On This Day: ‘Cheers’ Airs Its Final Episode in 1993

by Katie Maloney
Photo by NBC Television/Fotos International/Getty Images

Twenty-eight years ago today, “Cheers” made its final last call.

When a show airs for 11 seasons, you have to pull out all the stops for the series finale. And that’s exactly what “Cheers” creators did. Not only did they write the PERFECT final episode, but they also spent weeks promoting the finale. And the hype worked. An estimated 42.4 million households across the country tuned in to watch the final episode. At the time, those numbers made the episode the second-highest-rated series finale of all time. The series finale of M*A*S*H held the first place spot. Needless to say, the “Cheers” finale was the highest-rated episode of the 1992–1993 television season in the United States. 

What Happened During the Final Episode?

Of course, those ratings were due in part to the dedicated fan base that “Cheers” acquired over its 11 season run. However, the storyline for the episode also contributed to the finale’s success. Do you know how some shows just tie everything up in a nice little bow at the end of the series? It’s almost as if they are forcing happy endings in places of the story where they don’t belong. Well, “Cheers” didn’t do that. Yes, there were some really beautiful conclusions. Woody gives Norm a job after being elected city councilman. Rebecca marries Don. And Cliff is promoted to postal assistant supervisor. 

However, not every fan got what they wanted, especially when it came to Sam and Diane’s relationship. Shelley Long reprised her role as Diane after leaving the show six years earlier. For a brief moment, it looks like Sam and Diane are finally going to end up together. Spoiler alert: They don’t. Instead, they acknowledge that they’ve always loved each other but that they simply don’t work as a couple. What’s perfect about this ending is that the show allowed the characters to be themselves. The creators didn’t try to change any of the roles just to give fans a happy ending.

How Did the Cast and Crew Feel About the ‘Cheers’ Finale?

During a 25th-anniversary reunion interview in 2018, the cast and crew of “Cheers” shared their thoughts about the finale.

“Knowing that we were going into our 11th season, we were sort of prepared, although it turned out to be one of those things where you think you’re prepared, but you’re never really prepared,” said writer and producer Rob Long. “These things, as much as we love them, they have a life cycle.”

James Burrows, the director of “Cheers” said he wanted to make sure each character had a “poignant moment” in the finale.

“We did a couple of major things before the final one. We had Sam reveal his toupee that nobody knew about. Teddy agreed to do that. And for the finale, we wanted to wrap things up as best we could,” said Burrows. “…We knew we wanted to try and make sure all the characters had a poignant moment.”