Cheers is one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time. No matter how much you may enjoy watching Cheers, you are sure to be surprised by some of these fun facts.
Cheers Was at Both Extremes in the Ratings at Some Point
Cheers was highly rated for most of its 11-year run. However, when the show premiered, it was a total flop. In fact, it was ranked at 77 out of 100 shows that aired during its first week on the air. Brandon Tartikoff, who was then president of NBC, really believe in the show, though, and he gave it chances it probably wouldn’t get today.
Although it wasn’t an instant hit, Cheers won critical acclaim with its first season, and viewers slowly started discovering it. When the final episode aired on May 20, 1993, over 80 million people tuned in to say their good-byes to Sam Malone (Ted Danson), Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley), Woody Boyd (Woody Harrelson, and the rest of the gang.
John Ratzenberger Created the Role of Cliff Clavin
When John Ratzenberger auditioned for the role of Norm Peterson, he knew he hadn’t nailed the audition. Sensing that this was his one big shot, John then asked the producers if they had a know-it-all character for the bar. He explained how all bars have one, and he went on to create the character of Cliff.
John hadn’t intended to create Cliff, though. He was trying to save face after a bad audition by making the producers laugh before he left the room. However, what he said amused the producers, and they began to consider the need for a know-it-all character at Cheers. They called him a few days later, and Cliff Clavin found his way into television history.
Shelley Long’s Pregnancy Was (Sometimes Badly) Disguised During the Show’s Third Season
Shelley Long was happily married for all her seasons on Cheers, and she decided that she wanted to start a family at the height of the show’s success. She became pregnant for the third season of the show, and producers decided to hide her pregnancy in a variety of creative ways throughout the season. They put her behind the bar sometimes or had her carry the tray in front of her stomach. That didn’t always conceal very much!
Diane was eventually sent to Europe during the season, with Shelley appearing on the phone with Sam during parts of the show. Rhea Perlman was pregnant during the same season. In fact, she and Long both had their children in March of 1985. The producers decided to write the pregnancy of the Rhea Perlman into the show. Her very fertile character Carla was also pregnant that year.
Kurt Vonnegut Wished He Had Written Cheers
Cheers has a lot of fans in high places. Everyone from President Bill Clinton to Kurt Vonnegut were fans of the charming sitcom where everybody knows your name. Vonnegut was such a fan that he praised it for being so well done and then even said, “I’d rather have written Cheers than anything I’ve written.”
Kurt Vonnegut’s high praise for the show no doubt meant a lot to show’s writers and producers. Vonnegut had an illustrious career that spanned over 50 years. He wrote such books as Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions. Don’t expect to find writing in the comedy style of Cheers in any of his work, though!
There’s an Awesome Full-Length Version of the Theme Song
The Cheers theme song is called “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”. It was written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo. Gary Portnoy is also the performer of the song on every episode of Cheers. In addition to the short, memorable tune on the opening credits, there is a full-length version of the song.
The full-length version of the Cheers theme song includes lyrics that lament the fact that the narrator’s therapist went to Europe and didn’t even write. The full-length version of the song can be seen in a video with clips from the show on the 200th-anniversary episode of Cheers. It also aired as a different video with clips from the show during the pre-show to the show’s finale in May 1993.
There’s a Tribute to Coach at the End of the Show
Nicholas Colasanto, who played Coach Ernie Pantusso, was beloved by the cast and crew who worked on Cheers. When he died during the show’s third season, they were gutted, and viewers were also devastated. Coach was easily one of the most lovable TV characters of all time, and those who worked with Nicholas said the same about him in real-life.
When he died, the creators, producers, writers, cast, and crew looked for ways that they could pay tribute to Nicholas. They had to move on with the show, but they didn’t want to leave his memory behind. The first episode of the fourth season began with a tribute to Nicholas, and he was also remembered in multiple other ways. A photo of Geronimo that Nicholas had in his dressing room was then hung in Cheers, and at the end of the final episode of Cheers, Sam walks over and straightens the photo in a little nod to Coach and the man who portrayed him.
Kirstie Alley Showed Up as Diane for Her First Day on Cheers
Kirstie Alley and Shelley Long were quite possibly as different from each other as two actresses could be, and their characters weren’t anything alike, either. However, many fans loved them both and had no interest in choosing between them. Comparisons were inevitable in the media, though. Kirstie must have known she’d be facing a lot of judgment.
When Kirstie Alley showed up to the set of Cheers for her first day at work, she wore a total Diane Chambers get-up. She had a blonde wig that matched Diane’s hair and what People referred to as a “goody-two-shoes dress and a yellow coating on her dark eyebrows.” Kirstie wanted to break the ice, and she did. She was beloved by the cast and crew from that point on, and she became best buddies with Rhea Perlman.
George Wendt Wasn’t Really Drinking All That Beer
George Wendt may seem to have an ideal job as the lovable character of Norm. After all, Norm gets to drink a seemingly endless supply of beer. With all the inevitable takes and reshoots of a show, that means George Wendt surely had to do a lot of drinking. Not so fast! What George drank wasn’t real beer.
Wendt told ESPN that what he drank was non-alcoholic beer that was “pretty nasty”. He said that, in order for the “near beer” to be served on tap, the producers would put the beverage in soda dispensers well before time for Ted Danson as Sam to pour Norm a beer. By the time, George drank it, the faux beer was flat on top of being non-alcoholic.
Two Endings Were Filmed at the End of Season Five
Spoiler alert! Devoted fans of Sam and Diane cried buckets when Diane left Sam at the altar at the end of the fifth season. In real life, Shelley Long had decided to leave the sitcom to pursue feature film roles and spend more time with her very young daughter. That meant Diane had to leave Cheers and the love of her life.
The producers were very concerned that fans who attended the filming of Shelley Long’s last episode would tell others what happened to Diane. To prevent any leaks, the producers filmed more than one ending. In one ending that was filmed, Sam and Diane get married, but the one that aired showed the two parting ways. The happily-ever-after ending later aired but not as part of the series.
You Can Get Sam and Diane Salt and Pepper Shakers
Cheers merchandising has been a thing since the show’s popularity took off. The Bull and Finch Pub, which was the original inspiration for Cheers, retained merchandising rights while the show was on the air. They used to send out catalogs to fans who could then choose from a variety of officially licensed merchandise like shirts, golf balls, jackets, and magnets.
Other merchandise was created years after the show went off the air. Westland Giftware created a series of salt and pepper shakers that were modeled after important characters on the show. For example, they had salt and pepper shakers of Sam and Diane that were sold as a set. There was also a set of Norm and Cliff salt and pepper shakers.
Kelsey Grammer Allegedly Lied About Shelley Long in His Book
Kelsey Grammer revealed a lot in his autobiography. Fans learned a lot about the actor’s tragic past and the severe losses he suffered as a young man. One thing he also touched upon was his alleged feud with Shelley Long. In the book, he claimed that she tried to get him fired, though Shelley Long fiercely denied this.
Writer, director, and producer Ken Levine, who worked with Grammer on Cheers and Frasier, says the claims in Grammer’s book are totally false. He said that it was “not remotely true”. He allows that Grammer may have gotten the information from hearsay. Levine says that Shelley Long is a sweet person with a good heart.
George Wendt’s Real-Life Wife Played the Much-Mocked Vera
Much ado is made on Cheers of Norm Peterson’s dread of going home to his wife Vera. In real life, George Wendt is very happily married to Bernadette Birkett. Although the ongoing joke on Cheers is that the audience never actually sees Vera, you do hear her voice on several occasions.
When you hear Vera’s voice on Cheers, she is being portrayed by George’s real-life wife Birkett. You can even see her with a pie on her face on the “Thanksgiving Orphans” episode. That is not the lovely actress’s only role. She also appeared in films like Mr. Mom and St. Elmo’s Fire.
Woody Harrelson is a Vegan Who’s the Opposite of His Character
Woody Boyd is a lovably guy on Cheers, but he’s not exactly the brightest dude that ever walked into a bar. It is just a coincidence that Woody Harrelson and Mr. Boyd share the same first name. Mr. Harrelson actually has little else in common with the sitcom character he portrayed for eight seasons.
Woody Harrelson is very intelligent, and he tries to use his power as a celebrity for a variety of good causes. He is a devoted vegan, and he is so committed to the lifestyle that he ate fake Twinkies during Zombieland rather than chow down on the regular ones. He has seen major success in a variety of films over the years, and his career is still going strong.
Marcia Cross Played Rebecca’s Younger Sister
Marcia Cross is famous for her vixen roles in shows like Melrose Place and Desperate Housewives. Before she became famous for her role as Dr. Kimberly Shaw on Melrose Place, Cross had a very special role on an episode of Cheers. She portrayed Rebecca Howe’s sister.
While Marcia Cross and Kirstie Alley may not look very much alike, they had great chemistry as sisters on Cheers. In the episode called Sisterly Love, both Cross and Alley give incredible performances as scheming sisters out to get revenge on Sam Malone. It’s one of the most unpredictable episodes of show.
A Sequel to Cheers is Wanted but Not Likely
Many fans are begging for a sequel to Cheers. After all, shows such as Murphy Brown and Full House have gotten sequel series in recent years. However, fans will probably not get what they want there. Ted Danson has repeatedly and emphatically rejected the notion of coming back for a sequel.
A sequel to Cheers without Sam Malone would never work. Ted Danson has told multiple interviewers that he doesn’t think that a sequel would work, pointing out that many members of the cast are now in their seventies. Ted Danson himself will turn 72 later this year. Fans still very much want to see a sequel work and aren’t at all concerned with whatever age the cast will be.
Like Diane and Coach, Shelley Long and Nicholas Colasanto Were Close
Shelley Long gushed about her deep connection with Nicholas Colasanto in many interviews. She was very serious about her craft, and her methods were sometimes misunderstood by some cast members. However, Colasanto was always her friend and ally on the set.
Tragically, Nicholas Colasanto died shortly before Shelley Long gave birth to her first child. His death was written into the show, and Woody Boyd is the character who replaced him as the less-than-intelligent sidekick to Sam.
You Can Visit Two Different Cheers Bars in Boston
Cheers was inspired by the Bull and Finch Pub that’s located on Beacon Street in Boston. Just like the sitcom’s Cheers bar, the Bull and Finch Pub was located on the basement level. Patrons had to climb down a flight of stairs to enter the bar. The Bull and Finch Pub has since changed its name to Cheers.
The thing is, the Cheers that is the former Bull and Finch Pub doesn’t look all that much like the fictional bar in Boston. Seeing the need that many tourists had to visit a bar that looked just like the one they saw on television, a second Cheers was opened at Faneuil Hall. Visitors to Boston should really visit both Cheers locations. Both bars serve a full menu of food and drinks, and the word is that their veggie burger is one of the best things on the menu.
Christopher Lloyd Broke Up Sam and Diane the First Time
Christopher Lloyd may be best-known for his iconic role in the Back to the Future films, but fans of Sam and Diane have a bone to pick with him. He played the eccentric painter on the two-part Show Down episode of Cheers where Sam and Diane break up for the first time.
On the episode, Diane hires the accomplished painter to paint her, but jealous Sam has a big problem with that. The two fight over it, and their usual banter isn’t enough to calm down their argument. It escalates to the point where the two pinch each other’s noses and slap each other, and there was no going back from that…at least not for several episodes.
Sam Wasn’t Going to Be a Baseball Player at First
The producers of Cheers didn’t envision the character of Sam Malone as a baseball player at first. They imagined that the character would be a macho former football player who retired to run Cheers after an injury. However, once they cast Ted Danson, they reimagined Sam as a baseball player.
Baseball is a big part of Sam’s history on Cheers. It’s how he got his nickname. He was called Sam “Mayday” Malone because he either got the Red Sox out of tough situations or into them. The character of Coach Ernie Pantusso was Sam’s coach during his time with the Red Sox, and Coach often brags about Sam’s glory days.
Shelley Long Won an Emmy for the First Season
Shelley Long won many awards for her incredible portrayal of Diane Chambers. Although Shelley stated numerous time during the making of Cheers and after she left the show that she was not very much like Diane, the actress did say that she was fond of the character that made her famous.
Long took home the Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the first season of Cheers. She was nominated for the same award in three subsequent seasons. She has also been nominated for Emmys for her guest actress work on other shows. She also won two Golden Globe awards for her portrayal of Diane.
Diane is Referenced Multiple Times After She Left
When Shelley Long left Cheers for her own reasons, the cast and crew were scared that the show would not go on without her. As a result, it was rumored at the time that they were quite mad at her. That may have transferred over to the writing of the show in subsequent years.
Diane was mentioned a fair amount during the last six seasons of Cheers. Of course, in the first episode with Rebecca, it’s mentioned that she broke Sam’s heart, and he then sunk all his money into a boat that sunk. In some episodes Sam does refer to her with affection, but there is usually a punch line involved.
Rhea Perlman’s Dad Had an Endearing Role on the Show
Rhea Perlman has been known to work with her long-time husband Danny DeVito in numerous projects. She also worked with a few family members on the set of Cheers. One noticeable appearance is Rhea Perlman’s dad Philip Perlman. He can be seen on several episodes of the show.
Philip Perlman played the character Phil who would sometimes deliver hilarious one-liners, and he can be seen just hanging out in multiple episodes. Philip lived to be 95 years old, and he also enjoyed acting with his son-in-law Danny DeVito in numerous films. Rhea has said how much she enjoyed having her dad on the set of Cheers.
‘The Monster Mash’ Is Infuriatingly Missing from the DVDs
The bar wars episodes of Cheers chronicle an ongoing feud between the hang at Cheers and the owner and employees of rival bar Gary’s Old Towne Tavern. The hijinks really get out of control during the Halloween episode in Season 10. What really also out about the episode Bar Wars V: The Final Judgment is the use of a novelty tune.
In a hilarious scene, Sam discovers that Gary has rigged the juke box and the telephone at Cheers to play “Monster Mash” any time someone tries to use them. Trust me. That is far funnier than it sounds, yet “Monster Mash” was replaced on the DVD releases of the show. The replacement song throws off the scene, and it loses much of its humor.
Ted Danson Mocked His Own Hair Piece on the Show
Ted Danson’s hair started thinning at some point during the run of Cheers. He opted to wear a hair piece to cover up the problem. Who can blame him since Sam Malone’s hair was always much-praised on the show, and he was playing a character who became a sex symbol.
Ted didn’t just keep this turn of events for himself, though. He had the writers put the hair piece into an episode of Cheers. Sam, too, had chosen to wear a hair piece when he realized his hair was thinning. The way that the situation is presented on the show is full of humor and fun. Like Ted, Sam only wore the hairpiece on the back of his head.
Ted Danson Has Said the Show’s Success is Thanks to Shelley Long
Shelley Long has been sometimes misunderstood and treated unfairly by the media. She was mocked and vilified for her choice to leave the show when she did, but she has never openly expressed regret about her decision. When she left, rumors were swirled that Ted Danson was absolutely furious with her.
If there was ever any bad blood between the two actors who will be forever linked as one of the television’s most beloved couples, Ted Danson and Shelley Long clearly don’t feel anything but affection for each other these days. At a reunion gathering, Ted waxed poetic about Shelley’s talents, and he said that the show’s success is thanks to Shelley.
The Songwriters from Cheers Wrote the Punky Brewster Theme
Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo created something very special with the Cheers theme song. It is now easily recognized by anyone in the U.S. who was around during the show’s initial run. With just the first couple of bars, most people could start singing the song. “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” wasn’t their only sitcom hit.
After creating the perfect theme song for Cheers, Portnoy wrote many other songs for famous artists. He also joined forces with Judy Hart Angelo to write the theme song for Punky Brewster, the popular 1980’s sitcom about a free-spirited orphan with a heart of gold. Portnoy also performed the theme song.
Frasier’s Dad Was Dead on Cheers, Not on Frasier
When people were considering potential spin-offs from Cheers as the show came to an end in 1993, most probably wouldn’t have thought of intellectual psychiatrist Frasier Crane as a star character. However, Frasier would go on to last an impressive 11 season; the show ran exactly as long as Cheers did.
There was one problem, though. Frasier’s dad had been written off on Cheers. However, the creators of Frasier wanted his dad to play a central character in the new show. Enter creative revision stories! Although Frasier’s dad is dead in Cheers, he is magically back alive on Frasier. Martin Crane, Frasier’s dad, was played by John Mahoney.
Cheers Producers Promoted the Idea of a Designated Driver
Driving under the influence is a huge problem of society, and it has been since people started driving cars. However, there have been some improvements over the years. Cheers played an important role in helping popularize the idea of designated drivers at the request of the U.S. Designated Driver Campaign.
Producers wanted to make sure that nobody on Cheers ever gets behind the wheel of a car after imbibing too much. So, there were frequent references to designated drivers over the course of the show, and their intention was to help popularize the notion of going out with a designated driver. That greatly reduces the chances of someone driving while drunk.
Ted Danson Decided When the Show Ended
Cheers was never cancelled. It was a massive hit in the early 1990’s when Ted Danson finally decided that it was time to move on. He played Sam Malone for eleven seasons and was ready for his next adventure in life. He was also going through changes in his personal life that may have influenced his decision.
When Ted Danson decided to leave Cheers, that pretty much meant the show wouldn’t go on. Sam Malone was truly the heart of the show. However, the ending of Cheers would not be the last time Sam Malone appeared on screen. Danson and many other members of the cast of Cheers appeared as their characters on episodes of Frasier.
Cheers Merchandising Lives On
Cheers continues to be a force to be reckoned with in pop culture. Shows like Dawson’s Creek referenced the show over the years, and Cheers memorabilia is still in high demand to this day. The Cheers Boston website offers a wide variety of stuff you can buy with the show’s logo.
Mego is creating action figures of the characters that can be found in Target stores. They started with Norm, Cliff, and Woody. It’s rumored that Sam and Diane will be next. Also, Funko is making Cheers POPS. These adorable POPS have some of the characters’ most beloved props. Sam is holding a baseball, while Diane is carrying a book.