2. Diane Chooses Sam Malone Over Derek Malone
Episode: Showdown, Part 2 (1×23)
Probably Cheers’ most iconic scene. Sam’s brother Derek, who is perfect and dwarfs Sam, the professional baseball player, in stature and status. He visits the bar and sweeps everyone, including Diane, off their feet. Funny enough, we never actually see him because he’s always lost in the crowd.
Over half of this episode is the blowout fight between Sam and Diane. I cut it down to the last few minutes. It’s witty, it’s funny, and an all-time classic sitcom moment.
1. Diane’s Painting
Episode: I’ll Be Seeing You, Part 2 (2×22)
After a season of dating, Diane and Sam’s relationship comes to a head when Diane commissions an eccentric painter (Christopher Lloyd) to do a portrait of her. Sam loathes the guy and forbids Diane to see him. Obviously, that doesn’t work.
Diane brings the painting to Sam and he flips out. Diane comes back with one of the sharpest insults I’ve ever heard.
And then the end to season two, one of the saddest moments of the entire series.
4. An Intelligent Woman Would See Through Sam’s BS
Episode: Sam’s Women (1×02)
If the first episode didn’t get people hooked on the show, the second one should have. Diane spends several days dismissing the women Sam dates as brainless, insulting him and his way of life. For the first time in the series, they trade barbs, with Diane seemingly laying the knockout punch.
But little does she know that Mayday has something left in the tank.
3. Coach Forbids His Daughter To Marry
Episode: Coach’s Daughter (1×05)
Did I mention how awesome the first season is? We meet Coach’s daughter, who is engaged to a misogynistic, obnoxious, despicable suit salesman. He wants to respect her wishes, but as he learns more and more about his future son-in-law, he can’t take it anymore and pulls her into Sam’s office. If you’re a guy and don’t spill waterworks watching this, get some therapy pronto.
BONUS Clip: The Best Opening Teaser
Episode: What Is Cliff Clavin? (8×14)
6. The End
Episode: One for the Road (11×25)
The final season of Cheers wasn’t awful, but I wasn’t all that sad to see it go, and I was just thirteen years old. Lilith was gone, Frasier had lost something of his character (and slept with Rebecca!). Many of the plots seems to outdo themselves with the bar burning down, Sam going to sex therapy, and Woody running for city council. It was time.
Diane came back, of course. Carla’s utter hatred for her was over the top and particularly annoying in this episode. Sam proposes to Diane a fifth time, and this time she says yes. Thankfully, they come to their senses and Diane leaves again. The final episode definitely drags on as everything else ties up into a pretty bow (Woody gets elected, Rebecca gets engaged to the plumber, Cliff gets promoted, Norm gets a job), but the final scene is pretty solid. The primary gang is all there, shooting the shit. They have some armchair philosophy discussions, and it’s mostly a feel-good moment for everyone involved.
Some complained about the ending, but I thought the last few minutes were a perfect way to sign off.
5. Dr. Crane, meet Dr. Sternen
Episode: Abnormal Psychology (5×04)
With Diane’s character getting stale, Carla always being pointless, and the up and coming Rebecca being mostly obnoxious, Lilith joining the cast was exactly what the show needed. I never really bought Frasier and Diane as a couple, but Lilith was perfect for him. In fact, I believe her presence helped mold the character of Frasier Crane into what he became on the spin-off.
This scene, their meet-up at the bar after playing footsie with each other on live television, always make me grin from ear to ear.
8: Harry the Hat Wins Poker, Thanks to Coach
Episode: Pick a Con, Any Con (1×19)
We’re introduced to Harry Anderson before his Night Court days. He’s the local con-man who does small-time work at the bar before Sam kicks him out. However, Coach has a friend who’s a pretty good con man himself, and the gang decides to use him to win some money back from Harry. Coach is involved, though, so things go terribly wrong…
7. Gary Dies
Episode: Bar Wars V: The Final Judgment (10×07)
Nearly every season there was an episode dedicated to the gang trying to win customers from Gary’s Old-Town Tavern while not getting utterly embarrassed in some friendly (or not-so-friendly contest. My favorite was this one. It’s Halloween, and they’re trying to out-spook each other. Sam goes too far with his final prank, and Gary dies of a heart attack. Sam embarrasses himself repeatedly, convinced that Gary really isn’t dead. He goes so far as to yell at Gary to get out of his coffin and his grave. Back at the bar afterwards, Sam finally comes to grips with what’s happened.
10. Cliff on Jeopardy
Episode: What Is Cliff Clavin? (8×14)
Cheers had a lot of celebrities, especially local ones, come on the show. Some were just there for a cameo and a brief laugh (Wade Boggs) while some had a lot of screen time but were only mediocre (Kevin McHale). However, this episode hits every note perfectly, and Alex Trebek is fantastic. Not shown in the clip below is Alex Trebek coming to the bar, making some shit up about quitting to Cliff, then telling Norm that “He scares me.”
9. Frasier’s Snipe Hunt
Episode: The Heart is a Lonely Snipehunter (3×14)
The guys pull the old prank on Frasier of putting him on a snipe hunt, then ditch him in the woods. Frasier figures it out, but pretends he’s in love with the snipe hunting just to get back at them. Grammer really gets into it here, and I laugh every time I see him make his snipe call below.
12: Woody’s Wedding
Episode: An Old-Fashioned Wedding (10×25)
There’s not one moment from Woody and Kelly’s pre-wedding hijinks that really stands out, but the hour long episode is great farce from beginning to end. Woody and Kelly sleep with each other (for the first time) the morning of their wedding, and thus must get married that day despite everything that goes wrong. We get treated to angry cooks, mean rottweilers, a jealous kaiser with a sword, a dumbwaiter, and a dead body. Lilith shines, as usual, by entertaining the guests with singing, parlor tricks, and cleavers. Woody is pretty good too, dropping a bit of the naivety and delivering some realistic, solid one-liners.
11. Frederick’s First Word
Episode: Breaking In Is Hard To Do (9×07)
Frasier and Lilith are worried when Frederick turns 11 months old and hasn’t said his first word yet, so they ask their pediatrician who informs them, tragically, that their son is normal. They are desperate to advance him along, to give him more positive social activity that may inspire their son to talk. Lilith is livid when she discover Frasier brought Freddy to the bar, until…
14. Cliff’s Shock Therapy
Episode: How to Win Friends and Electrocute People (7×07)
Cliff has an appendectomy and lets his friends know at the bar that he’s a bit scared that something will go wrong. The surgery turns out fine, but nobody comes to visit Cliff. Believing his obnoxious behavior has alienated his friends, he decides to hire a guy to give him an electric shock every time he behaves inappropriately at the bar. Hilarity ensues. Ratzenberger is great here.
13. Sam and Robin Can’t Stop Competing
Episode: Indoor Fun with Sammy and Robby (8×19)
Rebecca is supposed to have a full day with Robin, who has finally taken a day off. However, he engages Sam in some friendly competition. leaving Rebecca to spend her dream date with Robin, with Woody. Sam beats Robin at bar games until Robin proposes a game of chess, winner gets their opponent’s yearly salary. Sam, knowing nothing about chess, finds a way to cheat and win. Robin concedes, and then…yeah, just watch it.
16. Sam Proposes to…Somebody
Episode: Strange Bedfellows, Part 3 (4×26)
The only time Cheers had a three-part episode (other than their feature length final episode), Sam winds up dating a well-liked politician (Kate Mulgrew) running for Mayor of Boston. At first she dates him just for the PR points for being seen with a good-looking celebrity, but she eventually falls for him. Meanwhile, Diane tries to sabotage their relationship. The politician eventually tells him he has to make a choice between her and Diane. So he does, though we don’t find out who until the end of the summer.
15. Food Fight
Episode: Thanksgiving Orphans (5×09)
The gang is all without their families, so they have Thanksgiving dinner together. Like any good situational comedy, nothing goes right, including our one opportunity to see Norm’s wife Vera. I bet the cast had a blast with this,
18. Diane Gets Hired
Episode: Give Me a Ring Sometime (1×01)
Cheers was dead last in the ratings after its first season. It’s crazy that nobody tuned in considering how great the first season is, and it’s crazy that the show wasn’t cancelled anyway. You can’t even blame the poor ratings on the first episode, as it does a really solid job of introducing the characters while giving up a few good laughs. It’s not perfect. Norm tries a Boston accent, which he thankfully dropped, and also is way more misogynistic than his character becomes.
For a quick recap, Diane and her fiancee wind up at Cheers to have some champagne before they fly off to get married. He winds up going back to his ex-wife and Diane is stuck with no fiancee, no money, and no job prospects. She then asks Sam what she should do:
17. Diane Leaves the Show
Episode: I Do and Adieu (5×26)
As everyone who watches the show knows, Cheers was filmed in front of a live studio audience. In this episode, Sam and Diane are finally getting married. The live studio audience was treated to an actual marriage. Imagine their surprise when they watched the aired version, where during the wedding, Diane gets notice that a book she wrote years ago is being published. She decides to take the advance money to finish the book and promises Sam she’ll be back in six months.
Sam Malone’s character is awesome because he rarely devolves into caricature unless he’s doing so on purpose to impress the guys. Ted Danson does a masterful job in making us believe his character during the emotionally poignant moments, and this is no exception.
Bonus Clip: Is There An Ernie Pantuso Here?
Episode: Give Me a Ring Sometime (1×01)
This is such a stupid moment from the first episode, but I still laugh every single time I see it. I love Colasanto’s delivery.
20. Woody Doesn’t Tell Kelly He’s in a Play
Episode: Two Girls for Every Boyd (8×09)
Woody’s girlfriend Kelly was a one-joke pony, basically being there as a set-up for other people’s jokes. She didn’t really grow as a character, and was even more comically naive than the impossibly naive Woody. In this episode, Woody has landed a role in a local play, Our Town. He’s having trouble showing intimacy with his co-actress, played by Lisa Kudrow, because he feels like doing so would upset Kelly and because he feels guilty over not telling Kelly he’s in the play. She then catches him with her, and delivers her best line of the show’s run.
Episode: One Hugs, The Other Doesn’t (10×16)
Frasier and Lilith take their boy Frederick to see a Nanny Gee concert. Frasier soon realizes this is the same person as his first wife, whom he neglected to mention to Lilith (or the entire audience prior to his moment). Nanny Gee spends the entire episode pining for Frasier, much to Lilith’s chagrin. The last few minutes of the episode are gold, and I’ve never forgotten the above phone number.