8 Things I’ll Bet You Don’t Know About the Boston Sitcom ‘Cheers’
September 30, 1982, marks the 40th anniversary of the debut episode of "Cheers," which certainly didn't appear to be destined for greatness out of the gate.
Nonetheless, the show aired for 11 seasons and 275 episodes, racking up Emmy after Emmy.
But it seems that with each passing year since the series finale aired in May of 1993, more is discovered about the place where everybody knows your name, such as...
The Entire First Season Took Place Inside the Bar
You may not notice it, as later seasons regularly explored the characters’ homes and other locations, but every minute of Season 1 took place in the basement on Beacon Street.
John Ratzenberger Created His “Cliff the Mailman” Character at His Audition
After auditioning for the role of Norm, Ratzenberger asked the show’s creators if they’d thought of having a “blowhard” at the bar who pretended to know everything. Hence, Boston’s most iconic postal worker.
As noted by co-creator James Burrows on the podcast "Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend," some quick thinking as "Ratz" exited not only brought the actor fame, but gave the show one of its most beloved characters.
The Character of “Frasier Crane” Was Created for John Lithgow
Before going on to sitcom success years later on “3rd Rock from the Sun,” Lithgow turned down the role of a pompous psychiatrist, forcing producers to pivot to Kelsey Grammer, according to Burrows.
Grammer would play the character for 20 years on “Cheers” and the show’s spinoff, “Frasier.”
“Frasier” Was Not the First “Cheers” Spinoff
In 1987, Carla’s ex-husband, the recurring character Nick Tortelli, was the central focus of the NBC sitcom “The Tortellis.” It lasted just one season.
In Another Universe, Diane and Sam Did Wind Up Together
To avoid spoilers from those at the taping (and in case Shelley Long changed her mind and returned to the show in 1987), two endings were shot for the Season 5 Finale – one where Sam and Diane marry, and the one that...makes me cry.
The Show – and Sam Malone – Nearly Took a Very Dark Turn in 1988
Shortly after Long’s departure, a storyline was pitched and nearly produced wherein Sam would learn that one of his many partners had tested positive for HIV, setting up a season-ending cliffhanger. But a writers’ strike caused production to halt, and the storyline was nixed.
“Cheers” Nearly Returned for a 12th Season Without Ted Danson
After Danson announced he would bow out after Season 11, NBC planned on continuing the series with Woody Harrelson as its lead actor. According to the book “Top of the Rock,” Harrelson surprised executives by turning them down to pursue his film career.
Kevin McHale Appeared on Two Episodes, but Wasn't the First Celtic of Choice
McHale fit in perfectly and is fondly remembered for his guest appearances, especially a memorable line about hated rival Bill Laimbeer, but only after the show was unable to come to terms (or track down) the elusive Larry Bird.