‘The Andy Griffith Show’: How the Bank Robbery Episode Reflected Unfortunate Trend in America

by Keeli Parkey

During its popular television run, “The Andy Griffith Show” once aired an episode that reflected an unfortunate trend in the United States of America.

That trend had to do with the number of bank robberies that were taking place in the country around the time the episode aired. According to MeTV.com, the episode in question was titled “If I Had a Quarter-Million Dollars.”

In this episode, Deputy Barney Fife comes across a piece of luggage that is filled with $250,000. The money came from a bank robbery. Of course, playing Barney Fife on the show was the legendary Don Knotts.

In true Barney Fife fashion, he comes up with a plan to catch the culprit behind the bank robbery. What he decides to do is get the culprit’s attention by showing off the money throughout Mayberry. Unsurprisingly, Andy Griffith’s character, Sheriff Andy Taylor, doesn’t think Barney’s plan is the best idea. Taylor wants to bring in the FBI to investigate.

This Episode of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Debuted at a Time When Bank Robberies Were On the Rise

If I Had a Quarter-Million Dollars,” was the 22nd episode of the fifth season of “The Andy Griffith Show.” While the plot wasn’t ripped straight from the headlines, it did touch on an issue that was very problematic in the country at the time.

In fact, the year before the episode aired bank robberies were on the rise. That year, $3.9 million was stolen from banks in the country. This was the highest amount of money stolen from banks in a year up to that point in time. This statistic from the FBI was shared in a report by the Springfield Leader and Press.

So, what explained the increase in bank robberies in the country? According to the report, the FBI said that the creation of suburbs was a major source of the problem. Banks in those areas were more vulnerable because they usually had lower levels of security than other banks. Also, suburbs typically had smaller police forces than other areas. This combination made banks in those areas more vulnerable to robberies.

“Today, we’re dealing not only with old-time professionals, but also with a growing number of amateurs — including teenagers as young as 15, kids who need money for payments on their cars, even middle-aged women and little old ladies,” a spokesperson for the FBI told the Springfield Leader and Press.

Efforts to prevent bank robberies included the installation of silent alarms inside banks. Also, cameras started to be installed in banks so robbers could be caught in the act.

While this episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” is remembered for Barney finding the money and his undercover operation, it was also important for another reason. That reason is that it is the very first time the character Gomer Pyle appeared in the series.