‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Why Andy Taylor Did Not Carry a Gun as Sheriff

A beloved classic, The Andy Griffith Show ran on CBS from 1960 to 1968. The TV series took place in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., and followed Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), his deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts), his son Opie (Ron Howard), and his Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier).

While two of the main characters are in law enforcement, there was not a lot of crime in Mayberry. As sheriff, Andy did not even carry a gun. In an interview on the Today Show, Griffith revealed the real reason his character did not carry a gun.

Don Knotts Andy Griffith
Don Knotts as Barney Fife and Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor in ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Andy Griffith on the importance of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Both Griffith and Knotts appeared on the Today Show decades after The Andy Griffith Show went off the air. The show was often praised for its moral lessons and naturally funny characters. Griffith also revealed that while the show feels nostalgic for present-day fans since the show was shot in the 1960s, it had nostalgia for fans while it aired too.

“Well, though we never said it, and though it was shot in the ’60s, it had a feeling of the ’30s,” Griffith said. “It was when we were doing it, a time gone by.”

Griffith and Knotts then explained how the notable comedy style of the show came to be.

“We were very careful to keep our characters always very pure,” Griffith said. “If a joke made a lie out of the character we’d lose the joke.”

Knotts added, “Yeah, Andy used to say ‘If it sounds like a joke throw it out.'”

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Why Andy Taylor did not carry a gun on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

On the Today Show, Griffith and Knotts were asked about the crime, or lack thereof, that took place on the TV series.

“No, you’d have some stills that had to be broken up and you had some Bank capers and few things like that, but nobody got killed,” Griffith said.

When it was brought up that Andy never carried a gun as sheriff, Griffith replied, “The real reason I didn’t wear one is I didn’t want that weight on my hip.”

“I didn’t know that,” Knotts said.

“You didn’t?” Griffith asked.

“No,” Knotts said, still sounding a little shocked.

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While Barney carried a gun on the show, he only ever carried one bullet with him as a running joke.

Andy Griffith’s favorite thing about the show

When asked to describe each other’s characters, Griffith launched into a story about one of his favorite episodes titled “Barney and the Choir.” On The Andy Griffith Show, Griffith loved that he could sit back and watch comedic actors like Knotts shine.

“It was wonderful being the straight man in the show. I got to be in the show and I had the best seat in the house at the same time,” Griffith said on the Today Show. “I played straight to all these fine comedic characters that we had and I loved it.”