Don Knotts never thought The Andy Griffith Show would go beyond five seasons

''Then Andy suddenly said he was going to stay on another two or three years. I never expected it to go on.''

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For the first five years of The Andy Griffith Show, Don Knotts grew into the role of Barney Fife, which eventually became a phenomenon of its own. 

The Mayberry deputy to Sheriff Andy Taylor didn't shy away from talking a big game on the force, despite the fact that he was only allowed to carry one bullet. When push came to shove, Deputy Fife did his best to keep Mayberry safe. Yes, it was safe to begin with, but still. 

The Andy Griffith Show of course went on without Knotts for three seasons, after he left the show for the big screen and new opportunities. Knotts' five years on TAGS were the best of the series according to fans worldwide, and it's no surprise. The duo of Griffith and Knotts gave the show its tone and is why the series is still so loved today. 

Though the small-town series carried on for multiple years after Knotts' departure, it wasn't the same. Mayberry was used to having Deputy Fife on the hip of Sheriff Taylor. The viewers were used to it too.

Knotts, who continued on to a successful career after TAGS, said there was a tentative timeline for the series from the very beginning, and that it came from Andy Griffith himself. 

"I left because Andy had said he would never do the show longer than five years," Knotts explained during a 1999 interview with the Television Academy Foundation. "I had a five-year contract. During the fifth season I thought 'jeez, I better start looking around for more work.'"

Knotts did look around, and unsurprisingly found work. But as the initial five year mark drew closer, Griffith decided he wanted to call Mayberry home for a little longer.

"I wound up getting an offer from Universal to do movies and do my own pictures. Then Andy suddenly said he was going to stay on another two or three years." 

Knotts' final episode as a Mayberry regular was during the season five episode "Opie Flunks Arithmetic," but he did return to Mayberry in a handful of episodes after his departure. Though he found success outside of Mayberry, the ultimate decision to leave wasn't an easy one. But by the time The Andy Griffith Show was set for a sixth season and beyond, Knotts had made up his mind. 

"I had focused all my attention in that direction... and I just went ahead. It was a tough time for me because I enjoyed the Griffith show so much, that I hated to leave. I never expected it to go on." 

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33 Comments

Tarheelkid79 8 months ago
Nothing was worse for the show than Howard Sprague and his Mother.
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LoveMETV22 13 months ago
METV and Everyone Else :
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And equally there are viewers that are happy with MeTV's choice not to broadcast the last three seasons. 2 sides to every coin. Glad they don't show those seasons. There's always other options. Enjoy MeTV's programming choices and certainly not looking or expect the network to carry or adapt to individual opinions or tastes. The network does an excellent job (past,present) and whatever future changes they may make.
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McGillahooala 13 months ago
Watching the color episodes of The Andy Griffith show is like getting a Shemp.
RachelR McGillahooala 13 months ago
Or a Joe.
McGillahooala 13 months ago
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RachelR 13 months ago
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McGillahooala 13 months ago
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McGillahooala 13 months ago
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RachelR 13 months ago
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McGillahooala 13 months ago
How many times is MeTV going to recycle the same stories?
McGillahooala 13 months ago
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Rick 13 months ago
Maybe he meant to say the show *shouldn't* have gone on past five years.
tootsieg 13 months ago
Don Knotts leaving and changing over to color………Not the same show.
JHP 13 months ago
well...his vocal chords had to get pretty sore by then (all the yelling)

but then almost all the rants were followed by the canned laugh track
Runeshaper 13 months ago
Don Knotts was a FANTASTIC actor! 👌
LoveMETV22 13 months ago
"Knotts' five years on TAGS were the best of the series according to fans worldwide."
"Though the small-town series carried on for multiple years after Knotts' departure, it wasn't the same."
"Truer words have never been spoken."
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Coldnorth MrsPhilHarris 13 months ago
So many ways to reply to that statement. ROFL
JHP 10 months ago
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JHP wallyandbagfan 10 months ago
Now c'mon Warren:)
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