One For The Road is the series finale and twenty-fifth episode of Season 11 of the NBC series Cheers.


About[edit | edit source]

One of the most viewed series finales in TV history, it was 98 minutes long, including commercials, three times the normal length; the 271st episode and the 25th episode of the eleventh season of Cheers. It first aired on NBC on Thursday, May 20, 1993, to an audience of approximately 42.4 million households, making it the second-highest-rated series finale of all time behind M*A*S*H and the highest-rated episode of the 1992–1993 television season in the United States. The 98 minute version was re-shown on Sunday, May 23, 1993, and an edited 90 minute version aired on Thursday, August 19, 1993.

Woody Boyd is elected Boston councilman and gives Norm Peterson a job. Cliff receives a promotion at the post office. Diane is seen by the Cheers staff and patrons winning a televised award, for writing a TV movie. Although her book's manuscript was rejected by publishers, it was perfect for a made-for-TV movie, prompting her to stay in Los Angeles in hopes of even greater success. At night, Diane calls Sam at Cheers' to thank him for the congratulatory telegram he sent. 

Both she and Sam pretend to be married to impress the other, while eating dinner at Melville's. Toby Keith's "Should've Been a Cowboy" plays loud on the radio. Sam involves Rebecca as his "wife", however Rebecca's boy-friend, plumber Don, interrupts their dinner to propose, foiling Sam's charade. When Rebecca and Don leave, Reed's partner, Kevin (Anthony Heald), arrives to confront Reed for "cheating" on him with Diane, exposing Diane's "marriage" as nonexistent. Back at the bar, Sam and Diane come to terms about having no family of their own. Diane admits to Sam that she failed to return to him in six months, as promised in the 5th season finale episode I Do, Adieu (1987).

Sam and Diane walk in and announce their engagement, but his friends disapprove. Disgusted with their disapproval and years without a family, Sam exits the bar with Diane. In the plane, Sam and Diane begin to reconsider their decisions to be together again. As the flight is delayed and returns to the airport, the pair decide to amicably part ways. Clay Walker's "What's It to You" is heard in the background. Diane boards another flight for Los Angeles, while Sam returns to Cheers. When Sam returns, Rebecca joyfully announces that Don has been offered a good job with the Boston Sewer Department and leaves in excitement for their honeymoon.

The pre-credits scene at the end shows Norm staying behind, and he admits that he knew Sam would return to Boston for his "one true love", saying, "You'll always come back to her." After Norm leaves, a man (Bob Broder) knocks on the entrance door, but Sam replies, "Sorry, we're closed". In the original broadcast, after the closing credits, the text read "Thanks for having us over on all those Thursday nights" with the show's logo on it.

PRODUCTION NOTES

Three hundred people attended the filming of the finale in Paramount Studios' Stage 25 in Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 31, 1993, from 7:20 PM to 2:15 AM. Due to Shelley Long's commitment to the short-lived CBS sitcom, Good Advice, the finale's bar-scene ending was filmed without her, on Wednesday, April 7, 1993, after the penultimate episode "The Guy Can't Help It" was completely filmed on the same day. However, the ending was concealed from the general public, especially the studio audience, until the original airing.

United States President Bill Clinton was invited to be part of this finale, but declined. Brandon Tartikoff, former executive of NBC, as well as Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, appeared in the finale as uncredited bar patrons. Bob Broder, agent for the show's creators, is told by Sam Malone in the finale scene that, 'the bar is closed'.

Trivia

  • One of the last scenes shows Sam straightening a photograph on the side of the bar. The picture is of Geronimo. This is an homage to the late Nicholas Colasanto, who played "Coach" Ernie Pantusso from 1982-1985. The picture held special meaning to Colasanto who hung it in his dressing room. When he died in 1985, the picture was moved to the bar in his memory.
  • While the gang was smoking cigars and discussing the meaning of life, Frasier Crane's voice started trembling, as he sounded somewhat emotionally distraught while trying to finish his sentence. Given the fact that the series finale did not end with Sam Malone selling the bar, or anything bittersweet of that nature, Kelsey Grammer struggling with his words was not scripted, as he was genuinely sad while filming the very last scene with his co-stars of nine years. George Wendt adlibbed the comment regarding Cliff's perception of shoes, in an effort to ease Kelsey Grammer's heart a little.
  • This is the only time that Diane and Rebecca appeared together onscreen.
  • In the first scene of the first episode, Sam enters the main bar from the back room. In the last scene of the final episode, Sam exits the main bar and walks to the back room.
  • The end credits of this final ever episode (part 3) show as white on a black background. The only time this happened. Every other episode in the whole run were gold/yellow on black background.
  • Warren Littlefield, who was the Executive Vice President of NBC Entertainment at the time and a champion of the show in its infancy, was seated at the other side of the bar in the opening scene. Furthermore, Grant Tinker, the then President of NBC, was sitting at the end of the bar on Warren's right side.
  • The job of writing the show's finale originally fell to current showrunners Tom Anderson and Dan O'Shannon. However, both the network and series creators Glen Charles and Les Charles considered their finale script to be rushed and unsatisfactory. As a result, the network gave permission for the finale to be a triple-length special, while the Charles Brothers, with the blessing of Anderson and O'Shannon, took on the job of writing the finale themselves.
  • Ted Danson (Sam "Mayday" Malone), Rhea Perlman (Carla Tortelli) and George Wendt (Hillary Norman "Norm" Peterson) are the only actors to appear in every episode of the series.
  • Frasier returns to his hometown of Seattle and divorces Lilith Sternin sometime between this episode and the first episode of the Cheers spin-off Frasier
  • When Sam visits Frasier in Seattle in 1995, he reveals what became of the gang: Don got rich and dumped Rebecca. She's back at the bar. Norm is still at the bar (no surprise there). Woody and Kelly had a smart baby boy. Cliff doesn't hang around the bar much, because he read an article about flesh-eating bacteria and hasn't left his mother's house since. However, it is likely Cliff gets over this phobia as the years go by as Frasier attends his retirement party in 2002.
  • Likewise, when Woody visits Frasier in Seattle in 1999, he reveals that he and Kelly have also had a daughter and is once again the bartender of Cheers, with no mention of what became of his political career.
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