Ted Danson revealed this scary conflict that unfolded on the set of Cheers

Jun 20, 2024

Cheers is considered one of the greatest TV sitcoms of all time.

But behind the scenes, there was almost as much drama as on screen.

And Ted Danson revealed this scary conflict that unfolded on the set of Cheers.

Woody Harrelson clashed with the cast of Cheers when he joined the show 

The NBC sitcom Cheers was almost canceled during its first season in 1982 after it nearly finished last in the ratings.

But the show found its stride in its second season on its way to becoming one of the most acclaimed sitcoms of all time.

Actor Ted Danson, who played bartender Sam Malone on the show, appeared on SiriusXM’s Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend where he revealed the challenge of adding actor Woody Harrelson to the cast.

Harrelson joined the cast of Cheers for season four as new bartender Woody Boyd.

Danson recalled that most of the cast was in their 30s at that point but Harrelson was a fresh-faced 24-year-old.

“Thirty-seven is when you realize you’re no longer 25 or 24,” Danson said. “So it was more not like hazing him, we just wanted to kick his a** in anything we could find. We started with basketball and as you later found out in life, he’s a really good basketball player, so he kicked our a**es there.”

Harrelson went on to star with actor Wesley Snipes in the 1992 basketball movie, White Men Can’t Jump.

Woody Harrelson survives the tests put forth by the Cheers cast 

Danson, who was joined by Harrelson during the show, recalled another challenge the cast set up for the newcomer.

“Next,” Danson said. “I have a vision of Johnny Ratzenberger, who played Cliff, out on the lawn by the stage doing, you know, the leg wrestling where you’re both on your back, and you try to flip the other guy with just your leg.”

“Johnny’s strong,” Harrelson noted.

But he wasn’t strong enough to top the younger actor.

“John’s strong and got some thighs on him,” Danson recalled. “Woody kicked his a**. I literally have a bad elbow to this day ’cause I wouldn’t give up arm wrestling. I did finally give up, because he was kicking my butt. So then we moved to chess.”

Danson thought if they couldn’t get the upper hand physically, they could beat him at something mentally.

“Killed us at chess,” Danson said. “So this is all in the first week really. So from then on it was like, if you had some awful mean prank to pull, you would not waste it on anyone else except Woody. And he is, to this day, that’s Woody Harrelson.”

Cheers ended in 1993 with a finale that had an estimated audience of 93 million viewers or 40% of the country.

The enduring popularity of the show brought Danson and Harrelson together again to do a podcast called, Where Everybody Knows Your Name.

Cheers’ influence is still felt today with its spinoff Frasier starring Kelsey Grammer revived on Paramount+ for another run.

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