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Series / The Andy Griffith Show

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"People of a certain age look back on the Mayberry of 'The Andy Griffith Show' and become almost as homesick for that simple fictional hamlet as they do for their own home towns."
Tom Shales

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 U.S. is airing the show (if you happen to live in North Carolina, you cannot go a week without finding it in your local listings... which is not a bad thing), and it's safe to say that it's one of the most influential programs in American television history; damn near every sitcom, and possibly every show in any genre, produced between 1970 and 2000 owes something to The Andy Griffith Show.

Andy is The Sheriff in the small, friendly town of Mayberry, 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 seasons 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. 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, as he tries 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 always Aunt Bee,note  who lived in the Taylor home and took care of the housework. Andy was also alternately amused and exasperated by the eccentricities of the various townsfolk, including gossipy barber Floyd Lawson, affable drunkard Otis Campbell, highly repressed town clerk Howard Sprague, and good-natured but totally moronic hayseed Gomer Pyle, who early on was spun off into his own series and replaced by his even more idiotic cousin Goober.

Supporting actors included Don Knotts as Barney Fife; Ronny Howard (pre-Happy Days) as Opie; Frances Bavier as Aunt Bee;note  Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle; George Lindsey as Goober Pyle; and Hal Smith as Otis Campbell.

It also had an After Show, Mayberry R.F.D., and a Reunion Show in the 1986 made-for-TV movie Return to Mayberry.

Sixteen episodes from the show's third season have fallen into the public domain, as the copyright was not renewed before the December 1991 deadline.

This series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • As a Running Gag, the newspapers never seem to get Barney's name right, usually calling him Barney Fise or Barney Fike. At least one has a habit of calling him Howie Fife.
    • One of the Fun Girls also regularly calls Barney "Bernie".
  • Acting Unnatural: Barney does this to the extreme when he lies. Andy can usually catch on to this easily, but other characters will often fail to notice it. Said other characters occasionally act unnatural as well.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The woman playing Aunt Bee in the movie about Andy's life is younger, thinner, and sexier than Bee is. Unlike her negative opinion of the film's version of Andy and the rest of Mayberry, Bee is thrilled by the portrayal.
  • Adaptational Badass: Done In-Universe for the actors playing Andy and Aunt Bee in Sheriff Without a Gun. The former is portrayed as a more classic Action Hero willingly to brawl with some bad guys while the latter knows how to use a rifle and isn't afraid to use it.
  • An Aesop:
    • Several of the episodes have these, but it's also 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.
    • In one episode a stranger comes in with a portable (at least for that time) tape recorder asking to record local music groups to market to a record company with royalties coming back to the artists. After the initial excitement of the townspeople, he disappears and Andy smells a rat; the Aesop being not falling for con artists, except that it turns out he was completely legit and returns almost immediately bearing a contract with a major record company and a certified check for $5,000 payable to the artists as an advance with more money forthcoming as the reccord gains popularity; double subverting the aesop into not being overly suspicious of strangers
    • Sometimes subverted in cases where Andy would scold Opie for doing something, only for Andy to end up doing something similar later on, resulting in Opie expressing confusion. Notable examples:
      • Opie lied about some "licorice seeds" in order to get a good trade out of one of his friends. After Andy scolded him, Andy then lied about the town's cannon being a war relic to sell it to a collector for more money.
      • After Opie was scolded for lying about the condition of his old bicycle to try and sell it, Opie calls Andy out when he ends up involved in a plan to sell his home, lying about and covering up obvious flaws with the house in hopes of getting more money.
  • After Show: Mayberry R.F.D.
  • Alcohol Hic: Otis
  • The All-American Boy: Opie and his pals. Andy is arguably a grown-up example as well.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Barney seems to view any violation of the law as worthy of punishment. A prime example is in "Andy Saves Barney's Morale", when Andy leaves Barney in charge temporarily while he's away, and returns to find the whole town in jail (including Aunt Bee!) for committing minor offenses.
  • Arc Words: In the episode, Opie the Birdman: "Please, fly away." Tragic the first time, joyful the second.
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement: Played for laughs with the town drunk, Otis Campbell. Although Sherriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife do haul him in occasionally, they also allow him to check himself in and out whenever he's on a bender. Plus, they don't always lock the cell. Doubtful that such things would occur anywhere, even in small, rural towns like Mayberry.
  • Artistic License – Music: In the third episode, local guitar player and street performer Jim can make electric guitar noises with his archtop acoustic guitar. Then in a later episode where he comes back into town with a proper electric (a Fender Jaguar), he is somehow making amplified noises with it unplugged.
  • Ascended Extra: Helen Crump was originally intended to be a one-shot guest character. 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 "Bad Acting":
    • Barney is a terrible actor, and not a great choir voice either. This, of course, is the writers lampshading that Don Knotts was considered a very talented actor at the time (he won 3 Emmys in the show's first 5 years), and was at least a decent singer.
    • Gavin MacLeod in Season 6, as the man playing Andy in the movie about his life. Andy and Opie enjoy his Large Ham portrayal; Aunt Bee not so much.
  • Bad Liar: Barney. All but the dumbest characters can easily see through it anytime he lies, as he can't help but act unnatural.
  • Batman Gambit: In "A Black Day for Mayberry", some G-Men inform Andy and Barney that an armored car carrying 7 million dollars will be passing through their town. Needless to say, Barney lets it slip and the town whips themselves into such a frenzy that the truck arrives to banners, fanfare, and one picketer protesting the Gold Standard. It turns out, however, this was the treasury department's intention the entire time and the truck traveling through Mayberry was just a diversion to draw any potential hijackers away from the real shipment.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: One of Andy's tricks for dealing with unreasonable citizens is to give them what they ask for in the cruelest way possible. In one notable example Ben Weaver, the resident curmudgeon, ordered Andy to serve a foreclosure on a family who owed him some money. Realizing he couldn't stall, Andy agreed to serve the foreclosure... on the condition that Ben Weaver come along to observe. It didn't take long for Ben to start feeling bad and change his mind.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Andy uses Gomer's "Shazam" in "A Black Day for Mayberry".
  • Brats with Slingshots: In "Opie the Bird Man", Opie is given a slingshot by Barney and becomes this. He does get better.
  • 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.
  • The Bus Came Back: Barney returns for several guest appearances in later seasons.
    • The first of these, "The Return of Barney Fife", also has Thelma Lou (who left Mayberry, and the show, when Barney did) coming back for a Class Reunion... and revealing to a heartbroken Barney that she's gotten married.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The 2003 reunion special/Clip Show The Andy Griffith Show Reunion: Back to Mayberry does not include any clips from the last three color seasons.
  • Can't Get in Trouble for Nuthin': In the first season Christmas Episode, after discovering that Andy is throwing a small Christmas celebration in the courthouse for a prisoner and his family, a lonely Ben Weaver tries to get arrested so he can join them, but his attempts keep getting undermined by well-meaning citizens who don't want him to spend Christmas in jail.
  • 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. Ernest T. Bass is also able to do this without the keys because he's good enough with a lockpick to do so.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Andy's "You beat everything, you know that?!" when he's frustrated with someone (usually Barney)
    • Barney's "Nip it in the bud!"
    • Gomer's "Well, golllll-lee!" and "Shazam!"
    • Briscoe Darling's "More power to ya'."
    • "You ain't seen the last of Ernest T. Bass!"
  • Chain Letter: Barney gets one in "The Lucky Letter".
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • In the pilot Andy and Barney are cousins, and it's jokingly implied that Barney got the job purely through nepotism. This is never mentioned again after the first two episodes, and the Andy of the rest of the series never seemed the type to give a job just out of nepotism, but only if he felt that a person truly deserved it.
    • Also, for most of the first season, Griffith plays Andy as more of a country bumpkin type than the Straight Man he would be over 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.
  • Children's Covert Coterie: One episode sees Opie getting to join a secret club of his friends, even getting the venerated title of Light Keeper (which means he's in charge of the old candle the group uses for their meetings). Unfortunately, their meeting place is an old barn owned by a curmudgeonly farmer who habitually runs them off. This actually leads to a problem when the barn accidentally burns down.
  • Christmas Episode: Season 1's "The Christmas Story".
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Ellie Walker, the "lady druggist" who worked at the local pharmacy and was a fairly major character in early episodes where she played Andy's kinda-sorta love interest, until she just... stopped showing up. She never got a send-off or even a mention of why she left; she just vanished. In real life, the actress who played Ellie, Elinor Donihue, decided to leave the series because she felt that her character and Andy didn't have any on-screen chemistry whatsoever. Griffith later admitted that it was his own fault for this because he had a hard time showing affection on screen, and as a result, the relationship didn't appear either real or believable.
    • Warren Ferguson, Andy's deputy replacing Barney Fife in Season 6 when Don Knotts left the show, proved to be less popular with audiences than his predecessor and was unceremoniously dropped 20 episodes in.
  • Church of Saint Genericus
  • Class Reunion: "Class Reunion" (Season 3), "The Return of Barney Fife" (Season 6)
  • Clueless Deputy:
    • Barney, who, while carrying a gun, is forbidden by Andy to keep it loaded, and furthermore 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. He's undoubtedly the Trope Codifier.
    • Warren Ferguson briefly filled this role before quietly disappearing.
    • 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: Happens to Opie twice.
    • In the pilot, Andy tells Opie that he lost his Ma much the same way that Opie had recently lost his pet turtle.
      Opie: 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.
      Andy: No, that's what we call a ratio.
      Opie: Poor Horatio, the half a boy.
  • The Crime Job: "The Bank Job".
  • Crossover: Howard Sprague appeared in an episode of It's Garry Shandling's Show.
  • 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. It turns out that Helen was working undercover as part of her journalism thesis on organized crime.
  • 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.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: In the memorable Season 3 episode "Mr. McBeevee," Andy threatens to whip Opie when he believes he is lying about how he came upon a quarter. (Opie, in a childlike way, describes McBeevee, a telephone lineman, in a way that makes him seem he's a fantasy character. One time, when they went to try to meet McBeevee at a work site Opie said he would be at, McBeevee is called away to an emergency, making it seem to Andy that his son's friend was an imaginary one.) Opie stands his ground, and somehow, Andy relents ... much to Barney's chagrin. In the end, of course, Andy's faith in Opie telling the truth is rewarded when he comes on McBeevee by chance.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Andy didn't really dislike guns and was certainly not above using one when the situation called for it, but he refused to carry one on him and wouldn't even take one into most situations where someone else would. As he explained it in TV or Not TV, a gun was a tool of intimidation, and he would rather people obey him out of respect than out of a fear of getting shot.
    Andy: When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he's getting might really be fear, so I don't carry a gun, because I don't want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I'd rather they respect me.
  • Drunk on Milk: Subverted. In the color episode where Barney returns to Mayberry and finds out Thelma Lou got married to another man, he attempts to get drunk on fruit punch. Andy tells him it won't work since the punch doesn't contain alcohol.
  • Eccentric Townsfolk
  • 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. Mentioned briefly in the second episode, but never again after that.
    • Also in the first episode, a minor plot point involves Opie's pet bird. Later, in "Opie the Birdman", Opie mentions that he's never taken care of birds before.
    • Barney's girlfriend early in the first season is Hilda Mae instead of Thelma Lou.
  • The Eponymous Show
  • Everybody Owns a Ford: From the police cruisers to Andy and Barney's daily drivers … to every other car parked on Main Street, it was Fords all the way. (Presumably, the only car dealership in town, where everyone did their business, sold Fords.) Of course, to keep it in the family, the only deviation was the rich characters, who drove Mercurys and Lincolns (the Ford Motor Company's upscale brands.)
    • In reality, all of the cars used by the show really were provided by a local Ford dealership, which would replace the cars with newer models every year.
  • Everytown, America
  • Extreme Omni-Goat: The episode "The Loaded Goat" has the title critter endangering the town of Mayberry after consuming a crateful of dynamite sticks. Though since dynamite doesn't explode easily, it was doubtful that the town was ever in any danger.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The Parkers from Season 7's "A Visit to Barney Fife", although the only crime they seem to be guilty of is robbing supermarkets.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Gentleman Dan Caldwell acts every bit as gentlemanly as his name suggests. He's polite and appreciative to everyone and acts apologetic and submissive to law enforcement. He comes off as such a nice guy that Andy's attempts to explain that Dan is actually in jail for a reason are scoffed at by everyone around him. Then comes the episode's climax. Dan steals Barney's gun, uses it to threaten Aunt Bee and Opie, and even makes an attempt at shooting Andy with it, only failing because Barney only had one bullet chambered.
    Barney: But... you gave me your word!
    Gentleman Dan: Oh, I give my word a lot, Barney.
  • Fighting Back Is Wrong: Averted (or possibly predated). Opie admits that he's being picked on by a bully in school, and Andy's advice is to hit him. At the end of the episode he comes back with a black eye and a proud story, and everyone is pleased by this turn of events. Obviously TV values have changed since then.
  • Flanderization: Andy being the Only Sane Man in Mayberry becomes more and more obvious, especially in the last three seasons, almost to the point where it seems he harbors some contempt for the Eccentric Townsfolk around him.
  • Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: "Come on, take down your fishin' pole / And meet me at the fishin' hole / I can't think of a better way / To pass the time o' day." A Thematic Theme Tune — which makes sense, since the title doesn't lend itself to verse.
  • Generation Xerox: Clarence Earp from the episode "Wyatt Earp Rides Again" is a rough-and-tumble gunfighter and wrestler extraordinaire just like his ancestor Wyatt Earp, even if he doesn't look anything like him. Subverted, though. Clarence Earp isn't really Wyatt Earp's descendant, that was just some nonsense his friend told him in order to give him confidence. After this is exposed, he's told his real name... is Clarence Dempsey, and he's a Generation Xerox of legendary boxer Jack Dempsey.
  • Gentleman Thief: One episode involved a criminal like this being held in Mayberry for a while before actual police could come and take him to prison. He charms himself into Aunt Bee and Opie's good graces by telling Opie stories and complimenting Aunt Bee, only to reveal his true colors when he manages to coerce them into letting him out and giving him a gun.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: In December 2015, CBS aired two colorized episodes of the show: "The Christmas Story" and "The Pickle Story".
  • The Ghost:
    • Juanita Beasly the waitress. She was never shown but acted as Barney's second girlfriend when he wasn't dating Thelma Lou.
    • Sarah the telephone operator was mentioned multiple times throughout the show but was never shown in person once.
    • Gomer's cousin Goober was this at first before he became a regular in the show.
  • 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, mean old crone. Cut to school to show she...isn't.
  • Glad I Thought of It: A recurring joke is Andy and Barney investigating something, a civilian making a suggestion, Barney telling the person to stay out of "police business", and then making the exact same suggestion himself.
  • 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 , he goes on a national TV show and calls Andy a "one-man Gestapo."
  • Grumpy Old Man: Ben Weaver is a combination of this and The Scrooge.
  • Half-Hour Comedy
  • Half-Witted Hillbilly:
    • Gomer Pyle and his cousin Goober are stuck somewhere between this and the Kindhearted Simpleton — they're both rural boys who are none too bright, but they're both among the kindest men you'll ever meet.
    • Ernest T. Bass is a rowdy, uneducated hillbilly known mostly for throwing rocks and causing trouble, as well as speaking largely in rhyme.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Aunt Bee buys Andy and Opie outfits like this for their trip to Hollywood in Season 6. Neither is pleased.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Rafe Hollister made his first appearance as a random moonshiner who got arrested by Andy near the end of one early episode. By his next appearance (in "Rafe Hollister Sings") he is shown to be a clearly changed man who is fairly good friends with Andy and Barney.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Goober, initially, although he did eventually show up onscreen and became a regular recurring character after Gomer joined the Marines. Also Sarah the switchboard operator, and Barney's girlfriend Juanita from the diner, both of whom are only ever spoken to on the phone – we don't even get to hear their voices ourselves.
  • Hidden Badass: Andy isn't exactly an action hero, but he's not to be messed with lightly.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Barney ends up locked in one of the cells with some regularity.
  • Holiday Pardon: There is an episode wherein Ben Weaver is feeling lonely at Christmas and wanting to be able to spend it somewhere with people who care, attempts to steal a bench to be included in the jail's Christmas party. Andy (possibly only ostensibly) lets him go because it's in the spirit of Christmas.
  • Hypocrite: In "The Horse Trader" episode, Andy rebukes Opie for selling a cufflink as one of George Washington's uniform buttons when Andy has been attempting to sell a rusty old cannon by misrepresenting it as being used at the battle of San Juan Hill by Teddy Roosevelt after he had told Opie earlier on that "honesty is the best policy".
    Andy: Do you know what you've done? You've just broken the Golden Rule and thrown it right out the window and cheated.
    Opie: Oh no, Paw, I didn't cheat at all.
    Andy: Well, what do you call it, then?
    Opie: Why, being smart, just like you.
    Andy: What?
    Opie: Sure. When I saw how you dickered with that fellow for the cannon, I knew how important it is to make up a good story to go with whatever it is you're trading, so I made up the story about George Washington. Ain't that being smart, Paw?
    Andy: Well, no, that's not being smart. That's just lying, lying and cheating.
    Opie: But didn't you do the same with that fellow, Paw?
    Andy [stammers]: Well... well, well... no!
    Opie: No?
    Andy: No! Well, what I did was to build up the product, so it'd be easier for me to sell.
    Opie: That's what I did.
    Andy: Well, well, no now. What I did is what we call a little innocent "horse trading".
    Opie: I know; that's what I did.
    Andy: Well now, no. You see, it's different with you. With grown folks, why we—
    Opie: You know what I think, Paw?
    Andy: What?
    Opie: I think we both broke the Golden Rule.
    Andy [after seeing his lie fall apart]: I think you're right, Opie. Now I tell you what: you take them skates back to Jerry, and I got a little fence mending of my own to do, all right?
    Opie: All right.
  • Idiot Ball: Barney holds it a LOT. Actually, half the town holds it regularly.
  • Imaginary Friend: "Mr. McBeevee." Initially, everyone but Opie believes that this guy who walks in the trees, blows smoke from his ears, has 12 extra hands, wears a silver hat, etc. is imaginary. But after a brief crisis where Andy thinks Opie stole a quarter, the trope becomes averted as McBeevee is proven to be real, and is a lineman, hence the weird getup.
  • Insistent Terminology: Ellie Walker is rarely referred to as a pharmacist, but as a "lady druggist."
  • Inspirational Insult: In "Guitar Player", Jim Lindsey is reluctant to play his guitar for bandleader Bobby Fleet. After Fleet and his band begin mocking and laughing at him, Lindsey gets so angry he gets motivated to play... and impresses Fleet so much he hires him for the band.
  • Intentional Weight Gain: Subverted. In "Barney's Physical," the state passes new height and weight requirements that would disqualify Barney from being a cop. While Andy is able to temporarily stretch Barney out a few inches (via a medical harness), Reality ensues when Barney tries overeating but has no chance of gaining enough weight in time to pass his physical... until Andy realizes Barney is allowed to wear an identification tag with a chain when he's weighed. Barney ends up wearing a huge, heavy-linked chain with his tag and squeaks by the physical.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Andy Griffith and Don Knotts had appeared together in the Broadway play (and later film) No Time for Sergeants; upon learning about the development of the show, Knotts approached Griffith and asked, "You're going to need a deputy, ain't ya?"
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ben Weaver of Weaver's Department Store is a bitter crusty old man, but is able to see when he's gone too far and doesn't really want to hurt anyone. In the Christmas episode, he goes as far as bringing presents for the children of a man he drug in to Andy and demanded that he be arrested for making moonshine.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns:
    • There is a very good reason Barney is only allowed to have one bullet. Subverted, though, as Barney actually does know and follow the rules of gun safety, he's just so clumsy he has a tendency to hit the trigger by accident.
      • This nearly comes back to bite Andy in one episode when he faces down and disarms a gunman who is threatening Opie and Aunt Bee with Barney's gun, and then smugly explains that the gun is Barney's and therefore doesn't have a bullet in. He demonstrates this by pointing and shooting— and it turns out the gun had been loaded after all, leaving Andy badly shaken.
    • In few episodes Gomer gets temporarily deputized and turns out to be so bad about this that even Barney chastises him for it.
    Andy: And take that gun out of your mouth!
  • 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. However it turns into Laser-Guided Karma when he still can't get a girl with a uniform because he's still an ill-mannered lout.
    • This is pretty much Ernest's defining trait. He's good enough at picking locks to break out of jail whenever he's locked up, a skilled enough fighter that going hand-to-hand isn't a viable option, and he's not so evil that just shooting him would be justified, so the usual method of dealing with him is just to give him what he wants so he'll go away.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Barney often comes across as this because he thinks he's an expert on everything, but often ends up making minor problems much worse than they actually should be to begin with.
  • Laugh Track: Like all '60s single-camera sitcoms. However, a number of local syndication markets actually remove the laugh track from certain episodes.
  • Lethal Chef: Although Aunt Bee was a good cook most of the time, her homemade pickles definitely fall into this category – literally, in fact, as they managed to kill a fly that landed too close to them.
  • Lies to Children: Inverted and Played for Laughs, as Andy is accused of this after telling Opie that David's sling was made of leather. Barney insists that Andy is filling his son's head with lies; leather has no snap to it and any slingshot MUST be made of rubber, despite rubber not existing in King David's time, not to mention the ancient version of a sling not being like the modern version; the ancient version was swung in circles to build up speed before being thrown, while the current version is pulled back and then released.
    • Also Lies To Adult Drunks, when Andy told Otis that thunder was clouds bumping together.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • This is Andy's specialty, which he uses to help the townspeople of Mayberry with their problems, and to help get them out of trouble when they were found guilty of minor infractions that he didn't feel they should be unduly punished for.
    • In one notable instance, 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.
    • In one of the color episodes, Andy briefly hires Ernest T. Bass as a crossing guard – and naturally, Ernest starts heaving rocks at cars that don't stop. Andy tells him not to do that, and Ernest agrees – but he pulls out a brick after Andy leaves. Andy then catches him hurling the brick, and Ernest protests "You said rock! You didn't say anything about no brick!" Andy fires him.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: Harmless town drunk Otis is allowed to come and go as he pleases by means of a key deliberately left in reach of his cell.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In "Three Wishes for Opie", Opie gets three wishes from a gypsy lamp that Barney brought from a police auction that all comes true. It's left ambiguous on whether it was the lamp's power or just pure coincidence.
  • 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 then decide to mess the house up all over again.
    • Andy is also a terrible cook, usually burning anything more complicated than beans and franks.
  • 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.
  • Missing Mom: Andy is a widower.
  • Momma's Boy: Howard Sprague.
  • Moment Killer: If Barney is in the same county, don't expect an uninterrupted date.
  • Monochrome Casting: The absence of any black characters in a show set in the rural South in the 1960s is pretty conspicuous.note  In fact this was an Enforced Trope, as Griffith really wanted to have African Americans in main roles but was overruled by CBS executives who feared that this would be too controversial at the time and CBS affiliates in the South would refuse to carry it.
  • Moving the Goalposts: One episode involves Barney trying to find a woman that Andy wants to marry. After coming across the very pretty and sweet Mrs. Crump (Opie's school teacher) he sets her up with Andy for a double-date with him and Thelma Lou...only to "decide" that she's not the right pick for Andy because not only does she plan to not stop working after she's married, but she also can't cook, which in Barney's eyes invalidates her as wife material.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Opie goes through this when he accidentally 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. And sometimes her first name is Bertha.
    • Barney's terrible singing voice is a plot point in several episodes, but Barney sings nice harmony with Andy in others.
    • Early on, it's established that the barber, Floyd Lawson has a sonnote , whereas later on it's brought up that he has no family at all.note 
  • Nepotism: Allegedly the reason Andy hired Barney as a deputy (the two are cousins). Also suggested as the reason Andy hired Warren as a deputy (he's Floyd's nephew).
  • News Travels Fast:
    • In "Aunt Bee the Warden", Andy is busy using the courthouse to hold other criminals, so Otis has to serve his jail time at the Taylor house, where Aunt Bee works him hard doing chores. She does such a good job that Andy brings the other prisoners over there, but they try to escape when they find out where they're staying, already aware of its reputation.
    • In "A Black Day for Mayberry", Andy trusts Barney with the secret about a gold shipment coming through town. It isn't long before the whole town is aware of it, thanks to Barney.
  • 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.
  • Nice Guy: Andy.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: In one episode, Barney goes undercover at a department store as a mannequin. It works about as well as you'd think.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Mayberry was famously patterned after Andy Griffith's own hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. note 
  • No Party Given: None of the political figures in the show have their parties stated, nor are their platforms examined closely enough to really determine what party they could belong to. This includes the Mayor and the Governor of the state.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Several characters native to Mayberry, including Opie in early seasons, have little or no accent.
    • If you listen closely to Aunt Bee in the first episode, you can tell Frances Bavier was attempting to put on a slight Southern accent. In all other episodes, she drops the pretense and just speaks with her regular accent.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: "Mr. McBeevee", a man who walks in the treetops with a shiny silver hat, who jingles with the sound of his twelve extra metal hands and blows smoke out of his ears. Opie met and befriended him, but naturally no one believed that such a ridiculous sounding person could exist. It turns out, he's a lineman. He climbs trees to cut their branches away from the power lines, and wears a shiny silver hardhat. His "twelve extra hands" are how he refers to his tools, which jingle on his belt. Blowing smoke from his ears is actually a magic trick he showed to Opie to impress him, and actually involved cigarette smoke.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: In "The Beauty Contest", Andy is to judge the titular contest and everyone in the town keeps bothering him, "suggesting" who should win. On multiple occasions he tells someone how grateful he is that they haven't brought up the subject, just as they were about to press their own candidate on him.
  • Odd Couple: Andy and Barney had elements of this, Barney being uptight and by the book, while Andy was more relaxed and easy-going. Subverted also, in that Andy was the more competent of the two.
    • Andy and Warren had a similar relationship, but without any of the chemistry that made Andy and Barney work so well.
  • Once a Season: After Don Knotts' departure, the remainder of the show's run would feature annual visits from Barney Fife.
  • Only Sane Man: Andy.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The rare instances when Andy would arm himself with his service revolver, or, in at least two instances, a long gun, showed that he would use them if he had to.
  • 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.
  • Out of Focus:
    • Warren Ferguson, the Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Barney, who disappeared with no explanation after the episode "Wyatt Earp Rides Again". The only thing stopping him from being a victim of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome is that he wasn't completely written out; occasional name drops from other characters suggested that he remained Andy's deputy, but he never appeared on camera again.
    • Floyd, after Howard McNear's stroke. He would still be mentioned, but wouldn't appear again until McNear was done recuperating.
  • 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.
    • Lampshaded by Howard Sprague's mother in the episode "The Lodge". When she tries to talk Howard out of joining Andy's lodge, she starts to say they're for people who have nothing to do, but stops short when she realizes Andy is standing right there.
  • Please Wake Up: Opie goes through this in one episode when he shoots his slingshot at a bird. When he realizes he killed it, he starts crying and begs for it to get up and fly away.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot:
    • The pilot was actually an episode of The Danny Thomas Show called "Danny Meets Andy Griffith", which aired in February of 1960. The Andy Griffith Show made its real debut in October.
    • "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.", which had the character join the Marines and led to the spinoff show of the same title.
    • The final episode of the series, "Mayberry R.F.D.", focuses on the character of Sam Jones (who was introduced three episodes prior), in order to set up the After Show of the same name.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Frances Bavier was promoted in Season 6 (essentially replacing Don Knotts, who left the series after Season 5).
  • Prone to Tears: Barney. Not only does he get upset over something really easily, but he takes a lot of things 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.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Barney goes off to join the Raleigh police force at the end of season 5. He continued to return for annual guest appearances over the rest of the series.
    • Otis rarely appeared on the show once it switched to color, partly due to sponsors' complaints about his excessive drinking, and partly because his actor, Hal Smith, wanted to concentrate more on his increasingly lucrative side career as a voice actor for Disney, specifically his roles as Goofy and as Owl in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. In season 7's "Opie's Most Unforgettable Character", Andy reveals that Otis has been going over to Mount Pilot to do his drinking and doesn't come to the jail anymore. He did, however, return for the reunion movie.
  • Quirky Town
  • Quitting to Get Married: In the first episode, their beloved housekeeper Rose gets married and leaves their service, so Aunt Bee comes in to help raise Opie.
  • Railroad Plot: A highway variant in "Aunt Bee, the Crusader", when Aunt Bee and the town ladies start out by staging protest rallies at the courthouse and the farm of Mr. Frisby, a chicken farmer who is about to be heartlessly evicted from his property which is the planned site of a new bridge, with the sheriff having no other choice but to seize the property by eminent domain power when Mr. Frisby declines financial compensation. Near the end, Opie discovers a number of moonshine stills and inebriated chickens, and the ladies quickly and angrily turn against Mr. Frisby, who will be facing jail time and have his property seized from him without compensation after being arrested for moonshining.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • In "Andy and the Woman Speeder," when the eponymous woman gets a speeding citation, she shifts from trying to smooth her way out of it to outright calling Andy a crook and a prejudiced Justice of the Peace; however...
      • When the woman manages to get off scot-free by using her feminine charms on Floyd and Barney, and giving Opie an autographed baseball (the three were witnesses to the speeding), Andy delivers a well-deserved one to her and to his friends. It's the disappointment in his tone that sells this scene.
    Andy: Well, fine day's work. You've outsmarted justice, and you've made a mockery of this court. And you've turned three people against me that I would've sworn would never leave my side. Oh, I can understand a shiny, new, autographed baseball turning a little boy's head, but I am a little disappointed in Floyd, and I'm real disappointed in my deputy. He's a law officer and he ought to know better. Congratulations, ma'am. Been quite a day's work.
    • In the episode where Otis' brother visits, Otis convinces Andy and Barney to let him serve as a deputy, as Otis had mistakenly led his brother to believe he was, all because he has always believed his brother was such an upstanding guy. Turns out, he wasn't — after vanishing for the day, the brother wanders into the jail and locks himself up, completely drunk, and admits to Otis that he's the town drunk back home. Otis rightfully lays into him with this speech — while Otis could tolerate himself being a worthless drunk, the fact his brother had always been made out to be such a better person only to turn out to be so useless was a huge letdown to him.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: It's the reason Andy's able to solve over 99% of the town's law problems without violence.
  • 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.
  • Remember the New Guy?:
    • During Sam Jones' first appearance in the episode "Sam for Town Council", Andy and his friends all comment on how much Sam has done for Mayberry, despite the fact that close to eight full seasons had passed without any mention or appearance of the character.
    • Subverted with town newcomer Ed Sawyer in "Stranger in Town". Upon arriving in town, Sawyer knows each and every detail about the town and its residents even though no one in town knows who he is. It turns out he became familiar with Mayberry through an army buddy, learned about the town through their newspaper, and became so enamored with Mayberry that he decided to move there.
  • Retcon: In early episodes, Gomer just pumped gas and didn't know a thing about mechanics. Later episodes, he had borderline Machine Empathy.
  • Reunion Show: The TV movie Return to Mayberry (1986) and the Clip Show The Andy Griffith Show Reunion: Back to Mayberry (2003).
  • Rewatch Bonus: Watch Ma Parker's face in "A Visit to Barney Fife" when Barney jokes that she should be put behind bars due to her cooking. It makes a lot more sense after it's revealed that she and her family are criminals.
  • Ringer Ploy: In "Barney's Uniform", Barney is being threatened, so he decides to take judo lessons to defend himself. However, Andy finds out from his judo instructor that Barney would not be able to handle himself in a fight, so Andy has the instructor dress as Barney to deal with the guy.
  • Running Gag:
    • Andy and/or Barney getting inadvertently locked in the jail cells.
    • One with the Darling family whenever they appear: "Why don't we play [insert song here]?" "No, that one makes me cry."
    • A very young boy named Leon (played by star Ron Howard's brother, Clint Howard), who was always wearing a cowboy outfit and would silently offer a bite of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich to whoever was around. Invariably, the response would be: "No thanks, Leon."
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Attempted in the episode "Hot Rod Otis". Town drunk Otis Campbell buys a car, very understandably worrying Andy and Barney, who fear he's going to get into a drunk driving accident. When they find out that he's been spotted drinking at a local house party, they go to confront him only to find him passed out drunk in his car. They then take him to jail, throw water on his face, and proceed to loudly lament his "passing" while pretending that they can't see or hear him, making him think that he died in an accident and is now a ghost. Ends up being subverted, though. Otis was actually smart enough to realize that he couldn't make sound decisions while drunk, and therefore couldn't be trusted with a car, so he sold his car off to the person throwing the house party before he started drinking.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Defied in "Barney and the Governor". Barney gives a ticket to a car in a no-parking zone, not realizing that the car belongs to the governor. When he finds out, Barney fears that he'll be punished, but the governor congratulates him, saying that the people who make and pass laws should be subjected to those laws too.
  • Shaming the Mob: Andy does this to the crowd going after town newcomer Ed Sawyer in "Stranger in Town".
  • Shaped Like Itself: In "Andy Discovers America", Barney tries to describe the Emancipation Proclamation as being a proclamation about emancipation.
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: The Taylors visit Hollywood in Season 6.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Gomer's surprisingly Canadian singing voice makes him the perfect candidate for the choir's big solo. This is also something of an Actor-Inspired Element, as Jim Nabors actually did sing like that in Real Life... unless singing novelty/country songs.
  • Sleepwalking: Warren does this in "Girl-Shy", turning into The Casanova when doing so.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Barney isn't the best police officer, but stick him in front of an authority figure or pretty woman and he'll try and talk himself up as the best police officer in the world. His big mouth actually got Andy in trouble once when a newspaper publisher with a grudge against Andy sent someone in to try and find out something that would get Andy removed from his position, and Barney talked up his own accomplishments while making Andy out to be incompetent at best and corrupt at worst.
  • Small Town Rivalry: Mayberry has one with Mount Pilot, with Mount Pilot implied to be a bit bigger and fancier, and Mayberry much more humble.
  • Smart Cop, Dumb Cop: The show has a variation. Andy is something of a Wonka, he has his own way of figuring things out, and even uses the strengths (and lack thereof) of those around him to help wrap things up, and they usually pay off in the end, even if they seem odd and cockeyed to others. His deputy, Barney, on the other hand, usually tries to go by the rules and by the book as much as possible, but in his own zeal, almost always ends up making things worse, and in a number of cases, relies on Andy to help him out.
  • Invoked by name in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where as part of an interrogation technique Peralta intentionally tries to look out of his depth compared to Holt, only to blindside the suspect with sharp questions later.
  • 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-smokernote , although Don Knotts was a real-life smoker.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Colonel Harvey, the title character in "Aunt Bee's Medicine Man", peddles an elixir that really does make people feel more invigorated and youthful... because it contains mostly whiskey.
  • 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...
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Businessman Ben Weaver in the "Christmas Story" episode of Season 1. He starts out the episode appearing to be a garden-variety misanthrope, but Sheriff Andy realizes that his recent spree of misdeeds is just an attempt to get himself arrested so he won't have to spend Christmas alone.
  • 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 R.F.D. (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 an 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!
  • Standard '50s Father: Andy cares deeply for his son and offers him a lot of good lessons.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Happened a few times, and usually became part of An Aesop about respecting women. Most notable when Ellie Walker ran for city council, leading to a battle of the sexes between the men of Mayberry and their wives.
    • Averted in the case of Helen Crump, who announces her plans to keep teaching after she marries. Andy's fine with that, though Barney's a little horrified.
  • Superstition Episode:
    • "The Jinx" involves a Mayberry resident who acquires the reputation of being, well, The Jinx.
    • "Three Wishes for Opie" has Barney acquiring a set of Tarot Cards that he believes to be inhabited by the spirit of an 18th-century Count.
    • "The Lucky Letter" has Barney enduring a series of disasters after breaking a Chain Letter.
    • "A Warning from Warren" has Warren claiming to have Psychic Powers and getting a premonition of danger for Andy and Helen if they go on a picnic together.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Goober for Gomer, Warren for Barney, Emmett for Floyd
    • The Danny Thomas Show pilot episode had a town drunk named Will, played by Frank Cady. The series replaced him with Hal Smith's Otis.
  • 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 Bee into another room, yelling reasons why she shouldn't be suspicious.
  • Sweet Home Alabama: Or North Carolina, in this case.
  • 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.
  • Switch to Color: In 1965, starting with Season Six.
  • Syndication Title: Andy of Mayberry.
  • Taxman Takes the Winnings: In "Aunt Bee on TV", Aunt Bee wins the grand prize on a game show: an entire kitchen full of new appliances and a full-length mink coat. Unfortunately, a taxman decides to pay a visit to Mayberry to remind Andy how much tax is due on the winnings. Aunt Bee ends up selling most of the appliances as well as the mink coat; but still she has enough left to promise to treat Andy and Opie to a vacation on her.
  • 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.
    • Andy once explained this was because he felt carrying a gun would serve as needless intimidation — that if he wore a gun, he would wonder if the respect he received and the willingness of the citizens to cooperate with him was out of fear of the gun rather than due to genuine respect for him. This may actually explain why he allowed Barney to carry a gun; he knew that Barney was not physically strong or intimidating on his own and may have needed the gun to help with his duties.
  • 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. Amusingly, Van Dyke was asked to play the role full time, but he instead opted to play Dave Crabtree in My Mother the Car.
  • Tsundere: Ellie Walker was this for Andy, mostly due to her perceiving him as sexist.
    • Helen Crump is one as well.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: In the pilot only, aired on Make Room For Daddy, Andy is not only the sheriff, but mayor, justice of the peace and newspaper editor. The parent show's main protagonist, nightclub comedian and singer Danny Williams (played by Danny Thomas), had been charged with failure to stop at a stop sign and was fined $100, and finds out the many hats Andy wears as he (Danny) sits in a holding cell, as he tries to complain about what he views is an unjust punishment for a minor crime. Andy's powers were considerably scaled back by the time the show was picked up for series.
  • Verbal Tic: Warren's "Huh? Huh? Huh?" whenever he'd make a statement about something.
  • We All Die Someday: In "Aunt Bee's Medicine Man," Aunt Bee is distraught that one of her friends of exactly her same age has just passed away. Barney tries to console her by saying, "We've all got to go sometime...." A Death Glare from Andy informs him this isn't exactly the assurance that was needed at the moment.
  • Win Her a Prize: Played with and possibly Invoked in one episode. Opie complains to Andy (who is both Opie's father and the local sheriff) that a carnival shooting gallery is rigged, so Andy goes in undercover with Helen, pretending to be a local yokel trying to win a prize for his gal.
  • Worthless Currency: In the "Mayberry Goes Bankrupt" episode, Andy is about to evict Frank Myers from his house, until he finds a 100-year old bond worth many thousands of dollars including accumulated interest, which is potentially worth more than Mayberry has in its treasury. Later on, Andy and Barney discover that the bond was signed during the Civil War, which makes the bond worthless, since the payout would have been made in Confederate dollars.
  • Wretched Hive: Raleigh. Bit-part bad guys hail from there more often than not, and it is often used as the foil to Mayberry's wholesomeness. Nonetheless, the show is as beloved in Raleigh as it is anywhere else in North Carolina.
  • You Know Who Said That?: Combined with Gratuitous Latin and actually subverted, as Floyd uses it to show how not sophisticated he is.
    Floyd: Tempus edax rerum. "Time heals everything." You know who said that? (Flatly.) My Latin teacher at barber college.
    • Floyd also had an occasional habit of misattributing quotes to Calvin Coolidge.