Is this the only Andy Griffith Show episode to use flashbacks?

Matlock deployed the storytelling device frequently, but Mayberry was more about living in the moment.

One thing that fans of The Andy Griffith Show appreciate is that Mayberry was a town that was completely of its time, a place where everyone seemed to be living in the moment.

As a storytelling device, we typically only hear about the past when Andy, Barney or Aunt Bee recall a stray fact here or there.

Flashbacks were rarely used on the show. "Three Wishes for Opie" is the only episode we can think of where nearly the entire episode is told through flashbacks.

In "Three Wishes for Opie," the flashbacks are distinguished from modern-day Mayberry by having the screen go wavy while Andy narrates the past.

This is not an unusual way to visually signal to viewers that we’re going into the past, but on The Andy Griffith Show, it must’ve come as a surprise and possibly even a delight to fans who were not used to watching entire histories play out.

On Andy Griffith’s later series, Matlock, flashbacks were a popular device. Fans know that any time Ben Matlock had a flashback about his dad, Griffith played that father figure, too.

Matlock also has the distinction of being the first-ever long-running drama to weave in clips of previous episodes as flashbacks.

So, we know it’s not that Andy Griffith himself had any rules about not using flashbacks on his shows, and we must assume that quite simply, The Andy Griffith Show liked living in the moment more than dwelling on the past.

There is a rumor that MeTV fans have spread in the comments, though, insisting there was a banned episode of The Andy Griffith Show that used a flashback to show how Opie’s mother died.

On the show, this fact is always kept vague, so fans have never been sure exactly what happened to Andy Taylor’s first wife.

"In one of the earliest episodes, there is a flashback to when Andy was married and his wife is brutally murdered by a wandering maniac that escaped from the mental hospital in Mount Pilot," a MeTV commenter called Chucklehead wrote. "After the murderer escapes, Andy vows to never let such a thing happen again in Mayberry and becomes a law officer. I believe this episode was later removed from syndication because of the violent content."

Most other commenters called Chucklehead’s bluff, but at least one commenter shared the memory – or else is in on Chucklehead’s warped joke.

"The reason I so vividly remember that episode is because Pat Boone portrayed the maniacal murderer from Mt. Pilot," wrote a MeTV commenter called Thortwell.

We could not find anything in the TV archives to verify this rumor.

That means "Three Wishes for Opie" remains the rare episode of The Andy Griffith Show to employ flashbacks.

Can you think of other episodes with flashbacks?

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DeborahRoberts 23 months ago
Seriously? You're writing an article quoting an idiot who made a joke on your own comment board? Hard up? Bored? Monkey throwing poop into cyberspace?
lashman34 24 months ago
I thought this was the only episode utilizing flashbacks, but I am watching S1 E30 "Barney
gets His Man" and it shows Andy thinking back to when the arrested criminal swears to get Barney back for his capture. I do not recall any more, but then, I thought the episode you wrote about was the only one too. Any more? Anyone?
zman47240 28 months ago
Chucklehead’s a Bozo if he believes that nonsense about some maniac killing Andy’s wife, and being played by Pat Boone of all people! He’s a bigger Clown if he thinks TAGS fans are stupid enough to believe it. AND having Pat Boone as the murderer?!? HAH! He must think he’s some kinda fan fiction writer. Don’t quit your day job, Chuckles The Clown!
BrianThetubewatcher 29 months ago
I remember what might be called Flash Presents, as when the fast devouring of Aunt Bea’s Kerosine Cucumbers is shown (to the future Mayberry RFD music, I believe).
ElwooodBlues 29 months ago
I doubt that there was an early episode about murdering Andy’s wife. Given the premise for the series was a comedy based on Danny Thomas’ run-in with Andy on Make Room For Daddy, any violence depicted did not result in bodily harm. Some instances implied violence but never with serious injury or death, with one exception in High Noon In Mayberry. There Luke Comstock was shot by Andy during a robbery. Conclusion, I think Chucklehead, etal., is just that. Until someone comes up with a copy of that show say what you will but that doesn’t make it true.
F5Twitster 29 months ago
"In 'Three Wishes for Opie,' the flashbacks are distinguished from modern-day Mayberry by having the screen go wavy while Andy narrates the past."

The "wavy" effect is called a lap dissolve.

As for

"'The reason I so vividly remember that episode is because Pat Boone portrayed the maniacal murderer from Mt. Pilot,' wrote a MeTV commenter called Thortwell."

Sarcasm's apparently lost on you, "Staff." Pat Boone as a "maniacal murderer," right.
RetroMountaineer 29 months ago
There is another episode with a small flashback: one of Barney’s girlfriends (not Thelma Lou) is talking to Andy about how she was complimenting Barney and even oohing and aahing over his muscles but she made the mistake of running her fingers through his hair and “mussed it up”. She starts laughing at Barney and he gets upset.
I think the episode was “Andy Saves Barney’s Morale” but I could be wrong.
cinamac RetroMountaineer 29 months ago
That was a great scene!
denny RetroMountaineer 29 months ago
I never remembered Barney on screen with another girlfriend. Just checked/watched the episode and sure enough there is Hilda Mae just as you described. And YES that would be a flashback. Good memory!!!
BobHigley RetroMountaineer 29 months ago
Every episode could be titled "Andy Saves Barney's Morale"
BillyDenhamSpringsLA 29 months ago
Isn't there an Andy Griffith color episode where he has memory flashbacks - and the flashbacks are in black & white??
Steve2021 29 months ago
As a fan of the Andy Griffith show, This rumor would be in bad taste. The show shows family values and to friends. A close knit town has the audience attention on how life was in Mayberry. I wish today people would have the respect for one another and the law. I enjoy watching ..
sierra127 Steve2021 28 months ago
Wow good words
tnminnow 29 months ago
I think there was one more. In "Barney Gets His Man" the murderer escapes and the officers come back and tells him. He flashes back about the murderer says "I'll get you Deputy for this". Maybe they don't call that a flashback. 🤔
Rick 29 months ago
"We could not find anything in the TV archives to verify this rumor."

Pacificsun 29 months ago
Oh I love it, that the MeTV Staff writers would actually research the archives, just make sure this article is accurate. Hilarious. Thx, all of it made me laugh out loud, spitting coffee in the process!
MrsPhilHarris 29 months ago
Three Wishes For Opie is one of my top episodes, if not the top.
justjeff 29 months ago
Didn't TAGS use a flashback during Andy and Barney attending a high school reunion?
Rick justjeff 29 months ago
They showed Andy (and maybe Don's?) real high school yearbook photo(s).
Andybandit 29 months ago
Cool story, I like how TAGS and The Rifleman were single fathers raising their sons.
Pacificsun Andybandit 29 months ago
Yeah, I guess we could throw My Three Sons and Bachelor Father in there too (except he was just the uncle), then later on Courtship of Eddie's Father. But of them, I think the Rifleman was the most influential. And the son was played so well!
Debbie Andybandit 29 months ago
And also there is Fury in which Peter Graves portrays single father Jim Newton raising his son Joey and also Bonanza, Adventures of Champion, Circus Boy, The Dennis O’Keefe Show and Flipper
ncadams27 29 months ago
A number of sitcoms wanted it both ways- a “family” structure but with a single parent who could be involved in relationships and (perhaps) eventually get married (TAGS, My Three Sons). The “missing” spouse is seldom, if ever, mentioned other than in passing. Sometimes the lead is an uncle or aunt, with the parents having been killed off (Bachelor Father, Family Affair). These shows also have a de facto character playing the “spouse” role, such as a housekeeper, butler, maid or other family member.
LoveMETV22 ncadams27 29 months ago
Agree there. MeTV has a good balance of shows that have the traditional family but also the programs that have a one parent portrayl. But your points are excellent.
denny 29 months ago
Love TAGS but it really lacked on continuity, it wouldn't have surprised me if Opie's Ma would've showed up at some point with no explanation. Deputy Warren gone, Otis gone, Millie evidently breaks up with Howard and gets a new last name and starts to date Ken Berry's character, all with no explanation. Andy and Helen have a baby, but no mention of him in the reunion movie. Clara's many last names etc...
Runeshaper 29 months ago
Interesting point and interesting comment by Chucklehead.
Michael 29 months ago
I heard a rumour that MeTV was going 24 hour Monk all the time.

Just because I said it doesn't make it true, or newsworthy.
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