From lively meals shared at Monk’s to zany solo adventures, the four starring characters of “Seinfeld” remain some of TV’s most lovably awful to date.
Created by Larry David and star Jerry Seinfeld, the gang’s all-time excellent sitcom — that’s not just a staple of ‘90s network offerings but of history-making entertainment writ large — first aired on July 5, 1989, under the title “The Seinfeld Chronicles.” The pilot episode introduced the semi-autobiographical story of a stand-up comic living, loving, and languishing alongside his closest friends in New York City, and would re-air a year later when the first season kicked off in earnest under the simple moniker: “Seinfeld.”
Although the series was poorly received by test audiences (so poorly received, in fact, that the series nearly didn’t get made), critics and fans quickly latched onto the brilliance bubbling beneath its simple conceit. With an earworm bass line and a revolving door of hilarious running gags, “Seinfeld” boasted a distinct feel from the start. That self-assuredness would make the series one of NBC’s most successful.
Seinfeld would play a fictional version of himself across nine stellar seasons, with “Seinfeld” racking up 10 Emmys (and an additional 68 nominations) during its 180-episode run. The comedian starred opposite Jason Alexander as George Constanza, a cranky sports fan with terminally bad luck; Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, a loud and opinionated editor who used to date Jerry; and Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer, Jerry’s larger-than-life neighbor and an iconic renaissance man of the small screen.
The best “Seinfeld” episodes intertwine the storylines of all four characters, letting Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer’s distinct personalities drive the action to hilarious effect. Even in episodes that focus more heavily on one or two of the legendary TV friends, the group’s overarching philosophy — an extension of David and Seinfeld’s combined wisdom and wit — helps specific episodes stand out.
With the caveat that cherry-picking any series as fantastic as “Seinfeld” is an exercise in futility (or should we say, fusilli-ty?): Here are the 20 best “Seinfeld” episodes, from “The Switch” and “The Stall” to “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Contest.”