ABOUT THE SHOW
Cheers is an American sitcom television series that ran for eleven seasons from 1982 to 1993. The show is set in a bar named Cheers in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meet to drink, relax, and socialize. The show's theme song, written and performed by Gary Portnoy, and co-written with Judy Hart Angelo, lent its famous refrain, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name", as the show's tagline.
- Ted Danson portrays Sam Malone, a bartender and an owner of Cheers. Sam is also a lothario. Before the series began, he was a baseball relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox nicknamed "Mayday Malone" until he became an alcoholic, taking a toll on his career. He has on-again, off-again relationships with Diane Chambers, his class opposite, in the first five seasons (1982–1987). During their off-relationships, Sam has flings with many not-so-bright "sexy women", yet fails to pursue a meaningful relationshipand fails to seduce other women, such as intellectuals. After Diane is written out of the series, he tries to pursue Rebecca Howe, but he either fails to achieve or gets uninterested if passion is attempted. At the end of the series, he is still unmarried and recovering from sexual addiction with a help of Dr. Robert Sutton's (Gilbert Lewis) group meetings, advised by Frasier.
- Shelley Long portrays Diane Chambers, an academic, sophisticated graduate student. In the pilot, Diane is abandoned by her fiancé, leaving her without a job, money, and man. Therefore, she reluctantly becomes a cocktail waitress. Later, she becomes a close friend of Coach and has on-and-off relationships with bartender Sam Malone, her class opposite. During their off-relationships times, Diane dates men who fit her upper-class ideals, such as Frasier Crane. In 1987, she leaves Boston behind for a writing career and to live in Los Angeles, California.
- Nicholas Colasanto portrays Coach Ernie Pantusso, a "borderline senile" co-bartender, widower, and retired coach. Coach is also a friend of Sam and a close friend of Diane. He has a daughter, Lisa. Coach is often tricked into situations, especially ones that put the bar at stake. Coach listens to people's problems and solves them. In 1985, Coach is explained to have died without explicit explanation; the actor Colasanto died of a heart attack.
- Rhea Perlman portrays Carla Tortelli, a "wisecracking, cynical" cocktail waitress, who treats customers badly. She is also highly fertile and matrimonially inept. When the series premiered, she is the mother of four children by her ex-husband Nick Tortelli (Dan Hedaya). Later, she gives birth to four more, incorporated by Perlman's real-life pregnancies. All of her children are notoriously ill-behaved, except Ludlow, whose father is a prominent academician. She flirts with men, including ones who are not flattered by her ways, and believes in superstitions, but secretly carries the torch for Sam. Later, she marries Eddie LeBec, an ice hockey player, who later becomes a penguin mascot for ice shows. After he died in an ice show accident by an ice resurfacer, Carla later discovers that Eddie had committed bigamy with another woman, whom he had gotten pregnant.
- George Wendt portrays Norm Peterson, a bar regular and semi-unemployed accountant. Whenever he enters the bar, during the earlier seasons of the series, everyone yells out his name, "NORM!" Sam, Woody, or the Coach will ask him how he is and it usually ends up with a beer related answer. He has infrequent accounting jobs and a troubled marriage with (but is still in love with and married to) Vera, an unseen character. Later in the series, he becomes a house painter and an interior decorator, especially for Rebecca's bar office. Norm Peterson was a character added to the series. Wendt auditioned for a minor role of George for the pilot episode. The role supposedly was Diane Chambers' first customer and had only one word: "Beer!" After he was cast, Wendt's character George was renamed Norm.
- John Ratzenberger portrays Cliff Clavin, a know-it-all bar regular and postal worker, he lives with his mother Esther Clavin (Frances Sternhagen) in first the family house and later an apartment. In the bar, Cliff unwittingly says things that either annoy people, motivate people into mocking him, drive people away, confuse people, are inaccurate, or are unnecessary to people. Ratzenberger auditioned for the role of a minor character George, but it went to Wendt, evolving the role into Norm Peterson. The producers decided they wanted a resident bar know-it-all, so the security guard Cliff Clavin was added for the pilot. The producers changed his occupation into a postal worker as they thought such a man would have wider knowledge than a guard.
Later main characters
- Kelsey Grammer portrays Frasier Crane, a psychiatrist and bar regular. Frasier started out as Diane Chambers's love interest in the third season (1984–85). In the fourth season (1985–86), after Diane jilts him at the altar in Europe, Frasier ends up frequenting Cheers and becomes a regular. After the series ended, in the spin-off Frasier, he gives child custody of their son Frederick to Lilith and moves to Seattle.
- Woody Harrelson portrays Woody Boyd, a not-so-bright bartender. He arrives from his Midwest hometown to Boston, to see Coach, his "pen pal" (as referring to exchanging "pens", not letters). When he learns that Coach passed away, Woody is hired in his place. Later, he marries his girlfriend Kelly Gaines (Jackie Swanson), also not-so-bright but raised in a rich family.
- Bebe Neuwirth portrays Lilith Sternin, a psychiatrist and bar regular. She is often teased by bar patrons about her uptight personality and appearance. In "Second Time Around" (1986), her first episode, also her only one of the fourth season, her date with Frasier does not go well because they constantly argue. In the fifth season, with help from Diane, Lilith and Frasier begin a relationship. Eventually, they marry and have a son, Frederick. In the eleventh and final season, she leaves Frasier to live with another man in an experimental underground environment called the "Eco-pod." However she returns later in the season and reconciles with Frasier.
- Kirstie Alley portrays Rebecca Howe. She starts out as a strong independent woman, managing the bar for the corporation that was given the bar by Sam after Diane jilted him. Eventually, when Sam regains ownership, she begs him to let her remain as business manager. She repeatedly has romantic failures with mainly rich men and becomes more and "more neurotic, insecure, and sexually frustrated". At the start, Sam frequently attempts to seduce Rebecca without success. As her persona changes, he loses interest in her. In the eleventh and final season, Rebecca marries the plumber Don Santry and quits working for the bar.
Although Cheers operated largely around that main ensemble cast, guest stars and recurring characters did occasionally supplement them. Notable repeat guests included Dan Hedaya as Nick Tortelli, Jean Kasem as Loretta Tortelli who were the main characters in the first spin-off The Tortellis, Jay Thomas as Eddie LeBec, Roger Rees as Robin Colcord, Tom Skerritt as Evan Drake, and Harry Anderson as Harry 'The Hat' Gittes.
Paul Willson played the recurring barfly character of "Paul Krapence". (In one early appearance in the first season he was called "Glen", and was later credited on-screen as "Gregg" and "Tom", but he was playing the same character throughout.) Thomas Babson played "Tom", a law student often mocked by Cliff Clavin, for continually failing to pass the Massachusetts bar exam. "Al", played by Al Rosen, appeared in 38 episodes, and was known for his surly quips. Rhea Perlman's father Philip Perlman played the role of "Phil". Jackie Swanson, who played the recurring role of Woody's girlfriend and eventual wife "Kelly Gaines-Boyd", appeared in 24 episodes from 1989 to 1993. The character is as equally dim and naive—but ultimately as sweet-natured—as Woody.