When Seinfeld hit the airwaves, it didn’t just become another sitcom; it became the 90’s anthem for urban life in NYC. Thanks to the vision of Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, NBC gifted viewers with a glimpse into the day-to-day adventures of four New Yorkers. Their stories weren’t about the big moments, but the small, weird and hysterical ones. The best Seinfeld episodes became, not just fan favorites, but defining markers of an era.
The Puffy Shirt
Season 5, Episode 2
One of the stand-out episodes of the series, The Puffy Shirt, Jerry unknowingly agrees to don a ridiculous-looking puffy shirt for an appearance on the Today Show. This agreement comes through a “low talker”, Elaine’s boyfriend, whose soft-spoken nature causes the whole misunderstanding. Elaine, of course, was played by the brilliant, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Meanwhile, George hilariously stumbles into the glamorous world of fashion as a hand model.
Season 5, Episode 21
The Opposite is one of those episodes where George Costanza (Jason Alexander), usually a figure of self-pity and ill fortune, takes center stage. Driven by frustration over his life’s failures, George decides to start doing the exact opposite of his instincts. It’s a brilliant exploration of his character, showing the hilarity of George’s decisions when he tries to go against his nature. The success he encounters, from landing a girlfriend to an impressive job with the New York Yankees, is both unexpected and comically fitting.
Season 5, Episode 20
This episode excels because of its multifaceted humor. The group’s trip to the Hamptons is filled with scenarios that are both relatable and absurd. George’s “shrinkage” situation after coming out of cold water becomes the comedic centerpiece. It’s a hilarious take on body insecurity and the lengths one goes to in order to save face, especially in front of a new girlfriend.
Season 4, Episode 11
The crew embarks on a challenge to see who can abstain from… well, you know… the longest. With Elaine’s competitive spirit, Kramer’s quick downfall, and George’s hilarious agony, this episode is a masterclass in comedy writing. It’s the episode where “master of your domain” became a cultural catchphrase.
Season 5, Episode 8
At its core, The Barber examines loyalty and the societal pressures of maintaining personal relationships. Jerry’s internal struggle over choosing between his longtime barber and a new stylist offering a trendy haircut is portrayed with both humor and heart. Newman’s cunning plan to help Jerry switch barbers without causing offense is equally hilarious.
Season 4, Episode 16
A brilliant examination of societal assumptions and the fear of being misunderstood, The Outing stands out as a progressive episode for its time. A simple overheard conversation leads a reporter to mistakenly believe Jerry and George are a couple. Instead of the usual vehement denials one might expect, the episode tactfully deals with the situation with the famous line: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”
The Soup Nazi
Season 7, Episode 6
Few episodes capture the essence of the show like The Soup Nazi. It epitomizes the New York experience – long lines, strict service etiquette, and the city’s love for culinary gems hidden in plain sight. The “Soup Nazi” is a vendor known for his delicious soups and his strict rules when serving customers. Elaine’s clash with him over his rigid serving protocol is a comedic masterpiece. The Soup Nazi catchphrase “No soup for you!”, remains one of the most iconic lines in the show’s history.
The Marine Biologist
Season 5, Episode 14
George’s lie about being a marine biologist comes to a head when he’s called upon to save a beached whale. The episode culminates in George’s dramatic monologue about encountering the whale, a moment so absurdly hilarious it’s etched in sitcom history.
The Little Kicks
Season 8, Episode 4
This episode is famous for the “Elaine Dance”. Elaine’s atrocious dancing becomes the stuff of legend in this episode. Her kicks and thumbs dance move is hilariously bad, leading to a series of misunderstandings and classic Seinfeld shenanigans.
The Parking Garage
Season 3, Episode 6
The Parking Garage episode sees the gang lost in a mall parking garage, unable to find their parked car. As time passes, their frustration grows, giving rise to some of the best comedic moments in the series. Kramer’s altercation with a security guard over an air conditioner he’s carrying adds another layer of hilarity to this episode.
The Merv Griffin Show
Season 9, Episode 6
Only in the world of Seinfeld can one transform their apartment into a 1960’s talk show set. When Kramer discovers the discarded set of the old Merv Griffin Show in a dumpster, he doesn’t just retrieve it; he creates his own talk show in his apartment. The absurdity of the plot, combined with the group’s interactions as they become unwitting guests, is Seinfeld comedy at its finest.
Season 9, Episode 9
It’s an episode where Seinfeld dares to bare it all, quite literally. The plot thickens when Jerry’s girlfriend, Melissa, decides to embrace the nudist lifestyle in the comfort of Jerry’s apartment. Jerry, who usually loves anything related to women and nudity, finds himself unnerved by Melissa’s nonchalant nudity.
Jerry’s discomfort with casual, everyday activities being done in the buff – like opening jars and couch cushion compression – is a comedic gold mine. The episode hilariously explores the fine line between being attractively nude and just…naked.
Season 9, Episode 18
A nostalgic nod to the arcade games of the past, The Frogger centers on George’s attempt to preserve his high score on a Frogger machine. His endeavors to transport the game across a busy New York street, mimicking the game’s actual gameplay, are hilarious. It’s a genius blend of real-life and virtual challenges that only Seinfeld could pull off so seamlessly.
The Summer of George
Season 8, Episode 22
When George receives three months of paid vacation, he dubs it The Summer of George, envisioning a time of relaxation and personal projects. But, as with most of George’s dreams, things don’t go as planned!
The Bubble Boy
Season 4, Episode 7
George’s trip to the cabin with Susan leads to an unforgettable encounter with a bubble boy – a boy living in a sterile bubble. A trivial pursuit game gone wrong and George’s awkwardness make this episode a fan favorite.
The Chicken Roaster
Season 8, Episode 8
A Kenny Rogers Roasters opens across from Jerry’s apartment, casting a red glow and leading to a personality switch between Jerry and Kramer. This episode hilariously tackles the absurdity of urban living.
The Yada Yada
Season 8, Episode 19
Popularizing the phrase “yada yada,” this episode dives into the world of glossing over details – often the most crucial ones. George’s girlfriend’s use of “yada yada” to skip parts of stories leads to comedic misunderstandings.
The Fusilli Jerry
Season 6, Episode 21
Kramer’s new license plates, intended for a proctologist, lead to hilarious misunderstandings. The episode’s climax involving a fusilli pasta figure is a moment of absurd comic brilliance.
So, whether you’re a fan of the “show about nothing” or a newcomer to the world of Seinfeld, these are the best episodes of Seinfeld, in our opinion, and are a great way to experience the magic of one of the funniest sitcoms ever made!
Fun Facts About the Show:
The show’s original title was The Seinfeld Chronicles. It was later shortened to just Seinfeld after the first season.
The character of Kramer was originally named Kessler, but was changed after legal issues arose with a real person named Kessler.
The show’s famous bass-heavy theme song was created by musician Jonathan Wolff, who used a sample of his own mouth noises to create the sound.
The show’s creators, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, based many of the episodes on real-life experiences and observations. For example, the episode The Chinese Restaurant was based on a real experience of waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant.
The character of Elaine was not originally part of the show’s concept. She was added in the second season after executives at NBC requested a female character.
The character of George was based on Larry David himself, while the character of Jerry was based on Jerry Seinfeld.
The show’s finale was watched by over 76 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched TV events of all time.
The show’s final scene, in which the four main characters are arrested for violating a “Good Samaritan” law, was controversial among fans and critics. Needless to say, while it wasn’t the ending fans hoped for, the show was and is, still wildly successful. So, whether you’re watching on NBC, Hulu, Netflix, or some random DVD you found in a dumpster, these episodes are sure to be a festivus for the rest of us!