There was a possibility that Barney Fife could have only lasted for one episode! Don Knotts was one of several cast members who showed up on the first day without an actual contract.
After seeing his chemistry with Andy, the producers instantly offered him a one-year contract. We can’t even imagine ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ without Barney Fife.
Andy Owned 50% of the Show
Sheldon Leonard, producer of The Danny Thomas Show, and Danny Thomas hired veteran comedy writer Arthur Stander (who had written many of the "Danny Thomas" episodes) to create a pilot show for Andy Griffith, featuring him as justice of the peace and newspaper editor in a small town. At the time, Broadway, film, and radio star Griffith was interested in attempting a television role, and the William Morris Agency told Leonard that Griffith's rural background and previous rustic characterizations were suited to the part.
When Andy Griffith was offered the show, he had focused predominantly on film and was pretty unfamiliar with television. He only agreed to do the show if he was given rights to 50% of it. After conferences between Leonard and Griffith in New York, Griffith flew to Los Angeles and filmed the episode. By the time of his death, Andy was worth an estimated $35 million!
Andy Broke His Hand When He Punched a Wall
Most people don’t know that, even though he was constant prankster, Griffith had a fiery temper. In a moment of frustration while filming the second season, Andy punched a wall which ended up fracturing several of his fingers.
Andy Griffith not only broke the set wall, but also his hand! Griffith’s hand had to be heavily bandaged in order to complete filming. To explain his bandaged hand and fit it into the show’s plot, the producers and writers of the show decided to create a small episode backstory in which Andy injured himself while apprehending some rather tough criminals.
Floyd Retired On and Off the Screen
After repeated health complications following a stroke, actor Howard McNeal was eventually written out of the show. The last appearance of Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith Show was in the final episode of the seventh season. It was announced on the series that Floyd had retired because he had earned enough money. Shortly after leaving the show, Howard sadly passed away.
To try to fill in his loss on the series, a new character named Emmett Clark (a fix-it man) was brought in. Emmett (played by veteran character actor Paul Hartman) moved his fix-it shop into Floyd's old barber shop location in Mayberry.
Andy and Barney Were Originally Cousins
Early in the series, Andy and Barney state that they are cousins. The reference was meant to be a joke concerning small town government positions being given to relatives, but when a substantial chemistry formed between the two, their relationship was changed to childhood friends.
The writers used several episodes to muddy the lineage and suggest that Barney may not be directly related to the Taylors. On "Aunt Bee's Invisible Boyfriend", Barney tells Andy, "If she (Aunt Bee) were my aunt, I'd wanna investigate this fella" (no familial Taylor ties). In one porch dialogue, Barney speaks to Andy about buying his folks a septic tank for their anniversary. Andy does not refer to them as aunt and uncle. On several occasions, Aunt Bee reminded Andy that, "he's YOUR friend" (suggesting no blood kin to either Taylor). In another episode, "Cousin Virgil", Andy is introduced to Barney's backward cousin, who is obviously not related to the sheriff. Genetics aside, the two are best friends, having grown up together in Mayberry.