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One For The Road
Season 11, Episode 25
Air date 20 May 1993
Written by Glen Charles and Les Charles
Directed by James Burrows
Episode guide
The Guy Can't Help It
The Good Son - Frasier

"One for the Road" is the name of the final episode of the American television series Cheers. This episode ran for 98 minutes and premiered on NBC on May 20, 1993. NBC later re-ran the finale in September 1993 in a ninety-minute format, and in subsequent syndicated reruns the finale is divided into three episodes. It is the second highest-rated series finale of all time behind the series finale of M*A*S*H and was the highest-rated episode of the 1992-1993 television season in the United States.[1] [2]

[edit] Plot summary[]

As the gang are gathered at Cheers watching the Cable ACE Awards, Rebecca enters with Don, the plumber introduced in the previous episode ("The Guy Can't Help It"). After telling Rebecca he's been wanting all evening to ask her something important, Don asks her to marry him. Rebecca cannot say "yes," but responds with a very enthusiastic "no." Don leaves and Rebecca begins to cry; as Frasier tries to console her, she changes her mind repeatedly about whether Frasier should chase after Don.

Suddenly, from the television, Diane Chambers is announced as a nominee for the ACE Award for Best Writing for a Movie or Miniseries. As Diane is named the winner and accepts the award, the character appears on-screen for the first time since leaving the series six years earlier. The bar regulars are shocked at the sight. Sam sends Diane a telegram to congratulate her, and she calls to thank him. As they briefly catch up with each other, Sam finds out that Diane is now married with three children. To avoid sounding as if his life is empty, Sam lies and tells her that he's also married and has four kids, thinking that she'll never find out the truth.

After Don leaves Rebecca, she becomes depressed and begins sleeping in her clothes and ignoring her appearance. After she goes into the office one day (telling the others that "if you hear a scream and a thud, just keep drinking"), Diane walks into the bar unannounced. She tells them that she and her husband Reed have come for a visit and would like to take Sam and his wife out to lunch. Sam finds Rebecca on the office floor and convinces her to pretend they are married.

In the bar, Carla apologizes to Diane for her behavior, and Woody tells Diane that since she's left, he's gotten married, is about to be a father, and has been elected to the Boston City Council, which Diane does not believe even though it's true. Frasier comes in and is horrified to see Diane; he tells her he's "over her" while tightening his grip on her arms. Sam brings Rebecca out and introduces her as Mrs. Sam Malone, and when Reed enters the four go up to Melville's for lunch.

At lunch, Rebecca pretends to be a corporate attorney (for the firm "Emerson, Lake & Palmer") and tells Diane and Reed about her four children with Sam, including "little two-year-old Chelsea, she's one." Reed delivers a toast using the word "dawn," causing Rebecca to break into tears. Sam makes up a cover story, but Don then walks in, tells Rebecca that he cannot live without her, and proposes again. Rebecca accepts and kisses him passionately, while Diane and Reed watch in horror. After Rebecca and Don leave, Sam confesses his lie, but they are interrupted by another man who comes in and confronts Reed; it is discovered that Reed is gay and the man is his life partner, Kevin.

Sam and Diane are left alone at the table. Diane tells Sam that she hadn't returned to him after six months apart, as she had planned, because her book had been rejected by publishers and she didn't want to return until she felt she had been successful. Her book later became a screenplay. The two reveal to each other that neither of them is very satisfied with their life. As Diane goes to leave, Sam stops her and convinces her to have "dessert" with him (a euphemism for sex).

The gang at the bar go through many transformations. Woody uses his connections to get Norm a job with the city, and Cliff is promoted to "Assistant Supervisor of Subdistrict A, Grid L." Rebecca and Don impulsively get married, although Rebecca breaks down out of Don's earshot when she realizes that she married a plumber and is "going to have a whole bunch of little plumbers." As Carla expresses her discomfort with all the good karma in the bar, Sam and Diane walk in announcing they are engaged and moving to California, much to the crowd's chagrin. Sam argues with his friends and they leave on bad terms; Diane apologizes and tells them it's what's best for Sam.

On the plane, there are several delays; both Sam and Diane interpret the crew's announcements as directed especially to them, causing Sam to consider whether he's really in love with Diane or only convincing himself in order to avoid being alone, and Diane to consider whether Sam will stimulate or dampen her creative gifts. As they decide it's too late to change their decision, the captain announces that the plane is returning to the terminal because they "don't want to make a mistake about something this important."

Sam returns alone to Cheers, asking the gang to celebrate with him; they trick him by pretending to leave, before returning and telling him that Diane had called them earlier. They spend the rest of the evening together. Rebecca stops by to get her plane tickets, and reveals that Don got a job offer from the sewer department before she leaves again in excitement. The gang talks about the meaning of life; Cliff says that it's comfortable shoes, while Carla says it's having children. The group admits that they all treasure each other and their time spent together. As they head home, Norm stays behind for a last beer and tells Sam that he knew Sam would return, because he wouldn't be unfaithful to his one true love: the bar.

Sam says aloud to himself, "Boy, I'll tell ya... I'm the luckiest son-of-a-bitch on Earth." A man knocks at the door, and Sam begins to let him in, but instead tells him, "Sorry, we're closed." Near the piano, Sam straightens the picture of Geronimo (hung on the set since Nicholas Colasanto's death). He proceeds to walk into the back room with the lights off, a bookend to the opening of the series' first episode, Give Me a Ring Sometime, in which Sam emerged from the backroom into the bar and turned on the lights. The series ends with an exterior nighttime shot of the bar.

[edit] Awards and nominations[]

The episode won four Emmy awards. It won in the category Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Series - Multicamera Production. Shelley Long and Tom Berenger each received Emmy awards for the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series; respectively, for their guest appearances of the show. James Burrows received an Emmy award for Outstanding Directing Comedy Series.


  • The only episode in which Diane and Rebecca both appeared.