‘The Andy Griffith Show’: What Did the Letter ‘T’ Stand For in Ernest T. Bass’ Name?

by Clayton Edwards

The Andy Griffith Show is one of the most iconic shows in television history. It helped to make comedian and singer Andy Griffith a household name. More importantly, it gave its viewers an escape from the tumultuous times in which they were living. The show never came close to topical issues. Instead, it focused on old-time small-town life. Even today, decades after the show’s original run ended, people can go to Mayberry to get away from the world for half an hour at a time.

The Andy Griffith Show also left behind several mysteries. For instance, no one knows for certain what Barney Fife’s middle name was. Over the course of the show, he had three different middle names. It was either Milton, Oliver, or simply the initial “P.”

In much the same way, no one is really certain what the T in Ernest T. Bass stood for. The hillbilly character was a favorite of fans of the show. After The Andy Griffith Show ended, Howard Morris would use the character’s catchphrase to greet fans at public events. “It’s me, it’s me, it’s Ernest T.” is one of the most famous lines in TV history. Fans of the classic show know that that phrase always meant mischief wasn’t far away.

What Did the ‘T’ Stand for in The Andy Griffith Show‘s Loveable Hillbilly’s Name?

Viewers of The Andy Griffith Show never learned what Ernest Bass’ middle name was. Currently, we’re still in the dark about the meaning of his middle initial. However, we do know the origins of the character’s name.

According to MeTV, Ernest Greenbaum helped to create the fan-favorite Andy Griffith Show character. He took inspiration from his own earlier work for the character’s name. It was a nod to the character Frank T. Whip from Greenbaum’s first hit series Mister Peepers.

Whip was the exact opposite of Bass. The Mister Peepers character was a pompous high school coach. The humor in his character came from how full of himself he was. However, the Andy Griffith Show character was a wild mountain man. He spoke in rhyme, broke windows, and antagonized both Andy and Barney. The two characters couldn’t have been much different.

What we do know is that Ernest T. Bass remains a fan favorite. Viewers of The Andy Griffith Show loved the mountain man. To this day, he is one of the show’s most iconic characters. However, he only appeared in five episodes. That is a true testament to the strength of the writing behind the character.

The Andy Griffith Show ran for eight seasons. During that time, the show aired 249 episodes. The fact that we’re still talking about a character that was only in five of those episodes speaks volumes. You could say that the hillbilly was right when he said, “You ain’t seen the las’ of Ernest T. Bass!”