The Andy Griffith Show creator wanted to take Andy’s name off the series title
And in hindsight, Andy agreed!
The story of the start of The Andy Griffith Show goes like this.
When the pilot was made, the character of Barney Fife had not yet been created. Andy Taylor was originally painted as a man who wore many hats in Mayberry, serving not just as sheriff, but other jobs too, like justice of peace, and it struck Andy Griffith that maybe this idea was a little too silly, even for a sitcom.
Good thing for fans today, Andy had this realization just about when they cast Don Knotts for the second episode "The Manhunt." That's when Andy Griffith said in an interview with the Archive of American Television, "By that episode, I knew that Don should be the comic and I should play straight for him, and that made all the difference."
How did it make a difference? Well, from that point on, The Andy Griffith Show considered itself in constant need of comic talents, rotating in as many funny characters as could fit in Mayberry, all of whom were all the funnier for how they played off the more serious Andy Taylor. In the interview, Griffith said once they had Don Knotts, "Then Mayberry became a living town. We had all the comic characters that came on, and I played straight for them. So Mayberry really was the star of the show."
Every fan of The Andy Griffith Show knows this is Andy being humble, but there is definitely something magical about Mayberry that no other TV town could ever touch. For that reason, Griffith said that the creator of The Andy Griffith Show Sheldon Leonard at one point regretted that they named the show after the actor and not after the town that came to be so special. Griffith said in the interview,
"Sheldon actually said one time, 'I think we misnamed this show. It should’ve been called Mayberry to start with.'"
Of course, the way that TV history played out, the show remained named for Andy Griffith, despite the fact that Griffith said in the interview that he agreed with Leonard. It may seem funny in hindsight that one of the funniest shows to ever air is named for the straightest character on it, but in the interview, Griffith just smiled at this contradiction in that good-natured way of his and said, "I loved being a straight man."