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Every Episode of ‘Seinfeld’ Ranked, Twice

Every Episode of 'Seinfeld' Ranked, Twice

With the entirety of “Seinfeld” on Hulu — unless you count the fact that they’re cropping every frame in the show’s history to fit widescreen frames, which puts the total, image-wise, closer to 75 percent — both Vulture’s Larry Fitzmaurice and Vanity Fair’s Sam Fragoso have ranked every episode in the show’s history. (Well, almost every episode: Vulture had 168, then updated it to 168; Vanity Fair still has 168, although the missing episode is not the one Vulture added later. Neither includes the sixth season retrospective “The Highlights of 100,” because why would they.)

So, how do they stack up against each other?  Interestingly, there are only two points of overlap between Fitzmaurice and Fragoso’s Top 10: The undisputed champion, “The Contest,” which sits at the top of both lists, and “The Subway,” which is Vulture’s second and Vanity Fair’s eighth. Fitzmaurice says of “The Contest,” “At this point in the show’s run, ‘Seinfeld ‘had already incorporated several clever masturbation jokes into episodes. But here, the show’s architects created an entire episode about it without once saying the word, instead creating their own language that doesn’t resort to cheap euphemisms. (The closest they come is Estelle’s “I find my son treating his body like it was an amusement park” remark, which still kills.) Peerless TV, no question.” (Vanity Fair’s Top 10, for some reason, are just pictures and episode quotes, so Fragoso’s reasons will go with him to the grave.)

The most divisive episodes are “The Pen,” which ranks 6th on Vulture’s lists and a lowly 167th — second to last — on Vanity Fair’s; and “The Mango,” Vanity Fair’s 6th and Vulture’s 162nd. (Close by: “The Masseuse,” a Vulture 13 to Vanity Fair’s 166.) What about the absolute worst? Vanity Fair picks “The Dog” as “Seinfeld’s” nadir, while Vulture singles out “The Puerto Rican Day Parade,” an episode that NBC eventually apologized for airing. 

Which list is better? We’d sooner lick a poisoned envelope than choose, but it is the mark of an enduringly great show that 20 years later, it’s still worth arguing over.

Vulture’s Top 10 Seinfeld Episodes

(Vanity Fair rankings in parentheses)
1. “The Contest” (1)
2. “The Subway” (8)
3. “The Opposite” (14)
4. “The Fire” (33) 
5. “The Hamptons” (97)
6. “The Pen” (167)
7. “The Rye” (77)
8. “The Old Man” (89)
9. “The Summer of George” (59)
10. “The Secret Code” (35)

Vanity Fair’s Top 10 Seinfeld Episodes

(Vulture rankings in parentheses)
1. “The Contest” (1)
2. “The Marine Biologist” (61)
3. “The Boyfriend,” Part 1 & 2 (114)
4. “The Merv Griffin Show” (11)
5. “The Switch” (118)
6. “The Mango” (162)
7. “The Race” (115)
8. “The Subway” (2)
9. “The Sponge” (94)
10. “The Andrea Doria” (100)

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