The Cheers cast tried — and failed — to haze newcomer Woody Harrelson

The Cheers cast put young newcomer Woody Harrelson to the test when he came on board but found he was just too tough and smart for it.

Last Updated on June 21, 2024

Cheers Woody

When Woody Harrelson came onto Cheers, he had big shoes to fill, serving as a replacement for Nicholas Colasanto and his character Coach following the actor’s death prior to season four. And his fellow bartenders and patrons didn’t take it easy on him, challenging him to tasks both physically and mentally.

As Ted Danson (Sam Malone) recently recalled on Conan O’Brien’s podcast (via EW), having such a young guy on the set allowed for some of his fellow cast members to put him to the test. “Thirty-seven is when you realize you’re no longer 25 or 24. So it was more not like hazing him, we just wanted to kick his ass 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 asses there.” In other words, the white man could jump! Following that, John Ratzenberg (Cheers barfly Cliff Calvin) had his own physical challenge for Woody Harrelson…which he also lost.

From there, the Cheers boys opted to give chess a shot, which it turned out Woody Harrelson was also skilled in. “To heck with this physical stuff, we’re gonna beat him mentally. Killed us at chess. 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.”

In addition to beating down his cast, Woody Harrelson fared incredibly well on Cheers, proving a natural fit for the sitcom and making his mark on his first appearance. He later won an Emmy for his work, the only one in the cast to win the Supporting Actor honor during the show’s 11-season run, one more victory for Woody.

But despite all the hazing — and Woody Harrelson skipping the Cheers reunion at this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards — there is no bad blood between the core cast. Danson and Harrelson will even hop back on the barstools for a new podcast titled Where Everybody Knows Your Name.

Were you a fan of Woody Harrelson on Cheers? How do you think he did as a replacement character?

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.