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Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld)
Sure, I'm not funny anymore, but there's more to life than making shallow, fairly obvious observations.
- As Himself: Only more of a jerk and less rich and famous.
- Author Avatar: The character "Jerry Seinfeld" played by the real life Jerry Seinfeld doing what he does in real life (comedy) and is also a co-creator of the show.
- Berserk Button: He finds it very emasculating whenever someone he's hanging out with gets asked out on a date right in front of him.Jerry: How do you know we're not together?!
- In keeping with his extreme cleanliness, things that are messy seem to be the main thing that gets under his skin.
- In the episode "The Blood," George using Jerry's kitchen to make pudding (skins) makes him lose his temper. Granted, Jerry was trying to go on a diet at the time, but still.
- In keeping with his extreme cleanliness, things that are messy seem to be the main thing that gets under his skin.
- Born Lucky: Jerry was at his funniest when everything goes right for him, which is often. Much of an episode is dedicated to reiterating the fact that everything consistently turns out all right for him, and nobody else. And then he gets thrown into prison with the gang for a year. But before then, he's pretty darn lucky.Elaine: (exasperated) You know, one of these days, something terrible is going to happen to you! IT HAS TO!Jerry: (nonchalant) No, I'll be just fine.
- The Casanova: Had relationships with around 75 women over the course of the series.
- Catch Phrase: "That's a shame."
- "Hello... Newman."
- "I don't want to be an X!"
- Celebrity Paradox: Subverted. Jerry in the show is still a famous comedian, just nowhere near as famous as he is in real life.
- Deadpan Snarker: It's his defining quality — for example, when he and Kramer started taking on each other's personalities due to an apartment switch, Kramer's non-existent snark level immediately shot Up to 11.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Well, Jerry isn't exactly evilnote , more like an antisocial misanthropic jerk, but in "The Sponge," he openly states that a woman being a genuinely good person is a mood-killing turnoff.
- In another episode, he grows more and more confused as to why everyone dislikes his perfect girlfriend—George and Kramer seem repulsed at the sight of her, her friends act like he's doing her a huge favor by going out with her, etc. He tries to ignore it, but the last straw is that his parents adore her.
- Evil Is Petty: Downplay the "evil" part and play the "petty" aspect as far as it can go. While usually not much more than a selfish, unfeeling jerk, Jerry shows his bad side entirely in little ways, like not helping Elaine carry heavy bags.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic (Rational, but indifferent)
- Informed Judaism: He has a Jewish Mother but that's about it. The one time he brought it up is because one of his fellow comedians converted to Judaism purely so he could make Jewish jokes without offending anyone. This offended him as a comedian.
- It Amused Me: As far as Jerry is concerned, his friends exist to provide him with enjoyment at their misery.George: What gives you pleasure?Jerry: Listening to you. I listen to this for fifteen minutes and I'm on top of the world. Your misery is my pleasure.
- Jerkass: His smug attitude and sadistic sense of humor certainly make him this.
- Jews Love to Argue: He is often arguing with others and especially his Jewish relatives.
- Lack of Empathy: And unlike George and Elaine, who if pressed will at least acknowledge that they are horrible people, Jerry seems to relish it.
- Large Ham: His Varnsen persona in "The Puerto Rican Day."Jerry: Brace yourself, madam, for an all-out bidding war. But this time, advantage Varnsen!
- The Leader: As pointed out by Kramer, Jerry is the "nucleus" of the Group. George, Kramer and Elaine all know each other through their relationships with Jerry, it's his apartment that they always hang out at, and he's the one they're first to go to for help with their problems and schemes.
- Manchild: It's the pettiness and fixation on Superman (he once dated a woman simply because her name was "Lois") that makes him look like a child.
- Manipulative Bastard: The real life Jerry has stated that if the character Jerry sees his friends about to do something that will backfire, he will often push them towards doing it in order to watch the results for his own amusement.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: The character of Seinfeld is suppose to be a Jerkass version of the actor.
- Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: The other main characters do this as well, but Jerry takes the cake for breaking up with a girl for having no flaws, which he considered a flaw.
- Mistaken for Gay:
- With George in "The Outing". In the same episode, he mentions that a lot of people think he's gay because he's thin, single, and neat.
- He is offended at not being Mistaken for Gay when a gay man he is talking to suddenly gets approached and asked out on a date by another man, which presses his Berserk Button (see above).
- Most Writers Are Writers: Comedy writers, specifically. The fact that Jerry is writing a proposed pilot for television and needing to write comedy material comes up in the show quite often.
- Neat Freak: Taken to near-pathological levels when he accidentally knocks his girlfriend's toothbrush into the toilet and she uses it before he gets a chance to tell her. After sanitizing her mouth using every product on the store shelf and even making her rinse with bleach, he still can't bring himself to kiss her. When the girl finds out what happened, she gets revenge by putting something of his in the toilet and not telling him what it was. He goes absolutely insane trying to figure it out. Eventually she tells him that it was the toilet brush, which makes him very relieved... because it's something that he can replace easily.
- Nice Jewish Boy: Subverted. Jerry's mother can't be persuaded that her son isn't a nice Jewish boy, although he very obviously is not.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: He tries to help Babu save his restaurant and avoid getting deported. Both fail due to outside circumstances and Babu later testifies against him, sealing his fate at the trial. They were probably the only genuinely good and unselfish things Jerry ever tried to do.
- Nominal Hero: Why does he fight the antagonist(s)? Because he's either bored, obsessed or just picky.
- One-Hour Work Week: Outside of the openings, he's rarely seen performing standup (which is supposed to be his livelihood) and even more rarely seen writing new material, something which is often lampshaded by other characters. Despite this he's very successful at it, makes the most money of the group, and regularly appears on shows like Leno and Letterman.
- Pet the Dog:
- Despite his many faults, he is very generous with his money and gives a lot of very nice gifts to his friends and family. Of course, Seinfeld being the kind of show it is, it usually ends up backfiring horribly on everybody.
- Certain episodes make it clear that while he doesn't care if his friends suffer, he doesn't like the idea of not being able to hang out with them anymore, and will take steps to make sure they're still connected so they can amuse him with their suffering.
- Really Gets Around: 75 girlfriends over nine seasons!
- Sex God: His "Move" is famous. The only exception is Elaine, who claims she faked orgasm.
- Status Quo Is God: Seems to have this as a superpower, causing Kramer to call him "Even Steven". Everything tends to even out for him and leave him no better or worse than when he started. To test this, Elaine takes 20 bucks from him and tosses it out the window, and sure enough when Jerry puts on his jacket to leave he puts his hand in the pocket and finds 20 bucks. This also explains how he's dated so many women. Whenever he has a break-up he'll always find a new woman very soon.
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: Despite his Deadpan Snarker status, he does this a fair bit.Jerry: It has only one known flaw: The door... MUST BE CLOSED!
- Toxic Friend Influence: Jerry is the toxic friend who tends to poison the people he hangs out with. When things are going swimmingly, Jerry will push the right buttons to make sure things go awry. Word of God says that Jerry intentionally encourages his friends' terrible ideas knowing they'll fail, purely so he can watch them crash and burn.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Jerry is a selfish jerk, who is amused by the misery of his friends.
George Costanza (Jason Alexander)
Only I could fail at failing.
- Ambiguously Jewish: On the one hand, he has an Italian last name and his father is allegedly a member of the Knights of Columbus. On the other hand, his mother fits the Jewish Mother stereotype, he's played by a Jewish actor and he is the avatar of co-creator Larry David, who is also Jewish.
- And Starring: "And Jason Alexander as George".
- Author Avatar: Basically a more evil version of co-creator Larry David.
- Born Unlucky: Easily the unluckiest of the four. Any scheme he tries is guaranteed to fall apart. The "born" part might be literally true, since in one episode, he states that it runs in the family: "My father was a quitter, my grandfather was a quitter. I was raised to give up."
- Brilliant, but Lazy:
- George comes up with surprisingly brilliant schemes, but for the purposes of completely pointless things. One can only wonder how successful he'd be if he put the effort into work that he puts into avoiding work.
- In "The Abstinence", it's shown that if he stops obsessing about sex and uses his brain for other things, he becomes a genius (although that episode shows that this applies to all men, not just George).
- Referenced in one of the few pieces of Jerry's standup that had to do with the plot: "I've got a friend on welfare right now, and if they had any idea of the time and effort that he has put into keeping this thing going, I'm sure they'd give him a raise. He's down at the office every day, making all kinds of excuses. He's doing an incredible job not working."
- Butt-Monkey: Nothing goes right for him. Ever. That's why he's a funny character.
- Catch Phrase: "George is getting upset!" is a minor one.
- Consummate Liar: When Jerry wanted to beat a lie detector he went to George for advice; this man lies as naturally as breathing.
- The Cynic: Despite having the highest number of dates among the main characters in the show's run, George doesn't always have very positive views of romantic relationships. In a couple of instances, he claims that birthdays and weekend trips kill relationships instead of cement them.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most dry and witty when it is at his own expense. Against others it fails on both counts.
- Dirty Coward: Is willing to shove old ladies and children to the floor in order to get away from a fire.
- The Ditz: Self-proclaimed 'Lord of the Idiots'. He's really not exaggerating. In general, it seems to be more an issue of really bad decision making, and not a question of intelligence. When he wants to be, he's brilliant.
- For Want of a Nail: Spoofed. In one episode, George says that if he had a mantle piece above his fireplace, he would have had a normal childhood.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic (exhibiting most of the negative traits and just about none of the positive ones)
- Freudian Excuse: It's implied that his childhood is what caused his very warped view on the world and humanity. In his eyes, everyone else is a selfish jerk, so to get ahead, he needs to be the biggest and most selfish jerk of them all.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: The other three seem to only keep him around so their own lives look better by comparison (and in Jerry's case because his misery brings them amusement).George: She's the loser of the group. Every group has someone that they all make fun of... Like us with Elaine.
- Go-to Alias: Art Vandelay. He even researched a backstory for this name.
- Groin Attack: He never carries a pen because he's afraid of it accidentally puncturing his scrotum.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: His stories and flashbacks to all the shit that his parents put him through is also part of the humor of his character.
- Hollywood Dateless: Is bald, overweight, often unemployed, and his personality flaws are too long to list. The show draws heavy attention to what a loser he is, yet he had sex with 43 (very attractive) women over the course of the show.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Inverted! "Every woman on the face of the Earth has complete control over my life... and yet, I want them all. Is that irony?"
- Incredibly Lame Fun: He considers watching a movie at someone else's house to be getting out of the house and doing something.
- It's All About Me: Upon hearing about Susan's death, his reaction is to get a cup of coffee with his friends.
- Jerkass: he's selfish, insensitive, untrustworthy, abrasive etc.
- Kavorka Man: Kramer is the Trope Namer, but it applies to him too. He has dated many attractive women during the series, despite being a short, stocky bald man with virtually no positive qualities.
- Lack of Empathy: Almost never shows remorse for his actions, not even his dead fiancé who was poisoned by the cheap envelopes he insisted on.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- After indirectly killing Susan and acting elated after her death, he is put on the board for the Susan Ross Foundation, taking away much of his free time and leaving him with the constant reminder of how wealthy he would have been had she not died. This may have even been the entire point of the Foundation, since Susan's parents never liked George very much, and also suspected (along with everyone else on the board) that he murdered Susan deliberately.
- After faking involuntary muscle spasms in his arm in front of Lloyd Braun, Lloyd gets him a doctor's appointment, which George has to go to in order to keep up the act. The doctor examines George, deduces that he's faking, and angrily tells him to get out. As George leaves, he bangs his arm, which causes him to have real spasms exactly like he was faking before.
- Lazy Bum: He used severance pay from one of his jobs as an excuse not to get up from his chair for days on end.
- Manchild: Lacking in maturity this one; he was even living with his parents for the first few seasons.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Jason Alexander and George Costanza couldn't be any more different.
- Mistaken for Gay: With Jerry in "The Outing" as part of a prank that got out of hand.
- Nominal Hero: He only counts as "heroic" when he's confronting people worse than him, which isn't often.
- Obfuscating Disability: He had to walk with a cane for a while when he was injured in "The Summer Of George". When he goes in for a job interview in "The Butter Shave", the cane makes his new boss think he is disabled. Before George can clear things up, the boss mentions that to accommodate his "disability" they would be giving him his own private bathroom, among other things, so he starts faking it. He even goes as far as having a secretary carry him to his office.
- Pet the Dog: His genuine guilt over and desire to help a busboy that he accidentally got fired. It's one of the only times in the series where he shows any sign of empathy.
- Schemer: Lots of elaborate plans to avoid getting out of work, impress women or break up with women.
- The Scrooge: Even when he is making money, he's still incredibly tightfisted. This has included searching for money under vending machines and even taking tips back from waiters.
- The Slacker: He does a lot of work to get out of doing work.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Early in season 4 when they agree to write the pilot for NBC and he thinks he's not getting enough money. Specifically, he seems to think he deserves as much money as Ted Danson.
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: "George is getting upset!"
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Sure he probably deserves the bad things that happen to him more than the other three but he gets a pretty big win in the last episode of season 5 when doing everything the opposite of what his instinct tells him gets him a new high profile job (with the New York Yankees!), a beautiful girlfriend and finally gets to move back out of his parents house. It's the only episode to have a happy ending for George.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Chocolate syrup, specifically Bosco, as Kramer deduces. Also ostrich burgers.
- The Unfavorite: Somehow manages to be this despite being an only child. His parents (or at least his mother) clearly favour Lloyd Braun over him.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Easily the worst of the four main characters, he's selfish, insensitive, untrustworthy, abrasive, cowardly, dishonest, annoying, cheap, lazy and stupid. He's is a borderline sociopath and a Villain Protagonist.
Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
So what you are saying is, 90 to 95 percent of the human population is undateable.
- Aborted Declaration of Love: 'I've always loved you...nited airlines.'
- Big Eater: Even more so than Kramer. A surprisingly large number of her plot lines involve her appetite getting her into trouble.
- Break the Haughty: One episode in particular had her called to task for abusing the authority J Peterman left her with to legitimately travel the world. That was basically groveling and something continuously tripped her up at the end of each segment.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Two different jobs despite her pettiness and insanity and held them for years. Pendant Publishing was the publishing company she worked at in the early years, under Mr. Lippman. J. Peterman was when she wrote for the Peterman Catalogue. In both it's suggested she's pretty good at her job.
- Butt-Monkey: In one example, the universe has an oddly humorous case of Selective Enforcement when it comes to Elaine. Whenever there's something annoying going on (such as a guy loudly going "AHHH!" after each and every sip of coffee, or a dog barking loudly all night long), Elaine is the only one that reacts to it. Everybody else around her can block it out like Zen masters.
- Catch Phrase: "Get OUT!"
- The Chick: Averted. She is just as petty, argumentative and given to selfishness as the rest of the main cast.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric (Hotheaded and emotional).
- Giftedly Bad: With her dancing skills, which George likens to "a full-body dry heave set to music."
- Improbably High I.Q.: Says in The Cafe that her IQ is 145. She later takes a IQ test for George where she gets a score of 151.
- Ironic Fear: Loves animals, but Elaine is usually seen either giving them harm or running from them.
- Jerkass: Like the rest of the cast she has a laundry list of character flaws that make her unpleasant to be around.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: On the very rare occasion, she will restrain herself if she believes her judgments are getting too out of hand and will take the moral high ground if she feels one of Jerry and George's schemes is going too far. Needless to say, these only happen under the most extreme circumstances.
- The Lad-ette: Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld told the writers to write her as if she were a guy. In-universe, Kramer calls her "a man's woman".
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Dryfuss is much definitely more pleasant in comparison to Elaine.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Works for various publishing companies and while it's never anything major (her most literary job was product descriptions for the Peterman catalog) she's often implied to be a decent writer. She was even asked to ghost-write Mr. Peterman's highly-fictional autobiography.
- Nominal Hero: Sometimes she'll go up against someone less sympathetic, like her Rival, Sue Ellen Mischke.
- Not So Above It All: Started veering into this territory quite a bit in the later seasons, where she tried on a few occasions to rise above the childish pettiness and insanity of the rest of the group, only to find she's ultimately as damaged as the rest of them.
- One of the Boys: Possibly Trope Codifier as it was groundbreaking at the time. In one episode she realizes she has no female friends, to which Kramer replies "Of course you don't. You're a man's woman. You hate other women, and they hate you."
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Whenever she is given even a hint of authority she becomes insufferable.
- Paper Tiger: Elaine can be very mean, tough, and enjoys seeing people run for their lives. However, when push comes to shove, Elaine is very cowardly and loses her edge.
- The Peter Principle: Elaine is usually really good at her job when she's around the middle (see Bunny-Ears Lawyer), but give her a leading position in a company and she inevitably winds up making terrible decisions.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: By the standards of the show; she is the only one to have multiple swears cut short by other characters.
- The Smurfette Principle: The token female of the main characters.
- Tears of Fear: When Elaine thinks she is about to die in the finale episode, she starts crying due to her impending death.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Again like the others, the audience is supposed to laugh at her petty schemes and lack of empathy.
- Women Are Wiser: Elaine likes to think she's this. In reality, she's just as much of a petty, vindictive schemer as the others.
Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards)
Jerry: You're crazy.
Kramer: Am I? Or am I so sane that you just blew your mind?
Kramer: Am I? Or am I so sane that you just blew your mind?
- Big Eater: Usually empties Jerry's refrigerator of food, since he's apparently too lazy (or unemployed) to shop for himself.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: He's unemployed and lazy, but he's good at whatever he can do.
- Brutal Honesty: Very often. Particulary with George's large-nosed girlfriend. Elaine tried to exploit this when she didn't want to tell someone something rude.
- Bungling Inventor: Every once in a while he comes up with an invention which he plans to use to start up his company "Kramerica Industries", but they never turn out so well.
- He had the idea for a pizza place where you make your own pizza, which he almost got off the ground with help from Poppy, but the two got into an argument about pizza toppings reminiscent of a pro-life vs. pro-choice argument and abandoned the whole thing.
- In one episode he suggests a restaurant that just serves variations of Peanut Butter and X sandwiches called "PB@J's". A few years later such a restaurant opened in California.
- In another episode he and Frank come up with an idea for a male-brassiere that could stand to make them millions and has a bra company very eager to buy the concept off them, but it falls through simply because the pair can't agree on what to call it.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: When he applies himself to something, he usually does very well if you can stand all of his strange quirks.
- The Casanova: Claims to be this several times but Kramer had the fewest onscreen girlfriends of all the main characters, likely simply for the reason that his personal life is explored the least on the show. This is made up for the fact that he tends to get much better (and harder to get) girlfriends than Jerry and George. Hell, the man got Uma Thurman's and Elle MacPherson's phone numbers, just like that. After all, "he's Kramer".
- Catch Phrase: "Giddyup!"
- Character Tic: He twitches and spasms so often it could be considered exercise.
- Cloudcuckoolander: It's summed up nicely when he stores some helium-filled balloons in Jerry's apartment after talking about his New Years 2000 plans.Jerry: Those balloons aren't going to last until New Years!Kramer: No, these are my everyday balloons.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Has espoused a variety of crazy ideas, such as that the government is secretly experimenting on pig men and are withholding a cure for cancer. On occasion, he turns out to be right.
- Drop-In Character: He slides into Jerry's apartment with some silly plan or other.
- Dynamic Entry: One of his trademarks is sliding through Jerry's door.
- Early Installment Weirdness: in the pilot he is depicted as a shut-in named "Kessler" who hasn't left the apartment building in years and owns a dog.
- Embarrassing First Name: Cosmo. Not even Jerry knew it for several seasons and years in-universe. He eventually embraces it.
- The Fool: The nicest, most oblivious, and luckiest of the four.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine (Fun-loving and a bit of a nutcase).
- "Friends" Rent Control: Out of the show's nine year run, Kramer has held a legitimate job for all of four episodes. In one case, he wasn't even an employee of the company he was working at.
- This is lampshaded by George when Kramer goes to a baseball fantasy camp."Why does Kramer need to go to a fantasy camp? His whole life is a fantasy camp. People should plunk down $2000 to live like him for a week. Do nothing, fall ass-backwards into money, mooch food off your neighbours, and have sex without dating. Now that's a fantasy camp!"
- This is lampshaded by George when Kramer goes to a baseball fantasy camp.
- The Gambling Addict: It's implied that he's had gambling problems in the past. Newman calls him a "weak, weak man" when Kramer calls him asking for urgent help because he bet on the arrival and departure times of airplanes with a stranger.
- The Ghost: None of his oft-mentioned friends (Bob Sacamano, Jay Remenschneider and Lomez) have appeared on screen. This is Justified by Jerry himself in Entertainment Weekly's "Special Seinfeld Issue," May 4, 1998, covering the entire run leading up to the finale. In the "Introduces" section of the review of "The Pony Remark," Jerry said that cousin Jeffrey and Bob Sakamono were never seen because "they became too large in our imagination for anyone to fill those shoes." It's lampshaded in one episode, where Jerry wonders to Kramer why he's never met any of these friends of his. Kramer responds that they're all wondering why they've never met him.
- Go-to Alias: H.E. Pennypacker, as well as the last name "van Nostrand". Over the course of the show he's been Doctor, Martin, and Professor Peter van Nostrand.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: He's 6"4" so most of his relationships fall into this.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He can be bad like the others, but he's the only one to ever show genuine kindness or depth.
- Jewish Mother: Briefly takes on the characteristics of one while trying to cook a lot of Jewish food for Jewish Singles Night.Kramer: (to Jerry) "Eat! Eat! You're nothing but skin and bones!"
- Kavorka Man: The Trope Namer. A Latvian Orthodox priest calls his power over women "kavorka" (meaning "the lure of the animal"). Over the course of the show, he's seduced Uma Thurman, a nun, and a lesbian, offering no explanation other than, "I'm Kramer." This was actually Played for Drama on the episode that named it, since he couldn't control the effect and almost destroyed a nun's life against his own will.
- Kindhearted Simpleton: The only person who cares about his fellow human beings in the franchise... and is portrayed as an idiot by Larry David because of it.
- The Klutz: More than any of the other cast members, Kramer provides a lot of physical comedy by frequently tripping and knocking things over.
- Last-Name Basis: Even after his first name is discovered, everyone still calls him "Kramer" in later episodes.
- Loony Fan: Is nicer to celebrities than he is to his own friends. His slavish devotion to Bette Midler in "The Understudy" stands out particularly.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Kramer isn't as much of a jerk as the other members of the group but he's not quite as nice and decent of a guy as his actor playing him.
- Morality Pet: A minor one for Jerry, as he lets him use his home and fridge without expecting anything in return.
- One-Hour Work Week: Try no-hour work week. During the first couple of seasons, it was never outright stated that Kramer had no job; the writers just wanted it ambiguous what it was Kramer did for a living or how he got by. It wasn't about until season three or so that Kramer would occasionally be seen working the occasional odd-job (i.e. modeling for Calvin Klein underwear) or winning a bunch of money at the track. Then come season nine, it's established he's an employee at a bagel bakery who has been on strike for the better part of a decade.
- Sarcasm-Blind: When Kramer asks Jerry for something he doesn't have or can't do, and Jerry makes a sarcastic joke to demonstrate why Kramer's request can't be fulfilled, Kramer never sees the sarcasm and either looks for an imaginary location as described by Jerry or explains why Jerry's "plan" won't work.
- Team Dad: He's often quick to lecture his friends on their actions even if he is no better.
- Token Good Teammate: The only member of the group with a conscience.
- Unscrupulous Hero: The kindest of the gang, but also throws around a lot of Brutal Honesty and is a big-time moocher.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: He may be the kindest of the group but he is still a slacker, a moocher, and has little tact.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Kramer is indirectly responsible for the main characters going to prison at the end of the series. He jumped on the plane to get water out of his ear from swimming earlier, stumbling into the cockpit and causing the plane to make an emergency landing in the town of Latham, where the group witnesses the event that lands them in prison for violating the Good Samaritan law.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Kramer has stated and been told numerous times that he has no job, but he frequently appears in episodes having purchased some bizarre, completely random, and expensive objects, objects like a professional-grade deli meat slicer ("The Slicer"), boxes and boxes of Cuban cigars ("The Bubble Boy", plus various other episodes), a high-end blazer, golf clubs, and a leather suitcase.Kramer: Are you sure you don't have a fax machine? Because there's a lot of stuff in my apartment I've never seen before.Elaine: Then maybe you have a fax machine.Kramer: [beat] You just blew my mind.
- You Just Had to Say It: "You're as beautiful as any of them... you just need a nose job!" "And you... look just like Jerry." and "Why don't you just give up... Well that's what JERRY says!"
- Zany Scheme: His "bladder system" to stop oil spills, using the US Postal Service to get extra cents on recycled bottles, that time he tried to drive Kenny Chicken out of business etc.
Newman (Wayne Knight)
— Multiple Characters
- Affably Evil: When he's not antagonistic, he seems to get along fairly well with the cast.
- Badass Boast: "When you control the mail, you control — information!"
- Catch Phrase: "Hellooooo... Jerry."
- Does Not Like Spam: Broccoli is a "VILE WEED!"
- Driven to Suicide: Spends the duration of his introductory episode as an offscreen character threatening to jump off the roof of the apartment building.
- Evil Laugh: A loud and sinister laugh accompanies his conversations with Jerry.
- Fat Bastard: A tubby guy for Jerry's arch-nemesis (Jerry is noted for being "thin" but also a jerk).
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Kramer seems to be the only one who can stand him.
- Hidden Depths: He writes poetry.
- Kavorka Man: He's as attractive as George and nastier than him and yet he's had numerous girlfriends over the course of the series.
- Large Ham:HEAR ME, AND HEAR ME WELL. THE DAY WILL COME. OH YES! MARK MY WORDS, SEINFELD. YOUR DAY OF RECKONING IS COMING, WHEN AN EVIL WIND WILL BLOW THROUGH YOUR LITTLE PLAY WORLD AND WIPE THAT SMUG SMILE OFF YOUR FACE. AND I'LL BE THERE, IN ALL MY GLORY, WATCHING, WATCHING AS IT ALL COMES CRUMBLING DOWN.
- Phrase Catcher:
- "Hello... Newman."
- Psycho for Hire: He is a mailman. He claims the reason they sometimes go crazy is because "the mail never stops".
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: To Jerry; the Lex Luthor to his Superman.
- Smug Snake: Would really like to be a Magnificent Bastard, but Newman is just as pathetic as the rest of the cast.
Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller)
- Abusive Parents: It's heavily implied that the reason George is so messed up is from having him as a father; the deal with Festivus, calling him "weak" for needing glasses, etc.
- Ambiguously Jewish : He seems like it but isn't. He's an Italian Catholic, and one episode established him as being a big deal in his chapter of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization. Larry David has stated George is half-Jewish on his mother's side.
- Angrish: Jason Alexander has stated this is because Jerry Stiller often had trouble remembering his lines, and the gibberish he spouted was funnier.Frank: (shouting) You couldn't smooth a silk sheet if you had a hot date with a babe.... (Trails off mid-sentence, soon speaking again in a calmer voice) I lost my train of thought.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Inverted. He refuses to take off his shoes no matter what. Apparently it's because he's embarrassed by his "foot odour problem".
- Evil Is Petty: It's very easy to see where George gets it; like father like son.
- Freudian Excuse: Provides many for George: eyeglasses, Festivus, etc.
- Hidden Depths: It's revealed that he speaks fluent Korean, having gone there frequently because of his job selling statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, which were manufactured in Korea.
- Jerkass: He's like George in this regard but louder and more aggressive. Where George might cower, the father will continue being berating and insulting.
Estelle Costanza (Estelle Harris)
- Jewish Mother: Her ethnicity is not revealed in the show, but she's portrayed by a Jewish actress and acts like a stereotypical Jewish mother.Jason Alexander: There's no way she can be anything but Jewish.
- One of the strongest pieces of evidence is that she refuses to ride in a Mercedes. If she is Jewish, it's highly likely that she had family affected by the Holocaust, and that's why she hates German cars.
- No Accounting for Taste: She and Frank can't seem to speak to one another without shouting arguments.
Susan Ross (Heidi Swedberg)
- Bi the Way: Briefly becomes a lesbian, but it "didn't take". It's implied that dating George is what drove her to lesbianism, since she hooks up with the woman George dated after her.
- Bridezilla: Becomes a bit of one as the wedding approaches, what with her refusal to let Elaine be an usher, declaring it to be "out of the question" as though a female usher is an utterly abhorrent and unheard of idea.
- Butt-Monkey: Big time, easily the biggest one on the show. Susan goes from being a respected NBC executive to getting vomited on, having her father's cabin burn down, finding out her father was gay, losing her job at NBC, and later getting killed by poisonous envelopes.
- Character Death: Via the toxic glue found in extremely cheap wedding invitations. She and George were expecting about 200 people.
- Control Freak: Constantly, George is such a doormat when it comes to her.
- Dark Comedy: Her death and the gang's reaction to it are the best examples of this in the entire series. It is described later as "restrained jubilation".
- Jerkass Has a Point: She's quite bitchy about not wanting Kramer to be an usher at the wedding, but she's also right about the likelihood of him falling down or doing something stupid.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: She starts out okay, but gets nastier as time goes on, though this is actually understandable given the calamities that befall her.
Crazy Joe Davola (Peter Crombie)
- Ax-Crazy: Hence why he's called Crazy Joe Davola.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He soundly kicks the asses of several thugs who try to mug him.
- Karma Houdini: He is implied to have been arrested offscreen for attacking Jerry but we never see it.
- Monster Clown: Dresses up as a clown in 'The Opera' and then beats up a gang of punks.
- Mugging the Monster: Never mess with a clown.
- Never My Fault: Blames Jerry for all his problems and not the fact that he is batshit insane.
- The Sociopath: He's clinically sociopathic; without his medication, he's dangerous.
- Stalker With a Crush: To Elaine, complete with Stalker Shrine.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out his eventual fate after trying to stab Jerry in 'The Pilot'. He was most likely arrested.
J. Peterman (John O Hurley)
- Based on a Great Big Lie: His autobiography is actually stories that were bought from Kramer and written by Elaine.
- Benevolent Boss: Subverted. While he seems an ideal and friendly boss for Elaine, there are many moments where he treats her like crap—butting into her personal life, which he has no right to do, assigning menial tasks to her that aren't her responsibility—fixing his flat tire—firing her over petty things such as her not liking The English Patient, etc. He doesn't seem outwardly malicious though, just genuinely oblivious to the impropriety of such things.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: However crazy he may be, he's pretty damn good at what he does.
- The Cast Show Off: Unlike Elaine, he's an excellent dancer.
- Gentleman Adventurer: Presents himself as one, though it's unclear how many of his stories are true and how much are just his insanity talking (and since he revealed he was addicted to opium, so some may even be drug-fueled hallucinations).
- Hypocrite: Fires Elaine when she tests positive for opiates. When her fake boyfriend relapses into heroin addiction, demands that Elaine help him detox, threatening again to fire her if she doesn't. Aside from the grossly inappropriate intrusion into her personal life, he's the one indirectly responsible for getting the guy hooked on drugs again—"I gave him the name of some places where he could score."
- Irony: The one time he could have and should have fired Elaine—after she ate a piece of cake worth thousands— he doesn't, preferring to gloat over her impending sickness.
- Last-Name Basis: Everyone calls him "Mr.Peterman" and he introduces himself as "J. Peterman". His first name is only used once to address his dying mother. It is "Jocopo".
- Miles Gloriosus: If you read the Peterman Catalogue then it you would be lead to believe that he has led an exciting life by traveling all over the world. All that stuff is made up by his employees.
- Nice Guy: Not only very tolerant of Elaine's insanity but initially met her after he saw her crying on the street. In spite of his madness, might honestly be the nicest guy in the series.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: He's a thinly (read: not remotely) disguised parody of John Peterman, the owner of the real J. Peterman Company. The real Peterman lost his company to a buyout in 1999, but with financial help from actor John O'Hurley he was able to buy it back.
George Steinbrenner (Larry David (voice), Lee Bear)
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Tiny things will distract him from managing the Yankees.
- Bad Boss: In the words of George C, "He fires people like it's a bodily function!"
- Cloudcuckoolander: His stories go off on tangents, and he rarely listens to whomever he's talking to.
- Creator Cameo: Voiced by co-creator Larry David.
- For the Evulz: Threatening to move the team to New Jersey, just to upset people.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Most scenes show him from behind.
- Motor Mouth: He talks constantly, and doesn't seem to notice whether people are paying attention or not.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Barely. George Steinbrenner was a real person. For the record, he was a bit put-off when he heard the show was doing it, but quickly became okay with it (enough to cameo in an episode as himself).
David Puddy (Patrick Warburton)
- Catch Phrase: "That's right."
- Fur and Loathing: Elaine hates his "man-fur" coat in "The Reverse Peephole," calling him "Dr. Zaius". Notice this isn't because fur is morally wrong, just that he looks terrible in it.
- Hypocritical Humor: The reason he dumped the man-fur is because he saw Jerry wearing a coat and thought it looked ridiculous. Of course, then he began wearing an Eight Ball jacket.
- No Accounting for Taste: Not married to Elaine, but her steadiest boyfriend, despite neither being very fond of the other.
- On-Again, Off-Again Boyfriend: Whether or not Elaine was dating Puddy or not would depend entirely on what works for the episode. Their unstable relationship was lampshaded often.
- The Stoic: Naturally and played pretty heavily for laughs.Elaine: (Being sent to prison for a year) Puddy.... Don't wait for me.Puddy: (Shrugs) Okay.
Jackie Chiles (Phil Morris)
You get me one coffee drinker on that jury, you're gonna walk outta there a rich man.An ambulance chaser who has the misfortune to be Kramer's go-to lawyer.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's a quirky fast talker, but he actually possesses a good deal of legal knowledge. He'd be more successful, though, if Kramer wasn't Kramer.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The last word of most of his sentences is often repeated, restated, reiterated.
- Frivolous Lawsuit: Aids Kramer in a number of these, such as suing a coffee company because the coffee was too hot. In particular, he was very, very eager to "get a piece" of the tobacco industry. These lawsuits always wind up publicly humiliating him due to Kramer's stupidity.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: An obvious parody of Johnnie Cochran. For the record, Cochran liked the performance quite a bit until Morris was preparing to do commercials as the character, at which point he asked him to stop.
- "No. Just... No" Reaction: After two failed lawsuits, Jackie does not want anything to do with Kramer ever again. After the tobacco lawsuit, he files a restraining order against him.
- Pet the Dog: Despite filing a restraining order against the man, Jackie still defends Kramer and his friends in the finale.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: After years of Kramer publicly humiliating, Jackie gets a break in the finale. He loses the case, but he gets to hook up with Sidra Holland.
- Token Minority: The only major black recurring character on the show.
Kenny Bania (Steve Hytner)
Jerry: Have you seen his act? He's got a twelve-minute bit about Ovaltine.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Jerry only ever hangs with him because he can't avoid him. They perform at the same clubs, and Bania ropes Jerry into owing him favours.
- Satellite Character: His role in the show is to annoy Jerry.
- Small Name, Big Ego: He loves to brag about his progress at the gym, and his comedy career when it's going well.
- Trademark Favorite Food: He won't stop talking about how great the swordfish at Mendy's is, though he has also said the pea soup and duck there is "the best."
- Verbal Tic: He repeats things for emphasis. "That's gold, Jerry! Gold!" "The best, Jerry. The best!"
Sue Ellen Mischke
Elaine: Come on, Sue Ellen. You don't wear a bra, you're tall.. we hate each other!
- Hope Spot: She and Elaine almost became actual friends. Sue Ellen was getting married in India, but Elaine thought she only got an invitation as a ploy for a gift and wasn't actually wanted there. She flew out to India to spite her, but Sue Ellen actually greeted her arrival warmly—saying no one else was willing to fly out. Elaine was made maid of honor and all was well... until Sue Ellen found out Elaine slept with the grew a couple years ago.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Jerry is much more sympathetic to her story after she approaches him wearing only a bra.
- Ms. Fanservice: She intentionally invokes this by wearing a bra as a top.
- Old Money: Heiress to the O'Henry candy bar fortune.
- Passive Aggressive Combat: With Elaine. Elaine buys her a bra as she often goes without, and the next time they meet Sue Ellen is wearing it as a top. She also tends to make some snide comments regarding the disparity in their income.
- The Rival: To Elaine. Even compared to the Seinfeld rivalry standard, both are very petty with each other.Jerry: She's your Lex Luthor!
- Sugary Malice: She and Elaine act friendly towards each other. Elaine's internal monologue shows that she actually hates Sue Ellen. It's pretty clear Sue Ellen has a lot of contempt for Elaine too; for example, she asks Elaine if she's come to Sotheby's to catch a glimpse of high society and hopes Elaine can find something in her budget.
"The Soup Nazi" Real name: Yev Kassem
You just cost yourself a soup!
- Alternate Character Interpretation: In-Universe, Kramer sees him as a man who simply wants to serve his soup quickly and efficiently and wants customers to respect this goal.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Sure, he's incredibly strict, and will refuse service at the drop of a hat, but he still gets customers around the block because his soup is just that good.
- Catch Phrase: "NO SOUP FOR YOU!", "NEXT!"
- Cloudcuckoolander: Though Kramer claims otherwise, the rest of the cast see him as a super strange soup guy.
- Disproportionate Retribution: If you screw up the ordering procedure, to quote Jerry, "He yells at you, and you don't get your soup." Even use of Gratuitous Spanish can leave you soupless. Elaine is banned for a year for doing an impersonation of Al Pacino. Al Yagenah (who served as the inspiration for the Soup Nazi), explained that the reason he has this rule is his soup stand was located in a cold part of town, where patrons had to stand outside before they could enter and order. Customers messing up their order, or requesting a change held up the line.
- Haha Ha No: After Elaine holds up the line and does a Pacino impression, he smilingly praises the impression. Then...You know something? NO SOUP FOR YOU! Come back one year! NEXT!
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Just about anything, no matter how benign, will set this guy off and prompt a boot out the door.
- In Universe Nickname: Because of his Super OCD, he is dubbed "Soup Nazi".
- Ironic Echo: Has his own "No soup for you!" line thrown back at him by Elaine.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Though he is thoroughly mean to those who question or disobey his rules, he reciprocates Kramer's kindness. Though unlike most uses of the trope, the "heart of gold" aspect of his character does not diminish the Jerkass side.
- Large Ham: He's shouting at the top of his lungs half the time.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Kramer mocks everyone else for referring to him "so callously" as Soup Nazi, but offers no alternative appellation.Jackie Chiles: Soup Nazi? You people have a pet name for everything.
- Pet the Dog: When he hears from Kramer how some thugs stole an armoire from a friend, he offers his own as a replacement. It is subverted when he finds out it was for Elaine, as he flips his lid when she comes in to thank him for it.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Simply kissing in his line will get this reaction from him, forfeiting your soup.
- Supreme Chef: There's a reason people kept visiting his restaurant despite his Super OCD. His soup is just that good.
Alton Benes (Lawrence Tierney)
- The Comically Serious:Alton: We had a funny guy with us in Korea. A tail gunner. They blew his brains all over the pacific. There's nothing funny about that.
- The Dreaded: Both Jerry and George are flat out terrified of him.George: We can't possibly have dinner with him alone!Jerry: How are we going to get out of this?George: We say we're frightened and have to go home!
- This was the case behind the scenes as well, given Tierney was an infamously volatile actor from whom no one knew what to expect and as such scared the shit out of cast and crew alike during filming.
- Guttural Growler: He has a very raspy voice.
Jerry: "It's routine surgery."
Kramer: "Oh, yeah? My friend Bob Sacamano, he came in here for a hernia operation. Oh, yeah, routine surgery. Now he's sitting in a chair by a window going [high-pitched voice] 'my name is Bob!'"
- Born Unlucky: If Kramer's stories are to be believed, Bob has went through botched surgery, rabies, and shock treatment at a mental hospital.
- The Ghost: Kramer constantly brings up Bob Sacamano's misadventures, but Bob himself never appears onscreen. Unlike other friends of Kramer, however, Bob isn't a ghost to the other main characters. He invites the group to a party in "The Fatigues," and Jerry befriends Bob when he takes over Kramer's apartment in "The Chicken Roaster."
- New Job as the Plot Demands: Bob appears to have had several sources of income. In the episode "The Fix-Up," his new job at a condom factory helps set up the plot.
Lt. Joe Bookman (Phillip Baker Hall)
You think this is all a big joke, don't you?
- The Comically Serious: Takes overdue library books and the fines associated with them very seriously, asking Jerry at one point if he's ever killed somebody.
- Good Old Ways: Pines for the old days when librarians were older, kindly, and had no private life.
- Inspector Javert: Grills Jerry on his grossly-overdue library book, correctly asserting that he never returned it despite Jerry's protests.
- Large Ham: A Hardboiled Detective for library fines.
- Never Heard That One Before: The librarian assures the gang that Bookman, who has been working there for 25 years, has heard all the jokes related to his name.
- Not So Different: Jerry has a tendency to obsess over petty things as well, but when it comes to library fines, Jerry's a Deadpan Snarker while Bookman is dead serious.
- Real Joke Name: Lt. Bookman the Library Cop.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's definitely crazy, but he also claims that he doesn't judge a man by the length of his hair or the kind of music he listens to, as long as he respects the rules of the library, and was correct that Jerry hadn't returned the book, and the book is returned as a direct result of his actions, combined with some dumb luck.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Accuses Jerry of thinking he can get away with overdue library books, and thus is "above the law", because he's a comedian.
- Think of the Children!: One of his major motivations for wanting to make his library a better place is so that children don't have to read vandalized books. Problem is, Jerry isn't being accused of vandalizing a book, but still gets an earful from Bookman.