Thelma Lou

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Thelma Lou
The Andy Griffith Show character
Thelma Lou.jpg
Thelma Lou portrayed by Betty Lynn
First appearance"Cyrano Andy"
Last appearance"Return to Mayberry"
Portrayed byBetty Lynn
SpouseGerald Whitfield (1965-?) Barney Fife (1986-?)
Significant otherBarney Fife (boyfriend) (1961-1965)
RelativesKaren (cousin), Mary Grace (cousin)

Thelma Lou or Thel by boyfriend Barney Fife is a character on the American television sitcom The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968). The character appeared in 26 episodes. Thelma Lou is Barney Fife's girlfriend and is portrayed by Betty Lynn.


Thelma Lou lives in the community of Mayberry, North Carolina. She is Mayberry Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife's girlfriend. Thelma Lou appeared as a semiregular character in 26 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show from 1961 until 1966, when the character was dropped from the show following the departure of Don Knotts and his Barney Fife character. She appeared in the 1986 reunion made-for-television movie, Return to Mayberry.

First appearance[edit]

Thelma Lou's debut occurs in the first-season episode, "Cyrano Andy". Barney and Thelma Lou are platonic friends, but their relationship becomes (and remains) a romantic one with Andy's help.

Thelma Lou's telelife[edit]

Little is known about Thelma Lou's telelife, despite her impressive role in the series. Barney met Thelma Lou at Wilton Blair's funeral in 1960. In another episode, she is mentioned to have attended Mayberry Union High, graduating in the same class with Barney and Andy Taylor. Aside from her romance with Barney, she was given very little character development during the series' run. She was generally portrayed as a sweet-natured, somewhat touchy, caring person who genuinely had an understanding of Barney, despite his unbecoming antics and personality problems. She sang in the choir, lived in her own home, and was apparently employed at an office and self-sufficient. Like most Mayberry ladies, she is an accomplished cook, being especially celebrated for her "cashew fudge" (a favorite of Barney's). Thelma Lou's last name was never given on the show, though in her last appearance on the series ("The Return of Barney Fife") she is married to a man named Gerald Whitfield. Her occupation is never revealed, but she mentions once that she "had to get back to the office." Prior to the arrival of Helen Crump in Mayberry, Lydia Crosswaithe is introduced as one of Thelma Lou's friends. Unfortunately, Lydia's extremely odd personality doomed an effort by Barney and "Thel" to arrange a date and possible romantic match with Andy.

Barney and Thelma Lou[edit]

The stability of Barney and Thelma Lou's relationship is questionable. Barney dates other women besides Thelma Lou (mainly, diner waitress Juanita, who is mentioned, but never seen or heard).

The two call it Splitsville in one episode when Barney pays a bit too much attention to an attractive newcomer to Mayberry. Despite their ups and downs, Thelma Lou stated that Barney was the man she wanted to marry and be the father of her children, and Barney once told Thelma Lou, "You're the only one I ever gave a hoot for." He also tells her "You're the cat's" (as in "cat's meow"). A running gag on the show involved Barney and Thelma Lou spending a "quiet evening together" and somebody (usually Andy) walking in on them to find Barney's hair mussed and lipstick prints all over his face.

Barney and Thelma Lou went their separate ways when Barney left Mayberry to join the Raleigh police force (coinciding with Don Knotts's departure from the series in 1965). In the sixth-season episode, "The Return of Barney Fife", Barney returns to Mayberry for a high-school reunion. Intent on getting back with Thelma Lou, Barney discovers she has been married six weeks to a man named Gerald Whitfield. This episode is Thelma Lou's final appearance on the series.

Subsequent appearance[edit]

Thelma Lou appeared in the 1986 television reunion movie Return to Mayberry. Her marriage in 1965 was revealed to have lasted only a year before ending in divorce. Barney finally marries Thelma Lou.

Andy Griffith Show appearances[edit]

The following is a list of Andy Griffith Show episodes featuring Thelma Lou.

Season one
  • Episode 22: "Cyrano Andy"
  • Episode 30: "Barney Gets His Man"
Season two
  • Episode 2: "Barney's Replacement"
  • Episode 5: "Barney on the Rebound"
  • Episode 8: "The Perfect Female"
  • Episode 13: "The Farmer Takes a Wife"
  • Episode 20: "Barney and the Choir"
  • Episode 27: "Three's a Crowd"
Season three
  • Episode 2: "Andy's Rich Girlfriend"
  • Episode 6: "Barney Mends a Broken Heart"
  • Episode 27: "Barney's First Car"
  • Episode 28: "The Rivals"
  • Episode 29: "A Wife for Andy"
Season four
  • Episode 9: "A Date for Gomer"
  • Episode 10: "Up in Barney's Room"
  • Episode 13: "Barney and the Cave Rescue"
  • Episode 27: "Fun Girls"
  • Episode 29: "The Rumor"
  • Episode 30: "Barney and Thelma Lou, Phfftt"
Season five
  • Episode 2: "Barney's Physical"
  • Episode 7: "Man in the Middle"
  • Episode 19: "The Lucky Letter"
  • Episode 20: "Goober and the Art of Love"
  • Episode 21: "Barney Runs for Sheriff"
  • Episode 28: "The Arrest of the Fun Girls"
Season six
  • Episode 17: "The Return of Barney Fife"


External links[edit]

Betty Lynn on IMDb