The classic comedy The Andy Griffith Show ran for eight years on CBS, beginning in 1960. Starting out in black-and-white film, by 1965 the show went full-color and had changed significantly. Here’s how the still-popular program starring Griffith and Don Knotts concluded.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ began on another TV show
Andy Griffith’s show began in 1960 on a completely different program, The Danny Thomas Show. Starring producer and actor Danny Thomas, the series focused on entertainer Danny Williams and his family.
The episode introducing Sheriff Andy Taylor and his young son Opie, played of course by Ron Howard, was titled “Danny Meets Andy Griffith.” In the episode, Danny goes through a stop sign in Mayberry and is jailed by Andy when he refuses to pay a fine.
The pilot was a success and Griffith and young Howard’s performances led to CBS putting The Andy Griffith Show in their fall lineup that year.
Griffith told The Andy Griffith Show author Richard Kelly about his anxiety before the live performance on The Danny Thomas Show: “I came out [to Los Angeles], did the pilot – and I remember a lot of that, too, because Danny Thomas made me very nervous. I was wooden, very wooden. And as the show progressed, I got looser and looser and when they brought the audience in, I was on top of it. And the show, in fact, did sell.”
The ‘Griffith Show’ ended with the pilot episode of ‘Mayberry R.F.D.’
Andy Griffith was ready to leave his show and announced he would do so after the eighth season. The show had changed dramatically from the Mayberry of the first season. Don Knotts had left the series in season five, other characters were introduced, and the series was presented in technicolor by its sixth season.
By the eighth — and final — season, a new show, Mayberry R.F.D., was announced as a spinoff from The Andy Griffith Show. The last episode of Griffith introduced the new comedy and served as its pilot.
In The Andy Griffith Show finale, farmer Sam (Ken Berry) sponsors his former Army pal Mario to come from Italy and help him on his land. Unfortunately, Mario brings along his father and sister as well, without Sam’s consent.
Just as Sam is about to suggest the family may be better off in a more spacious neighboring town, Andy comes to the rescue and talks Sam into letting them stay. The new arrivals love Mayberry and the town has taken to them as well. They agree to stay, although they’re never seen again on Mayberry R.F.D.
Griffith had very little interest in the spinoff series
Goober Pyle actor George Lindsey wrote in his memoir Goober in a Nutshell that by the time Mayberry R.F.D. aired, Griffith had basically checked out of the show and spent little time on it.
After the Griffith Show ended in 1968, Lindsey remained on Mayberry R.F.D. along with Aunt Bee actor Frances Bavier, Hope Summers who played Clara Edwards, Emmett Clark actor Paul Hartman, and Jack Dodson, who portrayed Howard Sprague.
“I never felt that the scripts on Mayberry R.F.D. were as strong as those for The Andy Griffith Show,” Lindsey wrote. “No doubt that had a lot to do with the fact that Andy Griffith, though still executive producer, only appeared in a handful of episodes and was not as directly involved on the set and with the scripts.”
The quality of the scripts paled to the Griffith Show‘s, he added: “Goober had a lot more lines in Mayberry R.F.D., but in all honesty, they usually didn’t measure up to the razor-sharp standards of the original series.”