‘Frasier’: Scientology Was Only Part of the Reason Kirstie Alley Was Never on the Series

TV show spin-offs don’t get much better than Frasier. The feel-good sitcom began airing in 1993, only a few months after its predecessor Cheers aired its series finale, and ran for 11 seasons on NBC.

While the show focused on Frasier Crane as the main character, viewers got to see a number of visits from Cheers’s main cast members throughout Frasier‘s run — all except one. Kirstie Alley’s character, Rebecca Howe, never saw the light of day in Seattle for a couple of different reasons. 

What was ‘Frasier’ about?

Frasier took place shortly after Cheers’s storyline ended. Having moved to Seattle from Boston after his marriage ended, Dr. Frasier Crane set out to reunite with his father, Martin (John Mahoney), and his brother, Niles (David Hyde Pierce).

Cheers fans tuned in in droves to watch high-strung Frasier, a radio psychiatrist and host of The Dr. Frasier Crane Show, adjust to living with his far more easy-going father. 

Frasier was more character-driven than Cheers. While Cheers relied heavily on physical comedy and romantic relationship dilemmas, while throwing in the occasional intense emotions, Frasier relied much more on the growth of individual characters within the smaller main cast.

Frasier and Niles, both psychiatrists, spend their time solving other people’s problems but are comically unable to deal with each other’s own life problems as they arise. 

What was Kirstie Alley’s reason for not guest-starring on ‘Frasier’?

Actress Kirstie Alley, a regular on Cheers from 1987-1993, was the only main cast member to never make an appearance on Frasier. Alley claimed that she didn’t want to make a guest appearance on the spin-off because the show centered around psychiatry — something she didn’t support, due to her religious background as a Scientologist.

Alley became a member of the Church of Scientology in 1979. The organization has famously denounced psychiatry since its inception in the 1950s, based on founder L. Ron Hubbard’s own feelings toward the practice. On their website, the Church of Scientology claims that psychiatry has no basis in fact and that there is no evidence of ailments like depression and anxiety, calling the use of antidepressants “an elaborate and deadly hoax.”

Alley, a member of the organization, fully agrees with these statements and said in the past that it’s why she would not appear on Frasier.

What was the actual reason Kirstie Alley never appeared on ‘Frasier’?

Kirstie Alley during "Mission: Impossible III" Los Angeles Fan Screening.
Kirstie Alley | Chris Polk/FilmMagic

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After Alley’s declaration that she didn’t appear on Frasier because of her religious beliefs, show creator David Lee responded by simply saying: “I don’t recall asking.” 

Frasier centered heavily around psychiatry. Frasier and Niles both worked as psychiatrists and much of the episodes were based on the fact that the brothers were inept at dealing with their own problems. They even see a couples’ therapist after their attempt at running a psychiatry practice together goes terribly due to their constant sibling rivalry.

This isn’t the only example of a celebrity using their Scientology belief system as an excuse to attack psychiatry. Actor Tom Cruise once famously argued with Today host Matt Lauer about the use of medication to help people with mental health problems. Cruise told Lauer that “psychiatry is a pseudoscience” and “there is no such thing as a chemical imbalance in a body.” Lauer stated that he knew people for whom antidepressants had worked, and Cruise simply told him he was incorrect.

The Church of Scientology defends their statements on psychiatry and advertise that Scientology itself, along with exercise and vitamins, can help people who claim to suffer from mental health problems more than any medication. All we know is that it probably would have been a pretty good episode of Frasier if Rebecca Howe had shown up.