Forty years ago today, a snooty bookworm walked into a Boston bar… and TV was never the same.
On Sept. 30, 1982, a little show called Cheers premiered on NBC, and initially, the ratings were not great. But glowing reviews and early Emmy wins kept it on the air, and it managed to turn a loyal following into massive viewership, eventually becoming the top-rated show on TV. The action rarely strayed outside the confines of the titular bar owned by ex-ballplayer Sam Malone… but it didn’t need to. The razor-sharp writing kept us happily entertained for 11 seasons, excelling both at witty wordplay and silly slapstick, and gave us a one-of-a-kind romance that left an indelible mark on television history.
So with Cheers turning 40 this week, we here at TVLine are celebrating by raising a glass to the many fascinating and hilarious characters who served up drinks and occupied barstools across the show’s decade-plus run. We’ve tallied up the 30 greatest characters and ranked them, too, from memorable supporting turns to the bar’s core clientele. So pour yourself a frosty mug of suds and join us as we look back on the very best characters Cheers had to offer. (And if we missed one of your favorites, feel free to jog our memories in the comments below.)