There's a reason why The Andy Griffith Show is one of the most beloved sitcoms in history. The small town CBS show had as much heart as it had humor and Mayberry's finest helped teach millions of viewers some valuable life lessons. Choosing a favorite of the series' 249 episodes, from the pilot ("The New Housekeeper") to the finale ("Mayberry RFD"), is no easy feat. But even the show's stars are partial to certain storylines.
Ron Howard, who famously portrayed Opie Taylor, said his favorite episode was one that hit close to home: "The Ball Game."
"A lot of people talk about the bird one [Opie the Birdman], but I like one that was based on real life," Howard said during an interview on Larry King Now. My dad actually wrote the story for it. It was a thing where Andy was umpiring and he calls Opie out at home and Opie is sure he was safe and he's just shattered and pretty pissed off. Well, that had happened to me and my dad. He called me out at home on a ballgame that was on my birthday. It was just a pickup game. But I couldn't believe he called me out. My dad thought that was hilarious that I was so upset about it. He took the idea to Andy and they made an episode out of it."
Read on to see our rankings of the best episodes of the iconic comedy classic, featuring Floyd the barber (Howard McNear), Goober Pyle (George Lindsey), Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), Otis Campbell (Hal Smith) and more.
10. The Arrest of the Fun Girls
In this memorable episode, the "Fun Girls" from the big city of Mount Pilot, Daphne and Skippy, drop in to see Andy and Barney. Knowing that their girlfriends, Helen Crump and Thelma Lou, wouldn't approve of the men spending time with the girls, they hatch a plan for Barney to stay at the courthouse with Daphne and Skippy, but hilarity ensues when Helen and Thelma Lou find Andy and Barney seemingly having a party at the courthouse with the women.
9. Three Wishes For Opie
In this 1964 episode, Barney purchases a fortune-telling game and lets Opie try it. Strangley, all of Opie's wishes begin to come true.
8. Citizen's Arrest
In this season 4 episode, Barney writes Gomer a ticket for an illegal U-turn and later gets a taste of his own medicine via Gomer's "citizen's arrest."
7. My Fair Ernest T. Bass
Andy attemtps to turn the wild hillbilly Ernest T. Bass into a gentleman in this season 4 classic. Though he only appeared in a handful of episodes (remember "The Education of Ernest T. Bass"?), Howard Morris's character is one of the show's most memorable.
6. Opie's Charity
In this sweet season one episode "Opie's Charity," Andy is dissapointed when he finds out Opie only donated three cents to a fundraiser. Later on in the episode, we learn that Opie has been saving his money to buy his girlfriend a coat because her family is poor.
5. The Darlings Are Coming
In season 3, Briscoe Darling and his family band of mountain musicians arrive in Mayberry, introducing viewers to the lovable Darlings. Briscoe's four sons were portrayed by real life musicians The Dillards.
4. Mountain Wedding
What could be better than Ernest T. Bass and The Darlings? In "Mountain Wedding," Andy and Barney must distract Ernest T., who is intent on marrying Charlene Darling, who's set to marry Dud Wash. It also includes a classic performance of The Dillards' "Dooley."
3. Opie the Birdman
After Opie accidentally kills a mama bird with a slingshot, he raises the baby birds himself. The moment when Opie sets the birds free is an important moment of growth for the character and an incredible showcase for the child actor.
2. The Christmas Story
In "The Christmas Story," an ornery, Scrooge-like department store owner, Ben Weaver (Will Wright), catches Sam Muggins (Sam Edwards) selling moonshine. After Weaver convinces Andy to arrest Muggins, the Mayberry sheriff arranges for the whole family to spend Christmas together in the county jail. Meanwhile, Weaver makes multiple attempts to get himself arrested. It turns out all the seemingly grumpy man really wants is to spend the holidays with friends.
Andy and his girlfriend Ellie Walker's performance of "Away in a Manger" makes this already heartwarming episode even more special.
1. The Pickle Story
Every Andy Griffith Show fan knows about "the one with Aunt Bee's pickles." In "The Pickle Story," which aired in December of 1961. The storyline centers on Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), who, despite being a great cook, makes the worst pickles anyone has ever tasted. In order to spare her feelings (and avoid eating kerosene cucumbers), Andy and Barney launch "operation pickle switch" and switch Aunt Bee's batch with store bought pickles. But hilarity ensues when Aunt Bee decides to enter her pickles into the county fair.
If you're a fan of Aunt Bee, pick up a copy of Aunt Bee's Mayberry Cookbook: Recipes and Memories from America's Friendliest Town. And yes, there's even a recipe for Aunt Bee's Kerosene Cucumbers.
Honorable Mentions: The Case of the Punch in the Nose, Man in a Hurry, The Haunted House, Andy the Matchmaker, Barney Gets His Man, A Wife for Andy, Ellie Comes to Town, Irrisistible Andy, Opie and the Spoiled Kid, Cyrano Andy, Andy's Rival, Mayberry on Record, The Manhunt
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