If you’ve ever wondered why the successful comedy series Cheers came to an end you’ve come to the right place. In this video, we’ll look at why the show went off the air when it did and why it officially ended after this happened. Despite being loved by audiences and it’s major success. Make sure you stick around for the whole video so that don’t miss out on any of the behind the scenes gossip about one of America’s favorite TV shows.
Anyone who knows comedy sitcoms is at least familiar with (and has probably seen) a few episodes of the former NBC series Cheers. Cheers ran from 1982 to 1993. The cast and crew filmed 275 episodes and the show ran for eleven seasons. If you’re one of the few people who hasn’t actually seen the show, you probably at least know it’s signature catchphrase “where everybody knows your name”.
To quickly fill you in, Cheers was based on a real bar in Boston. Sam Malone, who played by Ted Danson, owned the bar on the show, which, was of course, called Cheers. An ensemble cast of characters that included Kelsey Grammer, Rhea Perlman, Shelley Long and Woody Harrelson, are always hanging at the bar as either patrons or bar staff. Sharing bits and pieces of their lives.
The show was a sitcom that provided audiences with lots of laughs. So many laughs that viewers actually complained about the volume of the laughter at one point thinking it was from a laugh track. Turns out, the laughter was actually from a live studio audience. Despite being a sitcom, Cheers often dealt with serious topics such as alcoholism (Ted Danson’s character was an ex-alcoholic). And it raised awareness about designated drivers. It also known for being relatable. This most likely stems from the fact that Cheers’ writers based the show’s dialogue on actual conversations that they had overheard in bars.
Even though Cheers ended up having a long run, it almost cancelled during season one due to poor rankings. But after it found it’s footing that turned around – the ratings went up. It found a spot during NBC’s ‘Must See TV’ lineup and nominated for a whopping 117 Primetime Emmy Awards throughout it’s run. Winning a total of 28 over the course of it’s eleven seasons. It became one of the most popular series in television history. It was so popular, in fact, that some of the Cheers characters went on to get their own spin-offs.
You may have heard of a show called Frasier starring Kelsey Grammer as Frasier Crane. The same Frasier Crane who was a regular patron at Cheers. Then there was the less popular The Tortellis, which featured Rhea Perlman’s character from Cheers. Although that spin-off show came before Frasier it not nearly as successful and was canceled after only thirteen episodes.
So why would show with so many Emmy Nominations, multiple spin-offs and such loveable characters come to an end after eleven successful seasons. Instead of carrying on for eleven more? Well, we’ll tell you.
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As mentioned before Ted Danson’s character, Sam Malone was a main, if not the main, focal point of the show. After all, the bar where everyone hung out belonged to him. But after eleven seasons of playing the same character on the same show. Ted Danson was ready for something new and different. The show’s producers were okay with that and came up with what they thought was a solid solution. Have Woody Harrelson’s character (whose name happened to coincidentally also be Woody) take over the bar. But the producers ran into a slight problem: Woody Harrelson and Ted Danson were friends and Woody was a big fan of Ted’s. Such a big fan that he wouldn’t do the show without him. He simply not interested in continuing without Ted. Now if that’s not true friendship, we don’t know what is.
So instead of a Woody takeover, NBC arranged for a big celebration and finale watch party for Cheers fans at Bull & Finch Pub (the Boston bar that used for all of the exterior shots of Cheers. Which has now officially changed its name to Cheers). Following the final episode, the cast appeared on The Tonight Show alltogether.
Ted Danson may have been ready to move on from Cheers, but the rest of the cast. As well as NBC and Paramount (who produced the show), were not necessarily as ready. So is Ted Danson to blame for the end of the show? He has certainly tried to make it very clear that the show didn’t end because of him. He has quoted saying “It wasn’t that they didn’t want to do the show without me. It’s that they didn’t want to do the show without Sam Malone. There is a difference.”
And, according to a 2018 Variety interview, the show’s co-creators, Glen Charles, Les Charles and James Burrows, and executive producers share those same sentiments. In the interview, James Burrows said “The Charles brothers and myself talked for half an hour. Maybe an hour, about trying to do the show without Sam Malone. But we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to go out on top.”
So after tons of drinks and countless laughs, it was officially time to put the closed sign on the door of Cheers for good.
It certainly seems like Ted Danson’s exit was the main contributing factor to Cheers ending production. But there’s something else that we should mention.
No matter what we’re watching – a TV show or a movie. We, as audience members, love a good “will-they or won’t-they” get together story line. And Cheers gave us just that. Sam Malone not only known as the man who owned Cheers. His claims to fame also included womanizing and being a former Boston Red Sox pitcher. Shelley Long’s character, Diane Chambers, a waitress at Cheers, was the object of Sam’s affection. Even though she drove him absolutely crazy. The two couldn’t stand the fact that they interested in and attracted to each other. Before their first kiss Diane even tells Sam how much he disgusts her and how much she hates him.
But Sam and Diane did become an official couple in season two. However, their relationship wasn’t exactly smooth sailing and how could it be? After all, it’s TV. One Cheers episode actually depicts Sam slapping Diane. Diane leaves soon after that, seemingly ending their relationship. Diane comes back in season three, but…she’s got a new love interest in Frasier Crane. Leaving audiences (and Sam) to wonder if Frasier is going to get in the way of Diane and Sam mending their relationship.
Turns out Frasier doesn’t get in Sam and Diane’s way, but there was still plenty of drama between the two. Sam proposes to Diane at the end of season four, but she rejects him. Then in season five she decides to actively go after Sam in hopes of getting him to propose again. Diane wants a proposal so badly that she even drags Sam to court. Presses him with assault charges and forces him to pop the question. Things do not go exactly as Diane had planned and, by the end of season five, she is gone (at least until the series finale).
So as much as we do love a “will-they or won’t-they” love scenario (remember Ross and Rachel from Friends?). Did the Cheers writers take it too far between Sam and Diane? Shelley Long certainly thought so – she ended up quitting due to the repetitive storylines that written for her. Now we’re just speculating here, but it’s absolutely possible that this same repetitiveness contributed to the show’s ending. Viewers could have lost interest in all the back and forth and the storylines that overlapped too much. Or maybe the interest lost after Shelley Long departed from the show. Taking all the back and forth between Diane and Sam with her. Obviously, Cheers carried on for multiple seasons after Shelley Long left, but perhaps her absence was the beginning of the end for the deeply loved show.
When it was in fact time for Cheers to end in 1993 it did so with a feature-length three part episode that was watched by 80.4 million people. Shelly Long’s Diane comes back for the finale and, once again, finds herself somewhat romantically involved with Sam, who decides to leave Cheers and move to LA to pursue a relationship with Diane. But after a delayed flight and lots of time to go head to head with Diane, Sam decides to return to Cheers, which, at this point, has become his true home.
The end of Cheers did not mean that the careers of the show’s stars came to an end. Cheers was only the beginning for Ted Danson’s television career. He went on to star in Becker, Damages, Bored to Death, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Good Place and Curb Your Enthusiasm. As we mentioned before, Kelsey Grammer’s Cheers character got his very own spinoff with Frasier. Woody Harrelson went onto star in numerous movies and was even nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The People Vs. Larry Flynt. Shelley Long established both a successful movie and TV career. She played Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch movies and appeared on Murphy Brown, Diagnosis Murder, 8 Simple Rules and Modern Family.
Even though “it’s nice to go where everybody knows your name” is playing over and over in our heads that does conclude our deep dive into the end of Cheers. Tell us which you prefer: juicy intel on sitcoms or dramas? Leave a comment letting us know and if you enjoyed what you learned in this video, please be sure to give us a like and subscribe to our Facts Verse channel!