How long was Barney Fife the Deputy of Mayberry?

Conspiracy Corner: They're hiding something from us.

There's a mystery in Mayberry. Something doesn't quite add up on The Andy Griffith Show, and only the sharpest fans can do the math. Barney Fife did things by the book. But what if the book was wrong? We're not nitpicking either; we love the show too much to criticize. Instead, we're here to give just the facts and allow you to form your own opinion.

Consider the following: In the season four episode "Citizen's Arrest," Andy and Barney clear out old files. Among the old scraps and paperwork is a custody receipt for the first revolver Sheriff Andy Taylor issued to Barney when he became deputy. "Look at that," says Andy. "August 1953. 10 years ago last month since I swore you in."

"Time has a way of moving right down the road, don't it?" says Barney. "Boy, it sure does," Andy replies. But in Mayberry, time seems to move a bit differently.  

Exhibit B: Season 5 Episode 2, "Barney's Physical," an episode of The Andy Griffith Show much like any other. The story begins with Andy dutifully typing away at his paperwork (it's always paperwork). Barney enters. He leans on Andy's desk, waiting for something. Then, the scene that plays out between the two changes the very fabric of the space-time continuum.

"Well, I see you forgot," says Barney. He's clearly disappointed. 

"Forgot what?" replies Andy, clueless.

"Well, what day this is," says Barney. "May 16th! Five years ago, what happened?"

"Something happen to you?" asks Andy.

"Yeah..." says Barney. "Well, think!"

"Umm... You met Thelma Lou?" offers Andy. 

"No," says Barney. "That was in 1960 at Wilton Blair's funeral. Try again."

The routine continues as Andy incorrectly guesses several more milestones that Barney could be celebrating. The two go back and forth, with Barney getting increasingly agitated until: 

"I joined the Sherrif's office!" Barney finally reveals. 

In season four, Barney has been Deputy for 10 years.

In season five, Barney has been Deputy for 5 years. 

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31 Comments

Toddmick 1 month ago
Nobody paid attention to anything. They just wanted it to be funny.
obectionoverruled 1 month ago
The more time passes, the better we appreciate Don Knott’s adaptation of Barney the bumbling dopey small town deputy. His performances will be remembered as long as videotape can be stored along with the hilarious antics of a select crowned few, including WC Fields, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, John Candy and one who might surprise you, William Powell of The Thin Man movie serial fame. Just my opinion, of course. Can you do better?
PhilK 1 month ago
Barney was a Cold War era assassin for J Edgar Hoover. His job in Mayberry was only a cover.
gmail 1 month ago
To: grammajean
Thank have a good day
BillStevens 1 month ago
Challenge: name one episode where at least one lie is NOT told. Andy told the most lies. I don't believe in "little white lies"...a lie is a lie.
Speaking of Little White Lies, not Barney Fife, take a few moments soon and dial into a song by that title, sung by America’s number one female
Vocalist of the last century, Ella Fitzgerald and backed up by Chick Webb and his Orchestra. The song’s lamentable lyrics, sweet tune, her close and Chick’s brass players combine for one wonderful listening session, if only a 3 minute one at that. I used to hear it on late night radio as a kid, viewed it in an old movie and still have it swirling around in my head 60+ years later. Such a sad, beautiful, memorable ditty. Oh those were the days.
latresa17 1 month ago
Another discrepancy I noticed as a kid...The regular character playing Clara, Aunt Bea's friend, was sometimes Clara Edwards and sometimes Clara Johnson.
HAROLD 1 month ago
If you really want to retcon this discrepancy (instead of just chalking it up to the writers not checking continuity) it can be easily explained.
In 1953 Barney was hired by the sheriff's office and given a gun. when he holstered it, it went off. After this happened a few times he was discharged. Five years later, (around the time Aunt Bee arrived in Mayberry) Andy gave Barney a second chance, providing that he kept his bullet in his shirt pocket.
MichaelGreene 1 month ago
,Time stuff wasn't limited to Mayberry. In the original Dragnet series, in the 2nd season(1952-32), I think the 2nd episode of that season, it's established that Joe Friday began as an LAPD officer in 1940. (This episode finally killed off the Sgt Ben Romero character...the actor who played him, Barton Yarborough, had died of a heart attack in December, 1951, after 2 episodes had been filmed.) In Dragnet (II), the opening episode of the 3rd 91968-69)season (the one where Howard Hesseman, billed as "Don Sturdy", an alias Hesseman used while working as a San Francisco radio DJ, plays the editor of an alternative newspaper) Friday states that he had been an LAPD officer for 11 years. I guess someone in the production company forgot to tell the boss how long Joe Friday had been an LAPD officer.
Jerryfan 1 month ago
Barney was also originally Andy's cousin but that was changed early on.
Fred_Clampett 1 month ago
I remember reading somewhere how the show's writers had said they were writing the show to make a living. Had they known they were making TV history, they may have watched closer. There are lots of errors in the show like this.
gmail 1 month ago
My question that I have asked before and still no answer.

In the credits, why is Ron Howard, before Don Knotts?
cperrynaples gmail 1 month ago
Because Barney didn't go to the fishing hole with Andy & Opie...LOL! Seriously, it was because he wasn't in the Danny Thomas pilot! He was still working for Steve Allen!
gmail cperrynaples 1 month ago
Thank you
Fishing hole was pretty good.
gmail gmail 1 month ago
Thank you, have a good day.
Andybandit 1 month ago
I have no clue how long Barney was the Deputy. I never watched TAGS in color.
cperrynaples Andybandit 1 month ago
Barney wasn't a deputy in the color era! He was working in Raleigh!
CoreyC cperrynaples 1 month ago
Barney was Deputy again in Return To Mayberry.
Toddmick CoreyC 1 month ago
No Barney was the sheriff until the end when Andy came back
Stephen 1 month ago
Forget about the missing 5 years. What about the missing Andy Taylor Junior? Andy and Helen came back during episode one of season two of Mayberry RFD for his baptism, but by they time they filmed Return to Mayberry Andy and Helen referred to their only son Opie.
cperrynaples Stephen 1 month ago
Well, he was Helen's STEPSON! Opie's mother died before the show began!
Dhoppe2020 Stephen 1 month ago
He was staying with Chuck Cunningham
Bapa1 1 month ago
Those missing five years was when he was working for The IMF.
cperrynaples Bapa1 1 month ago
No, Mission Impossible came on in 1966! However, there was an agent who looked like Spock but didn't have the pointy ears...LOL!
Bapa1 cperrynaples 1 month ago
Maybe he was working for CONTROL.
BorisK 1 month ago
I met Don Knotts at an autograph signing in Studio City, at the Beverly Garland Hotel in 1994. Had to be the sweetest guy you'd ever want to meet, and he signed my Ghost & Mr. Chicken poster. I have it framed to this day. Alan Young from Mr. Ed was also there, very nice guy, along with Milner/McCord from Adam 12, Don Adams (he was cranky but, still love Don Adams) Joseph Campanella (I remember his table not being busy and I felt sorry for him) plus others. But Don Knotts was the real draw -- everyone wanted his autograph and to say hello to him.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
Very interesting point and props to MeTV for catching the discrepancy!
Coldnorth Runeshaper 1 month ago
I know this is off topic, but my big toe hurts. Nobody I know is online right now so I had to tell someone. It’s nothing serious.
LoveMETV22 1 month ago
Not a Mystery. A Continuity error that the Producers/Writers for w/e reason decided not to fix.
Also covered in an article MeTV published in 2017.
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Tibby LoveMETV22 1 month ago
FANTASTIC show that I've watched all my life. Barney's been a deputy in my mind for well over 60 years. That's really all that matters.
LoveMETV22 Tibby 1 month ago
Your right.
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