Don Knotts’ last scene on The Andy Griffith Show was anything but special. In fact, you never would have known that was his last scene ever.
Don Knotts, who played Deputy Barney Fife, left The Andy Griffith Show during its fifth season to pursue a career in the movies. After leaving the show, he starred in movies including The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut, and The Love God?
During the scene, Helen Crump, Opie’s schoolteacher, and Andy’s girlfriend come to visit Andy. She shares that Opie just got a B+ on a test. Both Andy and Helen agree that he’s on a good track to start getting “A’s.” Then Barney interrupts to say that there are some downsides to getting an “A” in school. He explains that one “A” can lead a kid to want more “A’s” which can lead him to stay up late and strain his eyes. Then he’ll need glasses. Andy stops Barney to ask him to grab a cup of coffee for Helen. As Barney pours the coffee in another room, he continues to list the potential dangers involved with a kid getting overly ambitious in school. When he returns to give Helen her cup of coffee, he discovers that both Andy and Helen have left and he was talking to himself the whole time.
And that’s it. There’s no special storyline that reveals that Barney got a new job somewhere else and has to leave, or that he’s leaving town on family business. There’s no indication at all that this is the last time audiences will see him as a regular on the show.
Don Knotts Said Leaving The Andy Griffith Show Was ‘A Tough Time For Me’
Although the show had been a massive hit, Andy Griffith told the cast from the time they first started filming that he never intended on going beyond five seasons. So, during the fifth season of the show, Don Knotts started getting nervous about the future of his acting career. During an interview, Knotts talked about his decision to leave.
“I left because Andy had said he would never do the show for longer than five years. And I had a five-year contract so during that season I thought, ‘Oh gosh, I better start looking around for other work,'” said Knotts. So I got a contract from Universal to do movies, and do my own pictures. And then Andy suddenly said that he was going to stay on for another two or three years. But I had already cast my lot.”
Knotts said that deciding to leave was tough on him because he loved the show so much.
“It was a tough time for me because I enjoyed The Andy Griffith Show so much,” said Knotts. “I hated to leave. I never expected it to go on.”