On This Day: ‘Cheers’ Actress Shelley Long Makes Final Appearance in 1987

by Katie Maloney

Thirty-four years ago, actress Shelley Long bid adieu to her character, Diane Chambers, on the classic TV show “Cheers.”

Saying goodbye to one of your favorite characters on a show is always bittersweet. In a way, while watching a show, you become invested in the characters’ lives. So, saying goodbye can feel like losing close friends. Nevertheless, it’s not uncommon for an actor to move on from a show, leaving fans to have to bid adieu to their favorite characters.

That was exactly the case during the fifth season series finale episode of “Cheers” titled “I Do, Adieu.”

Before this episode aired, Ted Danson, who played Sam Malone on the show decided to renew his contract with “Cheers.” However, Shelley Long, who played Diane Chambers, decided to move on from the series. So, the show had to find a way to write off Diane and conclude the on-and-off romance between Sam and Diane. During the episode, Diane receives an opportunity to finish one of her novels. So, she breaks up with Same and moves to another city to pursue her goals. That was the last time Shelley Long appeared in “Cheers.” Well, at least for the next six years.

Shelley Long Reprised Her Role on ‘Cheers’ During the Series Finale in 1993

Fans didn’t hear from Diane Chambers for the next six years on “Cheers.” However, when the show wrapped up its finale season, it knew it had to go out with the original crew. So, Diane was written back into the plot for the final episode titled “One For The Road.”

During the “Cheers” episode, Sam and the crew see Diane on tv accepting an award for a screenplay. They realize that she found success since leaving town. As it happens with old flames, Sam’s feelings for Diane are reignited after seeing her on television. So, he sends her a message congratulating her on her success. Diane ends up calling Sam and Sam invited her to return to Boston for a visit. Diane accepts but Sam doesn’t really expect her to follow through on her promise. But she does, the two are reunited and sparks fly. However, ultimately, the two decide they are better off as friends and they part ways for good. Loose strings are all tied up for the rest of the characters. And “Cheers” fans are left with a bittersweet conclusion.

An audience of about 42.4 million households tuned in to watch the 98-minute “Cheers” series finale. Those numbers made the episode the second-highest-rated series finale of all time. The first was the series finale of M*A*S*H. Additionally, the episode became the highest-rated episode of the 1992–1993 television season in the United States. According to estimates by NBC, 93 million viewers watched the series finale. That’s almost 40 percent of the US population at the time. Now, that sounds like something the “Cheers” crew would have celebrated at Sam’s bar.

Finale scene from “Cheers”