Almost 20 years after its finale, with continuously never-ending re-runs on TV, and even now with its availability on Netlflix, Seinfeld is still just as popular now as it was during its initial run. It’s also been often thought of as one of the most influential sitcoms of all time, and it’s also one of the most quotable.
While the main cast of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer are responsible for a large bulk of the show’s funniest dialogue, there were several supporting side characters and even one-off guest appearances who managed to deliver certain lines that are arguably even more memorable and never fail to make fans laugh.
Jerry’s Uncle Leo and his more than eccentric nature served as a constant annoyance to Jerry throughout the course of the series. Jerry had managed to put up with several of Leo’s crazy behaviors, but one of the things he refused to stand for was his uncle’s unnoticed and unpunished act of shoplifting in a bookstore.
When Jerry later confronts Leo about his illegal activity and warns him of the potential consequences, his uncle simply brushes it off, claiming that even if he does get caught, he can use his old age to talk his way out of it. It just goes to show how much none of the show’s characters could ever be reasoned with, and Leo was most definitely no exception.
The season 4 episode titled “The Contest” has been cited as co-creator Larry David’s favorite Seinfeld episode, and considering its hilariously outrageous premise, it’s easy to see why. The episode centers around the gang placing a bet over who could go the longest without self-gratifying after George reveals that his mother was in the hospital from shock after she walked in on him in the middle of doing so.
When George later goes to visit her while in recovery, she recalls the incident while delivering one of her funniest rants and holding absolutely nothing back. In classic Costanza fashion, she’s loud and overly critical in airing out her grievance, creating one of the show’s funniest examples of their all-too-dysfunctional family dynamic.
Jerry’s arch-nemesis, Newman, was not only a humorous villain, but he was responsible for several dramatic monologues in the series. After George and Jerry jokingly ask him about why certain mailmen “go postal,” he begins to unleash a tirade of epic proportions.
Newman has been shown to take pride in his job as a mailman, but he is brought nearly to his breaking point from the mere thought of having to work with too much mail. With his intense expressions, increasing loudness of his voice, and redness in his face, seeing an emotionally unhinged Newman always makes for a hard laugh.
After being encouraged by Elaine’s volunteer work for an organization that provides companionship and assistance to senior citizens, Jerry and George decide to participate as well. When Jerry is assigned to a man by the name of Sidney Fields, he’s quite shocked by just how rude and loud the old man turns out to be.
When Jerry first meets Sidney, almost every word uttered by the old man is an unwarranted belittlement or form of name-calling. As Jerry proceeds to leave, Sidney drops one final insult in form of a question, much to his own amusement. Out of all of the one-off characters featured on Seinfeld, the cranky and crass nature of Sidney Fields certainly makes him one that’s far too funny to forget.
George’s father, Frank Constanza, is often said to have been one of the meanest characters from Seinfeld, constantly airing out his aggression by yelling at his wife, son, and others over the most minor of inconveniences. However, he does make an attempt in season 9 to curb his anger and lower his blood pressure with the help of a phrase from his doctor’s cassette tape: “Serenity now.”
Needless to say, the method is not effective at all, since he not only screams it at the top of his lungs, but it only bottles up anger until it’s all ready to burst. Perhaps the real hilarity of the quote comes from its true effect: “Serenity now, insanity later.”
Jerry never had the best of luck trying to hold down a girlfriend, but he had an especially hard time trying to win over Elaine’s Native American friend Winona in the episode “The Cigar Store Indian.” After unintentionally insulting her with his titular gift to Elaine, he later apologizes and asks her to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, but his plan goes awry when he mistakenly insults a Chinese mailman when he asks him for the restaurant’s location, making him seem even more racially insensitive.
The mailman proceeds to berate Jerry, accusing him of making a racist assumption that he’d know the location based solely on his race before mockingly reflecting the question back onto him. The mailman’s response is hilariously unexpected and well-written, but it’s the actor’s performance and delivery that really sells it as possibly the episode’s funniest moment.
Whenever the gang was in need of legal assistance (especially Kramer), Jackie Chiles was always their go-to counsel (even if he lost every case that involved them). Their most desperate time came in the first half of the two-part series finale when they’re all arrested for failing to follow the “Good Samaritan Law” when witnessing a carjacking, and Chiles was immediately on their case.
Chiles proceeds to criticize their arrest, citing that as Americans, they “don’t have to help anybody” even if it makes them look like jerks, further calling it “deplorable, unfathomable, improbable!” Perhaps this quote is so funny because it’s also true in more ways than one.
Even when Jerry tries to be helpful (whether it’s only to feed his own ego or not), his intentions often backfire and only make certain situations worse. When he offered struggling restaurateur, Babu Bhatt, advice on how to possibly improve his business, the end result was not exactly what had hoped for.
Babu’s once friendly and kind attitude towards Jerry takes a serious turn, blaming him for the downfall of his restaurant and labeling him a “very bad man” while furiously wagging his index finger. It’s become one of the show’s most famous quotes, but it also reflects just how capable the main characters are of ruining the livelihood of others (even if they don’t mean to).
Out of all of Elaine’s decisions in her relationships, her on-again, off-again relationship with David Puddy was by far one of her worst considering how toxic they were together. In the season 9 episode “The Burning,” Elaine happened to learn something else about him that bothered her: he’s religious.
When Elaine asks if it bothers him that she isn’t religious, he claims it doesn’t matter to him, since he’s “not the one going to Hell.” The monotonous and apathetic tone of his delivery further proves just how much they bring out the worst in each other, but it also shows just how funny the toxicity of their relationship truly is.
If there’s one episode that truly captures the essence of Seinfeld, it would probably be “The Soup Nazi.” Jerry and George know firsthand, when the episode’s titular character catches a customer doing something he doesn’t like, they pay the price: “No soup for you!”
For anyone who has yet to watch Seinfeld, chances are they’ve heard the classic line at least once in their life somewhere. Having been quoted for decades, and being just as funny out of context, it’s no wonder fans continue to consider it one of the funniest lines.