Ron Howard on ''The Andy Griffith Show'': ''For Andy, the show was never the same after Don left''

Griffith was losing a friend and a partner in comedy.

Losing a friend can be difficult, especially because a true friend makes you a better person. Without them, it can feel like you're only one-half of a whole, forever missing the rest of you.

For Andy Griffith, Barney Fife's exit from Mayberry meant that not only was he losing a friend, but he was also losing a creative partner. Despite this, Don Knotts's departure seemed to be something of only a matter of time, according to the cast of The Andy Griffith Show. In Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show by Daniel de Visé, Ron Howard explained, "It was just a decision that [Don] had to make and that Andy understood. It always kind of felt more like an inevitable graduation than any kind of abandonment and betrayal."

So while there were no hard feelings about Knotts leaving the series, that doesn't mean that it didn't have any effect on the series, or Griffith himself. Knotts and Griffith had worked together for years, and at times, it seemed that Barney and Andy's relationship was such an important part of the series, one of the most heartwarming pieces of an already heartwarming show. While all the kooky characters of Mayberry complimented Andy's straight-laced character, Barney Fife's comedic timing and over-the-top nature seemed to do it better than anyone else.

While Knotts wasn't gone for good and still returned to The Andy Griffith Show for guest appearances, there was a definite shift after he left the series, particularly for Griffith himself. Ron Howard revealed, "I think, for Andy, the show was never the same after Don left." 

He continued, "He didn't have that partner. The absolute foundation of the show, and why it endures, is Andy-Barney. And yes, the feeling of what Mayberry was. But without the comedy that they generated, I don't think the show ever would have endured."

Luckily, the two actors often paired up together to recreate some of that Andy/Barney magic, and Griffith even gave Knotts a role in his later series, Matlock. While it's tough to say goodbye to our favorite best buddies, it's comforting to know that they loved each other just as much as we loved watching them.

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5 Comments

ColorTVisapassingfad 23 days ago
The post Knott shows are painful to watch. Andy became Danny Thomas who was always yelling and angry
Emmet, Howard and Goober were no replacement for Barney, Gomer and Floyd. The dirty little secret about the 1971 "rural purge" is that the show's best years were long behind them and gotten pretty stale and were running on fumes.
John 24 days ago
I know I'm in the minority but most of the time I thought Knott's was an annoyance.
Generally speaking I never enjoyed that kind of frantic humor Barney projected.
TweetyKim57 24 days ago
I read somewhere that Andy had said he would only do 5 years (ala Bill Cosby). Don was getting movie offers so he decided to leave because he didn't think there was going to be another season. Then Andy continued. I agree that the show just didn't have the same joy without Don. I just finished streaming the show on Paramount Plus and the last years without Don only to follow the rest of the story. You can see a severe change in Andy Griffith's attitude and demeanor.
Runeshaper 25 days ago
They had a great relationship and I'm sure it wasn't easy for either of them when Knotts left, but I'm glad they stayed friends and still managed to perform together later on.
Irish 25 days ago
I've been saying that for years. Infact, as I've commented before, I quit watching The Andy Griffith Show after Don Knotts left. I watched his guest appearances though. We can all agree (I hope) that Barney Fife made that show. I miss Don Knotts.
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