The long-running, critically acclaimed, and incredibly beloved sitcom Frasier was produced because of the popularity of Kelsey Grammer's character, Dr. Frasier Crane, on Cheers. While the show was Frasier's in name, however, many fans would tell you that it truly belonged to the character of Dr. Niles Crane. Frasier's younger, much more paranoid and impossibly witty brother was played to absolute perfection by David Hyde Pierce.
For the entire series' run, Niles is unflinchingly neurotic and superior all at once. His tastes for the finest things in life truly rival --and often surpass-- even Frasier's. He's also defined quite strongly by his long-unrequited love for Daphne Moon, his father's care provider, as well as his failed, incredibly toxic marriages to Maris and Mel. All throughout his many neuroses and personality quirks, Niles remains the series' most consistently hilarious and heart-warming character, turning in some of the show's most memorable lines. Let's take a look back at a selection of his best quotes.
10 "I thought I'd sit alone in my cavernous apartment while rocking back and forth while hugging my knees."
One of the most defining aspects of Niles' character is his penchant for self-deprecating, over dramatic humor. He's a psychiatrist, but the series nevertheless never shies away from exploring his own struggles with anxiety, self-doubt, and other various forms of neurotic compulsive behaviors. At the slightest hint of something going wrong, Niles is always given to proclaiming something truly over the top - which is, fittingly, in keeping with his fondness for theatre and opera.
During one of his and Maris's many spats, Niles is forced to spend his anniversary alone, taking a job opportunity to speak at a seminar on a remote cruise. Of course, nothing goes as planned. But to start the adventure, he proclaims that he will be spending his anniversary doing nothing more than "sit[ting] alone in my cavernous apartment while rocking back and forth while hugging my knees."
9 "I had my fear of abandonment workshop today and I've already been a no show twice."
It's not just Niles' own mental health that the series has fun being rather tongue-in-cheek about. Many a time during the series, Niles refers to his many peculiar support groups and seminars, which naturally leads to a rather dry, witty remark about the topic of the particular group he's either late for, missed altogether, or looking to conveniently exploit.
One of the many groups that gets this treatment is what Niles describes as his fear of abandonment workshop. What, then, could possibly make for a suitable snarky pun? Having Niles admit he's been a no show for a group comprised of people who are afraid that someone will be a no show in their life.
8 "I would gladly go, but I've got my compulsive spending seminar and I'm hoping to unload the rest of these raffle tickets."
Yet another one of Niles' support groups that gets the rather unprofessional --but undeniably hilarious-- treatment is his seminar for individuals with compulsive spending issues. When Niles is saddled with selling raffle tickets for a rather unenviable prize - one of Maris's opera friends will serenade the winner with "The Ride of the Valkyries" - he does whatever he can to try and offload the remaining tickets.
While he does manage to get Frasier to purchase some tickets, he nevertheless needs to sell many, many more of them on Maris' behalf. This, of course, leads to the snarky remark that he hopes to "unload the rest of these raffle tickets" as soon as he meets with the compulsive spenders.
7 "I'm conducting a seminar on multiple personality disorders and it takes me forever to fill out the name tags."
As if those first two examples weren't enough to remind you of just how biting Niles' humor can be from time to time, we've got yet another instance of his patient-inspired humor for you. It's not just compulsive spenders and people with abandonment issues that Niles is willing to poke fun at. Individuals who have been diagnosed with multiple personalities are also another subset of Niles' practice as a therapist, and they're not immune from his snarky remarks either.
In the first season episode "Oops," Niles excuses himself from spending time with Frasier and his KACL colleagues by observing that he's really in a rush to get to his next work commitment. And of course, the only possible explanation for why the multiple personalities group could require so much time? It takes him so long to write out all their name tags. Ba dum tss.
6 "What are you doing for the rest of your life?"
"I would've said, 'Is this seat taken?' And you would've said, 'No.' You would've said, 'My name is Daphne.' And I would've said, 'My name is Niles.' And then I would've said, 'What are you doing for the rest of your life?'"As we've already seen, Niles' humor is unmatched in terms of its sharp wit. But what we haven't truly explored just yet is just how wonderfully charming, incredibly emotional, and deeply romantic the younger Crane brother can be, when he wants to be. For much of the series' run, Niles and Daphne's relationship is a platonic one, made all the more difficult by Niles' intense longing for her.
One of the series' most emotional moments comes in the fourth season episode "Mixed Doubles." While at the same singles bar, Daphne and Niles reflect upon how their lives could have changed if they had met one another there, rather than their recent exes. What follows is a truly heartbreaking, emotionally understated exchange that would leave anyone in tears.
5 "I don't care! Niles gotta have it!"
Niles and Maris's marriage is never once portrayed as a healthy one. Beyond her clearly controlling tendencies, her refusal to accept any part of Niles' life and family that doesn't involve her, and the way that the series describes her as basically the second coming of Cruella de Vil, their marriage is never once shown at a happy point. And yet, their dysfunctional dynamic still leads to some of the series' most hilarious moments.
During yet another one of their periods of conflict with one another, a sexually frustrated Niles is driven to the brink of near insanity, as a result of Frasier's insisting that he refrain from conceding to any of Maris's demands. But in the end, Niles is only so strong, as he drunkenly sets off to reconcile with his wife, because "Niles gotta have it!"
4 "I'm fine now. Don't touch me."
Given the amount of mental health issues Niles has dealt with in the series, both his own and those of his many patients, it was really only a matter of time before the poor man finally snapped. That it took until the series' final season, and for his ex-wife Maris to be charged with murder, is impressive in itself. But making the plot all the more hilarious is just exactly how - and where - Niles finally suffers the meltdown to end all meltdowns.
While at Cafe Nervosa, Niles is told that the coffee shop has run out of straws - thus, they've just given up the last straw. Immediately thereafter, Niles snaps, beginning to strip down until he's totally naked and sitting in the cafe as if nothing has happened. Reading the newspaper, Niles is somehow carefully talked down by Frasier, but not before getting in a few iconic quips along the way.
3 "I'm getting high on reefer!"
As much as Niles Crane may fancy himself a man of impulsive and whimsical behavior from time to time, the reveal later in the series that he never had a wild streak as a teenager doesn't exactly come as a surprise. What it does act as, however, is a real challenge for Niles' character, who then decides - rather impulsively - that he's going to try marijuana for the first time.
The Season Eleven episode "High Holidays" chronicles Niles' unsuccessful attempts to get high for the first time, and what happens when his father, Martin, winds up getting high instead. All throughout the episode, Niles is incredibly proud of his use of "hip" lingo to describe getting high. But no moment in the episode is more hilarious for his character than when he proudly proclaims his intent to get "high on reefer," right in the middle of Cafe Nervosa.
2 "Don't you dare call me irrational! You know that makes me crazy!"
Niles Crane is hardly the most rational of people in the world. But if you dare even suggest the notion to him, you're likely entering dangerous territory. Niles is shown throughout the series to be prone to fits of rage and outbursts of histrionics. He's also known to be incredibly jealous and protective of Daphne, even long before they're together. And in the case of one particular Season One outburst, even long, long, long before they're together.
When Frasier tells Niles that Daphne has gone out with someone he doesn't approve of, Niles quickly attempts to leap into white knight action, vowing to rescue her from the unseemly date. Yet when Frasier tries to talk Niles down by pointing out how irrational he's being... well, the rest is history.
1 "I find myself thinking about you. It's not going to stop."
"When I was with Maris, or with Mel, I found myself thinking about you. Going about my day, or even when I was in a session, I found myself thinking about you. Well, now we're together. I find myself thinking about you. It's not going to stop." Niles and Daphne's relationship is one that is defined by ill-timing and missed opportunities for more than two-thirds of the series' run. By the time they've finally gotten together, Niles has been twice married and twice divorced, and Daphne very nearly married the wrong man as well. So it's only natural, really, that Daphne should wonder whether it isn't possible that their relationship, once elusive and impossible, could eventually lose the spark they once made.
But Niles, ever romantic and skilled at consoling, quiets any and all doubts with one of the series' most romantic speeches. For Niles, it has always been and will always be Daphne. She's always been the only woman he's ever thought about - and that is never going to change.