high school classmate by the name of Ramona Wiley who signed Barney's yearbook like a love note so he thought that she was in love with him.
JohnGibbons trogg888 17 months ago
The actress did look like her but it was a different actress playing Andy’s old girlfriend Sharon.
DeborahRoberts trogg888 16 months ago
Yes. In the color episodes, Don Knotts returned for a second high school reunion in which Thelma Lou came back married to someone else. In the movie made years later where Barnie marries Thelma Lou, they explain that her marriage didn't work out.
Laurean 45 months ago
Thelma Lou got smart and went to the big city to have a better job! She got tired of Barney's indecision about their relationship and found a man who really appreciated her! Go girl!
RedSamRackham Laurean 17 months ago
* Thelma Lou became Uncle Bill's secretary on Family Affair. Meanwhile whatever became of the never seen Juanita the diner waitress?
StephenCarr 45 months ago
Something got lost in this article. Thelma Lou leaves Mayberry and marries somone else....
TomBurkhart 45 months ago
It was a wholesome show with good slutty women,even the fun gals just hung around,no sex ,mostly kisses.....good shows.
jenniep369 45 months ago
Read hat ThelmLouis married someone else! What happened?
JHP jenniep369 45 months ago
She got smart
cmurf1960 jenniep369 30 months ago
Thelma Lou did marry someone else and left Mayberry. However, in the 1986 film "Return To Mayberry", she returned to town, divorced. She and Barney finally tied the knot at the end of the movie.
Liz 45 months ago
What about Barney’s side flame, Juanita down at the diner? Barney would serenata her with songs over the phone...
JHP Liz 45 months ago
Barney had Thelma Lou in his hip pocket - what a turd
JHP Liz 45 months ago
Remember the "trouble check" - like BAR-NAY would tangle with truck drivers
BAMorrison Liz 45 months ago
The writers never showed her. Barney was in "like" with an invisible woman. We never even heard her voice.😄
Dizzydude JHP 45 months ago
Yea trouble check lol
JHP Dizzydude 45 months ago
we call barney "the chicken, he try hard but no can cut it" (such a funny line)
Eloise 45 months ago
Didn't anyone think/feel Lydia was perfect for Andy?
BAMorrison Eloise 45 months ago
My favorite was Peggy, the Nurse. She was southern, classy and a lot more fun than the rest of Andy's flames.😍
Dizzydude BAMorrison 45 months ago
I liked mary
JHP Eloise 45 months ago
Lydia hated the guitar tho - ange loved the guitar
JHP BAMorrison 45 months ago
the flame that wasn't andys was Jan Shutan - when she was in that bathrobe and he didn't do anything - GEES!
MrsPhilHarris 45 months ago
One of my favourite characters on TAGS.
PortelaJ 45 months ago
Absolutely adore Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) To me, she was the prettiest girl in Mayberry. ps not counting when Barbara Eden (Genie) came to town. She also toured with the USO entertaining our troops during WWII. Big respect. You go girl!
Dizzydude PortelaJ 45 months ago
I never liked old lady Crump lol
Pacificsun 45 months ago
TAGS (which is one of the most popular classic sitcoms) is successful because the characters have really been fleshed out. They have a lot of dimension. It's a show where you forget who the actors are, because they've so developed their roles. It's not just about writers and dialogue (of course) but how it's interpreted in every scene. That's partly the director's job, to make the entire episode flow, but actors put the flesh and life into those words, to create the kind of relationships that fascinate their fans. And help them to never tire of the stories!!

Good story MeTV. Betty Lynn is often under recognized so it was nice to read about her!
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