The South’s Favorite Deputy: Barney Fife
Just nip it! Nip it in the bud!
Since 1960, The Andy Griffith Show has been making audiences laugh. The rapport between Andy Griffith and real-life friend and side-kick, Don Knotts, is the reason we continue to love this show and still provides comedy gold over 57 years later. Knotts played his character seamlessly and was rewarded with five Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Deputy Barney Fife. Knotts left the show after five seasons to pursue a career in feature films such as The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Incredible Mr. Limpet. He also played a recurring role in Andy Griffith’s other successful series, Matlock and played landlord, Ralph Furley, in Three’s Company. However, he was best known for the blundering but beloved Barney Fife. Take a stroll down memory lane as we relive some of televisions greatest comedic moments.
From the very first episode when Barney is made deputy by Andy…
Barney: Aw, shucks, Andy; I want to do good on this job. Even if it's just deliverin' messages, I wanna do it right.
Andy: Well, I know you do, and-and-and I admire your attitude.
Barney: You see, Andy, I want the folks in this town to realize that you picked me to be your deputy because you, well, you looked over all the candidates for the job, and-and you judged their qualifications and their character and their ability, and you come to the fair, the just, and the honest conclusion that I was the best-suited for the job. An... and I wanna thank you, Cousin Andy.
Andy: You're welcome, Cousin Barney.
(Note: this was the only time Barney was referred to as Andy’s cousin)
Barney and his gun made for hilarious moments on the show. If he wasn’t shooting it off in his holster, he was fumbling around to get his only bullet out of his shirt pocket.
Andy: What are you doing?
Barney: Gun-drawing practice, ten minutes every day. If I ever have to use this baby, I want to teach it to come to papa in a hurry.
Barney: Well, I guess to sum it up, you could say, there's three reasons why there's so little crime in Mayberry. There's Andy, and there's me, and (patting gun) baby makes three.
Andy: (Barney accidentally firing off his gun) (Barney accidentally firing off his gun) Barney, you promised me when I gave you that bullet you'd keep it in your shirt pocket. Now, why'd you take it out?
Barney: Oh, I'm sorry, Andy. I... Doggone it, that bullet was turnin' green in my pocket. I thought it'd keep better in the gun.
Andy: (exasperated) BARNEY...
Barney: and besides, I've already lost two bullets in the laundry
Barney: (Barney, singing a song to the tune of Clementine and doesn't know Andy is behind him) In a jailhouse down in Dixie / Fightin' crime and riskin' life / Dwelled a sheriff and his buddy / Pistol-packing Barny Fife. / Oh my darin', oh my darin' / Oh my darin' Barney Fife / He's a deadly crime stopper / What a copper, Barney Fife. / Then one day there came a ridin'/ Two bad men to rob a bank / But Fife was tricky, a deadeye dickie/ Now they're locked up in the tank...
Andy: (finishing the song behind Barney’s back) Oh my Barney, oh my Barney / Had a jail and couldn’t lock it / Had one bullet for his pistol / Had to keep it in his pocket.
Barney was prone to being superstitious. Several episodes played to his superstitious nature such as the chain letter and the haunted house but these lines come from an episode about a man who Barney thought was a jinx. He did everything from reading up on protection from a jinx to rubbing Opie’s red hair.
Barney: All I'm saying is that there are some things beyond the ken of mortal man that shouldn't be tampered with. We don't know everything, Andy. There's plenty goin' on right now in the Twilight Zone that we don't know anything about and I think we oughta stay clear.
Barney: (chanting for good luck) Come, fish, come. Come, fish, come. Sam's at the gate with a frosted cake. Come, fish, come. Fly away, buzzard. Fly away, crow. Way down south where the winds don't blow. Rub your nose and give two winks and save us from this awful jinx.
Barney: Boy, you insist on flyin' right in the face of scientific fact, don't ya?
Andy: Scientific facts?
Barney: There are atmospheric rays which control bodily motions. Now, if a person containing negative or hexin' qualities gets between you and them rays, why, he creates a static that jars any successful motion into an unsuccessful motion and jinxes ya - and THAT is a scientific fact!
Andy: And that is also the biggest crock of nothin' I ever heard!
Barney: It's guys like you that laughed at Edison, the Wright Brothers, Buzz Fluheart.
Andy: Buzz Fluheart?
Barney:The man that discovered the scientific fact I was just tellin' ya!
It’s no secret that Barney cannot sing and as Thelma Lou would say, “Not a lick.” Barney’s lack of musical talent provided many hilarious scenes...
Barney: I'm surprised at you, Andy. They want people who have had musical training. Why, suppose they ask Rafe to do something he don't know? Rafe, if they asked you to sing a cappella, could you do it?
Rafe Hollister: No.
Andy: Hey, Barn, what if they was to ask you if you could sing a cappella, what would you do?
Barney: Why, I'd do it! (snapping his fingers in rhythm to the tune of La Cucaracha ) "A cappella, a cappella"...
Barney: Well, I don't remember all the words.
Barney: Yeah, it's tough all right. As my old voice teacher used to say, "A choir without its tenor is like a star without its glimmer." You know who used to say that? My old voice teacher. That's the teacher I had when I studied voice.
Andy: Hold it! Barney, you're supposed to be talking.
Barney: Oh, it's no use, Andy. Can you tell a bird to talk? Can you tell a bird to just go chirp, chirp, chirp? No, Andy, I'm like a bird. I was born to sing.
Barney: See, you've got a uvula, they've got a uvula, I got a uvula, all God's children got a uvula!
Barney takes his job in Law Enforcement very seriously and when he felt unappreciated (which often happened), he would threaten to quit…
Andy: Now, you can't be serious about resignin'. What in the world will you do?
Barney: Oh, I-I don't know. I could go up to the pickle factory. They always need a brine tester.
Barney: (reading a poem that was written on the side of the bank) "There once was a deputy called Fife, who carried a gun and a knife. The gun was all dusty, the knife was all rusty, 'cause he never caught a crook in his life."
Barney: (talking to Andy about the poem) It makes out like I-I-I never wanted to catch crooks - and that just ain't so. I'd catch 'em in a minute, but how'm I gonna catch 'em if there ain't any, for heaven's sake? If only somebody would just commit a crime - one good crime! If only somebody'd just... kill somebody.
Barney: Oh, I don't mean anybody we know.
Andy: Uh, Opie, Barney says there was a poem written on the wall of the bank and that you was standin' along beside of it with a piece of chalk in your hand.
Opie:Yeah, but I didn't do it, Pa. Honest.
Andy: I believe you.
Barney: (irritated) Are you pittin' your crime detectin' judgement against mine?
Andy: Well, Barney, I have to, because, for one thing, Opie wouldn't lie to me.
Barney: You call that evidence?
Andy: and for another, he ain't learned how to write yet.
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Andy: He's one of our most respected citizens, one of our best church-goin' members. He knows every hymn in the book.
Barney: Aw, that's just a front! You watch him sometime when we're singin' "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms." He don't even know the words! He just moves his lips!
Barney: (When Barney was trying to catch a shoplifter) Well, play the game! Play the game! I hate it when you get obtuse!
Barney: What do I get? Heartache, nothin' but heartache!