“Opie Flunks Arithmetic”, marks Don Knotts final appearance as a regular in The Andy Griffith Show. Without fanfare or goodbye, Barney Fife ends his career as a sheriff’s deputy until his return decades later. This is Barney Fife’s final scene in black and white.
With two more episodes left in the fifth season, the last of the black and white era, there was no hint of Barney’s departure. His final appearance continued the trials and dilemmas of the Taylor family with Barney playing the supporting, good nature fool. It is a sad, final ending as both Andy and Helen leave him behind. Both will find a future together, fleeing Mayberry as well.
As the carnival comes into town for the final two episodes, Andy asks Jerry if he’s interesting helping out for a few days. This implies that either Barney will be out only for a little or Andy has already anticipated a replacement that isn’t staring soon yet. (His replacement will be named Warren Ferguson) There is almost no direct reference to Barney save one fleeting comment Aunt Bee made to Andy pleading to hire Jerry, in “Banjo-Playing Deputy”.
“Andy, do you mean to stand there and tell me Barney Fife is always perfect on the job?” – Aunt Bee.
Since she said “is” not “was”, the series left Barney’s employment status in air. However, when the series returned in color, it was with neither Barney nor Jerry. As the Warren experiment quickly shelved to obscurity, we look back at Barney’s final scene, his final cut.