He may be one of our favorite television kiddos of all time, but even Ron Howard’s Opie Taylor had some not-so-fine moments. And, creators of The Andy Griffith Show weren’t exactly sure how to handle those moments.
According to reports, The Andy Griffith Show producers spent some time between the first and the second seasons deciding how Opie would be punished.
Part of the question was whether or not the young boy’s father, Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor, be the type of parent to spank?
“We all have our personal ideas on how it should be done,” explains The Andy Griffith Show director, Bob Sweeney. “If Opie has disobeyed his father, does he get whipped?”
Sweeny went on to note that this debate became a big one among the showrunners.
Eventually, many players became involved in the topic. Including The Andy Griffith Show producer, Aaron Ruben, and even the show’s star, Andy Griffith.
“Aaron and I first must know how strongly Andy feels on the subject,” Bob Sweeny said of the debate.
“Andy has to sit down with the boy, and if he feels Opie must be spanked,” the producer explains.
“That is what will happen,” Sweeney adds. “It can be done off stage and to a limited degree.”
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Kept the Punishments Off-Screen
Of course, as fans of the iconic television series know, Andy Taylor was never seen spanking young Opie on screen.
However, doling out a dose of corporal punishment was mentioned in the series. When Andy Griffith’s Sheriff Taylor discusses a possible “whippin’” as a consequence for his son.
In the Andy Griffith Show episode Keeper of the Flame, Andy Taylor tells Aunt Bee that young Opie is in for “a whippin’” after the boy and his friends are accused of burning down Jubal Foster’s barn.
However, it was soon revealed that the boys had nothing to do with the destructive fire. Jubal Foster, it turns out, was running a still out of the building and he accidentally caused the fire himself.
Later, one of Opie Taylor’s friends did receive a form of corporal punishment in the series.
In the season three episode titled Opie and the Spoiled Kid, the young Mayberry boy is jealous of his friend Arnold Winkler because of all the things he has. Of course, Opie soon learns there is more to life than stuff. Especially as Arnold’s behavior leads him to being “taken out to the woodshed.”
So, Opie Taylor was never spanked on the set of The Andy Griffith Show. However, the actor who plays the precocious boy wasn’t always so lucky.
According to Daniel de Visé, the author of the book, Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show, this happened just once when Ron Howard’s father, Rance, doled out the punishment.