Cheers Wiki

"Clifford we haven't got time for the 'monkey speech' we're too busy"

Esther Clavin, also known as Ma Clavin to her son, is a recurring character on NBC's Cheers and debuts in the third episode of the fifth season. She is the mother of Cliff Clavin and is portrayed by Frances Sternhagen.


Esther is noted for being a notoriously bad cook as her food is almost completely inedible. She also has Cliff's knack/habit of giving random bits of information and trivia. Though she seems to be far more socially adept and better at getting results than her son. And luckier at love.

After being described to Norm Peterson and other barflies by her son since Season 1, Esther makes her first official appearance in the Season 5 episode "Money Dearest" in which her son plots to have her marry a millionaire in order to inherit his fortune. The plans backfires as Esther has Duncan Fitzgerald donate all of his fortune in order to prove that she was not motivated to marry him out of greed.

She returns in Season 6 "The Last Angry Mailman" to save the family home from being demolished, but abandons it upon learning how much she will get for selling the property and moves to Florida.

Esther makes several return appearances as a recurring character particularly in the later seasons when she returns to Boston to live with her son and again to take control of Cliff's life once again by arranging a wedding, and a party for Cliff and Maggie in seasons 9 and 10 respectively.

Esther makes her final appearances in "Look Before you Sleep" of the last season of Cheers and has a big fight with Cliff in front of Sam Malone, who was staying the night and in "Rebecca Gaines, Rebecca Loses" having yet another fight with her middle-aged son and ultimately being placed in a retirement home, but wound up moving back in with him by the end of the episode.

Like her son, Esther also has a habit of spouting out useless trivia and also possesses a very domineering and controlling personality, and often relies on guilt tripping her son and others in order to get her way. Esther has been a divorcée since before her initial appearance, but has taken up companionship a few times particularly with a man named Duncan Fitzgerald, and later in Season 10 "Heeeeeere's... Cliffy!" it is implied that she may have began dating Johnny Carson as well.

She may have moved out of Cliff's bachelor pad and gotten herself a place of her own as Sam Malone mentions in the Sixteenth Episode of the Second Season of Frasier (TV series), that Cliff had read an article on flesh-eating bacteria and hadn't left his mom's house since.

In 2002, Esther is alive and well was planning on attending her son's retirement party, as Cliff mentioned having to meet her plane and that she was bringing in ten gallons of punch. But we hear she got on the "wrong plane" and wound up going to Bosnia.


Woody: "So I guess Mr. Clavin must have told you a lot about us."

Esther: "No actually, Clifford doesn't talk much around the house."

Norm (Confused expression): "That Cliff?"

Esther: "That's right, some days not even a peep (prattles on useless trivia)..."


S5E3-Money Dearest

S6E7-The Last Angry Mailman

S9E5-Ma Always Liked You Better

S10E5-Ma's Little Maggie


S11E20-Look Before You Sleep

S11E23-Rebecca Gaines, Rebecca Loses