‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Here’s Why Andy’s 1st Love Interest Demanded to Be Written Off

by Katie Maloney

Did you ever notice that all the characters on The Andy Griffith Show were single? There’s a very specific reason why.

As an eligible bachelor in the fictional town of Mayberry, Andy Griffith had many love interests. However, he never married. In fact, all of the main characters of the show remained single throughout the show’s eight seasons. In The Andy Griffith Show Book by Richard Kelly, actor Jack Dodson explained why the show’s writers wanted the characters unmarried.

“It is a tremendous hindrance to the writer to have married characters because it deprives the writer of the freedom to create circumstances,” said Dodson in the book. “A character needs to move from one environment to another, and he would not always be believable if he were married.”

However, there was one character who was supposed to play Griffith’s love interest for several years, but after only one season, she asked to be written off the show.

Elinor Donahue, left, and Andy Griffith from The Andy Griffith Show | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Elinor Donahue Asked To Leave The Andy Griffith Show

Donahue joined the cast of The Andy Griffith Show in 1960. During an interview, Donahue said that she didn’t even audition for the role.

“I was called into the office to meet with the producers, went home that afternoon, and found out I had the part. And I didn’t read or anything. I didn’t know that much about it except that I was going to be in the show with Andy Griffith,” said Donahue.

Donahue joined the cast in its first season as Ellie Walker, the town’s new pharmacist. She moves to Mayberry after agreeing to take over the town drugstore from her uncle. While there, she connects with Griffith, and the two start dating.

However, during the same interview, Donahue said that “it didn’t really work out.”

“I did 11 episodes, just there for the first season. I had a three-year contract. When we took a break for the hiatus, I asked to be let out of the contract,” said Donahue.

Here’s Why She Wanted Out

Donahue said that she was navigating personal issues while trying to work on the show and it was exhausting.

“I was going through some personal problems at the time and I needed some time,” Donahue said. “I’d gone directly from Father Knows Best to having a couple of months of turmoil in my personal life that was not settled at all. It was an ongoing whirlwind. And then went right into The Andy Griffith Show. I was exhausted.”

Although she feels no resentment towards the producers or the cast, Donahue said that she wishes they asked her to stay.

When asked if she would have stayed if the producers asked, Donahue said, “Probably. I badly needed in that period someone to want me, to like me a lot. It was a tough time.”

Ellie meets Opie on The Andy Griffith Show