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Whatever happened to Norm from Cheers?

Long before the cast of How I Met Your Mother hung out at MacLaren's Pub or the Friends group gathered at Central Perk, a few regulars at the fictional bar Cheers were winning over television audiences. Cheers ran on NBC from 1982 to 1993, and it became one of the most popular television series of all time, largely thanks to its cast of lovable characters.

Every one of the regulars had their own quirky habits and routines, and together, they made Cheers what it was. For instance, you could always count on Norm Peterson (George Wendt) to walk through the door, greet the room with, "Afternoon, everybody," and hear everyone shout one word in response: "Norm!" The big guy was a staple of the show, but where did Wendt go after the series' final episode? Well, here's what happened to Norm from Cheers and why his days on TV might be behind him. 

He's been performing skits on Saturday Night Live

While Cheers was on air, George Wendt began appearing in skits on Saturday Night Live. He developed the character Bob Swerski, a diehard Chicago sports fan and part of the recurring segment "Swerski's Superfans." Wendt is a Chicago native himself, and as a lifelong supporter of all Chicago sports teams, he was instantly relatable to the other local fans watching. The original "Swerski's Superfans" skits aired in the early 1990s, shortly before Cheers ended. But that wasn't the end of Bob Swerski or his passionate commentary on Chicago sports. 

Wendt has returned to SNL to play Swerski several times since Cheers ended — in '95, '97, and 2003. And in 2019, he even showed up in character to appear on the series Peyton's Places, in which former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning meets with a variety of interesting figures to explore the history of football and the cultural impact of the sport. 

George Wendt starred in his own sitcom

Spin-offs tend to get a bad rap, but it's not always deserved. After all, Frasier was a spin-off of Cheers, and it ran for 11 seasons. Wendt's first recurring role following Cheers wasn't quite a spin-off, but clearly, Wendt and his crew were hoping that by attaching his name to the show, the Cheers audience might be willing to come along for the ride. Unfortunately, The George Wendt Show couldn't follow the success of Cheers. 

In this short-lived sitcom, George Coleman (Wendt) and his brother Dan (Pat Finn) run a car garage in Wisconsin and host the call-in radio show "Points and Plugs," where listeners could call in for advice about cars. The show was essentially a dud, and it only aired for one season in 1995. Perhaps going with a sitcom based on Norm Peterson, who the audience already knew and loved, would've actually been a better move. 

He's had plenty of guest spots on other shows

After Cheers finally came to an end, George Wendt became a go-to guest star for plenty of shows, and the comedian has popped up a number of times on a wide variety of series. For example, he played himself once on an episode of Seinfeld back in 1992. More recently, you might've caught him in a couple of episodes of Bill Nye Saves the World. In the episode on the importance of vaccines, "Do Some Shots, Save the World," Wendt played the villain, Polio. He was also in the episode "Your Computer is Under Attack." 

Wendt has also been on the hit show Fresh Off the Boat, and he recently appeared on the Adult Swim series Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell. When it comes to guest spots, Wendt is up for anything. Whether he's making a cameo as himself or playing a highly contagious disease, the man is always willing to get creative and try something new. 

He's guest starred as Norm from Cheers

After Cheers ended, it was hard to imagine never seeing any of those characters again. Sure, fans would occasionally see the actors pop up in other shows and movies, but it just wouldn't be the same. But Frasier Crane wasn't the only actor who had a life after Cheers. Wendt also returned to playing Norm a few times after the series wrapped. Naturally, he made an appearance on an episode of Frasier, like several other former Cheers cast members. He also voiced an animated version of Norm on two episodes of Family Guy. And back in 1994, he actually made his first post-Cheers appearance as cartoon Norm on The Simpsons

It's rare that a character pops up on so many other shows, but this just illustrates how beloved the cast of Cheers really was. Could Wendt ever make another appearance as Norm on TV? At this point, it's been a while since he has, but who knows? Perhaps we haven't seen the last of Norm just yet. 

Wendt's new recurring parts

It was a few years after Cheers and The George Wendt Show wrapped that Wendt would nab a recurring role on another TV show. In 1997, he appeared on the comedy series The Naked Truth as Les Polanski. Next up was a role as Carl on the first and only season of the comedy Madigan Men. In 2001, Wendt appeared on another comedy show, only this time, it was a series with a different kind of audience than he was used to. He played Mike Shelby in several episodes of the live-action Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. A couple years later, Wendt was on the sitcom Modern Men as Tug Clarke, a guy who dished out dating advice to confused, single men, despite the fact that he'd been through a few divorces himself. 

None of the shows that Wendt worked on really got the same reception that Cheers did, but Wendt recognizes that Cheers was the kind of show that doesn't come around very often. "It's such a pleasant surprise that something you were a part of could make such an impact," Wendt told the Toronto Sun

Wendt has been landing 'bucket list' roles on the stage

George Wendt's love of acting eventually lead him away from the camera and towards the theater. And for the past decade or so, George Wendt has actually been a regular on the stage. In 2008, Wendt first took on the role of Edna Turnblad in the Broadway production of Hairspray. He enjoyed the experience so much that he ended up playing Edna again in future productions. "Well, it was really fun," Wendt said in an interview with Bullz-Eye, adding that he had to wear a "big, old fat suit and oodles of makeup and wigs." Wendt then described the whole process as, "Crazy, crazy, crazy."

More recently, Wendt starred as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, which was a massive professional achievement for him. He was excited to be a part of this classic, timeless play, and he said that playing Loman was a "bucket list" role. "The hustle is always to leave your mark, to mean something, to be remembered, to be loved," Wendt told the Toronto Sun. "These are some of the big issues in Death of a Salesman, and those never go away.

He's been working with his wife

On Cheers, George Wendt starred alongside some pretty impressive names in the world of comedy, like Ted Danson and John Ratzenberger. But recently, Wendt has started working with someone even more important to him: his wife. Wendt co-starred with his life partner, Bernadette Birkett (who also worked on Cheers), in the comedy play Never Too Late. This wasn't an original production. In fact, it was popular on Broadway in the 1960s, but it's not a very well known play today. However, Wendt and Birkett's version was well-received and positively reviewed. 

In Never Too Late, Wendt played Harry Lambert, a successful and traditionally-minded man who owns a lumber company and thinks that his wife, Edith, truly enjoys waiting on him hand and foot. But when Edith comes home with the news that she's pregnant, Harry is totally caught off guard. Wendt and Birkett were praised for bringing their real-life chemistry to the stage. "The bombastic Harry is the showier role, but Birkett goes for relatively subtle humor in a precise, thoughtful performance," wrote Robert Trussell in The Kansas City Star. "For his part, Wendt delivers a master class on comedic timing."

He appeared in a miniseries

After Cheers, Wendt's longest-running role was on the TBS series Clipped. Wendt played Buzzy, a guy who used to own a barbershop named, you guessed it, Buzzy's. The old dude still works there, but now it's officially owned and managed by a fellow named Ben (Ryan Pinkston). Back in the day, Ben was an unpopular kid in high school, but now that he's the boss at Buzzy's, he's in charge of a few of his old classmates who used to be big time social butterflies. Naturally, jealous and petty antics ensue. 

As for Buzzy himself, well, he might be well beyond high school drama, but he's got relationship problems of his own, like figuring out how to propose to the man of his dreams (whose mother thinks is just his roommate). The show ran for ten episodes, and yeah, it was a different kind of role for Wendt. Still, it was a light-hearted comedy, which is right in the man's wheelhouse.

Saying goodbye to TV?

There's no doubt that George Wendt has had a fantastic career, and it was made all the better by the fact that he sort of stumbled into it. Wendt never dreamed of being an actor when he was a kid. Then one day, he decided that he wanted to be in Second City, an improv troupe based in Chicago, and with a lot of hard work over the years, it was all uphill from there. 

But now that he's older, Wendt feels like it might be time for him to say goodbye to TV. When asked if he ever thought about coming back to TV full-time, Wendt answered, "Oh, yeah, I'd be thrilled. But I think I've been kicked out for overstaying my welcome." Wendt would definitely be open to more consistent work on television, but he's made the best of his current prospects. At the end of the day, many actors never get the opportunity to be a part of a show like Cheers, and he's definitely grateful for the success he's enjoyed so far.

George Wendt's movie career

Although most of George Wendt's work has been on TV (and more recently, theater), he's actually worked in film before, too. He kicked off his career with bit parts in movies, and he probably appeared in a couple films that you enjoyed as a kid. In 1994, shortly after Cheers ended, Wendt had a supporting role as a lumberyard clerk in The Little Rascals. And you might not have noticed him when this film came out, but if you ever go back and watch Spice World, you may just spot Wendt as the film producer. 

While it doesn't seem like film was Wendt's favorite medium in the past, he may have had a change of heart. Although he seems to be putting TV behind him, he might just be entering a new phase in his career. He was in the recently released film The Climb, and he's actually finished shooting several upcoming films. 

Right now, Wendt has three different films in post-production. He's going to be in the movie VFW, about a group of veterans who step up to defend their local VFW from a group of mutants. He will also be in the movie Hipsters, Gangsters, Aliens, and Geeks, which should be just as trippy as the title hints, especially since it's about an actor who accidentally finds the key to the universe and unwittingly becomes entangled in a cosmic battle between clowns and aliens. 

In addition, you'll be able to see Wendt in the film American.ish. So far, the plot details for this particular movie — and Wendt's role in it — have been kept under wraps. None of Wendt's upcoming films have official release dates yet, but since filming on all of them has been completed, it's only a matter of time. 

Will Norm return to Cheers?

Even though the show's final episode aired in 1993, Cheers fans are still wondering if there's any chance that the cast could get a reunion one day. While George Wendt knows that there aren't any official plans for it in the works right now, he thinks that it's bound to happen eventually. However, he doesn't see it happening any time soon. "I think some sort of reboot is inevitable, whether it's a movie or a show," Wendt told the Toronto Sun, before adding, "But I wouldn't hold my breath." 

However, Wendt noted that the final season did set them up nicely for a reboot, saying, "It seemed like a fairly satisfying ending, and it did leave the door wide open for a sequel. In theory, those people are still walking in there every day." So, Cheers fans, don't get too excited just yet, but keep an eye on Wendt and the rest of the original cast. You never know when they might get back together for another night at the bar.