Thelma Lou almost took this job in Mayberry after Barney Fife left the show
Producers offered Betty Lynn a new storyline to stay on The Andy Griffith Show after Don Knotts departed. This is the story they offered her and why she said no.
"Thelma Lou, you’re juicier than a barrel full of corn squeezin's!" Big Jeff Pruitt tells the Mayberry lass in the Andy Griffith Show episode "The Farmer Takes a Wife."
Alan Hale, Jr. guest stars as the big lug looking to take Thelma Lou away from her steady guy Barney Fife.
On The Andy Griffith Show, Betty Lynn played Thelma Lou to such perfection that producers stopped looking for other girls to pair up with their funny deputy.
Lynn expected that this decision might make her more valuable to the show.
When Lynn was first cast, they offered her about $500 an episode to play Thelma Lou, and after her role became more regular, the actor asked for a raise.
All she wanted was an extra $50 per episode, but Lynn told the Associated Press in 2007 that The Andy Griffith Show’s stern response surprised her.
"We can replace you," they told Betty Lynn, who could do nothing but cry to her costar Don Knotts.
"I told Don about it, and he said, 'They wouldn’t have done that. They wouldn’t have let you go,'" Lynn remembered.
She decided not to risk it and never mentioned the raise again.
But then five years later, Knotts decided to leave The Andy Griffith Show, and producers saw Lynn with fresh eyes. They didn’t want fans to lose Thelma Lou, too.
Lynn said producers came to her after great deliberation and offered to give Thelma Lou a hairdressing salon that would’ve kept Thelma Lou in Mayberry for the rest of the series run.
Lynn thought it over. Essentially, her salon would’ve been a female version of Floyd’s Barber Shop, expanding on the girlish humor that Barbara Eden flirted with in the Andy Griffith Show episode "The Manicurist."
But, as any Mayberry fan can tell you, this was not the future that Lynn ultimately saw for Thelma Lou.
To Lynn, without Barney, "I didn’t think Thelma Lou made much sense."
Whether or not the character shift made sense, we can’t help but wonder if Thelma Lou might’ve convinced Aunt Bee to change up her hair after all those years?