According to a 2012 GQ oral history, “Cheers” was going to pay homage to the classic 1970s BBC sitcom “Fawlty Towers,” which was set at a seaside British hotel. Per “Cheers” co-creator Glen Charles:
“‘Fawlty Towers’ was a favorite at that time, and so we started talking about hotel stories, and we found that a lot of the action was happening in the hotel bar. We actually thought of that while we were in a bar: ‘Why would anyone ever leave here?'”
His brother Les Charles added that they played around with the location, but this discussion was short-lived.
“We talked about putting this bar out in the desert somewhere, or in a small town, but once we were looking at a city, we immediately went to Boston. It hadn’t been used very much on television, and we wanted a city with some charm — a city that would have that English-style sort of pub in it. [Plus], it was a sports-crazy city. Everything seemed right about it.”
The sports angle was vital. Building “Cheers” in large part around Ted Danson’s Sam Malone, a retired Red Sox relief pitcher who, despite being a recovering alcoholic, is the establishment’s owner and head bartender was a masterstroke. He was not a roaring success as a player, so his ego is easily bruised. But Boston loves their hometown athletes, and this imbues the series with its essential warmth. You might not love Boston, but just about everyone who crosses the bar’s threshold Sam and each other.