‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Betty Lynn Turned Down a New Storyline After Don Knotts Left the Show

by Joe Rutland

When her guy Barney Fife left The Andy Griffith Show, Thelma Lou actress Betty Lynn had a chance for another storyline. She said no.

What? Well, let’s take a look and see how all of this went down.

We get an assist, Outsiders, from MeTV.

Five seasons into its run on CBS, Don Knotts, who played Barney Fife, left The Andy Griffith Show. It was his understanding that Andy Griffith wanted to end after five seasons. But Griffith changed his mind and kept going with the sitcom.

Well, that left Knotts in a bind. He ultimately signed a movie deal with Universal Studios.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Was Denied Additional Pay by Show Producers

Yet Lynn was still part of The Andy Griffith Show. When she first started playing Thelma Lou, Lynn received $500 per episode. Once her role became more regular, she asked for a $50 increase.

Show producers flat said they could replace her.

Fast forward five years later.

The same producers came to her and offered her a chance to run a hair salon. It would supposedly be a female version of the barbershop run by Floyd Lawson, played by Howard McNear.

Producers also were hoping to add some female-ish humor. Their hope was it would be comparable to Barbara Eden and her work in the episode “The Manicurist.”

Actress Heard Producers’ Plans For Her Character And She Said No To Them

But Lynn said no, adding that without Barney, “I didn’t think Thelma Lou made much sense.”

The Andy Griffith Show ended its CBS run after eight seasons in 1968. Mayberry R.F.D. replaced Griffith’s show and stayed on CBS for three seasons.

Once Griffith’s show ended, Lynn and other actors were without work.

In October 2021, Lynn died in Culver City, Calif. She was 95.

She loved being on the Griffith show so much. Lynn moved to Mount Airy, N.C., a city that was the inspiration for Griffith’s Mayberry.

Lynn played Thelma Lou in 26 episodes. Yet when ol’ Barn left for Mount Pilot, that left her without a role.

Lynn talked about her time on the show in a profile done in 2016 by The Miami Herald. She told the paper that was asked to read in 1960 for a part on The Andy Griffith Show.

The actress said to the Herald, “I’d only seen it twice but I thought it was hilarious.”

In the series, Thelma Lou got married and Barney found out about it when he came back to Mayberry for a reunion.

There is a happy ending, though. In the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry, our long-suffering lovebirds Barney and Thelma Lou are married.