In 2004, NBC said adios to two of its most successful sitcoms — in the same two week period. Last week, we did a look back at the Friends finale and today marks the 10 year anniversary that Frasier Crane said “Goodnight, Seattle” for the final time. Kelsey Grammer had played Dr. Crane for 20 years and it was truly the end of an era, not just for him, but for NBC’s reign as the #1 network for sitcoms.
It’s actually kind of amazing that Frasier was as popular as it was. It didn’t have the hot young cast of Friends or spawn the pop culture catchphrases of Seinfeld, and its star was an opera-loving snob. Not exactly a show middle-America can relate to. Still, it put in more seasons than the rest of NBC’s 1990s comedy lineup and won the Emmy for “best comedy” five years in a row.
Here are 10 facts you might not know about Frasier’s final episode.
1. The finale’s title takes its cue from Frasier’s radio show. The title of the two-part finale “Goodnight, Seattle,” is based on Frasier’s signature radio sign-off.
2. The finale also paid tribute to one of the show’s co-creators. The baby of Niles and Daphne is named David, after David Angell, one of the show’s co-creators who was killed in the 9/11 attacks. David Angell’s sister was in the studio audience for the final episode taping.
3. The episode had its own animated title card sequence. In total, there were 21 different animated title sequences throughout Frasier’s run. The series finale is the only episode to feature a rainbow appearing over the Seattle skyline.
4. Eddie’s understudy was used in the final episodes. The dog that played Eddie was a Jack Russell terrier named Moose, who was with the show for most of the series’ run. When Moose retired from acting, his younger lookalike, Enzo took over.
5. Only one actor outside of the regular cast appeared in both the pilot and final episode. And that man would be, the deliveryman who takes away Martin’s Lazyboy. Actor Cleto Augusto also played the deliveryman who dropped off Martin’s easy chair in the first episode. Outside of the regular cast, he’s the only actor to appear in both episodes.
6. The show’s producers were in the “goodnight, Seattle” radio shot. As Frasier is closing his final radio broadcast, the camera pans over and producers Bob Dailey, Jeffrey Richman, Joe Keenan, Maggie Blanc and creator Peter Casey can be seen behind the soundproof glass. The Alfred Tennyson poem that he recites is “Ulysses.”
7. Frasier gets his “thank you” from his father. One of the first fights Frasier had with his dad involved him just wanting to hear a “thank you” in the pilot episode for letting his father move in. He doesn’t get it though until the finale when Martin hugs him goodbye and says “Thank you, Frasier.”
8. Tina Fey used Frasier’s finale for inspiration. Writing the final episode of a series is one of the more stressful episodes for a show creator, and they’ll often look at other popular series finales for inspiration. Just as David Crane looked to Newhart and Mary Tyler Moore when writing the Friends finale, Tina Fey looked at what made the Frasier finale work while writing 30 Rock’s finale.
“We watched a lot of classic TV finales in the writers’ room leading up to it at lunch or a break. And as the weeks got closer and closer to ours, it got more emotional. I remember [writer] Tracey Wigfield was crying when they wheeled Frasier’s dad’s chair out of the apartment. One of the things we learned from them was that it’s okay to give your characters an opportunity to actually say goodbye to each other in the body of that episode. You don’t have to worry if that’s cheesy.”
9. Frasier left Seattle for Hawaii. For the show’s final taping the crew wore production shirts that read “Frasier has left the building” in gold lettering. The following week, the cast flew treated the entire production team to a week-long vacation in Hawaii. John Mahoney was the only cast member who wasn’t able to make it, but David Hyde Pierce made sure he was still part of the celebration:
“On the final night everyone assembled on the beach for a luau. Because Mahoney was MIA, rehearsing a play in Chicago, “we got out a cell phone,” says Hyde Pierce, “and left him a message. We screamed, ‘Aloha!'”
10. The final episode was a hit with both fans and critics. Few sitcoms run as long as Frasier and still remain as funny in the final season as they were in the first. Frasier was only a few episodes behind its successor, Cheers, clocking in 264 episodes compared with Cheers’ 275. It’s finale was the most watched program on TV that week with an audience of 33.7 million. It also became the 11th most watched series finale ever and ended up at #17 on TV Guide’s list of the best series finales.