Don Knotts was always willing to play Barney Fife again, if Andy Griffith asked

Knotts couldn't say no to Griffith.

When someone leaves a television series, viewers might assume that there's bad blood between that actor and the show's creative team. However, when Don Knotts chose to leave The Andy Griffith Show, it was a decision that, while upsetting, everyone knew was for the best. At that time, Knotts had already won multiple awards for his role as Barney Fife, and it was almost an expectation that he would inevitably move into film projects, graduating from a second banana to a main star.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Griffith acknowledged that he'd miss Knotts, but still believed The Andy Griffith Show would continue on at the same caliber it always had been. However, in Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show by Daniel de Visé, Ron Howard explained that while "Andy understood" Don's choice to leave the series, he also acknowledged, "I think, for Andy, the show was never the same after Don left."

Luckily, Don Knotts was neither forgotten nor gone completely from The Andy Griffith Show, as he made frequent returns as a guest star on the series, and returned for any cast reunions for the series. More than that, Knotts was still just as eager to play Barney Fife as he was when he first got the role.

According to a 1990 interview with the Boca Raton News, Knotts said that even after all these years, he'd be willing to return to The Andy Griffith Show, in whatever form it took.

Knotts said, "I still get a charge out of performing before a live audience. I'm not retired, but I don't have any big ambitious plans. If Andy Griffith calls me up for another Return To Mayberry, I'd be happy to do it."

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7 Comments

Peter 25 days ago
i thought Don left because he thought the show was ending and he had committed to another
job.
FrankensteinLover 28 days ago
Oh how I miss Don Knotts, I grew up on the show so much I still can't fathom hes not around.
Runeshaper 28 days ago
That's cool. I'm glad Barney was happy to come back to Mayberry every now and then.
cperrynaples 28 days ago
It could be argued that Don WAS playing Barney on Matlock, even recreating classic bits! The reason there wasn't a followup to RTM was that between Andy on Matlock and Ron Howard directing movies, there was NEVER an opening when both were available!
I agree with you. I suspect if Matlock could have had "Barney Fife" moving to Georgia
and being the new neighbor they would have done it, but the rights to the character
may be owned by CBS/ studio/whomever in some combination, so that it would be hard
to do. Or they wanted big money.
If they had gotten Barney, they could have had various Mayberry people dropping in to visit him, ratings would go higher plus the coverage in various media, win win for everyone.
What you say about RTM makes sense, especially regarding Ron, as I read he is a workhorse
who when he isn't actually directing is in pre-production for his next project.
cperrynaples, this reminds me of Forrest Tucker on Gunsmoke.
His character behaved exactly the same as his Sgt. Morgan O'Rourke on F-Troop, had literally
the same uniform, obviously a wink to F-Troop fans without the same name.
Kitty would have been better off leaving with him at episodes end, he made no bones
about loving her and was full of fun.
Plus of course there was the Legend of the Anaconda, there is even You Tube postings
regarding that.
Matlock was/is owned by CBS (Viacom) which also did the Perry Mason movies. Both have been released on CBS DVD.
A better reason would be it would be too gimmicky to have Barney on Matlock.
You could be right about "gimmicky" but if they thought it would draw in more viewers
which equals more money I would bet that trumps everything else.
Look how many TV series they shoehorned in Richard Belzer's "Detective Munch"
character in to, 11 on six different networks.
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