Only three shows went out on the top of the ratings, and The Andy Griffith Show is one of them

The final season of the show resulted in the highest Nielsen ranking possible.

Regarded as one of the best and most successful shows of its time, during its eight season run from 1960 to 1968, The Andy Griffith Show never had a weak season.

The ability to create a welcoming environment, all while portraying an ideal American small town was a formula for success, part of the reason the show has remained in syndication decades after the final episode hit the air. The show made headlines in 2016 as the 60th most-watched TV series of the year, some 48 years after it ended!

The show was nominated for an Emmy in 1962 for the Outstanding Program Achievement in the field of Humor category. By this time, Don Knotts had won his second of five Emmys for his role as Barney Fife, the deputy sheriff of fictional Mayberry, North Carolina.

Knotts’ character played a pivotal role to the show’s success. He told Archive of American Television in 1999 the simple irony of the character is what drew viewers in.

“He was a child-like character who thought he was a good cop. Thought he was the best cop in the world I guess,” Knotts said, though he jokingly admitted the character was “apparently not too effective.”

Though so many gravitated toward Barney Fife the character, Don Knotts the actor went in search of other opportunities after the fifth season, when his contract was up. Though it was a risky move, Knotts certainly remained relevant throughout his career.

Questions surfaced on how relevant the show would remain after Knotts’ departure, but viewership never wavered.

“The lowest The Andy Griffith Show ever ranked in the Nielsen ratings was seventh,” according to an article from

During its run, the show never fell out of the top ten in ratings, an impressive feat given one of the pillars from the series, Knotts, had left with what turned out to be three seasons left.

What might surprise some viewers is ratings not only didn’t fall during the final stretch, but they rose to peak levels by the end of the series.

“When the show ended in 1968, it ranked No. 1 according to the Nielsen ratings,” the article states.

Only two other shows have had a top-rank during its final season: I Love Lucy and Seinfeld, both also considered some of the best sitcoms in history, based on fans and backed up by the numbers.

It’s no secret the show came to an end, despite the highest possible ranking, because Griffith was ready for different opportunities. Any show that runs for eight seasons would typically be deemed a success. In TAGS’ case, it was much more than a show that just skated by in the ratings to generate another season.

In fact, it was the opposite, begging the question: had Griffith not wanted to go another route, how much longer could The Andy Griffith Show have gone with the same good reception still held by millions of viewers today?

Most fans probably agree the show ended at the right time, perhaps before the series lost what made it great to begin with, as seen with other programs that ran for several seasons. But, based on the numbers from the final season, we’d like to think Mayberry could have seen much more action with plenty of success.

Watch The Andy Griffith Show on MeTV!

Weeknights at 8 & 8:30, Sundays at 6 & 6:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
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bagandwallyfan52 20 months ago
The Andy Griffith Show:
Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson)
becomes a Comedian.
HGN2001 20 months ago
I would have guessed THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, and M*A*S*H as the other two.
BrianThetubewatcher 20 months ago
The show that went out truly in top form was the Mary Tyler Moore Show. It was always at its best, start to finish.
gmail 20 months ago
In regards to the showing of different programs from different sources, some has to do with regions, good example DVD's they are distributed by regions across the U. S.
If I recall correctly there are 4.
As for as programming rentals from networks, studios, etc. Cost, METV budget may be limited additionally networks control where and when shows can be shown in different markets.
There are many variables when it comes to allowing a show to be seen.
JohnGrant 20 months ago
All great actors and story lines but I think Barney kept the show interesting and funny...the way Klink and Schultz did for Hogan"s Hero's
JHP JohnGrant 20 months ago
need to disagree - BARN was funny because of the piped in laugh track - otherwise if he was proved wrong he would yell with no defense - insolent turd
JamesB 20 months ago
Most shows lose energy after several seasons and turn to "new characters" with hopes that they will click into the story. For examples, "Seinfeld" always had lots of recurring characters as a strength, but decided to end the show when Jerry Seinfeld wanted to leave. There were many rumors that key members of the cast would continue their same characters, same kinds of stories, just not with Jerry. That would have been a risk as well. For "Andy Griffith", the producers opted to press on with a combination of old and new characters with "Mayberry RFD". I liked the new show, but it lacked the spark that Andy Griffith and Don Knotts had, plus "RFD" lost a few cast members so it was facing a tough road. Given that "RFD" isn't common as a rerun, I don't think many people miss it today.
OHC 20 months ago
Why don’t you show the color episodes of the Andy Griffith show I think people would watch them also
LarryLeGros OHC 20 months ago
Yes, let's start seeing the color episodes. The great B&W episodes are becoming very monotonous.
JHP OHC 20 months ago
me no - warren and the expanded goober scripts were terrible
RichLorn OHC 20 months ago
This raises an interesting observation for me. When shows begin their run in b&w and migrate to color, they lose some of their appeal for some unknown reason. Besides Andy Griffith, it also happened with The Fugitive, Gunsmoke, and others.
DZee OHC 20 months ago
I agree. There were plenty of good color episodes too.
RedSamRackham JHP 17 months ago
* Perhaps but preferred as they may be seeing those same B&W episodes over & over & over gets quite monotonous. FGS show entire series from beginning to end, MeTV! Sheeesh!
RedSamRackham JHP 17 months ago
* B-b-but some of the Aunt Bee stories in early B&W episodes also rather lame particularly the bed jacket one.
Nala92129 20 months ago
Some of the writing, toward the end, was pretty abysmal. Griffith, himself, seemed to be going through the motions.
JHP Nala92129 20 months ago
amen a roni - I think AGNE was thinking of hot dogs on matlock
Runeshaper 20 months ago
Very impressive and GREAT story, MeTV! Thank you (-:
Pacificsun 20 months ago
A well-written article, and interesting - thanks MeTV. Had no idea about that statistic. And the article covered all the bases regarding related assumptions.

No wonder MeTV is using it as one of its primetime anchor shows! Keep on truckin!
StrayCat 20 months ago
Interesting. I Love Lucy and Seinfeld going out on top made sense, but for some reason I thought one of the two would have been MASH.
tootsieg 20 months ago
TAGS had so many good episodes. I like the black and white episodes more than the color episodes.
RickSS tootsieg 14 months ago
Some story lines were actually used over in the Goomer Pyle show
Andybandit 20 months ago
The three shows in the Nielson ratings in the story were great shows.
MrsPhilHarris 20 months ago
Starting at 7 my ideal evening would be Andy Griffith; 7:30 The Dick Van Dyke Show; 8 I Love Lucy; 8:30 something else such as Jack Benny, Donna Reed, Ozzie & Harriet, Dragnet, Make Room For Daddy, etc., and at 9 Perry Mason.

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MrsPhilHarris AnnieM 20 months ago
I agree! There are so many shows out there that died an early death, it’s a shame they are shown. Surely they are inexpensive to air.

Would love to see the original Jonny Quest. Loved that show.
*aren’t shown.
Wally Plumstead:Skip Young
Bag Zombroski:Neil J Schwartz
Wally Plumstead Skip Young played Practical Jokes on Rick and David Nelson on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
Bag Zombroski Neil J Schwartz
Liked to play practical jokes on Richie Potsie and Ralph on
Happy Days.
Other Great Practical Jokers:
Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde)on
Bewitched and Eddie Haskell
(Ken Osmond ) and Lumpy
Rutherford (Frank Bank,)on
Leave it to Beaver and Hawkeye
Alan Alda are are great practical jokers .
justjeff 20 months ago
The Andy Griffith Show... I love Lucy... DEFINITELY! (I own both compete series on DVD)... Seinfeld? What a fluke... While I'd enjoyed some shows during the first season (when it started with his stand-up routine), for me it devolved into one of the stupidest wastes of broadcast time ever. I forced myself to watch the finale... and it only justified my feelings about the show...

Now, folks... this is *my* opinion. You may think I'm right, you may think I'm wrong.. but if youse guys disagree wit me... be nice, or I'll have me friends pays ya a visit!
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Catman Nala92129 20 months ago
He was great, and we have Festivus thanks to him.
justjeff justjeff 20 months ago
This weekend i got the first of the (25) projects fully completed... As usual, the image was edited to remove my foundry name as to not show any business promotions on here...
AnnieM justjeff 20 months ago
While I liked 'Seinfeld', when it really turned for me was when Susan died, no one seemed to care, least of all George! They all seemed to be kind of mean after that, so the finale made sense to me even though yes, it was stupid. I still think of them every time I am in a parking garage, though. 😄
wanderer2575 AnnieM 20 months ago
Kind of mean after that? The characters were complete jerks for the entire run of the series, which is the reason I never got into it.
gmail 20 months ago
You would be a sheriff!
Well 45 years later, I was never the Sheriff but I ended MY career on a good note with the state!
FrankensteinLover 20 months ago
Greatest Show Ever with such Amazing Actors. Forever living off Reruns and spending alot of Quality Time in Mount Airy ho.e of all things Andy Griffith.
KMT6600 20 months ago
It makes my day better when I watch it !
Jeffrey KMT6600 20 months ago
Hello KMT6600, Does your name have anything to do with the defunct K-Mart Corp.? Or are they your initials?
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