This idyllic Sitcom, which ran on CBS from 1960 to 1968, starred Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor. It remains enormously popular in reruns. At any hour of any day, some television station in the US is playing the show (If you live in North Carolina, you cannot go a week without finding it in your local TV listings... which is not a bad thing).Andy is The Sheriff of a small, friendly town called Mayberry, in North Carolina. Despite his authoritarian role, Andy is an easy-going, good-humored guy. He can be tough when the situation demands it, but he prefers to play loose with the rules, and adapt punishments according to the nature of the crime and the individual. His deputy and cousin friend Barney Fife prefers the opposite approach, but since he is clumsy and totally lacking in gravitas, no one takes him seriously. Most of the humor from the early years of the show comes from Barney's attempts to bring law and order to an already lawful and orderly town, and Andy's subsequent ribbing of Barney when his plans go wrong. Very frequently, Andy will resort to a counter-scheme to protect Barney's fragile ego and what's left of his reputation as a lawman.The series also focuses on the widowed Andy's relationship with his young son Opie, with Andy trying to strike a balance between being a fun confidant and instilling a strong sense of right and wrong. Andy dated a few women over the course of the series, but Opie's mother figure was Aunt Bea, who lived in the Taylor home and took care of the housework. Andy was also alternately amused and exasperated by the eccentricities of the townfolk, like gossipy barber Floyd, highly repressed bureaucrat Howard Sprague, and totally moronic hayseed Gomer Pyle, who was spun off and replaced with his even more idiotic cousin Goober.Supporting actors included Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife; Ronny Howard (pre-Happy Days) as Andy's son, Opie; Frances Bavier as Andy's Aunt Bee Taylor, and George Lindsey and Jim Nabors as the Pyle cousins, Goober and Gomer Pyle.
This series provides examples of:
Actor Allusion: As Warren, Jack Burns would occasionally use his stand up trademark of making a statement to another character then saying "huh?" "huh?" "huh?" until the other character shouts an agreement with him to get him to shut up.
An Aesop: Several of the episodes have these, but it's also semi-Subverted from time to time. Often, Andy would attempt to teach Opie a lesson (don't be selfish) which Opie seems to misunderstand (buying a gift for a girl, instead). Turns out Opie already understands (the gift is a winter coat that the girl's family couldn't afford), and the lesson learned is that Andy should trust Opie.
Arc Words: In the episode, Opie the Birdman: "Please, fly away." Tragic the first time, joyful the second.
Ascended Extra: Helen Crump was originally intended to be a one-shot guest character, in fact, because of this, the writers had difficulty coming up with a name for the character, and just went with a purposely odd sounding name.
Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Barney – although you have to take his overblown ego, his know-it-all ways, his clumsiness and so much more into consideration … as well as Don Knotts' vast talents in cranking all that way past eleven. And it's semi-averted anyway, as Barney has shown at times he is a capable, if not excellent law enforcement officer.
Bride and Switch: Earnest T. Bass tried to steal a bride away from her wedding but it turned out to be Barney under the veil.
Cardboard Prison: The key is right next to the cell so the town drunk can let himself in and out of the cell. They do move the key when actual criminals are in the cell. Doesn't mean they can't get out just as easily.
The Cast Showoff: Andy's singing was showcased in several episodes, as was Jim Nabors'.
Characterization Marches On: In the pilot, Andy and Barney are cousins. This is never mentioned again after the first two episodes. Also, for most of the first season, Griffith played Andy more as a country bumpkin than the straight man role he played in the rest of the series.
Around the time of the color episodes Andy seemed to get grumpier and was more likely to snap at people around him.
Barney, who, while carrying a gun, is forbidden by Andy to keep it loaded, and futhermore is only allowed to carry one bullet. The reason he had to keep his bullet in his pocket was because he was unable to holster a loaded gun without it going off.
Then there are the episodes where Andy or Barney are forced to temporarily deputize even more clueless characters such as Gomer, Goober, Otis, etc.
Comically Missing the Point: Opie. In the pilot Andy tells Opie that he lost his Ma much the same way that Opie had recently lost his pet turtle. "Who stepped on Ma?" In another episode Andy tries to get Opie to give to the orphan fund, saying that there are three and a half orphans per square mile. Opie has never seen a half boy. "No, that's what we call a ratio." "Poor Horatio, the half a boy."
Dark and Troubled Past: Played with in "Helen's Past", where Andy discovers evidence that would suggest that Helen was actually involved with a gangster years before she relocated to Mayberry.
Dinner Order Flub: While in Mount Pilot, Andy and Barney go to a fancy French restaurant. Andy isn't too proud to say he can't read the menu and just orders a steak. Barney points to menu items and gets stuff he never thought of as food.
Waiter (confirming their orders): Steak, baked potato, green beans. Snails and brains.
Early Installment Weirdness: In the Danny Thomas Show pilot Opie has an unseen Aunt Lucy who takes care of him and cleans the jail every day, and Frances Bavier appears as a widow woman unrelated to Andy. The town drunk is Will Hoople, who Andy has deputized to arrest himself for public drunkenness.
In the first episode of The Andy Griffith Show itself, Andy and Barney are revealed as cousins, which is how Barney got the deputy job in the first place. Never mentioned after that.
Fragile Flower: Barney. Not only does he get upset over something really easily, but he takes a lot of things rather personally. "Citizen's Arrest" is perhaps the best example of this: he gets so upset over Gomer making a citizen's arrest on him for making an illegal U-turn (this after Barney gave Gomer a ticket for the same offense), that he turns in his badge, resigns as Andy's deputy, and locks himself in jail... all out of a bruised ego.
Gilligan Cut: Helen Crump is introduced in one of these: Andy and Barney are talking about Opie's new teacher, and about how, from Opie's description, she seems to be a bitter old crone. Cut to school to show she...isn't.
Godwin's Law: Directed at Andy, amazingly enough. In the pilot seen on Make Room for Daddy (aka The Danny Thomas Show) when Danny is put in jail by Andy for going through a stop signnote the fine is $100 or 10 days in jail, and Danny takes the jail time on principle, he goes on a national TV show and calls Andy a "one man Gestapo."
Karma Houdini: Ernest T. Bass. In "Ernest T. Bass Joins the Army," when Ernest T. is rejected by the Army (because they met him), he commits extensive vandalism around Mayberry, then escapes from jail twice to break more windows. His punishment: When Andy finds out that the reason he wanted to join the army was so he could wear a uniform to attract women, he gives him Barney's uniform and sends him on his way.
Loophole Abuse: Barney was in danger of being deemed physically unfit for duty for being underweight (an extended case of the hiccups had ruined an attempt to pack on a couple extra pounds). The new regulation said he had to meet the weight requirement wearing uniform, shoes, and ID tag and chain. It didn't say he couldn't hang the ID tag on a three foot long piece of towing chain.
Luxury Prison Suite: To some extent - home-cooked meals, harmless town drunk Otis being allowed to come and go as he pleases by means of a key deliberately left in reach of his cell, etc. Otis even has his own key should he ever need it.
Men Can't Keep House: Played with; Andy and Opie are at first able to clean up the house really well while Aunt Bee is gone, but then they fear she will feel they don't need her. They decide they have to mess the house up all over again.
Miles Gloriosus: Barney often boasts about how he'd easily handle some troublemaker — until the actual trouble starts and then Andy has to bail him out.
My God, What Have I Done?: Opie goes through this when he kills a bird with his slingshot. He spends the rest of the episode atoning for it by tending to her babies until they're old enough to take care of themselves.
Negative Continuity: In some episode Clara's last name is Edwards, while in others it's Johnson.
Nitro Express: Played with in an episode where two yokels who accidentally pick up a container of nitroglycerin (somehow mistaking it for fertilizer) manhandle it for the entire episode. It is only when it is dropped down a well that it finally explodes.
The Operators Must Be Crazy: The town is so small that the phones are manual service, and the operator, Sarah, knows everyone and everything, even when the department store is having a sale, which she's happy to let you know.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: By the later seasons, Andy seemed to have very little to do in the way of actual sheriffing. To the point where he didn't even need another deputy after Warren's departure.
Recurring Character: Several, including crotchety storekeeper Ben Weaver, musical hillbilly family the Darlings, hotheaded mountain man Ernest T. Bass, itinerant English valet Malcolm Merriweather, and Mt. Pilot "fun girls" Skippy and Daphne.
Ringer Ploy: In one episode, Andy and especially Barney are being threatened, so Barney announces he's not going to take it any more and then switches out with a guy wearing his uniform and who is about his size, but is a judo expert.
Smoking Is Cool: Andy lit up several times during the black-and-white era, one prominent example being in the episode "Mr. McBeevee" (after a scene where Andy confronts Opie about whether McBeevee exists); in that same episode, McBeevee (a telephone lineman, played by Karl Swenson, a heavy smoker throughout his life) also smokes. However, most of the smoking was reserved for various bit and bad-guy characters. Deputy Barney Fife was a non-smoker, although Don Knotts was a real-life smoker.
Snipe Hunt: Beautifully subverted at one point early in the series. Opie is interrupting courthouse business (Andy is trying to negotiate with a man who wants to buy the cannon in the town square), and Andy is so flustered he can't think of a real reason to get Opie out. He rushes him out the door with instructions to "find the barrel ring" and to give it to Barney afterwards. A few scenes later...
Spin-Off: This series was a spinoff of The Danny Thomas Show, one episode of which actually was a sort of Poorly Disguised Pilot for this series; and it spawned two spinoffs of its own: Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and Mayberry RFD (although the latter can arguably be seen as more of an After Show to the original).
There was also a 1971 series called The New Andy Griffith Show which was a sort of very obvious Spiritual Successor, featuring Griffith in a similar role. Bizarrely, the later show's pilot episode had three old TAGS characters - Barney Fife, Goober Pyle, and Emmett Clark - traveling from Mayberry to the new show's setting of Greenwood, NC to congratulate friend "Andy Sawyer" on his new job as mayor. It's pretty surprising none of them noticed how similar their friend Andy Sawyer was to their hometown sheriff pal Andy Taylor!
Suspiciously Specific Denial: Whenever Barney tries to deceive someone, he usually ends up saying something along the lines of "So there's absolutely no reason to be suspicious!" In one episode, he actually starts following Aunt Bea into another room, yelling reasons why she shouldn't be suspicious.
Swiss Cheese Security: The bank vault has a standard, wooden door in the back that was installed after the combination was lost. Also, Asa the bank guard is older than dirt, usually asleep, and carries a gun that falls apart if you look at it wrong.
Technical Pacifist: Andy hates carrying guns, and much prefers to outwit criminals rather than rough them up or threaten them. On at least one occasion, he borrows Barney's gun (and bullet) when he decides that he actually needs one. He also keeps various guns in his house (in addition to sheriff, he is also a hunter and local skeet shooting champion) and a rack of guns in the courthouse. Generally, though, any time he gets a gun for defense, you know he's seriously worried.
Temporary Substitute: One episode towards the end of the fifth season had Jerry Van Dyke filling in for Barney at the insistence of Aunt Bee, yet the timid and neurotic temporary deputy made Barney look competent.
You Look Familiar: Several, but the award goes to Allan Melvin appearing as 8 different characters, many of them central to the episode they appeared in.
Despite already playing the role of Ernest T. Bass, Howard Morris was, for some reason, randomly brought into one episode, in a guest spot as a neurotic TV repairman.
Perhaps justified in that Howard Morris directed that episode, as well as several others during that particular season.