Friends is leaving the streaming service next year, and Seinfeld stands alongside it as the other defining sitcom of the era. For those of you already initiated in the hilarious, kinda horrible lives of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer, you’ll know just how exciting this is – and if you’re in the camp who have been wasting your lives up until now, oh boy are you in for a treat.
Seinfeld has been dubbed ‘the show about nothing’, owing to its loose plot points and freeform style, and its philosophy has created ripples throughout TV comedy since, influencing everything from Curb Your Enthusiasm (Larry David is a co-creator of the show) to It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and beyond. Simply put, it’s probably the favourite show of the creators of your favourite show.
A firm favourite among dry, self-deprecating millenials, Seinfeld is a meme minefield (it was given the ‘Bad Guy’ treatment, of course), teeming with in-jokes that continue to define friendship groups. Fancy some soup, anyone?
Like all the best TV shows, there’s a cult-like fandom around Seinfeld; people live and die by this show. And if you think that Peep Show’s Jez and Mark are relatable, there’s a whole universe of the haplessness of George just waiting for you, making you feel that little bit better about your own life.
If you’re yet to dive into the best sitcom going (we’re only judging you a little), we’ve collated ten classic episodes of Seinfeld that are guaranteed to initiate you into the cult. Happy Festivus!
10. The Subway Season 3, Episode 13
What happens: Each of the four main characters take suitably bizarre subway rides. George ends up being courted by a woman before being taken to her hotel bedroom, handcuffed and then robbed, while Jerry befriends a nudist, and Elaine misses a lesbian wedding due to the subway being delayed. All in a day’s work.
Why it’s great: Sending these four madcap folks off on their own around the notoriously characterful NYC subway was only going to bring ridiculous, brilliant endings.
Best line: George: “I get the feeling when lesbians are looking at me, they’re thinking: ‘That’s why I’m not heterosexual’.”
9. The Chicken Roaster Season 8, Episode 8
What happens: As surreal as they get, The Chicken Roaster sees Kramer switch apartments with Jerry due to a new chicken restaurant opening next door leaving him unable to sleep due to the red neon sign. In a throwback to the events of The Opposite, Kramer and Jerry then switch personalities.
Why it’s great: One of the most absurd Seinfeld episodes there is, it interlinks wonderfully between characters, accentuating their weird quirks to levels not seen before in the show.
Best line: Jerry: “It’s Kramer isn’t it? The greasy door knob, the constant licking of the fingers – he’s hooked to the chicken isn’t he?”
8. The Summer of George Season 8, Episode 22
What happens: After being laid off from his job as Assistant to the Traveling Secretary for the New York Yankees, George decides to use his severance package to have a summer off. Typical unemployment behaviour follows, before the episode sees him ending up in physical therapy, because of course…
Why it’s great: With no job, George is allowed to indulge in his weirdness. Seeing the real him, somehow, makes us love him even more.
Best line: George: “Frolf, frisbee golf Jerry. Golf with a frisbee. This is gonna be my time. Time to taste the fruits and let the juices drip down my chin. I proclaim this: The Summer of George!”
7. The Limo Season 3, Episode 19
What happens: In The Limo, a bona fide Seinfeld classic, George lies about his identity at an airport to get a free ride in the limo to Madison Square Garden. What he doesn’t realise, though, is that the man whose identity he stole is a neo-Nazi, and the group end up at a protest across the street from the venue.
Why it’s great: Seinfeld comes to life when its characters truly, truly fuck up, and George goes above and beyond here.
Best line: Elaine: “Listen, you idiot! Just calm down! I know Jerry, he’s not a nazi. He’s just neat.”
6. The Marine Biologist Season 5, Episode 14
What happens: In a classic sitcom plot, Jerry tells a woman that George is a marine biologist on a whim, and George proceeds to dive deep into the lie. What follows is a host of brilliant, absurd fabrications of his life.
Why it’s great: As with The Limo, George is at his best when he’s trapping himself in a ridiculous web of his own lies (or in this case, Jerry’s lies about him). Sorry George!
Best line: George: “Well it’s not up my alley! It’s one thing if I make it up. I know what I’m doin, I know my alleys! You got me in the Galapagos Islands livin’ with the turtles!”
5. The Puffy Shirt Season 5, Episode 2
What happens: After mishearing the hushed tones of Kramer’s girlfriend, Jerry accidentally agrees to wear the titular puffy shirt when appearing on The Today Show.
Why it’s great: Embarrassment doesn’t get much purer than this, and we’re more than happy to giggle at Jerry’s misfortune.
Best line: George: “Borrowing money from a friend is like having sex. It just completely changes the relationship.”
4. The Chinese Restaurant Season 2, Episode 11
What happens: The gang wait for a table in a Chinese restaurant, and their frustration at the long wait becomes the entire episode. Elaine gets fed up and eats food off another diner’s plate.
Why it’s great: Seinfeld became known as ‘the show about nothing’, and The Chinese Restaurant shows this to be true in the best and funniest way. An entire episode set in the entrance to the restaurant, the cast manages to carry a hilarious episode on the flimsiest plot imaginable, setting the building blocks for what would follow across seven more series’.
Best line: Elaine: “Ya know, its not fair people are seated ‘first come first served’, it should be based on who’s hungriest.”
3. The Opposite Season 5, Episode 21
What happens: One for the super fans, The Opposite sees George and Elaine turning into each other. In George’s mind, he believes that since every decision he’s ever made has been wrong, he’ll do the opposite.
Why it’s great: Amplifying everything that makes their pair of personalities so great to begin with, this episode is Seinfeld-ception, and dives deep into these truly hilarious characters with bloody brilliant results.
Best line: Summing up the episode succinctly, Jerry says: “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”
2. The Soup Nazi Season 7, Episode 6
What happens: The Soup Nazi, one of Seinfeld‘s most iconic side characters, stars in this episode of the same name. He makes soup so good that it drives Jerry out of a relationship and drives Elaine to expose his recipes after being banned from the shop.
Why it’s great: As good as a standalone special as it is a part of the show as a whole, The Soup Nazi brings the wildest sides out of Jerry and Elaine, making himself a Seinfeld legend in the process.
Best line: Elaine: “I don’t think George has ever thought he’s better than anybody.”
1. The Contest Season 4, Episode 11
What happens: George’s mother finds him doing… well, it’d be rude to mention. The episode then revolves around the gang betting who can go the longest without doing the unmentionable.
Why it’s great: A masterclass in innuendo, The Contest is a hilarious episode packed with euphemisms and rudeness that hasn’t dimmed over time. Comedy at its finest.
Best line: Jerry: “We have to do it. It’s part of our lifestyle. It’s like, uh.. shaving.”