Diane Chambers is a fictional character in the American television situation comedy show Cheers, portrayed by Shelley Long and created by Glen and Les Charles. After her fiancé Sumner Sloan abandons her in the Cheers bar in the pilot episode, Diane works as a bar waitress. She has an on-off relationship with the womanizing bartender Sam Malone (Ted Danson) and a one-year relationship with Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer), who later becomes a main character of the series and Frasier. When Long left the series during the fifth season, the producers wrote her character out. Since then, they added her permanent replacement Rebecca Howe, a businesswoman played by Kirstie Alley, in the sixth season. Shelley Long made a special guest appearance in the series finale as Diane. Long also appeared in Frasier as Diane's fantasy counterpart in Frasier's dreams and the actual Diane in a crossover episode "The Show Where Diane Comes Back".
Other actresses auditioned for the role of Diane Chambers. Producers decided to give Long the role primarily for her scenes with Ted Danson as Sam. Critical reception for the character has been mostly positive, but some critics gave negative reviews about her. For her performance as Diane, Long won an Emmy Award in 1983 for an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and two Golden Globe Awards in respectively 1983 and 1985 for a Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Television Series.
Diane Chambers premiered in Cheers in 1982 as a college graduate who works as a cocktail waitress. Her mother is Helen (Glynis Johns), who appears in only an episode "Someone Single, Someone Blue" (1983), and her father Spencer died before the start of the series' narrative. She attended the private Bennington College and studied for her graduate degree at Boston University. Diane suffers occasional facial tics and uses long-winded, poetic speeches and obscure words that often elude her audiences. In the 1982 series pilot "Give Me a Ring Sometime", Diane arrives with her fiancé Sumner Sloane (Michael McGuire). When he abandons Diane at Cheers, she realizes that he will not return and takes a waitressing job at Cheers. As a waitress, she gains a new nemesis Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman), while she gains a new close friend Coach Ernie Pantusso (Nicholas Colasanto)[c 1] until his death offscreen before the fourth season begins.
Diane also has on-and-off relationships with womanizing bartender Sam Malone, who is her non-intellectual opposite. When Sam and Diane end one of their relationships at the end of the second season, she goes to a psychiatric hospital in the following season and meets its psychiatrist Frasier Crane, initially Sam's rival who eventually becomes a regular character and then has his own spin-off. At the end of the season, Diane leaves Boston to marry Frasier in Europe. However, at the start of the fourth season, she jilts Frasier at the wedding altar. In the fifth season, after Sam ended his relationship with politician Janet Eldridge (Kate Mulgrew), Sam cyclically proposes to Diane, who repeatedly rejects his proposals until she accepts one of his latest proposals in the episode "Chambers vs. Malone" (1987). In the season finale, "I Do, Adieu" (1987), when Diane is offered the chance to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer, Sam and Diane halt their wedding. Therefore, she leaves Boston, promising him that she will return to him for six months. However, in the series finale, "One for the Road" (1993), after six years of separation, Diane returns to him as the award-winning cable television writer. Both try to rekindle their romance for old times' sake and plan to leave Boston together for Los Angeles. However, they begin to reconsider their relationship and then amicably break it off. Therefore, Diane returns to Los Angeles without Sam.
Diane appears three times in the Cheers spin-off, Frasier. She appears as a dream figure from Frasier's mind in "Adventures In Paradise (Part 2)" (1994) and later again in "Don Juan In Hell" (2001). Diane visits Seattle in "The Show Where Diane Comes Back" (1996). In Los Angeles, she loses her job by accidentally setting Jane Seymour's hair on fire on the set of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. She also loses her friends, boyfriend, beach house, and financial support for her upcoming play, and travels to Seattle to ask Frasier for help. During a rehearsal of her play—inspired by her experiences at Cheers—Frasier becomes verbally angry with Diane's rose-tinted portrayal of herself and her inaccurate depiction of him. After the rehearsal, Diane reconciles with Frasier about abandoning him in Europe. Finally, she decides to postpone the play and to move back to Los Angeles.
According to Shelley Long, Diane looks more intelligent than she really is. She uses books and academics to communicate with others, usually unsuccessfully. After a series of events which bring her scorn and ridicule, Diane realizes that she knows little about the real world and the bar, and must learn about the world without using books.
Wendie Malick auditioned for the role of Diane; she later appeared in Frasier as Ronny Lawrence. Bess Armstrong was offered a role, but she turned it down. Long, Lisa Eichhorn, and Julia Duffy were the producers' top three considerations for the role. NBC executives praised test scenes between Long and Danson, so the creators chose Long. Julia Duffy later appeared as one of Diane's friends in "Any Friend of Diane's", a 1982 episode of Cheers.