‘Cheers’: Why Series Creators Changed Kelsey Grammer’s Character for ‘Frasier’

by Taylor Cunningham
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Kelsey Grammer’s character on Cheers went through a bit of a transformation before staring in Frasier. According to the series’ creators, that was intentional. And it was likely the reason that the spinoff was so successful.

When Dr. Frasier Crane joined Cheers, he was an over-the-top elitest who briefly served as Diane Chamber’s rebound boyfriend. At the time, his snooty demeanor was characterized heavily, and it worked well. When Grammer began with the show, the creators only intended to make him a guest star. But he was so well received that Frasier ended up sticking with the classic TV show until the very end.

By the time Cheers ended in 1993, Frasier Crane had become so popular that he earned his own show. That same year, he effortlessly picked up on the spinoff Fraiser. The story followed the psychiatrist as he moved back to his hometown Seattle, WA, to begin a radio show. And while there, he ended up taking in his ailing father.

But when fans watched him on Frasier, they noticed that he was a little less off-the-wall. While he was still uppity and overly sophisticated, the good doctor was more toned down and relaxed with his antics. And as co-creator David Lee shared, doing so made him more relatable.

“We knew that character worked,” he told The Desert Sun. “We had to reinvent it to some extent to make sure it worked not as a supporting character, but a lead character who was the center of all the action. That required calming the character down a bit and grounding him in a little more reality than he was on Cheers.”

After ‘Cheers’, Kelsey Grammer Went on to Win 37 Primetime Emmys for ‘Frasier’

Of course, taking that approach worked. On the show, Frasier no longer needed his friends to balance his as they did on Cheers. Instead, he acted as the level-headed mind for his pretentious brother, Niles, grumpy dad, Marty, and dad’s witchy live-in nurse, Daphne.

Thanks to Frasier’s new persona, the series went on to enjoy 11 years on NBC and 37 Primetime Emmy wins. Since its debut, no other series has been able to recreate its uniqueness. And despite ending nearly two decades ago, it is still a hit in syndication.

Frasier is so popular that a reboot is in the works. The show is slated to drop on Paramount + later this year.

“I’m proud of the show for a lot of reasons, and what my collaborators, actors, and everybody involved with it did,” Lee continued. “No one has imitated it, and that’s one thing I’m proud of.” 

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