HomeEntertainment‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Why Andy Griffith Could Not Have Actually Been Sheriff and Town Council Member

‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Why Andy Griffith Could Not Have Actually Been Sheriff and Town Council Member

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Slap the cuffs on Sheriff Andy Taylor, because he’s technically a lawbreaker. The Andy Griffith Show character violated North Carolina law when he served as both sheriff and as a town council member at the same time.

Taylor is the sheriff of the fictitious town of Mayberry, North Carolina. The town was based on Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. And the Tar Heel state is clear, a sheriff’s duty is to fulfill the will of state and local legislatures. Since the town council or commission oversees the sheriff’s office, it’s a conflict of interest for the sheriff to also sit on the board.

Originally, Taylor had nearly every municipal job in the town it seemed. In The Andy Griffith Show pilot, Taylor was Mayberry’s sheriff, justice of the peace, newspaper editor, and mayor. The original pilot aired as part of The Danny Thomas Show where Taylor pulls over Thomas for speeding. When Thomas protests and demands to see the justice of the peace, only to realize that’s Taylor as well.

Andy Griffith told The Television Academy Foundation that the original idea was for the show to be more like his “aw shucks” stand-up routine. Griffith’s character would explore the small-town life through all of his jobs, whether or not it was legal under N.C. law.

“That would have lasted maybe two weeks,” Griffith joked.

Griffith said the entire original plot of the show was “too homey” and missed the mark. Luckily, The Andy Griffith Show had time to retool before the second episode aired. By then, Don Knotts had joined the cast, and Taylor’s responsibilities in Mayberry were pared down. But a lot of Taylor’s civic involvement remained. He served on the town council and also several event committees, as well as several church groups.

Mayberry Was The Star of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Thankfully, Andy Taylor’s roles within Mayberry were cut down. That allowed The Andy Griffith Show writers to fill out the world with some of the most memorable characters in television history.

The show shined when it opened up and showed us the strange inhabitants of Mayberry. It’s where some of the most memorable characters came from including Gomer and Goober Pyle, barber Floyd Lawson, and town drunk Otis Campbell.

Andy Griffith and the show’s producer Sheldon Leonard once talked about how they should have named the show after the town.

“Mayberry was actually the star of the show,” Griffith said. ” (Producer) Sheldon (Leonard) said one time, ‘I think we missed named this show. It should have been called Mayberry to start with.’”