10 Reasons Frasier’s Final Episode Was Better Than The Cheers Ending

Not all series finales can deliver on meeting fan expectations, but on the whole, the Frasier finale was better than the ending of Cheers. Ironically, the character of psychiatrist Frasier Crane was made famous when Kelsey Grammer was part of the Cheers cast, but after Cheers ended on May 20th, 1993 with its final episode “On The Road,” Frasier began in September of that year and became an even bigger hit. When Frasier ended on May 14, 2004 with “Good night, Seattle,” the spin-off not only tied its predecessor for 11 seasons but gave fans proper closure.

Both of the finales had huge build-ups and tens of millions of fans tuning in, but where Frasier sought to provide a proper sendoff for its characters, Cheers kept the status quo. Finales have to walk a fine line between subverting what fans expect while at the same time giving them what they want, all while avoiding the familiar clichés and tropes of other television series’ final episodes. Though the debate still wages whether Frasier or Cheers is the better sitcom, as far as the finale goes, Frasier nailed it with its usual precision, humor, and style.



10 Frasier’s Ending Felt Like A Proper Finale

Frasier Cast Reunion

There are some fans who might call the final episode of Frasier predictable, with every character receiving a predictable ending, but it succeeded in properly closing the door on a certain chapter of their lives. Ross was made station manager, Marty got married, Daphne and Niles welcomed David, and Frasier set off for Chicago. Each choice firmly ended the storyline they had while on the show and heralded new beginnings that had them grow and change as people.

By contrast, the finale of Cheers didn’t usher in very many new beginnings at all. While Frasier did leave Boston, Sam eschewed a life with Diane, and the rest of the bar gang including Norm, Cliff, Carla, and Woody simply remained in situ. The final episode of Cheers wasn’t as much a proper finale as maintaining the status quo set by the series since the beginning without changing very much. It was much more predictable than Frasier’s finale while also playing it safe in the process.

9 Frasier’s Family Wasn’t An Anchor On His Development

Frasier went from having an uncomfortable and awkward relationship with his family and, by extension, his friends to loving them dearly. Yet just as Frasier left Boston for Seattle, Frasier seemed to know when to leave town for another destination, and they weren’t an anchor on the rest of his development. Marty was about to get a second chance at married life, and Niles and Daphne were about to enter the exciting years of being new parents, which left Frasier free to follow his heart to Chicago.

At the end of Cheers, during an admittedly poignant scene where Sam walks through the bar and marvels at the place he’s called home for over a decade, there’s a sense of bittersweetness. Despite the dysfunction inherent to his relationship with Diane, Sam could have had a different life, but his true love was the bar. As sentimental as it is, the bar gang became a weight around his neck, forcing him to pick them (and be comfortable) over something daring and new.

8 The Frasier Finale Showed Frasier Leaving His Comfort Zone (Unlike Sam In Cheers)

Frasier Crane and Charlotte holding hands in Frasier season 11

In Frasier’s ending fans received a red herring; the famous radio psychiatrist had received a job offer for something on TV out of San Francisco, but when he hopped on a plane, it was revealed he was really traveling to Chicago to be with Charlotte (Laura Linney). Frasier, who was fastidious beyond compare and a stickler for his routine, decided to step outside his comfort zone. He took a chance at love and decided to see where the reckless act would take him.

Sam, on the other hand, chose to remain at the bar, and so did the rest of his staff. He could have taken a chance for a different sort of lifestyle but he didn’t, despite the fact that most of his friends went home to their loved ones at the end of every night. Not only was this predictable, but it didn’t reflect the growth he’d demonstrated as a character throughout the series, whereas Frasier, who had comparatively little growth, was seen to exhibit more daring agency in his own life.

7 Frasier’s Finale Provided More Character Closure Than Cheers’ Ending

Ronee, Marty Crane, and Frasier Crane in the Frasier finale

Frasier might have wrapped up various characters’ storylines with a bit too trite a bow, but it gave them a closure that made its fanbase content. Niles and Daphne started a family, Marty got married, Roz took over the station, and even Kenny left to follow his dreams. While a few returning characters didn’t show up, most of the characters fans had followed over the years got a proper goodbye that suited their trajectory over the years.

Almost none of the characters on Cheers got any real closure; Sam still worked at the bar with Carla and Woody, and Norm, Cliff, and the rest of the bar gang still came back to drink night after night. When each of the Cheers cast made an appearance on Frasier, fans finally found out what happened to them, including Woody starting a family of his own. It became ironic that Cheers fans got more closure from watching Frasier than their own show.

6 Frasier’s Finale Was A More Rounded Ending For The Entire Series

Frasier Crane's final KACL show in Frasier season 11

Frasier’s finale didn’t set out to be the most memorable finale in television history, and indeed, Friends’ finale already stole some of its thunder a few weeks before. Where it shined was being memorable and observant for its fans, particularly when it came to references as far back as the pilot episode. In the first episode when Marty first moved in with Frasier, his son lamented that he’d never gotten so much as a “thank you” from his father for his generosity, and finally, 11 seasons later, Marty turned to him and said, “Thank you.”

While there were callbacks in Cheers, like Sam straightening a picture of Geronimo as a tribute to late actor Nicholas Colasanto, who had the photograph in his dressing room in honor of Ernie Pantusso, aka “Coach” from 1982-1985, they didn’t have as much resonance to the characters in the series. There were moments in Frasier’s final episode that felt like they were bookends to the series, rather than deep cuts and Easter eggs. This made for a more well-rounded ending that felt organic and natural.

5 Frasier’s Ending Is A More Emotional Culmination Of The Character & Actor’s Journeys

Frasier Niles Daphne son

The end of a beloved series is as emotional for fans as it is for the actors behind it, and watching characters interact for potentially the last time together onscreen can have a huge impact. So huge, in fact, that the actors can’t help but let their own tearful responses bleed through into their characters. In the finale, there’s almost not a dry eye among Frasier’s original cast including Jane Leeves or John Maloney, and when Niles goes to shake Frasier’s hand and tells him, “I’ll miss the coffees,” David Hyde-Pierce uses his real voice to convey the true sentiment.

There are clear emotions at play during the Cheers finale too, and it’s ironic that during the cigar scene, Kelsey Grammer is the one to struggle with his lines. But because no one is heading off to a new adventure, and therefore not separating, it doesn’t feel quite as powerful. All the bar gang will still see each other again the next night when they come to rely on the camaraderie that will always be there waiting for them at their favorite bar.

4 Frasier Avoided The Cheers Finale’s Romance Mistake

Frasier and Charlotte sitting at a table together

The romance between Frasier and Charlotte feels quite fast for the series’ final season and is certainly not as impactful as some of his other relationships which lasted much longer. At the same time, it makes sense that he would throw himself into the tumult of new love and risk everything because Frasier always fell for the idea of romance rather than its reality. Putting him with an old flame just for the sake of closure would have felt like adhering to an old trope.

This is exactly the romantic mistake the Cheers finale made when it brought Diane back after a long absence to be with Sam. Not only was it a dangling carrot for fans who wanted to see them wind up together, but it ended up disappointing Shelley Long herself when they didn’t get a happy ending. Sam shouldn’t have had any old flame come back into his life if it wasn’t going to work out and was only used for shock value.

3 Frasier’s Characters Learned The Lessons They Needed To Learn

Frasier in a radio booth in Frasier

Early in the series, Frasier was told, “Your problem is, you don’t know how to be happy,” and while Frasier didn’t grow a tremendous amount as a character over 11 seasons because he still ran off to be with someone he barely knew, he did learn that even if he could never be fully satisfied, the pursuit of romance was still worthwhile. It was a lesson that he needed to learn so that he could accept that part of himself.

Aside from Cliff mentioning “comfortable shoes” or Sam learning that his true love was the bar, the characters at Cheers remained in stasis. They learned that they didn’t need to change very much in order to be content, but it ended up making them seem stagnant. They ended up not needing to learn any profound life lesson because the finale didn’t require them to, which made much of their concerns mute.

2 Frasier’s Finale Wasn’t Drawn Out As Long As Cheers

Frasier, Niles, Daphne, and Roz in the finale of Frasier

Frasier’s finale was in two parts which necessitated covering a lot of ground because not only did Frasier have his father’s wedding to plan, but he also needed to decide whether he was taking a new job, as well as worry about where Daphne was going to give birth to her baby. It was a hectic farce like any other episode, but it all came together in the end. Nothing felt superfluous over too drawn out and even included things like Frasier getting to see the fruits of his labors (unlike when he planned Daphne’s wedding).

Cheers’ finale was three parts, and as a result, felt like it had a lot of filler material. Nothing much happened as far as the plot of the episodes went, and didn’t have any cliffhangers or hints at further storylines for any of the characters. The scene including the bar gang smoking cigars and discussing their philosophies about life seemed like filler when Cheers could have had a two-part finale too and felt more focused.

1 Frasier’s Ending Wasn’t As Generic As Cheers

John Mahoney as Martin Crane in the Frasier finale

There were certainly undeniable elements about Frasier that made the series what it was; a witty sense of humor, erudite situations, and farcical miscommunications. All of these were represented well in the finale, as well as particular character-defining moments that were necessary. It seems fitting that the finale includes both Frasier addressing his fans for the final time with a beautiful recital of Ulysses in his closing broadcast, and the same mover from the pilot coming to collect his dad’s atrocious easy chair.

The Cheers finale, by contrast, was underwhelming in the sense that it didn’t have enough devoted to its characters in a meaningful way. It’s possible that it couldn’t, given that most of them weren’t leaving the series to do anything else like the characters in Frasier, but there weren’t that many surprises. Because it didn’t do anything very unexpected, it was a banal sendoff for some of the most beloved characters in television history.

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