Seinfeld is a classic American sitcom that aired on NBC from 1989 to 1998. The show follows the life of a comedian named Jerry Seinfeld (who plays a fictionalized version of himself in the role) and his friends George (Jason Alexander), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Kramer (Michael Richards). Each episode features their hilarious escapades, but with a twist – the show is famously described as being about “nothing”.
Created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, the show quickly became one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. Seinfeld was groundbreaking in many ways, including being one of the first TV shows to land a big syndication deal. Today, Seinfeld is still loved by fans worldwide for its sharp, witty humor, and hilarious characters. So, let’s take a look into the top 10 Seinfeld episodes of all time.
1. The Contest
“The Contest” undoubtedly stands out as Seinfeld‘s most memorable episode during its illustrious run. In the hilarious episode, the gang of mishap-ridden friends battle to maintain control of their pride and ego as they embark on a crazy bet – who can go the longest without masturbating. Much like many of the episodes in Seinfeld, the plot is actually centered around a real life occurrence from Larry David‘s life.
On top of this plot, the episode sees Jerry dating a virgin and Elaine nearly getting a date with JFK Jr. Due to the fact that the episode featured a whole storyline about masturbation without ever using the word “masturbate,” it has long been regarded as one of the best episodes in the show’s history. It is not only a stand-out episode of Seinfeld, but one of the top rated episodes of a sitcom ever.
2. The Comeback
There is no denying that George Costanza is the TV character that embodies pettiness to its highest degree, as “The Comeback” so aptly demonstrates. In the iconic episode, George’s obsession with biting back to a coworker’s insult drives him to fly to Ohio when the employee leaves and changes his vocation. Even though George’s response regarding “the jerk store” is ineffective, the beauty proves to be in the labour. While this is all going on, Jerry gets into his own mishap when he purchases a tennis racket from a salesperson who later reveals himself to be an awful player. The seller then offers up his wife in exchange for Jerry’s silence. On top of this mayhem, Kramer tries to write up a will on the chance he slips into a coma. Meanwhile, Elaine develops feelings for an overly sensitive and enigmatic video shop employee.
3. The Soup Nazi
Larry Thomas, who played the role of the “Soup Nazi,” a soup stand owner so rigid about the ordering process that those who disobey it are turned away right away, may have had the most impact of any Seinfeld guest actor in the show’s history. In fact, people still use his catchphrase, “No soup for you,” to this day. In the highly rated episode, Jerry rejects his girlfriend’s continual cutesy chatter with him in favour of the soup, which both Elaine and George find repulsive. The episode also saw the introduction of two characters, the gay couple Cedric and Bob (John Paragon and Yul Vasquez), who threaten and bully Kramer into handing up the armoire he was guarding for Elaine.
4. The Library
Philip Baker Hall‘s portrayal of Lt. Joe Bookman, the library cop, is undoubtedly what made the legendary episode “The Library” such a huge hit. The whole time, Bookman’s no-nonsense strategy for getting Jerry to return a late library book is both zany and delightful. Furthermore, Ashley Gardner, an assistant librarian who develops feelings for Kramer, also finds herself the target of Bookman’s wrath.
Meanwhile in the episode, George has a moral quandary when he becomes convinced that his old high school gym teacher (who he had fired) is now the homeless man residing in front of the library. We soon realise that George had him fired after falling victim to a ruthless wedgie. In true Seinfeld fashion, George gets his comeuppance and ends up receiving another wedgie on the steps of the New York Public Library as a result of this.
5. The Switch
In this truly memorable episode, Jerry and George spend a lot of time and energy figuring out how Jerry can pull off the “Roommate Switch”, which entails going out with the roommate of the girl he is currently dating. This intricate storyline makes for one of the best dating plots in the entire series. Another stand-out moment in the episode is the reveal of Kramer’s first name, which much to the gang’s hilarity, turns out to be Cosmo. This is revealed when Kramer makes contact with Babs (Sheree North), his estranged mother. However, in typical Seinfeld form, Babs decides to sleep with Newman, effectively ending the reunion.
6. The Chinese Restaurant
There are only a handful of Seinfeld episodes that better encapsulates the concept of a “show about nothing” than “The Chinese Restaurant.” In the groundbreaking episode, the whole thing takes place in a chinese restaurant. Here, George, Jerry, and Elaine wait for a table for the entire duration, and get up to their normal mishaps and quirky chit-chat. The episode is now regarded as one of the show’s most pivotal episodes, perfectly demonstrating that viewers didn’t require complex or moving plotlines to fully engage in a sitcom. It’s also interesting to note that this is one of the rare moments of Seinfeld where Kramer is absent for the whole episode. However, the reason for his absence is unknown.
7. The Parking Garage
Another classic episode of Seinfeld that masterfully captures the idea of a “show about nothing” is “The Parking Garage”. The episode is focused on the absurdly routine chore of locating a car in a parking garage. However, three of the characters in the show face their own individual tasks. Jerry gets the sudden urge to pee, Elaine must bring her new goldfish home before it perishes, and George scrambles to return for his parents’ anniversary dinner before time runs out. The episode concludes in an unforgettable fashion with the group discovering the automobile, only for it to not start. Interestingly, this was actually not part of the script and a genuine accident on the day of filming. However, Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld found it so funny, they left it in the final cut.
8. The Strike
Festivus, a fictitious holiday unlike any other, was introduced to the globe in Seinfeld episode 10 of season 9. In the episode, Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller) creates his own holiday after becoming dissatisfied with the madness of Christmas shopping. Furthermore, this is also the stand-out moment in which George decides to create a fictitious charity in order to avoid having to buy his coworkers Christmas presents. What’s more, Kramer ends his 12-year strike and returns to work at H&H Bagels, with hilarious consequences.
9. The Race
“The Race” is a classic episode of Seinfeld that originally aired during the show’s sixth season. In this episode, Duncan (Don McManus), Jerry’s high school adversary, turns out to be the boss of the woman Jerry is dating. However, Duncan has held on to the time Jerry defeated him in a foot race, even believing Jerry cheated (which he did). With this, sparks the challenge of a rematch. Meanwhile, Elaine strikes up a romance with a communist, who unwittingly causes Kramer to lose his job as a department store Santa. In retaliation, Elaine has the communist kicked out of his favourite Chinese restaurant.
10. The Conversion
One of the most iconic episodes of Seinfeld is “The Conversion,” which is the 11th episode of Season 5. In this episode George announces that he has converted to the Latvian Orthodox religion in order to pursue a woman he’s interested in. However, the conversion proves to be more complicated than he initially thought, as he has to learn the practices of the religion and deal with the disapproval of his parents. Meanwhile, Jerry discovers a tube of fungicide in his girlfriend’s medication cabinet. So, he consults Elaine’s podiatrist boyfriend for some much-needed guidance.