Many of his characters were simple people with a simple message; be good to others, try to do what's right, seek the truth and keep the peace above all else. No drama, just "kind" honesty. Value your friends and family and eat a lot of fried chicken in the process.
Growing up in Arizona I would watch Andy Griffith on KPHO, Channel 5 every chance I could. It was the best thing about staying home sick. Dick Van Dyke followed by The Andy Griffith Show and Hogan's Heroes. Andy Griffith was the best because it was laugh out loud funny - the original LOL. Nearly everyone watched if they were home sick from school, sick from work or just came home for lunch. You would alter your schedule just to watch this great show. Don Knotts was great, but Andy kept it all together. The job of the straight man is to make everyone else look good and Andy Griffith made Don Knotts and everyone around him look simply AMAZING!
As I grew up I still watched reruns, embraced a Ritz Cracker commercial as a "new episodes", watched Salvage 1 (because he wore flannel) and eventually all the Andy Griffith show reunion movies. Anytime he was on TV, everyone in the room perked up a little. Of course, who could forget Matlock for which, in my opinion, is the model for Walker Texas Ranger. (Don't over think it, just keep reading...)
There are a lot of great films with Andy Griffith, but it is The Andy Griffith Show that he will always be remembered. He showed us how to be good fathers, a close friend and how to treat a lady when you take her to Myers Lake.
As a comic, I find that Andy Griffith has influenced me more than any other single person. I like jokes that everyone can enjoy. Jokes that poke fun at us trying to do the right thing. Jokes that help us see things in a different light or context. I do a series of jokes in my "Celebrity Diagnosis" set. The idea is celebrities giving the diagnosis instead of the doctor, so you feel better about your illness. I do my Andy Griffith impression, "Well, now, now, looks like somebody did a little kissy kissy and got them-self an STD! Mmmmm!" I'd like to think the impression is getting the laugh, but the real reason is because I'm allow people to see how Andy Griffith would handle something in today's world. It's done in the "we all have a little fun now and then, but you got yourself in a little trouble - everything is gonna be alright" kinda way. Andy makes this scenario better because we trust him to make things alright.
This joke, along with my Mayberry CSI sketch, Andy Griffith DVDs and years of quoting the show is the reason that so many people reached out to me today after hearing about Andy Griffith passing. I never had an opportunity to meet the man, but we all feel like we know him and owe him a big thank you.
Thank you Andy for great memories that will keep on for years to come. Best of luck to you and yours!