Over two decades after it first premiered, Frasier remains one of the smartest, most well written sitcoms of all time, with a cast of comedy legends the likes of which has rarely been seen in the modern era of television. Following the antics of the extended Crane family - father Martin, sons Niles and Frasier, eventual daughter-in-law Daphne, and found family member Roz - the series is as intellectual as it is hilarious.
While many sitcoms haven't aged well in the years after their original airings, Frasier continues to stand the test of time. Here, we've recapped just ten of the jokes that have remained as hilarious as they were during the series' original run. But honestly, this list could have gone on and on with no end in sight.
10 "Niles, I would shave my head for you." "A gesture which becomes less significant with each passing year."
The relationship between brothers Frasier and Niles Crane is the undeniable beating heart of the series as a whole. But there's no denying that the relationship was once far more fractured than it eventually becomes. Both men are known for their signature style of sarcastic humor, but early in the series' run, the jokes they make at each other's expense are occasionally verging on cruel - but still downright hilarious.
In the iconic first season episode "Author, Author," Frasier and Niles get into one of their signature spats while on the radio. Frasier tells Niles that, as a show of brotherly love, "I would shave my head for you." But Niles is quick to point out the meaninglessness of that gesture, since Frasier's hairline is quickly receding: "A gesture which becomes less significant with every passing year."
9 "You think I'm pretentious?" "You'd eat a worm if I gave it a French name!"
Frasier is known for its high brow, often academic level of humor, and that is in large part due to the elitism and snobbish ways of life preferred by the Crane brothers. It's a point of contention throughout the series between the brothers Crane and their blue collar father, Martin. But it also leads to plenty of hilarious interactions between Niles and Daphne.
Arguably the most hilarious example of this comes during an otherwise heated argument between the couple in the eighth season episode "Daphne Returns." While exchanging insults, Daphne calls Niles pretentious, noting that, "You'd eat a worm if I gave it a French name!" And honestly, she's probably right.
8 "One thing is certain: someone is very dead." "Well, Poirot, you've done it again."
Episodes that feature the Crane brothers on a ridiculous adventure entirely of their own creation are without question some of the best parts of the entire series' lengthy run. One of the most memorable of these episodes is the ninth season episode "Deathtrap," which finds Frasier and Niles investigating what they believe to be a murder that, in fact, never happened.
After digging up the floor boards of an old home to locate a box of mementos, Frasier and Niles instead stumble upon an old, fake skull - which they believe to be a real one. "One thing is for certain: someone is very dead," Frasier not so astutely observes while examining the skull, leading Niles to deadpan, "Well, Poirot, you've done it again."
7 "You've got a vulnerable woman and an unstable man in a gothic mansion on a rainy night! The only thing missing is someone shouting 'Heathcliff!' across the moors!"
It takes the series seven long seasons to finally get Niles and Daphne into a romantic relationship with one another, but as early as the first season, the series presents opportunities for the two to get into plenty of romantic trouble together. The first season episode, "A Mid-Winter's Night Dream," finds Daphne and Niles trapped alone in the middle of a storm at Niles's home.
And predictably, this scenario sends Frasier into hysteria, ranting and raving about the Wuthering Heights romanticism of all that is going on, and his need to stop all that could happen - even if it means running across the metaphorical moors, screaming in the rain for the two of them to stop.
6 "Niles gotta have it!"
In the third season episode "Look Before You Leap," characters make impulsive decisions at Frasier's suggestion due to the fact that it's a leap year, and an extra leap day allows them to act out of character. One of those storylines follows Niles, on the outs with his difficult wife Maris, as he tries to resist her attempts to lure him into a sexual encounter.
In the end, all of Frasier's advice to others goes horribly awry, so Niles realizes there's no point in trying to deny his own desires. Wild-eyed, messy haired, and practically foaming at the mouth, Niles storms out of the apartment to go and reunite with Maris, forcefully proclaiming, "Niles gotta have it!"
5 "You stole my mommy!"
The first season episode "Author, Author" is truly the gift that keeps on giving. During the episode, Niles and Frasier lock themselves in a hotel room in the hopes of producing a manuscript regarding the nature of relationships between siblings. Hilarity inevitably ensues, because it takes little to no time at all before they blow up on one another.
At this point in the series, their relationship is hardly as strong as it could be. So it's only a matter of time before they begin dredging up ugly issues and insecurities, including Frasier physically attacking Niles and screaming at him, "You stole my mommy!"
4 "I'm fine now. Don't touch me."
In Frasier's eleventh and final season, the toxic back and forth relationship between Niles Crane and his onetime wife Maris finally comes to a head. After Maris is accused of murder, and Niles finds himself drawn into the investigation and the publicity that comes with it, Niles suddenly suffers a total psychotic break - a culmination of a lifetime of neuroses and anxiety.
Niles has this mental breakdown in a very public place: Cafe Nervosa. While frequenting the coffee shop, he suddenly strips down to absolutely nothing, sits down, and begins to read the newspaper. It's only through Frasier's intervention that Niles starts to come back to reality, but even then, he's full of plenty of dry remarks made all the more hilarious by David Hyde Pierce's pitch perfect delivery.
3 "I had a reason. Fridge pants."
One of the series' best episodes of all time is the eleventh and final season's Christmas episode, "High Holidays." In this episode, Niles resolves to take a walk on the wild side by attempting to get high with a pot brownie.
Through a comedy of errors, however, it's his father, Martin, who winds up eating the pot brownie and winding up absolutely high out of his mind. As a result of his intoxicated state, and while exhibiting the munchies, Martin begins raving about brilliant ideas he had - including the stellar idea of putting his pants in the refrigerator. His explanation is simple: a piece of paper in his shirt pocket, with the words "fridge pants" written on it.
2 "I was punched in the face by a man now dead."
Yet another highlight to come from the eleventh season storyline in which Maris is accused of murder: Frasier's subsequent downward spiral after realizing his own relationship to the murder victim. As it turns out, the man that Maris killed had been in an altercation with Frasier the same day, and it's something that Frasier absolutely cannot comprehend.
Multiple times throughout the episode "Murder Most Maris," at times when tensions need diffusing, Frasier accuses everyone of forgetting the fact that he "was punched in the face by a man now dead" - as if that's the matter that needs to be focused on.
1 "I'll never understand how two men like you could be spawned from that sweet, courageous old astronaut."
One of the series' strongest episodes, the fourth season premiere "The Two Mrs. Cranes," finds Niles and Daphne posing as a married couple in the hopes of warding off Daphne's clingy ex boyfriend, Clive. Through a comedy of errors, however, the entire evening turns into a mess when Daphne realizes she would actually like to reconnect with Clive.
The only character to remain in Clive's good graces by the end of the night is patriarch Martin Crane, who is addressed in the best possible way with Clive's exit: "I'll never understand how two men like you could be spawned from that sweet, courageous old astronaut."