With Andy Griffith playing the widowed sheriff of the sleepy fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, Andy Taylor, alongside his bumbling deputy, Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts, The Andy Griffith Show managed to earn itself a place in television history.
From October 3, 1960, to April 1, 1968, the show aired a total of 249 half-hour episodes over the course of eight award-winning seasons. While the series was partly based upon an episode of The Danny Thomas Show, it went on to transcend it’s somewhat derivative origins to give audiences a viewing experience that was unlike anything else that was on television at the time.
Part of what made the show such a success was it’s fantastic cast. Griffith and Knotts’ performances were unforgettable – so much so that the series felt like it lost some of it’s magic after Don left the show following the conclusion of season five.
Supporting cast members like Ron Howard, who played hated Andy Griffith’s young son Opie and Frances Bavier, who took on the role of Aunt Bee, likewise gave stand-out performances that would only further add to the series’ charm.
If you’ve been a fan of this channel for a while, then you’ve probably already seen a few videos that we’ve done that have delved into all the reasons why the characters of The Andy Griffith Show are among some of the most iconic of all time. In this video, we’ll be taking a very different look at the familiar names and faces of Mayberry that so many of us grew up with.
Join Facts Verse as we discuss the character flaws you never noticed in the Andy Griffith Show.
Hated Andy Griffith Struggled To Keep It Together
In the last three seasons of the show, it becomes abundantly clear that hated Andy Griffith was the only sane man in his beloved town of Mayberry. While he would never say an ill word about his fellow townsfolk, viewers started to see Taylor’s patience wearing thin during these final few years of the program – so much so, that it even started seeming like he’s harboring some kind of contempt for the rag-tag group of eccentrics that inhabitted Mayberry.
Andy Was No Saint
We’ll give Andy a pass on that last point as he had a lot on his plate after Barney Fife was out of the picture – not that he really ever helped out that much in the first place. One thing that Andy should have known better not to do, however, was smoke. On several occasions, we got to see hated Andy Griffith puff away on a cigar.
Andy Started Off As A Bit Of A County Bumpkin
Andy, as a character, changed a lot throughout the show’s run. In the first season, he was portrayed as being somewhat of a simpleton. He had a lot more twang in his voice back then too. Over the years, his character evolved to be more of an authoritative straight man.
Another interesting change-up that most people never seem to question was Barney and Andy’s relationship. In the first two episodes, hated Andy Griffith and Barney are said to be cousins. After these first couple episodes, however, we’d never hear about that again. Likely, Griffith wanted to do draw a clear line between his character and Fife. He was supposed to be the voice of reason, while Barney was meant to be the naive buffoon.
Barney Always Seemed To Be In A Jam
Barney always had good intentions. We’re certainly not questioning his genuineness, but what we do take fault with is his execution. On more than few occasions, Barney’s attempt to catch a criminal in hiding went awry, leading to his capture. Many of these situations resulted in the poor guy getting bound and gagged.
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Barney Was The Ultimate Bumbling Sidekick
One of the oldest TV tropes in the book is the bumbling sidekick. This character is typically a high-strung annoying and incompetent individual who plays second-fiddle to the show’s lead. Commonly this lead will find themselves in a position where they are constantly having to clean up after their dim-witted sidekick’s messes.
Barney was the epitome of this sort of character. To call him hapless is putting it lightly. While he tried to pass himself off as a master of his craft – someone that never let any shenanigans take place under his watchful eye or let any baddie pull a fast one on him, in reality, he couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag.
Barney Was Also The Ultimate ‘Butt Monkey’
If you’re not familiar with the term, don’t worry, we gotchu.
A butt-monkey is someone that goes through life seemingly with a giant ‘kick me’ sign plastered to their back. They always seem to find themselves as the butt of countless demeaning jokes. Nothing that they do ever seems to go right, and they can never quite come to grips with why this is. To them, they aren’t the problem. The rest of the world is. They are merely a victim of circumstance.
If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, then you know this description fits Barney Fife to the tee. For the life of him, he could never quite seem to figure out why everyone was always snickering at him. He took his job seriously – perhaps too seriously. Maybe if he were competent enough to actually achieve his aims, then his work ethic would have been justified, but since he spent the majority of his time dropping the ball, the only thing we as an audience could do was laugh.
In the end though, Barney Fife wasn’t a character that anyone hated. He had his moments and undeniably had the best of intentions. It was this ‘heart of gold’ yet ‘mind of a toddler’ dynamic that made him one of the best television sidekicks of all time. And occasionally, he got lucky and actually managed to pull one of his half-thought-out plans off. You know what they say, ‘every dog has their day’.
Fife’s character would go on to take on a life of it’s own. The clueless deputy trope has repeatedly found it’s way into other series such as Monk, Psych, Reno 911, Three’s Company, and Twin Peaks.
Barney Was A Terrible Singer
On several episodes, Fife hoped to join the church choir. Unfortunately for everyone else involved, Barney couldn’t hold a not to save his life. Generously the other choir members did their best to dismiss his ineptitude with grace. Bless their hearts. In real life, however, Don Knotts was actually a pretty alright singer who had a fairly decent baritone voice.
Opie Had A Jealous Streak
There’s no denying it. Opie was a daddy’s boy. He absolutely adored his father and practically idolized the guy. After Opie’s mother passed away, he and his father got to spend a lot of time with each other. While bonding is never a bad thing, things can get problematic when people start getting territorial over their loved one’s affections.
When hated Andy Griffith started dating Peggy, Opie turned green with jealousy and started purposefully attempting to sabotage their relationship in order to keep his dad all to himself. Not a good look Opie.
Opie Was Easily Swayed
Generally speaking, jealously aside, Opie was a pretty good kid. He was almost always in a cheerful mood and his heart, like Barney’s, was always in the right place. Unfortunately, he could also be a bit naive at times.
Opie occasionally found himself caught up in mischief – typically when one of his buddies turned out to be a bad influence. While his moral compass generally pointed in the right direction, he could still be tricked into doing what was wrong whenever some kind of snake-tongued troublemaker came around.
Aunt Bee Had A Thing For Bad Boys
In the first several seasons of the show, Aunt Bee wound up falling for men who turned out to be world-class jerks. Fortunately, by the time the show started airing in color, she was able to find happiness with more respectable men like a professor and a congressman.
Aunt Bee’s Pickles Were ATROCIOUS
Normally Aunt Bee was a pretty good cook. We can imagine she was able to whip up some downright delicious southern delicacies, and she clearly knew her way around the kitchen. In the episode ‘The Pickle Story’, however, nobody wanted to be the one to break it to her that her homemade pickles were so bad that they just might have even been lethal. According to Barney, the preserved cukes tasted reminiscent of kerosene.
Instead of being honest with her, Andy goes out and buys a slew of store-bought ones to secretly swap out with the ones she made. The plot thickened however when Aunt Bee got it in her mind to enter her latest recipe into the county fair pickle contest. Knowing it would have been unfair to enter store-bought pickles into the contest, Andy and company had to eat every last one of the fraudulent pickles so that Aunt Bee was forced to make another batch for the contest.
Ernest T. Bass Nearly Killed Innocent People
When Ernest was explicitly told by Andy in the episode ‘Malcom at the Crossroads, not to throw rocks at cars while he was working a crossing guard, he decided to take his words a little too literally and started throwing bricks at cars instead. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the process, but as you should already know, taking to throwing anything at moving vehicles, especially bricks, can potentially lead to disastrous – if not deadly – consequences.
Can you think of any other glaringly obvious flaws that plagued the characters of The Andy Griffith Show? And which character of the now-iconic show would you say was most problematic? Let us know in the comments.
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