For eight wonderful years, The Andy Griffith Show delighted and entertained Americans with tales from the town of Mayberry. It was rich and laden with mid-Century Americana, capturing the true essence of what it was to be American in the decades before it aired. What made The Andy Griffith Show so endearing and special wasn’t necessarily the show itself; instead, it was the personable and relatable acting of one Barney Fife. Fife was relentlessly and suitably perfect in the role of Andy Griffith. But behind the scenes? It was a much different story. These 12 unbelievable secrets reveal who he truly was–number six is especially surprising!
#12 Andy Was Romantically Inept
Fife’s best friend, Andy, had a reputation–and it wasn’t just for his acting chops. Whispers from castmates spread a pervasive rumor that the television hero was a bit inept when it came to romance. He never really seemed to connect with his co-lead, Elinor Donahue, and often came across as a bit of a womanizer.
#11 Fans Sent Andy Bullets
Andy Griffith was only ever permitted a single bullet in his gun (for fear that he’d shoot his own foot or worse). In the spirit of an ongoing inside joke, fans sent single bullets to the deputy through the mail. It was both a chide and a motion of endearment. “Bullet for my Valentine,” anyone?
#10 Andy Got Angry
Though few knew of Andy’s extremely rare flares of anger, Barney Fife often saw them first-hand. At least one confirmed incident exists where Don Knotts became angry enough to punch a wall out-of-character, breaking his hand. Producers covered up the injury by simply writing it into the show’s script as an injury in the line of duty.
#9 Andy and Barney Had Crazy Chemistry
Usually, it’s the producers who write a script and then choose characters to fit it. Andy and Barney had such high chemistry that they frequently adjusted the script to accommodate it instead. Producers appreciated their chemistry so much that they were the first two actors to officially receive one-year contracts on the show–something that was almost unheard of at the time.
#8 They Had Off-Set Chemistry, Too
Andy Griffith and Don Knotts didn’t just have chemistry on-set; they were the true definition of “bromance” off-set, too. Both actors maintained a life-long friendship that extended quite literally until Knott’s death in 2012. Griffith was by the treasured classic actor’s side as he slipped away.
#7 Floyd Suffered a Mobility-Impairing Stroke
Howard McNear, the actor who played Floyd, required a great deal of assistance on-set after suffering a devastating stroke mid-way through the series. Not to be thwarted by intense pain when standing and weakness throughout his left side, the actor insisted on remaining in the show. The entire set came together to create hidden mobility aids for him–like a stool with a special back–to empower him to keep working.
#6 Blood Isn’t Thicker Than Water
Barney and Andy were originally slated to be written into the show as distant cousins. Producers believed that this would create the illusion of closeness, but it simply wasn’t necessary. After recognizing their on-screen chemistry, they re-wrote their histories and made them childhood friends instead. You can still catch a few references to cousinhood in early episodes!
#5 Like Father, Like Son
Outside of the show, Andy Griffith was a dedicated and doting father. But that dedication eventually filtered over to his on-set son, Ron Howard (known on the show as Opie). The pair were so close that fans frequently mistook little Ron to be his actual son off-set even though that simply wasn’t the case.
#4 Andy? Angie? Ange?
Nicknames–they’re common in the entertainment industry. Not even Andy himself could escape the nickname train, with Barney frequently referring to him as “Ange” on the show. It was a mashup of his first and last names, honoring the actor for who he truly was. This little-known tidbit only became obvious if you knew what you were looking for, with many fans confusing “Ange” for “And.”
#3 Andy Sang the Theme Song (Once)
Despite the fact that his rendition never became the main introductory theme in the show. Andy Griffith did once sing the whistling tune. Unfortunately, his singing chops weren’t quite as polished as his acting chops. Despite the fact that Griffith wasn’t necessarily a bad singer, the whistled introduction remained in place for the rest of the series.
#2 The Practical Joker
Griffiths was a bit of a maverick and an extreme practical joker. Cast members frequently commented on his ability to trick them and prank them at every turn–anything for a laugh. Empowered by the fact that he owned the series, and thus, could essentially do whatever he wanted, he inspired plenty of laughs and probably a bit of frustration, too.
#1 Why Knotts Never Returned
Sincerely surprising most fans is the revelation that it was Griffith himself that originally refused to allow Knotts back on the show. The latter requested to return near the end of the series, but demanded shares in the show for his services. Andy refused his request, seeing it as an insult, and denied his return on principle.
The Andy Griffith Show remains one of the most iconic classic Americana shows ever produced. There’s just something heroic and sensible about Griffith. Sheriff Griffith guided and embraced everyone in Mayberry, holding them up in safety and in support with witty wisdoms and pithy comments that would predate others in the same entertainment niche much later. Barney Fife, his dedicated sidekick, was like the icing on a delicious cake. He made us laugh and forget our troubles if only for a moment. What were your favorite moments from the Andy Griffith Show? Share them here and reminisce about simpler times!