Return to Mayberry
April 13, 1986
After being away for awhile, Andy Taylor returns home to Mayberry to visit Opie, now an expectant father. While there he ends up helping Barney Fife mount a campaign for sheriff, yet Barney doesn't know that Andy also wants to be sheriff once again.
Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), now a US Postal Inspector, returns to his hometown of Mayberry, North Carolina with wife Helen (Aneta Corsaut- whom he had married in 1968, on the sequel series Mayberry R.F.D.) but without his second-born son Andy, Jr. (christened on R.F.D.). Andy returns to Mayberry to see son Opie (Ron Howard) into fatherhood, and learns the office of sheriff is open. Andy puts aside any thoughts of running when he learns that his old deputy and cousin, Barney Fife (Don Knotts), left Raleigh, and was appointed acting sheriff. Barney intends to win the elected position outright. However, the citizens question the easily riled Barney's sanity, when he falls for a commercial ploy touting a Myer's Lake monster. Meanwhile, Opie ponders moving his family out of Mayberry to expand his journalism career.
Most of the characters from the old series are revisited. The milquetoast Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson), in an attempt to look younger, is seen in various hues of hair color. Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), having returned to civilian life following his stint in the Marines, shares filling-station duties with his cousin Goober (George Lindsey) and the pair are seen together for only the second time in Mayberry history. Howard Morris and Denver Pyle reprise the hillbilly roles of Ernest T. Bass and Briscoe Darling, respectively, along with Maggie Peterson and The Dillards as the rest of the Darling clan. Otis Campbell (Hal Smith), the former town drunk, has become sober and now drives an ice cream truck.
In the end, Andy learns that hotel owner Wally Butler was using Ernest T. Bass and Barney to propagate a lake monster panic. A dragon artifact was confiscated from a defunct restaurant and planted in the lake to boost business. Andy makes it look like Barney is the one who really figured out the scheme. At a "Fife victory rally", Barney learns that Andy canceled his bid out of friendship. Barney then makes an emotional withdrawal speech and endorses Andy. Andy agrees to serve, and the last shot seen is of the "new" sheriff and deputy lowering and folding up an American flag on Mayberry's Main Street.
- Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor
- Ron Howard as Opie Taylor
- Don Knotts as Barney Fife
- Aneta Corsaut as Helen Crump Taylor
- Jack Dodson as Howard Sprague
- Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle
- George Lindsey as Goober Pyle
- Betty Lynn as Thelma Lou
- Howard Morris as Ernest T. Bass
- Hal Smith as Otis Campbell
- Denver Pyle as Briscoe Darling
- Maggie Peterson as Charlene Darling
- Karlene Crockett as Eunice Taylor (Opie's wife)
- Rance Howard as Preacher
- Karen Knotts as Opie's Receptionist
- Richard Lineback as Wally Butler
- Allen Williams as Lloyd Fox
- Paul Willson as Ben Woods
- Robert Broyles as Wilson
- Unknown as Zeno
References to The Andy Griffith Show episodesEdit
- Barney refers to "Barney and the Choir".
- Andy mentions "Opie the Birdman".
- Barney mentions "The Fun Girls".
- Although the series and both of its spin-off's aired on CBS, Return to Mayberry aired on NBC and had huge ratings putting in solidly in the top ten for TV movies of all time. The next season Andy Griffith would make his debut as Matlock on NBC and many think this movie helped revive has acting career.
- Frances Bavier, who originally played Aunt Bee in the series, was ailing and homebound when this movie was made. She considered recording a brief audio segment but decided against it. Another actress does that part, which is heard as Andy lays a flower on Aunt Bee's grave
- Although Elinor Donahue (Ellie Walker) and Jack Burns (Warren Furgeson) were alive and still acting at the time this film was made, neither character was included. None of the Mayberry RFD characters Ken Berry (Sam Jones), Buddy Foster (Mike Jones), and Arlene Golonka (Millie) were included. Other notable absences were Hope Summers (Clara), Howard McNear (Floyd), and Paul Hartman (Emmett) - all were deceased by 1986.
- Ken Berry was set to reprise his role as Sam Jones but could not due to his commitment to Mama's Family which was on at the time.