Seinfeld is a show about nothing. No hugging, no learning.Okay, seriously. One of the most popular shows of The Nineties, it mostly centered around unpleasant people doing unpleasant things to Innocent Bystanders, following Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer. It lasted for nine years (1989 to 1998) and as many seasons, only ending when Jerry Seinfeld himself refused to go on, even after being offered 5 million dollars an episode for a tenth season.Revolutionary for its time, as the idea of characters spending whole episodes doing and resolving basically nothing, with all humor based on the minutiae of everyday life, was unheard of in 1989 in America. Seinfeld was so revolutionary in America, in fact, that it was mercilessly copied. It remains very difficult to describe to the younger generation just how huge the show was in the '90s, and how memetic its plots and sayings became. To use an analogy, Seinfeld is to TV shows what The Godfather is to movies (which makes it only fitting that the show directly spoofed The Godfather in the episode about the mohel). Part of what contributed to the authenticity of the "about nothing" theme was the fact that a great deal of the plots were based on personal stories from the lives of Creator/LarryDavid, Jerry Seinfeld, and various members of the writing team.Jerry Seinfeld plays a fictionalized, Jerkass version of himself as the ostensible main (though in practice arguably least interesting) character, who works mostly as a foil for his eccentric neighbour Cosmo Kramer, his best friend George Costanza, a man who can make your regular Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist look like a winner, and his sassy ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes, who couldn't spell "tact" if her life depended on it. Jerry was the technical Only Sane Man between these colorful personalities, but a highly ineffective one because, like his friends, he is supremely indifferent towards others, opting instead for the role of Deadpan Snarker extraordinaire. This quality of Jerry's, flavored with co-creator Larry David's gift for irony, coupled with the characters' propensity for Snowball Lies and Fawlty Towers Plots is what fueled most of the elaborate yet utterly mundane plots of the episodes.Although none of the characters worked together, lived together, or were related by blood, and even though — or perhaps even because — no emotional or deliberately touching moments of friendship were ever shown between them, the four remained close friends throughout the show's run, spending a great deal of their waking hours in each other's company and seemingly going by an unspoken rule to always brush off their friends' minor offenses and to never inflict any gross offenses against one another in order to preserve real-life Status Quo Is God — one of the only social rules they bothered themselves to follow.And then there's Jerry's other neighbor. Hello, Newman.Now has a character sheet and recap page that could really use help.
Kramer is absent in both "The Pen" and "The Chinese Restaurant"
George is absent from "The Pen" and Jason Alexander was apparently so upset that he threatened to leave the show if he was ever excluded again.
Absurdly Bright Light: The neon sign from Kenny Rogers Roasters chicken restaurant outside Kramer's apartment. It drives Kramer nuts.
Jerry: What's going on in there? Kramer: What? Jerry: That light. Kramer: Oh, the red. It's the chicken roaster sign. It's right across from my window. Jerry: Can't you shut the shades? Kramer: They are shut.
Actor Allusion: In the JFK parody in "The Boyfriend," Newman replicates his position standing in front of Kramer, just as Wayne Knight did in the movie standing in for John Connally in the courtroom demonstration of the "magic bullet" theory.
A picture of a dinosaur appears in Newman's apartment, referencing Knight's role in Jurassic Park.
Kramer: The important thing is that you learned something.
Jerry: (smirking) No I didn't.
Interestingly, the show does deliver aesops, even if incidentally. For instance, the main characters frequently lie, and in pretty much every instance, the lie comes back to bite them in the ass by the episode's end. So the aesop? Don't lie, it only makes things worse.
A great many plots that are not powered by a Snowball Lie are set off by small violations of the unwritten rules of society — laughing in a concert hall, refusing junk mail, and so on. This never, ever ends well for the protagonists.
Affair Hair: Parodied in "The Barber"; unsatisfied by a haircut given by long-time barber Enzo, Jerry gets his haircut by Enzo's nephew, Gino, in secret so as not to hurt Enzo's feelings. But Enzo eventually puts the pieces together by matching hairs (with help from Newman) and threatens to kill Jerry and Gino for betraying him.
Air Vent Passageway: George uses one to get into his office while being locked out by his employer in "The Voice".
Ambiguously Jewish: George, though Word Of God has it that he's half-Jewish. For what it's worth, George doesn't believe in God for anything except the bad stuff.
Jason Alexander said despite the Word Of God, he could never quite figure out personally if George was supposed to be Jewish or Italian, mainly since "Constanza isn't really a Jewish name", and because of the fact that they celebrated Christmas before his father created Festivus.
Interestingly, Word Of God has it that one of the reasons behind the Executive Meddling in the beginning was that the network execs were concerned that the show's overall humor was "too Jewish", and wouldn't appeal to the masses.
All Men Are Perverts: Jerry and George explain to Elaine how a man will say anything to get a woman. She doesn't believe them, so they elaborate:
George: I once told a woman I coined the phrase "Pardon my French".
Jerry: I once told a woman I don't eat ice cream because it goes straight to my thighs.
George: I once told a woman I enjoy spending time with my family.
The two men sip their coffee triumphantly while Elaine sits there looking shocked.
In The Contest, the guys make Elaine pay double to enter the eponymous contest, reasoning that women don't have to masturbate every day, whereas for men it's "part of their lifestyle".
Men in the Seinfeld universe receive a significant boost in intelligence once they stop having sex, because 99% of a man's brain (or at least George's brain, the numbers may vary depending on the man) is constantly obsessed with sex, and starts to function properly once sex is no longer a factor in the man's life. George, for example, becomes an Omnidisciplinary Scientist able to effortlessly hit several consecutive home runs in baseball using nothing but his newly acquired knowledge of physics, and also becomes fluent in Portuguese without even trying to learn it ("My cleaning lady is Portuguese. I must have picked it up."). Later on Elaine stops having sex with her boyfriend so that he can pass his licensing exam and become a doctor.
Going without sex has the opposite effect on Elaine. She becomes progressively dumber. Strangely enough, this is also because All Men Are Perverts.
Jerry: To a woman, sex is like the garbage man. You just take for granted the fact that any time you put some trash out on the street, a guy in a jumpsuit's gonna come along and pick it up. But now, it's like a garbage strike. The bags are piling up in your head. The sidewalk is blocked. Nothing's getting through. You're stupid.
In "The Label Maker", George is ecstatic that he bought a car previously owned by Jon Voight. However, it's revealed that the car didn't actually belong to the famous actor, but a periodontist named John Voight.
Alter Kocker: Uncle Leo. Morty Seinfeld acts like one sometimes, too, and most of the residents of Del Boca Vista probably qualify.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: The diner is a real Manhattan diner, in the Upper West Side, called Tom's. The food there is mediocre at best, although the milkshakes are actually pretty good.
The Boston Red Sox actually have an "Administrative Assistant to the Traveling Secretary and Baseball Operations".
Ambiguously Brown: Invoked with Elaine's boyfriend in "The Wizard", who everyone thinks is black (or possibly biracial). Amusingly, it turns out they're both actually white, and he thought she was Hispanic.
Annoying Laugh: Naomi from "The Wallet", "The Watch", and "The Bubble Boy". Her laugh is described as "Elmer Fudd sitting on a juicer".
Anti-Advice: George does this to himself. Reasoning that following his instincts never got him anywhere, George decides that doing the opposite of his instincts should make him successful. It actually works... for one episode.
Anti-Humor: Attempted by Jerry in "The Butter Shave" so he'd be a bad lead-in for Kenny Bania.
Jerry: What's with people getting sick? I mean, what's the deal with cancer?
George: I told her what a sexist he is. How he cheats on his wife.
Jerry: She knew that.
George: But she didn't know he doesn't recycle.
Artistic License - Cars: There is a good deal wrong with Jerry's Saab in The Bottle Deposit. First, he mentions the AAA guy said "I was this close to sucking a muffin down the carburator." — the Saab 900 was fuel injected. In the warehouse, the detective refers to the turbocharger and angle of the V6, which Jerry says can't be his because his isn't a turbo. The Saab 900 and 9000 were never offered with a turbocharged V6. Jerry then says his car is a 900S, but the car Kramer chases is a 900SE, the higher up model.
Artistic License - Geography: In The Bottle Deposit, the best route from New York City to Michigan for Kramer and Newman's budget would have taken them across I-80, and through the northern part of Ohio-or something near that route. However, the second time Kramer calls Jerry he mentions that the guy they're following is "going south on 135", which Newman objects to since they're headed north to Michigan. The closest Highway 135 in that region is SR 135 near Lynchburg, Ohio, which would have already put them well out of their way.
Additionally, the highway Kramer chases Tony is the Passadena Freeway.
Artistic License - Law: The series finale. Good Samaritan laws do not work that way. They're to ensure someone who helps an obviously ill or injured person cannot be sued later for unintentional injury or death. Even the compulsory good Samaritan laws only apply to people who are injured or ill, not being threatened by a mugger. If anything, the Seinfeld cast should have been commended for getting pictorial evidence of the crime. Not to mention the punishment for violating a good Samaritan law is a small fine ($100-$300) with no jail time, and, as already explained, stopping a mugging is not covered by any real Good Samaritan law.
And, regardless of how the Good Samaritan law itself is written, bringing in dozens of "character witnesses" to recount every misdeed the defendants have ever committed is still incredibly illegal under U.S. law. note Character witnesses can only called in if the defence tries to use the defendant's character as a defense, which is not the case here. The writers probably knew this and simply exaggerated the idea and played it for laughs.
And even then, the police officer that arrested them could only have done so by watching the entire robbery (his reflection is visible in the window before he appears), do absolutely nothing about it, then arrest four bystanders/witnesses to a violent crime with video evidence, for not doing his job, even with a completely fictional representation and gross exaggeration of actual laws.
In The Bottle Deposit, Newman and Kramer try to return bottles in Michigan for the higher deposit. Michigan prohibits out of state bottle returns, and limits returns to $25 a piece.
As Himself: Happens a few times, most notably when Keith Hernandez shows up and his friendship with Jerry becomes the basis of an episode.
Jerry himself is an example.
I gotta say, several of the New York Yankees are surprisingly good actors.
Ass Shove: In "The Fusilli Jerry," Kramer discusses this trope... and Frank demonstrates it.
Asshole Victim: The foursome. Deconstructed in the final episode. According to Word Of God, Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer had gotten away with being jerks so long it was time they paid the price.
Audience Surrogate: The main cast and the supporting characters are intended, to a large extent, to represent normal everyday people. To underline this, the main cast are essentially fictionalised versions of Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Kenny Kramer and several women dated by Seinfeld and David.
Audio Erotica: "The Tape" revolves around an erotic message that was left on Jerry's tape recorder by Elaine, which none of the guys know initially.
Speaking of bad dreams, Elaine had a nightmare that she had a foursome with Jerry, George, and Kramer in "The Slicer". This bit is usually cut for time in syndication.
In "The Bookstore", Jerry had a bad dream about Uncle Leo in prison, now buff from so many pull-ups and menacingly saying "Jerry... HELLO! Jerry... HELLO! Jerry... (phone rings) ANSWER THE DAMN PHONE!!!"
Banned Episode: One of the last episodes of the series, "The Puerto Rican Day", was initially pulled after its original broadcast, mainly because NBC felt the episode was too offensive with its depictions of Puerto Ricans, as well as a scene involving Kramer (accidentally) burning a Puerto Rico flag, causing an angry mob of Puerto Ricans trashing the streets, and vandalizing Jerry's car (to which, Kramer remarks, "It's like this every day in Puerto Rico."). As of 2010, certain local markets across the country had placed the episode back into their packages; but as of 2012, the episode is now back permanently in the syndication package (Kramer's line, "It's like this every day in Puerto Rico" is absent, though it could be a case of being Edited for Syndication).
Battle Discretion Shot: In "The Summer of George", Elaine and Raquel Welch's street fight isn't seen; we only get the reaction shots of the two cops, leering at the "cat fight".
Kramer pretending to be a detective to get into an apartment in "The Statue". He has also pretended to be a proctologist and wealthy investor, among other things.
Both Kramer and George have pretended to work at companies for which they were never actually hired.
Jerry and George impersonate two men called "O'Brien" and "Murphy" to ride in a limousine (they quickly regret it when they realize the people they were mistaken for are actually neo-Nazis, of course).
Kramer eats an ancient hot dog from the concession stand of a really old movie theater, to which the cashier responds "Are you out of your mind? That hot dog's been here since the silent era, you'd have to be insane to eat it." Predictably, Kramer becomes rather ill after tasting it.
After developing a craving for eating cake in the afternoon, Elaine consumes a piece of leftover wedding cake ... from the wedding of King Edward VIII ... that's worth $29,000 ... and over 60 years old.
Beyond the Impossible: Parodied as part of Jerry's ridicule of Kramer's claim that Keith Herandez spat on him. He traces the imaginary path of the spittle which involves changing directions and pausing in mid air. "that is one magic lugee." The point being to illustrate how impossible it was for the event to happen in real life.
Bi the Way: Apparently runs in the Ross family. Susan's father apparently once had a torrid love affair with author John Cheever and late in season 4 Susan is seen dating another woman, although in her case it's implied that it's a result of dating George, since at the end of the episode she starts dating the woman George dated after her.
Bizarro Universe: Elaine's new friend, Kevin. His friends include the charitable and well-dressed Gene; quiet and considerate next-door neighbor, Feldman; and a FedEx employee known only as "Fargus," whom Kevin is very jovial with. His apartment is a mirror-opposite of Jerry's, complete with a unicycle hanging on the wall, and a PC in place of Jerry's Mac.
When Jerry and Kramer have to switch apartments, Kramer become more sarcastic and reserved, while Jerry becomes more spastic and eccentric, even using Kramer's Catch Phrase "Giddy up!".
Black Comedy: Zig-zagged by George in "The Comeback" when his "jerk store" retort to Reilly fails.
George: ...Oh yeah? Well, I had sex with your wife!
Blind Without 'Em: George. Although he can apparently squint down to 20/20 vision without glasses.
Bluff The Eavesdropper: While in the diner waiting for a reporter who's going to do a story on Jerry, he and George notice a young woman eavesdropping on their conversation, so to mess with her they pretend to be gay for each other. It turns out that she's the reporter Jerry was waiting for, who then outs them in her school newspaper as gay. They try desparately to convince her that they're not gay — Not That There's Anything Wrong with That.
Book Ends: The real tragedy of the end of the series is that they've run out of things to talk about, and have started looping back on themselves.
Scenes of George and Jerry considering settling down with the women currently in their lives bookend Season 7.
The final lines of the show are about the top button on George's shirt. That was the first Seinfeldian discussion on the show.
Boomerang Bigot: In one episode George's mother rejects the advice of Jerry's girlfriend Donna Chang because she finds out (having previously talked to the woman only on the phone) that Donna is not Chinese. "I don't want to take the advice of some girl from Long Island!" she shouts.
Jerry: They really should mention that in the breakdown: height, weight, goiter.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Towards the beginning of "The Understudy," as Jerry is leaving his apartment with George, the two are talking about how hard it is to tell bad actors that they stink. Jerry then directly talks to the camera: "Just once I would like to tell someone they stink. You know what? I didn't like the show. I didn't like you. It just really stunk. The whole thing, real bad. Stinkaroo. Thanks for the tickets though."
Jerry winks at the camera at the end of "The Race," in homage to George Reeves as Superman.
George Costanza seems to have become this in the years after the series' end having nearly made the top 5 of various "Greatest Sitcom Characters" lists all by himself.
Brick Joke: The majority of episodes' subplots are arranged to have one of these in some way or another:
One episode had Jerry forget his girlfriend's name. Through a failed Batman Gambit, he finds out that it rhymes with a part of the female anatomy. His best guess is "Mulva," and the episode ends with "Mulva's" name ending up as a mystery. Some span of time later, we learn that her name was indeed his final guess Dolores.
In "The Puffy Shirt," George mentions that he won "a contest" to see who can go the longest without A Date with Rosie Palms. In "The Finale", it's revealed that he cheated.
Halfway through season four, Jerry's father finds his wallet missing after going to a doctor, and accuses him of stealing it, which is left unresolved. In the season finale, Jerry discovers it simply fell out of his pocket and between the couch cushions.
The closing credits of Season 9 tend towards this, including some soundbite from earlier in the episode in lieu of the Castlerock fanfare. As an example, in "The Dealership," an elderly character remarks that he could buy a candy bar for a nickel back in the day - later repeating "A nickel!" out of the blue. This example is actually a Double Subversion - it ends with the usual fanfare, but it fades out, and... "A nickel!"
California Doubling: For the most part unnoticable note For example, there are people who still think the second season premiere was filmed in New York, and not NBC's LA studio, but some parts it seems as though They Just Didn't Carenote If you can't tell, that's a California license plate on a New York taxi
Jerry's apartment is actually an LA building, with very noticeable earthquake retrofitting (the diamonds on the side).
The highway Kramer chases Jerry's mechanic on in The Bottle Deposit - said to be the Ohio SR 135 - is the Passadena Freeway.
Call Back: During the season 7 premiere, "The Engagement", George goes to the beach pier to re-evaluate his life. He starts thinking of Susan and how he'd like to give her another shot. He starts running and a flock of pigeons disperses as he runs towards them. This type of scene is used two more times, only with Jerry in George's place (the season 7 finale, "The Invitations", has Jerry contemplating whether he should marry Jeannie, while season 9's "The Voice" has Jerry contemplating whether he wants to keep seeing his latest girlfriend or dump her so he can do a silly voice).
George asking Jerry what kind of professions he would be best suited for first appears in "The Revenge" after he quits his job. This same type of conversation is revisited much later in the series (using the same staging and everything) in "The Slicer" when George is concerned that he'll get fired for the photo on Kruger's desk.
The Casanova: Over the course of the show, 73 women were shown or said to be dating and/or sleeping with Jerry, though that has more to do with his tendency to drop a girl at the slightest provocation than any of his supposed seduction skills.
Him being able to get a new woman each time he dumped another one, though, can be chalked up to either this trope or his "Even Steven" powers.
Kramer is said to have an inexplicable ability to land beautiful women.
George also has a quite impressive number of girlfriends over the show's run, despite how much he bemoans his difficulty with getting one.
Season 5's "The Marine Biologist". Jerry makes a high school friend believe George is a marine biologist. Kramer goes to the beach and hits golf balls into the ocean, never brought up again. Until the end, when George must rescue a whale from dying, and he finds an obstruction in its blowhole. It turns out to be one of the golf balls from earlier, and Kramer recognizes it when George regales the whale of a tale (sorry) to his friends.
In season 3's "The Keys" Jerry's girlfriend tells him "you were so fast with those keys" as they enter his apartment, pretending to be escaping a murderer. Seconds later Jerry demands Kramer hand in his spare key to Jerry's apartment.
Chekhov's Gunman: In season 3's "The Subway" Kramer meets a blind guy on the subway. Later he gets a hot tip on a horse race, bets on it, and wins a large sum of seanotes which a thug hunts him down for. It turns out the blind beggar from earlier was an undercover cop, who Kramer gave money to, and arrests the thug.
The Chew Toy: George Costanza. A trope named after him was eventually merged with this one.
Clip Show: Two of them: One in season 6, the other in season 9.
And the finale... sort of.
Closer to Earth: Subverted in the case of Elaine: she really only thinks she's closer to earth, when in reality, she is as bad as the other three. Exemplified best in "The Bizarro Jerry," where she dumps Jerry, George, and Kramer for well-adjusted, sophisticated doppelgangers, only to be dumped by the doppelgängers for being too eccentric violent.
This can also apply to Jerry, who is quite sane if he puts his mind to it, but usually doesn't care enough to clean his act up.
And Steinbrenner's Expies Fidel Castro and the President of Tyler Chicken.
Pretty much the entire cast actually, especially since there are no "FrankGrimes"-type characters with which to contrast them.
Cold Opening: One episode showed exactly what Kramer does when Jerry is out of town.
Comeback Tomorrow: The whole premise of George's subplot in "The Comeback"; he's told by co-worker Reilly, "The ocean called. They're running out of shrimp." He can't think of a comeback until later: "Oh yeah? Well the jerk store called; they're running out of you." George wants to re-enact the same scenario so he can deliver the comeback, but unfortunately for George, Reilly has transferred to a sister office in Akron, Ohio. George decides to fly there just to deliver the comeback. But when he does, Reilly retorts with "What does it matter? You're their all time best-seller!" George, unable to think of a witty comeback, blurts out: "Oh yeah? Well I had sex with your wife!" After being informed that Reilly's wife is in a coma, George feels guilty. However, on the car ride home, he thinks of a comeback for that line. And he turns the car around.
Elaine's quest to become a submarine captainnote (free sub) at Atomic Sub in "The Strike".
Kramer buys absurdly high amounts of food at the Price Club in "The Rye".
In "The Van Buren Boys" Peterman's surprisingly mundane private life includes collecting coupons.
Compressed Vice: George takes his shirt off in the bathroom and doesn't put it on properly again only in "The Gymnast".
Confessional: Jerry visits one in "The Yada Yada", although it's not so much to repent of sins, but to complain to the priest that Tim Whatley's making Jewish jokes.
The Confidant: In "The Hot Tub", Judy, a friend of Elaine's, confided in her that her baby was born out of wedlock. Elaine doesn't tell anybody except Jerry, but later in the episode Jean-Paul says hi and calls her baby a "cute little bastard" (a word he learned from George, who was using curse words to fit in with some Texas ball team managers). An offended Judy jumped to conclusions that Elaine told Jean-Paul her secret.
Control Freak: After George's therapist doesn't think the "Jerry" pilot script is funny, George accuses Jerry of being a control freak, having taken out all his good lines.
Covert Pervert: Many of the women Jerry dates, including one who had an entire closet full of contraceptive sponges. Although, to be fair, they had been discontinued, and women in the Seinfeld-verse are unflinchingly loyal to their preferred methods of birth control.
Kramer: Jerry, this relationship is killing me. The distance, the longing, the distance...
In "The Pool Guy" when George calls out to Jerry, Elaine, and Susan in the theater:
George: I know you're there, laughing at me! Laughing and lying and laughing!
Descended Creator: As the show went on, Larry David had more and more Creator Cameos usually seen only from behind or voicing unseen characters like George Steinbrenner, a part David continued to voice for some time after he had already left the series as a writer.
Did You Just Have Sex?: Jerry deduces that Elaine and Puddy are "backsliding" by her hair and the clothes she's wearing (the same as yesterday's). Later, she's shown with messy hair handing Jerry money, presumably because she lost their bet that she wouldn't do it again.
Disproportionate Retribution: The entire show is full of this. In "The Soup Nazi," the eponymous character refuses to serve Elaine because she annoys him. In the course of the episode, she ends up finding the Soup Nazi's recipes. What does she do? She uses the recipes to drive him out of business and force him to move to Argentina.
How about physically attacking someone over double dipping a chip?
In "The Dealership", George wanted the surly mechanic to be fired merely for getting a free Twix that was supposed to be George's had it not gotten stuck in the machine.
Jerry: I'll tell you, the sex... I mean, I was like an animal. I mean it was just completely uninhibited.
George: It's like going to the bathroom in front of a lot of people, and not caring.
Jerry: ...It's not like that at all.
Distaff Counterpart: In one episode, Jerry falls in love with a woman (Janeane Garofalo) who is exactly like him in every way. He even proposes to her, before realizing that he can't marry someone exactly like him ... because he hates himself. They then have the perfect mutual break-up.
Distant Prologue: If you watch "The Betrayal" in sequential order, the episode begins years ago when Jerry first moved across the hall from Kramer.
Kramer: Well, I signed up for a food delivery service, Now We're Cookin'. That's a play on words.
Door Focus: Happens when Kramer yells at Jerry about him wanting to reclaim a phone number of a woman he was trying to stop seeing. Kramer storms out and slams the door and a beat later he comes back in to grab the cereal and milk he was borrowing off of Jerry's counter. Then he leaves again.
Dump Them All: In the backwards episode, one woman chooses this solution.
Dying Declaration of Love: It's debatable that Elaine almost told Jerry she loved him in "The Finale Part 1" because she thought their plane would crash. But the plane straightens out before she can finish her sentence. Also debatable that Russel Dalrymple did this in "The Pilot 2" when he is seen drifting away and a fellow Greenpeace member is shouting "I'll remember her name! Elaine Benes! I'll write to her. I'll tell her all about you and what you did out here!"
Episode-specific example: In "The Susie", George and Kramer, acting like a bickering couple, are at a ball. During a scuffle, George accidentally rips the back of Kramer's tux, causing Kramer to twirl towards some spectators. Wilhelm: "Wow! What an entrance!"
Early Installment Weirdness: The pilot features a different theme song; Jerry is living in a studio apartment with a grey leather couch and a skylight; Kramer (actually, "Kessler") knocks on the door, owns a dog, and is agoraphobic; the hangout is a place called Pete's Luncheonette rather than Monk's; and Elaine is absent (it appears that a deadpan waitress at Pete's was meant to be the major female character).
The earlier seasons also had a lot more of a lax tone, and episodes were slower-paced (especially ones that took place in one location, such as "The Chinese Restaurant" or "The Parking Garage"); most likely because of the "show about nothing" premise.
Eating Lunch Alone: Elaine pretends to live in the janitor's closet of the apartment building across the street because her building isn't in the delivery zone for a certain Chinese restaurant known for their flounder. She says this is preferable to eating it alone in the restaurant "like some loser".
George eats alone at Reggie's twice in the series: First, in "The Soup" when he can't confront the waitress that he dated, and later in "The Pool Guy" when he eats there out of protest that Susan getting chummy with his friends is making his worlds "collide".
Edited for Syndication: Most episodes feature little dialog cuts here and there to save time for more commercials. The episode which suffers the worst in this regard is "The Yada Yada", as it originally ran 26 minutes in its NBC premiere.
Since 2010, most markets air the episodes in a cropped format (similar to a x1.2 zoom on most DVD players), and as such, all on-screen titles (opening credits, closing credits, subtitles, etc) have been changed accordingly. Some episodes also have either repositioned the show logo in the opening, or left alone, resulting in half of the 'S' in Seinfeld being cut off.
Euphemism Buster: In "The Phone Message", after a date, George's girlfriend asked him if he wanted to come up to her apartment for coffee. George replied, "I can't drink coffee late at night, it keeps me up." The date ended, and only later did George realize she was alluding to sex.
Even Beggars Won't Choose It: In one episode, Elaine sells muffin tops, and needs to dispose of the stumps (making them without stumps just isn't the same, you see). Both a homeless shelter and a garbage dump reject them.
Jerry finally rids himself of the unkillable B.O. in his car by just abandoning the car on the street and handing the keys over to some bum. The episode ends with a freeze frame of his expression after getting in the car, which indicates he didn't bother keeping it.
Jerry finds himself suddenly repulsed by his Girl of the Week and unable to kiss her after discovering that she not only went out with Newman, but that Newman was the one who ended the relationship. The thought of dating someone who is below the standards of someone he doesn't think should even have standards in the first place is just too much for him to bear.
Jerry: All I could think of when I was looking at her face... was that Newman found this unacceptable!
Fantastic Racism: Played for laughs in "The Yada Yada" when Jerry is annoyed that his dentist Tim Whatley (who recently converted to Judaism) is making so many Jewish jokes. However, Jerry is chided by Tim for telling a dentist joke, proclaiming Jerry has no idea what his people (that is, the dentists) have been through.
Kramer: You think that dentists are so different from me and you? They came to this country just like everybody else, in search of a dream!
Jerry: Kramer, he's just a dentist.
Kramer: Yeah, and you're an anti-dentite.
Jerry: I am not an anti-dentite!
Kramer: You're a rabid anti-dentite! Oh, it starts with a few jokes and some slurs. "Hey! Denty!" Next thing, you're saying they should have their own schools!
In one episode, Elaine thinks the guy she's going out with is black, but she's not quite sure, and spends the episode trying to find out without directly asking. It turns out he had been thinking Elaine was Hispanic.
In another episode, Jerry falls for a woman named Chang over the phone, believing that she's Chinese - but it turns out she's Jewish. The family name was originally "Changstein."
Fawlty Towers Plot: Many examples, the best being "The Wizard," where George drives to the far eastern tip of Long Island before "blinking" first.
Flanderization: Everyone goes through some level of this, except arguably Jerry.
His neat-freak tendencies grew, somewhat.
They deliberately had to flanderize George's idiocy; because he wore glasses, people insisted on seeing him as The Smart Guy, to the point where the writers had to have him openly proclaim himself "Lord of the Idiots."
In another episode George calls out these people by mentioning that a lot of people think he is smart when he really isn't.
Flashback Cut: In "The Library", there's a brief cutaway to Jerry and George in high school during the '70s, when Jerry lends George "Tropic of Cancer" after gym class.
For the Evulz: George Steinbrenner once threatened to move the Yankees to New Jersey "...just to upset people!"
Foreshadowing: In the episode "The Rye", Elaine tells Jerry "You know, one of these days, something terrible is going to happen to you. It has to!" Come the series finale, and not only does something terrible happen to Jerry (not that it bothers him), it happens to Elaine too. Woops.
For Inconvenience, Press "1": In "The Pool Guy" Kramer enjoys playing an Interactive Voice Responder to callers who misdialed Moviefone's number. Made all the funnier when the actual responder goes to Kramer's apartment because Kramer had been taking all his business, and talks exactly like the hotline.
Fourth Date Marriage: Kramer's friend Mickey marries one of the two girls he and Kramer are double-dating after only a few dates. Made funnier in that she confesses to having wanted Kramer all along.
Freak Out: Jerry loses it in "The Diplomat's Club" after getting bugged about every little detail by his assistant.
Friends Rent Control: Despite being able to live in a decent one-bedroom Manhattan apartment, Kramer holds down nothing resembling a steady job. He gets by by mooching most of his food off of Jerry and playing with various odd jobs (department store Santa, film extra, babysitter, illness actor for medical interns, the list goes on) and money-making schemes. Some of these are actually quite successful, like when he wins $18,000 dollars at the horse track in an early episode, and later gets his coffee table book about coffee tables published and eventually optioned as a movie (allegedly making him enough money to "retire" to Florida briefly). Subverted in that it's never handwaved as being rent control, but also vaguely plausible at times. The real Kramer managed to live comfortably off royalties from a piece of electronic disco jewellery he invented in the seventies.
An early episode, back when George was in real estate, implies that the building is pretty cheap. An entire episode revolves around trying to move Jerry into a better building as he can afford much better.
Averted with George moving in with his parents in season 5.
Friends with Benefits: Jerry and Elaine try to do this in "The Deal". Lampshaded with George telling Jerry An Aesop about how it can't be done. Turns out George was right.
The season 5 premiere, "The Mango", features a Call Back to this premise after Jerry discovers Elaine faked orgasms with him when they were dating, which put him in a foul mood.
Elaine: We have to have sex to save the friendship!
Good Counterpart: In "The Bizarro Jerry," Elaine realizes that Kevin is largely this to Jerry. He even lives in an apartment which is a mirror-reflection of Jerry's apartment, keeps a model of Bizarro he has friends who are also all good counterparts to George, Kramer, and Newman.
Good Is Dumb: Kramer seems to be Larry David's Author Tract on how being unselfish and caring for people makes you an idiot.
Frank: I have good news and bad news, and they're both the same: You're fired.
Gossip Evolution: In "The Maid", Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine were sitting at a counter in Monk's. Elaine was on one end of the line, and Kramer was at the other end. Elaine told Jerry that she got a new phone number because an old lady in the building died. Kramer, not fully hearing Elaine, heard "Newman died" instead.
Half-Human Hybrid: In "The Bris", Kramer is convinced he saw a half man, half pig in the hospital, which he dubs "Pigman".
Halfway Plot Switch: Jerry's idea to perform "The Switch" doesn't come up until halfway into the episode, when he meets his girlfriend's roommate and Kramer's first name has been revealed.
Handshake Refusal: Elaine's boss has a cold. Having left his handkerchief in Elaine's office, he sneezes into his hand and is unable to shake the hand of a Japanese businessman when he sneezes, explaining that he can't because of the germs. The Japanese men assume he is implying that they might be diseased and cancel their business dealings.
George: ...Neither am I... (after a pause, they yell for Kramer to get in there to break the awkward silence)
The Heckler: Jerry got frustrated when Elaine brought a friend to the show who was too excitable over his humor (it distracts both the comic and the audience and the person hasn't really said anything). Jerry gets even by going to her job and heckling her.
Hellistics: Many of the events one character caused ended up biting another character in the ass...
Here We Go Again: The series finale ends with Jerry and George having thesame conversation they did in the pilot.
Heterosexual Life Partners: Jerry and George. George more-or-less admits to himself that the one thing he wants more than anything is a female version of Jerry that he can sleep with. Eventually he gets it, and freaks out because Kramer mentions it.
Hidden in Plain Sight: George's glasses, in the episode of the same name, are revealed to be on the top of his locker at the gym.
Homoerotic Subtext : Jerry and George, which was lampshaded in "The Outing." Between Jerry and Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez in "The Boyfriend."
Pfft, those are nothing compared to Kramer/Jerry. Case in point: "The Kiss Hello." After a rant about how Jerry hates kissing, Kramer passionately kissed him.
Best part? It was never mentioned again.
No, the best part is that George walks in on it, stares, and then slowly backs out of the room and closes the door behind him.
Susan's father is revealed to have had a passionate affair with gay author John Cheever in his first appearance, though it's never mentioned again.
Hype Backlash: An in-universe example. Elaine hates The English Patient, and everyone she talks to loves it, including her boyfriend (who leaves her because of it), the waitress at Monk's (who refuses to serve her after finding out she hates it) and her boss (who forces her to watch it until she agrees to travel to Tunisia just so she'll never have to see it again).
Hypocrisy Nod: In "The Burning", George is flabergasted that Kruger is eating in Monk's when he's supposed to be helping George out with a big project. After asking Kruger to get back to work, George remarks to Jerry:
I Am Not Spock: It's happened to pretty much every cast member except Jerry Seinfeld. Particularly Wayne Knight. On one instance, after a bad day, he snapped at someone who greeted him with "Hello, Newman...".
On the other hand, Jason Alexander once appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher, and one of his fellow panelists agreed with him by saying "You know, George is right..." Cue a big "OOOOOOOH" from the audience. Alexander, however, laughed it off with a good-sported remark that "Hey, I'm still getting the royalty checks."
Alexander also got into a bit of quote call-backs during some hands at the 2010 World Series of Poker, and once mentioned he was grateful for George Constanza, because he'd otherwise be known as the guy who tried to rape Julia Roberts.
During the Laugh Factory incident, various media outlets kept referring to Michael Richards as Kramer, to the point that the real Kramer, Kenny Kramer, issued a statement saying that he personally was not a racist.
And all four cast members reunited for an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: With the exception of exactly one episode ("Male Unbonding," which was the first post-pilot episode produced - though not the first to be aired), every episode starts with "The".
If I Had a Nickel: In "The Rye", where George's parents, Frank and Estelle, have dinner with the parents of his fiancée, Susan Ross:
Estelle: I couldn't help but notice that you have quite a library in there. Mrs. Ross: If I had a dime for every book he's actually read, I'd be broke.
I Love You Man: One of Jerry's odd behaviours (ie. showing emotions) in "The Serenity Now" is telling his friends how much he loves them.
Impossibly Delicious Food: The Mackinaw peaches ("The Doodle"), "The Soup Nazi['s]" soups, and the non-fat yogurt (so good, it causes Jerry to curse!). Several other foodstuffs fall into this category, but only through Newman's, Kramer's or George's eyes.
Incompetence, Inc.: Many, but especially Kruger Industrial Smoothing, where George works for the final season and where no one seems to do any work.
George: Hey, I work for Kruger Industrial Smoothing: "We don't care and it shows."
Ed from "The Fatigues" claims to be Jewish, despite his arms being covered in tattoos.
Not all Jews don't have tattoos, just like not all Jews are Kosher (Jerry being both a real-life and in-universe example of the latter).
Inner Monologue: Occurs occasionally. Jerry has quite a few when he, George, and Kramer go to see Tor in "The Heart Attack":
Tor: You see, you are in disharmony. The throat is the gateway to the lung. Tonsillitis, adenoiditis, is, in Chinese medical terms, and invasion of heat and wind.
Jerry: (thinking) There's some hot air blowin' in here.
Elaine has a rather lengthy one in "The Subway" when the subway train grinds to a halt:
Elaine: (thinking) Oh, this is great. This is what I need, just what I need. Okay, take it easy, I'm sure it's nothing. Probably rats on the track, we're stopping for rats. God, it's so crowded. How can there be so many people? This guy really smells. Doesn't anyone use deodorant in the city? What is so hard, you take the cap off, you roll it on. What's that? I feel something rubbing against me. Disgusting animals, these people should be in a cage. We are in a cage. What if I miss the wedding? I got the ring. What'll they do? You can't get married without the ring. Oh, I can't breathe, I feel faint! Take it easy, it'll start moving soon. Think about the people on the concentration camps, what they went through. And hostages, what would you do if you were a hostage? Think about that. This is nothing. No, it's not nothing, it's something. It's a nightmare! Help me! Move it! Com'on move this (bleeping) thing!! Why isn't it moving?! What can go wrong with a train?! It's on tracks, there's no traffic! How can a train get stuck. Step on the gas! What could it be? You'd think the conductor would explain it to us! "I'm sorry there's a delay we'll be moving in 5 minutes!" I wanna hear a voice. What's that on my leg?!
Innocent Bigot: Jean-Paul in "The Hot Tub", who is from Trinidad and doesn't know a lot of English slang. He learns some words he doesn't fully know for Seinfeld and the gang, which backfires when he sees a mother with a baby in the hallway of Elaine's apartment and says "Aw, look at the cute little bastard!" The woman is offended, since she had the baby out of marriage, and Jean-Paul gets in further trouble when he innocently calls the building manager a son of a bitch.
Kavorka Man: Trope Namer. Used to describe Kramer, but applies equally to George. When asked how George kept dating gorgeous women, the best answer his actor could give was, "He's very...persistent...?"
Newman is also an example as he's been seen dating or having dated some very attractive women.
Jerry also does alright.
Kicked Up Stairs: Elaine did this to a mail room worker in "The Fatigues"; instead of firing him for late mail delivery, she promoted him to writer when she saw he wore combat fatigues and had a gruff voice. Once he began writing for the catalog, she promoted him again after he freaked out the other workers with his dark poetry (she made him Director of Corporate Development, which got him out of the writer room). This didn't go over well with the other writers.
Killed Off for Real: George's fiancee Susan died from licking defective envelopes for their wedding invitations. Russel Dalrymple is killed by whalers after Elaine (unintentionally) convinces him to quit his job and join Greenpeace.
Knuckle Tattoos: In Jerry's nightmare, Uncle Leo has "JERRY" and "HELLO" tattooed on his fingers.
Lampshade Hanging: Done in season 7's "The Checks": Jerry and George discuss pitching their failed pilot "Jerry" to Japanese executives who would air the show in Japan. George argues that the reason it would do better in Japan than over here is because it has more novelty, whereas when you turn on the TV in America, "all you see is four morons sitting 'round an apartment, whining about their dates."
Also, in season 9's "The Cartoon", Newman remarks to Sally Weaver that he loves her one-woman show and that it's refreshing to see a show that's actually about something and looks snidely at Jerry in the process. Obviously, this is a play on the whole "Show About Nothing" tagline when talking about the series.
That, and her show consisted of nothing but insulting Jerry. Newman would like it.
In season 4's "The Wallet", there is a standup bit from Jerry about cliffhanger episodes shortly before the episode ends in one.
Long List: In "The Little Kicks", George remarks that a woman is attracted to him for being the "bad boy". He says he's never been the bad boy before, to which Jerry rattles off a long list of other "bad" roles he's played.
Jerry: You've been the bad employee, the bad son, the bad friend...
George: Yes, yes...
Jerry: The bad fiancé, the bad dinner guest, the bad credit risk...
George: OK, the point is made.
Jerry: The bad date, the bad sport, the bad citizen... (George leaves) The bad tipper!
Low Speed Chase: When George gets a scooter-chair in "The Butter Shave", the show's climax features him slowly driving down the street, being chased by a group of old folks who are also on scooter-chairs.
There's also a low speed chase in "The Big Salad", which parodied the then-recent O.J. Simpson highway chase.
Madden Into Misanthropy: George gets so upset with how his luck has been going that he decides to go ahead and do the opposite of what he would normally does. The girl he was trying to woo became his despite him saying he still lives with his parents and was unemployed. He also finds his own place And gets a job with the New York Yankees after telling off George Steinbrenner about how he's run the team into the ground in the past two decades.
Make a Wish: Jerry's latest girlfriend, whom he had dubbed "Man Hands" (due to having large hands for a woman), picked an eyelash from Jerry's face. She told him to make a wish, and after Jerry blew the eyelash off her finger, he looked at Man Hands's hands and said, "Didn't come true", obviously hinting that he wished her hands would've shrunk.
Thoroughly explored in the backwards episode "The Betrayal" - Kramer's plotline "begins" with FDR wishing he would drop dead, and is spent with the two of them counterwishing and re-wishing that using most of the methods on the trope page. At one point, he finds a shooting star and shouts "I wish I don't drop dead!" only to have an annoyed man downstairs telling him to drop dead, continuing the chain.
Jerry and George miss Kramer as he comes out of a store in "The Trip".
Missing Episode: "The Puerto Rican Day" has a scene where Kramer (accidentally) burns a Puerto Rican flag. Many viewers were highly offended, and NBC decided to leave the episode out of syndication for several years. Although it does occasionally air on local stations today, many stations still skip it (including TBS) and those that don't often cut out the flag-burning scene. You can see it uncut on DVD, though.
For a time, "The Invitations" was removed from syndication because Susan dropping dead from licking toxic envelopes reminded people of the anthrax mail scares. It returned to rotation in summer 2002.
An episode called "The Bet" was scripted but never produced. When the script, whose plot revolved around Elaine buying a gun, reached the table read stage, it came off as unfunny and unnecessarily dark. Pretty much everyone present realized on the spot that the concept wouldn't work, so the entire script was shelved.
"The Bet" lives on as an Internet urban legend in the form of a "creepypasta" story alleging the episode was filmed and all but one copy destroyed. Naturally, the episode supposedly contains disturbing and supernatural phenomena happening to the actors and crew.
Mistaken for Racist: George accidentally offends a black co-worker after noting his resemblance to Sugar Ray Leonard.
Though, at the end of the episode, a black waiter actually mistakes the man for Sugar Ray.
Unfortunately for George though, the man had already gotten fed up with George and left before this happened.
Jerry when he gives Elaine a Cigar Store Indian in front of her Native American friend. After apologizing, he goes on a date with her and messes it up again by asking a mailman for directions to a nearby Chinese restaurant. The mailman turns out to be Chinese and gets offended.
Mock Millionaire: Kramer attempted multiple times to pull this off under the pseudonym H.E. Pennypacker. Jerry also tried it once using the name Kel Varnsen ("Advantage Varnsen!"), as did George as Art Vandelay.
Parodied in-universe in "The Race" when George, pretending to be a multi-millionaire, enters Monk's Diner and Jerry wonders why such a rich person would be there, why he doesn't have better shoes, etc.
Motive Decay: Geoge hits this hard in the episode "The Dealership". He's hungry, so he tries to get a Twix bar out of a vending machine. Twix bar doesn't come out, so George leaves for assitance, comes back with a manager, Twix bar is gone, and George sees the janitor has taken it. The janitor insists he took a 5th Avenue bar, but George says he's lying and can tell the difference. George creates a "candy line-up", made up of candy bars that he paid for, and in the end were all Twix candies anyway! And the Twix candies get stolen by the dealership employees before George can present the line-up! Keep in mind this all got started because George was simply hungry. He could have easily just eaten the other Twix bars he bought for the line-up! Epic. Fail.
Kramer himself when he drinks one too many caffè lattes.
Sally Weaver. She annoyed Kramer so much that he broke his vow of silence to tell her to shut up.
Must Make Her Laugh: In "The Switch", Jerry is dating Sandy, a woman who never laughs, only says "That's funny." while barely smiling. Jerry tries multiple jokes on her before deciding he likes Sandy's roommate better and wants to attempt the switch.
Inverted in another episode where Jerry tries to be as mopey and depressing as possible so he won't upstage George on a date. Turns out she finds him more interesting that way.
No More Lies: Subverting this is a specialty of George's. Ofttimes it will be plain that continuing whatever lie he started with will harm him more than help him (most famously with Susan's parents) but he will, on principle, perpetuate the falsehood.
Kramer in "The Wig Master" when he wants to sleep in Jerry's bed when he's locked out of his apartment.
Not Distracted by the Sexy: Jerry to his nudist girlfriend in "The Apology"; she's nude so much that he's become desensitized to it and actually is repulsed by some of the things she does while naked, such as crouching and opening pickle jars.
Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Seen in "The Contest"; Jerry and George are looking at the naked woman across the street, and Elaine tests them by saying she's been selected to go to Mars. "Uh-huh" and "Have a good time." are the responses she gets.
Seinfeld, a Jewish man, tests this with a friend who won't listen by saying Hezbollah invited him for a gig.
No Theme Tune: The show doesn't really have an opening sequence to speak of, just the title superimposed over the action already in progress. However, in the early seasons, they at least played the theme underneath Jerry's stand-up act. But as the seasons progressed and the stand-up was excised, the show didn't even play the theme song, just a couple random transition notes over the superimposed title.
Not So Great Escape: George builds an elaborate sleeping space under his desk. Later, Steinbrenner (his boss) comes looking for him and, not seeing him sleeping under the desk, spends the afternoon waiting for George to "come back." George eventually gets out of it by calling in a bomb threat. Later in the episode (after George is out), Steinbrenner hears George's ticking alarm clock in the desk and calls the bomb squad.
Not What It Looks Like: In "The Maid", Jerry giving his girlfriend some money he owed her, which made it look like he was hiring a prostitute to a police officer.
A non-sexual example: In "The Shower Head", Kramer is desperately pleading to take a shower at Elaine's apartment because his building installed low-flow shower heads. Of course, J. Peterman only hears part of the conversation and mistakes him for a drug addict.
Kramer: Jerry's got nothing. Newman's got nothing. You're the only one I know who's got the good stuff, and I need it bad, baby, cause I feel like I got bugs crawling up my skin! Now you gotta help me out!
Peterman: NOT ON MY WATCH!!! (grabs Kramer) I won't have you turning my office into a den of iniquity! Get your fix somewhere else! (throws Kramer out)
Obfuscating Disability: In a two-parter, George does this at his new job to receive special treatment. In another episode, Kramer does it by accident due to being doped up on vicodin from a dentist's visit and ends up the guest of honour at a charity dinner for the mentally challenged.
One Steve Limit: George tries to get everyone at his office to nickname him "T-Bone", but fails when they bestow it to someone else who makes a single mention of enjoying steak. He finds himself in a difficult situation because he refuses to let go of the nickname but his boss is quite adamant that there can be only one person with that nickname in the whole office. It seems he runs a very tight ship.
George Costanza and George Steinbrenner
Susie, Jackie Chile's secretary, and Susie the invented individual at the J. Peterman Catalog.
Tony, Elaine's mimbo (and George's man-crush) in "The Stall" and Tony, the maniacal auto mechanic in the 2-parter "The Bottle Deposit".
Bob Cobb prefers to be called "Maestro", to the point where George doesn't even know who Jerry is talking about when he says "Bob Cobb".
Jerry: Hey George, do you believe this guy?
Jerry: Bob Cobb.
George: "Bob Cobb"??
Jerry: You know, "Maestro".
George: Oh, I missed the Maestro?
Airplane passenger Vegetable Lasagna is referred to as this by Elaine and Puddy in "The Butter Shave".
On Second Thought: In "The Finale Part 1", George rejects the new NBC president's suggestion that they incorporate more "relationship humor" into the show Jerry. The president then suggests they not do the show at all, to which George says, "...Or we could get them together!"
Peterman: All right, brace yourself, Lubeck. You are about to be launched via pastry back to the wedding of one of the most dashing and romantic Nazi sympathizers of the entire British royal family.
Parallel Parking: The conflict in "The Parking Space": George and Mike get into a fight on who should get a spot: George, who was parallel parking, or Mike, who just decided to pull in front first. It's never solved by episode's end, because both think they're right.
In "The Postponement", Kramer does a poor job of parallel parking, bumping both the front and rear cars while parking. Though in Kramer's defense, the spot was incredibly tight, and he drives a behemoth 1973 Chevrolet Impala.
Parking Payback: George nearly gets lynched for parking in a disable parking space.
Percussive Maintenance: Done by Kramer with a Xerox machine at a financial company in "The Bizarro Jerry". This, Kramer's attitude and his clothes convinced people that he was employed there.
Perfectly Cromulent Word: The New Yorker's response to Elaine asking why a particular cartoon in their magazine was supposed to be funny: "Vorshtein?"
Perp Sweating: Parodied. In "The Package", Newman attempts to do this to Jerry, when he suspects him of committing mail fraud. It backfires since the lamp is positioned over his chair, rather than Jerry's.
Police Lineup: "The Beard", where Kramer volunteers to be in a police line-up to make $50.
Poor Man's Porn: George Costanza was caught with a copy of Glamour, which led to the infamous "contest".
Pose of Silence: parodied with George and Jerry hiding their mouths from a deaf lip-reader in order to talk about her while she is sitting at the same table. As it turned out, she knew exactly what they were saying anyway.
Prenup Blowup: George tries to invoke this with Susan. It doesn't work.
Prima Donna Director: In "The Little Kicks" after one of Kramer's associates threatened him into bootlegging a movie, Jerry discovers a hidden talent for cinmeatography. When he's "hired" to bootleg another film, he first sees the new film to know what to expect, and won't work unless he was additional camera operators throughout the theatre and walkie-talkies to keep in contact with them.
Product Placement: Despite the widespread belief that the show had intentional plugs for Snapple and other products, it was not sponsored by them in any way.
Rare Vehicles: Kramer's 1973 Chevy Impala, one of only 1000 experimental models built with airbags (usingOldsmobile dashboards) and George's 1984 Chrysler Lebaron Town and Country convertible, one of only 500 made that year.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Two endings were shot for "The Non-Fat Yogurt" depending on the outcome of the NYC Mayoral election. They used the ending that reflected Rudy Giuliani being elected.note His high cholesterol, caused by the allegedly "fat-free" yogurt, apparently made him appeal more to average New Yorkers.
Had David Dinkins been re-elected, Jackie Chiles would've debuted as a spokesman for the Dinkins campaign, apologizing for the "Name-Tag" fiasco thought up by Elaine, and executed by her then-boyfriend (and Dinkins aide) Lloyd Braun.
Reality Has No Subtitles: Several one-shot and minor foreign characters spoke fluent, uninterrupted languages of their respective nationalities, occasionally without the aid of subtitles, such as The Soup Nazi, and Kramer's Hispanic friend that showed up for one episode and was never spoken of again, relying on the Rule of Funny and Rule of Drama, as they can fluently speak English if need be.
Rearrange the Song: The "Seinfeld" theme is remixed for the two clip show episodes, season 6's "Highlights of a Hundred", and season 9's "The Clip Show". The latter remix was particularly distinct, adding in new instruments not usually used.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: George plans to give one of these to a woman he had a bad date with years ago (she was a performance artist who got chocolate all over his shirt) but is upstaged by a woman who sees Jerry and gives one to him instead.
Kramer more or less gives one to George in "The Keys" when he asks him a series of questions designed to prove that George is wasting his life.
George: What you call wasting, I call living.
Kramer: Okay, like what? Tell me. Do you have a job?
Kramer: You got money?
Kramer: You got a woman?
Kramer: Do you have any prospects?
George: (growing more and more depressed) Uh... no.
Kramer: Do you have any action at all?
Kramer: Do you have any conceivable reason for even getting up in the morning?
George: ...I like to get The Daily News...
Kramer: George, it's time for us to grow up... (beats chest) and be men.
Reset Button In the finale of Season 2, Jerry and Elaine decide to start having casual sex with each other. However, as dictated by the rule of Sex Equals Love, this causes their feelings for each other to resurface, and the final scene implies that they have rekindled their relationship. The writers later agreed they didn't want to take this any further and the solution was to completely forget about it from the start of Season 3.
The Reveal: Kramer's first name (Cosmo) was a mystery for the show's first six years. When we finally found out what it was, they managed to write the entire episode around the revelation, and NBC advertised it as a major television event.
Reveal Shot: Peterman in a phone booth that turns out to be in Burma in "The Foundation".
Reunion Show: It didn't have a real reunion show; however, in the series Curb Your Enthusiasm, where co-creator Larry David plays a fictionalized version of himself, there was a storyline in which he reunited the cast (who played themselves, and themselves playing the Seinfeld characters) for a reunion show.
We never see the whole thing, but we do get a good idea of the reunion show's plot and a few scenes from it.
Discussed in "The Bris." Jerry tells a skeptical George that there certainly are women who would find a Pigman attractive.
Jerry: Believe me, there'd be plenty of women going for these pigmen. Whatever the deform is, there's always some group of perverts that's attracted it it. [Singsong voice] Oooh, that little tail turns me on!
Running Gag: Any reference to the name "Art Vandelay", as well as George's ambition to be an architect (or to pretend he is one).
Jerry got himself an amazing stable of girlfriends on a near weekly basis just so they could have a gag at the end where she would storm out over whatever element of the plot offended her and Jerry would stand in the doorway calling back "What's wrong?!"
During season 6: "Hi, Mr. Pitt! Is Elaine there?"
Repeated references to 'Rochelle, Rochelle.' note A young girl's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.
Someone (usually George) calls someone else (usually Jerry) requiring some insane help, and the callee will respond "Who is this?"
Sadist Teacher: Mr. Hayman, George's gym teacher in high school. He would always call George "Can't-stand-ya", and even gave him a wedgie. He gives George a second wedgie 25 years later, an atomic one this time.
Same Language Dub: Famously, George Steinbrenner was physically portrayed by Lee Bear and at least one other actor, and voiced by Larry David. David also voiced SaddamHussein in "The Dinner Party".
Sassy Black Woman: The clerk at the thrift store when George tries to return his 'bathroom book.' She first appeared in "The Muffin Tops" as a woman who hassles Elaine for trying to unload muffin stumps on the homeless.
Scrabble Babble: According to Kramer in "The Stake Out", when a patient gets difficult, a doctor quones them.
Screwed by the Network: An in-universe example. Jerry and George had been pushing for a long time to get their "show about nothing" approved by NBC. Finally, their first episode is aired and is successful. However, at the same time, the head executive who had approved the show goes AWOL and is replaced by a vindictive woman who cancels the show out of spite.
Seamless Spontaneous Lie: In "The Sponge" Jerry calls a woman whose number he got off an AIDS walk list, and glosses over that by mentioning he was shopping for a speedboat.
Second Episode Introduction: Elaine doesn't appear in the pilot because the character had not yet been created. She was added to the second episode when NBC demanded that a woman be added to the show or they'd cancel it.
One episode had Jerry and Elaine stuck at a party with people they didn't even know waiting for Kramer to arrive. Kramer didn't show up until several hours after the party had ended and in the mean time they were forced to engage in... gasp... small talk.
Seinfeldian Conversation: The first episode opens with Jerry and George talking about how the second button on the latter's shirt is too high 'in no man's land' and this continues for nine seasons.
Whether or not Iron Man wears anything underneath.note He does
Why chocolate fudge should be on the bottom of the sundae.
"You know so much about nothing".
The missing lyrics to a certain song from Les Miserables.
Ending in the Series Finale in a Brick Joke where the first conversation from the first episode is brought up, in prison.
Senior Sleep Cycle: Jerry's parents, to the point that they eat dinner at 4 in the afternoon and consider waking up at 5:30 a.m. to be sleeping in.
Serial Killer: The Lopper from "The Frogger". Why "The Lopper"? Because he goes around lopping off people's heads.
Serious Business: George had a habit of taking little things personally, and going far out of the way to achieve his idea of "justice." See "X Called ..." below for a good example.
Jerry and George's argument about whether Iron Man wears underwear under his outfit. Note
In case you're wondering, he's usually in some kind of clothing or bodysuit, except for the Extremis and Bleeding Edge versions.
George: (angrily) And I still say he's naked under there!
Show Within a Show: In addition to the ill-fated TV pilot Jerry and George try to produce, numerous fictional movies often appear, some of which play a major role in the plot and many of which are mentioned more than once. Many of them are based on actual screenplays some of the show's writers unsuccessfully tried to pitch. Notable ones include:
The aforementioned Rochelle Rochelle, which later got a Tony-nominated musical adaptation.
Scarsdale Surprise, a musical about the highly publicized murder of Dr. Herman Tarnower.
Sock It To Them: Kramer and Newman reverse their peepholes "so they can tell if somebody is hiding in their apartments with a sock filled with pennies". Later in the episode, an acquaintance is attacked by their superintendent (under the belief that he was sleeping with his wife) a sock of pennies.
Some of My Best Friends Are X: George desperately tries to get a black friend in "The Diplomat Club" so that Morgan will think he's not racist. He ends up calling a guy that fumigated Jerry's apartment in "The Doodle".
"The Chicken Roaster" had Jerry and Elaine on the phone before Jerry was put on hold so Elaine could talk to the company accountant, at which point it cuts to three screens. However, Elaine forgot about Jerry after being made nervous by the accountant and left Jerry hanging on the other end. "Hello?..........Anybody?"
"The Millennium" had Jerry switching back and forth between two women (thus, two different split screens) as he tried to work out the speed dial controversy.
Springtime for Hitler: George's attempt to get fired from the Yankees in "The Millennium". While the first two attempts failed and thus played this trope straight (wearing a Babe Ruth jersey and spilling strawberries on it; streaking on the field while wearing a flesh-colored body suit), the trope was almost averted when George drove around the parking lot of Yankee Stadium yelling demeaning things about the club and Steinbrenner, all while dragging the World Series trophy. If only Wilhelm hadn't taken the credit for all of it and was fired in George's place...
Such a Phony: Elaine to George in "The Postponement", where she is jealous of his engagement, and the Trope Name Drop and partly off-screen example of Mike Moffitt and Jerry in "The Parking Space".
Suddenly Sexuality: Susan. Dated George for several episodes, but then became a lesbian at the drop of a hat. Went back to men because her lesbianism "didn't take."
After receiving a somewhat erotic massage from a male masseuse, from which George admits that he got an erection from, he spends the rest of the episode being a closeted homosexual. This only lasted an episode, of course.
Supreme Chef: The Soup Nazi - which is why everyone (except for Elaine) put up with his behaviour.
The Tag: When the episodes got more packed with story material, it became regular for an additional scene over the closing credits. The first two seasons had still photos of Jerry's stand-up act over the closing credits, but due to the longer running times of the earlier seasons, Jerry's closing stand-up was edited to become The Tag in syndication.
Take Our Word for It: Several times, such as the horrific B.O. in Jerry's car, in "The Smelly Car" the eponymous character's knee-buckling soup in "The Soup Nazi", the dot on the cashmere sweater in "The Red Dot" or Elaine's erotic message in "The Tape".
Also the horrific results of George's girlfriend badly-performed nose job in, what else, "The Nose Job". We only see her from the back during those scenes.
In the episode "The Shoes", we never actually see the eponymous Botticelli shoes that Gail was fascinated by and Elaine got defensive about.
Talkative Loon: Steinbrenner. George walks out on his unrelated rants several times.
Ted Baxter: Elaine in particular, but Kramer has his moments too (for example, he seems to think he's fluent in American sign language).
Tech Marches On: A large number of episode plots would be ruined if the characters had cell phones. (Admittedly, they did show up in the last two seasons, but still.)
Kids not realizing when the episode was filmed probably wonder why George doesn't just sell the red-flagged book he took into the bathroom on eBay.
Which would have been hilarious if the eBay admins somehow discovered it was flagged and refused to have it on their site.
Lampshaded in the episode "The Betrayal" (in which the story proceeds backwards). During the ending scene which takes place in the early 90s, Jerry says to himself "What's email?"
In addition to the technological advances, the social mores surrounding some of the plot points have changed sufficiently that they seem rather odd:
In one episode, Jerry and George berate Elaine for making a call to ask about someone's health on a cell phone. Today, with the ubiquity of cell phones, no one would bat an eye of that.
Another episode features George trying to make a joke during a movie being upstaged by a guy with a laser pointer. Today, anybody who did either of those things during a movie (talking or shining a laser at the screen) would get booed by everybody.
Telethon: Jerry works the WNET 13 telethon the night his Nana goes missing in "The Checks".
Tempting Fate: On more than one occasion, Sid Farkus told someone (to George in "The Sniffing Accountant", and Kramer/Frank in "The Doorman") that barring some unforeseen development, he would hire George and sell the manseire, respectively. Immediately after Sid said this, something would occur that would sour the whole deal. In "The Sniffing Accountant"'s case, it was George feeling Ms. De Granmont's material, and in "The Doorman"'s case, it was Sid asking out Estelle (she and Frank were separated at the time).
The The Title: All but one episode (Male Unbonding) has a title that begins with "The."
This and That: Jerry and Elaine discussing the "friends with benefits" agreement in "The Deal".
Elaine repeatedly refers to a penis as "it" in "The Stand-In". Arguably, the blatant avoidance of the word is what makes the scene funnier, especially since Kramer (who walks in late on the conversation) knows exactly what Elaine means when she tells him, "He took it out."
This Is Gonna Suck: Jerry, in "The Voice", right before a rubber container filled with oil hits Jerry's girlfriend from a few stories up:
Three-Way Sex: notable for being one of the earlier uses of it in modern mainstream fiction. In fact, it's even referred to by the French name (ménage à trois), as the term Three-Way Sex hadn't been popularized yet. George devises this as a scheme to help Jerry become romantically involved with the roommate of the woman he's currently dating. It would offend the current girlfriend, making her break up, while the roommate would be flattered and thus open to a relationship. It backfires when they actually agree to it, and Jerry has to backpedal because he considers the proposition more Squick than erotic. "I'm not an orgy guy!".
George later tries it to get her to break up with him when he discovers the velvet furniture he adored (and was the entire motivation for moving in with her) actually belonged to her other (male) roommate. She gleefully exclaims to the male roommate "he's into it!" Fade to Black.
Throw It In: The ending of the episode "The Parking Garage". Originally, the four of them were supposed to get in the car and drive off. But the car they had had an undercharged battery and wouldn't start. After all the frustration of shooting the episode, they realized that the car being dead was just so much more perfect than anything they could have come up with.
Timmy in a Well: Parodied in "The Andrea Doria": Kramer is sick with a nagging cough, and he's told to get police when Elaine starts stabbing her boyfriend. Kramer runs up to some cops but by this time, has lost his breath and can't talk without coughing. The cops have to decipher that he's saying there's trouble at the Old Mill Restaurant.
Token Good Teammate: Kramer is the only member of the cast who is consistently shown to be kind-hearted and caring, who goes out of his way to help people. It should be noted that his efforts to help others rarely succeed, though.
Too Many Halves: At the end of "The Sniffing Accountant", Jerry describes his shirt as "half silk, half cotton, half linen".
Tough Room: While Jerry's friends have occasionally chuckled at his jokes, most of the time they don't, especially in the later half of the series.
Jerry: Slapping hands is the lowest form of male primate ritual. In fact, even some of them have moved on: They're doing sign language now.
Elaine: It's that bad?
Jerry: What do you think the Nazis were doin'? That was the heil-five.
Elaine: (unamused) Isn't that from your act, like, ten years ago??
Jerry: It was a good bit in the '80's, and it's still relatable today.
Also, in "The Cartoon", Elaine doesn't laugh at Jerry's suggestion for how to make her New Yorker cartoon (about a pig at a complaint department) funny. Somewhat justified in that Elaine was cranky from staying up all night on it.
Jerry: How about if it said something like, "I can't find the receipt, my place is a sty."?
Elaine: Everything with you has to be so jokey.
Jerry: ...I'm a comedian.
Tropaholics Anonymous: George was once taken to a "Rage-aholics" meeting. David Puddy is also apparently a recovering "Germ-ophobe".
Troubled Production: In-universe, Jerry is this. Between the show jumping between in production and cancelled (mostly due to George repeatedly screwing things up with Russell) and the temperamental actors (the man playing Kramer refused to talk to George; the woman playing Elaine insisted that Jerry call her by her character's name, even when not filming), the main issue was that the plot to the pilot was contrived and had lame attempts at humor. It was cancelled by the new president of NBC only a couple minutes after the pilot aired on TV.
Uncanny Family Resemblance: Jerry Stiller plays Frank Costanza and implied relative Giuseppe in "The Doll", poorly disguised by Seinfeld standards, even compared to Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander playing their characters in high school in "The Library".
Wayne Knight appears in a photo of Newman's mother in "The Bottle Deposit". Equally poorly disguised.
Undying Loyalty: According to Elaine, the women on this show have this towards their preferred birth control methods of all things.
Jerry sees two goons carrying a body wrapped in a carpet leaving Kramer's apartment.
That nut's always up to something.
In another episode, George is sleeping in Jerry's cupboards. Jerry opens the door, closes it, opens it again, and exclaims that he bought the wrong food with no mention of George.
In another episode, Kramer came in, had a conversation with Jerry and George, all the while going to Jerry's sink, filling up a bucket with water, and walking back out.
George: ...he doesn't have running water? Jerry: I don't ask those kind of questions anymore.
George got used to them as well, as proven by an episode where Jerry and George were watching television when they heard a woman scream from down the hall. Jerry casually remarked that Kramer must have something to do with it and they both went back to the television.
Vaporwear: Sue Ellen Mishke, the "Braless Wonder".
Vigilante Execution: Susan's parents are seen purchasing a handgun during the trial in the season finale presumably with intent of carrying out one of these on George as retribution for Susan's death if the gang is found not guilty.
Vomit Discretion Shot: In "The Pitch." More specifically, a Vomit Discretion Cut, when Kramer, having drunk the expired milk, vomits all over Susan the NBC executive's vest.
An example also occurs in "The Gum", when Kramer vomits on the sidewalk after eating a 70-year old hot dog.
An example of this was created in "The Fatigues". Originally in the scene parodying Platoon they were going to have the soldiers spit fake vomit at the camera, but the director decided that showing the vomit wouldn't be funny, so what we end up seeing is a bunch of food poisoned soliders vomiting into their hats.
Walk and Talk: In "The Bottle Deposit", Wilhelm is walking and talking with George in the halls of Yankee Stadium, and mentions having an assignment for George when he abruptly stops to use the restroom. George waits for him outside, not realizing that Wilhelm just kept on talking while he was in there. George spends the rest of the episode (and it's a two-parter!) trying to figure out what the important assignment was.
Will They or Won't They?: Elaine and Puddy are a subversion, since it's pretty much outright stated they had no intention to get serious and were just "having a good time". Also, George and Susan.
Also Jerry and Elaine. They dated before the series began but then existed as 'just friends', leaving many to wonder when and if they would ever get back together. They hook up (or nearly hook up) a few times over the course of the series but nothing ever really comes of it. Their sexual tension gets a couple of brief mentions in "The Finale" but only as diversions from what will turn out to be the true ending. "The Reunion" on Curb Your Enthusiasm only pushes their relationship further into ambiguity when it turns out that Elaine and Jerry have had a baby together... sort of.
Julia-Louis Dreyfus said on her appearance on Inside The Actors Studio that in her opinion Jerry and Elaine were meant for each other but, their chief problem was that they were both too immature to realise that, hence their set-up of just being friends.
We never find out why Audrey rejected the piece of pie.
The eponymous character of "The Old Man" is still apparently wandering around lost at the end of the episode, only later being seen safe at home in the season 4 finale "The Pilot", where he sees Jerry on TV and exclaims, "That's the idiot who took all my records!"
The Worst Seat In The House: In one episode Jerry, a big New York Rangers fan, was desperate to attend NHL playoff series games between the Rangers and the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. By the end of the story, Jerry's one means of getting a good seat is with Elaine's boyfriend, Puddy, and his friends... but they're all going with their chests painted to spell out the team name, and to only make things more embarrassing for Jerry, Puddy's group is composed of Devils fans.
The ending to "The Label Maker" also counts: Due to a mix-up, Jerry gets a seat right next to Newman at the Super Bowl. Jerry has barely any room next to Newman's girth, not helped by the fact that Newman keeps leaning over when talking.
Write What You Know: Larry David based the George character off of himself, and many of the plotlines allegedly were based on real life experiences he had, and how he reacted to them.
(paraphrasing) Jason Alexander: This is ridiculous. This could never happen to someone, and even if it did, no one would react that way.
Larry David: What are you talking about? It happened to me, and that's exactly how I reacted!
Kramer was based on David's neighbor Kenny Kramer.
In addition, Bob Balaban's recurring role of Russell Dalrymple, the fictitious president of NBC who works with Jerry and George on a television pilot and later becomes Elaine's love interest, was modeled on then NBC Entertainment president Warren Littlefield, who had allowed David and Seinfeld to produce the Seinfeld pilot. Balaban later went on to play Littlefield outright in the 1996 film The Late Shift, a dramatization of the struggles that occurred at NBC when Littlefield selected Jay Leno to replace Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, instead of David Letterman.
The famous Soup Nazi was based on a real soup kitchen owner in New York. He did not take it well, and banned the entire cast and crew of the show from ever coming to his kitchen.
Written By Cast Member: Jerry Seinfeld co-wrote at least one (and usually more than one, especially in the early years) episode in all but the last two seasons.
Wrong Genre Savvy: The basis of the episode The Merv Griffin Show is Kramer finding the set of The Merv Griffin Show in a dumpster, and setting it up in his apartment. He then spends 10 hours a day conducting a talk show, down to taking 'commercial breaks' (read: awkward silences) and 'revealing' a secret to Jerry's girlfriend while she was 'backstage', with hilarious results.
Kramer ignores Newman's warnings just before getting ambushed by mail agents in "The Junk Mail" because Newman mentioned "a mailman you know" would be involved in such an attempt.
X Called; They Want Their Y Back: When George is scarfing down a plate full of shrimp, a co-worker says (to much laughs) "Hey, George. The ocean called, they're running out of shrimp!"
George later thinks up the "perfect comeback", and goes out of his way to recreate the same scenario in which to use it. "Yeah? Well the jerk store called, they're running out of you!", which gets no laughs and is casually countered by "What's the difference? You're their all time best seller!" George then counters with what Kramer believes is the ultimate comeback for any situation. "Well, I just had sex with your wife!"
In the tag, George comes up with the "perfect" comeback when driving home: "The life support system called..." We never hear the punchline, but apparently it's good enough to turn the car around and drive back.
Your Cheating Heart: George secretly getting together with Marisa Tomei in "The Cadillac". His fiancée Susan is unaware, until she asks Elaine (who is supposed to have a cover story) and George the same questions, and both give different answers. Susan punches George.
You Say Tomato: One episode involves George breaking up with his girlfriend because she's pretentious, pronouncing words such as "pap-ee-ay mache" instead of "paper mâché."