20 Little-Known Facts About Cheers That Even Its Most Obsessive Fans Won’t Know

Cheers left a legacy that resonates almost 30 years after it called last orders. Set in Boston’s friendliest bar, the show won audiences over thanks to its charm and wit, introducing us to stars like Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson. But while the show had plenty of stellar scenes, some of the series’ best moments actually occurred behind closed doors. From co-star spats to tales of debauchery lurid enough to make Norm reconsider that last beer, these facts shed new light on this classic series.

1. Ted Danson took years to understand Sam

As the skirt-chasing bar owner Sam Malone, Ted Danson undoubtedly convinced many that he was a Lothario in real life. Ironically, Danson didn’t share his character’s fondness for fooling around, which made stepping into his character’s shoes a difficult task. As he told GQ in 2012, “It took me at least two years to feel, ‘Oh. I know how to play this now.’”

2. Sam almost starred in a very serious Very Special Episode

Due to Cheers coinciding with the AIDS crisis, depicting a character as promiscuous as Sam was problematic. In fact, producers pitched a story wherein the barkeep discovers that an ex-girlfriend, and possibly Sam in turn, is HIV positive. However, the episode, which cast and crew considered too dark, never ended up being shot.

3. Danson could serve you a drink in real life

Although he didn’t share Sam’s affinity for womanizing, Danson nevertheless was dedicated to getting his character right. To wit, the actor spent a fortnight at a bartending school to nail the mannerisms of a real-life mixologist. Likewise, Rhea Perlman, who portrayed sour waitress Carla, spent hours studying the trade in the bar Cheers was based upon.

4. John Ratzenberger made up his character on the spot

Now known for his supporting parts in Pixar movies, John Ratzenberger gained fame as Cheers’ resident know-it-all Cliff. Nevertheless, the character didn’t exist in the original plans for the show. During his audition, the actor actually pitched Cliff based on his own experience of New England bar patrons, impressing producers enough to write him into the series.