Barney Fife

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Barney Fife

The role of Barney Fife was played by actor Don Knotts.

About Barney

  • Name: Bernard P. Fife (Most common...see Trivia below for other names used during the run of the series.)

Who is Barney Fife?

Sometimes considered to have delusions of grandeur, Barney fancies himself an expert on firearms, women, singing, and just about any other topic of conversation brought up while he is around. Conversely, his friend Sheriff Andy Taylor knows that Barney's false bravado is a smokescreen for his insecurities, and low self-confidence.

Case in point, Barney brags that he knows about the Emancipation Proclamation. When Andy calls Barney's bluff and asks him to elaborate about it to Opie for his history class, Barney becomes upset and defensive and blurts out that it was a proclamation for emancipation, and becomes irritated.

Barney is often overly analytical and alarmist about benign situations. He takes a minor infraction, blows it out of proportion, and then concocts an elaborate solution that involve Mayberry civilians, like Otis Campbell or Gomer Pyle to resolve it.

In a situation where Sheriff Taylor was briefly summoned away, acting sheriff Fife proceeded to book and lock up nearly every citizen of Mayberry in the courthouse jail. Andy returned from his trip and while the streets of Mayberry seemed calm, the courthouse was full and as Justice of the Peace it fell on him to resolve the situation created by Barney.

Despite his shortcomings, Barney is serious about law enforcement, regularly spouting off penal codes and ordinances to thugs and jaywalkers alike.

Barney often overreacts to situations with panic, despair or bug-eyed fear. Barney is smug and self-confident, and is known for engaging in gossip and revealing both personal and police secrets, often with dire consequences. Outwardly "a man of the world," Barney is truly naive and easily taken advantage of.

Though constantly warned by Andy, Barney falls for countless scams. This naivety is evident on many occasions, including when he purchased his first car and was conned into buying a lemon by a crafty old widow.

Barney served in World War II as a file clerk having never left the United States. He is quoted as saying, "me and this other fella ran the PX library" on Staten Island. Barney is proud of his war record stating, "I did my part to lick the dreaded Hun."

Barney has his rare moments of courage and loyalty. Perhaps the greatest example of Barney's courage is when Barney single-highhandedly saved a member of the state police (Officer Horton) that has been captured, apprehends the criminal (Clarence "Doc" Malloy) and his partner/girl-friend, and drives them to jail. He does it all while Andy is calling for backup.

County records document that Sheriff Taylor issued Barney his gun in August, 1953 when he gave Barney his oath of office as his deputy.

One major concern of the Sheriff is Barney's lack of ability to handle a firearm safely. After numerous misfires of his police issue Colt .38 Special revolver, Andy restricted Barney to carrying only one bullet in his shirt pocket with the gun unloaded. Barney was told the bullet was only to be used "in case of an emergency."

The bullet, however, seems to find its way back into the gun fairly regularly resulting in Barney accidentally firing a shot into the floor or the ceiling.

Barney is also known to lock himself alone, or at times both he and Andy, in one of the jail cells, with the keys just out of reach. The result is having to yell for help from passers by.

Andy Taylor and Barney Fife are cousins but genetics aside, Barney and Andy are best friends, having grown up together in Mayberry.

Barney maintains warm relations with Andy's son Opie and his Aunt Bee.

Barney spends his free time dating a local girl named Thelma Lou whom he met in 1960 at Wilton Blair's funeral. Thelma Lou is Barney's main girl but he also dates other women. One in particular works at the Junction Cafe and as a waitress named Juanita but there are others including Hilda Mae and Miss Rosemary.

Not content to focus solely on his own love life, Barney quite often gets involved in Andy's romantic interests. Lydia Crosswaithe was one of the young ladies whom he and Thelma Lou tried to match with Mayberry's sheriff. Unfortunately, Lydia's withdrawn personality doomed any hopes that Andy would actually date her. Barney and Thelma Lou eventually were successful in finding a match for Andy in school teacher Helen Crump, though Barney initially "forbid" Andy from seeing her.

Barney has stayed in a few places including the Raleigh YMCA, back room at the courthouse, and Mrs. Mendelbright's boarding house. When not on duty, he is usually seen in a Panama straw hat and a tweed suit or as he calls it, "the old salt and pepper."

Barney's performance talents range from the Harmonica, Bongo Drums, Cymbals, stage acting, and many types of dancing. He also has a trained singing voice which is arguably on par with Leonard Blush. He was frequently a member of the Mayberry choir but was once excluded due to receiving a cash award, making him ineligible for competitions.


  • In the episode "Class Reunion" the high school yearbook gives it as Milton; however, in "A Plaque for Mayberry" Andy says to Barney, "I thought your middle name was Oliver." Neither of those can be correct, because Barney calls himself "Bernard P. Fife" ("A Deal is a Deal," "Opie's Ill-Gotten Gain," et al).
  • Police equipment Barney carried on his person
    1. Cap with badge
    2. Badge (shirt)
    3. Notebook
    4. Ticket book
    5. Pencil (or as BARNEY would say, "PENNNSEAL!")
    6. Gun Belt
    7. Holster
    8. Gun
    9. Bullet
    10. Whistle (didn't charge for replacing the pea)
    11. Tie
    12. Tie Clip
    13. Flashlight
    14. Handcuffs
  • Barney once bought his parents a septic tank for their anniversary. It was something they could use.
  • Barney learned to sew and crochet by watching his mother.
  • Barney was allergic to horsehair.

Mixed up Words/Phrases/Concepts

Barney often mixed up what he was trying to say.

  • Compelsion Complex
  • Electronal Marvels
  • Inarculated
  • It's therpetic.
  • Kleptominerac
  • Sigmond Frood (Freud)
  • schizophreniac
  • exactilioso (created word)
  • Scram-e-vous ( created word)

External Links