Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor
|First appearance||"Danny Meets Andy Griffith" episode The Danny Thomas Show (1960)|
|Last appearance||Return to Mayberry TV movie (1986)|
|Created by||Sheldon Leonard|
|Portrayed by||Andy Griffith|
|Occupation||Sheriff (1952 - 1968; 1986 - ?)|
Agent of State Bureau of Investigation (1968 - ?)
Postal Inspector (? - 1986)
Justice of the Peace (? - 1968)
|Family||Barney Fife (cousin)|
Uncle Ollie (uncle)
Aunt Nora (aunt)
|Spouse||Unnamed wife (deceased)|
|Children||Opie Taylor (son)|
Andy Taylor Jr. (son)
Sheriff Andrew "Andy" Jackson Taylor is the lead character on The Andy Griffith Show, an American sitcom which aired on CBS, (1960-1968). He also appears in the Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. episode "Opie Joins the Marines", made a cameo appearance in the USMC episode "Gomer Goes Home," five episodes of Mayberry R.F.D. (1968-1971) and the reunion telemovie Return to Mayberry (1986). The character made his initial appearance in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show entitled "Danny Meets Andy Griffith." In the CBS special The Andy Griffith - Don Knotts - Jim Nabors Show (1965), Andy and Barney are featured in a musical sketch about their friendship and recreate some classic moments between the characters. Andy Griffith, as Sheriff Taylor, also has a brief comedy cameo in Rowan and Martin at the Movies (1969), a PSA short subject promoting the purchase of U.S. Savings Bonds. Andy Taylor appeared in all 249 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and was played by comedian, musician, and actor Andy Griffith.
Andy Taylor lives in the fictional, sleepy community of Mayberry, North Carolina. Andy is a widower and father to one young son, Opie. In the backdoor pilot episode from The Danny Thomas Show, viewers learn Andy lost his wife when Opie was "the least little speck of a baby." In the first episode of the show Andy has a maid that is getting married and moving away. Andy's Aunt Bee comes in to act as his live-in housekeeper and as surrogate mother/grandmother to Opie. Andy goes fishing with his son and often spends evenings on the front porch strumming his guitar. He sometimes entertains (with reluctance) overnight guests like his Aunt Nora and Uncle Ollie and often has friends in for Aunt Bee's fried chicken dinners. Andy goes to the movies occasionally and to dinner at Morelli's with friends. He enjoys picnicking at Myers Lake and fishing is his favorite pastime.
In the working world, Andy is Mayberry's Sheriff and Justice of the Peace. He has held the elected job of sheriff since approximately 1952 or '53. Andy has a head strong deputy named Barney Fife and, in the color seasons, another deputy named Warren Ferguson. When business is slow at the courthouse, Andy can be found playing checkers with Barney, sitting in front of the barber shop chewing the fat with idlers, playing pranks, or conducting personal errands. He occasionally leaves Mayberry to attend work-related conferences or functions in Mt. Pilot or Raleigh.
As sheriff, Andy is the chief law enforcement officer in the county, yet most of his activity is in and around the town of Mayberry, and there is no evidence of a separate city police force. Both the town and the county are named Mayberry, so Andy is the chief law enforcement officer for both. These working conditions, plus his reliance on a single deputy (and no clerk or jailer) indicate that the county is very small in both size and population; however, in the episode Mountain Wedding, Andy and Barney get up at four o'clock in the morning to get an "early start" on their trip to the Darling's cabin, which is described as being "up in the mountains". When they arrive, it is full daylight, so it could be inferred that Mayberry County is larger than originally thought and with mountainous areas, but sparsely populated. Andy and Barney both work the courthouse during daytime hours, and rotate shifts at night. The length of night duties is never specified; however, it appears the only time either spends all night at the courthouse is when a prisoner, other than regular inmate Otis Campbell, is incarcerated. One confusing aspect of Andy's authority however, is his apparent subservience to the town mayor; a plot device which is utilized in several episodes throughout the course of the series - including Season 3's "The Cow Thief" - but which makes no sense in real life, since both are elected officials. Additionally, since Andy is elected countywide, while the mayor is a town official, his authority would actually - in most areas - exceed that of the mayor. This apparent dichotomy is never addressed during the run of the show.
In a 1965 four-part color saga starting with "Off to Hollywood", film producers plan a fictionalized feature film about Andy's sheriffing activities and the Taylors travel to Hollywood to witness the proceedings. The premise of the movie is that Andy Taylor was "The Sheriff Without a Gun," however a 1963 episode "High Noon in Mayberry" mentions that Andy has been a sheriff at least since 1952--an occasion when he had to use a gun to wound a robber. In three first-season episodes, "The Manhunt," "A Feud is a Feud," and "Barney Gets His Man," and in one second-season episode, "Aunt Bea the Warden," Andy wears a regular gunbelt. Also, the sixth-season episode, "Aunt Bee takes a Job" with co-star Jack Burns, Andy fires a gun (which he borrows from Deputy Warren Ferguson) to disable a car in order to capture some criminals. Andy did have an issued sidearm (a Colt Official Police revolver), but rarely saw cause to carry the weapon. He kept it unloaded on top of a shelf in his house. On the rare occasion he needed a weapon fast, he would grab a rifle or shotgun from the rack in his office or from his car.
Andy is active in the community. He serves on the town council, sings in the civic choir, judges a beauty contest, and acts in a Founders Day pageant. One error here in Andy's community service is his being both the elected sheriff and a town councilmember; under North Carolina law he could not do both. He often serves on social committees, attends community functions like dances, plays with the town band, and participates in organizing high school reunions. He attends church, helps select the church's new organ, and serves on the church's finance committee.
The premiere episode of the Andy Griffith Show begins with Andy telling Opie he was raised by Aunt Bee, who is about to return to Mayberry after a five-year sojourn in Morgantown, West Virginia (the real-life hometown of Don Knotts, the actor who portrayed Barney Fife). Being raised by Aunt Bee suggests that Andy was orphaned at an early age, though there is very little evidence offered on the show about Andy's childhood or his family. In one or two instances, old timers remember Andy as a boy. He seems to have no close relatives in Mayberry other than his aunt, his son, and his cousin Barney. In the first two episodes it is stated that Barney is his cousin.
Other relatives include Bee's sister Nora (who would also be Andy's aunt), who pays a visit in one episode. In another episode, Andy tells Barney that Aunt Bee is heavily against alcohol due to her brother's trouble with the bottle. It is unclear whether this brother is meant to be Andy's father, or one of Andy's uncles.
Andy went to school in Mayberry and graduated from Mayberry Union High. One 3rd-season episode #19 "Class Reunion" had Andy and Barney finding their old high school yearbook--the pictures are the actual high school photographs of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. In the yearbook, Andy's middle name is listed as Jackson. Barney's middle name is listed as Milton. In a later episode, Andy's middle name is Samuel. Over the length of the series, Barney had three different middle names. Andy's first job was working in the movie theater.
In the first-season episode number nine, "A Feud is a Feud", Andy mentions being in France during WWII. This statement is ambiguous, however. At the moment it is uttered, Andy is trying to outwit two mountain men intent on murdering each other. It is possible Andy is simply telling a "white lie" to befuddle the two feuders. However, if Andy did indeed see France, he couldn't have seen action on a battlefield because he graduated Mayberry Union High in late spring 1945 and the war in Europe was over in May 1945. He also mentions being in France "during the war" in the episode, "Ellie Comes to Town". He also later mentions being in Africa and that he was a First Sergeant. (President Harry Truman declared an official end to World War II on the last day of 1946-thus Andy could have indeed been in World War II but too late to see any action.) Just to make matters more confusing, in Season 6 episode, "The Return of Barney Fife", it is claimed that Barney is coming back to town for Andy & Barney's high school class reunion, class of 1948. So evidently the producers of the show did not create a timeline for this character and stick to it.
When the show begins in 1960, Opie is six years old and thus his birth occurred in 1954 (the same year in which Ron Howard, who portrayed him, was born). Andy may have married in 1952, the same year he apparently became sheriff. In an episode where Barney tries to find Andy a wife, Andy admits that he misses having a wife to come home to after work. If Andy's wife died the year Opie was born, they may have been married only two or three years. This could explain why Opie was an only child.
Andy was depicted as a country-smart sheriff and a caring, nurturing father. His laid-back approach to law enforcement made him an ideal sheriff for the sleepy town. Andy had his finger on the pulse of the community and Mayberry saw little native crime, with the exception of moonshining. Out-of-town bank robbers, scam artists, thieving vagrants and other crooks frequently passed through the area to practice their evil deeds but were no match for the wise and wily sheriff. Andy is known to have shot only one man in his position as sheriff, which is the key event surrounding the episode High Noon in Mayberry. Apparently, Andy shot the suspect in the leg years ago during an armed robbery; in the latter of the episode, the suspect returns to Mayberry to present Andy with a shotgun as a gesture for having forced him away from his criminal lifestyle, giving him a chance to rethink his life and get back on track. In the episode "Aunt Bee Takes A Job", Andy grabs Warren's pistol and fires it in pursuit of two counterfeiters on their vehicle as they are attempting to flee. The sheriff badges worn by Andy and Barney are six point stars; the stars on their shoulder patches have five points.
Andy regularly used reverse psychology on people making them see the error of their ways. He would help transgressors by enabling them to draw their own moral conclusions. Andy had a keen eye for booby traps, and often shielded Barney from both career and social landmines. Andy's pride in and love for his hometown is very evident in his work and his homelife.
Early shows depict Andy as having a naive demeanor and "aw-shucks" personality with home-spun humor which, actually, cover a wise and insightful outlook into people and situations, sometimes catching those who misjudge his intelligence off guard. Barney is often depicted as having grandiose opinions of his ability as a law enforcement officer, resulting in embarrassing situations which Andy wisely covers without hurting Barney's already sensitive nature. In the late 1st and early 2nd seasons, Andy begins to develop moral no-nonsense character traits, which serve in mediation for the problems of other sitcom characters, especially Barney. Later shows, particularly those after Barney's departure, depict Andy as more serious and stressed by the situations arising in each episode; in lieu of his sense of humor from earlier episodes, most of the humor is from Andy's consternation with others.
"Well, I'll be." (Spoken by Andy when he's excited or surprised in a good way.)
"I appreciate it and good night." (Spoken by Andy in the sponsor spots, when he's "advertising".)
"You beat everything, did you know that?" (Spoken by Andy when Barney makes a bad mistake.)
"Now, now, Opie." (Spoken by Andy when he's trying to explain something to his son, Opie.)
"Simmer down." (Spoken by Andy when someone is overly excited.)
"That's extry good!" (Spoken by Andy when someone performs something well.)
When the series opens, several years have passed since Opie's mother died. Andy mentions in the backdoor pilot from The Danny Thomas Show that he lost Opie's mother when Opie was "the least little speck of a baby". Opie is 6 years old when the show opens (born in 1954), and it is more than likely (based on Andy's testimony) that Opie's mother died at Opie's birth or shortly thereafter. Andy would have been 27 or 28 when Opie was born in 1954. It is mentioned numerous times during the series that Andy is a widower.
Opie's mother is mentioned only once, briefly, during the show. In the second-season episode, "Wedding Bells for Aunt Bee", Opie asks his father if he had the kind of love for his mother that leads to marriage. Andy answers that he did have that kind of love. There are no souvenirs or mementos of a wife seen in Andy's house. All of Opie's relatives seen on the show (Aunt Bee, Aunt Nora, Bradford Taylor) are paternal relations; no relatives of his mother appear.
Andy had several love interests through the show's run, but his first romantic relationship on the series is Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue), a newcomer to town who works in her uncle's drug store. Ellie made twelve appearances in the first season and then disappeared without explanation to the viewer. (Donahue once stated in an interview that she left because she felt she had no chemistry with series star Andy Griffith. Griffith later admitted that it was his fault because he had a hard time showing affection on screen, and as a result, the relationship did not appear to be real or believable.) source In Season Two, Andy dated a few ladies, including Karen Moore, a cousin of Thelma Lou (only in one episode), and County Nurse Mary Simpson (played by two different actresses Julie Adams and Sue Ane Langdon). In early Season Three, Andy dated Peggy McMillan (Joanna Moore), another county nurse, who chalked up four appearances on the show. In "Class Reunion", Andy was reunited with an old girlfriend, Sharon DeSpain. On a number of occasions, Barney meddled into Andy's romantic life and tried to arrange dates for him, which invariably turned out to be ill-suited or embarrassing matches. One of those attempted arranged dates was with the odd, socially inept Lydia Crosswaithe.
The producers created a long-term love interest in school teacher, Helen Crump. Helen made her first appearance in the third season and remained Andy's love interest throughout the rest of the series. The two were eventually married in the first Mayberry RFD episode in 1968. The newlywed Taylors remained in Mayberry, and Andy was featured on several episodes of the spinoff series. Andy and Helen returned to Mayberry RFD for their son Andrew Samuel Taylor, Jr.'s christening in the 2nd-season premiere episode "Andy's Baby" (Sept. 1969), in which it was explained that Andy was now an agent for the "State Bureau of Investigation," he and Helen live in Charlotte, where Opie is attending high school. Their departure (and Opie's) is further explained during RFD's 2nd season in the episode "The Caper," when Howard Sprague reads a letter about the family's relocation, explaining that Mayberry now relies on Goober as a part-time Deputy Sheriff and has contracted with the State Police for serious matters. In 1986 the Taylors returned for the made-for-TV reunion movie Return to Mayberry. The movie explained that Andy has retired as Postal Inspector in Cleveland and returned home to see Opie into fatherhood and seek the office of sheriff again. Andrew Samuel Taylor, Jr., wasn't seen or mentioned.
In polls and editorials, Andy has been routinely ranked as one of the greatest TV fathers, praised for being "the kind of father that every kid deserves--a kind, understanding and compassionate man with a sense of humor and a load of common sense." He placed 8th on TV Guide's list of the "Top 50 TV Dads". On the lists created by About.com's Fatherhood section Sheriff Andy Taylor is named the greatest TV father of all time. Tampa Bay Online's public poll also voted him the greatest father in pop culture history, including both television and film, with 82% of the vote.
In 2018, retired Akron Beacon Journal writer Rich Heldenfels said he believed Andy Griffith was never nominated for an Emmy because "just made the acting look too easy" and because the character was so much like Griffith, "his timing and other skills did not seem as apparent."