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  • Obfuscating Disability: Happens a few times:
    • In "The Butter Shave", George has to walk with a cane due to the injuries he received in "The Summer of George". He goes to a job interview and the cane makes his new employer think he's disabled. George is about to clear things up when the guy mentions that George would be getting a private bathroom because of his disability. George then fakes being disabled to keep the bathroom as well as getting a number of other perks, like having a secretary carry him to his office.
    • In "The Jimmy", Kramer does this by accident when he meets a man who is organizing a charity dinner for the mentally challenged. He ends up as a guest of honor because the Novocaine he was injected with at the dentist made him slur his speech, and he's wearing strangely shaped training shoes, so the man thinks he's a shining example of a mentally challenged person able to live on their own.
    • In "The Lip-Reader", Elaine fakes being deaf so that she doesn't have to make conversation with the driver of the car service. It doesn't work for very long. To quote Elaine: "He caught me hearing".
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The guy operating the parking lot in "The Wig Master".
    George: Excuse me... uh, I think I made a big mistake. I'd like my deposit back please.
    Attendant: Whats the problem?
    George: You got hookers turning tricks in my car. How's that for starters?
    Attendant: Ha! That is all hearsay.
    George: All right, very good. I'd like my car and my deposit back please.
    Attendant: Can't do it.
    George: Whaddya mean?
    Attendant: If you read the agreement you signed, the deposit is not refundable.
    George: Well does it say anywhere in the contract about my car being used as a whorehouse? 'Cause I don't remember reading that clause either.
    Attendant: What can I tell you buddy. Take it up with Consumer Affairs.
    George: ...All right, just give me my car and let me get the hell out of here.
    Attendant: Well that's going to be a problem.
    George: Why?
    Attendant: It's all the way in the back. Can't get it out for a couple of days.
    George: What are you talking about?! I WANT MY CAR!
    Attendant: We ask that you please bear with us.
    George: "Bear with you"?! This is a parking lot! PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO GET THEIR CARS!!!
    Attendant: Ideally.
    • Jerry has said that for some reason, he just loves the idea of guys like this who make things as hard as possible for no reason at all, so they show up several times. Another prime example is the movie theater usher who keeps refusing to let George back in, but has no problem with Kramer.
  • Of Course I Smoke: George, trying to get out of his relationship with Susan.
  • Off the Wagon: Elaine's latest boyfriend, Dick, is a recovering alcoholic in "The Red Dot", but falls off the wagon when Jerry accidentally lets his alcoholic drink be grabbed by Dick at a Christmas party.
    • In "The Apology", Puddy is a recovering "germaphobe" but falls off the wagon when he eats salad that Kramer reveals he prepared as he bathed. Elaine and Peggy also become germaphobes in the process.
    • In the very same episode there's "Stanky" Hanky, a recovering alcoholic, for whom an argument with George is irritating enough to apparently cause him to fall off the wagon.
  • Oh, the Humanity!: Newman shouts this as his mail truck catches on fire at the end of "The Pothole".
  • The Oldest Profession: In "The Wig Master", George parks his car in a lot where hookers break into the cars and have sex with clients.
    • In "The Maid", Jerry's latest girlfriend is revealed to be a prostitute under the guise of a maid; Jerry puts it together one time when he pays for "maid service" but she didn't actually do any work, but merely had sex with him.
    Kramer: Uh-oh, you're a john!
  • Old-Timey Bathing Suit: Worn by Newman in "The Pool Guy".
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: In "The Limo", George (pretending to be O'Brien) thinks that "The Big Game" is about sports, but it's really a race war.
  • One of the Kids: Jerry's love of cartoons, superheroes and cereal qualifies him, but ironically he's the most mature of all the cast (who fall more into Manchild territory).
  • One-Hour Work Week: In "The Susie," George appears to be spending more time at home than usual. Partially justified since he's trying to avoid his then-girlfriend Allison, who plans on breaking up with him.
  • One Scene, Two Monologues: Jerry often does this when one of the other three is ranting about something he doesn't care about.
  • 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 is a plot-relevant aversion. In one episode, George starts speaking in the third person when accused of stealing sports equipment from his job. He says things like "Why would George steal from the Yankees?" and Steinbrenner is soon confused and distracted by his ("George's") lunch.
    • 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" (played by Brad Garrett).
    • Kessler, Kramer in "Pilot Episode", and Marvin Kessler, an acquaintance of Helen and Morty Seinfelds' who had died in "The Blood".
    • Mark Fardman, the architect who designed and built a lot of the homes in the Hamptons, and Carl Fardman, the furniture designer whose work Elaine's Guy of the Week obsessed over.
    • Lampshaded with the fact that J. Peterman has two employees working for his company named Walter; in fact, they're actually addressed as "Walter" and "Other Walter".
    • Characters with variants of the name Sue appear several times throughout the series, from Susan Ross to Sue Ellen Mishke to Jackie Chiles's unseen secretary Susie to the non-existent Susie that Elaine is mistaken for.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • 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?
    George: Who?
    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".
    • "The Strike" has a character that is referred to as "Denim Vest" by Elaine.
    • "The Puerto Rican Day" has Jerry arguing with another driver named "Maroon Golf", after the vehicle he drives. Lamar, the driver of the Golf, only knows Jerry as "Black Saab".
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: In "The Sponge", Elaine's favorite contraceptive is taken off the market, but she manages to score a batch of sponges from a store still selling them. But she doesn't want to waste them, so she grills her latest boyfriend to prove that he's "sponge-worthy".
  • 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!"
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Cary Elwes makes a special guest appearance in "The Wait Out" where Jerry and Elaine wait out a marriage between David (Elwes) and Beth (Debra Messing); while David dines with Elaine and relates his and Beth's breakup with her, Elwes's natural British accent accidentally slips in at one point.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Surprisingly, Jerry reveals he would be one if he ever had kids, most likely due to his complete indifference towards pretty much everything and everyone. George gives him one of his ideas for a TV show to pitch to NBC and we get this conversation:
    George: You want an idea? Here's an idea. You coach a gymnastics team in high school, and you're married, and your son isn't interested in gymnastics, and you're pushing him into gymnastics.
    Jerry: Why should I care if my son is into gymnastics?
    George: Because you're a gymnastics teacher, it's only natural.
    Jerry: But gymnastics is not for everybody!
    George: I know, but he's your son!
    Jerry: So what?!
  • Out-of-Character Moment: In "The Secret Code", George is strangely unable to come up with a lie to get out of having dinner with J. Peterman. This was addressed later:
    George: Well why couldn't you include me in your excuse?
    Jerry: Why didn't you come up with your own?
    George: I froze. I think I'm losing it.
    Jerry: Ah, c'mon. Maybe you're just in a slump?
    George: No, no. I reached down and there was nothing there.
  • Out of Focus: In the episode "The Stall," after the scene with the banged up Tony, George disappears from the episode entirely, and is not seen or heard from again until the next one.
    • George also only has two brief scenes in Season 2's "The Pony Remark", and both scenes are in the 2nd half.
  • Out of Order:
    • With the exception of the final season, each season had a few episodes that were aired out of chronological order (for instance, "Male Unbonding" is the second episode of the series, but the fourth to originally air).
    • A particularly notable example is "The Stranded", which aired during season 3 but was produced during season 2. It's notable because George was unemployed during season 3, but had a job during season 2. This is why Jerry gave a brief introduction in the original airing that the episode was meant to air earlier in the run.
    • In reruns, no channel seems to have any particular order in which they air episodes... one common practice is that whenever a channel airs the show back-to-back as part of their regular schedule, one will be an episode from an earlier season, and the other from a later season, and vice-versa (in the case of TBS, whenever reaching a two-parter, both airings would be reserved for both parts). TBS, however, recently began airing three episodes a night, and now play three episodes in chronological order up till certain points when they will bounce ahead or behind a few seasons (for example, Season Four will air for a week or so, then they will bounce to Season Nine).
  • Overly Long Gag: George's answering machine song, which is played twice. Justified in that he is trying to avoid his girlfriend of the week to prevent her from breaking up with him.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative:
    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.
  • Pan and Scan: Now that cable outlets crop the show into a widescreen format, this ends up happening from time to time. One specific example is "The Checks", during Jerry and George's pilot presentation to the Japanese TV executives: the cropping removes the bag of oranges they brought from the picture, so we have to pan down to the bag of oranges to actually see them when they're brought up.
  • 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.
    • In another episode, the gang is headed for a party and Kramer and George stop at a liquor store. They are blocked by a parallel parker who has a noted resemblance to Saddam Hussein.
  • Parking Garage: An entire episode set in one.
  • Parking Payback: George nearly gets lynched for parking in a disable parking space.
  • Pass the Popcorn: A hilariously inappropriate variation: Kramer decides to crack open a box of Junior Mints while watching a live surgery. This goes about as well as expected.
  • Paying in Coins: "The Calzone" had Kramer collecting change to use the apartment's dryer so his clothes would be warm when he got dressed. Then, after deciding to use Jerry's oven instead, tries to pay for George's calzones with loose change, enraging the store owner. The episode's stinger has him paying a debt by tossing a pillowcase of coins at someone, knocking them over.
  • 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.
  • Personal Arcade: A variation occurs in "The Frogger", where George tries to get the Frogger cabinet from Mario's Pizza Parlor and preserve his high score.
  • Persona Non Grata: In "The Mango", Kramer (and later Jerry) is banned from Joe's fruit shop for complaining about the quality of his fruit.
    • The modus operandi of the Soup Nazi — one mistake and you're banned forever.
  • Phrase Catcher: "..Newman!"
  • Picky Eater: Kramer can be like this, especially when it comes to fruit.
  • Pig Man: In “The Bris”, Kramer claims to have seen a pigman lying in a hospital bed. From this, he spins a wild conspiracy theory about the government creating a secret pigman army (George says he wouldn’t mind this, if only because pigmen would make him seem better-looking by comparison.) Nobody believes him, of course (not helped by the fact that the “pigman” had disappeared from his hospital room when Kramer tries to show the others.) This all culminates in Kramer capturing the “pigman” the moment he sees him, only to discover that there never was a pigman: what he saw was an overweight mental patient.
  • Pimp Duds: In "The Wig Master," Kramer goes through a contrived series of events that make him look like a stereotypical pimp. He starts wearing a feminine wide-brimmed hat and an exact replica of the Technicolor Dreamcoat and starts wearing them around while carrying around a Classy Cane with a jewel-encrusted handle, and then he's seen fighting with a prostitute he caught having sex in his rental car, a pink Cadillac. And that's how the police find him.
    Kramer: [getting his mugshot taken] I'M NOT A PIMP!
  • Playing Gertrude: Uncle Leo's mother is played by Billye Ree Wallace, who was 3 years younger than Len Lesser.
  • Please Dump Me: George has attempted to break up with a woman who simply told him "no, we're not [breaking up]".
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Jerry to his girlfriend in "The Apology", who likes to walk around the apartment naked.
    • Gender-flipped in "The Truth" when Elaine begs Kramer to put some clothes on (he was wearing a towel).
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Elaine is promoted to head of the J. Peterman Catalogue just because she happened to be the closest person physically to Peterman when he snapped and decided to skip the country.
    • Elaine was at least aware of this:
      Elaine: I'm not qualified to run the catalogue!
      Jerry: You're not qualified to work at the catalogue!
    • Kruger is even worse. See Incompetence, Inc..
  • Police Lineup: "The Beard", where Kramer volunteers to be in a police line-up to make $50.
  • Politicians Kiss Babies: Kramer runs for president of a retirement home's condo board; this involves treating some of the senior citizens there like the babies in this trope.
  • Poor Man's Porn: George Costanza was caught with a copy of Glamour, which led to the infamous "contest".
  • Poorly Timed Confession:
    • George confesses to his girlfriend that she's pretentious, and so she goes crazy— right while she's in the middle of doing Jerry's taxes, causing her to throw all his accounts away.
    • In the first half of the Grand Finale, the private plane bearing Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine seems to be dropping into a crash landing, and while they all panic, George confesses to Jerry that he cheated in their contest, which means Jerry was the real winner. Afterwards, Elaine starts to make a confession to Jerry as well, but before she tells him, the plane stabilizes, and all is well again.
  • 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.
  • Potty Emergency: George described one in "The Chinese Restaurant":
    George: Well, after dinner last week, she invites me back to her apartment. (...) Well, it's this little place with this little bathroom. It's like right there, you know, it's not even down a little hall or off in an alcove. You understand? There's no... buffer zone. So, we start to fool around, and it's the first time, and it's early in the going. And I begin to perceive this impending... intestinal requirement, whose needs are going to surpass by great lengths anything in the sexual realm. So I know I'm gonna have to stop. And as this is happening I'm thinking, even if I can somehow manage to momentarily... extricate myself from the proceedings and relieve this unstoppable force, I know that that bathroom is not gonna provide me with the privacy that I know I'm going to need...
    Jerry: This could ONLY happen to you.
    • In "The Pilot", Kramer is constipated but suddenly gets the urge to go during his audition to play himself. He exits the meeting and runs all over looking for a free toilet, to no avail. Later on:
    Kramer: Well, I waited so long I— I missed my chance.
    Jerry: You didn't go?
    Kramer: No, and now I can't get it back!
    Jerry: The best thing to do is just not think about it.
    Kramer: (worriedly) How could you not think about it?
  • P.O.V. Cam: We're treated to this on some occasions, mostly whenever one of the characters is actually having trouble seeing. For example:
    • In "The Mango", George's Girl of the Week kicks him out of the bedroom after he accuses her of faking her orgasm and he can't find his glasses. Cut to an out-of-focus shot from George's perspective, as he looks across the bed for his glasses, as his girl continually yells at him to get out.
    • In "The Seven", Elaine has a crick in her neck, making it difficult for her to turn her head; Jerry's Girl of the Week (who wears the same dress all the time) encounters Elaine on the street, but cut to Elaine's P.O.V., where we see she is barely able to look down below her chin, which irks Jerry when he later asks her if she caught a glimpse of what she was wearing.
    • In "The Dog", the action is shot through Kramer's girlfriend's eyes as he breaks up with her.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: In his story to Jerry and George, Kramer gives one to a man with a gun while taking the bus to save a pinky toe stored in an ice-filled Cracker Jack box.
    Mugger: Where do you think you're going, Cracker Jack?
    Kramer: Well, I got a prize for you buddy.
  • Precision F-Strike: One of the outtakes on the season 8 set:
    Man: A muffin top store just opened up down the street.
    Elaine: A muffin top store?
    Man: What'd I just say?
    Elaine: ....What the (fuck) is your problem?! (both crack up)
    • In an outtake from season 3's "The Subway":
    Jerry: So you missed the wedding. You'll catch the bris!
    Elaine: FUCK YOU.
    • Take two:
    Jerry: You'll catch the bris!
    Elaine: Why don't you just shut the fuck up for a change? (Julia laughs)
    • In "The Non-Fat Yogurt":
    Matthew: (to Jerry) Thanks for ruining my dad's business, you fat (fuck).
    • In "The Cartoon", during Sally's stand-up act:
    Sally: To cease and desist on behalf of my client, Jerry Seinfeld. Signed, Crybaby Jerry Seinfeld's Lawyer. Okay, but I got two words for you Jerry Seinfeld... (bleep) YOU.
    Jerry: How could she say that on TV?!
  • Prenup Blowup: George tries to invoke this with Susan. Kramer suggests this as a way for George to make Susan break up with him. It doesn't work. Susan just laughs, because she's the one with the money.
  • 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.
    • Parodied by Kramer with "Hennigan's" scotch.
    • During season 4, any scene that took place in the NBC building was a plethora of product placements for a variety of 90's NBC shows.
    • In one of the outtakes for "The Junior Mint", this is lampshaded:
    Kramer: Well who's gonna turn down a Junior Mint? It's chocolate, it's peppermint, it's delicious!
    Jerry: (looks directly at the camera, smiling wide) That's true.
    • In "The Bubble Boy", Yoo Hoo is essentially plugged:
    Mel: My name's Sanger, Mel Sanger. I drive that truck out there.
    Jerry: Oh, the Yoo Hoo? I love Yoo Hoo.
    Mel: It's a fine product.
  • Prone to Tears:
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: "The Barber" opts out of the Jonathan Wolff rubber band scene transition music in favor of classical music, mostly from (appropriately enough) "The Barber of Seville".
  • Pun: In "The Yada Yada":
    Kramer: Well, Mickey and her have a lot more in common. You know her parents are little people?
    Jerry: Oh, small world.
  • Purple Prose: The stories written for J. Peterman's clothing catalog.
  • Put on a Bus: Literally, as J. Peterman just up and left the company for Burma (now Myanmar), leaving Elaine in charge of running the catalog in his absence. He later returned, though.

  • Race Fetish: In "The Chinese Woman." Jerry dials a wrong number and gets a woman named Donna Changstein. He apologizes and hangs up.
    Jerry: (redialing) Should've talked to her; I love Chinese women.
    Elaine: Isn't that a little racist?
    Jerry: If I like their race, how can that be racist?
  • Rage Breaking Point: The "serenity now" segment.
    • In "The English Patient":
    Elaine: No, I can't do this anymore, I can't. It's TOO LONG. Quit telling your stupid story about the stupid desert and just DIE already! DIE!!!!
    Peterman: ...Elaine, you don't like the movie?
    Elaine: I HATE IT!!! (audience shushes her) Oh GO TO HELL!!!
  • Rare Vehicles: Kramer's 1973 Chevy Impala, one of only 1000 experimental models built with airbags (using Oldsmobile dashboards) and George's 1984 Chrysler Lebaron Town and Country convertible, one of only 500 made that year.
  • Real After All: The "forbidden city" in "The Bizarro Jerry".
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: Kramer is accidentally whisked on stage during a Tony's ceremony, where he receives one with the cast and crew of the fictional Broadway musical, Scarsdale Surprise. The producers eventually discover the error, and make a deal with him that he can keep the Tony if he'll fire Raquel Welch, because they're too afraid to do it themselves. After being brutally attacked, Kramer's Tony is smashed to pieces.
  • 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  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.
    • The episode in which George quits his real estate job, regrets it afterward, and decides to go back the next day pretending it never happened was based on a time when Larry David did the same thing while writing for Saturday Night Live. Unlike George, Larry was able to retain his job.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Often averted, in such lines as "Again with the Rava" in "The Statue".
    • Jerry refers to his unintroduced old gym teacher Mr. Bevilacqua in "The Race" by his name, and at first Elaine doesn't recognize his name as such and has to ask what it means.
  • Real Joke Name: Library cop Mr. Bookman in "The Library".
  • 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.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: An in-story example. In "The Little Jerry," George is disappointed to find out that the women's prison he visits (and meets his Girl of the Week at) doesn't match how prisons are usually portrayed in fiction.
  • 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?
      George: No.
      Kramer: You got money?
      George: No.
      Kramer: You got a woman?
      George: ...No.
      Kramer: Do you have any prospects?
      George: (growing more and more depressed) Uh... no.
      Kramer: Do you have any action at all?
      George: ...No.
      Kramer: Do you have any conceivable reason for even getting up in the morning?
      Kramer: George, it's time for us to grow up... (beats chest) and be men.
    • In "The Dog", Kramer (briefly) breaks up with his girlfriend by doing this:
      Kramer: I must have been out of my mind. Look at you. Why don't you do something with your life?! Sit around here all day, you contribute nothing to society. You're just taking up space. I mean, how could I be with someone like you? Wouldn't respect myself.
    • Kramer gave one to the aspiring Broadway actress Genice in "The Undestudy":
      Kramer: So my dear, you think you can get to Broadway. Well, let me tell you something. Broadway has no room for people like you. Not the Broadway I know! My Broadway takes people like you and eats them up and spits them out! My Broadway is the Broadway of Merman, and Martin, and Fontaine, and if you think you can build yourself up by knocking other people down... ...GOOD LUCK!!!
    • In "The Nose Job", Kramer delivers one to Jerry after he begs Kramer for the number of a woman he originally didn't want to see ever again:
    Kramer: Look at you! Look at what you've sunk to! Look at what you've become! Look in the mirror, 'cause you need help, Jerry. You need help, because I can't stand by and do it anymore. It's turning my stomach! I can't stand around here watching you destroy yourself! It's eating me up inside!
    • In "The Shower Head", Jerry gives one to Uncle Leo in order to get him to move back in with his girlfriend (so that Jerry's parents would have to stop living with Jerry):
    Leo: Move back with Lydia?
    Jerry: C'mon, you're lucky to have anybody.
    Leo: Last week you told me I was in my prime, I should be swinging.
    Jerry: Swinging? What are you, out of your mind? Look at you, you're disgusting. You're bald, you're paunchy, all kinds of sounds are emanating from your body 24 hours a day. If there's a woman that can take your presence for more than ten consecutive seconds, you should hang on to her like grim death! Which is not far off, by the way.
  • Reduced to Dust: This Jerry Seinfeld quote:
    Men hang on to underwear until each individual underwear molecule is so strained it can barely retain the properties of a solid. It actually becomes underwear vapor. We don't even throw it out. We just open a window and it goes out like dandelion spores.
  • Red Scare: In “The Race, Elaine finds out that her boyfriend is a communist. She doesn’t mind very much, and he’s very casual about it. George begins to flirt with communism after finding out that Communist women consider looks unimportant, and this freaks out everyone around him.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: Whether or not Elaine was dating Puddy or not would depend entirely on what works for the episode. Their unstable relationship was lampshaded often.
  • Rental Car Abuse: When Jerry's car is stolen and he must rent a temporary replacement, he takes out the insurance specifically to destroy the car because the agent didn't hold his reservation for a nicer car.
  • Repeated Rehearsal Failure: In on episode, Kramer is supposed to pick up Jerry and Elaine from a party. Hours after the party has ended, he finally shows up and reveals that he remembered all of the numbers from the address but not the order they go in.
  • 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.
    • It got a vague Hand Wave in the third episode of season 3, when Jerry briefly mentions that they tried different arrangements but decided to just be friends instead.
  • Restrained Revenge In The Frogger Elaine is caught on surveillance videotape enjoying her boss's historical piece of actual cake from the wedding of King Edward VIII to Wallis Simpson, circa 1937, that he paid $29,000 for and settles for her inevitable digestive distress as his revenge.
    Peterman: Elaine, I have a question for you. Is the item still...with you?
    Elaine: far as I know.
    Peterman: Do you know what happens to a butter-based frosting after six decades in a poorly ventilated English basement?
    Elaine: Uh, I guess I hadn't—
    Peterman (smiling broadly): Well, I have a feeling that what you are about to go through is punishment enough. Dismissed.
  • Retcon:
    • In the two-part "Pilot" episode the end of Season Four, George doesn't believe in God... unless something bad happens to him, then it is God's fault (in this case, the discoloration on his upper lip is God giving him cancer). However in "The Burning," from Season Nine, Puddy's being Christian is a subplot, and George not only expresses an interest in Christian Rock, but he also finds it disappointing that people don't talk about God much anymore.
    • In "The Diplomats' Club" from Season Six, George's co-worker, Mr. Morgan, doesn't like him, and the fact that George's comments that he looks like Sugar Ray Leonard didn't help matters either. Later in "The Wink" from Season Seven, Mr. Morgan is on good terms with George, and even considers him the only friend he has in the Yankee organization, with no evidence of any friction between the two of them.
    • In "The Outing," George tells the reporter interviewing him and Jerry that they met in high school gym class (specifically, Jerry was spotting George while he was climbing the rope, accidentally lost his grip, and fell on his head), though in many other episodes, it's implied that Jerry and George have known each other since they were little kids.
  • 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.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: "Magic Loogie" parodies JFK's use of this trope.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    • In "The Soul Mate":
      George: What's with all these people having babies?
      Jerry: Perpetuation of the species.
    • In "The Secret Code":
      George: Why does everything have to be 'us'? Is there no 'me' left? Why can't there be some things just for me? Is that so selfish?
      Jerry: Actually, that's the definition of selfish.
    • In "The Non-Fat Yogurt", the doctor treating George's made-up elbow injury accuses him of faking it. George denies it, asking what kind of person would do that, and the doctor gives him an earful, pointed squarely at George, describing exactly what kind of person would.
  • Riddle for the Ages
    • Why wouldn't Jerry's girlfriend try the pie?
    • Also, we never find out why Jerry's one other girlfriend always wears the same clothes.
    • Kramer's idea for Jerry's Show Within a Show: "...and you run the circus!"
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: In one episode when Elaine and Jerry get into a discussion about the nature of Newman.
    Elaine: Maybe he's an enigma—a mystery wrapped in a riddle.
    Jerry: He's a mystery wrapped in a Twinkie.
    • Used earlier in the series by Jerry in "The Watch."
  • Ridiculous Exchange Rates: Referenced in "The Maestro" when Jerry and Kramer get out of a limo in Tuscany:
    Kramer: How much did you pay that guy?
    Jerry: 75,000 lira.note 
    Kramer: 75,000 lira? Are you out of your mind?!
    Jerry: (annoyed) Kramer, you don't understand the conversion rate!note 
  • Ridiculously Long Phone Hold: Kramer wages war with the cable company, after they made him wait all day for an appointment years before. When the cable guy phones Kramer to access his apartment, Kramer excuses himself and puts him on hold — complete with a tape recorder playing elevator music. Fade to the cable guy at the payphone, checking his watch, when Kramer finally rides by in a taxi to taunt him.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Kramer's storyline in "The Postponement" and "The Maestro" is based on the Real Life case, where a woman spilled scalding hot McDonald's coffee on herself and sued them for it.
  • The Rival: Newman!
    • Kenny Bania, to a lesser extent. Jerry can't stand him, yet Bania thinks they're great friends.
      • Ditto for one-episode character Pat Buckles, another crappy comedian who really wants to hang out with Jerry.
  • Roommate Com: Jerry's apartment is the meeting place for the gang, which includes his neighbor Kramer, friend George, and ex Elaine. One of the show's taglines is that it's "a show about nothing," as it's mostly just about watching these entertaining personalities play off one another.
  • Rule of Symbolism: In "The Little Kicks", when Kramer attempts to film "Cry Cry Again" but does a poor job:
    Jerry: No no no no no no NO. What were you thinking when you shot this?
    Kramer: That's fine!
    Jerry: Do you even know what this scene is about?
    Kramer: It's about a guy buying a loaf of bread.
    Jerry: No, bread is his soul. He's trying to buy back a loaf of his soul.
    Kramer: (baffled) What? Where?
  • Rule of Three: In "The Trip, Part 2", Jerry is on the phone with the police, who want to meet him.
    Jerry: Do we know where the 101 is? (George shakes his head) No... do we know where 170 is? (George shakes his head) No... do we know where 134 is? No. (George stares blankly)
  • Rule 34: Jerry apparently has drawings of naked Lois Lane.
    Jerry: Where did you see those? Those are private!
    • 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 deformity is, there's always some group of perverts that's attracted to 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 
    • Someone (usually George) calls someone else (usually Jerry) requiring some insane help, and the callee will respond "Who is this?"
  • Russian Reversal: In "The Van Buren Boys," Jerry says, "I had a dream last night that a hamburger was eating me!"
  • 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 Saddam Hussein in "The Dinner Party".
    • In "The Pledge Drive", Dan was played by Brian Reddy, but dubbed by a woman.
  • 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.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Jerry chasing Newman through a labyrinthine series of hallways, stairwells, and elevators in "The Soul Mate".
  • 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.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: In "The Maestro", George thinks that he's allowed to give a chair to the security guard at a store, just because he's engaged to the store owner's niece.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Subverted in "The Chicken Roaster", when Elaine (filling in for Peterman as boss) is audited by the accountant for extravagant purchases.
    Roger: Ms. Benes, I noticed you have been charging quite a bit of merchandise on the Peterman account.
    Elaine: Well, I am the President.
    Roger: Yes, and we're all very impressed. Nevertheless, the expense account is for business purposes only.
    Elaine: (confused) Well, isn't the president allowed to do anything that they want?
    Roger: ...No.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: In one episode Jerry dates a woman who does this often, and he takes full advantage of it. George refers to these people as "Godzilla" because they can't be stopped.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At the end of "The Parking Spot" Jerry completely gives up on figuring out which driver should get the spot in front of his building, and goes back to his apartment.
  • 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.
  • See You in Hell: In "The Voice", George's boss Mr. Thomassoulo begged George to leave the job, by offering him six months' pay of his contract. George didn't bite: "See, if I stay the whole year, I get it all."
    Mr. Thomassoulo: You wanna play hardball, huh? FINE. (gets on the company intercom) Attention, Play Now employees: George Costanza's handicapped bathroom on the sixteenth floor is now open to all employees and their families. (gets off it)
    George: Well played.
    Mr. Thomassoulo: I'll see you in Hell, Costanza.
  • Self-Deprecation: A lot of jokes came from Jerry supposedly being a hack excuse for a comedian, and (at the time of the Show Within a Show) a bad actor.
    • 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 
    • Does Superman have Superhumor? note 
    • Why chocolate fudge should be on the bottom of the sundae.
    • The missing lyrics to a certain song from Les Miserables.
    • If you were abducted by aliens, would you rather end up in an alien zoo, or in an alien circus?
    • Ending in the Series Finale in a Brick Joke where the gang gets locked in prison and the final conversation they have before the show ends is a repeat of the "no man's land" button conversation from the first episode, implying they've finally run out of things to talk about.
  • 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 in the morning to be sleeping in.
    • This is even made part of a plot point in "The Cadillac", when Morty is accused of embezzling money as condo president, and this claim is "proven" when Jerry insists that they go out to eat at 6 PM like normal people, thus missing the much cheaper "Early Bird Special" that the rest of the seniors get every day.
      Jack: [accusingly] Must be nice to have that kind of money...
  • Serial Killer: The Lopper from "The Frogger". Why "The Lopper"? Because he goes around lopping off people's heads.
  • Serial Spouse: Mickey, to the point of calling a girl whose second marriage just ended a "lightweight".
  • Series Continuity Error: In "The Statue" George says he broke the statue that sat on his paerent's mantle, in "The Pledge Drive" he claimed he'd be a totally different person had his parents had a mantle.
  • 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 
      George: [angrily] And I still say he's naked under there!
      Jerry: Oh, that makes a lot of sense!
    • Detective Bookman in "The Library" doesn't joke around about overdue library books.
    • If you're against AIDS, then you'd better wear a goddamn AIDS ribbon if you know what's good for you.
    • If you don't like The English Patient, then be prepared to live the rest of your life as a total outcast since everybody will be utterly disgusted with you.
    • Little people who wear lifts in their shoes to seem taller are seen as Category Traitors.
    • In "The Reverse Peephole," George becomes determined to make his wallet as large and full as possible, even when the weight of it starts to hurt his back.
      Jerry: You got a filing cabinet under half of your ass.
      Elaine: Look at you. You're on a slant.
    • In "The Sniffing Accountant," Elaine (and then the other characters) develop a hilariously bizarre obsession with exclamation points.
    • In fact, a lot of the trouble the main characters get into is the result of them not treating some mundane thing as Serious Business when another person/group does.
  • Seriously Scruffy: An episode has Jerry and Kramer swap apartments. Thanks to a "Kenny Roger's Roasters" sign which shines into Kramer's window, this happens to Jerry:
    Jerry: [imitating Kramer's body language] Oh,...I'm stressed!
  • Sex Dressed: This is how Jerry knows Elaine's been having sex with Puddy and thus, losing the bet that the two of them wouldn't get back together.
  • Sex God: Jerry, apparently. One episode has a plot revolving around George and Puddy employing one of his "moves" for their girlfriends because it works so well.
  • Sexual Euphemism: Used a few times:
    • 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."
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    • In "The Stand-In," when George asks his girlfriend Daphne how her eggs were, she blandly replies, "Eggs are eggs."
    • In "The Keys" while Jerry and George are in Elaine's apartment looking for Jerry's spare set, they have this exchange:
    George: Well, what do they look like?
    Jerry: They look like keys, George. They look exactly like keys. *Mocking disgust* 'What do they look like?'
    • In "The Jacket," George is talking with Elaine's intimidating father:
    George: I really enjoyed [your book] Fair Game. I thought it was brilliant.
    Benes: Drivel.
    George: [chuckling nervously] Maybe some parts.
    Benes: [angrily] What parts?!
    George: The ... drivel parts.
    • Also from "The Jacket," when Kramer asks Jerry how much he paid for his new suede jacket, Jerry replies, "I paid what it costs."
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Parodied with Frank Costanza who was a chef in the Korean War and still has flashbacks about the time he fed his platoon expired meat, which made them violently ill.
    Frank: In my mind, there's a war still going on. [...] Men were keeling over all around me. I can still hear the retching, the screaming. I sent sixteen of my own men to the latrines that night! They were just boys.
  • Shiksa Goddess: Elaine's "Shiksappeal" attracts three Jewish men (aside from Jerry) in one episode; it starts with a boy who immediately prior became a man by Jewish tradition, then that boy's father, and then the rabbi she spoke to regarding the previous two. note 
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: Willard organizers in "The Wizard".
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "The Chicken Roaster", J. Peterman tells Elaine that she's an errand girl, sent by grocery clerks to collect a bill.
    • In "The Old Man" The title character is named Sidney Fields, the name of both the actor and landlord character of The Abbot and Costello Show.
    • "The Junk Mail" sees Newman paraphrase Three Days of the Condor when he explains how Kramer will be abducted by the Postal Service. The same episode also features Wilford Brimley cameo at the end, a reference to his appearance in Absence of Malice.
    • At the end of "The Raincoats", Elaine's boyfriend who had been overly nice to Jerry's parents has a mini-breakdown about their canceled trip to Paris, and gives a speech very similar to Oskar Schindler's final lines, saying "I' could've done more. I could've gotten them out!"
    • In "The Doorman" Kramer pretends to mug George in front of some German tourists to 'give them a real New York experience', not only are the tourists horrified, they later see Kramer with a hi-fi that they assume he stole. One old lady points him out and soon a group chase him down the street, alluding to a scene at the end of Marathon Man.
    • In "The Maid", Jerry tells Kramer "No matter what occurs, I will find you!", just like in ''The Last of the Mohicans.
    • In "The Wizard", George says, "You want to get nuts? Okay... LET'S GET NUTS!!!"
    • In "The Doodle," the publisher at Viking Press who interviews Elaine for a job is played by Guy Siner, who is known for having played Lieutenant Hubert Gruber on 'Allo 'Allo!. At the end of the episode, when Kramer is mad at Newman for taking the last peach, he sics a bulldog on him in revenge. He refers to the bulldog as "Hubert."
    • In "The Strongbox", Kramer says of a neighbor's pet bird: "Fredo was weak and stupid! He shouldn't have eaten that key!"
    • There's another Godfather reference (besides the blatant quoting in the episode where Jerry and Elaine are named godparents to a friend's baby) in "The Andrea Dorea", which paraphrases Godfather II.
    Jerry: Elaine, Newman is my sworn enemy. And he lives down the hall from my home - my home, Elaine! Where I sleep, where I come to play with my toys.
    • In "The Muffin Tops", Newman's called in to take care of a problem (that is, eating all the excess muffin stumps). His sports car and the line, "If I'm curt, I apologize" are references to Harvey Keitel's character The Wolf in Pulp Fiction.
    • There are lots of overt references to Superman and other comic book characters, and in one episode, when Jerry says to George "So you're gonna burn that bridge." George says "Flame on!"
      • "The Race" has a lot of Superman overtones, as Jerry dates a girl named Lois, and she even points out how he like saying her name. "Excuse me, Lois. Stand back Lois. Jimmy's in trouble, Lois." when asked if he was really the fastest kid in school, Jerry replies "Faster than a speeding bullet Lois." The titular race is against a childhood schoolmate whose hated Jerry ever since he lost a race to him, like a very small, petty Lex Luthor/Superman enmity.
    • In "The Millennium", two scouts for the Mets have lunch with George at the coffee shop. George realizes that he must get fired from the Yankees to get a job with the Mets, but when he wants confirmation of this, they deny it, saying "We're just... talking." This is a reference to a similar scene in Glengarry Glen Ross.
    • The Newman subplot in "The Scofflaw" is a parody of Moby-Dick, hammered home by Kramer (wearing an eyepatch in this episode) saying, "Newman! The "white whale"!"
    • At the end of "The Engagement", Newman sarcastically asks the cops "What took you so long?". This is precisely what Serial Killer David Berkowitz(aka the Son of Sam) said when the cops nabbed him. Furthermore, Newman was a mailman being arrested for dognapping, while Berkowitz was a mailman who claimed that his neighbor's dog commanded him to kill.
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: The two-part episode "The Trip".
  • Show Stopper: Kramer; around season 4, the applause at his entrances lasted so long, the crew had to ask the audience to stop clapping when he came on.
  • Show Within a Show: In addition to the ill-fated TV pilot Jerry and George try to produce and the Super Terrific Comedy Hour that aired a clip from same, and 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.
    • Coronary Country, a PBS special which convinces George he has a heart attack the next day.
    • Scarsdale Surprise, a musical about the highly publicized murder of Dr. Herman Tarnower.
    • Chunnel, a Disaster Movie about the President's daughter being trapped in the channel tunnel during a major fire. A scene from the Castle Rock-owned The American President stood in for it with just the very bottom of the screen visible.
    • Prognosis: Negative, a movie Medical Drama that got good reviews.
    • Checkmate, a Psychological Thriller involving chess.
    • Mountain High (a survival action movie starring Kevin Bacon and Susan Sarandon that Kramer imitates the trailer for), Death Blow (an explosion and gunfire-heavy action movie which Jerry was forced at gunpoint to bootleg), Chow Fun (presumably a comedy), and Sack Lunch (a family comedy starring Dabney Coleman) are others that are referenced in the series.
  • Shrunk in the Wash: One episode concerns Jerry trying to get a drycleaner to admit that he had shrunk one of Jerry's shirts in the wash. As seen here.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Jerry and his Girl of the Week in "The Soup Nazi". "No, you're Schmoopy!"
  • Sick Episode: Kramer has a cough and hoarse voice throughout all of "The Andrea Doria".
  • Side-Effects Include...: In "The Andrea Doria", after Jerry unsuccessfully gets Kramer to take a large pill for his cold, Jerry reads the prescription:
    Jerry: What kind of pills are these, anyway? "For Smuckers"? "May cause panting and loss of fur"? These are dog pills!
    Kramer: We had the same symptoms.
  • Significant Reference Date: In the final episode, the events brought up as evidence against the gang are referenced as happening on the original air dates.
  • Silent Credits: "The Soup" ends with George silently eating lunch at Reggie's.
  • Similar Squad: Kevin, Gene and Feldman in the "Bizarro Jerry" episode.
  • Sinister Minister: A very minor version, but the priest that Elaine and Puddy go to in "The Burning" yuks it up with Elaine after she tells Puddy (who's despondent about being told he's going to Hell), "Aw, lighten up, it'll only feel like an eternity."
  • Sit Comic: Both the show itself and in-universe with Jerry's eponymous sitcom pilot.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: "Newman!"
    • "Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!"
  • Skewed Priorities: In "The Switch" George starts dating a model and starts to suspect she's bulimic because, aside from her being a model she's also a Big Eater and keeps going to the rest room after meals. Rather than being worried about her health, George is more concerned about her supposedly throwing away food he paid for.
    • Jerry's girlfriend Gennice in "The Understudy". Noted by Jerry:
    Jerry: So you don't cry when your grandmother dies, but a hot dog makes you lose control?
  • Skyward Scream: George, in "The Dealership": "Twiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiix!"
    • Also, Elaine in "The Susie": "Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuze!"
    • George also got to do a Shout Out to the original "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNN!"
  • Slice of Life: Largely the basis for the show's popularity.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: No hugging, no learning. That pretty much sums it up.
  • Slipping a Mickey: One of the plots of season 2's "The Revenge", when George slips a mickey in his boss's drink. Also present in season 9's "The Betrayal".
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Played with, in that neither side is depicted positively at all. The slobs (Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer) are social outcasts who refuse to bend to the unwritten laws of societal norms, but they're also all incredibly immature and incapable of showing empathy for anyone. The snobs (everyone else) are generally stuck-up for following said laws, but also avoid causing trouble or hurting feelings. And of course, both sides have only their own best interests in mind.
  • Slow Motion: Demonstrated at the end of "The Race" during the climactic rematch race between Jerry and Duncan.
    • Also demonstrated in "The Little Jerry" during the cockfight. Oddly, despite being in slow motion, the voices of Jerry, George, and Elaine are all in normal pitch, just delivered in a slower manner.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Elaine in particular, but Kramer has his moments too (for example, he seems to think he's fluent in American sign language).
  • Small Reference Pools: Inverted; on three different occasions, the show referenced a fairly obscure series of audio recordings of bandleader/musician Buddy Rich chewing out his band members:
    • In "The Opposite", George chews out some rude moviegoers:
    George: Shut your traps and stop kicking the seats! We're trying to watch the movie! And if I have to tell you again, we're gonna take it outside and I'm gonna show you what it's like! You understand me? Now, shut your mouths or I'll shut 'em for ya, and if you think I'm kidding, just try me. Try me. Because I would love it!
    • In "The Understudy":
    Frank: Her father would look at me and say, "eno enoa juang". Which means, "This guy... this is not my kind of guy."
    • In "The Butter Shave", Jerry confirms to George that he's taking a dive so Kenny Bania doesn't have a good lead-in act:
    Jerry: I'm laying down! Then let's see how he does, up there, without all the assistance!
  • Smug Snake: Newman, though he tends to think this way about Jerry.
  • Social Semi-Circle: George, Susan and the Rosses in "The Cheever Letters".
  • 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".
    Jerry: Some of my best friends are gay!
    George: My father's gay!
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Several episodes built around it, including "The Café".
    Babu: You bad man! You very, very bad man!
    • In "The Masseuse", George tries to get along with Jodi (Jerry's latest girlfriend), but fails. He keeps obsessing about it the whole episode, claiming that everyone has to like him. Finally, by episode's end, George has dumped his own girlfriend to go after Jodi, because he claims that being hated by someone is "irresistible".
  • Song Parody: George's answering machine message: "Believe it or not, George isn't at home..."
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Demonstrated in "The Non-Fat Yogurt" many times, as Jerry is more foul-mouthed than usual.
    Jerry: This [yogurt] is so (bleep)-ing good!
    Jerry: What the (bleep) are you doing you little piece of (bleep)?
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Jerry's friend The Drake.
    • Subverted, since The Drake never insists on being called; Jerry and Elaine just thought it made a cool name sound cooler. In "The Pilot (Part 2)" The Drake and his wife refer to Jerry as "The Sein".
  • Spinning Paper: Happens when Kramer runs for President of the Condo Board, backed by Morty Seinfeld.
  • Spit Shine: On an episode, where George is forced to be a butler for his parents, Frank orders George to shine his shoes, and George spits on the shoe once Frank's back is turned.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: Demonstrated in a couple episodes:
    • "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.
  • The Spook: The Doorman
  • 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...
  • Staging an Intervention: In "The Pez Dispenser," Jerry grudgingly hosts an intervention for an old friend.
  • Stalker Shrine: Crazy Joe Davola has one of Elaine in "The Opera".
  • Star Trek Movie Curse: Commented on in the episode "The Foundation", when Kramer opines that he actually prefers Star Trek III: The Search for Spock to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.invoked
  • The Stateroom Sketch: Elaine moves into a janitor's closet so she can order food, and Jerry and the gang drop by.
  • Status Quo Is God
    • Lampshaded by Jerry, who takes joy in noting that while George's life is bad and Elaine's is good (and sometimes vice-versa, though rarely) he always "breaks even" at life.
    • Deconstructed throughout the entire seventh season. George, after realizing he's unhappy with what his life has become, decides to make some major changes. With the big one being asking ex-girlfriend Susan Ross to marry him. Unfortunately, throughout the season, this "epiphany" is gradually phased out. And, by the time Susan passes away at the end of the season, the status quo has officially returned. With George having learned absolutely nothing from the experience.
    • In general, George never comes out ahead. Even when it appears that things are looking up for him, it eventually comes crashing down later in the worst possible way.
  • Stereo Fibbing: A non-verbal one in "The Trip Part 2": A cop car pulls to the curb and one of the cops asks, "Which one of you is Seinfeld?" Jerry and George both point at each other.
  • Stock Footage: George eating lunch alone in Reggie's was first used in "The Soup", and later recycled into "The Pool Guy".
  • Stock Schtick: In “The Summer of George”, George has an Imagine Spot of Jerry asking “What’s the deal with airplane peanuts?”
  • Stop Copying Me: In "The Wallet":
    Jerry: Well, I think you're wrong.
    George: Well, we'll just see.
    Jerry: Yes we will.
    George: Yes we will.
    Jerry: I just said that.
    George: I know you did.
    Jerry: So good for you.
    George: So good for you.
    Jerry: What are you repeating everything I'm saying?
    George: What are you repeating everything I'm saying?
    Jerry: Well George is an idiot.
    George: Well G-
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In "The Puffy Shirt", a man with a self-control problem is referred to as not being "master of his domain" by another character.
    • In "The Deal", both Elaine and Kramer react to Jerry giving Elaine cash for her birthday the same way: "What are you, my/her uncle?"
    • In "The Boyfriend", both George and Kramer suggest that if Jerry helps Keith Hernandez move, the next step will be driving Keith to the airport.
    Jerry: I'm not driving him to the airport!!!
    • In "The Good Samaritan", both Elaine and George say variants of "I'm speechless! I am without speech!" after Jerry tells them something.
    • In "The Junk Mail", both Betty (an old woman Kramer knows) and George ask the same valid question about why Kramer's post office dummy is wearing a bucket:
    Kramer: It's to symbolize we're blind to their tyranny.
    Betty/George: Then, shouldn't you be wearing the bucket?
    • In "The Cigar Store Indian", both Ricky and Al Roker say with a grin, "Interesting." when Elaine clarifies that she doesn't have a boyfriend.
    • In "The Old Man", George tells the titular old man's Senegalese housekeeper, "I would like to dip my bald head in oil and rub it all over your body", in order to confirm that she doesn't speak English by her (lack of) reaction to it. Meanwhile, Elaine is meeting with an old woman who talks all about how she once had a passionate romance with Mahatma Gandhi. "He used to dip his bald head in oil and rub it all over my body".
  • Strictly Formula: In-universe, Jerry claims that all episodes of The Twilight Zone are the same:
    Jerry: Y'know, this is like that Twilight Zone where the guy wakes up, and he's the same, but everyone else is different!
    Kramer: Which one?
    Jerry: They were all like that!
  • Studio Audience: From Season Three onwards.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: In "The Note", George (who was paranoid that he was gay after "it moved!" while he got a massage from a man) freely admits that Joe DiMaggio is a handsome man.
  • Sublime Rhyme: In "The Bubble Boy", Jerry signs a photo of himself with, "Nothing's finer than being in your diner." Elaine mocks Jerry for it.
  • Subways Suck: "The Subway".
  • 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".
  • Sucks at Dancing: Elaine, as shown in "The Little Kicks", and she's totally oblivious to it. Everyone else is too afraid to tell her about it.
  • 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.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: In "The Puffy Shirt", Jerry says he feels ridiculous wearing a pirate shirt on national TV, and suddenly the quiet talker Leslie shouts from off-screen: "YOU BASTARD!!!"
    Gumbel: Did you hear that?
    Jerry: That, I heard.
    • In "The Voice", after George breaks into his boarded-up office:
    George: (on the phone) Hello Margery, George Costanza. How are you sweetheart? Listen, can you give Mr. Thomassoulo a message for me? (...) Yes. If he needs me, tell him I’M IN MY OFFICE!!! (...) Thanks.
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy: In "The Strike", this is what Elaine falls into when she loses her Atomic Sub card (she was one punch away from getting a free sub):
    Jerry: You're still trying to get that free sub?
    Elaine: Hey! I have spent a lot of time, and I have eaten a lot of crap to get to where I am today. And I am NOT throwing it all away now.
  • Super OCD: Mr. Pitt, Elaine's condescending boss, in Season 6 of Seinfeld. He could never find a pair of socks that properly fit. Jerry also has a dislike for germs which borders on OCD, and Elaine warns him that his odd "tendencies" can become this if he's not careful. One episode where he's faced with more germs than usual does push him over the edge temporarily. A couple characters also join a support group for people who have germaphobia, which is played for laughs.
  • Supreme Chef: The Soup Nazi - which is why everyone (except for Elaine) put up with his behaviour.
  • Surprise Checkmate: George is on the receiving end of one.
    George: I don't think we should see each other anymore.
  • Survival Mantra "Serenity Now! ... Insanity later!"
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Like George would ever be interested in Marisa Tomei. Right?
  • Swapped Roles: In "The Opposite", George and Elaine switch places. George, who had been chronically unemployed since season 2, finally got a job with the New York Yankees, moved out of his parent's house, and got a girlfriend. On the other hand, Elaine, who had a fairly successful job at Pendant Publishing, is laid off due to the company closing (which she accidentally helped cause), is kicked out of her apartment due to a list of grievances, and Jake Jarmel breaks up with her.
    • Literally happens in "The Chicken Roster." After Jerry and Kramer switch apartments, they also switch personalities.
  • Swiper, No Swiping!: The Bubble Boy's mother tries to stop his murderous anger towards George by... repeatedly snapping her fingers at him.

  • 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" and 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.
    • "The Contest" mentions a beautiful woman across the street from Jerry's apartment who walks around naked with the blinds open; naturally, we never see her until The Stinger at the end (when she's in bed with Kramer, who lost the contest).
    • In the episode "The Shoes," we never actually see the eponymous Botticelli shoes that Gail was fascinated by and Elaine got defensive about. They could be beige bathroom slippers for all we know.
    • In "The Chicken Roaster", we just see Jerry and Kramer looking up, commenting on the giant neon chicken sign.
    • In "The Betrayal," the characters don't say why going to the bathroom in India is a bad idea, only that it is one.
  • Take That!: The show took advantage of Newman's job to make some digs at the Post Office. Newman brags that postal codes don't matter at all, doesn't work in the rain, references Going Postal, declares that envelopes marked "do not fold" can be crammed into mailboxes instead, and calls Jerry a disgrace to the uniform for delivering mail too accurately, at above 50%.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: George quits his job in real estate in "The Revenge" because he wasn't allowed to use the same luxury bathroom as his boss.
    George: That's it. This is it. I'm done. Through. It's over. I'm gone. Finished. Over. I will never work for you again. Look at you. You think you're an important man? Is that what you think? You are a laughingstock. You are a joke. These people are laughing at you. You're nothing! You have no brains, no ability, nothing! (knocks over an object on his desk) I quit!
    • He tried to do the same to Steinbrenner when he got an offer from the Mets, but couldn't get himself fired.
    • In "The Fatigues", all of Elaine's underlings quit when they find out that Elaine promoted Eddie Sherman just to get him out of her department.
    Employee: I bust my hump everyday. (...) As far as I'm concerned, you and your demented protege can run the catalog by yourselves! I QUIT! (everyone else joins him)
    Elaine: Wha... hey. Hey! HEY!!!
    • Elaine herself wanted to do this in "The Diplomat's Club", until Mr. Pitt interrupted her resignation to say he's included her in his will.
  • Talkative Loon: Steinbrenner. George walks out on his unrelated rants several times.
  • Tear Jerker: invoked In-universe, the old man from Home Alone has this effect on George.
  • The Tease: In "The Masseuse", Jodi is this to Jerry, though not for sex, but for her legendary massages.
    Jodi: No means no.
    Jerry: Look, who are you kidding? You come up to my apartment with your table and your little oils, and I'm not supposed to expect anything?! You're a massage teaser!
    Jodi: Listen, I massage who I want, when I want. I don't submit to forcible massage!
  • 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.
      • Knowing George, there is no "if".
    • 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.
    • Young people who see Season 3's "The Pen" probably wonder what the big deal is over 'a pen that writes upside down'.
    • In the episode "The Bubble Boy," Jerry trusts George with his directions to the Bubble Boy's house despite George's lead foot approach to driving. In the modern day of GPS, this would no longer be an issue.
  • Telethon: Jerry works the WNET13 telethon the night his Nana goes missing in "The Pledge Drive".
  • 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).
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: "George is gettin' upset!"
  • That's Gotta Hurt: George yells this during a movie in "The Puerto Rican Day".
  • There Is No Try: In "The Bottle Deposit Part 1":
    Tony: You been rotating the tires?
    Jerry: Try to.
    Tony: (angrily) You don't "try" to. You do it!
  • There Was a Door: Jerry jokes during one of his stand-up bits that this is why superheroes have secret identities: not wanting to face complaints after doing this (or potential lawsuits).
  • The "The" Title: All but one episode (Male Unbonding) has a title that begins with "The." (though some online guides list that episode as "The Male Unbonding"). The reason for this is Jerry Seinfeld didn't want the writers wasting time trying to come up with "clever" episode titles and rather they focused on the scripts themselves (a smart decision).
  • Think of the Children!: Detective Bookman in "The Library":
    Bookman: Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "What's this guy making such a big stink about old library books?" Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we're too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on The Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn't HE deserve better? Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you'd better think again. This is about that kid's right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or, maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that's how you get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies.
    • Subverted in "The Little Kicks", when Jerry decides to keep bootlegging based on an experience he had:
      Jerry: I don't care about Brody. I was up on 96th Street today, there was a kid couldn't have been more than ten years old. He was asking a street vendor if he had any other bootlegs as good as Death Blow. That's who I care about. The little kid who needs bootlegs, because his parent or guardian won't let him see the excessive violence and strong sexual content you and I take for granted.
  • Third-Person Person:
    • Jimmy from "The Jimmy" (who's implied to be mentally challenged), which causes Elaine to accidentally agree to go on a date with him because she assumes he's talking about the cute guy she had her eye on rather than himself.
    • In the same episode, George subconsciously picks up the habit from spending time around Jimmy and starts referring to himself in the third person as well without even realizing it. This confuses the hell out of Steinbrenner when he calls George into his office to accuse him of stealing from the Yankees, since Steinbrenner's first name is also George.
      Steinbrenner: You know George, I've been your biggest supporter around here, and that's why I was so disappointed to hear that you'd been pilfering the equipment.
      George: George would never do anything like that.
      Steinbrenner: No, why would I? I own it.
      George: Right!
      Steinbrenner: So what are you saying?
      George: Why would George steal from the Yankees?
      Steinbrenner: He wouldn't.
      George: Of course not.
      Steinbrenner: [muttering] I don't know what the hell's going on here.
    • In later episodes, George drops the habit for the most part but slips back into it when sufficiently angered. "George is gettin' upset!"
  • 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:
    Jerry: This is gonna be a shame.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Parodied.
    Man: Is anyone here a marine biologist?!
  • 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!".
  • Timmy in a Well: Parodied in "The Andrea Doria": Kramer is sick with a nagging cough, and because he doesn't trust human doctors, he takes a dog with the same cough to a vet and takes the dog's medicine himself. Later, he is told to go get the police when Elaine starts beating up her boyfriend at the Old Mill Restaurant. Kramer runs up to some cops but by this time, has lost his breath and can't talk without coughing. The cops treat him like Lassie.
    Cop: I think he's trying to tell us something! What's that, boy?
    Kramer: [cough] OLD! [cough] MILL!
    Cop: Trouble at the Old Mill?! Let's go!
  • Title-Only Opening: Every episode either starts with the credits shown over one of Jerry's stand-up routines or a cold open.
  • Title, Please!: The titles are never shown on-screen; in a fashion similar to Friends, (almost) every episode is named "The [most memorable or significant plot element]."
  • Toilet Humour: One of the subplots to "The Wife":
    George: Could it be because you don't want him to know you have a friend who pees in the shower?!
    Elaine: That is not the reason!
    George: Oh, I think it is!
    Elaine: Why couldn't you just wait?
    George: I was there, I saw a drain!
    Elaine: Since when is a drain a toilet?!
    George: IT'S ALL PIPES! What's the difference?!
    Elaine: Different pipes go to different places! You're gonna mix them up!
    George: I'll call a plumber right now!
    Jerry: All right, can we just drop all the pee pipe stuff?!
  • 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".
    • In "The Yada Yada":
    Karen: I like your shirt.
    Mickey: Oh thank you. It's 100% cotton, and some wool.
  • Too Much Alike: Jerry and the Girl of the Week played by Janeane Garofalo.
    Jerry: I can't be with someone who's just like me! I hate myself!
  • Tough Act to Follow: In-universe, George encounters this in "The Baby Shower" when he is prepared to tell his ex-girlfriend off, only to be upstaged by one of Jerry's ex-girlfriends doing the same:
    Mary: Jerry?! Remember me?
    Jerry: I'm sorry, I...
    Mary: Mary Contardi. No? Doesn't ring a bell, Jerry? We had a date, three years ago. You took me to one of your shows.
    Jerry: Oh, I, I, think I remember.
    Mary: Told me you had a great time! Said you'd call me the next day.
    Jerry: Well, I'm sure I meant to call.. I probably just lost your...
    Mary: Liar! Liar! You were never going to call me! You thought you could waltz throught the rest of your life and never bump into me again! But you were wrong, Jerry! You were wrong! What do you think, I'm some sort of poor, pathetic wretch?!
    Jerry: No, I don't think that.
    Mary: Some person who could be dismissed and ignored?! Some insignificant piece of dust?! Some person who doesn't deserve your respect and your attention?! You're the one that doesn't deserve my respect and my attention! You're the insignificant piece of dust!
  • 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.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: George, for some reason, becomes obsessed with ostrich burgers by the end of the series.
    • Both in-universe and in Real Life, Jerry loves cereal. In fact, it was lampshaded on at least three different occasions: once, George says to a woman, "[Jerry's] whole life revolves around Superman and cereal!"; during the second Clip Show, Jerry address the audience: "Nine seasons... 180 episodes... same twelve boxes of cereal..."; later still in the second half of "The Finale", Helen packs boxes of cereal for Jerry since he says it's the one thing he misses the most.
    • Elaine and her "big salad".
  • Troll: Jerry could fall into this at times; in "The Couch", for example, he baits Poppy to divulge his stance on abortion, leading to a restaurant-wide division of opinions (with some leaving). Jerry later reflects:
    Jerry: Oh, you really missed something. And I have to say... (proudly) it was pretty much all my fault.
  • 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.
  • True Art Is Angsty: Invoked in the episode "The Comeback." Vincent at the video rental store seems to believe this, much to Elaine's chagrin, as she describes the movies he promotes as "emotionally exhausting." When Kramer suggests a summer comedy instead, Vincent does not take it well.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Invoked.
    • In "The Junior Mint".
    George: "Yes, I look forward to many years of looking at the triangles."
    • Jerry dates an artist who guilts George into buying one of her paintings.
    George: "Look at it! What is it? It's just a bunch of squiggly lines! You're telling me you couldn't paint this?"
    • In the same episode:
    George: "I don't get art. I always need somebody to explain it to me, and then I need someone to explain the explanation."
  • Truth in Television: When Jerry tells his old college buddy that he almost had his own show in Japan, but doesn't speak Japanese, he remarks in confusion, "So... you would have done it in Japan, but in English?", to which Jerry isn't sure. Japan actually has a rather large English-speaking population, so it's not entirely far-fetched that Jerry could have his own (in-universe) show in Japan, and it be done in English.
  • Two-Faced: Referenced in "The Strike." Jerry begins dating a woman who looks quite pretty under certain lighting and absolutely ghastly under others. George, who has apparently dated such women before, calls her "a two-face."
    Jerry: Oh, you mean like the Batman villain?
    George: Sure, if that helps you...
  • 2-for-1 Show: From the beginning to about season four, Jerry's stand-up routines made two or three appearances per episode.
  • 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.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: How Milos acts when Jerry lets him win at tennis.
    Milos: ANOTHER GAME FOR MILOS!!! (...) Hey Patty, look at this guy. He's awful! He's not a man, this Jerry. He's not even married like I am.
    Jerry: Hey, uh, Milos, I don't mind rolling over here, but could you lighten up on the "not a man" stuff?
    Milos: Hey everybody, look! The little chicken girl wants me to ease up. He can't handle this, so he cries like a woman!
    Milos: Look at the big baby! HAHAA!!! Hey, big baby, are you wetting yourself? Maybe it is time for you to be changed!
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The show's main gimmick.
  • Unusual Euphemism: From "The Contest" (and referenced a couple times after): "Master of your Domain" or "queen of the castle".
    • In "The Face Painter", Jerry tells George that if his girlfriend doesn't give an "I love you" in return for his, "that's a pretty big matzo ball hanging out there".
    • In "The Soul Mate", Kramer says of Pam: "She can bring home the bacon and fry it in the pan!"
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Jerry got burned out by the weird things going on involving Kramer. For example:
    • Jerry sees two goons carrying a body wrapped in a carpet leaving Kramer's apartment.
      That nut's always up to something.
    • In "The English Patient", Jerry's dad was unimpressed by a bunch of Cubans (actually Dominicans) laying in his living room.
    • In another episode, George is sleeping in Jerry's cupboards. Jerry opens the door, closes it, opens it again, and exclaims that he accidentally bought something in low-fat instead of regular 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.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Kramer, as described by George after the trial in the series finale:
    You had to hop. You had to HOP ON THE PLANE!
  • Urine Trouble: In "The Couch", Poppie pees on Jerry's brand new couch, so Jerry gives it to George who plans to flip the urine-stained cushion over. Then, in "The Doorman", George's father, Frank Costanza, comes to visit George and sleeps on the couch. Later, when Kramer blabs to Frank about the stain on the couch, Frank gets upset.
    Kramer: I thought Jerry didn't want that couch, because of the stain.
    Frank: What stain?
    Kramer: Oh, you didn't notice? It has a pee-stain.
    Frank: (to George) You had me sleeping on a pee-stained couch?.
    George: No, no. The cushion was turned over.
    Frank: But, the very idea. You had me lying in urine!

  • Vandalism Backfire: Newman performs an Insignia Rip-Off Ritual on Jerry, forgetting that Jerry is wearing his coat.
  • Vanity License Plate: In "The Fusilli Jerry", Kramer went to get a normal license plate, and ended up by mistake getting a plate that says "Assman". He speculates it was supposed to go to a proctologist, and is later proven right when he notices the one they end up at has a boat of the same name.
    Kramer: So you're the Assman!
    Dr. Cooperman: [winks at him]
  • Vaporwear: Sue Ellen Mishke, the "Braless Wonder".
  • Verbal Tic: Elaine will often swallow before saying something embarrassing, causing the first words out of her mouth to sound awkward.
  • 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.
  • Vocal Dissonance: A plot point in "The Pledge Drive": A guy named Dan had a voice which sounded like a woman's. Elaine got Dan's voice mixed up with his wife's, Noreen, which caused headaches aplenty when she let it slip to Dan that Noreen was flirting with Jerry.
  • Vocal Evolution: Jason Alexander started playing George with a vague Woody Allen impression, toned down from his audition tape where it was much more obvious. As he gradually learned how much of the character was Larry David's Author Avatar, the voice evolved more and more into that of a Larry David impression.
  • The Voice: Zig-zagged with Farfel in "The Dog". Farfel spends pretty much the entire episode off-camera in Jerry's bedroom (presumably so the crew wouldn't have to deal with an actual dog; plus, this allowed the editor to strategically insert imitation dog barks in-between Jerry's and Elaine's sentences). By the time its owner, Gavin, takes it back, Farfel finally appears on-camera.
  • 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 soldiers vomiting into their hats.
    • In "The Dinner Party", Jerry heads for the bathroom to vomit up the black and white cookie he ate earlier. Afterwards...
    Elaine: How was it?
    Jerry: Good as it gets.
  • Vomiting Cop: Done in "The Bottle Deposit" with the subject being a brutally dismantled car rather than an eviscerated body.
  • Vorpal Pillow: In "The Heart Attack", George asked Jerry to put him out of his misery. Jerry decided to play along and stuck a pillow over George's face, who apparently wasn't expecting Jerry to actually do it.
    • In "The Diplomat's Club", Elaine, already under suspicion of wanting to kill Mr. Pitt so she could collect the money from his will, walked towards Mr. Pitt's bed holding a pillow. Mr. Pitt's estate lawyer, witnessing this, looked aghast.
  • Wacky Guy: Kramer
  • 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.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Kramer says one of his favorite things to do is to sit and yearn. Neither he nor the show ever explain what exactly he's yearning for.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: In-Universe. In "The Gum," Elaine is eating popcorn while watching the movie and a corn lands on her blouse next to one of the buttons. She picks up the corn and accidentally dislodges the button. See Distracted by the Sexy above.
  • Waxing Lyrical: In "The Millennium":
    Kramer: Well, maybe so, but come midnight, when she's looking for someone warm and cuddly to kiss, I guess you'll be caught between the moon and New York City.
  • Way Past the Expiration Date:
    • 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. Peterman decides not to fire her over this.
    Mr. Peterman: Elaine, is the item still "with" you?
    Elaine: Um, as far as I know.
    Mr. Peterman: Do you know what happens to a butter-based frosting after six decades in a poorly ventilated English basement?
    Elaine: (frightened) Uh, I guess I hadn't-
    Mr. Peterman: Well, I have a feeling that what you are about to go through is punishment enough. (Beat.) Dismissed.
  • We Can Rule Together:
    Elaine: Together we can put Putamayo out of business, and make Cinco de Mayo numero uno!
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: In "The Bizarro Jerry", Elaine realizes she can't deal with the Bizarro Jerry, George and Kramer, because they're simply too nice.
  • Wedding Ring Defense: George goes for the inversion in "The Apartment", when he wears a fake wedding ring to a party to attract female interest. It backfires on him, as while he meets several women, they're all turned off by his "married" status.
  • Wham Line: In "The Limo", O'Brien's followers are revealed to be anti-Semitic neo-Nazis instead of basketball fans when George proofreads O'Brien's speech:
    George: "And the Jews steal our money through their Zionist occupied government and use the black man to bring drugs into our oppressed white minority communities."
    Jerry: ...You're not gonna open with that, are ya?
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?:
    Jerry: Of course, I've never had Pakistani food. How bad it could be?
    • Said word for word by George in "The Barber" about his latest idea.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We don't actually see just what happens to Elaine after the gang is convicted at the end of "The Finale"; we can only assume she's sent to a women's prison.
    • 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 storyline with Elaine's psychiatrist boyfriend Dr. Reston. Since he was described as having a mental hold on Elaine, how she broke up with him is left unanswered.
    • What happened to Jerry's sister and George's brother? They're mentioned early on but are never seen, which is weird considering how much we see of their families. Elaine's sister is also never seen, but it's less strange since Elaine is clearly not as close to her family.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Helene in "The Trip".
  • Who's on First?: In "The Tape", Elaine reveals to George that she was the one to say lewd things into Jerry's tape recorder, but asked George not to tell Jerry because she wanted to have fun with it. Towards the end of the episode, George reveals that, due to the tape, he's become attracted to Elaine.
    Jerry: Does she know?
    George: No.
    Jerry: How did it happen?
    George: I can't say.
    Jerry: Well, why can't you say it?
    George: Because I promised her.
    Jerry: I thought you just said she doesn't know??
    George: She doesn't.
    Jerry: So how can you promise her?
    George: Because she asked me to.
    Jerry: What is this, an Abbott and Costello routine?!
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Jerry's initial mindset towards George's idea for their show about nothing.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: In-universe, a number of Seinfeldian conversations fall into this.
    George: I guarantee you, Moses was a [nose] picker. You wander through the desert for forty years with that dry air, you telling me you're not going to have occasion to clean house a little bit?
  • 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".
    • George and Susan are an inversion; after not having seen Susan since Jerry's TV pilot was shelved, season seven begins with George tracking her down and proposing marriage. She accepts, and he spends the rest of the season concocting ways to get her to break up with him, with each plan backfiring in typical Seinfeld fashion.
    • Jerry and Elaine are a straight example, but not to the point of having a legitimate Story Arc. 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.
  • Working Through the Cold: Real Life example: Julia Louis-Dreyfus had a noticeably scratchy voice in "The Engagement". Luckily it worked out, as in the story, Elaine was hoarse from screaming at a barking alley dog in the middle of the night.
    • Mr. Lippman had a cold in "The Opposite" when he was trying to sell his business to Japanese investors. It all goes horribly wrong when he refuses to shake their hands by saying "Germs" (as in, he didn't want them to get sick) and they misinterpreted it as disrespect.
  • Worst Aid: After being bitten by the dog in the episode "The Glasses," Elaine visits a doctor who hardly speaks any English and doesn't have any idea what she's talking about.
  • 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.
  • Writer's Block: Jerry and George gets writer's block when they try to write the script for their pilot in The Cheever Letters. At the end of the episode they managed to write three lines of dialog, which consist of them saying hi and hello and then asking "how's it going?".
  • 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.
  • Wrote the Book: George claims to have invented It's Not You, It's Me.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Jerry thinks the doorman in "The Doorman" used this, especially when the lobby couch is stolen after Jerry (who was covering for the doorman) ditched, but there was proof that he was there at the time because he signed for a mail package:
    Jerry: Diabolical. He thought of everything. He was setting me up from day one!
  • 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 (even though the co-worker in question had since gotten another job and moved to Ohio). "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 had sex with your wife!"
      • This then leads to a moment when everyone at the table goes silent and the guy beside George quietly says "George, his wife is in a coma".
      • 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. Keep in mind that this was after he got back to New York, meaning he had to either take a plane or drive for a long time to go between the two cities.
  • The X of Y: "He's the Sakharov of cable guys!"
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In "The Pilot Part 2", mere seconds after the pilot finished airing on TV (and after Elaine told Jerry and George that they'd probably get picked up and become famous), Rita Kierson (who replaced Russell) called Jerry to let him know that she was passing on the show.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: "Thou who cureth can maketh ill", attributed for laughs to the Bible by Kramer in "The Slicer".
  • You Are Grounded: Frank grounded George in "The Cigar Store Indian" after George had sex with a woman in Frank and Estelle's bed.
  • You Are Number Seven: As a tribute to his favorite player, Mickey Mantle, George plans to name his firstborn child "Seven".
    Jerry: You know George, just because you had a terrible childhood doesn't mean you have to ruin someone else's.
  • You Are What You Hate: Jerry once dated a woman whose mannerisms and interests were basically identical with his own, to the point that he at first thought she was "the one". In the end, though, he broke up because she was too like him and he couldn't stand it.
    Jerry: I can't be with someone like me... I hate myself!
  • You Mean "Xmas": Festivus.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: In one episode, Jerry dates a girl that he really likes, but everyone else thinks is a huge loser. Her own friends thank him profusely for going out with her as if it was a saintly act of charity, while George and Kramer are so worried that he is depressed and fallen on hard times that they stage an intervention. Desperate for someone to approve of his relationship with this girl, Jerry flies in his parents to meet her. When they actually do like her, Jerry suddenly doesn't like her anymore.
  • 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."
  • You Won't Feel a Thing: The episode "The Glasses" has a subversion:
    Elaine: It's not going to hurt a lot, is it?
    Doctor: Yes, very much.
  • Zany Scheme: Kramer is the king of these, from Running Gag business ventures (e.g., a make-your-own pizza place) to episodic fascinations.

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