Trivia / Cheers

  • Ability over Appearance: Sam Malone was originally written to be a retired NFL player. But Ted Danson wasn't bulky enough to be a football player, so his character was changed to a retired baseball player instead.
  • Acting for Two: Rhea Perlman appeared in one episode as Carla's sister Annette.
  • Actor Allusion: A strange case. For a while, Carla's ex-husband Nick was The Faceless, and was described as Danny DeVito. Rhea Perlman played Zena, Louis DePalma's girlfriend on Taxi. DeVito was going to play Nick, but his movie career took off and Dan Hedaya was hired to play the role instead.
  • Adored by the Network:
    • When Cheers finally went off the air on May 20, 1993, NBC dedicated a whole night to the show's final episode. The night began with a "pregame" show hosted by NBC Sports commentator Bob Costas, followed by the final 98-minute episode itself. NBC stations, O&Os and affiliates alike, then aired tributes to Cheers during their local newscasts, and the night concluded with a special edition of The Tonight Show broadcast live from the Bull & Finch Pub.
    • The tributes didn't end there. On the following day's Today broadcast, the show dedicated an almost ten-minute segment documenting how loved the show was to people, with Today co-anchor Katie Couric being seen briefly on the Cheers set. The segment began with the show documenting the Tonight Show broadcast with brief comments from the show's cast, in addition to recapping the finale. The show then did an on location report in which NBC News correspondent Roger O'Neil went on location to actual bars across the country, in which staff and patrons of those bars reflected on watching the program from those exact bars. After that, the segment concluded with Couric, now back at NBC News world headquarters in New York, sitting down for an interview with then NBC Entertainment president Warren Littlefield, speaking from the Bull & Finch, about what shows he was going to use to fill the void, along with a side interview with Jeannie Park, then senior editor for television at Entertainment Weekly, in which she and Couric discussed the phenomenon of how Cheers was able to run for 11 seasons despite having abysmal ratings on its inaugural season.
  • The Character Died with Him: Nicholas Colasanto/Coach Ernie Pantuso. Frasier later revealed that the same thing happened with Al Rosen/Al.
  • The Danza: Woody Harrelson played Woody Boyd. Oddly enough, the character was named Woody before Harrelson got the part.
    • All of the minor barflies, such as Paul (Paul Wilson), Al (Al Rosen), Pete (Peter Schreiner), Alan (Alan Koss), Tim (Tim Cunningham), Steve (Steve Giannelli), Phil (Philip Perlman, Rhea's father), Hugh (Hugh McGuire), Tom (Thomas Babson), Larry (Larry Harpel), Paul (Paul Vaughn) Tony (Tony DiBenedetto), and Mark (Mark Arnott).
    • A few of the recurring characters in the show's early run...including a pre-Night Court Harry Anderson as itinerant Con Man "Harry the Hat".
      • Lampshaded when Woody won the lead in Our Town and remarked that his co-star was named Emily (same as her character), so she wouldn't have to worry about difficult things like responding to a new name.
  • The Cast Showoff: Shelley Long's beautiful singing voice is featured quite a few times throughout the Diane era—most notably in the final sequences of "Father Knows Last" and "Coach Buries A Grudge".
    • Played with, both with Frasier and Lilith. Kelsey Grammer and Bebe Neuwirth are both accomplished singers, but are shown in-show to be not very good. Frasier sings in the shower when he and Diane are away at a skiing lodge, and he's terrible (despite later canon that Frasier is a very good singer), and Lilith is a bad singer before she takes lessons.
  • Development Gag: Former NFL star Fred Dryer (later of Hunter) was up for the part of Sam Malone and Julia Duffy (later of Newhart) was up for the part of Diane Chambers. Both later guest-starred on the show, Dryer as Sam's crasser, dumber sportscaster friend, Dave Richards, and Duffy as Diane's snootier and more pretentious best friend, Rebecca Prout.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Four episodes by John Ratzenberger and one by George Wendt in later seasons.
  • Edited for Syndication: On Hallmark reruns, the show's opening credits are abridged somewhat (playing the opening piano bars then skipping right into the chorus), language is censored (leaving us with gems like "I'm the luckiest son on Earth."), the end credits are sped up a bit and often shrunken down to make room for commercials. The editing also causes slight skips in the footage, occasionally leading to brief moments of a character's lips not matching their dialogue.
  • He Also Did: Roger Rees plays Robin Colcord in this series, Lord John Marbury on The West Wing, and the Sheriff of Rottingham in Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: When Shelley Long got pregnant during the third season, was mostly filmed behind the bar or from the neck up.
    • When Rhea Perlman got pregnant, it was worked into the show.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: Lilith Sternin was initially depicted as a terrible singer, even though before Cheers Bebe Neuwirth was mostly known for her singing roles in Broadway musicals; in 1986 she even won a Tony Award for a production of Sweet Charity. Later on the writers had Lilith take some singing lessons, and all of a sudden she became a great singer.
  • Life Imitates Art:
    • Jeopardy! uses "pulling a Clavin" to refer to when a contestant whiffs the way Cliff did on an episode.
    • In real life, Shelley Long, just like her character Diane Chambers, never quite managed to fit in with the rest of the Cast.
  • Network to the Rescue: The show was an utter bomb in its first year, having the worst Neilsen ratings of the year. Fortunately, NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff refused to cancel it, and put it in a prime slot right after The Cosby Show and Family Ties, and it soon became the #1 sitcom in America, even beating its lead-ins. Ironically, Tartikoff would later serve as chairman of Paramount, which produced both Cheers and Family Ties.
  • The Other Darrin: Two different actors played Gary in the various "Bar Wars" episodes.
  • Playing Gertrude: Frances Sternhagen who played Cliff's mother is only seventeen years older than John Ratzenberger.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Kelsey Grammer's daughter Spencer had an uncredited role in "One Hugs, the Other Doesn't".
    • Phil the barfly was played by Phil Perlman, Rhea Perlman's father. In addition, Rhea's sister, Heide Perlman, was a frequent writer.
    • Vera Petersen is Bernadette Birkett, George Wendt's wife.
  • Recycled Script:
    • Not only is the storyline of the Season 11 episode "Norm's Big Audit" virtually identical to that of the Wings episode "Hell Hath No Fury Like a Police Woman Scorned," but the same actress who played the hard-nosed, lovesick policewoman in Wings was hired to play the hard-nosed, lovesick IRS auditor in this series.
    • The "main male character's older brother who is better at everything" was used for Cheers as well. Many sitcoms used virtually the same script, including Three's Company.
    • Diane borrows money from Sam in one episode, and proceeds to spend it on apparently frivolous items before paying Sam back. This is a very common sitcom plot, used again in Frasier and many other shows.
    • In Season 7, a newspaper mistakenly runs Rebecca's obituary. Being mistaken for dead is another common sitcom plot, and happened to Frasier on an episode of that series several years later.
  • Revised Ending: An alternate ending was shot before the studio audience of Shelley Long's final episode to hide the fact that Long was leaving the series. That ending, in which Sam and Diane actually go through with the wedding ceremony and get married, was discarded in favor of the real ending, which was filmed without a studio audience, in which Sam and Diane stop the ceremony before they are married.
  • Star-Making Role: True for almost the whole cast, except for Kirstie Alley who got her big break a few years earlier with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and arguably Bebe Neuwirth with her stage experience. Most dramatically true for Woody Harrelson, who went on to a very successful film career.
  • Technology Marches On: In the Season 3 finale everyone at the bar is impressed by Sam's new answering machine. In Season 4 Sam is jealous when Diane's boyfriend has a car phone.
    • In "Where Nobody Knows Your Name" Frasier mentions the bar TV's "sixteen wonderful cable channels",
    • Rebecca's "very expensive calculator" in "My Son, the Father".
    • In "Norm and Cliff's Excellent Adventure", Woody buys Rebecca "a portable, solar-powered phone".
    • In "Those Lips, Those Ice" Frasier needs a briefcase to carry around his "portable cellular telephone".
    • The computer in Sam's office in Season 7.
  • Throw It In:
  • Troubled Production: The series had its share of issues over the years, including poor ratings early on, Shelley Long often not getting along with the rest of the cast, the illness and death of Nicholas Colasanto during the third season, and recurring actor Jay Thomas being fired and having a bridge dropped on his character after insulting screen wife Rhea Perlman in a radio interview, but all things told it was a pretty non-troubled production until the final season (season 11) rolled around.
    • After the end of season 10, the long-serving showrunner team of Cheri Eichen, Bill Steinkellner and Phoef Sutton departed, leaving the far less experienced duo of Tom Anderson and Dan O'Shannon to take over. Running out of ideas, writers started focusing a lot more on the flaws of the characters in order to create comedic tension, along with recycling a script from spin-off show Wings wholesale.
    • Near the middle of the season, Ted Danson announced that it would be his final season. The writers approached Woody Harrelson to take over as the lead actor, but he declined unless Danson stayed on. Other actors were also starting to grow bored of their roles and wanted out of the series, too, forcing the writers to hustle their resources together to write in an ending that made sense. As the season came to a close, many characters were given closure that seemed to come almost out of nowhere. Lillith's actress, Bebe Neuwirth, also strangely disappeared mid-season and made very few appearances.
    • The final episode was set to be filmed and Long was brought back. The writers had a minor feud over whether to allow Diane and Sam to be together. Shoots took so long that Long had to go back to her other commitments, and the episode's closing scene in the bar was filmed without her. The scene was also done in secret without a studio audience, meaning a laugh track had to be added after the fact. The final episode proved to be one of the most watched and remembered series finales in television history.
    • Then there's the matter of Kelsey Grammer's substance abuse, which took a spike in this season. Costars noticed that he was oddly difficult to work with and would often be nearly catatonic between takes. After several intervention attempts, Grammer finally got help. He would ultimately not make a full recovery until the early seasons of Frasier.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The show is soaked in '80s style and culture.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The show was originally going to be set in a hotel. When they realised the bulk of the show was going to be set in the hotel bar, they dropped the hotel and stayed with the bar.
    • At one point during the show's development, producers considered setting it in Chicago
    • Joel Hodgson revealed in a recent interview that he auditioned for the role of Woody Boyd.
    • The network originally wanted to have Woody take over the bar after Ted Danson announced he was leaving after season 11. However, Woody Harrelson refused to do the show without Danson and so it was decided to simply end the series.
    • Julia Duffy was the first choice for the role of Diane. Wendie Malick also auditioned for the part. Fred Dryer auditioned for the part of Sam. John Lithgow was considered for the role of Frasier.
    • Originally, Danny DeVito was the casting favorite for Nick. But then his movie career took off, and rendered him unavailable. It would have been a Casting Gag since Rhea Perlman played is on-again, off-again girlfriend in Taxi.
    • The finale for Season 6 would have teased the idea that Sam had possibly contracted AIDS from a former lover. The episode made it as far as rehearsals before it was pulled, since it was becoming clear there was no way for the subject pushed the show really far into Dude, Not Funny! territory (The episode would have aired in 1988, when the number of AIDS-related deaths was quite high).
    • Cliff was originally to be a Police Officer, but producers felt that his being a Mail Man would give him more access to information regarding his trademark "Little Known Facts". Many of Cliff's "Little Known Facts" were ad libbed by John Ratzenberger with scripts written simply to cue him in to the lines relating to his facts.
    • Lucille Ball was a fan of the series and met with the producers about possibly playing Diane's mother. But she backed out because she felt that viewers would not accept her as a character that was different then her "Lucy" characters.
    • Ed O'Neill auditioned for Sam Malone.
    • John Lithgow was the first choice to play Frasier Crane. However, Lithgow refused the role due to the fact that he wanted to concentrate on his film career.
    • Sharon Stone, Kim Cattrall, and Marg Helgenberger are among the actresses that auditioned for Rebecca Howe.
    • David Alan Grier auditioned for a proposed African-American character that never came to fruition.
  • You Look Familiar: Paul Willson first appears in first-season episode "Someone Single, Someone Blue" as a character named Glen. In second-season episode "Little Sister Don't Cha" he plays a character named Tom. Then, in fourth-season episode "Fools and Their Money" he appears as Paul Krapence, the character he plays for 53 episodes, becoming a semi-regular in the show's later years.
    • Interseries example with Frasier. John Mahoney and Peri Gilpin both guest-star on "Cheers" as different characters.
    • Averted with Bernadette Birkett, who appears in one episode ("Fairy Tales Can Come True") as Cliff's date, and then four times without ever showing her face as Vera Petersen.

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