In The Andy Griffith Show one of the most beloved characters was Floyd the Barber, played by Howard McNeal. The character was inspired by a real barber in Andy Griffith's real-life hometown of Mt. Airy, North Carolina. The barber's name is Russell Hiatt, who had actually cut Andy Griffith's hair on a regular basis while Andy was young and living in Mount Airy. As of January 2012, the real life "Floyd" was still cutting hair daily at his Barber Shop "Floyd's City Barber Shop" in Downtown Mt. Airy.

In the last season he was on the show, McNeal suffered a severe stroke and had trouble standing up. That's why he was shown either sitting in the barber's chair or on one of the chairs outside on the sidewalk.

The last appearance of Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith Show was in the final episode of the seventh season. Howard McNeal's health worsened and he was not able to return to the show for season 8, and he died less than a year later. To try to fill in his loss on the show, a new character named Emmett Clark (a fix-it man) was brought in. It was announced on the show that Floyd had retired because he had earned enough money. Emmett, played by veteran character actor Paul Hartman, moved his fix-it shop into Floyd's old barber shop.