Don Knotts’ Exit From ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Explained — 55 Years Later

The Andy Griffith Show was one of the most popular series on television from 1960 until 1968. That arguably had a lot to do with the star-studded cast, specifically comedic actor Don Knotts. He portrayed Barney Fife on the hit show from 1960 until 1965 (Seasons 1 to 5) until he decided to leave the show and his leading role behind. Now, 55 years later, reruns of the show are raising questions about why Don left The Andy Griffith Show in the first place. Scroll down for everything we know!

Why did Don Knotts leave ‘The Andy Griffith Show’?

It seems Don left the comedy all those years ago due to miscommunication with the show’s star, Andy Griffith. “I left because Andy said he would never do the show more than five years,” Don explained in a previous interview. “I had a five-year contract and during the fifth season I thought ‘I better start looking around for more work.'”

don knotts the andy griffith show

And that’s exactly what he did. “I wound up getting an offer from Universal to do movies and do my own pictures,” he further explained. “And then Andy suddenly said he was going to stay on another two or three years. I hadn’t signed but I had said I would and I had focused all my attention in that direction and I don’t know, I just went ahead.”

The decision wasn’t easy for Don. In fact, it was quite a difficult time for him. “It was a tough time for me because I enjoyed the show so much that I hated to leave,” he explained. “I never expected it to go on.”

The show went on for three more full seasons lasting from 1965 until 1968. Don made guest appearances in two episodes in Seasons 6 and 7, and one episode in Season 8.

Which character did Don Knotts play on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’?

Don Knotts played the very memorable character of Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. In the role, he portrayed the deputy sheriff in the slow-moving town of Mayberry, NC.

Barney’s personality in the show is very by-the-book, egotistical, and a know-it-all, but he’s also very insecure with low self-esteem at the same time.

don knotts andy griffith

His reason for leaving the town of Mayberry on the show was to join the police force in Raleigh, N.C. instead. He only appeared in a few episodes again after he left town.

Don’s Emmy awards for his role on the series include Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor or Actress in a Series in 1961, Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor in 1962 and 1963, and Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy in 1966 and 1967. Quite impressive!

Is Don Kotts alive?

Sadly, Don died on Feb. 24, 2006, from pneumonia. He was 81 years old at the time of his passing.

Today, his legacy lives on while watching old episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, Three’s Company, and more. May he rest in peace.

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