Sam MaloneFormer relief-pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and also a recovering alcoholic. Sam bought the bar during his alcoholism and kept running it since. He's in love with Diane and can't admit it. Played by Ted Danson.
Byronic Hero: Most apparent throughout the Diane era, especially in Seasons Two (his constant angsting and inner conflict regarding his feelings for Diane) and Three (his recovery from the traumatic aftermath of their breakup)—but hints of this pop up throughout the show, one way or another.
Interestingly enough, Diane kind of implies in Season One's "Coach's Daughter" that she's deeply attracted to this kind of hero. It would certainly explain, in part, why she's able to accept the fact that she prefers Sam to his brother Derek, who seems closer to an Ideal Hero.
Chivalrous Pervert: For all his ladykilling ways, he is as a rule very protective of the women in his life, whether friends (Carla), lovers, or both (Diane).
In a beautiful (and beautifully understated) moment of chivalry, he protects Diane in "Personal Business", when she is struck with a moment of temptation to forget her would-be employer's less-than-noble overtures upon hearing his most generous offer. Sam gives her a very pointed Look and a hint of a head-shake. Diane snaps out of it.
As early as Season One, in "Friends, Romans, and Accountants", Sam makes it a point to covertly water down Diane's drinks so she'll be sober enough to resist Norman's boss, should he try and take advantage of her. Needless to say, the man does try.
Season Five's "One Last Fling" seems to imply that he's overcome this with Diane, by then. (Indeed, that seems to be the entire point of the episode....) After she leaves in the season finale, though, he's effectively back to his old problems.
Covert Pervert: The occasional Running Gag of his checking out Diane's behind when her back's turned to him. (See the Male Gaze entry in Diane's section—but of course, it isn't just her....)
Love Redeems: He repeatedly admits to Diane—and occasionally someone else—that knowing that she cares for him has encouraged him to be more and more concerned with "doing the right thing"—presumably to be "worthy" of her....
My Girl Is Not a Slut: Despite his typical lady-killing ways, Sam often noticeably balks at the idea of Diane having a "casual" sex life—coming to a head in the climax of "One Last Fling", when he gives an amusingly Diane-like speech—to Diane—on the importance of romance and commitment, when he thinks she's been "out all night".
No Guy Wants to Be Chased: When Diane enters Pollyanna mode in the first half of Season 5, and basically semi-chases him to no end while teasing him with wedding plans...Sam is nearly driven insane with frustration.
One Head Taller: Over six feet. As Diane noted once, he looks even taller because of his slightly thin build.
Small Name, Big Ego: He often has to re-learn that his celebrity status is not what it used to be.
STD Immunity: Apparently, the writers had briefly considered a storyline involving Sam angsting over whether or not an STD would result from a certain tryst. They ultimately decided against it, though we did get an episode where he freaks out over the possibility that he got a woman pregnant.
"Well Done, Son" Guy: As he admits to Diane in Season 3's "King Of The Hill", his dad was such a perfectionist that nothing Sam could do would ever please him. Diane speculates that that is what's led to Sam's competitive nature...before noting that she was a bit of a Daddy's Girl (see: below).
What Might Have Been: Fred Dryer was the first choice for the role of Sam (opposite Julia Duffy as Diane; see below), and when he was passed over, the character was changed from an ex-football player to an ex-baseball player due to Ted Danson's taller, more wiry physique. Dryer appeared in a recurring role as a sports journalist.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Diane often tries her best to verbally subvert this trope—convincing few around her. When she tells Cliff in "Cliffie's Big Score" that women as a rule prefer "sweet and vulnerable" guys, Cliff isn't too reassured, leading to this cute exchange:
Cliff: Then, uh, how come Sammy always scores?
Diane:(Dreamily blurts out)Because he'sgorgeous. (Beat) I-I mean...he has low standards—he'll go out with any floozie who comes down the pike!
Interestingly enough, when Frasier starts to show some "bad-boy" tendencies in "The Heart Is A Lonely Snipehunter", Diane is quite turned on....
Frasier: Well, that's what it's there for, baby...!
Am I Just a Toy to You?: The reason for Diane's reluctance, when mulling over whether to start/rekindle her romance with Sam.
"I am a feeling person. And I can communicate those feelings to you through dance. So, judge me not by what my arms and legs are doing. Judge me by what I make you feel. But most importantly, judge me." (eyes welling up) "For I must dance! Damn it, I must!"
Break the Haughty: Gets a pretty big one in "Everyone Imitates Art" where, after boasting about how she received a "promising" rejection letter from a poetry magazine, realizes it was just a standard form letter and the publisher really wasn't interested in her work.
Then a customer asks her if she could take his drink order.
Another major moment of self-awareness happens in "Someday My Prince Will Come", after she discovers the man she's been fantasizing about, while intelligent and witty, is also pretty nerdy in appearance. Particularly when you consider that Sam's been warning her about this possibility—and Diane kept insisting that such petty things as appearance mean nothing to her. At last, however:
But I Would Really Enjoy It: She and Sam have a sort-of agreement to try out being Better as Friends throughout Season 4. This doesn't keep Diane from admitting this trope (sometimes even out loud), whenever they flirt....
Butt Monkey: Her ego gets deflated regularly courtesy of cutting remarks from bar patrons.
Diane: You know, Sam—if I'm to serve both as a waitress andthe butt of jokes, I think I should make more money.
The Chick: Her central purpose among the gang, aside from her romances with Sam and Frasier.
Cloud Cuckoolander: Sometimes, she crosses the line into this territory—such as when she joins in the football betting pool and with a straight face picks winners based on uniform colors, mascots, state flowers, and foreign-born conductors. (For some strange reason, it actually seems to work for her!)
Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: One of the central sources of angst for her that doesn't involve her romance with Sam—and the reason for her major Heroic BSOD in "Everyone Imitates Art". Diane strives to find some sort of career to channel her creative passions—and one way or another, keeps failing until the Season 5 finale.
Devoted to You: Even after Season 5, neither Sam nor Frasier ever seem able to get over their feelings for her. The implications of their respective feelings, and how they deal with them, naturally differs. She has her own "permanent basis" feelings for Sam, too, of course.
Distracted by the Sexy: An occasional running gag has our girl telling Sam that she's above such things as falling for mere physical attractiveness—only to find herself helpless at the sight of an extremely handsome guy.
Diane:(On going out with a student) I know, I shouldn't even be considering it, but—when I look at him, I...consider it!"
Sam: Excuse me, but what happened to the woman who said "It's the inner man who counts"...?
Ditzy Genius: Diane is well-educated, and can quote any philosopher you want, but even after extensive training isn't the most efficient waitress (though she has on occasion shown improvement on this)—and her try at running the bar ("Pick A Con, Any Con") shows her as pretty comically helpless.
Drama Queen: She's such a little girl, at heart—which remains apparent even as far forward as her appearance in Frasier. While it's a significant part of her charm—it's also caused poor Sam in particular (and often Frasier) no small amount of headaches. In particular, she often makes a big deal over little things, at times driven to angry tears while ranting about how disgracefully someone's just acted.
Classic example: her reaction to Sam referring to her (not by name—not that that apparently matters...) as a "love bunny" during an interview on the radio, in Season 4's "Love Thy Neighbor". After Sam finishes:
"How could you? After all we've been through...! What we had together was real—and special—and now you've...cheapened it for—all eternity—by broadcasting to the entire Boston Metropolitan Area!—that I was...nothing but—an odelisk! In your...seraglio!"
Later, after she forgives him, Sam calls her a "love bunny" again - she enjoys it that time.
Dude Magnet: A big running gag in Season One, where many a guy out of the blue would suddenly seize her and kiss her passionately (or worse, as in "Friends, Romans, and Accountants"). Toned down, but still played with, for the rest of her time on the show.
Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Diane certainly seems to think so. A Running Gag consequence of her Spoiled Sweet nature is that she will sometimes seem to forget that, for example, the French proverb she drops in her resignation letter in "Personal Business" would probably have been best written in English, for Sam's sake.
She puts this to good use in "Abnormal Psychology" with Lilith.
Feminine Women Can Cook: Seemingly zig-zaggs withLethal Chef, depending on the dish. Sam usually acts pleased with her work—but it's often a running gag that she can't cook typically "simple" dishes...due to her presuming to "getting a little creative". When the abbess in "Birth, Death, Love and Rice" samples Diane's rice, her reaction is hilarious.
Diane even Lampshaded this in "Just Three Friends", when Sam and her friend Heather (Markie Post) insist they're enjoying her meal: "Oh, don't give me that—that meal's inedible!"
"Well in my case, it's not a gamble...but—rather, a great show of faith in our great free enterprise system. Yes even Diane Chambers is not immune to the...renaissance of American patriotism in the 1980's—although I hasten to remind you this does not imply any shifting of my support toward the current administration...."
Friendly Enemy: With Carla. Despite their mutual surface-hatred, Diane is always ready and eager to help Carla out with her troubles—and despite herself, Carla always seems grateful.
Friend to All Children: Strongly indicated whenever a kid shows up at the bar. As Season Four's "Relief Bartender" notes, the kids don't always return her affection.
Not only with Sam, if her memorable sequence in "Tan N Wash"—in which she enters the bar la-la-la-ing with her face aglow, following an alleged "beautiful night of magic" with a guy—is any indication. Zig-zagged in that, in this case, it's implied that she may or may not have just been making it up to drive Sam nuts with jealousy....
The Heart: As a rule, she's the "conscience" of the gang, letting the rest of them know when what they're doing just isn't right.
Higher Education Is for Women: Zig-Zagged, as the trope applies nicely when contrasting Diane (who is close to achieving any one of 37 different master's degrees) with the vast majority of the guys in the bar. (Sam doesn't even have a high-school diploma until Season 3!) The trope's subverted, though, whenever a "highbrow" male character shows up—particularly after Season 3 begins, with Frasier. Further, it's pretty much averted in Carla's case.
Insufferable Genius: The main reason why everyone treats her with little regard. Her main contrast with Fraiser—who, while a stuffy egghead, usually doesn't act like he's smarter than everyone else in the room.
"I can be there for you, Carla—I want to be there for you. Please—benefit from my depth!"
It's for a Book: When serving a pair of well-to-do-looking bar patrons, she claims this is the only reason she works at Cheers.
Kindhearted Cat Lover: Her beloved Elizabeth dies in Season One, leading to a major Break the Cutie and Tear Jerker for poor Diane that's the main plot of "Let Me Count The Ways". By Season Five's "Dance, Diane, Dance", she has another cat, implied to be a kitten.
To be fair, Diane's actually only ticked off about half the time she's doing this. It's sometimes just how she looks when she's speaking/listening intently to someone, or when she's reallyplaying her romantic game with Sam (in possible homage to Lauren Bacall). Either way, it's usually more cute than anything else whenever she does it.
Lady And A Scholar: One of her main goals in life is to be this. In her better moments, she often is.
Lady Snarker: During her more "superior" moments, her zingers are often quite classy and at times accompanied with a sweet, innocent smile. In short, Passive-Aggressive Kombat is a favorite style of hers. Many of her more sly comebacks to Sam count as this:
"You could make love to all five of those women and I would feel nothing. As, I'm sure, would they."
Lets Wait Awhile: Something of a modus operendi for when Sam gets particularly eager in Season 4, especially in "Dark Imaginings" and in "Diane Chambers Day"note She pulls it again in Season 5's "The Cape Cad"—but it's implied its partly due to frustration at Sam pulling a Mood Whiplash. As far as Diane's concerned, it's so they can more properly process a "new step" in their relationship, or generally to just keep from trivializing things....
Like Brother and Sister: With Woody. Diane is very affectionate towards Woody, and loves educating him on culture, and the like—to the point that she eventually gives him a book her mother had given her. In return, he's the most likely to react positively to something she says/does. She once goes to him as a confidant of sorts, in the Season 4 finale.
She's also implied on occasion to have this sort of dynamic with Norman; for example, she does the most to help him adjust to his new job in Season Five.
Lysistrata Gambit: Downplayed, as it's implied she isn't being serious, but she does tease Sam with this a couple times in Season Two (prior to the crumbling), when he's being particularly immature. "Implied", as Sam never wants to risk otherwise.
Male Gaze: Poor Diane has no idea how many times Sam's checked out her figure (and often just her behind) when her back's turned to him. No, really—she has no idea, whatsoever.
As much as she mocks Sam for chasing skirts, after one of their many break-ups, she spends a fair amount of time badgering him and sabotaging his dates to try and get him back.
In a way, her entire relationship with Sam is based on this. All of their arguments are instigated by the fact that one is just as petty, vindictive and competitive as the other, always trying to have the last word in any discussion. Lampshaded and Discussed in Season 3's "King Of The Hill":
Sam:(On why their Season 2 relationship "never worked") It's because you always had to have the last say. You always had to be on top—and you're still doing it! You know, you are just as competitive as I am.
Diane:ME? I'm not competitive! ...I'm intense.
In Season 3's "Cheerio, Cheers", she muses about herself circa Season 1, "What a prissy little snot I was!"
One True Love: Sam. She even makes it a point to admit in the finale that her life is not particularly full, without him.
In her Frasier appearance, Frasier witnesses her sharing a big kiss with a Sam Malone Expy, and much later in the show, Frasier conjures her up in his imagination...still carrying a torch for Sam.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Diane is so pretentious when a British marriage counselor (John Cleese) pops by Cheers, she adopts a bad Brit accent herself - though only while in the bar. (One wonders if this is why he gives them the "advice" he does....)
Sam: Hey, what's with this English accent? Ever since he walked in here, you've been talking like the Queen was your Aunt Betty or something.
The Pollyanna: Zig-zagged, but in the first half of Season 5 (after rejecting Sam's initial proposal—and repenting of her reasons), she constantly grins and gives off a sunny glow while insisting on Sam's love and asserting that he will propose to her again! Sam, meanwhile, is driven nuts by this, insisting it will not happen. Alas...precious little can assuage her of her attitude.
This keeps up until "Chambers vs. Malone", where Sam flat-out tells her it will never happen—and with that, unintentionally puts poor Diane through a majorBreak the Cutie moment. He proposes to her again, with this—her tears breaking him down.
Rousseau Was Right: Typically asserts her firm belief that everyone has some good within them—and will frequently try her best to appeal to someone's better nature, when the other characters have given up.
Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Bless her heart. She even loves finding ways to work in her knowledge of French terminology—saying "nom de plume" instead of "pseudonym", for example....
Silk Hiding Steel: Very sweet-hearted, feminine, and innocent—but she will take no garbage from anyone, once she catches on to them.
Small Name, Big Ego: Has a sweet nature, but has trouble realizing that nobody's opinion of her is as high as her own. Especially since, unlike Sam, she was never famous to begin with and hasn't made any major intellectual accomplishments that would get her well-known.
Diane: Excuse me, I overheard Dr. Crane's remarks; if it's any consolation I can empathize with your hurt feelings. If you'd like to share any of them with me, as a fellow woman, I'd consider it an honor.
When it's not as serious, she's usually more bitterly/tiredly amused by it than anything else. From "Someday My Prince Will Come":
Sam: Come on! What, you had—what, a few casual dates with him? What's the big deal?
Diane:Yes, but...as often happens in my life, this gentleman is becoming much too serious, much too fast. He's wearing that smitten look I know so well.... I've got to do something before it goes any further.
Sophisticated as Hell: Despite the airs she typically puts on, Diane has quite a few moments where she proves quite willing and eager to relax and have fun with the others.
Turns out she's quite fond of the music of Bob Dylan, if "How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Call You Back" is any indication. She also loves "Our House".
Spoiled Sweet: She's made it a point to turn down being an heiress. Still, she did presumably grow up in luxury—and has a very sweet nature.
Squee: She's known to really let out her inner "little girl" when encountering (among others) Dick Cavett, Tip O'Neill, and Gary Hart. Her biggest example is probably in Season Five's "Abnormal Psychology", when Sam gives her tickets to a concert of a certain flautist:
Straw Feminist: Downplayed a bit as Diane, while verbally devoted (particularly in the first season) to feminist dogma, is about as far from an angry, man-hating militant as a professed feminist can be. (She doesfall for alpha-male Sam Malone, after all.) The closest she ever arguably comes to that is in Season One's "No Contest" (see below), and during a brief moment in her televised acceptance speech in the series finale. Even then, she comes across as more "cute" than anything else. Still...
The first two seasons often show her as "undercutting" Sam's chauvinism, among other things: often being more insightful and more moral than him. As her character arc develops, however, the implication becomes stronger that her feminist ideals are far more problematic for her life than they're actually worth.
When Diane's entered into a beauty pageant for barmaids (in "No Contest"), which she despises, she tells Sam and Carla she plans to verbally rip it to pieces when she gives her acceptance speech on television. However, during her acceptance speech, she keeps getting interrupted by the emcee telling her about the prizes she won. When she learns she won an all-expenses paid trip to Bermuda, she screams joyfully, "BERMUDA?!?! I'm going to BERMUDA!!!" and behaves like a normal contest winner (to Sam's delight and Carla's disgust). Afterword, when she moans she sold out womankind for a trip to Bermuda, Sam gently reminds her that it only means she's Not so Above It All.
Amusingly enough, it's actually Sam who briefly gives quite a convincing performance of the Straw Feminist played straight, albeit gender inverted, in "Personal Business"—though it's strongly implied that he's verbally satirizing Diane's own attitude, as she'd just been mulling over whether he'd re-hired her only to be his "handmaiden". Diane chuckles at the spectacle, but she clearly gets the message.
Sugar and Ice Personality: Played with. In Season One, she seems to really enjoys giving brush-offs to Sam's come-ons. Played more straight in Season Three, where she often goes back-and-forth between vehement denials that she's still in love with Sam and sharing nice Heartwarming Moments with him indicating this is not the case.
An even bigger example is in "Diane Chambers Day", at the opera, when the guys arrange for the best seats in the house:
Norm: So, where's Diane?
Sam: Ah, she's...powdering her nose—she started to cry again. I mean—what a woman, huh?—do you believe that? She started to cry when we told her we were gonna take her to the opera...she cried when she saw us in her tuxes, and she cried when she saw the limo. (Beat) She's got it under control, though—she promised she won't do it anymore.
(Diane comes in through the curtains onto the balcony; the guys stand up for her)
Diane:(Beat, then bawls) OH, this is the BEST, guys...!
On occasion she'll be a Woman in White—Type "Neat/Clean/Stylish", naturally.
Tellingly, the very first episode has her in an indigo (purplish-blue) suit with a magenta (reddish-pink) blouse—with a white pearl necklace.
Tsundere: Type B. Underneath her sweet, pleasant nature is a feisty gal.
Vague Age: Diane makes it a point to never directly discuss her age. (She comes close to blurting it out in "Thanksgiving Orphans"—but catches herself just in time, with a blush.) All we know is, Diane storms over to Sam in "Pick A Con, Any Con" to say (after an opening sequence where he teases her about her reluctance), "Sam you are at least six or seven years older than I am—now, admit it!"
She gets something of a Ma'am Shock in "Dark Imaginings", when Sam's doctor (who, to be fair, looks like he just recently got his degree) reveals he was tutored by her, way back when.
Vanity Is Feminine: In Season Two's "Where There's A Will", Diane randomly notes out of nowhere:
Diane: By the way...with all the insanity about the will, no one's said a word about my new hairdo.
Women Are Wiser: Zig-zagged. Diane can be very insightful—and often serves as Sam's conscience, when his pragmatism would otherwise border on amorality. Still, both Diane and Sam have their failings, and either one can call the other out on it, at any time.
Carla TortelliBitter single-mother working as a rather unfriendly waitress at Cheers. A fan of Sam from his baseball days, but holds a strong resentment towards Diane. Played by Rhea Pearlman.
Anguished Declaration of Love: Averted heavily in Frasier, when she attempted to say something nice about Cliff when he's leaving for Florida, but kept getting tongue-tied. When she finally manages to say her true feelings, it's a long rant of exactly all the reasons why she hates him!
Belligerent Sexual Tension: After one watches Season 5's "House Of Horrors With Formal Dining And Used Brick", her taunts of Cliff suddenly seem to take on a whole new undertone.
Berserk Button: Don't make jokes about Sam's alcoholism in front of Carla.
If Diane has left, do not mention her around Carla.
Dysfunctional Family: She's got 7 kids, and it's hell. Her mom is also pretty manipulative. Unfortunately for Sam, when he pointed this out to the Tortellis, they took offense, attacked him and locked him in a closet.
Hypocritical Heartwarming: Carla despises Sumner Sloan. Lest we think it's because his dumping Diane had led directly to the latter working at the bar...Diane notes in the end of "Sumner's Return" that it was Carla who just threw Sumner out.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She often treats people like crap, but all in all she's just a mother trying to make a living. And she does have her moments of nobility.
Perhaps the best example of her heart: when she counsels Woody and Kelly to not have sex for the wrong reasons.
Vitriolic Best Buds: With Norm, Woody and Frasier. She insults them quite a bit, but it's also obvious that she likes them all to some degree. Cliff thinks that he and Carla are this, but in truth she just flat-out hates him.
Wrench Wench: When the men's room has a problem with the pluming in "Coach Returns To Action", guess who's called upon to tackle it.
Ernie "Coach" PantussoSam's assistant bartender in season 1 -3; Also Sam's former coach in their Red Sox days. Played by Nicolas Colasanto
Batman Gambit / Shipper on Deck: Coach wants to see Sam and Diane get married - his fantasy of their union involves him living with them. He was visibly distressed in Season 3 when he saw Frasier and Diane dating, so much so that he began to employ this on Sam, Diane, and Frasier. He privately tells Sam that if Diane doesn't work at the bar, she'll go mentally ill again. He privately tells Diane that if she doesn't work at the bar, he'll hit the bottle the second she leaves. He then privately tells Frasier than if she doesn't work at the bar, she'll fantasize about Sam, and if they work at the bar, they'll continually snipe and start hating each other.
The Confidant: As slow-witted as he is, he's got a pretty firm grasp of common sense. Even Diane's gone to him for insight.
The Ditz: Not very bright at all, and we learn why when he tells Diane about his playing career; his favorite way to get on base was to intentionally get hit by pitches, so much so that he led the minor leagues in that statistic. A lot of those pitches hit him in the head.
Eccentric Mentor: The whole bar listens his every word...even if they don't make sense.
Happily Adopted: Hilariously inverted. According to Sam, Coach once received an invite to a family reunion. The family was black and Coach got the invite by mistake, but he showed up anyway because he didn't want to be rude. The kicker? By the time viewers hear this story, Coach has already attended several reunions and will be hosting that year's one.
Sam: They call him "Uncle Whitey."
Literal-Minded: He and Woody were pen pals. According to Woody, it was Coach's ideas to exchange pens.
Retired Badass: Let's put it like this. He's one of the few people who can command Sam's respect.
Norm PetersonUnlucky accountant and Cheers most frequent customer. Regularly avoids going home to his wife. Played by George Wendt.
The Alcoholic: He once gave up membership at a men's club because beer was not allowed at the meetings.
Alternate Character Interpretation: Remove the laugh track, and you have a pretty sad story of a hardcore alcoholic, Norm Peterson, who neglects his work and family obligations to spend 12-14 hours per day in a bar.
Hidden Depths: Norm believes he is a failure at life, and resigns himself to Cheers because he's too scared to face the real world. Also, he tends to break down when faced with the prospect of losing Vera.
Norm is a handy painter and actually quite brilliant at interior design.
Like Brother and Sister: Hinted at, with Diane. He's quite chivalrous towards her: at least three times, he's the one to save Diane from a guy's unwanted advances. They've also been each other's confidant, on occasion.
Odd Friendship: Norm gets along really well with Rebecca after he consoles her after a disaster.
Phrase Catcher: Every time he enters the bar, all the patrons yell "NORM!" (All the staff except for Diane do too; Diane would always greet him with "Norman," a second after everybody else.)
What Might Have Been: Interestingly enough, a contender for the role that became Norm Peterson...was John Ratzenberger.
Cliff ClavinChatterbox postal worker who's Norm's best friend. Played by John Ratzenberger.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Even without martial arts training, he smashed boards in half with barehanded strikes. Of course he needed to be taken to the ER afterwards. And he nearly cleaned up on Jeopardy with his knowledge of useless trivia.
Feigning Intelligence: It's strongly implied that many times, he just improvises his Little Known Facts off the top of his head. One time, involving the Mayans inventing basketball, he acts quite surprised when it's confirmed!
Jerkass: His Jeopardy-style "expertise" often really goes to his head....
Know-Nothing Know-It-All: He's the former Trope Namer. Cliff's main character trait is bringing up half-baked trivia to impress his friends at the bar. Ratzenberger originally auditioned for the role of Norm, but came up with Cliff based on the fact that Cheers had no "bar know it all" in the cast.
A Man Is Not a Virgin: Cliff has zero luck with women, which is one of the reasons why even the fat, lazy Norm gets more respect than him. Just the thought of laying him sent Carla into shock. On Frasier, Sam calls off the wedding to his equally sexaholic fiancee when he finds out she slept with Cliff. Pretty much everyone else in the bar is fine—but Cliff?!
Sam: I slept with a woman who slept with Cliff?!
But before that occasionally it's implied Cliff's a virgin.
Momma's Boy/My Beloved Smother: He's in his 30s and still lives with his mother, Esther. Cliff isn't very knowledgeable or socially apt (unlike her, whom he tries to take after) so Mrs. Clavin treats him like a kid.
Straw Loser: When Sam appears on Frasier (in the same episode he learns about his fiancee sleeping with Cliff), he tells Frasier what everybody at the bar has been up to. Sam says that Cliff read an article about flesh-eating bacteria, and that it scared him enough that he stopped visiting the bar (and going out in public entirely) so that he wouldn't catch it. Sam then mentions that since Cliff's been gone, older customers have started showing back up.
Jerkass: When he's in an especially bad mood...most notably throughout Season 4. While Diane's the typical target of his venom, here...the others aren't necessarily immune, as evidenced by his introduction to Woody:
"Just get me a whiskey, punk!"
Not so Above It All: He's got class, but he takes part in his fair share of bar pranks and tomfoolery and no one respects him less for it.
Took a Level in Badass: His arc in "The Heart Is A Lonely Snipehunter". This is the episode where he transforms from a kind of lovable goof into "one of the guys".
You Wouldn't Shoot Me: A broken Frasier threatens to kill Sam for ruining his life, but he just can't bring himself to do it.
Amusingly, the reason Sam knows Frasier isn't about to shoot him isn't because he thinks he's a wimp- it's because he's using a revolver and Sam can easily see that the chambers are empty.
Woodrow "Woody" BoydSam's assistant-bartender after Coach passed away. Born and raised in rural Indiana. Played by Woody Harrelson.
Cannot Tell a Lie: Woody for the first part of his tenure in the bar. So much so, that he has himself hypnotized into loving kale so he can do a commercial for a veggie drink. He goes into a Heroic BSOD when asked to lie about whether he parachuted from a plane. Later, he starts getting good at lying.
Chick Magnet: Ladies think he's cute. Actually has quite a few potential love interests pre-Kelly.
Genius Ditz / Ditzy Genius: Woody speaks simply and is completely blind to double talk, but his upbringing has given him a useful, if unorthodox insight in the big city.
Also shows a shocking natural aptitude for Chess, beating the pants off Frasier every time they play together (much to the suffering of Frasier's ego).
And another episode has him lose a $20 bill, which Cliff finds (not knowing Woody lost one) and announces to the bar. When it's suggested that it rightfully belongs to Woody, Cliff suggests facetiously that Woody give him the serial number. Woody does, surprising everyone, and explains to Sam that he memorizes the serial numbers on all his currency for just such an occasion. In a practical sense, this would require him to have some kind of habitual memorization trick that would be more typical in someone very intelligent.
Or he's so poor he doesn't have to memorize many of them.
It may run in the family. When asked by Woody's father didn't like the Le Film Artistique; made by Diane, Woody replied that his father thought it was too derivative of Jean Luc Godard.
Then we have this in Tan 'N Wash on why he won't invest.
Woody: You know, when I left home, my father gave me some very sound advice. Never trust a man who can't look you in the eye, never talk when you can listen, and never spend venture capital on a limited partnership without a detailed analytical fiduciary prospectus.
Carla took a picture of herself with a cardboard Elvis at Graceland:
Woody: Wow! You look almost lifelike!
Carla:(in stride, smiling) So do you, Woody.
Poor Diane's a victim too, at times. When Diane reveals she had a wild fling after she left Frasier at the altar:
Woody: Was that before or...after you dumped Dr. Crane and sent him into an alcoholic tailspin?
Frasier:(piping in, snarky) How long after?
Insult Backfire: As part of their annual attempt to outdo Gary's Old Town Tavern, Sam proposes a Basketball game with, as a ringer, a member of the Boston Celtics. Larry Bird is suggested, and Woody immediately rejects him.
Woody: I know Larry Bird. He's from Indiana. He's a doofus.
Carla: So, you're from Indiana and you're a doofus.
Woody: Yeah, but he's from French Lick, and everybody from Hanover knows that everybody from French Lick is a doofus.
They get Kevin McHale instead, which leads to a Brick Joke, as McHale says that Bird had told him that everybody from Hanover is a doofus.
Mood Whiplash: A lot of his stories about his family can be like this. Seems sweet, takes a swerve and then goes back to a sweet outlook.
My Beloved Smother: Implied in one episode, where Woody follows up his constant phone conversations with his mother by going to the men's room to wash out his mouth—because Mom took offense at his choice of words.
Granola Girl: Which is what happens when a yuppie gets pregnant. She and Frasier go beyond even granola, with Frasier proudly proclaiming he has created life with his seed and Lilith responded she is his fertile soil with which to grow it. Of course, when they try a more agrarian life, it takes them a few hours to abandon it and head to a posh restaurant.
Hot Librarian: She is rather attractive, but almost never sheds her outer layer of sophistication.
Lethal Chef: For example, when Lilith asks in Season Five's "Dinner At Eight-ish" if the group wants more lasagna, then leaves to get coffee:
Frasier: I wasn't even thinking Italian!
Sam: Well, I was closest. I said "something with meat".
Next Sunday A.D.: One episode ended with this kind of future, where Frederick is grown-up, and he and Lilith are listening to a reading of Frasier's will. Thanks to incidents at the bar in the present, Frasier's will got mixed-up with Sam's sperm test results.
"That damn bar."
No Sense of Humor: Early on, any attempts at joking with Lilith would be met by a blank stare.
It goes both ways; Lilith thinks of herself as a cut-up, but Frasier humors her. Cliff genuinely thinks she's as funny as she thinks she is.
Replacement Flat Character: Played with. When she becomes a recurring secondary in Season 5, her interactions with Diane make the latter look surprisingly easygoing and down-to-earth by comparison, emphasizing how far she's come in five years.
Later, in the Rebecca era, Lilith has quite a few moments of Snark-to-Snark Combat with Carla that seem very familiar....
The Scottish Trope: Lilith evolved into this over time; just mentioning her name sends shivers up people's spines. The Spin-Off, Frasier, shows Frasier's superstitious maid Daphne getting psychic backlash whenever Lilith is nearby.
The Stoic: In an episode of the spin-off, Frasier, in which she and Frasier run into each other on vacation with their respective dates, Frasier is convinced that she's having sex in the next room over based on the dead silence.
Surrounded by Idiots: She tolerates the goings-on in the bar...but not without some eye-rolling. Becomes more and more apparent as time goes on—amid Frasier acting more and more laid-back in his interactions with the guys....
Defrosting Ice Queen: This was the main idea behind the character when she was first introduced, but then the writers found her funnier as a neurotic mess.
Drama Queen: BIG one! When Diane finally meets her in the series finale, she notes to Sam that Rebecca strikes her as "the emotional equivalent of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". (Yes...even Diane looks reserved compared to Rebecca.)
Put on a Bus: Disappeared after Season 2 due to Harry Anderson's commitment to Night Court. When he made a return appearance in Season 6, Harry simply explained, "Two to ten, with time off for good behavior."
All Men Are Perverts: He verbally taunts Diane in the bowling alley by challenging Sam to "raise the stakes" by adding a date with her in the betting pool—and then mocks her earlier intellectual smackdown of him by suggesting the members of her sorority "had quite a repuatation"—to Diane's face. (Bad idea....)
Break the Haughty: After nearly six seasons of Karma Houdini in the Rebecca era...Gary finally gets what's coming to him when Harry the Hat cons him into demolishing his own bar.
Insufferable Genius: His response to Diane's rebuke and appeal to "higher attainments"—"I graduated magna cum laude in American Literature from Princeton."
Jerkass: He makes it a point to rub in Sam's face any real or anticipated victory.
Jerk Jock: Though the bullying is more verbal/mental than anything else.
Lounge Lizard: Diane sums him up as one before rendering him silent with her bowling prowess.
Smug Snake: He only seems to respect fellow Jerk Asses—such as the members of his clique.
Andy Schroeder, aka Andy-AndyThe wannabe Shakespearean actor who did time for murder—and then, for attempted murder of Diane.
Devoted to You: A dark example. In Season Eleven, he only threatens to blow up Cheers until he's told she's not around anymore.
Replacement Flat Character: For Woody. She has the same naiveté and simple-mindedness that Woody had back in the beginning. Meanwhile, over the years Woody becomes more worldly-wise and experienced. The "Henri" arc in particular emphasizes all this.
Selective Obliviousness: Refuses to acknowledge Henri having anything less than perfectly innocent motivations (no matter how blatantly obvious...which is the norm).
Spoiled Sweet: Up to Eleven. Acts quite amazed when a subway is described to her for the first time...in Season 10. And when Woody learns she's taken the subway (to prove to him she can live in "his" world), he's thrown into a panic.
The Atoner: Has become this by the time of his final appearance, where he reveals that he gave away what money he still had left, and now travels the world seeking to educate people on how foolish and damaging greed can be.
The Chessmaster: Skilled at games of will and intellect and The Plan. He's also shown to be literally this in one episode, when he challenges Sam to a chess match, forcing Sam to rely on help from the regulars and a chess computer, and not only does Robin immediately work what's going on, he nearly beats the computer until a communication breakdown causes Sam to make a fluke move that wins him the game.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Though he does do some pretty admittedly slimy stuff, he does have his moments—such as encouraging Sam to re-discover his motivation to do whatever it takes to buy back Cheers.
Secret Test of Character: Had some money stashed away, but pretended to be dirt poor to see if Rebecca would marry him anyway. When she backed out, he revealed the money and left. In his final appearance she thinks he's pulling the same trick again, but this time he's not faking it.
John Allen HillExtremely pretentious and snobbish fellow who buys Melville's (and, somehow, manages to get possession of part of Cheers for a while). Seems to enjoy making life hard for the staff and patrons of Cheers. Eventually has a passionate (yet belligerent) relationship with Carla.
Catch Phrase: "Sam...!" (done in an incredibly condescending, smug tone). Sam even lampshades this in one episode.
Comedic Sociopathy: Somehow managed to secure ownership of the bathrooms and pool room of the bar...just so he can blackmail Sam.
Smug Snake: Seems to live solely for having everyone around him constantly acknowledging his power over them.
HenriThe Frenchman who accompanies Kelly when she returns to the U.S. Seemingly obsessed with flaunting how much of a womanizer he is. Has his eyes on Kelly until she marries Woody. Obsessed with finding ways out of having to work...and into women's beds.
It's All About Me: Selfish to the extreme. Has no concern over who he hurts to get the girls.
Jerk Ass: His constant taunting of Woody to the effect that "I Will Steal Your Girl". In front of Kelly. With no shame whatsoever.
Has a bit of a Love to Hate vibe about him for his whole time on the show.
Kavorka Man: Quite gangly and scrawny, and has little sense of manners and no desire to work (as he admits without a second thought)—and he's a chronic liar, to boot. And yet he manages to give Sam a run for his money, in picking up women. Must be the accent.
Lazy Bum: The idea of actually "working" for a living seems so alien to him, he more or less makes staying on unemployment an art form.
Actually balks when Sam actually hires him temporarily to fill in for Woody.
Manipulative Bastard: Comes this close to making Kelly one of his conquests, and she is completely oblivious to it. And Woody feels powerless to do anything, for fear of upsetting Kelly.
Not So Different: He's basically a French Sam without the latter's scruples or ambition to actually succeed in life. As such, he loves to compare himself to Sam...or rather, Sam to him. How Sam takes this basically depends on his mood....
Pretend Prejudice: One episode has him dropping slurs against "lazy/fat" Americans (enraging the gang in the process)...but it's just to bait Sam into facing off against him in a bout.
Esther "Ma" ClavinCliff's mom.
Cool Old Lady: Can pull pranks with the best of them, and is generally quite well-up on "modern" culture.
Deadpan Snarker: Especially when putting up with her son's awkward behavior.
Deadpan Snarker: Usually at the expense of Loretta and Carla. Sadly, the nature of his snarks (Loretta's slowness in understanding most things; Carla just being hard to handle) arguably tends to lead to Jerkass Has a Point.
Jerkass: Especially in "An American Family", when he tries to take one of Carla's kids.
Ms. Fanservice: Surprisingly downplayed—the only time that really comes close is when she "reveals" her shoulder to Nick. She does try to flirt with Sam at one point, in order to get back at Nick...but after being briefly tempted, Sam politely brushes her off.
Nice Girl: Has a good heart, to her credit. Rarely has much courage of her convictions, though.
"Diane, I may not be perfect." (Beat) "Then again I may...."
Jerkass: They way he dumps Diane in the series premier—without even a call or a hint. As Diane noted, he's going to have to live with his "creep" reputation.
Manipulative Bastard: Regularly tempts Diane with her own insecurities about not fitting in among the rest of the gang.
The Scottish Trope: When a professor about to hire Diane drops Sloane's name—it's enough to send a shiver down our girl's spine.
Smug Snake: Even treats Dr. Frasier Crane with complete derision.
Sophisticated as Hell: Depends on the episode. In the series premier, he briefly joins in the guys' discussion on "the sweatiest movie ever made" (his suggestion of Cool Hand Luke apparently settles the argument). In his later appearances, however, his attempts to sound casual make him look like an arrogant klutz.