Cheers, the hit sitcom “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” ran for an impressive 11 seasons on NBC from 1982 to 1992. Throughout the years, the show racked up a huge fan following and to this day, the show is still a hit. When it comes to comedy, no art form dates quicker but a show like Cheers has retained its sharpness after more than 30 years since it made its debut.
That said, one of the most amazing things actually about this show is how much we actually don’t know. Here’s a round-up of the most interesting facts and behind-the-scenes secrets from the beloved show, Cheers.
17. The show was almost canceled after season one
During its first season, Cheers was the bottom of the barrel when it came to ratings (74th out of 77 shows). Thankfully, however, it was given time to grow by the NBC executives and eventually became a critical success. With time, Cheers did go on to become a #1 TV show.
16. Viewers complained that the laugh tracks were too loud
Back when the sitcom first started, viewers would complain about the laugh tracks being too loud. In actuality, there wasn’t a laugh track at all as the show was filmed before an audience who was actually laughing. In 1983, as a direct response to the complaints, a quick disclaimer was added at the beginning of each episode that stated: “Cheers was filmed before a live studio audience.”
15. Sam malone’s character was supposed to be to an ex-professional football player
In the earliest stages of the show’s script, Sam Malone was going to be a former NFL player. This was because actor Fred Dryer, who was up for the role, was a former NFL defensive end. However, since the chemistry between Ted Danson and Shelly Long was so strong, Fred got the boot and creators swapped out football for baseball because of Danson’s body type.
14. Some of the show’s dialogue was taken from real bar conversations
The creators regularly visited bars in the Los Angeles area in order to make sure they nailed the bar talk aspect of the series. They would eavesdrop on conversations and plant them into the script. When the sitcom premiered, there’s an argument about the sweatiest movie ever made… may seem weird, but that was actually taken from a real-life conversation they had overheard.
13. Ted danson actually attended bartending school for his role
Ted Danson definitely made working behind the bar look easy and as if he’d been doing his whole life, but interestingly enough, he spent two weeks at a bartending school in Burbank, California as part of his training to play Sam. That’s commitment!
12. Norm peterson’s role was actually based off a real person
Co-creator of the show Les Charles worked in a bar after college, and every night there was the same man who came in every night. His name wasn’t Norm, but he would always say that he was just going to have one beer, and then he would have another, and another, and another. They would have to help the guy out the bar every night, and when his wife would call he would always say “Tell her I’m not here.” YEP — sounds like Norm!
11. On the set of Cheers, Norm drank real beer
What Norm was drinking was something calling “near beer.” It had an alcohol content of .32 percent, and the producers added a pinch of salt to the mug so his beer kept a foamy head under the hot studio lights. Poor George Wendt had to slug back watery near-beer that was mixed with salt every episode for years. Gross.
10. It was a total coincidence that Woody Harrelson’s character’s name was Woody
Indiana small-town boy Woody Boyd was brought in after Coach passed after four seasons. It was a total coincidence that Woody Harelson won the role. Long before the actor was even hired, the new beer slinger was written into the script as “Woody.”
9. Actor John Ratzenberger ad-libbed on all of his lines for his character, Cliff Claven
Many of the hilariously random and untrue facts that Cliff Clavin offered up were actually ad-libbed by John. He felt it was so easy to improvise comedy because he knew when to stop. As years went by on the show, the producers realized they could trust the actor not to mess up, and little by little he was able to sort of run off and do his own thing.
8. Carla’s TV husband bad mouthed his TV wife and was killed off
Jay Thomas (Eddie) played Carla’s love interest and husband. When he wasn’t working on Cheers, he was a radio host, and one day he was asked by a caller what it was like working on the set of the show. He stated something to the effect that it was brutal because he had to kiss Rhea Pearlman. Guess who just so happened to be listening? Let’s just say that after that, Jay was never seen on Cheers again.
7. Ted Danson actually wore a wig to play his character who was obsessed with his hair
How funny is it that Sam, who loved his hair more than any of the women he dated, wore a hair-piece and nobody knew it? Sure, it was the actor who was wearing the wig and not the character, but it is pretty ironic…
6. A Cheers mini-episode was produced for the U.S. Treasury
There’s an episode called “Sam Malone,” and this episode was never aired nor was it featured on DVDs. The reason behind that is because the nine-minute episode was produced specifically for the U.S. Treasury. It was meant to encourage people to start buying savings bonds. Random!
5. Sam and Diane actually married during season 5
Sadly, the footage of these two getting married was never used. Producers filmed an alternate ending in order to fool the live studio audience because Shelly Long‘s departure was a secret. They filmed the heartbreaking ending where she actually leaves Sam later on with a closed set.
4. There was actually a Spanish version of Cheers
In fall of 2011, a Spanish version of the series made its debut. It stared Alberto San Juan, who was supposed to be a former soccer player turned Irish pub owner. It didn’t have the success of its predecessor, seeing how it only lasted one season.
3. The show helped promote the idea of a designated driver
Cheers, along with a few other sitcoms during its time, broke new ground when TV writers agreed to insert messages to prevent drunk driving. This meant they included rather frequent mentions to designated drivers. Good on them!
2. Cheers was not afraid to tackle social issues
For its sharp writing and perfect comedic timing, Cheers is still applauded today. But during the first season, it raised some eyebrows by approaching subjects that were thought of as taboo for sitcoms back then. One, of course, Was Sam’s openness about being a recovering alcoholic. There was also an episode that dealt with homophobia when a former teammate of Sam’s came out as gay and some of the patrons reacted negatively.
1. The show ended because of Ted Danson
Danson announced that he would be leaving at the end of the 1992-1993 season, so producers decided that Woody would take over Cheers. However, Harrelson was not interested in continuing on with the show without Ted Danson, so season 11 would be it’s last. At 11 seasons, it still had a pretty great run.