September 23, 1968 – March 29, 1971
Mayberry R.F.D. (R.F.D stands for "Rural Free Delivery", a quaint postal depiction of the rural Mayberry community) is a spin-off and direct continuation of The Andy Griffith Show under a new title, for the same sponsor, General Foods. When Andy Griffith decided to leave his series, most of the supporting characters returned for the new program, which ran for three seasons (78 episodes) on the CBS Television Network from 1968–1971. During the final season of The Andy Griffith Show, widower farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) and his young son Mike (Buddy Foster) are introduced and gradually become the show's focus. Sheriff Andy Taylor takes a backseat in the storylines, establishing the sequel series. The show's first episode, "Andy and Helen's Wedding", had the highest ratings in recorded television history (up to premiere date in 1968). Sheriff Taylor and newlywed wife Helen make guest appearances on RFD until late 1969, and then relocate with Opie. Mayberry RFD was popular throughout its entire run, but was canceled in CBS's infamous "rural purge" of 1971.
Father and son stories involving Sam and Mike Jones are reminiscent of the parent series. Both characters are introduced in the last season of The Andy Griffith Show (TAGS), beginning with Sam's election as head of the town council. Most of townsfolk from the Griffith show reprise their roles in the sequel. Loyal Mayberry citizens Goober Pyle (George Lindsey), Clara Edwards (Hope Summers), Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman), and Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) are seen regularly. Sheriff Andy Taylor and his sweetheart, Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut), marry in the sequel's first episode. Both make additional appearances (mostly Andy), then leave the series in late 1969, with a move to Raleigh as the explanation. Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) becomes Sam's housekeeper but leaves after the second season to be replaced by Sam's cousin, Alice Cooper (Alice Ghostley). Don Knotts and Ronny Howard, as Barney Fife and Opie Taylor (respectively), appear in the first episode. Actress Arlene Golonka (who plays Howard Sprague's sweetheart Millie Hutchins in the Griffith show) becomes Sam's love interest, Millie Swanson, in the sequel. A recurring black character named Ralph (Charles Lampkin) lives with a teen daughter and pre-teen son next to the Jones farm. Episodes include Andy's wedding ("Andy & Helen Get Married", episode #1); the christening of their infant son Andy ("Andy's Baby", episode #27); Aunt Bee getting engaged, ("Aunt Bee and the Captain", episode #16); friction over a parade ("Mayberry's Float", episode #39); and a visit from Goober's rocket-scientist brother ("Goober's Brother", episode #44).