‘Cheers’ Reboot: Creators Disagreed on Whether They Should

NBC still has reboot fever. Will & Grace may be over, but Quantum Leap is on the air and there’s a new Night Court coming. So it’s natural for fans of their classic sitcoms to suggest revivals. Believe us, they’ve all heard it. The creators of Cheers considered a reboot but it hasn’t happened yet. 

'Cheers': Sam (Ted Danson) talks to Norm (George Wendt) and Frasier (Kelsey Grammer)
L-R: Ted Danson, George Wendt, and Kelsey Grammer | NBCU Photo Bank

Cheers creators Glen and Les Charles, James Burrows and executive producer Rob Long spoke with Variety in 2018 for the 25th anniversary of the Cheers series finale. When the inevitable question about a reboot came up, some were for it but others opposed. 

The producer who wants a ‘Cheers’ reboot

Cheers ended with Sam Malone (Ted Danson) just closing the bar after another shift. For all we know, Sam is still tending bar. Long has pitched a Cheers reboot.

“I’ve pitched a reboot ‘til I’m blue in the face,” Long told Variety. “I’d love to do it. I’m not even trying to be cool about it. The cool thing to do is to go, ‘Oh, well, you know, we had our time…’ But I do a three-minute commentary on KCRW here in L.A., and I pitched my Cheers reboot idea on the radio, hoping that someone would hear it! I’d love to sit in a room with the funniest people I know, like I did 25 years ago, and with incredibly gifted performers onstage. I’d be happy to do that for the next 25 years!”

A ‘Cheers’ reboot would be harder than ‘Will & Grace’

Burrows also directed the original Will & Grace and the revival. However, Burrows considers the gap between 1993 and the present too insurmountable for a Cheers reboot.

“Since I’m involved with the Will & Grace reboot, I’ve seen it work,” Burrows said. “But that was 10 years, and this would be 25 years. I think that’s too long. You want to make sure when you do a reboot that you remember the characters as they were when they were successful.”

Danson did reveal he wore a toupee towards the end of Cheers. He continues to appear on television with his hair gray. However, Burrows has reservations about revisiting the cast of Cheers in a reboot.

“There’s this whole thing about meeting your first girlfriend 30 or 40 years later,” Burrows said. “You might be inquisitive and interested, but you’ll always have in your head what she looked like when she was 18 years old, and you kind of want to preserve that. Some people don’t care. But we want to preserve what we have.”

Time has changed the premise irreversibly

For 11 seasons, Sam was the ladies man. Oh sure, there was a will they or won’t they dynamic with Diane (Shelley Long), and then with Rebecca (Kirstie Alley). Glen Charles had reservations about a 70something Sam up to his old tricks. 

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‘Cheers’ Considered Season 12 Without Ted Danson/Sam Malone

Will & Grace and Roseanne — those people don’t seem to have aged significantly,” Glen said. “Our people, I know, have. So it just wouldn’t be the same. And I’m not quite sure what that story would be. An aging bartender chasing women would be very strange. It wouldn’t feel right.”

That does not deter Long.

The thing with that show was that it had all these classic elements. You don’t really need to know about the time or the politics or what the popular music was. You go to any bar, and there’s always a guy who’s good with the ladies, an uptight woman, a professor or a blowhard, a guy in a uniform who wants to brag, a drunk at the end of the bar who just wants to drink beer, a sassy, wisecracking server… These are timeless archetypes. They’re always there. A show like Cheers should always be on the air in some form — you don’t need a hook, you don’t need a special setup, you just need really great performers and pretty good writing. 

Rob Long, interview with Variety, 5/18/18