The Andy Griffith Show was and will always be, one of the most beloved family sitcoms of all time. Citizens of the fictional Mayberry charmed America's hearts, led by Sheriff Andy Taylor, his son Opie (Ron Howard), and the quirky deputy Barney Fife played by the iconic Don Knotts. The CBS show reminded viewers of a simpler time, a dreamy little town with residents that you wished were your friends.
As the show went on, a few of the main cast members decided to pursue other things. Knotts wanted to pursue a Hollywood film career and left after the fifth season, only returning in guest appearances for the remaining three seasons. After Andy Griffith decided to leave the show, the majority of the Mayberry residents were brought back in a spin-off series with a new father/son duo in the leads and a new name, Mayberry R.F.D.
Sam and Mike Jones took over the show's focus for Andy and Opie, played by Ken Berry and Buddy Foster. Similar to Andy, Sam Jones was also a widower. Andy Taylor appears in the first episode, marrying his sweetheart Helen Crump. Though they pop up a few more times during the spin-off, their move to Charlotte allows Aunt Bee, played by Frances Bavier, to take on the role of Sam's housekeeper.
Most of the residents stayed on for the new show -- Goober Pyle (George Lindsey), Clara Edwards (Hope Summers), Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) and Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson). At the beginning of the TV show, Sam is elected as the head of the Mayberry town council so viewers got to watch those experiences with the town as well as with his love interest, Millie, played by Arlene Golonka.
Though the show was no longer number one (like The Andy Griffith Show), Mayberry R.F.D remained in the top 10 until its third and final season. After that, it was canceled as the network conducted a "rural purge" of shows like The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres to focus on a more urban setting. In just three seasons, the show did have some incredible guest stars who would go on to become household names -- Jodie Foster, Farrah Faucett and Teri Garr included.
This post was originally published on May 21, 2020.