Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name
—The iconic Thematic Theme Tune
Cheers was a hugely popular Sitcom, which aired on NBC for eleven seasons (1982-1993), about the goings-on at a friendly neighborhood bar in Boston. When it began, it was notable for the fact that the entire show took place in the bar, never venturing outside, but this was dropped after a while. The Sam-Diane relationship was the most over-elaborate relationship in television history, until Ross and Rachel came into the picture.
For its first couple seasons, Cheers was teetering on the brink of cancellation despite acclaim from critics and actually came in dead last in the ratings its first year. However, it slowly became one of the most popular shows on television. Its final episode, which aired on May 20, 1993, was one of the most watched finales for a sitcom in American television history.
Cheers can be neatly divided into the Diane years and the Rebecca years. Shelley Long played Diane Chambers for five seasons, in which the Sam-Diane romance was the central theme. After Long left for a less-than-brilliant career in movies, Kirstie Alley joined the cast as Rebecca Howe. While the sexual tension between Sam and Rebecca remained a plot element, the show became more of an ensemble for its last six seasons.
The first draft of the Cheers script was originally set in a hotel, with wacky guests coming and going (the creators were inspired by Fawlty Towers). After the vast majority of script ideas ended up set in the hotel's bar, the producers just dropped the hotel concept entirely.
Cheers was modeled after the real-life Boston bar The Bull and Finch, which was used as the exterior. The two bars do not share a layout indoors, the Bull and Finch being completely different, so a replica of Cheers as it appeared on the show was built at Faneuil Hall. Most consider it a cheap tourist trap (the Bull and Finch less so, and it has some damned good baked beans).
- Abhorrent Admirer: Martin Teal, who tries to pressure Rebecca into marriage in Season 7. He looks like he's about sixteen and is five feet tall if he's lucky -- but he's also her boss, so corporate lackey Rebecca has a hard time saying No.
- Absolute Cleavage: Rebecca in "Hot Rocks".
- The Alcoholic: Sam is a recovering one (when asked what happened to his baseball career, he says, "Elbow trouble. Bent it too often.").
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Sam is a definite beneficiary of this trope. It's even lampshaded in one episode, where Lilith invites him to appear on a television show to promote a book she's written about the phenomenon.
- All Part of the Show: In "Homicidal Ham", Diane and crazy Andy are performing Othello's murder of Desdemona, when Andy really begins to strangle Diane. She struggles, causing the present acting scout to exclaim, "I love it! A Desdemona who fights back!"
- Sam still briefly checks with the acting coach to make sure "Help me, Sam! This psycho's trying to strangle me!" isn't part of the original text of the play. Coach exclaims, "That's the only line of Shakespeare I ever understood!"
- Always Someone Better: Sam's never-seen brother Derek is wealthier, more popular, and more attractive to women than Sam, giving Sam a lifelong inferiority complex.
- Amazing Freaking Grace: "Coach Buries a Grudge".
- Ambiguously Gay: Philip Semenko.
Phillip: I make love to everything I paint!
- Anachronism Stew: Discussed in "Abnormal Psychology" after Norm and Cliff return from watching a gladiator movie.
- Art Imitates Art: The opening credits tried to match up the tavern-goers in the painting with the characters on the show as the actor credits flashed by.
- Ascended Extra: Several.
- Most surprisingly, Cliff Clavin was a background character when the show premiered, one of the barflies with a line or two an episode. John Ratzenberger was not promoted to the main cast credits until the second season.
- Kelsey Grammer was originally supposed to guest star in a handful of Season 3 episodes as Diane's new boyfriend. He parlayed that into a featured role and then into his own Spin-Off.
- Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth) first appeared in one Season 4 episode in which Frasier has a disastrous date. The character returned in Season 5 and eventually Neuwirth joined Grammer in the opening titles.
- Paul, originally just a background character, was promoted to semi-regular status in the last couple of seasons.
- As Himself: Kevin McHale of the Boston Celtics starred in two different episodes.
- Likewise Wade Boggs.
- As well as Tip O'Neill, Alex Trebek, Gary Hart, Dick Cavett, Robert Urich and The Righteous Brothers.
- At the Opera Tonight: "Diane Chambers Day". Even Diane falls asleep.
- Averse Adept: Norm has an excellent eye for interior decorating, but he doesn't like showing it - he thinks it's a "feminine" talent.
- Bachelor Auction: "Bidding on the Boys".
- Back for the Finale: Diane.
- Badass Beard: The boys have a beard-growing contest in "Two Girls for Every Boyd".
- Bad Bad Acting: In "Two Girls For Every Boyd", when Woody, cast in a community theater production of Our Town opposite a young Lisa Kudrow, is too nervous about a love scene to act competently.
- Bait and Switch Credits: The final episode ended with white-on-black credits, instead of the usual yellow. In addition, a Lonely Piano Piece version of the theme played instead of the usual orchestration.
- Bald of Evil: John Hill to Sam.
- Bar Fire: "The Little Match Girl".
- Bar Slide: Sam has a trick where he can slide a glass of beer around a corner to a customer.
- Bathroom Stall Graffiti: Many times and examples.
Frasier: It took all afternoon, but I finally washed off all of Carla's phone number in the men's bathroom.
- Batman Gambit: Robin Colcord and Gary of "Gary's Olde Towne Tavern" pull these a lot. And while Harry The Hat usually just cons people or steals from them when he appears, he also has two spectacular Batman Gambits to his name, both of which helped Sam.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Sam and Diane.
- Carla and John Allen Hill have this in later seasons.
- Benevolent Boss: Sam is usually this.
- Be Quiet Nudge: Used a few times.
Norm: OW! That really hurt, y'know?
- Berserk Button: Never say anything bad about Cliff's mom in front of him. And never, ever suggest that someday she will die.
- Don't make jokes about Sam's alcoholism in front of Carla.
- If Diane has left (even only for what the characters didn't know would be a summer break and the season premiere), do not mention her around Carla.
- Big Damn Kiss:
- Blunt Yes: In "Diane Meets Mom", Diane is shocked after Frasier's mom (played by Nancy Marchand) threatens to murder her if she doesn't break it off with Frasier. She goes to Sam for advice.
Diane: Sam, I have to ask you a question. Promise me you won't make a joke out of it.
- It's even funnier when you consider Diane met Frasier as a patient in a sanitarium.
- Book Ends: The first episode opens with Sam Malone coming out of the back room, turning on the lights and opening the bar. The final episode ends with Sam locking the bar, turning off the lights, and strolling back into the back room.
- The Diane years had their own Book Ends. In the show's first episode snooty professor Sumner Sloane brings Diane to the bar and she winds up staying there to work after he dumps her. At the end of Season Five, Sumner comes back to Cheers and lures Diane away.
- Bottle Episode: Many episodes, especially early on, never leave the bar.
- In fact, it was almost towards the end of the first season before any locations other than the bar and Sam's office were shown, with maybe one or two glimpses of the pool room, until Diane's apartment started becoming a semi-regular set as well. It wasn't until seasons four and five that non-Cheers locations actually started becoming a regular thing.
- Bowling for Ratings: "From Beer to Eternity".
- Bribe Backfire: Rebecca winds up getting arrested in "Ma Always Liked You Best".
- Brotherhood of Funny Hats: Cliff gets Norm to join the "Knights of the Scimitar", where they wear turbans.
- Bucket Booby Trap: For Diane in "Suspicion".
- The Bus Came Back: The last season saw several. Besides Diane's Back for the Finale appearance, recurring characters Harry the Hat, Nick and Loretta Tortelli, Robin Colcord, and Andy-Andy made guest appearances in Season 11 after long absences. Lilith also popped back up after being written off the show at the beginning of Season 11.
- But Not Too White: Carla used to mock Diane Chambers for being white-bred, and mocked her as "whitey". Diane would defend her pale skin as "alabaster". Then came Lilith (who was played by Bebe Neuwirth, whose real skin tone was very pale).
- Butt Monkey: Diane became more and more of one during her time on the show, and long after she left, the other characters were still getting in digs at her.
- To say nothing of Cliff. And Lilith. And Rebecca!
- Call Back: Two episodes eight seasons apart focus on the Miss Boston Barmaid contest (Diane wins in Season 1 and Carla finishes second in Season 9).
- The Cameo: Luis Tiant and Wade Boggs of the Red Sox, Dick Cavett, Adm. William J. Crowe (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Arsenio Hall, Robert Urich, Johnny Carson, Mike Ditka, Kim Alexis, Ethel Kennedy, George McFarland, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield
- Can't Act Perverted Toward a Love Interest: Sam respected Diane too much for that from the beginning. Instead, she had become his confidant.
- The Casanova: Sam.
- The Cast Showoff: In "Mr. Otis Regrets", everyone jokes about Lilith's lack of singing ability when she takes lessons so she can sing to her baby, until the ending, when Lilith sings a beautiful lullaby. In Real Life Bebe Neuwirth was (and is) an excellent stage singer who was famous for playing Velma Kelly in Chicago long before she was cast on Cheers.
- Catapult Nightmare: Sam in "The Impossible Dream (Part 2)"
- Frasier in "Woody Gets an Election" when he dreams of President Woody Boyd.
- "Diane's Nightmare" is about Andy-Andy.
- Catch Phrase: Frasier's "You will rue the day you did that!" Ironically, he only used the catchphrase once in Frasier.
- "Here's a little known fact..."
- Cat Fight: Between Lilith and Frasier's first wife (played by Emma Thompson) in "One Hugs, the Other Doesn't".
Frasier: You know, I'm going to suffer for this tomorrow, but today, right now, at this exact moment, I'm the happiest man on Earth.
- Discussed and then averted between Kelly and Woody's friend Emily in "Two Girls For Every Boyd":
Cliff: Uh oh, looks like Woody's babes are comin' to blows.
- Character Filibuster: Diane, who has written a long-winded novel, recorded a long-winded answering machine message, and made long-winded speeches.
- She even once wrote a letter of resignation to Sam that went on for pages and pages.
- Her novel became a screenplay only after several thousand pages were cut. She was baffled why the original novel was never picked up.
- Characterization Marches On: Rebecca, when she first appeared in Season 6, was portrayed as a no-nonsense, Ice Queen-ish businesswoman who was completely on top of things. This didn't last. Her character later dissolves into a morass of professional incompetence and personal neuroses. Writer Ken Levine later gave a very simple reason for this decision: Rebecca was funnier that way.
- Character Outlives Actor: Nicholas Colasanto died on February 12, 1985, while the third season of Cheers was still in production. Various references were made to Coach being away: in one episode he is off in Vermont taking a drivers' test, and in another he is at a family reunion. After Colasanto died, three episodes were shot without him, but finally, a Deleted Scene featuring Coach was used as The Teaser for the Season 3 finale (fans will notice that in the teaser, Carla's not pregnant). Finally we learn that The Character Died with Him when Season 4 premiered and Woody Boyd arrived to replace Coach.
- The Chessmaster: Robin Colcord.
- The Chew Toy: Rebecca. The writers seemed tireless in finding ways for her life to fall apart.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Sam goes back and forth between this and the not-so-chivalrous kind depending on the jokes the episode needs.
- Christmas Episode / Santa Claus: In "Christmas Cheers", perpetually unemployed Norm gets some seasonal work as a Santa.
- Christmas in July: Diane's next-to-last episode, "A House Is Not a Home".
- Circumcision Angst: Frasier panics when it's time for Frederick to have his bris.
- Cliff Hanger: Used frequently in the "Diane" years and sparingly thereafter.
- Each of the first four seasons ends with a cliffhanger that has to do with Sam and Diane's relationship. The most extreme case is the 4th season finale, which consists of the last three episodes of that season. The first and second episodes have cliffhangers of their own, and the third one ends the season with a massive one: Sam makes a phone call to propose, but the episode ends before the recipient is revealed.
- The first Rebecca that ended with a Cliffhanger was Season 8. After Robin Colcord flees from police after his plot to take over Rebecca's corporation is exposed, Rebecca finally sleeps with Sam--only to have Robin come back and burst in on them in the last scene of the finale. The resolution was something of an Anticlimax, as Rebecca goes back to Robin and she and Sam are never a romantic item again. Then Season 9 ended with Rebecca and Sam deciding to conceive a child--only to have that plot abruptly ended in Season 10 (see Real Life Writes The Plot below).
- Clip Show / Milestone Celebration / Something Completely Different: The "200th Anniversary Special", which had John McLaughlin (of the syndicated political show The McLaughlin Group) hosting a panel discussion with the show's cast, writers, and producers, interspersed with clips from earlier episodes.
- Closed Door Rapport: In "Dinner at Eight-ish", Lilith, Frasier, and Diane each retreat into the bathroom after different arguments over their relationships.
- Comforting Comforter: Sam for Diane in ""How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Call You Back".
- Comically Missing the Point: Most of the cast is susceptible to this, but Diane is probably the biggest offender on the show, as evidenced by Dr. Simon Finch-Royce's (John Cleese) famous sarcastic rant at Sam and her, after Diane keeps refuting his insistence that she and Sam were a disaster waiting to happen.
Diane: Doctor, there's still one thing you haven't considered...
- The Confidant
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: Used by Sam in an attempt to get Diane to sleep with him.
- Continuity Nod: Four years after Carla is knocked up in "Whodunit?" by Dr. Bennett Ludlow, their son Ludlow Tortelli pops up in "I Kid You Not" as a little egghead that Frasier and Lilith take an interest in.
- Cool Car: Sam's Corvette.
- The Couch: The one in Sam's office sees a lot of action.
- Courtroom Episode: Sam has to propose to Diane to stay out of jail in "Chambers vs. Malone".
- Crossover: With Wings and, improbably, St. Elsewhere placing Cheers as a spur on many Intercontinuity Crossovers.
- Dartboard of Hate: Frasier takes shots at a dartboard with Lilith's face on it in "Is There a Doctor In the Howe?".
- Daydream Surprise: In Season 3 finale "Rescue Me", Sam imagines dramatically stopping Diane's wedding to Frasier. The viewer figures out that it's Sam's fantasy right around the time Diane says Sam can keep dating other women.
- Deadpan Snarker: Carla mostly, but Diane and Norm both enjoy getting their shots in.
- Demoted to Extra: The show was originally supposed to include a crotchety old spinster named "Mrs. Littlefield" among the bar regulars. But according to series writer Ken Levine, the character "didn't really score" and she was reduced to a background part in the pilot episode (and omitted entirely after that).
- Diagonal Billing: used for Ted Danson and Shelley Long in the credits.
- Disappeared Dad: Cliff's long-lost father pops up in "The Barstoolie".
- Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: In one episode, Sam started acting very sophisticated and debonair, including lighting up a pipe. Then Diane woke up (it was All Just a Dream). When she looked through Sam's desk she found an actual pipe, causing her to wonder Or Was It a Dream?...then she looked at the pipe more carefully, blew into it and bubbles came out.
- The Ditz: Coach, and later Woody.
- Dodgy Toupee: Averted by Sam, who reveals that he wears a previously-unsuspected hairpiece in one of the last episodes of the series, to cover a small bald spot on the back of his head. He proves it by removing it.
- Double Date: Sam, Diane, and Andy-Andy.
- Dream Within a Dream: "Diane's Nightmare"
- Drop-In Character: Many. Perhaps most notably, there's John Allen Hill, the owner of Melville's in the later seasons.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Jay Thomas once insulted Rhea Perlman's physical attractiveness on national radio. The producers, let's say, weren't thrilled, and soon not only was Eddie LeBec killed in a humiliating way, it turned out he was a polygamist, souring the audience's opinion on the character.
- Drop What You Are Doing: Twice in "My Fair Clavin".
- Drunk on Milk: Cliff gets trashed on fake beer in "License to Hill".
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Lilith.
- The Eighties / Eighties Hair: OK, besides the hair, the show dates very well.
- Embarrassing Cover Up: In the pilot, Sam tells Coach that Diane is a hooker.
- In the penultimate show, Sam revealed he's bald and wears a toupee.
- Embarrassing First Name
- Norm's real first name is "Hillary".
- Woody's real first name is "Huckleberry".
- Embarrassing Nickname: "Backseat Becky" Howe. The origin of the nickname remains a mystery.
- Ensemble Cast: Not really true in the Diane years--various characters got screentime and episodes devoted to them, but Danson and Long were the stars of the show and the Sam-Diane relationship was the central arc. After Shelley Long left Cheers became more of a true Ensemble Cast.
- Escalating War: Sam got in one of these with Gary's Olde Towne Tavern every year.
- Establishing Shot: Many of the Bull and Finch in Boston, both in the opening credits and within episodes, as well as other Establishing Shots of the Boston skyline from time to time.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Diane says "Et tu, Woody?" in "Save the Last Dance for Me" after Woody echoes Sam and talks about "picking up the babes."
- Even the Girls Want Her: In the second episode of the series, Norm and Coach ogle the legs of a woman outside the bar window and nervously go back to their normal business when they realize she is about to enter. Diane begins to give a speech about how grown men should be above ogling women only to be interrupted when the woman enters the bar and is revealed to be a total bombshell. Diane's response? "Holy ..."
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Ernie Pantuso, known to all as the Coach.
- "Is there an Ernie Pantuso here?" "That's you, Coach."
- Everyone Hates Mimes: In "2 Good 2 Be 4 Real"--with the unsurprising exception of Diane, who even insists on pronouncing it "meem".
- Expy: Sam Malone is an Expy of Jon Lonborg. The photo of Sam pitching behind the bar is Lonborg, and Sam even wore Lonborg's number.
- Face Doodling: Sam draws a mustache on Rebecca's face after she passes out drunk in "One Happy Chappy in a Snappy Serape".
- The Faceless: Norm's wife Vera.
- Also Norm's horny niece Donna.
- Fallen-On-Hard-Times Job: Sam, the ex-Red Sox star. Eddie--once a Bruin, later a Penguin (in the Ice Capades).
- Feigning Intelligence: Cliff.
- The Film of the Book: When an old boyfriend of Diane's showed up, Cliff suggested that, since the guy was a literature professor, Sam should read War and Peace so he could compete with the guy. Sam does, and when Diane finds out she says the only thing better than him reading War And Peace for her is reading it to her. He starts to do so, but she's feeling frisky and takes the book from him and says, "Let's just watch the movie." Sam jumps to his feet and roars "There's a movie?!" and runs off to attack Cliff.
- 555: "Any Friend of Diane's", "One Hugs, the Other Doesn't", "Save the Last Dance for Me", "Everyone Imitates Art", "Never Love a Goalie (Part 1)", "How to Win Friends and Electrocute People"
- Foiler Footage: A fake ending to Sam and Diane's wedding and season finale was filmed with the audience present so no one would spoil the ending and reveal it to be Diane's last episode.
- Food Fight: "Thanksgiving Orphans".
- French Jerk: Henri.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: In-universe example. One episode has Rebecca manage the bar while Sam and the guys play poker in the back room. In short order, Rebecca discovers the bar's liquor license has expired (the renewal was returned due to insufficient postage) and she's forced to sell non-alcoholic drinks.
- Gainax Ending: The series had many. Perhaps the most famous and heartbreaking was the end of "Dark Imaginings". Sam is feeling old because of a hernia, but Diane and a fellow patient manage to convince him he's only as old as he feels. However, when he finds out the young woman visiting the fellow patient is the patient's daughter, and she calls him "sir", Sam is rocked. The final shot is of Sam sitting at a window watching the rain, realizing that while he's not an old man, time is slipping away for him, and he has nothing to show for it.
- The conclusion of the second season had Sam and Diane fighting over her having obnoxious artist Philip Semenko (Christopher Lloyd) for a portrait. Sam even threatens to destroy the painting sight unseen. They end up physically fighting, but instead of a Slap Slap Kiss, Diane decides that they're too combative to be a couple, and announces she's leaving Cheers - and does so. Sam angrily rips off the cover of the canvas to see the picture, which is a Pablo Picasso-like abstract representation of Diane. Philip had predicted there would be no way that Sam could appreciate the non-traditional portrait, but instead, Sam gazes at it, and makes a breathy, awed, "Wow." Smash to Black. Credits Roll.
- Gambit Pileup: Bar Wars II: The Woodman Strikes Back.
- Game Show Appearance: One of the most famous episodes involves Cliff appearing on Jeopardy!. The show was even responsible for some Defictionalization: anytime a contestant blows an automatic win during Final Jeopardy!, it's called "pulling a Clavin." It is also responsible for an Ascended Meme, as several contestants have copied his Final Jeopardy! response of "Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?"
- Gargle Blaster: Carla is famous for making them. One is called "An Open Grave". When Diane chugs down a pitcher, Carla exclaims, "You're gonna die!"
- In Season 11, she makes another, and the entire cast wanders in with a hangover to end all hangovers.
Sam: Hi, Fras.
- Gay Aesop / Gaydar / Invisible to Gaydar: Sam's old baseball teammate comes out in "The Boys in the Bar", causing much consternation.
- The Ghost: Vera Peterson, although she later becomes The Faceless. Also Sam's brother Derek in Season 1 finale "Showdown (Parts 1 and 2)".
- Girlfriend in Canada: In "The Belles of St. Clete's", Cliff regales the bar with tales of his girlfriend in Florida, who is supposedly writing him love letters.
- In a subversion of the trope, Cliff's real girlfriend Maggie ends up living in Canada.
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Diane keeps a whole menagerie in her apartment.
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Rebecca and her sister Susan (played by Marcia Cross) which Sam takes full advantage of to get into bed with both.
- Gold Digger: Rebecca.
"I only loved your for your money!"
- Good News, Bad News: Sam in "Wedding Day"--"I lied about the good news."
- Grand Finale: "One for the Road", a 98-minute episode involving Norm finally getting a job, Cliff getting a promotion, Rebecca getting married, and the return of Diane Chambers.
- Halloween Episode:
- "Diane's Nightmare", in which Diane dreams of the return of Andy Andy.
- "Bar Wars V: The Final Judgment", in which a prank on Gary's Olde Town Tavern appears to have terrible consequences.
- Her Codename Was Mary Sue: In the final episode, we learn Diane has written an award-winning Made for TV Movie called The Heart Held Hostage, the central character of which is a thinly-veiled version of Carla.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Cliff and Norm.
- Hide Your Pregnancy: In Season 3, Shelley Long was mostly shot from the neck up or behind the bar.
- Hit Me Dammit: Coach holds the minor-league record for being hit by pitches and demands that Diane throw a baseball at him. The streak stays alive.
- One teaser shows a prim older woman applying for the job as tutor for Carla's kids; wanting to make sure she can defend herself, Carla tells the woman to punch her (she does when Carla tells her how much she'll pay her, and Carla enthusiastically hires her after the applicant, a woman in her 60's, pops her a good one).
- Hot Librarian: Lilith.
- How's Your British Accent?: In "The Magnificent Six", French Jerk Henri, played by American actor Anthony Cistaro, uses an American accent to pick up a girl who doesn't like French guys.
- Hypno Fool: Woody and Lilith in "Veggie-Boyd".
- Hypocritical Humor: A popular type of joke on the show:
Norm: Anybody else curious about (Woody's hometown in Indiana) Hanover?
- Idiot Blonde: Loretta Tortelli.
"Hurry up Nick, we're going to miss the Menudo concert!"
- Kelly Gaines is a milder version.
- I'll Take Two Beers, Too!
- Imagine Spot: In Shelley Long's last episode "I Do and Adieu", Sam imagines what his and Diane's life as a happily married elderly couple might be like.
- In Season 10's "Go Make", Sam and Rebecca both have unhappy visions of their life as parents in a loveless relationship, leading them to decide not to have a baby.
- In a more heartbreaking moment, Sam sees his imaginary son vanishing when he and Rebecca break off the plans.
- In Season 11, Frasier fantasized about Woody becoming President of the United States. His fantasy doesn't end well.
- In Season 10's "Go Make", Sam and Rebecca both have unhappy visions of their life as parents in a loveless relationship, leading them to decide not to have a baby.
- Informed Flaw: Diane and Rebecca both make jokes about Sam being dumb, but Sam is rarely portrayed as being stupid. He's definitely crass in his attitudes towards women, and a man of simple tastes (babes, baseball, The Three Stooges), but not usually dumb. Contrast him with Coach and Woody, who actually do say dumb things all the time.
- Insufferable Genius: Frasier, early on.
- Don't forget Diane Chambers!
- Insistent Terminology: When Sam finally reveals to Carla the deep, dark secret that he's losing his hair, he quickly corrects her; he's not wearing a wig, he's using a "hair replacement system".
- I Remember It Like It Was Yesterday: With, of course, the inevitable, "It was yesterday."
- ISophagus: Cliff in "It's a Wonderful Wife".
- It's Been Done: Woody's subplot in the episode "Young Dr. Weinstein" has him trying to create a new beverage to get into the Bartending Hall Of Fame. His first attempt, which he calls "Woody's Blue Boyd of Happiness", turns out to already exist (a Blue Moon).
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Frasier with Lilith, after long childishness.
- Jerkass: Cliff Clavin, Carla Tortelli.
- With an occasional extra dollop of Comedic Sociopathy on Carla's part, such as when she locked Rebecca inside the ventilation system overnight, or when she forced Cliff to eat a bug on his birthday which later laid eggs in his stomach.
- Jekyll and Hyde: Norm and "Kreitzer" the alter ego he invents to force his slacker employees in his paint company to work.
- Jumping Out of a Cake: Season 5 episode "One Last Fling" has Diane doing this at a bachelor party for Sam, prior to their intended wedding.
- The guys get a stripper to do this at Frasier's divorce party in "Is There a Doctor in the Howe?".
- Jury Duty: Diane drives her fellow jurors nuts in "Never Love a Goalie (Part 2)".
- Kansas City Shuffle: Anything involving Harry the Hat. Also a few "Bar Wars" episodes. Taken Up to Eleven on the final Bar Wars which involved Harry The Hat.
- Kavorka Man: Loathesome Nick Tortelli sure has a way with women--he even makes Diane weak in the knees by whispering into her ear.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Cliff, accounting for his seemingly endless supply of Little-Known Facts. This trope was once called The Clavin because of him.
- Kuleshov Effect: With the life-size cardboard cutout of Coach's old friend T-Bone in "Coach Buries a Grudge".
- Ladykiller in Love: Sam Malone after Diane Chambers gets her hooks into him.
- Laser Hallway: Sam and Rebecca accidentally trigger the security system in Robin Colcord's apartment in "The Art of the Steal".
- Last Unsmoked Cigarette: Sam's lucky bottle cap, as a symbol of his former, drinking life.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Season 11's "The Last Picture Show", some of the gang go to an old drive-in theater and see a Godzilla movie. Cliff notices that the lead actress in this edition of the Godzilla series has been recast. Cue the following bit of dialogue:
Norm: She left halfway through the Godzilla series.
- The last line of the series.
Sam: I'm sorry; we're closed.
- Le Film Artistique: In episode "Cheers: The Motion Picture", the gang makes a home movie, "Manchild in Beantown", to convince Woody's protective parents to let him stay in Boston. Diane re-cuts the movie into a bizarre art film before sending it. This leads to the following Gilligan Cut exchange:
Diane: After Woody's father sees this...there is no way he will be able to order Woody to leave here against his will.
- When Diane asks why his father didn't like her film, Woody replies that his father thought it was too derivative of Jean-Luc Godard.
- Letting Her Hair Down: Lilith. Invoked by Diane and Sam in "Abnormal Psychology", and lampshaded/defied/played straight by Frasier.
"Don't you see? What these two people, who are such geniuses at romance - are trying to do is to get your hair down, thinking that it will stimulate me like some kind of Pavlovian dog."
- It still works, of course.
- Like an Old Married Couple: Sam and Diane, Sam and Rebecca.
- Little-Known Facts: Oh, Cliff.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Sam deals with this in "Baby Talk" when thinking about making a baby with Rebecca makes him unable to make a baby.
- Long Runners: Probably the only scripted TV series to both qualify for this honor and have a Spin-Off that qualified for this honor.
- Look Behind You!: Sam uses "Oh my God, look at the size of that cat!" to get out of a restaurant bill in "Young Dr. Weinstein".
- Love At First Sight: "Coach in Love (Part 1)".
- Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: A lot of the humor, dialogue, plot and characterization runs on this.
- Massive Multiplayer Scam: Frequently a part of "Bar Wars" episodes.
- Mathematician's Answer: Both Cliff and Woody had a tendency to give these, although for different reasons.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: An episode involved a guy who wanted to be a priest, who was having cold feet one day before being ordered, who managed to touch an old piano in the bar that has been out of order by years. The piano worked! Cloudcuckoolander Coach even says: “I can’t believe it”. All the cast convinced the guy that it must be a signal that he was special and he must become a priest. He agrees and left the bar. When all comment the miracle, Coach says he repaired the piano a week ago. When they ask him why he said “I can’t believe it” if he knew the piano was working, he answered that all those years he left the piano broke without any further thought, but just a week ago he felt the irrepressible urge to repair the piano, before it was too late.
- The Missus and the Ex: In "One Hugs, the Other Doesn't", Frasier and Lilith run into Frasier's (previously unmentioned) ex-wife.
- Mistaken for Gay: Evan Drake thinks Rebecca is a lesbian ("A Kiss Is Still a Kiss").
- Mistaken for Profound: Woody when running for city council.
- Momma's Boy: Cliff.
- Mother-Daughter Threesome: An episode had Sam daydreaming about this — the teen-aged daughter of one of his girlfriends (who called him "Uncle Sammie") started talking to him about male-female attraction. It turns out she was actually talking about her new boyfriend.
- My Beloved Smother: Ma Clavin, but also Lilith's mother in "Smother Love".
- Nails on a Blackboard: In "Showdown, Part 2" (the Season 1 finale), Diane does this to force Sam to admit his feelings.
- Naive Newcomer: Diane, in the pilot.
- Named Like My Name: Sam discovers that, while drunk, he had bet a stranger that he could marry Jacqueline Bisset within a year. On learning that the other party plans to hold him to that bet (and has a binding contract), he reads over the terms of the bet and realizes that it doesn't specify Jacqueline Bisset the actress. He immediately sets out to find another woman of the same name to marry him.
- Never Gets Drunk: For a show in a bar about about people who drank a lot, drunkenness was very rarely shown, although the aftermath was shown more than a few times.
- New Old Flame:
- This tended to happen weekly when Sam and Diane were first together.
- Also, Frasier's first wife, Nanette.
- Non-Ironic Clown: Frasier is drafted by Rebecca to be a clown for a corporate children's party in "Send in the Crane".
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Woody's subplot from "Young Dr. Weinstein" (see It's Been Done) ends with him finally succeeding in creating an original drink. Unfortunately, he can't remember what he put in it.
- Not-So-Great Escape: An episode featured Norm being hired to paint the bedroom of Rebecca's millionaire crush Evan Drake while the latter is away on a business trip. Rebecca then convinces Norm to let her tag along for her to "see where he sleeps". Unfortunately, Drake returns early leaving only enough time for Rebecca to hide in the closet, making Norm go to increasingly ludicrous attempts to make the exhausted Drake leave the room (since he would probably find Rebecca in the morning), culminating in Norm convincing Drake to help him carry out his "fantasy" of "carrying a rich man across the lawn in his pajamas".
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: This is a show about a bar in Boston, Massachusetts, but of the regular characters Cliff is the only one with even an approximation of a New England accent.
- Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Woody tunes Frasier out in "The Book of Samuel".
- Number One Dime: Sam's lucky bottle cap, from the last bottle of alcohol he drank before quitting.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: While Woody is a simpleton, but his father seems to be intelligent. For example, he bowed out of investing in Norm's Tan 'N' Wash because he states, "You know, when I left home, my father gave me some very sound advice. Never trust a man who can't look you in the eye, never talk when you can listen, and never spend venture capital on a limited partnership without a detailed analytical fiduciary prospectus."
- Oblivious to Love: Mr. Drake in regards to Rebecca.
- Off the Wagon: Happens to Sam when he and Diane break up in the second-season finale. And never again.
- The Oner: The last shot of "Sam at Eleven" the series' fourth episode.
- Opposites Attract: Sam and Diane.
- Orphaned Punchline: In "Money Dearest", we hear Sam finish a joke with "Well that may be so, but this one's eating my popcorn!". This Orphaned Punchine, also featured in The Sting and Men in Black, happens to be the punchline to a real joke.
- Pants-Positive Safety / Reckless Gun Usage / Shot in the Ass : An angry husband comes into the bar looking for Sam with a revolver for having an affair with his wife. After the man is talked out of the shooting and the gun is taken from him, Sam puts it in his back pocket for storage. Afterward, he goes to sit down, and shoots himself in the butt. The situation spirals out of control when he attempts to explain the injury by claiming he got shot in an attempted hold-up.
- Phony Veteran: The first scene of the first episode involves a kid (who looks about 12) with a phony military ID claiming to be a 'Nam vet.
- Phrase Catcher / Say My Name: "NORM!"
- This was typically done Once Per Episode, and would be followed by Sam (or Coach, or Woody) asking Norm how things were going and him responding with an amusing one-liner.
Woody: How's life treating you, Mr. Peterson?
- Pie in the Face: Vera takes on in "Thanksgiving Orphans", thus preserving her status as The Faceless.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Diane is a waitress at Cheers, but she seems to spend a lot more time reading a book at the bar or flirting/arguing with Sam than she does serving customers. This is just one of the many reasons Carla hates her.
- Piss-Take Rap: Sam in "'I' on Sports".
- Plot Allergy: "Diane's Allergy" is brought on by Diane's anxiety over moving in with Frasier.
- Politician Guest Star: From Boston, Mayor Raymond Flynn and Speaker of the House Rep. Tip O'Neill. From the state of Massachusetts, Sen. John Kerry and Gov. Michael Dukakis. Also, Senator and two-time presidential candidate Gary Hart of Colorado.
- Poor Man's Porn: Norm subscribes to the Victoria's Secret catalogue.
- Prank Call: The teaser for one episode had Woody not falling for a prank call, even though the caller (revealed to be Frasier) tries to explain it to him... and vice versa.
- Precision F-Strike / Reality Subtext: In the final episode, after everyone has left the bar (for good), Sam looks around, and exclaims, "I'll be damned. I'm the luckiest son-of-a-bitch in the world."
- Prenup Blowup: Frasier and Lilith.
- Prepositions Are Not to End Sentences With: Diane has a fantasy of her "perfect" Sam, and he does this to her.
- "Previously On...": A couple of parodies and variations were used for the show, including an amusing recap narrated in a rambling fashion by Coach, who forgot significant plot details and had to start over.
- Another recap featured Cliff explaining what happened in an episode that happened to be Frasier's first appearance, while showing a slideshow of his (Cliff, that is) vacation in Florida.
- Prison: Rebecca visits Robin Colcord there.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: John Ratzenberger (Season 2), Kelsey Grammer (Season 5), Bebe Neuwirth (Season 10).
- Put on a Bus: Diane, at the end of Season 5.
- Raging Stiffie: Rebecca intentionally provokes this and then maroons Sam at Melville's in "How to Recede in Business".
- Real Life Writes the Plot: After Kirstie Alley got pregnant during Season 9, the writers crafted a storyline in which Rebecca and Sam decided to conceive a child together. After Alley had a miscarriage, Sam and Rebecca change their minds.
- Really Gets Around: Carla, who not only Really Gets Around but is seemingly constantly pregnant. Sam is portrayed this way right at the end of the series, which was something of a departure for a show that previously seemed to view him as a Casanova.
- Recurring Extra: Many of the barflies.
- Romantic False Lead: Frasier Crane fit this trope exactly when he was introduced in Season 3 as Diane's new boyfriend. What was unusual was how the character was used afterwards. Frasier proved so popular that he stuck around for two more seasons after the Diane-Frasier romance ended, then six more seasons after Diane left Cheers, then for eleven more years on his own show. Not many Romantic False Leads have been on prime time television for 19 years.
- Ironically, however, Shelley Long actually despised the Frasier character for simply being a Romantic False Lead, and frequently lobbied hard to get Kelsey Grammer removed from the show. The producers, of course, naturally rejected her demands each time.
- Councilwoman Janet Eldridge (played by Kate Mulgrew), who has a relationship with Sam in the three-part Season 4 finale "Strange Bedfellows".
- Sam's unseen brother Derek, who romances Diane in the two-part Season 1 finale "Showdown".
- Runaway Bride: Diane left Frasier at the altar. It's not played entirely straight, though; Frasier is left bitter and angry and takes a very long time to get over it. In fact, he never gets over it during Cheers itself; it takes a couple of seasons of his own show on the other side of the country, and giving the visiting Diane an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech to expunge the last of the venom.
- Running Gag: All the time, both series wide and episodic, such as Harry the Hat's scams, Norm's entrances.
- Sanity Slippage: Diane, after breaking up with Sam. She ends up in an insane asylum, which she insists is a "health spa". Everyone who saw her there, however, is shocked she was released so quickly.
- Second Face Smoke: Rebecca does this to Sam when he tries to get her to give up smoking.
- Series Continuity Error: Interseries example with Frasier. In Season 10's "I'm OK, You're Defective", we're presented with a Flash Forward in which Lilith, Frasier's widow, is there for the reading of his will. In Frasier they are divorced.
- Other Series Continuity Errors with Frasier, mainly Frasier referring to his father as 1) an eminent psychiatrist and 2) dead, were explained away on Frasier as Frasier basically lying because he was not on good terms with his father at that time.
- The final teaser for Season 3 featured a scene with Coach (after Nicholas Colasanto had passed away) and Carla. Astute viewers would have instantly noticed that the scene was shot a long time before the airing because Carla (and Rhea Perlman herself) is not pregnant. The writers and producers knew this, however - it was used as a tribute to Colasanto since Coach was talking about a man who could see much farther than anyone realized.
- In the second episode of the series "Sam's Women", someone comes in looking for "Gus", a previous owner, and Coach tells him that Gus is dead. In Season 11's "The Last Picture Show", Gus O'Malley, who sold Cheers to Sam 17 years prior, comes back to the bar.
- Shout-Out: In Season 2 episode "Little Sister Don't Cha", Carla goes to St. Eligius to have her baby.
- After Nicholas Colasanto died, a picture of Geronimo was taken from his dressing room and hung in the main set, where it stayed for the rest of the show's run. Sam Malone straightens the Geronimo picture before walking off stage in the final scene of the series.
- The Shrink: Fraiser, Lilith.
- Side Bet: In Season 5 finale "I Do and Adieu", money keeps going back and forth as Sam and Diane hesitate on the edge of marriage.
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Gary's Olde Towne Tavern.
- Six Is Nine: The bar has a raffle using numbered ping-pong balls. Number 99 gets chosen, but Sam points out that the 99 looks like a 66. Hilarity Ensues.
- Even funnier is when the next winner's ball is "11". Woody looks at it and calls out "Eleven!", then looks at it upside down, and mutters, "Oh, no. Not again."
- Skyward Scream: Carla, when she finds out she slept with Paul.
- Slap Slap Kiss: Sam and Diane, nearly constantly.
Sam: You are the nuttiest, the stupidest, the phoniest fruitcake I ever met!
- Averted in "I'll Be Seeing You (Part 2)", the final episode of Season 2. The "Slap Slap" happens, but Diane decides there will be no Kiss.
- Slobs Versus Snobs
- Small Name, Big Ego
- Smart People Play Chess: Played with in "Spellbound", where resident egghead Frasier humbles everyone at the bar at chess--except apparent numbskull Woody, who beats Frasier every time. Frasier flips the table in frustration.
- Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: After a rash promise in "Swear to God", Sam feels obligated to the Lord to go three months without sex. After three weeks without a too-sexy-to-resist old flame comes into the bar and Sam cracks, looking to Heaven and saying "If you're going to smite me down, please make it quick and painless."
- Smug Snake: John Allen Hill, the owner of Melville's Restaurant directly above Cheers. Invoked by Carla in one episode.
- For Sam, Hill's "SaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaam" was a Most Annoying Sound.
- Snipe Hunt: The gang does this to Frasier in "The Heart Is a Lonely Snipe Hunter". He gets back at them.
- Social Semi-Circle: Most of the time people only sat on 3 sides of the bar, if they did sit on the side facing the audience they were only background characters.
- Spin-Off: Frasier, of course, but also the often-forgotten The Tortellis, which, in addition to low ratings, also drew severe criticism for supposed negative depictions of Italian Americans.
- Spiteful Spit: Diane on Sam in "Old Flames" after she finds out he went out with another girl.
- Split-Screen Phone Call: More than once during the Season 3 arc where Diane goes off to Europe with Frasier but keeps calling Sam.
- Again in the series finale, "One for the Road", when Diane calls Sam up after six years away.
- Spoiled Sweet: Kelly Gaines.
- Stalker with a Crush: Andy-Andy.
- Stock Sitcom Grand Finale: Follows the template pretty closely. Rebecca leaves first, and apparently permanently (to marry Don, although Frasier let us know she'd returned to Cheers as a barfly), the rest of the cast strolls out the front door, Norm hangs back for a bit to have a talk with Sam, and then Sam exits into the pool room.
- "Cheers was filmed before a live Studio Audience."
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Woody, for Coach; Rebecca, for Diane
- The Teaser: The show always opened with one.
- Theme Tune: A particularly catchy one.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: After hurting his back at the Cranes' house, Norm gets very comfortable there in "The Norm Who Came in from the Cold". He eventually brings the whole bar there.
- This Is My Chair: Norm and his stool. At one point a yuppie steals it and is informed that Norm has been sitting there "since the Johnson administration."
- In the final scene of the series, Norm announces "I love this stool!".
- This Is Your Song: Woody does this for Kelly because he's broke and can't afford a present.
- Too Kinky to Torture. Carla has strange sexual appetites.
Carla: Woody, you don't know what you're getting yourself into. I mean, those guys at Gary's are vicious. They could strip you naked, paint you red, and put you on a subway.
- Tropaholics Anonymous: In the next-to-last episode of the series, "The Guy Can't Help It", Sam decides that he is a sex addict and joins a support group. This was a jarring plot twist, given that Sam was able to stay faithful to Diane when they were dating, and his Casanova ways had been generally Played for Laughs during the show's run.
- Training Montage: "Pitch It Again, Sam".
- Tropacabana: The series spends 95%+ of its time in the eponymous bar.
- True Love Is Boring: Sam and Diane can't ever work out their issues.
- Twitchy Eye: Diane's facial tic. It becomes a Mythology Gag in Frasier.
- Two-Timer Date
- Under New Management: Between Seasons 5 and 6 Sam sold the bar to a corporation and left to live on a boat. Unfortunately, he crashed and sank the boat in the Caribbean. Without any money or assets left, he came back in the first episode of Season 6 and took a job as a bartender at the bar he used to own.
- For the next couple seasons, Sam works to save up money to buy the bar back. After some difficulties, Sam alerts the corporation that Robin Colcord is embezzling money from the corporation's coffers, and they sell him back the bar for less than a dollar out of gratitude - creating new old management. Rebecca, for her part, gets sacked from her position for keeping silent on the matter, and Sam ends rehiring her as a waitress.
- The Un-Reveal: 11 years and 275 episodes, and four Bernadett Birkett guest appearances, and we never get to see Vera Petersen's face.
- Upper Class Twit: Kelly, Rebecca.
- Uptown Girl: The relationship between Woody the bartender and the millionaire's daughter Kelly Gaines.
- Use Your Head: Cliff.
- The Voice: Vera Peterson, voiced by George Wendt's real-life wife, Bernadette Birkett.
- Wedding Day: Subverted with Sam and Diane in the Season 5 finale, "I Do and Adieu".
- Likewise before that, when Diane leaves Frasier at the altar.
- Also subverted with Rebecca and Robin Colcord, in Season 9's "Wedding Bell Blues".
- Subverted yet again in "A Fine French Whine" when Woody interrupts Kelly and Henri's Citizenship Marriage.
- And yes, still another subversion in "Someone Single, Someone Blue", when a clause in Diane's father's will requires Diane to get married so Diane's mother can keep the family fortune.
- Believe it or not, played straight with Carla and Eddie in "Little Carla, Happy at Last (parts 1 and 2)".
- Also played straight in Woody and Kelly in the Season 10 finale, "An Old Fashioned Wedding".
- Welcome Episode: Diane meets the gang.
- What Exactly Is His Job?: After Rebecca gets fired from her corporate job and Sam buys back the bar, she works as the bar's manager and then later goes into partnership with Sam--but in fact she doesn't seem to do much of anything. This was a Running Gag towards the end of the show's run.
- Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: A season one episode featured many of the regulars fearing that the bar will become your stereotypical gay bar once it starts accepting gay clientele; the episode ends with Diane revealing that the men they've been worrying about are actually straight, and two of the regulars are gay.
- Who's Watching the Store?: Often applicable in a show where there are never more than four people serving customers. Usually the show was pretty good at never having the entire staff away from the bar during working hours.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Carla is afraid of flying, which prevents her from visiting Eddie when he's out touring with the ice show. Frasier attempts to help her with her fear.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Woody.
- Will They or Won't They?. Sam and Diane are arguably the Trope Codifier for American television. Later the show did the same thing with Sam and Rebecca, but it wasn't as big a deal; Rebecca has a one-night stand with Sam and then goes back to Robin Colcord.
- Wipe: Used in "Cheers: The Motion Picture" and "Carla Loves Clavin".
- Work Com: To the exclusion of all other locales until Season Two.
- Worth It: Cliff tricks Carla into being nice to him by making her think he's a judge in a waitressing contest and humiliating her by having her give him foot messages. She naturally finds out and Norm states that Cliff is dead meat. Cliff invokes the trope.
- Yes-Man: Rebecca will do anything her bosses at the Lilith Corporation tell her to, no matter how menial--organize a kiddie party, babysit a superior's dogs, etc.
- You Look Familiar: Paul Willson first appeared in first-season episode "Someone Single, Someone Blue" as a character named Glen. In second-season episode "Little Sister Don't Cha", he plays a character named Tom. Then in fourth-season episode "Fools and Their Money", he appears as Paul Krapence, the character he played for 53 episodes, becoming a semi-regular in the show's later years.
- Interseries example with Frasier. John Mahoney and Peri Gilpin both guest-starred on Cheers as different characters.
- Averted with Bernadette Birkett, who appeared in one episode ("Fairy Tales Can Come True") as Cliff's date, and then four times without ever showing her face as Vera Petersen.
- Your Cheating Heart: Lilith tells Frasier she's having an affair, and then leaves him, in "Teaching with the Enemy".
- Your Costume Needs Work: Wade Boggs in "Bar Wars".
- Zip Me Up: Rebecca tempts a temporarily celibate Sam in "Swear to God".
- Sorry, we're closed.
- This didn't make them a romantic item, as neither one of them had romantic feelings for one another. While they enjoyed sex with each other, their only reason for doing it was to have a baby.