According to Andy Griffith, the show's original premise was to follow the story line set up in his appearance on Make Room for Daddy. The premise was that Mayberry was so small that Andy Taylor was not only the sheriff, but the Justice of the Peace, the editor of the local newspaper, and the mayor. However when it came time to write the series, Andy decided that was too ridiculous so he asked that Andy Taylor's duties be confined to being the sheriff and the justice of the peace. However the "Justice of the Peace" task was used sparingly and usually only with out-of-town troublemakers.
Throughout the series, there was a character named "Mister Schwamp" who would occasionally appear in episodes. He was a middle-aged man with a slumped demeanor and he had dark hair (which looked like a comb-over or a toupee). He could usually be found sitting on a park bench or in crowd scenes. He never had any lines. One of the characters (usually Andy or Barney) would acknowledge him with "Hello, Mister Schwamp." and he would smile and nod and that's all he would do. He also appeared in two episodes of the spin-off Gomer Pyle: USMC. The actor who played him has yet to be identified.
In the first season, Barney Fife courted several women including Thelma Lou. In "Andy the Matchmaker", Barney courted a woman named Miss. Rosemary, in "Ellie for Council", Barney is seen dating Hilda May, who is again mentioned in "Christmas Story". Juanita, the never-seen waitress at the local diner was also serenaded by Barn in a few episodes in later seasons. Thelma Lou is only seen in two episodes of the first season, but appears later as Barney's main squeeze.
When the series began, Andy and Barney were cousins in the first few episodes. This was a joke based on the stereotype that the only reason people in small towns get jobs in the local government is because they are related to someone and not based on the merits of their abilities. However, after a few well placed references of Andy and Barney's relation (usually to cap off a joke) in the first season, this idea was dropped and the back story of their relationship became simply that they were friends since childhood.
The character of Warren Ferguson (played by Jack Burns) was brought in to replace Barney Fife after Don Knotts left the show. Warren was referred to on occasion as Floyd the barber's nephew. Replacing the classic character of Barney Fife proved to be an impossible task, however. "Warren Ferguson" did not catch on with the viewers, and he was written out of the series after only appearing in 11 episodes. There was no explanation in any episode story line for Warren's departure; he simply stopped appearing.
Howard McNear (Floyd the Barber) suffered a severe stroke and had trouble standing up, which is why during his last season on the show he was always shown either sitting in the barber's chair inside his shop or on one of the chairs outside on the sidewalk.
Andy Griffith originally told Don Knotts that he only wanted to do the show for five years. So they both signed five-year contracts. During the fifth season, Knotts began looking for other work. He then signed a five-year deal with Universal Pictures. Suddenly, Griffith decided to continue on with the series for three more years and offered Knotts a new contract. But Knotts was already bound by his contract with Universal and left the show.
In two episodes of the second season, Andy Griffith's hand is heavily bandaged. Griffith had broken his hand by punching a wall. On the show, the bandage was explained by Sheriff Taylor saying he hurt his hand apprehending some criminals.
The character of Helen Crump was supposed to be a one-shot. That is why they gave the character an unpleasant sounding name. But the producers were so impressed with Aneta Corsaut's performance and her rapport with Andy Griffith that they made her a regular cast member.
The character played by Hope Summers was originally named "Bertha Edwards" in the first season. In the second season, the character came to be known as "Clara" and she referred to her late husband as "Mr. Johnson". Later, she came to be known as "Clara Edwards".
Andy and Barney's squad car was a Ford Galaxie. The cars were supplied free of charge by a nearby Ford dealer, and whenever the newest model came out, it was sent to the studio and the old one was returned to the dealer who re-painted it and sold it. Altogether, there were about 10 different Ford Galaxies used throughout the run of the series.
Elinor Donahue decided not to return after the first season because she felt she had no on-screen chemistry with Andy Griffith. Griffith later admitted that it was his own fault because had a hard time showing affection on-screen, and as a result, the relationship didn't appear real or believable.
The show was shot on the same set as Atlanta from Gone with the Wind, if you were to walk out of the courthouse and look to the right at the end of the street, you can see the old Atlanta train station in many episodes.
Sheriff Taylor did not routinely appear wearing a necktie or a sidearm. In several episodes, he wears a necktie or a sidearm in special circumstances, such as when a VIP visited Mayberry or if he had to track an escaped convict reported to be in the vicinity. He rarely was shown smoking, but did so in several episodes.
When Don Knotts left the show, Jerry Van Dyke was considered for the part of a deputy who would have replaced Barney Fife, and even appears in a deputy's uniform in a fifth-season episode. However, Van Dyke chose instead to star in NBC's My Mother the Car, and later said if he had to do it over again, he would have taken the deputy part instead.
The theme song for the series was titled "The Fishing Hole". Lyrics for the song were written by Everett Sloane but the producers decided that whistling the tune set the tone for the show, so the words were dropped.
During the opening credits as Andy and Opie walk down the path, Opie picks up a rock and throws it off camera right as Andy nods in a very distinct manner, before they start walking again. Years later, Andy Griffith watched this and realized he was unintentionally imitating a certain nod that his father would give him to show approval.
The opening credits were expanded slightly during the original network run. After Opie throws the rock into the lake the camera shot would change to a close-up of the water rippling, the logo of the sponsor's product appearing in the middle.
The show debuted in October 1960, but the characters of Andy and Opie originally debuted on an episode of Danny Thomas' show Make Room for Daddy in February 1960 (Thomas' production company produced both shows). Frances Bavier, who later played Aunt Bee, was introduced as Harriet Perkins.
In early episodes, to the right of the cells above the glass-covered shelves is a small picture of President Woodrow Wilson and the presidents before him. Later, during most seasons, a different poster is there, also of the presidents, this time up to Dwight D. Eisenhower, and was published by Women's Day Magazine in 1956.
Songwriter Earle Hagen provided the whistling to the theme song in the show's opening-credits, which is titled "The Fishing Hole". Andy Griffith recorded a lyric version of the song, but it was never aired.
Andy Griffith had been a successful stand-up comedian as well as an actor before beginning the show and he had fully expected to be the main funny character on it, and in the first few episodes even performed some of his stand-up routines, like his countrified versions of classic fairy tales. However, when Don Knotts became such a popular favorite as Deputy Barney Fife, Griffith decided for the good of the show to let Knotts be the main comic figure and let Sheriff Taylor react to him as his "straight man."
Barney Fife was Andy Taylor's cousin. There were three episodes that mentioned Andy and Barney being cousins: "The New Housekeeper", "The Manhunt" and "Runaway Kid". Also, in "Andy and the New Mayor", Barney mentions, growing up and attending school with Andy (they got first and second place in a penmanship contest) as well as being Andy's best man at his first wedding and being the Opie's godfather.
Josie Lloyd, the actress who Mayor Pike's daughter Juanita in "Mayberry Goes Hollywood", is seen again in "The Beauty Contest" and plays the mayor's daughter, Josephine. Her Juanita character is not "the" Juanita the waitress that Barney pines for; her name was Juanita Beasley. Lloyd also had a recurring role in the third and fifth seasons as Lydia Crosswaithe.
The last 16 episodes of season three have become part of the public domain due to a clerical error back in the 1960's and are thus widely available in different formats and different conditions. The theme song however is still copyrighted material and can only be used with permission. Therefore, most public domain copies have different music during the opening and closing credits. These are the 16 public domain episodes, in order starting with 3.17: "High Noon in Mayberry", "The Loaded Goat", "Class Reunion", "Rafe Hollister Sings", "Opie and the Spoiled Kid", "The Great Filling Station Robbery", "Andy Discovers America", "Aunt Bee's Medicine Man", "The Darlings Are Coming", "Andy's English Valet", "Barney's First Car", "The Rivals", "A Wife for Andy", "Dogs, Dogs, Dogs", "Mountain Wedding", & "The Big House". Coincidentally, this is a pivotal batch of episodes in the show's history; it includes the debut of three characters, Helen Crump, Malcolm Merriwether and Ernest T. Bass, plus one family, the Darlings, as well as Crump's second appearance, the first in which she and Andy are set up as a couple.
The chart over the bookcase in the sheriff's office depicts the Presidents of the United States and information about them and was also a popular chart displayed in elementary school classrooms in the early 1960s.
It's a long held belief that the fictional town of Mayberry is based on Andy Griffith's real birthplace and hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. However, Andy Griffith disputes this idea. Yet, in the opening scene of A Black Day for Mayberry, Barney picks up the phone book from the Sheriff's desk and begins to nervously flip through it. In several screen shots of Barney holding the phone book, you can plainly read "Mount Airy" on the front cover. It appears to be a genuine Mount Airy Telephone Directory posing as directory of the town of Mayberry.
During most of the first season, there is beauty shop next door to Floyd's Barbershop with a door located in the common wall between them. The door is just to the left of the waiting chairs in the barbershop and had the words Beauty Shop printed on the glass. By the end of Season 1, there are no longer any words on the door. In Season 2 the beauty shop was replaced with a TV repair shop and the last time we see the door is the 10th episode of Season 2, The Clubmen. Six weeks later in episode 16, The Manicurist, starring Barbara Eden, the door is gone. No one ever used this door or ever commented on it in any episodes.
Andy Griffith and Frances Bavier did not get along during the series. According to Griffith and Howard Morris, Bavier was very extremely sensitive and resented her role of Aunt Bee. In 1972, Griffith and Ron Howard paid her a visit at her home in Siler City, North Carolina but she turned them away. When Bavier was terminally ill in 1989, she contacted Griffith to say that she regretted that they did not get along better.