Here's What The Cast Of Cheers Is Up To Today

Not many television series have had as lasting an impact on pop culture as "Cheers." The series ran for 11 seasons, won 28 Primetime Emmy Awards, inspired a spin-off series, and made nearly a dozen actors into household names. The sitcom is still considered one of the best TV shows of all time by many audiences and media outlets, and it was one of just a few shows honored with a live reunion at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony. There's an actual Cheers bar and restaurant in Boston, and reruns of the series still air on cable television. To say "Cheers" has left a mark on history would be a massive understatement.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly why the series was such a success and has stood the test of time. The writing was excellent and the direction was of the highest quality, but the cast deserves much of the credit, too. Largely a group of unknown actors at the time, the comedic geniuses were perfect in their respective roles, and they understood their characters from the very start, creating a world that had the same comfortable feeling from beginning to end. Much of the cast won an Emmy for their work on "Cheers," and they all found acting roles after the sitcom ended. Now, over 30 years since its finale aired, here's what the cast of "Cheers" is up to today.

Ted Danson has returned to sitcom acting

Emmy winner Ted Danson was one of the hottest actors in Hollywood in the 1980s thanks to his starring role in "Cheers." The actor played Sam Malone, the former Red Sox player who owns Cheers and is known for his playboy lifestyle. Though he'll always be known for his role in "Cheers," Danson's work in Hollywood has continued well past the famed sitcom. Some of his other well-known projects include "Three Men and a Baby," "Saving Private Ryan," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Becker," and "The Good Place." From 2021 to 2022, Danson starred as Neil Bremer in the NBC sitcom "Mr. Mayor."

After decades in the entertainment industry, some might wonder why Danson continues to work rather than cash in and retire. "I love going to work. I love writers. I love actors. I love studios. I love driving through the gate, I really do," Danson told The Orange County Register. The comedic actor was particularly excited to work on "Mr. Mayor," especially because he was able to work with creators Robert Carlock and Tina Fey. "It was Tina's and Robert's pedigree," Danson said of his draw to the series. "I have so much admiration for Tina. And when I heard Tina was interested, I thought, 'I don't know if I can do what she does. I wonder if I can.' So I knew it would be exciting."

Rhea Perlman was in the biggest movie of 2023

Rhea Perlman has four Emmys of her own, all of which she earned for playing the brash waitress Carla Tortelli in "Cheers." The sitcom made Perlman into the star she is today, and since "Cheers" ended, Perlman has had guest roles on series like "Mad About You," "Ally McBeal," "Kirstie," "The Mindy Project," and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." Perlman has also been in iconic films like "Matilda," as well as the 2023 blockbuster hit "Barbie," in which she played Ruth Handler, the inventor of the famed doll.

While audiences loved Perlman in the "Barbie" movie, the actor didn't go on as large of a press tour as her co-stars did. However, the year before the film's release, Perlman did hint at what to expect from the film, and it turns out she was correct. "I can tell you it's going to be a really great film. It's not just some ditzy movie about a doll. It is really going to be a great film," Perlman told the Daily Beast. "Greta Gerwig is great at directing it, and Margot Robbie is the main Barbie. It's very different and quite beautiful and really fun. I couldn't have had a better time."

John Ratzenberger has stayed busy working with Pixar

John Ratzenberger had found lots of work before joining the cast of "Cheers," but the sitcom was undoubtedly considered his breakout role. Ratzenberger played Cliff Clavin in the series, a slightly irritating yet lovable postman who was a regular at the bar. Ratzenberger's career continued after "Cheers" ended with guest spots on series like "8 Simple Rules" and "Bones," but he's been most successful as a Pixar voice actor. Ratzenberger has been in several of the animation company's most successful films including "Toy Story," "Monsters, Inc.", "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Cars," "Up," "Inside Out," and more, with 2020's "Soul" being his most recent feature film spot for Pixar.

Ratzenberger's work in Pixar is an immense source of pride for the actor. "Everyone from college age to one year old know the sound of my voice," he said in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment. Ratzenberger doesn't take much credit for his work, though, giving major props to the animation studio. "When I started working with them, I said, 'Boy, they do all the heavy lifting' ... All you really do is listen to what they tell you. Very simple. They've been working on the script three years," he said.

George Wendt joined his co-stars for a Cheers reunion

George Wendt joined the ranks of Hollywood icons when he played Norm Peterson on "Cheers." Norm was a good friend of Cliff's and Sam's who spent most of his time avoiding work and complaining about his wife at the bar. While Wendt has been a busy actor since "Cheers" ended, the series has always remained an important part of his life, and he's reunited with some of his co-stars throughout the years on various projects of their own. In 2002, Wendt reprised his "Cheers" role for an episode of "Frasier," and in 2014 he joined Kirstie Alley for an episode on her series, "Kirstie."

In 2024, Wendt joined his co-stars again for a televised "Cheers" reunion. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Primetime Emmy Awards, the Television Academy arranged for the casts of some of the most iconic series in TV history to reunite during the awards ceremony, and that included Wendt, Kelsey Grammer, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger, and Ted Danson on a replica set of "Cheers." Months before the televised reunion, Wendt joined Ratzenberger for a smaller reunion to visit the original bar used on the series, as it was about to be put up for auction. "I hope the guy who buys it doesn't burn it down," Wendt teased in an interview with Heritage Auctions.

Kelsey Grammer reprised his Cheers role for a second time

Of anyone from the "Cheers" cast, Kelsey Grammer has gotten the most bang for his buck. Grammer played Frasier Crane in the series, the psychiatrist who was first introduced to the gang when he was dating Diane Chambers but stuck around as a regular past their relationship and her exit from the bar. After "Cheers" ended, Grammer reprised his role for the spin-off "Frasier," and the series became arguably more successful than its originator, running for nearly as many episodes and winning nine more Primetime Emmy Awards.

In 2023, Grammer returned to his beloved character for a reboot of "Frasier." The show was a Paramount+ original, and while, as of this writing, it has yet to be renewed for a second season, Grammer expects that he's not yet finished playing Frasier. Grammer was very measured in his approach to this reboot, and he didn't want it to be a carbon copy of its first run. "Looking back on our [old] show, as silly as it was at times, we sometimes took ourselves too seriously. Just a bit like: 'We're the greatest show that's ever been, blah, blah, blah.' I thought: maybe that's not such a great tone. So I invited new writers I thought would reflect more silliness. The character is a little less of a prig," Grammer told The Guardian.

Woody Harrelson has a full acting schedule

Woody Harrelson joined the gang at "Cheers" a few seasons in after the real-life death of Nicholas Colasanto left a void in the bartending staff. Harrelson played Woody Boyd, a dimwitted bartender whom audiences couldn't help but adore, similar to Colasanto's Coach. Harrelson's career only began with "Cheers." While the sitcom was still on the air and after it ended, the actor found roles in films like "White Men Can't Jump," "Anger Management," "Semi-Pro," "Zombieland," and "The Hunger Games" series. Harrelson has also garnered three Oscar nominations for 1997's "The People vs. Larry Flynt," 2010's "The Messenger," and 2018's "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."

Harrelson has clearly accomplished a lot as an actor, but even he has had some regrets in his performance history. "When things are going right, I don't feel rigid. But there are performances where I was like, why couldn't I just get outside whatever I was doing. Ten years later, I'll think of something I should have done in a scene, and I want to tear my head off," Harrelson said in an interview with The New York Times. "There's several roles that I go back and think: Why didn't I try this? Why didn't I do that? Why didn't I step into a whole 'nother character? But it's probably best to let those things drop. They can haunt you."

Shelley Long played a recurring character in another hit sitcom

Shelley Long's legacy with "Cheers" has proven to be a bit complicated. The actor was part of the cast for a few seasons as Diane Chambers, an erudite waitress with literary aspirations who, despite her best efforts, found herself nearly inextricably tied up with the gang at Cheers. Then, at the end of season 5, Long left the successful sitcom, much to the wonderment of the audience.

The confusion surrounding Long's departure has never quite been put to rest, and rumors of friction between the cast have persisted ever since. However, as Long shared, she was always at peace with her choice. "I've never regretted the decision. I've been annoyed by the comments and the constant question of, 'Do you regret, do you ever regret?' I don't regret it. I've said it over and over again ... It was a great show, great opportunity. I loved coming back and doing the last episode, but don't ever ask me that question again," Long said in an interview, explaining that she was able to spend more time with her husband and daughter after leaving "Cheers." Long continued acting, and she eventually found herself part of another wildly popular sitcom as a recurring character on "Modern Family" until 2018.

Bebe Neuwirth joined Kelsey Grammer for an episode of the Frasier reboot

Bebe Neuwirth didn't enter the picture on "Cheers" until a few seasons in. Neuwirth played Lilith Sternin, a psychiatrist who married and had a child with the bar's other resident psychiatrist, Frasier Crane. Neuwirth frequented the set of "Cheers" for the rest of its run, appearing in 80 episodes total, and she reprised the role for some episodes of "Frasier" as well. Beyond that, Neuwirth's work has included projects like "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," "Madam Secretary," and "Julia," which ended in 2023.

2023 also brought Neuwirth back to her famed "Cheers" and "Frasier" character for an episode of the "Frasier" reboot. Neuwirth joined an episode that celebrated her and Frasier's son Freddy's birthday. As Neuwirth told Variety, she wasn't sure what joining the set would be like, but thanks to Kelsey Grammer and company, it was a great experience. "So any awkwardness that I felt, and I generally walk around just feeling awkward, was mitigated by that, it was just such a kind group. And I knew where I was," Neuwirth said. "I knew that these were the greatest writers. I knew this was the greatest character, and that these new characters that they created were brilliant. So it was odd and wonderful."

Paul Willson did some sitcom work throughout the 2010s

If you've only watched "Cheers" a handful of times, you might not remember Paul Willson even being in the series. To make the bar environment look realistic, several actors had to play background characters, and Willson began as one. He was given a couple of different character names before officially being named Paul Krapence. In the last three seasons, Willson appeared in almost every episode. Still, Paul struggled to gain the respect of his Cheers peers. Willson had been acting for over a decade before working on "Cheers," and after it ended, he continued performing lots of character work in various series. He reprised his role of Paul in an episode of "Frasier," and he made appearances on sitcoms like "Malcolm in the Middle," "The Big Bang Theory" in 2014, and "The Conners" in 2018.

Though Willson's character on "Cheers" often didn't have the best time with the other barflies, Willson always enjoyed himself on set. "That was an especially great place to work because it was a bar, so when you were just sitting around, you were sitting around at a bar. You weren't drinking but ... you could do whatever you wanted to. It was a very relaxed place and always fun," Willson said on an episode of the podcast "Just My Show." (quote starts at 2:35)

Philip Perlman died in 2015

Another notable barfly at Cheers was Philip Perlman. Philip played a few different characters including Phil, a man who could often be seen near the barfly Al. Philip didn't begin acting until he had fully retired from his first career. His role in "Cheers" was procured by his daughter, Rhea Perlman, who played Carla Tortelli, and through Rhea and her ex-husband, Danny DeVito, Philip had roles in several films and other sitcoms including "Frasier" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Sadly, in 2015, Philip died. Upon his death, Rhea spoke with The Hollywood Reporter, noting how enjoyable he found his short time in the entertainment world. "He was always enamored of show business. He was a huge movie and TV buff and knew every character actor on the planet. He once told Danny, 'You know, I want to be in one of your movies and say, 'Dinner is served,'" Rhea said.

Kirstie Alley died in 2022

After Shelley Long left "Cheers," Kirstie Alley joined the cast. Alley played Rebecca Howe, the accomplished woman who manages Cheers after Sam Malone sells it. "Cheers" proved to be a major step in the right direction for Alley and her career, and the cast fully embraced her. "It was truly one of the greatest first days, as was when Woody [Harrelson] took over for Coach who died, Nick Colasanto, who is, we all thought, irreplaceable. It was just like, these two people were the exact people you needed," Rhea Perlman said of Alley's addition on "Watch What Happens Live" in 2019.

After "Cheers" ended, Alley starred in multiple other series including "Veronica's Closet" and "Kirstie," and also had roles in films and guest spots on series. Sadly, in 2022, at age 71, Alley died from cancer. A year later, at the ATX Television Festival, some of Alley's "Cheers" co-stars had the chance to reminisce on their time with her. "She came in like a ball of fire. We were doing the table read and some of us had met her, but others hadn't, and she was a little late — but it was because she put on a Shelley Long blonde wig. So I was like, 'OK, you'll do great,'" Ted Danson said of his late friend, as reported by IndieWire.