Cheers Information

Cheers was an American sitcom television series that ran for 11 seasons from 1982 to 1993. It was produced by Charles/Burrows/Charles Productions, in association with Paramount Network Television for NBC, and was created by the team of James Burrows, Glen Charles, and Les Charles. The show is set in the Cheers bar (named for the toast "Cheers") in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax, chat and have fun. The show's theme song, written and performed by Gary Portnoy, and co-written with Judy Hart Angelo, lent its famous refrain, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name", as the show's tagline.

After premiering on September 30, 1982, it was nearly canceled during its first season when it ranked last in ratings for its premiere (74th out of 77 shows). Cheers, however, eventually became a highly rated television show in the United States, earning a top-ten rating during 8 of its 11 seasons, including one season at #1. The show spent most of its run on NBC's Thursday night "Must See TV" lineup. Its widely watched series finale was broadcast on May 20, 1993, and the show's 275 episodes have been successfully syndicated worldwide. Nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series for all eleven of its seasons on the air, it has earned 28 Emmy Awards from a then-record 117 nominations. The character Frasier Crane, played by Kelsey Grammer, was featured in his own successful spin-off, Frasier, which also ran for 11 seasons and included guest appearances by virtually all of the major, and some minor, Cheers characters. The only exceptions to this were Kirstie Alley and the deceased Nicholas Colasanto.

In 1997, the episodes, "Thanksgiving Orphans" and "Home Is the Sailor", aired originally in 1987, were respectively ranked No. 7 and No. 45 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. In 2002, Cheers was ranked No. 18 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.


Main article: List of Cheers characters
Before the Cheers pilot, "Give Me a Ring Sometime", was completed and aired in 1982, the series originally consisted of four employees of Cheers, the bar, in the first script. Neither Norm Peterson nor Cliff Clavin, regular customers of Cheers were featured; later revisions added them as among the regular characters of the series.

In later years, Woody Boyd replaces Coach, who dies off-screen in season four (1985-86). Frasier Crane starts as a recurring character and becomes a permanent character. In season six (1986-87) Rebecca Howe replaces Diane Chambers, who was written out of the show last season (1986"87). Lilith Sternin starts as a one-time character in an episode of season four, "Second Time Around" (1985). Since season five, she became a recurring character, featured as a permanent one for seasons ten and eleven (1991"93).

Name Portrayed by Role at Cheers Occupation Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Sam Malone Ted Danson Owner, Bartender Former baseball player Starring
Diane Chambers Shelley Long Waitress Graduate student, writer Starring Guest
Ernie "Coach" Pantusso Nicholas Colasanto Bartender Former baseball player and coach Starring*
Carla Tortelli Rhea Perlman Waitress Housewife Starring
Norm Peterson George Wendt Customer Accountant; house painter; interior decorator Starring
Cliff Clavin John Ratzenberger Customer Mailman Recurring Starring
Frasier Crane Kelsey Grammer Customer Psychiatrist Recurring Starring
Woody Boyd Woody Harrelson Assistant Bartender Actor; politician Starring
Lilith Sternin Bebe Neuwirth Customer Psychiatrist Guest Recurring Starring?
Rebecca Howe Kirstie Alley Businesswoman Superintendent Starring
*Before production of season 3 was finished, Nicholas Colasanto died. Therefore, his character Coach was written out as deceased in season 4. ?In season 11, Bebe Neuwirth is given "starring" credit only when she appears.

Original main characters

  • Ted Danson portrays Sam Malone, a bartender and an owner of Cheers. Sam is also a lothario. Before the series began, he was a baseball player until he became an alcoholic, taking a toll on his career. He has on-again, off-again relationships with Diane Chambers, his class opposite, in the first five seasons (1982"1987). During their off-relationships, Sam has flings with many not-so-bright "sexy women", yet fails to pursue a meaningful relationship and fails to seduce other women, such as intellects. After Diane is written out of the series, he tries to pursue Rebecca Howe, but he either fails to achieve or gets disinterested if passion is attempted. At the end of the series, he is still unmarried and recovering from sexual addiction with a help of Dr. Robert Sutton's (Gilbert Lewis) group meetings, advised by Frasier.
  • Shelley Long portrays Diane Chambers, an academic, sophisticated college student. In the pilot, Diane is abandoned by her fiancé, leaving her without a job, money, and man. Therefore, she reluctantly becomes a cocktail waitress. Later, she becomes a close friend of Coach and has on-and-off relationships with bartender Sam Malone, her class opposite. During their off-relationships times, Diane dates men who fit her upper-class ideals, such as Frasier Crane. In 1987, she leaves Boston behind for a writing career and to live in Los Angeles, California.
  • Nicholas Colasanto portrays Coach Ernie Pantusso, a "borderline senile" co-bartender, widower, and retired coach. Coach is also a friend of Sam and a close friend of Diane. He has a daughter, Lisa. Coach is often tricked into situations, especially ones that put the bar at stake. Coach listens to people's problems and solves them. In 1985, Coach is explained to have died without explicit explanation; the actor Colasanto died of a heart attack.
  • Rhea Perlman portrays Carla Tortelli, a "wisecracking, cynical" cocktail waitress, who treats customers badly. She is also highly fertile and matrimonially inept. When the series premiered, she is the mother of four children by her ex-husband Nick Tortelli (Dan Hedaya). Later, she gives birth to four more, incorporated by Perlman's real-life pregnancies. All of her children are notoriously ill-behaved, except Ludlow, whose father is a prominent academician. She flirts with men, including ones who are not flattered by her ways, and believes in superstitions, but secretly carries the torch for Sam. Later, she marries Eddie LeBec, an ice hockey player, who later becomes a penguin mascot for ice shows. After he died in an ice show accident by an ice resurfacer, Carla later discovers that Eddie had committed bigamy with another woman, whom he had gotten pregnant.
  • George Wendt portrays Norm Peterson, a bar regular and semi-unemployed accountant. Whenever he enters the bar, during the earlier seasons of the series, everyone yells out his name, "NORM!" He has infrequent accounting jobs and a troubled marriage with (but is still in love with and married to) Vera, an unseen character. Later in the series, he becomes a house painter and an interior decorator, especially for Rebecca's bar office. Norm Peterson was a character added to the series. Wendt auditioned for a minor role of George for the pilot episode. The role was Diane Chamber's first customer and had only one word: "Beer!" After he was cast, Wendt's character George was renamed Norm.
  • John Ratzenberger portrays Cliff Clavin, a know-it-all bar regular and postal worker, he lives with his mother Esther Clavin (Frances Sternhagen) in first the family house and later an apartment. In the bar, Cliff unwittingly says things that either annoy people, motivate people into mocking him, drive people away, confuse people, be inaccurate, or be unnecessary to people. Ratzenberger auditioned for the role of a minor character George, but it went to Wendt, evolving the role into Norm Peterson. The producers decided they wanted a resident bar know-it-all, so the security guard Cliff Clavin was added for the pilot. The producers changed his occupation into a postal worker as they thought such a man would have wider knowledge than a guard.

Later main characters

  • Kelsey Grammer portrays Frasier Crane, a psychiatrist and bar regular. Frasier started out as Diane Chambers's love interest in the third season (1984"85). In the fourth season (1985"86), after Diane jilts him at the altar in Europe, Frasier ends up frequenting Cheers and becomes a regular. After the series ended, in the spin-off Frasier, he gives child custody of their son Frederick to Lilith and moves to Seattle.
  • Woody Harrelson portrays Woody Boyd, a not-so-bright bartender. He arrives from his Midwest hometown to Boston, to see Coach, his "pen pal" (as referring to exchanging "pens", not letters). When he learns that Coach passed away, Woody is hired in his place. Later, he marries his girlfriend Kelly Gaines (Jackie Swanson), also not-so-bright but raised in a rich family.
  • Bebe Neuwirth portrays Lilith Sternin, a psychiatrist and bar regular. She is often teased by bar patrons about her uptight personality and appearance. In "Second Time Around" (1986), her first episode, also her only one of the fourth season, her date with Frasier does not go well because they constantly argue. In the fifth season, with help from Diane, Lilith and Frasier begin a relationship. Eventually, they marry and have a son, Frederick. In the eleventh and final season, she admits an affair with another man to Frasier, and the two then divorce.
  • Kirstie Alley portrays Rebecca Howe. She starts out as a strong independent woman, managing the bar for the corporation that was given the bar by Sam after Diane jilted him. Eventually, when Sam regains ownership, she begs him to let her remain as manager. She repeatedly has romantic failures with mainly rich men and becomes more and "more neurotic, insecure, and sexually frustrated". At the start, Sam frequently attempts to seduce Rebecca without success. As her persona changes, he loses interest in her. In the eleventh and final season, Rebecca marries the plumber Don Santry and quits working for the bar.

Recurring characters

Although Cheers operated largely around that main ensemble cast, guest stars and recurring characters did occasionally supplement them. Notable repeat guests included Dan Hedaya as Nick Tortelli, Jean Kasem as Loretta Tortelli who were the main characters in the first spin-off The Tortellis, Jay Thomas as Eddie LeBec, Roger Rees as Robin Colcord, Tom Skerritt as Evan Drake, and Harry Anderson as Harry 'The Hat' Gittes.

Paul Willson, who played the recurring barfly character of "Paul", made early appearances in the first season as "Glen", was credited as "Gregg", and also appeared in the show as a character named "Tom". Thomas Babson played "Tom", a law student often mocked by Cliff Clavin, for continually failing to pass the Massachusetts bar exam. "Al", played by Al Rosen, appeared in 38 episodes, and was known for his surly quips. Rhea Perlman's father Philip Perlman played the role of "Phil". Jackie Swanson, who played the recurring role of Woody's girlfriend and eventual wife "Kelly Gaines-Boyd", appeared in 24 episodes from 1989-1993. The character is as equally dim and naive as Woody.


Other celebrities guest-starred in single episodes as themselves throughout the series. Sports figures appeared on the show as themselves with a connection to Boston or Sam's former team, the Red Sox, such as Luis Tiant, Wade Boggs and Kevin McHale (of the Boston Celtics). Some television stars also made guest appearances as themselves such as Alex Trebek, Arsenio Hall, Dick Cavett, Robert Urich, and Johnny Carson. Various political figures even made appearances on Cheers such as then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William J. Crowe, former Colorado Senator Gary Hart, then-Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, Senator John Kerry, then-Governor Michael Dukakis, and then-Mayor of Boston Raymond Flynn, the last four of whom all represented Cheers' home state and city. In a guest appearance in 1983, Glynis Johns played Diane's mother, Mrs. Helen Chambers. In an episode that aired in 1985, Nancy Marchand played Frasier's mother, Hester Crane.

The musician Harry Connick, Jr. appeared in an episode as Woody's cousin and plays a song from his Grammy-winning album We Are in Love (c. 1991). John Cleese won an Emmy for his guest appearance as "Dr. Simon Finch-Royce" in the fifth season episode, "Simon Says". Emma Thompson guest starred as Nanny G/Nannette Guzman, a famous singing nanny and Frasier's ex-wife. Christopher Lloyd guest starred as a tortured artist who wanted to paint Diane. Marcia Cross portrayed Rebecca's sister Susan in the season 7 episode Sisterly Love. John Mahoney once appeared as an inept jingle writer, which included a brief conversation with Frasier Crane, whose father he later portrayed on the spin-off Frasier. Peri Gilpin, who later played Roz Doyle on Frasier, also appeared in one episode of Cheers, in its 11th season, as Holly Matheson, a reporter who interviews Woody. The Righteous Brothers, Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley, also guest starred in different episodes, and Kate Mulgrew appeared in the three-episode finale of season four. In the final episode of Kirstie Alley's run as Rebecca, she was wooed away from Cheers by the guy who came to fix one of the beer keg taps " surprising for a "high-class" lady " who happened to be Tom Berenger.

Death of Nicholas Colasanto

Near the end of production of the third season, the writers of Cheers had to deal with the death of one of the main actors. During the third season, Nicholas Colasanto's heart condition (which had been diagnosed in the mid-1970s) had worsened. He had lost weight and was having trouble breathing during filming. Shortly before third season filming wrapped, Colasanto was hospitalized due to water on his lungs. Though he recovered, he was not cleared to return to work. While visiting the set in January 1985 to watch the filming of several episodes, co-star Shelley Long commented, "I think we were all in denial. We were all glad he was there, but he lost a lot of weight." Co-star Rhea Perlman added, "[H]e wanted to be there so badly. He didn't want to be sick. He couldn't breathe well, it was hard; he was laboring all the time." Colasanto died of heart attack in his home on February 12, 1985. While the cast was saddened, they knew he had been very ill.

The Cheers writing staff assembled in June 1985 to discuss how to deal with the absence of Coach. They quickly discarded the idea that he might have moved away, as they felt he would never abandon his friends. In addition, as most viewers were aware of Colasanto's death, they decided to handle the situation more openly. The season four opener, "Birth, Death, Love and Rice", dealt with Coach's death as well as introducing Woody Harrelson, Colasanto's replacement.

Series overview

}} Nearly all of Cheers took place in the front room of the bar, but the characters often went into the rear pool room or the bar's office. Cheers did not show any action outside the bar until the first episode of the second season, which took place in Diane's apartment.

Cheers had several running gags, such as Norm arriving in the bar and being greeted by a loud "Norm!" Early episodes generally followed Sam's antics with his various women, following a variety of romantic comedy clichés to get out of whatever relationship troubles he was in during each episode. As the show progressed and Sam got into more serious relationships, the general tone switched to a comedic take on Sam settling into a monogamous lifestyle. Throughout the series, larger story arcs began to develop that spanned multiple episodes or seasons, interspersed with smaller themes and one-off episodes.

The show's main theme in its early seasons was the romance between the intellectual waitress Diane Chambers and the bar owner Sam Malone, a former major league baseball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and a recovering alcoholic. After Shelley Long (Diane) left the show, the focus shifted to Sam's new relationship with Rebecca, a neurotic corporate ladder climber. Both relationships featured sexual tension that spanned many episodes.

Many Cheers scripts centered or touched upon a variety of social issues, albeit humorously. As Toasting Cheers puts it, "The script was further strengthened by the writers' boldness in successfully tackling controversial issues such as alcoholism, homosexuality, and adultery."

Social class was a subtext of the show. The "upper class" " represented by characters like Diane Chambers, Frasier Crane, Lilith Sternin and (initially) Rebecca Howe " rubbed shoulders with middle and working-class characters "? Sam Malone, Carla Tortelli, Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin. An extreme example of this was the relationship between Woody Boyd and a millionaire's daughter Kelly Gaines. Many viewers enjoyed Cheers in part because of this focus on character development in addition to plot development.

Feminism and the role of women were also recurring themes throughout the show, with some critics seeing each of the major female characters portraying an aspect as a flawed feminist in her own way. Diane was a vocal feminist, and Sam was the epitome of everything she hated: a womanizer and a male chauvinist. Their relationship led Diane to several diatribes on Sam's promiscuity. Carla insulted people, but was respected because of her tough attitude, wit, and power, while Diane was often ignored as she commanded little respect in any successful way. Rebecca was an ambitious businesswoman and gold-digger, seeking relationships with her superiors at the Lillian Corporation, most notably Evan Drake, to gain promotions or raises. She encountered a glass ceiling, and ended the show by marrying a plumber rather than a rich businessman. It was later revealed on Frasier that her husband struck it rich and left her, after which Rebecca returned to Cheers as a patron. Lilith was a high-profile psychiatrist with many degrees and awards, and commanded respect with her strong and rather stern demeanor. Like Rebecca, she was an executive woman of the 1980s who put much emphasis on her professional life. She was often shown to have the upper hand in her and Frasier's relationship.

Homosexuality was dealt with from the very first season, which was rare in the early 1980s for American network television. In the first season episode, "The Boys In The Bar", a friend and former teammate of Sam's comes out in his autobiography. Some of the male regulars pressure Sam to take action to ensure that Cheers does not become a gay bar. The episode won a GLAAD Media Award, and the script's writers, Ken Levine and David Isaacs, were nominated for an Emmy Award. Harvey Fierstein later appeared in the 1990s as "Mark Newberger", Rebecca's old high school sweetheart who is gay. The final episode included a gay man who gets into trouble with his boyfriend, played by Anthony Heald.

Addiction also plays a role in Cheers, almost exclusively through Sam. He is a recovering alcoholic who had bought a bar during his drinking days. After he achieved sobriety, Sam decided to continue to own and operate the bar for "sentimental reasons." Frasier has a notable bout of drinking in the fourth season episode, "The Triangle", while Woody develops a gambling problem in the seventh season's, "Call Me Irresponsible". Some critics believe Sam was portrayed as a generally addictive personality.

In addition to extended story lines, Cheers had recurring themes. A heated rivalry between Cheers and a rival bar, Gary's Olde Towne Tavern, was portrayed starting with the fourth season episode, "From Beer to Eternity". Beginning in the sixth season, one episode of each season depicted some wager between Sam and Gary, which resulted in either a sports competition or a battle of wits that devolved into complex practical jokes. Aside from the very first and very last "Bar Wars" episodes, the Cheers gang almost always lost to Gary's superior ingenuity. They tricked him into missing the annual Bloody Mary contest in one episode. Another had Sam collaborating with Gary's crew to get revenge on his co-workers for a prior practical joke. Another episode involved a pickup basketball game, in which Gary tricked the people of Cheers into believing that a minor injury sustained by basketball great Kevin McHale was a season-ending injury.

Sam had a long-running feud with the upscale restaurant above the bar, Melville's Fine Sea Food. The restaurant's management disliked the bar's patrons, while Sam regarded the restaurant as snobbish (though customers often moved between the two businesses via a prominent staircase). This conflict escalated after Melville's came under the ownership of John Allen Hill (Keene Curtis), as Sam did not technically own the bar's poolroom and bathrooms. Subsequently forced to pay rent for them, Sam was often at the mercy of Hill's tyranny. Rebecca eventually helped Sam buy the back section from Hill.

Cheers owners

Cheers obviously had several owners before Sam, as the bar was opened in 1889. The "Est. 1895" on the bar's sign is a made-up date chosen by Carla for numerological purposes, revealed in the 8th season episode, "The Stork Brings a Crane". In the second episode, "Sam's Women", Coach tells a customer looking for Gus, the owner of Cheers, that Gus was dead and Sam now owned the bar. In a later episode, Gus O'Mally comes back from Arizona for one night and helps run the bar.

The biggest storyline surrounding the ownership of Cheers begins in the fifth season finale, "I Do, Adieu", when Sam and Diane part ways, due to Shelley Long's leaving the regular cast. In addition, Sam leaves on a trip to circumnavigate the Earth. Before he leaves, Sam sells Cheers to the Lillian Corporation. He returns in the sixth season premiere, "Home is the Sailor", having sunk his boat, to find the bar under the new management of Rebecca Howe. He begs for his job back and is hired by Rebecca as a bartender. In the seventh season premiere, "How to Recede in Business", Rebecca is fired and Sam is promoted to manager. Rebecca is allowed to keep a job at Lillian vaguely similar to what she had before, but only after Sam had Rebecca (in absentia) "agree" to a long list of demands that the corporation had for her.

From there Sam occasionally attempted to buy the bar back with schemes that usually involved the wealthy executive Robin Colcord. Sam acquired Cheers again in the eighth season finale, when it was sold back to him for eighty-five cents (it was offered to him for one US dollar, but eighty-five cents was all Sam could come up with on the spot) by the Lillian Corporation, after he alerted the company to Colcord's insider trading. Fired by the corporation because of her silence on the issue, Rebecca is hired by Sam as a hostess/office manager.



Three men developed and created the Cheers television series; including Glen Charles and Les Charles, and James Burrows. The show centers around two characters, Sam Malone and Diane Chambers, similar to that of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn role types. Malone represents the average man, while Chambers represents class and sophistication. The show revolves around characters in a bar under humorous adult themes and situations.

The concept for Cheers was the result of a long process. The original idea was a group of workers who interacted like a family, the goal being a concept similar to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The creators considered making an American version of the British Fawlty Towers, set in a hotel or an inn. When the creators settled on a bar as their setting, the show began to resemble the radio show Duffy's Tavern. They liked the idea of a tavern, as it provided a continuous stream of new people, for a variety of characters.

After choosing a setting, the creators needed to choose a location. Early discussions centered on Barstow, California, then Kansas City, Missouri. They eventually turned to the East Coast and finally Boston. The Bull & Finch Pub in Boston, which was the model for Cheers, was chosen from a phone book. When Glen Charles asked the bar's owner, Tom Kershaw, to shoot exterior and interior photos, he agreed, charging US$1. Kershaw has since gone on to make millions, licensing the pub's image and selling a variety of Cheers memorabilia. The Bull & Finch became the 42nd busiest outlet in the American food and beverage industry in 1997. During initial casting, Shelley Long, who was in Boston at the time filming A Small Circle of Friends, remarked that the bar in the script resembled a bar she had come upon in the city, which turned out to be the Bull & Finch.

Production team

The crew of Cheers numbered in the hundreds. The three creators, James Burrows, Glen Charles, and Les Charles, kept offices on Paramount's lot for the duration of the Cheers run. In the final seasons, however, they handed over much of the show to Burrows. Burrows is regarded as being a factor in the show's longevity, directing 243 of the episodes and supervising the show's production. Among the show's other directors were Andy Ackerman, Thomas Lofaro, Tim Berry, Tom Moore, Rick Beren, as well as John Ratzenberger. David Angell was also a part of the crew from the start, writing many Cheers episodes. The show was often noted for its writing, which is credited alongside its ensemble cast and other production factors for the show's success.

Craig Safan provided the series' original music for its entire run except the theme song. His extensive compositions for the show led to him winning numerous ASCAP Top TV Series awards for his music.


The character of Sam Malone was originally intended to be a retired football player and was slated to be played by Fred Dryer, but, after casting Ted Danson, it was decided that a former baseball player (Sam "Mayday" Malone) would be more believable. Dryer, however, would go on to play sportscaster Dave Richards, an old friend of Sam, in three episodes. The character of Cliff Clavin was created for John Ratzenberger after he auditioned for the role of Norm Peterson, which eventually went to George Wendt. While chatting with producers afterward, he asked if they were going to include a "bar know-it-all", the part which he eventually played. Kirstie Alley joined the cast when Shelley Long left (representing the only departure of a primary character throughout the series), and Woody Harrelson joined when Nicholas Colasanto died. Danson, Perlman and Wendt were the only actors to appear in every episode of the series.

Filming styles and locations

</ref>}} Most Cheers episodes were, as a voiceover stated at the start of each, "filmed before a live studio audience" on Paramount Stage 25 in Hollywood, generally on Tuesday nights. Scripts for a new episode were issued the Wednesday before for a read-through, Friday was rehearsal day, and final scripts were issued on Monday. Burrows, who directed most episodes, insisted on using film stock rather than videotape. He was also noted for using motion in his directorial style, trying to constantly keep characters moving rather than standing still. During the first season when ratings were poor Paramount and NBC asked that the show use videotape to save money, but a poor test taping ended the experiment and Cheers continued to use film.

Due to a decision by Glen and Les Charles, the cold open was often not connected to the rest of the episode, with the lowest-ranked writers assigned to create the jokes for them. Some cold opens were taken from episodes that ran too long.

The first year of the show took place entirely within the confines of the bar, the first location outside the bar being Diane's apartment. When the series became a hit, the characters started venturing further afield, first to other sets and eventually to an occasional exterior location. The exterior location shots of the bar were of the Bull & Finch Pub, located directly north of the Boston Public Garden. The pub has become a tourist attraction because of its association with the series, and draws nearly one million visitors annually. It has since been renamed Cheers Beacon Hill; its interior is different from the TV bar.

Theme song

Before "Where Everybody Knows Your Name", written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo, became the show's theme song, Cheers producers rejected two of Portnoy's and Hart Angelo's songs. The songwriters had collaborated to provide music for Preppies, an unsuccessful Broadway musical. When told they could not appropriate "People Like Us", Preppiess opening song, the pair wrote another song "My Kind of People", which resembled "People Like Us" and intended to satirize "the lifestyle of old decadent old-money WASPs," but, to meet producers' demands, they rewrote the lyrics to be about "likeable losers" in a Boston bar. The show's producers rejected this song, as well. After they read the script of the series pilot, they created another song "Another Day". When Portnoy and Hart Angelo heard that NBC had commissioned thirteen episodes, they created an official theme song "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" and rewrote the lyrics.


Critical reception

Cheers was critically acclaimed in its first season, though it landed a disappointing 74th out of 77 shows in that year's ratings. This critical support, the early success at the Emmys, and the support of the president of NBC's entertainment division Brandon Tartikoff, are thought to be the main reasons for the show's survival and eventual success. Tartikoff stated in 1983 that Cheers was a sophisticated adult comedy and that NBC executives, "never for a second doubted" that the show would not be renewed. Writer Levine believes that the most important reason was that the network recognized that it did not have other hit shows to help promote Cheers; as he later wrote, "[NBC] had nothing else better to replace it with."

Ratings improved for the summer reruns after the first season. The cast went on various talk shows to try to further promote the series after its first season. By the second season Cheers was competitive with CBS's top rated show Simon & Simon. With the growing popularity of Family Ties, which ran in the slot ahead of Cheers from January 1984 until Family Ties was moved to Sundays in 1987, and the placement of The Cosby Show in front of both at the start of their third season (1984), the line-up became a runaway ratings success that NBC eventually dubbed "Must See Thursday". The next season, Cheers ratings increased dramatically after Woody Boyd became a regular character as well. By the end of its final season, the show had a run of eight consecutive seasons in the Top Ten of the Nielsen ratings; seven of them were in the Top Five.

Cheers was perhaps the first sitcom with a serialized storyline, starting with the third season. The show's success helped make such multi-episode story arcs popular on television, which Les Charles regrets: "[W]e may have been partly responsible for what's going on now, where if you miss the first episode or two, you are lost. You have to wait until you can get the whole thing on DVD and catch up with it. If that blood is on our hands, I feel kind of badly about it. It can be very frustrating."

Cheers began with a limited five-character ensemble consisting of Ted Danson, Shelley Long, Rhea Perlman, Nicholas Colasanto and George Wendt. By the time season 10 began, the show had eight front characters in its roster. Cheers was also able to gradually phase in characters such as Cliff, Frasier, Lilith, Rebecca, and Woody. During season 1, only one set, the bar, housed all of the episodes. Later seasons introduced other sets, but the show's ability to center the action in the bar and avoid straying was notable.

NBC dedicated a whole night to the final episode of Cheers, following the one-hour season finale of Seinfeld (which was its lead-in). The show began with a "pregame" show hosted by Bob Costas, followed by the final 98-minute episode itself. NBC affiliates then aired tributes to Cheers during their local newscasts, and the night concluded with a special Tonight Show broadcast live from the Bull & Finch Pub. Although the episode fell short of its hyped ratings predictions to become the most watched television episode, it was the most watched show that year, bringing in 93 million viewers (64 percent of all viewers that night), and ranked 11th all time in entertainment programming.

The episode originally aired in the usual Cheers spot of Thursday night, and was then rebroadcast on Sunday. While the original broadcast did not outperform the M*A*S*H finale, the combined non-repeating audiences for the Thursday and Sunday showings did. It should also be noted that television had greatly changed between the two finales, leaving Cheers with a broader array of competition for ratings.

In 2013 GQ magazine held an online competition to find the best TV comedy. Cheers was voted out of all the comedys the greatest comedy show of all time.

U.S. television ratings

Cheers season rankings in the U.S. television market
Season Episodes Timeslot (ET) Season premiere Season finale TV season Rank Rating Estimated Viewers
1 22 Thursday 9:00 p.m. (1982)
Thursday 9:30 p.m. (1983)
September 30, 1982 March 31, 1983 1982"1983 #71 N/A N/A
2 22 Thursday 9:30 p.m. (September"December 8, 1983)
Thursday 9:00 p.m. (December 15, 1983-1984)
September 29, 1983 May 10, 1984 1983"1984 N/A N/A N/A
3 25 Thursday 9:00 p.m. September 27, 1984 May 9, 1985 1984"1985 #12 19.7 16.72
4 26 September 26, 1985 May 15, 1986 1985"1986 #5 23.7 20.35
5 26 September 25, 1986 May 7, 1987 1986"1987 #3 27.2 23.77
6 25 September 24, 1987 May 5, 1988 1987"1988 #3 23.4 20.73
7 22 October 27, 1988 May 4, 1989 1988"1989 #4 22.3 20.15
8 26 September 21, 1989 May 3, 1990 1989"1990 #3 22.7 20.90
9 27 September 20, 1990 May 2, 1991 1990"1991 #1 21.3 19.83
10 26 September 19, 1991 May 14, 1992 1991"1992 #4 17.5 16.11
11 28 September 24, 1992 May 20, 1993 1992"1993 #8 16.1 14.89
As a Top 30 series, Cheers had an average rating of 22.2.

Awards and honors

Template:Main list Over its 11-season run, the Cheers cast and crew earned many awards. The show garnered a record 111 Emmy Award nominations, with a total of 28 wins. In addition, Cheers earned 31 Golden Globe nominations, with a total of six wins. Danson, Long, Alley, Perlman, Wendt, Ratzenberger, Harrelson, Grammer, Neuwirth, and Colosanto all received Emmy nominations for their roles. Cheers won the Golden Globe for "Best TV-Series " Comedy/Musical" in 1991 and the Emmy for "Outstanding Comedy Series" in 1983, 1984, 1989, and 1991. The series was presented with the "Legend Award" at the 2006 TV Land Awards, with many of the surviving cast members attending the event.

The following are awards that have been earned by the Cheers cast and crew over its 11"season run:

Winner Award
Kirstie Alley Emmy, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1991)
Golden Globe, Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series " Comedy/Musical (1991)
Ted Danson Emmy, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (1990, 1993)
Golden Globe, Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series " Comedy/Musical (1990, 1991)
Woody Harrelson Emmy, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1989)
Shelley Long Emmy, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (1983)
Golden Globe, Best Performance by an Actress in a TV-Series " Comedy/Musical (1985)
Golden Globe, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV (1983)
Bebe Neuwirth Emmy, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (1990, 1991)
Rhea Perlman Emmy, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (1984, 1985, 1986, 1989)
John Cleese Emmy, Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (1987)
Production Awards Emmy, Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series (1983, 1991)
Emmy, Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (1983, 1984)
Emmy, Outstanding Individual Achievement in Graphic Design and Title Sequences (1983)
Emmy, Outstanding Film Editing for a Series (1984)
Emmy, Outstanding Editing for a Series " Multi-Camera Production (1988, 1993)
Emmy, Outstanding Live and Tape Sound Mixing and Sound Effects for a Series (1985)
Emmy, Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special (1986, 1987, 1990)



Cheers grew in popularity as it aired on American television and entered into off-network syndication in 1986, initially distributed by Paramount Domestic Television. When the show went off the air in 1993, Cheers was syndicated in 38 countries with 179 American television markets and 83 million viewers. After going off the air, Cheers entered a long and successful continuing syndication run on Nick at Nite, later moving to TV Land in 2004, lasting until 2008 on their line-up.

The series began airing on Hallmark Channel in the United States in 2008, and WGN America in 2009, where it continues to air on both channels. In January 2011, Reelz Channel began airing the series in hour-long blocks. Me-TV began airing Cheers weeknights in 2010. When the quality of some earlier footage of Cheers began to deteriorate, it underwent a careful restoration in 2001 due to its continued success. And more recently, USA Network also reran the series, but only on Sunday early mornings and weekday mornings (if there is a movie running in 2 1/2 hours).

In October of 2008, Cheers began airing on The Hallmark Channel.

As of April 2011, Netflix began including Cheers as one of the titles on its "watch instantly" streaming service.

A Cheers rerun notably replaced the September 4, 1992 airing of Australia's Naughtiest Home Videos on Australia's Nine Network. The latter was canceled mid-episode on its only broadcast by Kerry Packer, who pulled the plug after a phone call. It was repeated several years later on the Nine Network shortly after Packer's death in 2005. Cheers currently airs on Eleven starting January 11, 2011 in Australia. Cheers was aired by NCRV in the Netherlands. After the last episode, NCRV simply began re-airing the series, and then again, thus airing the show three times in a row, showing an episode nightly.

As of 2012, Cheers has been repeated on UK satellite channel CBS Drama. Cheers is also shown on the UK free-to-air channel ITV4 where it is shown two episodes every weekday night. Because of the ITV syndication it is also available to watch on the online ITV Player for seven days after broadcast.

High definition

A high-definition transfer of Cheers began running on HDNet in the United States in August 2010. Originally shot on film (but transferred to and edited on videotape) the program was broadcast in a 4:3 aspect ratio, the newly transferred versions are in 16:9. However in the United Kingdom, the HD repeats on ITV4 HD are shown in the original 4:3 aspect ratio.

They are also currently airing on ReelzChannel.

DVD releases

Paramount Home Entertainment and (from 2006 onward) CBS DVD have released all 11 seasons of Cheers on DVD in Region 1, Region 2 and Region 4.

DVD Name Episodes Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete 1st Season 22 May 20, 2003 November 24, 2003 January 15, 2004
The Complete 2nd Season 22 January 6, 2004 June 7, 2004 May 6, 2004
The Complete 3rd Season 25 May 25, 2004 September 6, 2004 September 9, 2004
The Complete 4th Season 26 February 1, 2005 July 18, 2005 July 21, 2005
The Complete 5th Season 26 May 17, 2005 November 27, 2006 January 11, 2007
The Complete 6th Season 25 September 13, 2005 May 14, 2007 May 3, 2007
The Complete 7th Season 22 November 15, 2005 May 18, 2009 April 27, 2009
The Complete 8th Season 26 June 13, 2006 August 6, 2012 April 27, 2009
The 9th Season 27 April 29, 2008 August 6, 2012 April 27, 2009
The 10th Season 26 September 2, 2008 September 3, 2012 April 27, 2009
The 11th & Final Season 28 January 27, 2009 September 3, 2012 April 27, 2009
The Complete Series 275 TBA October 8, 2012 TBA
  • Region 2 release dates refer to the United Kingdom market only.

Digital media distribution

The complete eleven seasons of Cheers are available through:

  • the United States Netflix streaming service
  • the ITunes Store
  • Amazon Prime Video


The series lent itself naturally to the development of "Cheers" bar-related merchandise, culminating in the development of a chain of "Cheers" themed pubs. Paramount's licensing group, led by Tom McGrath, developed the "Cheers" pub concept initially in partnership with Host Marriott, which placed "Cheers" themed pubs in over 15 airports around the world. Boston boasts the original Cheers bar, historically known to Boston insiders as the Bull and Finch, as well as a Cheers restaurant in the Faneuil Hall marketplace, and Sam's Place, a spin-off sports bar concept also located at Faneuil Hall. In 1997 Europe's first officially licensed Cheers bar opened in London's Regent's Street W1. Like Cheers Faneuil Hall, Cheers London is a replica of the set. The gala opening was attended by James Burrows and cast members George Wendt and John Ratzenberger. The actual bar set had been on display at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum until the museum's closing in early 2006.

The theme song to the show was eventually licensed to a Canadian restaurant, Kelsey's Neighbourhood Bar & Grill.

Spin-offs, crossovers, and cultural references

}} Some of the actors and actresses from Cheers brought their characters into other television shows, either in a guest appearance or in a new spin-off series. The most successful Cheers spin-off was the show Frasier, which directly followed Frasier Crane after he moved back to Seattle, Washington. Sam, Diane, and Woody all had individual crossover appearances on Frasier where they came to visit Frasier, and his ex-wife Lilith was a constant supporting character throughout the show. Cliff, Norm, Carla, and two of Cheers' regular background barflies Paul and Phil, had a crossover together in the Frasier episode "Cheerful Goodbyes". In that episode, Frasier, on a trip to Boston, meets the Cheers gang (though not at Cheers itself) and Cliff thinks Frasier has flown out specifically for his (Cliff's) retirement party, which Frasier ends up attending.

Although Frasier was the most successful spin-off, The Tortellis was the first series to spin-off from Cheers, premiering in 1987. The show featured Carla's ex-husband Nick Tortelli and his wife Loretta, but was canceled after 13 episodes and drew protests for its stereotypical depictions of Italian-Americans.

In addition to direct spin-offs, several Cheers characters had guest appearance crossovers with other shows.

  • In The Simpsons episode "Fear of Flying", Homer stumbles into a Cheers-like bar after being kicked out of Moe's. Most of the Cheers central cast appears in the episode, including Frasier, though Frasier does not speak, as Kelsey Grammer already had a recurring role on The Simpsons as Sideshow Bob. The tag line for Moe's Tavern, "Where nobody knows your name", is also a reference to the theme song of Cheers.
    • Sideshow Bob's voice sounding like Kelsey Grammer would later be used as a plot point of the episode "The Bob Next Door", where Marge tries to reassure Bart that the new neighbor isn't Sideshow Bob. She and Homer list "Frasier on Cheers", "Frasier on Frasier" and "Lt. Commander Dodge in Down Periscope" as examples of people who sound like Sideshow Bob, all of which were played by Kelsey Grammer.
  • Characters also had crossovers with Wings " which was created by the Cheers producer"writers " and Boston-set St. Elsewhere in a somewhat rare comedy"drama crossover.
  • The Scrubs episode "My Life in Four Cameras" makes numerous jokes about Cheers and multiple-camera setup laugh track sitcoms. In addition, the main patient treated was fictional Cheers writer "Charles James", a mixture of Cheers creators James Burrows, Glen Charles, and Les Charles. The episode makes repeated comments about these "traditional" sitcoms and ends with the opening notes of the Cheers theme playing while J.D. says "Unfortunately, around here things don't always end as neat and tidy as they do in sitcoms."
  • In the 2012 comedy film Ted, the main characters watch a spoof of a special feature on the DVD of "Cheers" featuring Ted Danson (as himself) in which he speaks about whether there was cocaine on the set and the size of Woody Harrelson's genitalia.


In December 2012, almost 20 years after the show had ended and 30 years since it began, The Irish Film and Television Network announced that casting is underway on an Irish language version of Cheers. Dublin-based production company Sideline is behind the Emerald Isle reboot.

"I know some people think it's crazy," Sideline creative director Billy McGrath told IFTN, "but Sideline is now focused on both scripted and non-scripted formats. Is re-producing Cheers any different than us producing a version of Mastermind, Take Me Out or The Great British Bake Off for Irish viewers?".

The new show, tentatively titled Teach Seán, would air on Ireland's TG4 and features a main character who, like Sam Malone, is a bar owner, a retired athlete and a recovering alcoholic. Except because it's set in Ireland, the barman is a "former hurling star" rather than an ex-baseball player.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Cheers" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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