Andy Griffith Show’ Mystery

Celebrity Q&A, People
on April 20, 2008

What happened to Opie's mother on The Andy Griffith Show? My friend says she died in childbirth, but I thought she had an accident.
—Sandra Reichman, Lake Wales, Fla.

Although the cause or event was never discussed, it was established that Opie's mom—Andy Taylor's wife—was deceased in the 1960 pilot episode when an unsuspecting Mayberry citizen, Mrs. Balford, accidentally steps on Opie's pet turtle and kills it. Angry and heartbroken, little Opie demands that his sheriff father arrest Mrs. Balford. Trying to soothe his son, Andy gently tells him that sometimes bad, unexpected things happen, using the death of Opie's mom as an example. This seems to register with Opie—who then asks, "Who stepped on Ma?"