Jerry Seinfeld said in an interview that “even things that aren’t funny become funny because they’re so specific.” There’s no better example of this principle than when Jerry casually places a Tweety Bird Pez dispenser on Elaine’s leg during George’s girlfriend’s piano recital. Later, Kramer pitches a beach-scented cologne to Calvin Klein.
And Don’t Forget… George is concerned with making sure he has “hand” in his relationship. When he finally gets it, his girlfriend breaks up with him. When he says she can’t break up with him because he has hand, she says he’s going to need it. Ouch!
Quote: “You know the way you smell when you first come home from the beach? Well, I want to make a cologne that captures the essence of that smell.”
In one of George’s most classic episodes, Jerry convinces him that, because he can’t seem to get out of his own way when it comes to…really, succeeding in any way, he should simply do the opposite of whatever his initial inclination might be. George takes this to heart and ends up with a girlfriend and a job with the Yankees. Meanwhile, Elaine has become the “George” of the group, running into one misfortune after the other, such as getting evicted from her apartment building for putting Canadian quarters in the washing machine and buzzing up Jehovah’s Witnesses. Kramer also appears on Regis and Kathy Lee to promote his coffee table book about coffee tables.
And Don’t Forget… Kramer spits his coffee all over Kathy Lee Gifford.
Quote: “Bald men with no jobs and no money who live with their parents don’t approach strange women.”
One of the series’ most popular episodes, “The Puffy Shirt” sees Jerry unintentionally agreeing to wear pirate-style puffy shirt during his appearance on The Today Show after nodding along to Kramer’s inaudible “low-talking” girlfriend. Meanwhile, George, who has moved back in with his parents, runs into a string of luck after he meets a woman who hires him as a hand model. This is short-lived, however, as Kramer’s girlfriend, irate that Jerry has bashed her shirt on live TV, attacks George after he does the same, sending his hands careening into a hot iron.
And Don’t Forget… The unsold puffy shirts go to Goodwill and the group sees some homeless men wearing them at the end of the show—”Can you spare a little change for an old buccaneer?”
Quote: “See, I think people want to look like pirates. It’s the right time for it.”
Many of Seinfeld’s later episodes did an excellent job of playing off all that we already knew about the show and its characters, and “The Bizarro Jerry” might be the best example of this. Elaine meets a new group of friends, who, while resembling Jerry, George and Kramer, are also their polar opposites—the Kramer decoy buys groceries instead of taking them from his neighbor, the new George always picks up the check in restaurants and the surrogate Jerry enjoys volunteering and going to the library to read. This is also the infamous “man hands” episode, where Jerry can’t get over the fact that his date has freakishly masculine hands. The best scenes, however, might be the ones featuring Kramer in his new “fake” job at Brant Leland.
And Don’t Forget… George uses the picture of “man hands” to gain access to an exclusive club full of models. When he brings Jerry back without the picture, it’s abandoned.
Quote: “T.C.B….you know, takin’ care of business.”
NBC vehemently disagreed with Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld’s idea for this episode and nearly refused to even air it. Why? Because it takes place in a single location, the waiting room of a Chinese restaurant, and nothing really happens other than the characters’ frustrations being acted out. It was this episode, however, that went on to define the “show about nothing” concept, laying the groundwork for a series that would go on to step outside the conventional sit-com model plenty more times throughout it’s nine-season run.
And Don’t Forget… This was one of the only episodes in which Kramer did not appear.
Quote: “Cartwright? Cartwright?”
One of the series’ most ludicrous episodes was also one of its best. When Kramer comes across a bunch of furniture from The Merv Griffin Show in a dumpster, he decides to transform his apartment into the set. Not only that, he assumes the role of Griffin himself, bringing his friends on as guests. Meanwhile, Jerry hatches a plan to drug his girlfriend so he can play with her classic toy collection and George is forced to nurse a squirrel he hit with his car. Everything comes to a head when Kramer, who has conned a confused Jim Fowler into coming on his fake show (“Where are the cameras?”), brings Jerry’s girlfriend out from backstage to confront him for drugging her to complete his new “Scandals and Animals” format. George appears with the squirrel in tow and Fowler’s hawk swoops in for the kill.
And Don’t Forget… Elaine struggles to keep a “sidler” at work from stealing the credit for her work.
Quote: “Two animal acts on one show? What is this, amateur hour?”
“The Marine Biologist” features one of the series’ best endings, as George delivers a lengthy monologue about how he saved a beached whale, capping it off by pulling one of Kramer’s golf balls out of his jacket, which George had miraculously extracted from the whale’s blowhole. This had come after George had spent the entire episode pretending to be a marine biologist to impress a girl Jerry set him up with. While walking along the beach, they came across a distressed whale and a crowd of onlookers calling for a marine biologist, leaving George no choice but to spring into action and hope for the best. As the series progressed, whenever writers would come up with ridiculous ideas, Jerry would point to this episode as proof that they could pull off almost anything.
And Don’t Forget… Jerry convinces Elaine that the original title of War and Peace was War: What Is It Good For?.
Quote: “Is that a Titleist?”
Seinfeld never shied away from pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable subject matter for prime-time network television, and “The Contest” saw the show at its most risqué. The four characters make a wager as to who can, ahem, control themselves the longest and, of course, all four struggle with their own temptations throughout the episode. Except for Kramer, who is forced to bow out within minutes after seeing a naked woman in the apartment across from Jerry’s and excusing himself.
And Don’t Forget… Elaine tragically misses out on her chance with John F. Kennedy Jr.
Quote: “But the real question is, are you still master of your domain?”
When asked what makes a great show, Larry David said, simply, a single really funny idea. A curmudgeonly soup-stand owner who drives the characters wild with his mind-blowing-ly good soup that can only be received by adhering to his dictatorial ordering procedure was a great idea, and made for not only one of the greatest episodes of the series, but produced its most memorable minor character. After Kramer loses Elaine’s armoire to a pair of effeminate “street toughs,” the Soup Nazi offers to give her his, which, unbeknownst to him, contains all of his recipes.
And Don’t Forget… Jerry and his girlfriend’s “schmoopie” routine that infuriates George.
Seinfeld had such a pervasive influence on popular culture that more than a few of the show’s lines and phrases have found their way into the popular lexicon. Writer Peter Mehlman came up with the idea for “The Yada Yada,” but expected the term “anti-dentite” would be what people would end up remembering. This episode from the eighth season also featured Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston as Tim Whatley, a dentist whom Jerry suspects has converted to Judaism so he can tell Jewish jokes without fear of offending anyone. George’s yada-yada-ing girlfriend turns out to be a criminal, and Kramer and his friend Mickey begin dating two women, but are unable to decide who is dating whom.
And Don’t Forget… Elaine sleeps with an adoption agent so her friends can get a baby, only to learn that they’ve broken up.
Quote: “That’s Dr. Abbott, DDS. Tim Whatley was one of my students, and if this wasn’t my son’s wedding day I’d knock your teeth out, you anti-dentite bastard.”