Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Cheers’: How the Series Finale Ended Up a Drunken Mess

‘Cheers’: How the Series Finale Ended Up a Drunken Mess

Cheers delivered one whale of a finale as the series closed up in 1993, but that fateful May night turned into a drunk party. Now, it’s understandable that cast members and others associated with Cheers celebrated their hard work. There’s just one little problem with it. They were due to be on live with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show.

Oh brother, it turned out to be quite the show. Yeah, it was one where Leno had no control over what was happening.

Let’s back up a little bit, though, for some context. Cheers pulled in 93 million viewers for its final show on May 20, 1993. This puts it at No. 2 among most watched television shows. M*A*S*H holds down the No. 1 spot with Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen.

‘Cheers’ Cast Decided To Get Drunk At Wrong Time

The Tonight Show originated from the Bull & Finch Bar, located in Boston. Its exterior view was used on Cheers. Cast members Ted Danson, Woody Harrelson, Rhea Perlman, Kelsey Grammer, John Ratzenberger, and George Wendt were at the bar upstairs watching the episode.

Show writer Ken Levine offered up some remembrances about that night in a 2013 article for Vulture.

“The [series finale] ended at eleven,” Levine wrote. “The next half-hour was an emotional tsunami. Everyone was hugging and crying and doing a lot of drinking. We were all completely wrecked.” But wait, there’s more! Levine then recalls what happened to his friends.

“The cast, in no condition to face anybody, much less 40 million people, dutifully trooped downstairs to do the live show,” Levine wrote. “Us non-celeb types stayed back and watched on TV … in horror. They were so drunk they needed designated walkers. They giggled like schoolgirls over nothing, fired spitballs into each other’s mouths, and squirted water guns, Woody Harrelson implied he gave oral sex to both Ted Danson and Oliver Stone, and Kirstie Alley sang a song where the only lyric was ‘d—, d—, d—.’”

Jay Leno Had No Luck Bringing Them To Order

The cast soon totally took over The Tonight Show from Leno. They turned their water guns on Leno at one time. The host could not bring the cast into a semblance of order. According to SlashFilm, Perlman grabs the microphone from Leno after a commercial break.

She and the other cast members had a message for Alley, who was not there due to a movie commitment. Perlman goes, “Krusty, you are my best friend, but we all need to say this to you.” Then Perlman and the cast shout at the camera in unison, “You’re stupid!”

It probably was not the cast’s best night to be on TV. Home viewers, though, either were entertained or shocked by what they were seeing. Leno probably didn’t forget about that night as well. Heck, the cast of Cheers simply was saying, in their own way, “cheers.”

The show remains popular in reruns. Fans of Cheers can find it on the “Sitcom Legends” channel on Pluto TV.