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"Return to Mayberry" is a feature-length follow-up to The Andy Griffith Show, originally broadcast on NBC on April 13, 1986.


After being away for awhile, Andy Taylor returns home to Mayberry to visit his son, Opie Taylor, now an expectant father. While there he ends up helping Barney Fife mount a campaign for sheriff without revealing to Barney his own aspirations to become sheriff again.


Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), now a US Postal Inspector in Cleveland, Ohio, returns to his hometown of Mayberry, North Carolina with wife, Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut), whom he had married in 1968, on the The Andy Griffith Show's spin-off series, Mayberry R.F.D. Andy returns to Mayberry to see son, Opie Taylor (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, 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.

Mayberry seen in 1986. (40 Acres had already been torn down. This Mayberry was rebuilt)

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 depicted in Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., shares filling-station duties with his cousin Goober Pyle (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 as Charlene Darling 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. Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn) also returns originally to visit her sister and later ignites the old flame with Barney.

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. After the endorsing Thelma Lou and Barney exchange their feelings toward each other and finally get married. 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.


References to The Andy Griffith Show episodes[]


Gomer: (On Barney running for sheriff) "We think Barney’s going to win, he hasn’t done anything stupid in ohh, about a month."

Gomer: (Gomer taking a picture of Goober and his fish while the water creature rises) "I just took a picture of the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen!"


  • 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 his 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, Janet Waldo, 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, and both had been invited, 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 long 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.
  • This is the first time since the fourth season episode, "The Fun Girls", In which both Goober and Gomer appear together.
    • This would also be the only time Howard is seen interacting with Gomer and Barney.

Full Movie Video[]


Return to Mayberry

Full movie of "Return to Mayberry"