Cheers is an American sitcom television series that ran on NBC from September 30, 1982, to May 20, 1993, with a total of 275 half-hour episodes across eleven seasons. The show was produced by Charles/Burrows Productions in association with Paramount Network Television and was created by the team of James Burrows and Glen and Les Charles. The show is set in a bar named “Cheers” in Boston, Massachusetts, where a group of locals meets to drink, relax, and socialize. The show’s main theme song, co-written and performed by Gary Portnoy, lent its refrain “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” as the show’s catchphrase.
At the center of the show was the bar’s owner and head bartender Sam Malone, a womanizing former relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. The show’s ensemble cast included waitresses Carla Tortelli and Diane Chambers, who would be Sam’s love interest for the first several seasons of the show, as well as a dimwitted second bartender, Coach Ernie Pantusso for the first three seasons, and Woody Boyd for the rest of the series, and regular bar patrons Norm Peterson, Cliff Clavin, and Frasier Crane. Later main characters of the show include Rebecca Howe, who manages the bar after Sam sells it and later becomes his love interest, and Lilith Sternin, who is Frasier’s wife.
After premiering on September 30, 1982, it was nearly canceled during its first season when it ranked almost last in ratings for its premiere (74th out of 77 shows). However, Cheers eventually became a Nielsen rating juggernaut in the United States, earning a top-ten rating during eight of its eleven seasons, including one season at number one (season 9). The show spent most of its run on NBC’s Thursday night “Must See TV” lineup. Its widely watched series finale was broadcast on May 20, 1993, and the show’s 275 episodes have been successfully syndicated worldwide. Nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series for all eleven of its seasons on the air, it earned 28 Primetime Emmy Awards from a record of 117 nominations.
During its run, Cheers became one of the most popular series in history and received critical acclaim from its start to its end. In 1997, the episodes “Thanksgiving Orphans” and “Home Is the Sailor”, aired originally in 1987, were respectively ranked No. 7 and No. 45 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. Its series finale was watched by an estimated 93 million viewers, almost 40% of the US population at the time. In 2002, Cheers was ranked No. 18 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the eighth-best-written TV series and TV Guide ranked it No. 11 on their list of the 60 greatest shows.
The bar was based on a real location, the Bull & Finch Pub in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston. Exterior shots of the Bull & Finch (in Cheers regalia) were used as establishing shots for the series, and in occasional outdoor scenes (the series itself was usually filmed on a sound stage in Hollywood). Today, the Bull & Finch has been rebranded as “Cheers Beacon Hill”. There was also a “Cheers Faneuil Hall”, which was located in Quincy Market until it closed in 2020.