‘The Good Place’ Fans Might Have Missed This ‘Cheers’ Reference

The Good Place is a fantasy comedy series that ran on NBC for four years. It became a cult classic relatively quickly, with many fans praising the quick wit and clever writing featured in the series. The Good Place starred many talented performers, including Kristen Bell in the leading role, supported by Jameela Jamil and William Jackson Harper. Possibly the show’s most beloved star, however, was Ted Danson, a character actor who has been a staple in the entertainment industry for decades. Those who have followed Danson’s career from the beginning especially appreciated the moment in season 2 of The Good Place that paid deliberate homage to the actor’s most iconic role. 

Who does Ted Danson play in ‘The Good Place’?

Michael Schur, Ted Danson, and Kristen Bell of 'The Good Place' speaking at an NBC 2019 Summer TCA Press Tour segment
Michael Schur, Ted Danson, and Kristen Bell of ‘The Good Place’ | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

The Good Place tells the story of Eleanor Shellstrop, who is welcomed to “The Good Place” after her death. “The Good Place” is a Heaven-like utopia run by the exacting architect Michael, played by Ted Danson. Eventually, Eleanor discovers that she was actually sent to “The Good Place” by mistake and is forced to reconcile her questionable decisions and behavior in life with a new and improved version of Eleanor, which she cultivates in the days that follow her arrival.

Critics praised The Good Place for its original story and tone, but the characters made the show so immediately memorable for fans. While Kristen Bell was onscreen the most, Ted Danson’s character, Michael, quickly became the show’s fan favorite. Michael has a fascination for all facets of human behavior, particularly the small day-to-day tasks like searching for car keys. For his work in The Good Place, Danson received critical acclaim, earning multiple award nominations and winning a Critics’ Choice Television Award in 2017. 

Ted Danson became famous for his role in ‘Cheers’

Ted Danson has been a big-name star for many years, long before he started acting in The Good Place. He first became popular with fans for his work in Cheers, the cult-classic sitcom that centered around a Boston-based bar. As Sam Malone, the owner of the bar as well as the head bartender, Danson made an impression due to his stoic nature and approachable charm. 

Danson appeared on Cheers for 11 years. By that time, the character of Sam had entered pop culture history, and for many fans, the moments where Sam tended bar, making drinks and wiping down counters, all while chatting with the patrons, stood as a perfect example of why the show had become so beloved. 

How has ‘The Good Place’ referenced ‘Cheers’?

The season 2 finale of The Good Place was memorable for several reasons — not least the incredible homage to Sam Malone. According to BuzzFeed, Michael is seen behind the bar in one moment in the finale, wearing a plaid checked shirt similar to the shirt that Sam wore in Cheers. As showrunner Mike Shur revealed to GQ, “we needed a situation where she would show up and be happy to spill her guts to a stranger—a bar, and bartender, was really the obvious choice. I cleared it with Ted first—told him the idea, and asked if he’d be okay with it. He, of course, was.”

The moment might have been a small one for fans, but for those who remember the years when Danson played Sam Malone, it brought back waves of welcome nostalgia.

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