‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Griffith Explained Why He Turned Down Contract Extension After 8th Season

by Joe Rutland

Andy Griffith had an opportunity to keep going with “The Andy Griffith Show” after eight seasons on CBS. He, though, didn’t choose to do so.

Why? Griffith talked about his decision in an interview with late Nashville disc jockey Ralph Emery on his “On The Record” television show.

“We did it for eight seasons and I was offered to do it four more years,” Griffith said. “But I felt I wasn’t giving it its due. I would come to work without knowing my lines sometimes. I just decided I might hurt the show if I stayed with it so I left.”

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Characters Continued To Appear On ‘Mayberry R.F.D.’

Griffith adds that it stayed on for three years as “Mayberry R.F.D.”, a spinoff starring Ken Berry. Some of “The Andy Griffith Show” characters would appear on that show, including Frances Bavier as Aunt Bee.

By the time Griffith shut down his show, which made a transition from black-and-white to color episodes, it had lost some of its popular characters. Maybe the biggest missing character on there was Don Knotts, who played Deputy Barney Fife.

Knotts, who won Emmy Awards for his work on “The Andy Griffith Show,” left after five seasons. He went on to make movies with Universal Pictures. Yet Knotts really didn’t want to leave the show. Why did he? Because he heard Griffith say that the show was only going to run for five seasons.

Knotts’ Departure From Show Became Missing Ingredient For Its Success

But Griffith changed his mind, putting Knotts on the path to find other work. The movie deal was signed before Griffith told CBS that he was renewing for three seasons. Knotts would only make guest-starring appearances on the show.

Now viewers still tuned into “The Andy Griffith Show” after Knotts left. Griffith tried replacing Knotts with comedian Jack Burns as Warren. The chemistry between Burns, Griffith, and the cast simply did not work. After a few episodes, Burns was let out of his contract.

People hold very dear memories of Andy and Barney getting into hijinx around Mayberry or at the sheriff’s office. One of those episodes lets Knotts show off his creative and acting ingenuity. Barney brings his old history book to the office and assuring Andy Taylor that he could recite the Preamble to the United States Constitution.

Um, let’s just say that things didn’t go as planned for ol’ Barn on this episode. Yet the entire skit was written by Knotts. You can see his entire ability to change expressions during a four-minute stretch. It’s pretty remarkable and one reason Knotts secured those Emmys.

It’s a moment from “The Andy Griffith Show” that fans never will forget.