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Frasier Fans Aren't Having Any Of This Unpopular Opinion About Niles

At first glance, there isn't much separating Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce) from his brother Frasier (Kelsey Grammer). When the elder Crane moved back to Seattle from Boston and got his own spin-off in the form of "Frasier," their similarities were both immediately apparent and the source of much of the sitcom's comedic charm. Both were psychiatrists, obsessively posh, and are possessed of a self-regard so overinflated that, more often than not, it is at the root of their uproarious and farcical downfalls.

It didn't take much scratching of the surface for their differences to become apparent, however. After all, Frasier's backstory was already established going in, thanks to nine years on "Cheers." Niles, however, had to have his own history fleshed out over the course of the initial seasons of "Frasier."

It's here that the divergences between the two brothers started to take hold. Whereas Frasier had spent years in a blue-collar Boston bar far more suited to their father Martin (John Mahoney), Niles has apparently had no such opportunity to gain Frasier's self-awareness. As Anita Gates wrote at The New York Times during the show's height in 1998, "The difference between the brothers is that Frasier knows they're being pretentious; Niles honestly doesn't." This doesn't make Niles fundamentally unlikeable, though. In fact, any suggestion to the contrary is likely to incur the wrath of "Frasier" fans.

Many fans reject the idea that Niles is rude and inconsiderate

At the r/Frasier subreddit, u/redd_it_here posted what they freely admit to be an unpopular opinion. "Is it just me or does Niles sometimes come off as intrusive, rude and inconsiderate?" They elaborated with a few examples. Throughout the show, Niles frequently lies to Frasier and backs out of promises, pokes fun at him for his radio show, shows up uninvited at his brother's apartment, and doesn't share the workload in taking care of Martin.

It would seem u/redd_it_here isn't the only one with sentiments about Niles. Back in 1996, when David Hyde Pierce himself spoke to The Los Angeles Times and was asked whether he and Niles would get along in real-life, he told the reporter "I think I couldn't stand him."

Still, some on the thread were quick to defend Niles from the comedic plot standpoint. Niles' deep-seated desire to be seen as effortlessly refined and privileged, his fumbling and mostly unrequited love for Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves), his deer-in-headlights disdain for the rough and lower class — these often prompt him to do unlikeable things, but if they never happened then there would often be no plot. "He is those things at times, and that's the point," wrote u/bengeemon. "If he were none of those things there would be no conflict and this no point to him being around in the show."

Others are defensive of Niles as a person. u/JackintheBoxman argued that showing up at Frasier's apartment unannounced is just something that close family and friends do with the expectation that they have an opportunity to socialize. While u/DaAtramentisViolets points out that there is an early episode where Niles and Frasier discuss splitting the cost of Daphne's employment and Martin's care.

Niles grows over the course of Frasier

And then there's the question of how Niles Crane grows over the course of eleven seasons. One could easily argue that much of Niles' less savory behavior is rooted in his neuroses (this is, after all, a show about psychiatrists). And Niles is deeply neurotic. He is a germaphobe, subject to a bevy of psychosomatic ailments, and for the first half of the series is as terrified of wife Maris as he is in love. Not only does this help make many of his actions funny (even sympathetic) it also allows for the character to grow over the course of the series.

"He's meant to be a bit unlikeable," wrote u/grosselisse on the subreddit, "so that we get to see him grow and end up liking him." Meanwhile, u/second_of_four argued that Niles humbled himself and lightened up over time. They also pointed out that Niles was the one who initially hired Daphne explicitly to help with the care of his and Frasier's father. It is Daphne, the Mancunian physical therapist and "working class Venus" herself, who Niles ends up falling for, and in return, she brings him a lot closer to reality.

In other words, there's more than a bit of redemption in Niles Crane, even a lot to love for many fans. This doesn't necessarily mean that Niles will be a guaranteed presence in a possible "Frasier" reboot. Speaking with Vulture, David Hyde Pierce said that he wouldn't write off the idea. "But by the same token, because it's so valuable to me, I also wouldn't do it just to do it," said Pierce. "And I believe it can be done without me, too — finding new stories to tell, in the same way that Frasier did after Cheers."