Don Knotts made one last reprisal of his popular character from The Andy Griffith Show, Barney Fife, who was an annoying but hilarious deputy sheriff. His character ended up being ranked in 1999 as TV Guides ninth greatest TV characters of all time. The reunion was a made-for-TV comedy film where sixteen of the original cast members returned to reprise their roles in the hopes of some continuation of the show.
The film ended up becoming a finale to the iconic Andy Griffith Show and was the final official appearance of its popular characters. It was a success in terms of rating but received mixed reviews. Return to Mayberry was criticized for being slow, modestly funny and predictable while nostalgic fans undoubtedly let these issues fall to the wayside, as some of the kinder reviewers called it a “marvelous blast from the past”. Unfortunately, the show didn’t age as-well-as the cast had hoped, meaning that this was officially the end of The Andy Griffith Show, although it was quite a dignified one at that.
The Steve Allen Show
Knotts often appeared on The Steve Allen Show, an American variety show hosted by Steve Allen. He would mostly appear in Allen's mock "man on the street" interviews in his usual awkward personality and behavior and remained with the show from 1959 until 1960. The actor was one of the audience’s favorite actors on the show, and his appearances helped dramatically boost his popularity with audiences at home.
The show aired for six seasons with 167 episodes and was essentially the predecessor to popular shows like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Knotts helped popularise the show due to its popular "Man on the street" sketches, which ended up becoming the show's best and longest-running gags. The Steve Allen Show won a Peabody Award in 1958 and was critically acclaimed for its genuine sense of humor.
The Andy Griffith Sequel - Matlock
Matlock was a popular legal drama show starring Andy Griffith as the lead character, with Don Knotts also appearing occasionally on the show before being cut in the last few seasons. Knotts and Griffith were happy for the chance to act together again after a long time apart, this was a welcome surprise for the two since their acting relationship was cut short while they were co-acting in The Andy Griffith Show. Both actors later commented that every day they got to work together was an absolute pleasure. Knott played as his typical awkward, annoying and unintentionally funny persona as Les "Ace" Calhoun, Matlock's annoying next-door neighbor.
Knotts and Griffith worked fantastically together and their joint actions resulted in some amazing scenes together. It was immediately evident that the duo had great chemistry and truly enjoyed working together. Luckily, this would not be the last time that the two talented actors got to perform together on the same set, as they later came together one more time for the filming of the popular Andy Griffith Show Reunion, Return to Mayberry.
Don Knotts also played as Ralph Furley, the landlord of an apartment building in Santa Monica from the show Three's Company. The show was an American sitcom by ABC that aired from 1977 until the end of 1984. The show is based on the British sitcom, Man About The House. Knotts first appeared on the show in season four's first episode, "The New Landlord", and stayed up until the last episode of the show. Ralph Furley was quite a peculiar character, with some very odd clothing but an overall good personality.
This was Don Knotts' second most popular role to date. He joined the show when it was already quite successful and helped make it even better. Originally he was supposed to play the role for only a few episodes as the original landlord characters from the show left to shoot their own spin-off series, but Knotts’ character, Ralph Furley, quickly became one of the audience's favorites and this caused the writers to add many storylines to his character for future episodes. Knott was nominated for an award called “Favorite Nosy Neighbor” for his role, although he didn’t end up winning it.
The Herbie Franchise
Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo was Disney's attempt to revive the Herbie franchise, featuring the beloved anthropomorphic 1963 Volkswagen Beetle that has a mind of its own. The franchise started out in the 1968 film The Love Bug but began to lose steam after it's a sequel, Herbie Rides Again came out in 1974. Don Knotts appeared in the film as Wheely Applegate,
The film received excellent reviews and managed to revive the franchise, which led to younger audiences getting a chance to put on a seatbelt and enjoy the magic of Herbie. If you’re missing that little love bug, check out the later 2005 rendition called Herbie Fully Loaded starring Lindsay Lohan and Justin Long.