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Tear Jerker / Seinfeld

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  • The next-to-last episode, "The Chronicle". At the end, the montage of best moments, bloopers, and behind the scenes footage of the cast members joking and laughing together, while "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day plays over it, ending with the cast taking a deep bow for the audience, hand-in-hand... The last slow pans of the quiet, deserted sets of Jerry's apartment and Monk's Cafe, both places that viewers were as familiar with as they were with their own real-life hangouts. Plus the phrases "I hope you had the time of your life" and "For what it's worth, it was worth all the while" .... there are simply no words to describe the exquisitely painful sheer excellence of it. For a sitcom that never had a truly serious emotional moment, it sure invoked a hell of a lot of emotion in its huge viewer share.
  • George gets a brief one in the Frogger episode. He overtly declares that the only accomplishment in his life that he cares about is a video game high score.
    George: Kramer, listen to me. I'm never gonna have a child. If I lose this Frogger high score, that's it for me.
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    • George gets a lot of these that border on Fridge Horror. Case in point, when he becomes attracted to Jerry's girlfriend—because she doesn't like him. What does it say about how bad his self-esteem is that he'd want to be with a woman who hates him?
      • It's a Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond situation. When George chooses Jerry's girlfriend over his own, his own girlfriend says that she now hates him. George doesn't care, because he's used to his own girlfriends hating him, just not Jerry's.
  • Susan's death in the finale of season seven. While many deaths of Seinfeld characters are either comedic or done off screen, the death of George's beloved fiancee was very tragic and sympathetic. Especially the fact that George himself is responsible for her death because he picked out invitation envelopes for their wedding from a store that has poison glue, which killed Susan after she licked it. Susan's death is considered to be the saddest moment of the entire series. George himself was in pure shock and barely speechless to her death, regardless of his own indecision of getting married in the first place (he did, however, get over it rather quickly and resumed his bachelor life). Not to mention the Adult Fear of Susan's parents.
    • Though taken in context with his characterization over the rest of the series, George's shock is clearly one of simple confusion over how best socially to react at the lifting of an enormous burden; seconds later he nonchalantly asks the gang to get some coffee without an ounce of guilt or remorse.
    • The sheer absurdity and suddenness of Susan's death gets a lot less funny (or more, whatever) when you realize that it's the natural endpoint of the Trauma Conga Line that Susan's life has been ever since the show's main cast came into it, starting with Kramer throwing up on her and continuing into being fired from her job as an NBC executive due to George's amorous attentions, her family's cabin burning down, her father's affair with John Cheever being exposed, her rebound relationship cheating on her with Kramer...and she's done nothing to earn any of it except be the only person alive willing to give George that many chances. It's probably also worth recalling that much as she's treated as an albatross around George's neck throughout Season 7, he was not only the instigator (in sharp contrast to the standard "ball and chain" scenario where a woman guilts a man into commitment) but spent several hours talking her into getting engaged before she agreed. The sheer senselessness makes it almost a darker scenario than if she were a Love Martyr—she basically died because a man who had grown to genuinely dislike her, and who she herself could have lived without, didn't have the guts for the breakup conversation.
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    • Jerry actually seems legitimately sad at the realization that George will be married soon and that this is probably the first step towards the gang breaking up—"They'll move out to Long Island, she'll get pregnant"—especially since Elaine herself declares that she's determined to get married soon.
  • Sure they were horrible people, but the fact that the series ended with the four characters that we've grown to love for nine years getting arrested is extremely depressing.
  • In "The Bizarro Jerry", it's actually a little sad to see Elaine's sincere efforts at improving herself by hanging out with better versions of Jerry, George, and Kramer blow up in about five minutes when she does her typical "Get Out!" move and shoves the guy so hard that he falls and hurts himself.
    • Compared to similar sitcoms, Seinfeld has a distinctly unsentimental take on what maintains the bond of the dysfunctional friend group. Presented with more positive alternatives to the other cast members, Elaine clearly and unambiguously goes for them instead, and never reconsiders. No Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them moment of missing her friends' quirks; no revelation that Good Is Boring when it comes to these boy scouts, or even that they're not as good as they seem. She simply hangs out with them until they reject her. They may—if she has a choice—be her Jerry, George and Kramer, but her behavior cements the fact that she's not, and never can be, their Elaine.
  • The soap opera that Mickey and Kramer are stand-ins for in "The Stand-In" contains a brief tearjerker scene played straight:
    Son: How long are you going to be away for Daddy?
    Father: I'm not really going away, I told you, I'll be back every other weekend.
    Son: Don't go Daddy, don't go.
    Father: Now Porter, you know your mother and I love you very much, but sometimes people fall out of love. Now give me a big hug.
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    • Of course, this swings right back into comedy immediately when Kramer and Mickey re-enact the scene as the stand-ins, with Kramer's wooden/hammy acting and Mickey's disinterested line reads.
  • There's another brief one for George in "The Statue". When Kramer manages to get back the statue that George wanted to give to his parents, to replace the one he broke as a child, George is overcome with emotion. The way he stammers "I feel happy!", with such juvenile bewilderment and shock, shows just how miserable George is for most of his life. Of course, this all goes out the window as George breaks the new statue just seconds later.
  • In season 4's "The Pilot", NBC president Russell Dalrymple, who earlier in the season was more confident, quickly slips into a shell of his former self after being rejected by Elaine, because he was the president of a TV network, which Elaine has no respect for. The rejection left him a broken man and the vain attempts to win her over, which results with Elaine avoiding him, even going as far as wearing a wig and sunglasses to disguise herself when attending the taping of Jerry's pilot. Russel even breaks down to the point where he fires a crew member just for bumping into him. He leaves NBC to join Greenpeace, hoping he can win over Elaine's love. But that ended up costing him his life when the mission goes wrong and he ends up lost at sea.
    Greenpeace member: (after Russell's line breaks) I'll remember her name: Elaine Benes! I'll write to her! I'll tell her all about you and what you did out here! Goodbye, matey! Goodbye... (a page from the Jerry pilot floats on the waves)
  • "The Doll" has a Shaggy Dog subplot that gives us a glimpse of Frank Costanza's humanity beyond being a shouting lunatic, as he becomes convinced that a man whose picture Elaine took in Tuscany, standing next to a sign that said "Costanza," is a cousin that he played with every day before emigrating with his parents at the age of four. He's obsessed with the idea even though, as George points out, Italy has "millions of Costanzas." In The Stinger he tracks down the guy and greets him with a joyful shout and an affectionate hug, only to be severely rebuffed when the man turns out not to be his cousin. The crack in Frank's voice when he says "I guess I was wrong" and shuffles off is heartwrenching.
  • In "The Andrea Doria," George, whose prospective new apartment has instead been given to a survivor of the Andrea Doria shipwreck because the owners feel sorry for him, decides to play Misery Poker for it and wins in a landslide, reducing the panel to tears. It's largely Played for Laughs as a Continuity Cavalcade referencing previous episodes ("...I was handcuffed to the bed in my underwear, where I remained for..."), but his conclusion kind of stings:
    "In closing, these stories have not been embellished, because they need no embellishment. They are simply, horrifyingly, the story of my life as a short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man. Thank you."note 
  • Elaine is kicked out of the Korean manicurist shop for bringing in Frank to translate the insults they're lobbing at her in Korean. The next scene, she's wandering the streets, crying. It takes bumping into J. Peterman, her future boss, to lift her spirits.
  • The fleeting moment of clarity in Season 7 opener "The Engagement" that George interprets as a pact to get married is about as poignant as Seinfeld gets and hangs a big ol' lampshade on the fact that while Status Quo Is God is a great formula for a sitcom, it's not a great way to build a life.
    Jerry: ...What is this? What—what are we doing? What in God's name are we doing?
    George: What?
    Jerry: Our lives! What—what kind of lives are these? We're like children. We're not men!
    George: No, we're not. We're not men.
    George: I know, I know, that's what I do! That's what I do!
    Jerry: Are we going to be sitting here when we're sixty, like two idiots?
    George: We should be having dinner with our sons when we're sixty!
    Jerry: We're pathetic, you know that?
    George: Yeah, like I don't know that I'm pathetic!
    George: Yes, me too! I wanna be normal! Normal!
    Jerry: It would be nice to care about someone!
  • "The Serenity Now" offers a pretty dark read on Jerry's Deadpan Snarker attitude: he's virtually incapable of feeling real emotion. Once his feelings surface, he grieves when the Girl of the Week breaks up with him, expresses his love for both George and Kramer, and finally has a Love Epiphany about Elaine that causes him to propose marriage on the spot. Naturally, he's reverted to type by the time Elaine, moved by his words about how they've both been looking too far afield when they have everything they need in their relationship, has decided to accept his proposal. It makes you wonder if Jerry's emotional deficiencies are the only thing keeping them from finding genuine romantic fulfillment in the context of their unique bond.
  • In "The Maid," Elaine takes the phone number of an old lady who died in her building so she'll have the old area code, only to receive many, many phone calls from the woman's very young grandson Bobby, whose parents apparently didn't tell him she passed away.
    Bobby: Gammy Krantz, it's your grandson Bobby. Why haven't you called?
    Elaine: Oh...nuts.
    Bobby: Do you hate me 'cause of my lazy eye?
  • According to "Bizarro Jerry" writer David Mandel, after Larry David's departure the writers began to write Elaine with the idea that she's starting to feel unfulfilled with the Status Quo Is God routine of the show and to look "beyond" her friendship with the guys. Seen in that light, Elaine's trajectory over the last two seasons is pretty dismal. "The Soul Mate" shows that most of her friends are in a completely different phase of life and patronize her because she doesn't have kids, while in "The Little Jerry" she contemplates marrying a guy she's all but lost interest in seemingly just for a change of pace (cf. her stated intention of "getting out" of singledom in "The Invitations"). In "The Puerto Rican Day," the next-to-last episode before the finale (not counting the clip show), she ditches her friends with the words, "I've been trying to leave this group for ten years."
    • There's also her career. In "The Cartoon":
      Elaine: Maybe Kramer's right. Some people should just give up. I have.
      Jerry: What did you want to be?
      Elaine: I don't remember. But it certainly wasn't this.
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