Betty Lynn was told Thelma Lou was replaceable
Don Knotts said that they wouldn't have let her go, but Betty Lynn wasn't so sure.
If you've ever taken a televised mosey down Mayberry's Main Street, then you know exactly how special the town and its characters are. What would that place be without Floyd's Barbershop? Or, for that matter, what about Wally's Filling Station? Everything about the town makes it special and memorable, and that's true for its inhabitants as well.
One such local who made Mayberry what it is was Thelma Lou, as portrayed by Betty Lynn. As Barney's sometimes-girlfriend, Thelma Lou brought a good-natured optimism to the stories she populated. More importantly, she really grounded Barney who, at times, definitely needed it.
Fans of the show will agree that Betty Lynn was invaluable to The Andy Griffith Show. She wasn't just another Mayberry resident. She was important. Without her, who would have married Barney in the reunion television movie?
However, producers on the show may not have agreed with her pricelessness. Andy Griffith Show fans will note how frequently the show's leads had different romantic interests. This may have been for many different reasons, but chief among them was money. Because the more episodes an actor appeared in, the more money he or she would be entitled to. Recurring roles earn an actor more than one-off guest roles. Similarly, joining the show's main cast would net more than would be available to a character who only shows up occasionally.
According to a 2007 article in the Elizabethton, Tennessee Star, Betty Lynn was paid $250 a day, or roughly $500 per episode. There came a time when she thought she should be earning a bit more. So, Lynn asked for a $50 raise. It may shock you to learn that she was told, "We can replace you."
Betty Lynn took the issue to Don Knotts months later.
"I told Don about it, and he said, 'They wouldn't have done that. They wouldn't have let you go," she recalled. However, if you take a look at the show's credits, you'll see that Barney had already had two other girlfriends who were ultimately disposed of. Lynn didn't want to take the risk of being replaced, so, she gave up.