Read This Wild Theory Before You Rewatch the Boston Sitcom ‘Cheers’
September 30, 2022, marked the 40th anniversary of the show that put Boston on the map in the 1980s – “Cheers.”
After an 11-year broadcast run and years in syndication, “Cheers” found new life – and a new audience – in the streaming era.
But before you binge the show for the millionth time, here’s something to keep in the back of your mind that could give you a whole different viewing experience (just in time for Halloween)…
The bar’s beloved, innocent farm boy, Woody Boyd, is a serial killer.
Don’t believe me? Let’s go to the evidence…
Woody Just Shows Up Out of Nowhere
In the Season 4 premiere, “Birth, Death, Love and Rice,” Woody just walks into Cheers off the bus from the small town of Hanover, Indiana. He explains that he had been looking for a bartending job in the city, and with very little skepticism, Sam hires him on the spot. But…why? Why would someone just up and move from their hometown to Boston to bartend? And if you’re from Indiana, isn’t your “big city” Chicago? And yet…he’s never pressed on the matter.
Woody Shows Up Right After His Predecessor Dies
Ernie Pantusso, known at the bar simply as Coach, died suddenly just prior to Woody’s arrival. Woody claims he is at the bar to finally “meet” coach, his longtime pen pal, and acts heartbroken when Sam informs him of Coach’s passing. But hold up: Coach dies out of nowhere, his pen pal Sam’s never heard about shows up, and just happens to want the same job Coach held. Again, Coach dies suddenly, and Woody shows up right after and takes his job. Wow…
Woody Married Into Money
Even though he's a full-time employee at Cheers, that’s not enough for Woody Boyd. In Season 7, Woody meets Kelly Gaines, whom he would eventually wed. It seems like an innocent romance…but it is it also to sack away some cash in case the jig is up and it’s time to run again?
While still dating Kelly, Woody is introduced to her new friend from France, Henri, famous for repeatedly telling Woody he was going to “steal” his girlfriend. But then something strange happens: even after Woody and Kelly are married, Henri keeps hanging around the bar, keeping an eye on Woody. In the Season 11 episode “The Magnificent Six,” Henri challenges Sam to a contest to see who can get the most phone numbers from women in the bar, presumably to show off who can do better with the ladies. At one point, however, Henri gets a number by busting out a perfect American accent. But is it possible that is Henri’s actual accent – and Henri isn’t even his real name? What if “Henri” went through the numbers the next day from his office at Boston’s FBI Headquarters, used his natural American accent to call the women, and ask a bunch of questions about a bartender at Cheers named Woody Boyd? And why is it that after this episode, we never see Henri again?
For Reasons Never Quite Explained…Woody Took Acting Classes
That’s another suspicious thing about Woody. It always seemed like a character in “Piano Man,” someone who was okay with where he was, but wanted to do more. So, he takes acting classes…even though it seems as though he’s not particularly passionate about it (in the episode “Two Girls for Every Boyd,” Lisa Kudrow guest stars as an actress who tries to no avail to bring out the showman in Woody. However, in the episode Pudd’n Head Boyd, Woody is all too happy to remain in costume as Mark Twain. So, there’s an incentive to improve his acting (lying) skills…and an affinity for disguise, as though waiting for some heat to cool down or go away…
Woody Wants Nothing to Do With Another Indiana Transplant
Boston Celtics legend Kevin McHale appeared as himself on two episodes of “Cheers,” during which Woody expresses relief that Sam wasn’t able to land Larry Bird instead. Woody claims it’s due to a “feud” between their respective hometowns (and McHale seems to back this up, speaking of jokes Bird made about Boyd’s homeland). But Woody got really upset when Larry Bird was presented as a possibility, as one would when they don’t want to run into someone who’d know them from another life…
For a Guy Into Acting, Woody Sure Seems to Shun the Spotlight
In the Season 11 episode “Woody Gets an Election,” Cheers barfly Dr. Frasier Crane conducts an experiment in human behavior by having Woody run for City Council. Kelly’s into it, the bar’s into it…but Woody wants no part of it. Because again, why would a fugitive serial killer want his face plastered on flyers all over town? Which leads us to a strong piece of evidence…
When Woody Just Showed Up in Seattle on “Frasier”
In a Season 6 episode of the Kelsey Grammer “Cheers” spinoff, Woody randomly shows up in Seattle, telling Frasier he “got on the wrong plane.” But at no point is it ever fully explained why Woody got a plane to begin with. And as the son of an airline pilot, I can tell you it is incredibly unlikely anyone would ever be allowed to board the wrong plane.
Now, some of this could be chalked up quite simply to a weird guy doing weird things – Woody being Woody. If only there were some tangible, notable behavior on the part of Woody Boyd. Such as the time...
Woody Took Joy in the Slaughter of a Pig
One of the first things detectives look for in potential murderers is their treatment of animals, no matter how delicious. In the season 11 episode “Love Me, Love My Car,” Woody receives a baby pig from his “family” that he intends to eat for Christmas dinner. But not only does he boast about eating the pig for dinner – he does it in a devious, sadistic way that seems to take aim at his sensitive coworker and bar manager Rebecca (played by Kirstie Alley). Finally, Rebecca sets the pig free…he somehow finds his way all the back to Indiana (?!)…or wherever Woody’s “family” actually resides. On top of that…Woody wryly mutters that he heard the pig was killed, cooked, and “delicious.” Hmm. “Family” and “Pigs.” Man(son), I wish I could remember.
Indeed, it seems as though Season 11 was the best time to bust Woody Boyd, but Henri vanished, Woody was ushered into political office, and the series came to an end. That was the last we heard or saw of Woody Boyd, except for his strange excursion to Seattle.
As for fans of the actor who played Woody Boyd, Woody Harrelson, the news wasn’t all bad; in 1994, they got to see the movie Harrelson was filming as he eased out of the role of Woody Boyd: “Natural Born Killers.”
I’ll let you judge for yourself. Maybe “Cheers” really is just a friendly neighborhood bar with a cast of wacky characters. But for Woody Boyd, it seemed like a refuge for someone who didn’t want anyone to know his name…