‘Cheers’: Here’s Why Jay Thomas Left the Show

by Chase Thomas
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Cheers was an iconic show from decades ago starring Ted Danson and friends. Fans of the program still flock to various streaming services to rewatch their favorite episodes from the show. Folks came and went on the sitcom, it’s how things go for the most part. However, Jay Thomas, who played ice hockey player Eddie Lebec on the show, was killed off not too long after marrying one of the main characters in the show to Carla.

Why did the show write him, and even have him die? Well, it may have stemmed from a radio spot by Thomas where he was asked to talk about his role on the show. Kevin Levine, a former writer on Cheers, wrote that Thomas said on the spot, “said something to the effect of ‘It’s brutal. I have to kiss Rhea Perlman.’ 

As you can imagine, important people heard that interview and were not happy about it. So, the decision was made to write him out of the show, to the dismay of the fans as folks seemed to like the on-screen chemistry of Thomas and Perlman.

Hilariously, though, the writers made his demise rather humorous as they revealed he had another wife who looked just like Carla on the show.

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The biggest surprise exit from the program came from Shelley Long. Long was a superstar on the program for years, but, ultimately, she was not long for the show as many expected when it first hit the small screen. Questions and whispers remained about why she ultimately left the show, but she was not alone in questions.

Kelsey Grammer, who played Frasier Crane, was also not a lock to remain on the show long-term. The same writer wrote about Kelsey on the show, “Quite simply, he was retained because he was terrific and once everyone saw the dynamics between his character and the others in the bar it was clear that Frasier Crane was a keeper. For Kelsey to suggest anything other is not to give himself enough credit. He earned that promotion.”

They were right. No question about it, as Frasier literally got a spinoff show from his success on Cheers. He was a delightful character. It resulted in him getting his own show in Seattle years later. It may have been even better than the original.

What about Long and Ted Danson? Long said, “We never fought. Maybe we should have. I mean, he got angry once, pretty late in the game about something that I wish he had told me about long before, because I made every effort to change it. And I think I did a pretty good job, although maybe it wasn’t good enough for him.”

Cheers was an iconic show of the time, but it certainly had a lot going on behind the scenes.

Outsider.com