The Legend!

Equal Time (well, not quite) for Andy Taylor's other Deputy Sheriff on The Andy Griffith Show

The Legend of Barney Fife
original airdate: January 17, 1966


Barney Fife is taking time off from his busy schedule manning the N through R section of the finger print files at the police department in Raleigh to attend a high school reunion in Mayberry [this event took place in the previous episode The Return of Barney Fife]. The subject of his replacement comes up at the Taylors' kitchen table. Of course, Barney thinks he is irreplaceable but is visibly disappointed to learn from Aunt Bee that Warren is doing a superb job. He is highly trained, graduating fourth in his class at the Sheriff's Academy, and has been so proficient that Andy was able to take a two-week vacation [presumably a different time than the Hollywood trip]; as Aunt Bee points out, Andy was never able to take such an extended period of time off before.

Upon hearing this news, a crestfallen Barney announces that he needs to head back to the capital. He calls Goober, who is waiting for a new fuel pump to arrive for Barney's car, and tells him to replace his old fuel pump so he can head out right away. Barney does not want to meet "Mr. Wonderful," but Andy insists, so Barney reluctantly goes with Andy to the courthouse. Andy tries to tell Barney something about Warren but Barney does not want to discuss "Capt. Marvel." When they meet, however, Warren gushes all over Barney, calling him a "living legend," complimenting the "beautiful," textbook-worthy reports he left behind, and even reciting what he takes in his coffee. Never shy from being the center of attention, Barney changes his mind about leaving Mayberry right away, calls Goober to remove the old fuel pump again, and spends some of the day with Warren bragging about his many exploits.

The meeting
Warren meets his hero.

Back at the courthouse, Warren has an idea for the newspaper editor to do a story on Barney with the headline: "Living Legend Returns." Andy thinks it would "make a fine picture" if Barney were to wear his old uniform. Barney announces that, for some reason, he packed it. Warren drives him to Andy's house and Barney returns in his uniform. While the others wait outside with the photographer, Barney stays alone in the courthouse so he can gussy himself up in the mirror.

While he admires his reflection, the phone rings and Barney answers. On the other end is the warden from the county workfarm to inform the sheriff's department that a prisoner has escaped and might be headed their way. It turns out that the escapee is a criminal named Avery Noonan [did the writers get the idea for the first name from Jack Burns's comedy partner?] who Barney managed to catch and who has vowed revenge on the former deputy who put him away.

Suddenly, staying in Mayberry no longer appeals to Barney. Questioned by Andy, Barney tells him he doesn't want to appear pushy by being a feature in the newspaper and would like to return to Raleigh right away. He calls Goober to let him know he's changed his mind about the fuel pump yet again and leaves the courthouse in a raincoat with his hat down over his eyes.

A meeting of the minds
"The Living Legend Returns!"
Two deputies
Mayberry is safe now!

Waiting for his car to arrive, Barney barricades himself in Andy's guestroom. Goober drives up in Barney's gas guzzler (a 1960 Edsel convertible with a '61 grille) and Barney is all set to leave. Puzzled as to why Barney is in such a rush, Andy receives a phone call. It is the warden with an update on the escaped convict. When Andy reveals he has not yet heard the news, the warden tells him he had already warned Barney. Warren then arrives with an extra holster and news that Noonan has been spotted snooping around the depot. He is certain the "living legend" will want to "get back in the harness." Barney, however, insists on leaving only to have the fuel pump of his car fall off before he can even back out of the driveway. An excited Warren straps the gun holster on Barney and insists he come along to the convict's reported hideout.

Warren with news
Warren brings news on Noonan.

Once outside the depot, Andy suggests Barney stay by the squad car and Barney readily agrees. Warren is puzzled as to why "the legend" does not want in on the action. He begins to question the subject of his hero worship. Could the town have been wrong about the brave Barney Fife? Meanwhile, Andy spots Noonan, armed only with a club, behind some boxes. As Andy is about to move in, Barney nervously makes his way inside the depot. Noonan jumps at Barney who in turn drops his gun in fright. Just when it looks like the "living legend" will no longer be the former, Andy throws a heavy sack onto the convict's head. Temporarily unconscious, Noonan is now easy pickings for Barney. Hearing the commotion, Warren rushes in and sees that Barney has his man. Andy remarks that Barney used the "injun trick" to coax Noonan out of his hiding place. Barney then brags to Warren about how he knocked out the convict.

Disillusioned: A puzzled
Warren begins to
question his idol.

Barney shows Warren how to
succeed in law enforcement
without really trying.

Later, when bidding Andy farewell, a humbler Barney asks Andy, when speaking to the press, to swing the credit for the capture to Warren. Mayberry is Warren's town now, Barney explains [well, it won't be for long, as it turned out] and a nice guy like him could use a "pat on the back." As he is leaving, Barney runs into Warren who has just entered the courthouse. Warren acknowledges him with a friendly nod and Barney drops his head and walks out. With his faith in his hero restored, Warren gushes, "A true living legend that Barney Fife. I mean, he's something, isn't he Andy?" Andy agrees, "Yes he is, he really is."

He's something
"He's something,
isn't he Andy?"

Yes, you read it right. Warren Ferguson is often criticized by TAGS fans for using his "huh-huh-huh" gimmick too much, so the people at The Revenge of Warren Ferguson (actually, just the one person) have counted EVERY SINGLE "huh?" Warren said during each of his 11 episodes on TAGS to finally set the record straight. Every "huh?" is counted whether it follows a question with the rapid-fire "huh-huh," "huh-huh-huh", or the rare "huh-huh-huh-huh", or whether it is used as part of an observation or conversation (i.e. the sentence "You must think we're real idiots, huh?") Only if it is part of the word "uh-huh" was a "huh" not counted. Did Warren say too many "huhs"? Check the counter and decide for yourself.

3 Huh?s

Note: Warren said just 3 individual "huhs" but he out-"huh'd" Barney 3-1! Na NaNa Na Na!


The Myth of "The Legend"

Warren from somewhere (probably from his uncle Floyd) got the idea that Barney Fife was a legendary officer of the law during his tenure. This "myth" was created by Andy. Many times Andy got Barney out of a jam (sometimes of a very serious nature) by working behind-the-scenes to help his skittish deputy succeed. Andy allowed Barney to believe he achieved the glory all by himself, thus artificially inflating his already healthy ego. In this specific case, there was no harm done. Barney was no longer defending the public directly, although he should have, at least, informed Andy of the warden's phone call that an escaped con may be visiting his fair city--a sheriff might want to know such things. Mayberry's former deputy, at this point, was working in an office organizing finger prints. Barney also realized he was lucky he was not killed by Noonan and thus did not mind giving Warren credit for the capture (a breathless Barney seemed more rattled than confident during his immediate post-capture scene with Warren). Barney was accustomed to receiving credit for what Andy did for him; so, he must have assumed Warren would appreciate receiving credit for something he did not do.

When Barney was deputy, however, Andy's actions to cover up his deputy's incompetence could have had dangerous consequences. If Barney was not up to the task of protecting the residents of Mayberry, he should have been replaced. No matter how infrequent crime occurred in the small North Carolina town, people's lives were still in the hands of the men in charge of law enforcement. Sure, Andy was helping his friend but, what if he was unable to help him one of those few times when a violent criminal was on the loose (it only takes one)? When lives are in the balance, friendships must be cast aside. Warren, although also of an excitable nature, was much more in control and obviously Andy realized this as he was able to take two weeks off that he never dared take when Barney was his deputy. Let's face it, Warren never had to keep a bullet in
his pocket.

"It's His Town"????

Barney and Warren
Barney Fife and Warren Ferguson:
Why can't Mayberry be both their towns?

At the end of the episode, Barney remarks, "It's his town out there now, Ange." Warren would appear in only two more episodes and disappear. What was up with that? What a tease that was. According to Mayberry Memories by TAGS foremost experts Ken Beck and Jim Clark, The Legend of Barney Fife was filmed on November 29, 1965. By this time, four Warren episodes had already aired. If he was so disliked by TAGS viewers, the writers probably knew it by then. Andy Griffith admitted in The Andy Griffith Show by Richard Kelly (page 59) that it was decided "just before Christmas" that Warren would be written out of the show. So, in less than a month, Mayberry went from being Warren's town to being a one-sheriff/no-deputy town. Why even entertain the notion that it is Warren's town if the writers probably planned on writing him out of the series anyway; you know what I mean, huh? huh? huh?

You want to check out the next episode, don't ya?
huh? huh? huh?
Sure ya do!

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