Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce) was married to Maris at the start of Frasier, but how come she never appeared? Following the breakdown of his marriage to Lilith (Bebe Neuwirth) and an eagerness for a fresh adventure, Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) moved back to Seattle to start a new life after his stint in Boston as seen in Cheers. As he returned to his home city, the rest of the Cranes were eventually introduced such as his father, Martin Crane (John Mahoney), and younger brother and fellow psychiatrist, Niles.

Frasier ran for 11 brilliant seasons and is one of the rare spin-offs that is as successful as its parent series — that’s no short feat since Cheers is dubbed one of the best sitcoms. While it primarily revolved around the titular character, Frasier was merely the jumping point for its story. In reality, it’s an ensemble show, with each character integral to its story. Niles, in particular, was a peek as to what his older brother would’ve been like had he not learned to mingle with the patrons of Cheers in Boston. Hyde-Pierce was amazing in the role, and was nominated for 11 Emmy Awards for his performance, winning four times. Some might even argue that he’s the true lead of the show since he had a clear overall arc from start to finish.


There’s a particular interest in Niles’ romantic relationships. Unlike Frasier who didn’t have a clear love interest throughout, it was quickly clear that his younger brother was smitten with Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves) — Marty’s home carer. The problem was, Niles was still married to Maris. She had been regularly mentioned in the show and had opportunities to show up countless times, but she never did. Off-screen, the role was never cast from the get-go. Since Niles was established as a married man right away, it’s curious why the producers never cast the role. However, as revealed by executive producers Peter Casey and David Lee, they had every intention of properly introducing Maris. This was primarily because they didn’t want viewers to think that Frasier was simply riffing off with what Cheers did with Vera, Norm’s (George Wendt) wife, who was often mentioned but never made it on screen. They planned on debuting Maris in episode 3, but the gag became too funny that they stuck with it.

In terms of narrative, it worked for the best. Had Frasier properly introduced Maris, she would’ve been at least a semi-regular character in the show. This would’ve resulted in people getting attached to her and her relationship with Niles. But in the long run, the younger Crane was always meant to be with Daphne. From the moment Niles laid eyes on the British home-carer, he was immediately head-over-heels. Intriguingly, only Frasier noticed this at the start, and when confronted about it towards the end of season 1, Niles admitted to having some attraction to Daphne. That said, it would take a little while longer before he pushed through with the divorce with Maris so he could start a relationship with Daphne. In any case, while Maris never appeared in the series, her mere existence drove several episodic stories, not to mention a lot of laughs, so it really didn’t matter that she wasn’t in the sitcom physically.

With the reboot coming up on Paramount+, it’s curious if the sitcom will finally take the opportunity to reveal Maris. Of course, it’s safe to assume that Niles and Daphne are still together considering how in love they were with each other. But what would Frasier be without at least a mention of Maris?

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