Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and for the cast of NBC’s sitcom Cheers, that place was their beloved Boston bar of the same name. With the simple premise of staff and regulars enjoying each other’s company in their hometown bar, the show’s heart and humor came from its brilliant ensemble cast, who quickly became household names. Cheers premiered in 1982 and, aside from coming in at the bottom of the ratings in its first season, was a consistent hit for NBC—it lasted 11 seasons, coming to an end in 1993 after over 270 episodes, earning over 100 Emmy nominations in the process. Known for its clever and funny writing, the show is still considered one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, one which, despite some flaws, still holds up today.
Cheers delivered some fantastic episodes over the years, with sharp, clever writing and truly funny, even laugh-out-loud jokes. At its best, the show combined humor with sincerity, making for memorable, heartfelt episodes that did more than just make the audience laugh, and the best episodes are a testament to both its clever writing and talented cast. The highest-rated episodes on IMDb show why Cheers was such a beloved show which remains a classic to this day.
- Release Date
- September 30, 1982
10 “Bidding on the Boys” – Season 6, Episode 8
IMDb Score: 8.3/10
To raise money for the children’s hospital, Rebecca (Kirstie Alley) planned a bachelor auction at the bar in “Bidding on the Boys.” Sam (Ted Danson) was offended she didn’t ask him to participate but insisted otherwise, then ultimately included himself in the auction, along with Woody (Woody Harrelson). A bidding war broke out over Sam, with Rebecca chiming in solely to drive the price up, and just when it seemed she was about to win, Frasier’s (Kelsey Grammer) fiancée, Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth), angry with Frasier over his desire for her to sign a prenup, made the winning bid.
“Bidding on the Boys” is among the highest-rated episodes on IMDb. The idea of the charity auction was funny in its own right, but it got even better as it actually played out. Rebecca was completely unimpressed by Sam’s sales pitch for himself, while the other ladies bidding were swooning over him. But the episode’s highlight was the moment Lilith won—it was a great twist, and Frasier’s reaction was priceless.
9 “One Hugs, the Other Doesn’t” – Season 10, Episode 16
IMDb Score: 8.5/10
In “One Hugs, the Other Doesn’t,” Frasier, Lilith, and their son, Frederick, go to a performance by children’s singer Nanny G (Emma Thompson)—and Frasier recognizes her and realizes she is his ex-wife. The news was a shock to Lilith, who didn’t know Frasier had been married before. Despite Frasier’s insistence that their marriage was short-lived and Nanny probably wouldn’t even recognize him, Nanny did, and she was determined to win Frasier back.
“One Hugs, the Other Doesn’t” was a great episode that drudged up Frasier’s past in a hilarious, unexpected way, for the audience and Lilith alike. Emma Thompson was fun to watch as Nanny, a role vastly different from the dramatic ones Thompson is better known for, especially at the time. What’s most entertaining is Nanny’s desire for Frasier—the moment she recognizes him and greets him with a passionate kiss is hilarious.
8 “I Do, Adieu” – Season 5, Episode 26
IMDb Score: 8.5/10
With Sam and Diane’s wedding on the horizon in the Season 5 finale “I Do, Adieu,” Diane’s ex-fiancé and former English professor informed her that he’d sent her unfinished novel to a publishing house—and they thought it had potential. Diane was forced to choose between a life with Sam and a career as a writer and opted for the career, with the promise that she’d only be gone for six months. A bittersweet final scene showed what could have been, as the much older couple shared a dance.
“I Do, Adieu” was a huge episode for Cheers and a fitting season finale as the last chapter in Sam and Diane’s ongoing love story. The episode was the final regular appearance for Shelley Long’s Diane, although she did return later in the series for brief appearances. Sam and Diane’s final scene together was sweet and optimistic, but with the line, “Have a good life,” he knew—and the audience knew—Shelley wouldn’t be back, despite her promise.
7 “Pick a Con…Any Con” – Season 1, Episode 19
IMDb Score: 8.5/10
In “Pick a Con…Any Con,” Sam and Diane learned that Coach’s (Nicholas Colasanto) friendly ongoing card game with fellow patron George wasn’t so friendly after all—Coach had never won a game and had lost a total of $8,000 to his opponent. Sam was determined to get the money back, so he enlisted the help of Harry “The Hat” (Harry Anderson) to set up a high-stakes game of poker. But Harry’s involvement came with a price, and it didn’t take long before other patrons got invested in the game and its outcome.
“Pick a Con…Any Con” turned a seemingly sweet friendship for Coach into a cruel hustle, and it was a wonderful way to show more of the cunning and charismatic Harry, the perfect choice to go up against George. The episode was also a great one for Sam—it showed just how far he was willing to go to help someone who’d been conned. But best of all were the twists and turns the episode took, leading to a surprising ending.
6 “An Old-Fashioned Wedding” – Season 10, Episode 25
IMDb Score: 8.6/10
Carla (Rhea Perlman) predicted Woody and Kelly’s (Jackie Swanson) wedding day wouldn’t go as planned in the Season 10 finale “An Old-Fashioned Wedding,” and while everyone else dismissed her concerns, she was right. Sam appropriately worked as the bartender, while Kelly’s father was adamant he’d kill Woody if he had any suspicion they’d already consummated their relationship—which indeed they had. Meanwhile, Kelly tore her dress, and Cliff (John Ratzenberger) was tasked with fixing it, and the minister died.
Oh, how right Carla was. Wedding mishaps are a sitcom staple, but few have done it as hilariously as Cheers. The saying goes that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and that was certainly true of “An Old-Fashioned Wedding,” easily one of the most absurd, over-the-top episodes of the series—which also made it one of the best. Among the funniest scenes is the cast’s frantic attempts to keep the minister’s dead body hidden.
5 “Abnormal Psychology” – Season 5, Episode 4
IMDb Score: 8.6/10
Frasier and ex-girlfriend Lilith were both guests on a talk show in “Abnormal Psychology,” and the patrons of Cheers watched—in equal parts fascination and horror—as the sexual tension between the two got more and more intense. With the sparks between them so obvious, Diane became determined to get them back together, and even though Frasier saw through her attempts, she succeeded. Meanwhile, Norm and Cliff kept dodging Woody’s invitation for a fishing trip.
Some of the best moments of “Abnormal Psychology” came from Frasier and Lilith’s time on television and the bar’s reaction to them, especially their inability to look away—and in the way they all scrambled to jot down the phone number to request a transcript of the broadcast. Grammer delivered an especially hilarious performance as an increasingly lustful Frasier, and, of course, Frasier and Lilith became one of the show’s central couples moving forward.
4 “Simon Says” – Season 5, Episode 21
IMDb Score: 8.6/10
In “Simon Says,” Sam and Diane meet with a notable marriage counselor and former colleague of Frasier’s, Dr. Simon Finch-Royce, played by guest star John Cleese. They were disheartened by what he had to say—they weren’t a good match—and Diane in particular was determined to get him to change his mind. Frasier, annoyed over being overcharged when Finch-Royce counseled him and Lilith, encouraged Diane’s relentless badgering as a form of revenge.
“Simon Says” featured a very memorable guest appearance from John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, who only got funnier as his character became more exasperated with Diane’s persistence. But it’s Diane who had one of the episode’s best moments—after an annoyed Finch-Royce went on a sarcastic rant about how Sam and Diane were the perfect couple, she simply said, “See?” satisfied that she got what she wanted, even if Finch-Royce wasn’t sincere.
3 “Thanksgiving Orphans” – Season 5, Episode 9
IMDb Score: 8.6/10
In “Thanksgiving Orphans,” with Carla’s kids spending the holiday with her ex, she invited the Cheers gang over for a potluck in her new house, as most of them either didn’t have anyone else to celebrate with or had plans that fell through. As they waited for the turkey to finish cooking—with Diane insisting they couldn’t eat at all until it was finished—the group became hungrier and angrier, with the tension ultimately culminating in a food fight.
“Thanksgiving Orphans” plays out pretty much just the way one might expect of a holiday with Cheers staff and regulars. It’s regarded as not only one of the best episodes of the series but also as one of the best Thanksgiving-themed episodes of television in general. One of the funniest moments came from a desperate Diane’s attempts to stop the fight before it started, only to be targeted by Sam.
2 “Dinner at Eight-ish” – Season 5, Episode 20
IMDb Score: 8.8/10
Frasier and Lilith moved in together in “Dinner at Eight-ish,” and because they owed their relationship in part to Sam and Diane, they invited them over for dinner. But before they arrived, Frasier and Lilith got into an argument, leading Sam and Diane to walk into an already tense situation, and things only got worse when Lilith found out Frasier and Diane were once engaged—and the group’s very different personalities didn’t help.
“Dinner at Eight-ish” is one of the highest-rated episodes of Cheers. The show got a lot out of Frasier and Lilith’s fraught relationship, and this episode wasn’t the only time Frasier’s past dredged up trouble for the couple—as soon as the four of them began discussing keeping secrets, it was easy to see where things were going, although that didn’t make it any less funny as it played out.
1 “One for the Road” – Season 11, Episode 25
IMDb Score: 9.1/10
In the series finale “One for the Road,” Cheers staff and regulars alike began new chapters in their lives—Woody went on to his role as City Councilman, and Rebecca turned down Don’s proposal, despite wanting to accept. Diane returns after a long absence and is reunited with Sam. The episode broke from the show’s usual runtime and clocked in at 98 minutes, and, unsurprisingly, was one of the most-watched series finales of all time.
Not all shows can boast that their series finale is also the best episode overall, but it’s fitting—and no surprise—that Cheers is a rare exception. It was also a fitting end to the series and did all its characters justice in their ventures moving forward, but most rewarding of all was the return of Diane, which allowed the show to revisit her long-running on-again, off-again relationship with Sam.
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NEXT: The 10 Best ‘Cheers’ Characters, Ranked