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Sheriff Andrew "Andy" Jackson Taylor is the principal character on The Andy Griffith Show, an Americanmarker sitcom which aired on CBS, (1960-1968). The character made a few appearances in the show's spinoff Mayberry R.F.D. (1968-1971) and appeared in a reunion telemovie Return to Mayberry (1986). The character made his initial appearance in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show (February 1960). Andy Taylor appeared in all 249 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and was played by comedian and actor Andy Griffith.

Home life

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 Opie's mother when the boy was "the least little speck of a baby." Andy's Aunt Bee acts 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, to dinner at Morelli's with friends, and enjoys picnicking at Myers Lake.

Work life

In the working world, Andy is Mayberry's Sheriff and Justice of the Peace. Andy has a bumbling deputy named Barney Fife and, in the color seasons, another bumbling deputy named Warren Ferguson-who is even worse than Fife. 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.

In a four-part color saga, film producers plan a feature film around Andy's sheriffing life and the Taylors travel to Hollywood to witness the proceedings. A 1963 episode "High Noon in Mayberry" mentions that Andy has been a sheriff at least since 1952β€”an occasion when he had to use a gun to wound a robber. In a color episode with co-star Jack Burns, Andy fires a gun to disable a car in order to capture some criminals.

Community life

Andy is mildly 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 Virginiamarker (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 boy. He seems to have no close relatives in Mayberry other than his aunt, his son, and his cousin Barney. (Very early in the first season, Barney Fife is mentioned as Andy's cousin but the suggestion is dropped after the seventh episode.)

Andy went to school in Mayberry and graduated from Mayberry Union High. One episode had Andy and Barney finding their old high school yearbook β€” the pictures are the actual high school photographs of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. His first job was working in the movie theater.

In the first season episode, "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.)

When the show begins in 1960, Opie is six years old and thus his birth occurred in 1954. 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; an armed robber, whom Andy reportedly shot in the leg, with the man being sent away to prison. This was the key event surrounding the episode High Noon in Mayberry, in which the suspect returns to Mayberry years later to present Andy with a shotgun as a gesture for capturing him and setting his life on the track to success by forcing him away from his criminal lifestyle.

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.

The mystery of Opie's "Maw"

Opie's "Maw" 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 "Maw" that leads to marriage. Andy answers that he did have that kind of love.

When the series opens, several years have passed since Andy lost Opie's "Maw". Andy mentions in the backdoor pilot from The Danny Thomas Show, that he lost Opie's "Maw" 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 "Maw" died at Opie's birth or shortly thereafter. Andy would have been 27 or 28 when Opie was born in 1954. It is also mentioned numerous times during the series that Andy is a widower implying that he was indeed married to Opie's mother since the term is usually only used for men whose wife has died.

Interestingly, there are no souvenirs or mementos of a wife around Andy's house. Opie's "Maw" apparently has no family in Mayberry – no parents, siblings, aunts or uncles that would be related to Opie. All of Opie's relatives seen on the show (Aunt Bee, Aunt Nora, Bradford Taylor) are paternal relatives.

It is also mentioned in an episode where Andy is dating a "Rich" girl and Barney warns him that it might not work out. He brings up to Andy that he was his best man and godfather to Opie.

Andy's romances

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.) 1 In Season Two, Andy dated a few ladies including two nurses: Mary Simpson and Peggy McMillan. Peggy chalked up four appearances on the show.

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 to be featured on several episodes of the spinoff series. Their departure (and Opie's) is explained during the second season, when Howard Sprague reads a letter about the family's relocation. Andy and Helen returned to Mayberry RFD for their son Andrew Jackson Taylor, Jr.'s christening in a 1969 episode, in which it was explained that Andy was now an agent for the "State Bureau of Investigation." In 1986 returned for the made-for-TV reunion movie Return to Mayberry. The movie explained that Andy has retired as Postal Inspector in Cleveland, Ohiomarker and returned home to seek the office of sheriff again.

Continuity slip-ups and Trivia

Some continuity slip-ups can be expected, as the series ran eight years and had several writers. One oversight revolves around the Andy-Barney cousin relationship. Early in Season One, Barney mentions that the two are cousins, but after the seventh episode, the connection is never mentioned again. Perhaps the producers were merely playing on perceived small-town nepotism. But, on the other hand, once the cousin relationship was established, there seems no reason to belabor the connection. One possible explanation could be that Barney was the cousin of Andy's late wife. While Barney Fife and Aunt Bee Taylor are both kin to Andy, Aunt Bee and Barney are not related, based on comments each had made during the series' run (such as the episode, "Aunt Bee's Invisible Beau", where Barney makes the statement, "If she (Bee) were my aunt, I'd wanna check this fella out".

First season episodes repeatedly show a door to the immediate left of the jail cell closer to the street, yet in subsequent seasons there's a heater in that space, with a wall behind it. No reference is made as to whether the door was walled up, or where it led to.

While Bee Taylor is presumed to be Andy's spinster paternal aunt, the character can be seen wearing a band on her wedding finger in two episodes. The band is very prominent in "Andy Saves Barney's Morale", an episode where Barney arrests half the town, including Aunt Bee.

Character names appears to be fertile ground for slip-ups. There are various middle names given for both Andy and Barney. Andy's middle name was given as Jackson on his own show (when his high school yearbook photo was shown in "Class Reunion"). Andy's second-born son's name, however, is given as "Andrew Samuel Taylor Jr." at his "Mayberry RFD" christening, Samuel being the actual middle name of actor Andy Griffith. Barney had three different middle names during the course of the series' run; Milton, Oliver, and "P". When Barney traced his genealogy, Andy mentions "Tibbs" as Barney's middle name. Also, Clara Edwards is introduced as Bertha Johnson and later Clara Johnson, Goober Pyle is initially Goober Beasley and Millie Swanson first appears as Millie Hutchins.

One plot hole is an episode when Andy and Barney have to deal with a goat who ate dynamite-if the goat "explodes" the blast will go straight up the second story-into the Mayor's office. However the series episodes never showed a inside flight of stairs nor even any second story floors or windows at the Mayberry Jail-although there is apparently a fire escape to the roof.

  • The police officer assisting Mulder and Scully in the X-Files episode "Home" is named Sheriff Andy Taylor. His Deputy is called Barney Parsons.
  • In 2006, a William Harold Fenrick, who had legally changed his name to Andrew Jackson Griffith, ran for Grant County sheriff in southwestern Wisconsin. He came in a distant third, but Andy Griffith sued him because during campaigning, the candidate played up the connection of his new name to the TV character. The suit was dismissed by U.S. District Judge John Shabaz on May 4, 2007. Judge: Sheriff Andy no harm to actor

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