'Seinfeld' - A History Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Seinfeld' - A History

1 Conversation

Whether you love it or hate it, you have to admit that the television show Seinfeld was influential and incredibly popular. The show lasted nine seasons, starting with mediocre ratings and ultimately destroying the competition. Its characters and phrases have changed American comedy immensely.

Today, you might not think of Seinfeld as especially edgy or creative, but that's largely because the show set the standard for edginess and creativity. However, this led to an unfortunate trend of shows attempting to copy the success of the show by placing a few platonic friends in New York City.

In the Beginning

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Jerry Seinfeld was widely considered to be one of the freshest talents in American stand-up comedy. George Shapiro and Howard West, his managers, sent Brandon Tartikoff, the President of NBC a letter. It opened with:

Call me a crazy guy, but I feel that Jerry Seinfeld will soon be doing a series on NBC...

Indeed, this came to pass. The idea for giving him a show on NBC began in a meeting on 2 November, 1988. Seinfeld spoke with a few people, including executive Rick Ludwin, who was in charge of late-night TV and specials, to talk about the idea for a show or a special. From that point on, Ludwin would always have faith in the potential of the show, even when it got off to a bad start. It was also Ludwin who offered the advice that the show should begin with Seinfeld onstage performing material about the topic of the show. This device would be used for the first seven seasons.

An innovative comedy, which explores the question 'Where do comedians get their material?'
- From Castle Rock Productions initial publicity material.

After Seinfeld came out of the meeting with NBC, he met his friend Larry David1 and asked him if he would be interested in helping to make the show. As they spoke, they went shopping for food in a grocery store. Just as one might expect, the two comedians began to make fun of the items and products there, and David said that this was what the show should be. Making fun of stuff. Seinfeld scoffed at the idea, and didn't realise that this was what the show was destined to become (at least in spirit).

The next day, they went to a diner and spoke about the show again. They decided it would be a neat idea to have a 90-minute special about how Seinfeld got his material. Jerry didn't think that it would be able to maintain an interesting pace for 90 minutes, so they considered a sitcom series on a similar premise. It was supposed to have a plot interspersed with Seinfeld onstage, giving his material about whatever had happened - the idea being that the actions of the story had inspired him.

They met with NBC executives again and Rob Reiner (who had famously played the 'meathead' on All in the Family) at Castle Rock Productions. David and Seinfeld made a pitch to the Castle Rock and NBC executives as the special, but they didn't like the idea, and David lost his temper, refusing to compromise. Eventually, David realised he was broke and needed the money he would receive for writing a script, and NBC agreed to a pilot script commitment. They wrote the pilot about a woman Jerry had met on the road, doing stand-up, who was coming to New York on business and wanted to meet him. She ended up being engaged. They always liked the strange situations sometimes encountered in society without social rules and guidelines.

They turned in a script dated 24 March, 1989, entitled 'Stand Up'. It was poorly structured and a bit off-the-wall, but the NBC people thought it was funny, so they allowed a pilot episode to be produced. However, when David found out that the script had been edited, he lost his temper and fought to keep the original plot and story from being changed. This was one of the many, many times he considered quitting. In the middle of the first season, he was so dissatisfied with the show that he simply left. But he remembered the feeling of having no steady income, and as simply as he left, he came back without explanation. The same thing would happen to the character of George when he left his real estate job later in the show.


The script called for four main characters. The first was Jerry Seinfeld, a struggling comedian in New York City, who would be played by himself. The second was George Costanza, based on Larry David, Jerry's best friend who worked in real estate. The casting breakdown for the part of George said he was 'Intelligent, more ill at ease with himself than Jerry and unhappy with his current career of real estate sales.' The third was Jerry's neighbour, Kramer, who was based on Larry David's real life New York City neighbour Kenny Kramer, who was a strange, outgoing busy guy who often went into David's apartment to ask him to do things he didn't want to do. His casting breakdown read 'Kramer is Jerry's blunt, tactless neighbour who is described by Jerry as either a valueless lump of refuse or an incredible Zen master. Usually seen in his bathrobe, no matter what time of day, and it's impossible to tell what he does for a living or how he gets by.' The fourth was a waitress named Claire, who never survived past the pilot.

At the time, David and Seinfeld were not very well-connected in show business. David had worked on a few shows - during one series he wrote for Saturday Night Live, although only one sketch was aired at the very end of the show, and he also worked on a similar show called Fridays for a while. Seinfeld's CV consisted of a few stand-up specials, several appearances on late-night talk shows and the contact of Larry David.

Initially neither knew of an actor named Jason Alexander - they first heard about him through an executive. Their limited experience of him came from a Broadway dramatic role and the tape given to them. On 3 April, 1989, he auditioned for the role on tape, with a scene about the signals of a woman coming to New York City, using a Woody Allen impression in voice and mannerisms. Another audition was held a week later, face to face in Los Angeles, and he was finally chosen for the part from a field of great actors. Other actors considered for the role included Steve Buscemi, Nathan Lane and Jerry's good friend Larry Miller. Coincidentally, a man named Brad Hall was also considered: Brad is married to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who would play Elaine (see below).

Larry David asked permission to use the name of his neighbour, Kenny Kramer, in the pilot. The real-life Kramer said it was fine as long as he could play Kramer. They knew this was not possible, so they looked for a new name while they were dealing with the rights to obtaining use of the name2 and a new actor. Larry knew of an actor named Michael Richards, who he had worked with on Fridays. Jerry was a fan of his, and despite Larry thinking that Michael wasn't very much like Kenny Kramer, they agreed no one would be funnier at the job. He came in on 6 April, 1989 and impressed everyone. When he finished speaking, he did a handstand and left. On 14 April, a second audition was held, and he won the part after meeting Brandon Tartikoff.

Actress Lee Garlington filled the role of Claire, but she wasn't to be a part of the series.

The Pilot Episode - 1989

The second button literally makes or breaks the shirt. Look at it. It's too high. It's in no-man's land. You look like you live with your mother.
- The first line of the first scene of the first show of Seinfeld, said by Jerry to George

In the original format of the show, many things were different from how the actual show ended up. Both Jerry and George were supposed to be comedians, as George was loosely based on Larry David. George was initially called Bennett. In the earliest drafts, no character resembling Kramer existed. However, these things changed before the final script was laid out for the pilot episode.

The episode was not given a name at the time, but for syndication it was called 'Good News, Bad News' in order to avoid confusion with a fourth season episode called 'The Pilot', which was about Jerry and George making a pilot for their own fictional television show.

The Seinfeld Chronicles, as it was first called, was aired on Wednesday, 5 July, 1989 at 9.30pm, nine months after meeting with Rick Ludwin. It had not been aired at the start of the season3 largely because of negative audience and testing responses to the pilot show, even though it had been well-received by the powers that be of the network. They didn't feel Jerry was a strong enough lead, and they also felt the supporting cast was weak. The programme was also considered to be too Jewish and too New York-centric in the testing. Looking back, the show did adapt to these issues - the supporting cast did get much stronger, and Jerry became a better actor as time went on. However, it only got more New York and more Jewish.

It received a Nielsen audience share of 19 (representing the proportion of homes that are watching television at the time which are watching a specific show). When it was repeated the next summer, it received even better ratings, so executives felt more comfortable giving it a second series.

Plot Differences in the Pilot

Pilots are used to see in what direction the show will go, to see how it all works together. However, anyone who has watched the later episodes of Seinfeld will realise that there were many, many differences in how it was made. Here are some:

  • Elaine doesn't exist at all.

  • Instead of eating at Monk's Coffee Shop, George and Jerry speak at Pete's Luncheonette, and seem to know a waitress named Meg. She did not appear in the series, though a few waitresses at the Coffee Shop were developed as characters later on.

  • Jerry's apartment has no bedroom, and has a large window to the left. There are also many small details in the decor very different from the familiar home of Jerry. A bedroom would appear after the first five episodes.

  • Kramer is called Kessler. This is because Kenny Kramer, the neighbour of Larry David upon whom the character is based, had not decided if his name could be used yet. In early cast-readings of the show, the character was called Hoffman. Later on, some continuity was restored when Kramer mentioned that the name on his apartment buzzer was Kessler.

  • Kessler/Kramer/Hoffman has a dog. This was in order to give Jerry an excuse to perform stand-up about dogs in the middle of the show. However, this was dropped before the airing, so the one-time appearance of the dog is somewhat without point.

  • Kessler knocks before entering the first time, which is very different from the characteristic sliding entrance he would perfect later in the series4. He is also wearing a bathrobe, and was intended to have been wearing it every day, all day in each episode. His character wasn't formed for quite a few episodes following this.

  • The opening sequence was much different, and the original music for the series was much more 1980s, though the music was replaced by the familiar tune heard in all other episodes in editing later in repeats.

Series One - 1990

Jerry: So, um, do you date immature men?
Vanessa: Almost exclusively.

They had passed on the show, and it appeared finished. Traditionally, shows that were taped and not included in the fall schedule were inserted into the summer line-up of repeats. The show seemed finished on NBC, and it was even given to the Fox Network, which promptly passed on it as well.

Some NBC executives felt that the series did have potential still, so Network President Brandon Tartikoff allowed Rick Ludwin to use money intended to produce two variety specials to pay for four episodes of The Seinfeld Chronicles - the smallest order for a sitcom season in the history of television. They gave it a small chance, but not much more.

Their only condition was that a woman character needed to be added to the cast. They agreed, and Larry began brainstorming, and came up with the character of Elaine Benes, based on a woman named Monica Yates he had dated at one point and become friends with after the break-up.

Several people were considered for the part, and several would go on to fame on television later. However, Larry David remembered Julia Louis-Dreyfus from her time at Saturday Night Live, and she was convinced to take on the role. Episodes from the first series are not particularly well-known today, but they laid the groundwork for what was to come. The characters began to be developed more, and the first bit of continuity between episodes began to emerge. Jerry was dating a woman named Vanessa at the end of 'The Stake Out', and so in 'The Stock Tip', he was still dating her as no break-up had been shown. This didn't happen very often later on, but it defied an important sitcom trait. This rule stated that in the course of an episode, the events of the former episodes were erased and not referred to.

After this, they got an order for 13 episodes. Then they knew they could finally do some damage.

Series Two - 1990 - 1991

Jerry: Anywhere in the city?
George: Anywhere in the city. I'll tell you the best public toilet.
Jerry: Okay. Fifty-Fourth and Sixth
George: Sperry Rand Building. Fourteenth floor, Morgan Apparel. Mention my name, she'll give you the key.
Jerry: Alright. Sixty-Fifth and Tenth.
George: Are you kidding? Lincoln Center. Alice Tully Hall, the Met. Magnificent facilities.
-From 'The Busboy', a classic Larry David piece of dialogue

The Wednesday that the first full series was meant to be shown, the United States bombed Baghdad to begin the Persian Gulf War. This was unfortunate for the show, but it rebounded with one of its greatest series. It included such notable episodes as 'The Pony Remark', 'The Busboy', 'The Chinese Restaurant', 'The Statue', 'The Deal' and 'The Heart Attack'.

'The Busboy' was the first episode to connect all the elements of the plot; each subplot feeds into one scene at the end. Larry David said he liked that the subplots connected, and wanted to do more of it later on. Many episodes later on would blend together at the end.

'The Alternate Side' involved George parking cars and stopping production of a Woody Allen5 film being shot across the street. Kramer gets a part in the film, saying the line 'These pretzels are makin' me thirsty!'.

Some NBC executives wanted to see Jerry and Elaine, who were friends after breaking up, get back together again. In order to gain attention and better ratings, the episode 'The Deal' was written. It was based on an attempt of Larry David to have a physical relationship with a woman without ruining their friendship.

In fact, there are quite a few series two episodes based on the experiences of David and Seinfeld. 'The Chinese Restaurant', where Jerry, Elaine and George wait for a table the entire show, was written after David had a similar experience at a restaurant called Genghis Kohen's. 'The Phone Message', where George changes the tape of an answering machine before the owner can get the chance to listen to it is based on the number of times Larry David exploded while leaving a message. 'The Jacket' was about how Jerry/Larry bought an expensive jacket, and saw it ruined during a meeting with the father of Elaine Benes/Monica Yates.

'The Chinese Restaurant' episode was so hated by the network that, though they did not refuse to air it, they held it back until the end of the season, thinking it was too strange.

Another interesting aspect of this season is that Larry David first supplies a voice for a small character - as Newman, who is not pictured and is about to jump off the roof of Jerry's building. He also made voice and cameo appearances in 'The Chinese Restaurant' and 'The Heart Attack'.

After the mediocre ratings of the second series (it was not in the Top 30 Nielsen ratings until the fourth series), Seinfeld's status was in doubt. Larry David assumed that it would be cancelled, so he thought that 'The Deal' would be a satisfactory ending to the series - it didn't have enough time to build up a strong fan base or a strong ending.

He says that when he heard that 22 episodes were being ordered for the third series, he broke down crying, wondering how he would come up with 22 more of these things.

Series Three - 1991-1992

George: You can't break up with me. I've got hand!
Noel: And you're gonna need it.

Series Three consists of 22 episodes and many classic Seinfelds. 'The Library' is about a book Jerry checked out 30 years ago and never returned, resulting in him being chased by a library cop. 'The Pen' is about an incident with an astronaut pen, and a trip to Florida. This is the only episode without George, and only one of two without Kramer, the other being 'The Chinese Restaurant'. 'The Parking Garage' is based on the familiar experience of attempting to find your car in a confusing shopping centre parking garage. 'The Red Dot' is about a small mark on an otherwise beautiful white cashmere sweater. 'The Pez Dispenser' is about an intervention and a concert pianist. 'The Limo' is an episode where George and Jerry take a limo that isn't theirs to get home from the airport, and it takes them to a Neo-Nazi rally.

The first hour-long episode of the series was 'The Boyfriend', one of the most complicated plots in the history of the show. Jerry meets baseball star Keith Hernandez, and he tries to become friends with him, while Elaine dates him. Meanwhile, George attempts to get a 13-week extension for his unemployment benefits. Keith dates Elaine, but when he tries to get Jerry to help him move house and Elaine discovers that he smokes, he is broken up with by both of them. George attempts to get Keith Hernandez to win the favour of a baseball fan deciding whether or not he gets the extension, but by then Keith is gone.

Larry David supplies voices as a car thief and a boxing referee in the episodes 'The Alternate Side' and 'The Parking Space' respectively. Meanwhile, the 17th episode, 'The Fix-Up' and its writers Larry Charles and Elaine Pope won Emmy awards for writing, and also won for editing. Elaine Pope and Larry Charles had actually based this episode, in which Elaine and Jerry set up a date between their friends, on a real-life experience that occurred during the run of Seinfeld. Jason Alexander directed 'The Good Samaritan' episode, but he didn't win any Emmys. In fact, throughout his career, Alexander was nominated for his supporting role on Seinfeld several times, and lost every time.

The season ended with Kramer heading off to California after Jerry made him give his keys back. Kramer appears on the television show Murphy Brown at the end of the last episode.

Series Four - 1992 - 1993

It's a show about nothing!

Series four begins with George and Jerry going to Los Angeles so that Jerry can appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Kramer meets a girl and gives her a copy of his film treatment, but she ends up dead, so he becomes a suspect in the murder. Elaine was in Europe. Julia Louis-Dreyfus couldn't appear on screen because she was pregnant and needed maternity leave afterwards. Kramer is eventually freed and meets George and Jerry, coming back to New York City at the end of the episode.

The fourth season put Seinfeld on the map. It was the first season in the Nielsen top 30. There were several running storylines and very famous episodes.

'The Pitch' was the third episode of the 24-episode season, and was the most obvious reference to the real life of Seinfeld and David. In the beginning, NBC Executives asked Jerry to make an idea for a TV series. In the coffee shop, George thinks of an idea for a show about nothing. Throughout much of the rest of the season, real life would parallel the show:

  • Fictional NBC Executive Russell Dalrimple was based on Warren Littlefield.

  • Best friends wrote the pilot, Larry and Jerry and fictionally George and Jerry.

  • The show they produced was called Jerry, the other name of the star, and it was about a stand-up comic living in New York City. Kramer and Elaine were characters in Jerry.

  • Like Kenny Kramer, TV Kramer wanted to play himself and initially didn't allow for his name to be used as a character.

  • At first, they forgot to include the character of Elaine in the pilot, just as Larry and Jerry did.

  • George and Jerry seem to base story ideas on their own experiences, as, during casting, actors read lines from earlier episodes.

George meets NBC executive Susan at the pitch and dates her. During the pitch, George refuses to change his idea that it is a show about nothing, startling the executives somewhat. He ends up passing on a pilot deal in order to get more money, but has to beg to get a new deal with less money.

The next famous plot is that of the 'Bubble Boy'. Jerry, Susan, George and Jerry are supposed to go to Susan's father's cabin, but meet a man who says that his son is a fan of Seinfeld and has an immune deficiency disease that forces him to live in a bubble. They plan to go to see the Bubble Boy on the way to the cabin, and Jerry gets lost but George and Susan go to see him. George gets in a fight with the Bubble Boy over a misprint in a trivia game, and they go to the cabin to find that Kramer has been there and set it on fire.

The episode entitled 'The Junior Mint' involved Jerry and Kramer watching an operation and eating a box of junior mints, when one gets knocked down into the hole where the surgeons were operating. Also in the episode, Jerry goes out with a woman whose name he doesn't remember. He does, however, find out that her name rhymes with a part of the female anatomy, so they theorise that it could be 'Mulva' or 'Aretha' or 'Hest'. As it turns out, it was Dolores (rhyming with clitoris).

'The Smelly Car' is about an odour that hit Jerry's car when a valet parked it. At the end of the season, the last episode shows the broadcast of the pilot on TV, and at the end the new president of NBC passes on it.

The Contest

Are you still master of your domain?

Based on a real-life experience of Larry David, the most famous and risky episode of Seinfeld was written and produced for the fourth season. 'The Contest' began with George's mother walking in on him gratifying himself.

This led to Elaine, Kramer, George and Jerry forming a wager to see who can go the longest without pleasuring themselves. Each is tempted in different ways. Kramer is the first to lose, just after he spots a nudist across the street6. Elaine meets John F Kennedy, Jr and is the second to lose. In a later episode, it is implied that George (who was tempted by the silhouette of an attractive nurse giving a sponge bath to another woman) wins the money, but the last episode proves that he cheated and Jerry (also tempted by the nudist across the street) was actually entitled to the money.

Perhaps most remarkably, the word 'masturbation' isn't used once throughout the show. Instead, phrases like 'master of your domain' and 'queen of the county' are used.

In 1993, Michael Richards won the Emmy for a Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, beating Jason Alexander for the honour. Larry David also won an Emmy this season for writing. Most importantly, it won Outstanding Comedy Series for its fourth season. Tom Cherones won the Directors Guild of America Award. All of these awards were due to the episode 'The Contest'. Perhaps most importantly, its edginess and reputation began to grow and it finally gained a spot in the Nielsen top 30 ratings - though it was at 25.

Series Five - 1993 - 1994

I don't wanna be a pirate!
- Jerry in a puffy shirt

The fifth series was the first in which the show was very popular. It didn't have as many great episodes - and was not quite as well-written as the fourth series, but it managed to get the show several honours.

For the first time, Seinfeld was one of the top three highest-rated shows - only behind Home Improvement and 60 Minutes. It wouldn't leave the top three for the rest of its run.

Of the 22 episodes, all are known to fans, but there were a few important ones which gave the show notoriety. 'The Puffy Shirt' was about George becoming a hand-model7 and Jerry being forced into wearing a puffy pirate shirt on a national morning show. 'The Bris' is based on a mental patient jumping on George's car from the roof of the hospital and Jerry being accidentally cut during a circumcision. 'The Marine Biologist' begins with Kramer going out to Rockaway beach to hit Titleist golf balls in the ocean. Jerry tells an old classmate named Diane that George was a marine biologist (he was unemployed at the time and had just mentioned it would be a nice job), and while Diane and George walk down a beach, they come across a beached whale. George is forced to go past the breakers into the ocean and pull out a Titleist golf ball from the whale’s blowhole. 'The Hamptons' is famous for Jerry's girlfriend seeing George naked after coming from the pool, resulting in serious 'shrinkage'.

Seinfeld was nominated for ten Emmys in 1994, including Outstanding Comedy, Writing and Lead Actor (Jerry Seinfeld). It won for Editing and Outstanding Supporting Actor (for Michael Richards instead of Jason Alexander again, though both were nominated).

Series Six - 1994 - 1995

It was a million-to-one shot doc, million-to-one.
- Frank Costanza

Season Six was the first time Seinfeld won the top spot in the ratings, above ER and Home Improvement. It only won a single Emmy, though, in Editing. It lost the prestigious Outstanding Comedy award to Frasier.

The episodes in the sixth season weren't forgettable by any means, but only a few stood out. In 'The Soup', Jerry agrees to take annoying comedian Kenny Bania out to a meal in exchange for an Armani Suit, but Kenny only buys soup and insists that soup is not a meal. In 'The Switch', we find out for the first time that Kramer's first name is Cosmo, and Jerry attempts to switch girlfriends between a woman and her roommate. The series is broken up in the middle for a clip show about the first 99 shows.

In 'The Mom and Pop Store', George buys a convertible because the salesman told him that the previous owner was movie star Jon Voight. Elaine uses her knowledge of music to get her boss, Mr Pitt, a position holding the Woody the Woodpecker balloon at the Thanksgiving Day parade. Kramer tries to save a Mom and Pop store8 from going under. Jerry has a toothache, and he goes to a Thanksgiving Day party at dentist Tim Whatley's home, overlooking the parade. As Jerry attempts to get an examination from one of the dentists there, he puts his head back on a window, tipping over a trophy Elaine had got, onto the Woody the Woodpecker balloon. The Jon Voight convertible is proven to be that of a dentist named John Voight. Mom and Pop, who repair shoes, run off with all of Jerr'’s sneakers. This is one of the finest examples of four separate stories coming together in the end.

'The Fusilli Jerry' is about a fusilli pasta sculpture of Jerry made by Kramer that George's father accidentally falls on. While at the proctologist's office, Kramer meets the doctor whose vanity license plates he accidentally got, the 'ASSMAN'.

The last episode of the season 'The Understudy' involves the public suspecting Jerry and George of purposely injuring Bette Midler in a friendly softball game because Jerry's girlfriend was her understudy at a play called 'Rochelle, Rochelle'. Elaine also gets a job at the J Peterman catalogue.

Series Seven - 1995 - 1996

No soup for you!

Season Seven was the last of the series on which Larry David was a producer and writer. He would make occasional appearances as the voice of George Steinbrenner later on, and worked on the series finale, but it was the end of the era of a show based on observational humour, as it began to become more silly and physical. It was also the last series to feature stand-up comedy at the beginning of the show.

The season premiered with George and Jerry making a pact to change how they deal with women. George takes it more seriously though, and gets engaged to Susan, his NBC executive girlfriend who he got fired and turned to lesbianism earlier in the show. However, Jerry doesn't join in his enthusiasm and George feels trapped. Through the rest of the season, George and Susan remain engaged and there are often stories about George panicking, or planning the wedding.

'The Soup Nazi' is an episode about a soup stand owned by a very gruff, strict man nicknamed the 'Soup Nazi'. Elaine gets a new armoire, but it is stolen while Kramer is supposed to be watching it. Kramer, who is a friend of the 'Soup Nazi', is given an armoire to replace Elaine's. Elaine doesn't follow the rules of soup ordering and is banned from the store for a year. Meanwhile, she finds the secret soup recipes in his armoire and runs him out of town to Argentina. This was based on an experience of the writers at the Late Night with David Letterman talk show.

'The Sponge' was about Elaine's birth control item, the Today Sponge, being taken off the market. Elaine had to find every sponge she could and re-evaluate her sexual screening process to decide who was 'Sponge-worthy'.

'The Rye' begins with George's parents meeting Susan Ross's parents. The Costanzas notice that Susan's parents don't set out a rye that they brought to the dinner party, so they take it with them when they leave...the show ends with a rye hooked on a fishing pole.

The season ended with 'The Invitations'. George and Susan have started to plan their wedding, and George picks very cheap invitations. George wants to get out of the engagement, and he suggests a pre-nuptial agreement in order to make Susan angry, and tries smoking. In the end, as Susan licks the envelopes to the cheap invitations, she gets poisoned and dies. Janine Garofolo appears as a girl who rescues Jerry from being run over, and is extremely similar to him in personality. They become engaged, as Jerry holds up his end of the pact that he and George started at the beginning of the season.

Series Eight - 1996 - 1997

Believe it or not,
George isn't at home,
Please leave a message at the beep.
I must be out, or I'd pick up the phone,
Where could I be?
Believe it or not, I'm not home.

-George's answering machine message

Around this time, storytelling in the show became very complicated (as Larry David based many stories on his own life) and the stand-up bits were cut out to allow for more scenes and a longer plot. Some stories would be very strange and many had four stories - one for each character - coming together to something at the end or ending in a common theme.

Good examples of this story technique can be found in several episodes such as 'The Soul Mate', 'The Susie', 'The Pothole', 'The Nap' and 'The Summer of George'. There are several other important episodes.

'The Little Kicks' is named for Elaine's strange dancing technique with thumbs and kicks. 'The Bizarro Jerry' is about how the system begins breaking down - Kramer starts working, George begins to befriend models and Elaine meets a group of people who look like Kramer, George and Jerry but are the exact opposite in personality9. Jerry also meets a woman with male hands. 'The Yada Yada' is about a succinct woman dating Jerry, and when Jerry encourages her to not skip over parts of her stories with the words 'Yada, yada, yada...' it turns out she's a thief.

The season was nominated for many Emmys in its eighth season, but only won one, with Michael Richards picking up the Supporting Actor Award.

Series Nine - 1997 - 1998

George: It's a show about nothing.
Mrs Costanza: Nothing, please. I'll tell you the truth. The whole thing sounds pretty stupid to me.

The ninth series of Seinfeld was its last, and it stood at the top of the ratings at the end. Jerry Seinfeld leaving was the main cause for the end of the show.

'The Merv Griffin Show' is about an occasion in which Kramer happens upon the set of the old Merv Griffin Show in a dumpster. Claiming it should be in the Smithsonian, he takes it to his apartment and sets it up, acting as the host, as if cameras were on him - which they were, but that's beside the point. 'The Betrayal' is an odd episode, in which the story begins at the end and goes backwards, so the most recent things occur in the beginning of the episode and ancient history occurs at the end. It shows Jerry as he has just moved into his apartment, and Kramer explains to him that the name Kessler, as he was called in the pilot if you remember, is simply the name on his buzzer. In it, everyone goes to India for a wedding.

Other notable episodes have plots that are simply too complicated to go into. In this entry, as a means of entertainment (for the author) only the ends of important episodes are described. In 'The Strongbox', Jerry can be seen digging up a pet bird about to cut him open. In 'The Bookstore', George is ratted out by Jerry for shoplifting as he is caught in the act. In 'The Puerto Rican Day', Jerry’s car is destroyed by a mob.

In the ninth season, Michael Richards was not nominated for any Emmys, but Jason Alexander was - the first time that had happened since 1992. Alexander said that he never expected to win the award when against Richards, and was surprised whenever his co-worker lost. He still did not manage to win the award. It didn’t win any Emmys at all that year.

The Finale

On 25 November, 1997 it was announced that Seinfeld would not continue into a 1998 - 1999 season. About six months later, on 14 May, 1998, the finale aired.

The finale of Seinfeld is widely regarded as a disappointment. On the surface, it was a funny idea. They end up in jail at the end. It's original and is certainly open to many humorous opportunities. However, it would not be considered one of the show's funniest episodes. Even with Larry David coming back to work on it, it was little more than a series of references to a former glory.

The story begins with George and Jerry hearing that NBC is once again interested in picking up their television show Jerry. They offer them use of the network's private jet to go anywhere that they want. Elaine, George, Kramer and Jerry decide to go to Paris, but Kramer has gone to the beach first and got water stuck in his ear. Unable to bear it anymore, he jumps up and down to get it out while the plane is in the air, and hops into the cockpit, which puts them in a dive.

While they think they are going to die, Kramer says he's ready to die, George admits he cheated in the contest, and Jerry and Elaine start to acknowledge that they always loved each other. However, the plane straightens out and they make an emergency landing in the fictional town of Latham, Massachusetts. While some maintenance is being performed, they go into town and witness the theft of a car, while making fun of the physique of the victim. A policeman arrests them, citing a new rule called the 'Good Samaritan Law'.

At the trial, Kramer's standby lawyer Jackie Chiles is called, and he defends the four. The prosecution parades character witnesses, portraying them as bad people. The people on the stand are guest stars from years past. For instance, the lady Jerry stole a marble from in the series seven episode 'The Rye' makes an appearance, as did someone with knowledge of the infamous contest. They were sentenced to a year in prison.

Just as the show was ending, they are locked into a cell together, and Jerry repeats the first line of the show about the second button on George's shirt.

The second button literally makes or breaks the shirt. Look at it. It's too high. It's in no-man's land. You look like you live with your mother.
- The last line of the last scene of the last episode of Seinfeld, said by Jerry to George

And with that, the show went off the air, ending at the top of the ratings. No Emmys were won that year, but the popularity of the show could be shown by the offer of five million dollars per episode to Jerry Seinfeld to stay on the show. The Guinness Book of World Records names this event as a record of 'The Most Money Refused'. He had wanted to return to stand-up comedy life. It was simply time. Just as the 1990s were coming to a close, the Seinfeld era closed.


Since the show has gone off the air, it has become familiar to millions more through the magic of television syndication. It would be difficult to find a single television market in the United States not visited at times by Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer.

In 2004, Series' Two and Three came out as DVDs for the first time, with enough commentaries, facts and special features to satisfy most DVD critics. This will open it up in the future to even more young viewers.

1A birthday party with a friend is sometimes credited with bringing them together as a team. Larry couldn't afford to bring a gift, being a poor, unsuccessful New York City stand-up, so he wrote some material, which Jerry performed for the party. It was one of the first times they realised that things were funnier coming from Jerry.2Larry David didn't want to use the name, because he felt that his neighbour would take advantage of any notoriety it gave him, but Jerry felt that there was something about the name that no other name possessed. In fact, Kenny Kramer would begin a 'Seinfeld Reality Tour' later on, proclaiming himself to be the real Kramer. Cosmo Kramer, the character, had a similar experience when he sold stories of his life to J Peterman for an autobiography and began a 'Peterman Reality Tour'.3Originally, it was supposed to be aired in April to fill a poor timeslot. In fact, the original airing of Seinfeld in the summer may have been a blessing, as it could stay edgy in the summer under the radar screens of the network executives, and still had an opportunity to build an audience without the pressure and competition of the autumn schedule. It also gave the creators time to work on the project.4The entrance was very difficult and interesting. Michael Richards broke a few doors off the set while entering Jerry's apartment.5Incidentally, Woody Allen was a major influence on Jason Alexander's way of portraying George. Before he realised George was really based on Larry David, he did a Woody Allen impression to do George - and it comes across often very blatantly.6TV Guide named this moment, when he declares he's out, the third funniest moment in television history.7This was the episode in which George reveals he won the money from the contest. He was a hand-model...you figure out how it came up in the conversation.8A small family enterprise, traditionally staffed by members of a family. These are renowned for their inability to compete with larger store chains, but loved for the character they add to neighbourhoods.9This is like the bizarro world that Superman comes upon (the bizarro world is a malevolent, back-to-front version of the real world). Elaine enters the bizarro world, where Jerry's apartment is facing the other way, George reads and Kramer brings groceries over to Jerry's house.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Written by

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more