It was a show about nothing. But it’s got everything, in the form of four not yet grown up adults who find themselves immersed in neighbor rivalries, workplace drama, failed romance, and over involved parents. The comedic style of the show is biting; to love it, you must embrace the awkward. Because of the unmatched chemistry of the core four characters and the stunning ensemble of emerging comedic talent we find in the bit characters, Seinfeld is the greatest sitcom of all-time. This is one humble attempt to do justice to the characters that made this show the best.
Tried out but didn’t make the team
#461 - Susan Ross- George’s fiancé exits the show after a wedding invitation envelope glue mishap. In the aftermath of her death, all George can say is, “It’s just a magnificent stone.” That sums up my feelings about the loss as well. Simply, the show is better without her.
#125 - Tina - Elaine’s longtime roommate and Kramer’s sometime girlfriend attempts to buy humor by adding to the show’s snark and contempt, but her face whenever she sees Elaine is pretty much my face whenever she enters a scene.
#97 - Izzy Mandelbaum - It makes approximately zero sense why Izzy would have a rivalry with Jerry Seinfeld. Lloyd Bridges’ character tries to come in from the top rope but fell flat.
Good Enough for a Sportscenter Highlight
#29 - Jeannie - Jerry’s short-term finance, Jeannie gets our main character’s attention by being just like him. This short arc of the show helps us understand the appeal of meeting a mirror-image of ourselves while comedically showing how quickly we can tire of ourselves.
#28 - Lloyd Braun - Lloyd Braun shows up a few times as George’s high school rival; in the pinnacle of his work on the show, Braun is competing with George to sell computers, and counters Frank Costanza’s new mental health regimen with the classic line, “serenity now, insanity later.”
#27 - Sue Ellen Mischke - The braless wonder appears several times in the series in a rival role to Elaine. Her work here with Jackie Chiles doing a Johnnie Cochran parody is stunningly good. “If the bra doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
#26 - Jack Klompus - Even Morty Seinfeld has a rival. We get to experience Jack Klompus every time the action turns to the Seinfelds’ retirement village in Florida. Klompus is the mainstay in every retirement complex who is reliving his glory days by enjoying his HOA power a little too much. “Take the pen!”
#25 - Kenny Bania - Completing our run of rivalriess, Kenny is notorious for stealing Jerry’s jokes and passing them off as his own. All the while, he sucks up to Jerry with classics like this, “That’s gold, Jerry, gold.”
#24 - Helen Seinfeld - Jerry’s mom is the least compelling of the aging parents of Jerry and George who regularly appear on the show. Perhaps her best contribution to the show is her complete misunderstanding of how her son comes across to other people. “How could anyone not like you Jerry?”
#23 - Kruger - One of the many memorable performances by one of George’s bosses, Mr. Kruger is an expert at humiliating George in staff meetings. “Are you done?”
#22 - Maestro - A mysterious boyfriend for Elaine, he insists on being called the Maestro. He throws up a classic heatcheck when Jerry expresses interest in Tuscany, “if you’re thinking of getting a place, there’s really nothing available.”
#21- Lippman - Mr. Lippman has a lot to live up to in the string of excellent performances by Elaine’s bosses. In a classic scene, he takes one of her edits apart. “I hate the exclamation points.”
#20 - Tim Whatley - In a breakout performance by Bryan Cranston, Whatley draws the admiration of the entire core four of characters. Elaine wants to date him, George and Kramer want to be like him, and Jerry just wants Tim to like him. This might be the creepiest scene in the whole series:
#19 - Keith Hernandez - In the show’s best cameo, Keith Hernandez shows up to dissect the spit with Newman and Kramer, remembering in fine detail the moment when Newman greeted him outside of Shea Stadium, “nice game pretty boy.” The Zapruder film parody is brilliant.
#18 - Chinese Restaurant host - The only unnamed character on this list, the host in the Chinese Restaurant episode is comedically brilliant. His insistence that Cartwright should have alerted Costanza that the phone was for him is an all-time moment in the show.
#17 - Jake Jarmel - Another of Elaine’s love interests, Jake Jarmel gains the ire of the group by insisting that no one else can mimic his style of glasses. But he reaches his peak in the famous Jujyfruit episode when Elaine delays responding to a call about his medical emergency to buy Jujyfruit.
Multi-Time All Conference
#16 - Mr. Pitt - In the second best performance by one of Elaine’s bosses, Mr. Pitt brings a uniquely ridiculous comedic element to the show. He reaches his apex when he introduces the world to eating a snickers with a fork and a knife.
#15 - Wilhelm - During George’s tenure with the Yankees, Wilhelm is his main boss. Their comedic chemistry is excellent, and his overthrusting demeanor plays perfectly with George’s incompetence.
#14 - Morty Seinfeld - This ranking ended up higher than I expected. Much of Morty’s contribution comes from sneaky facial expressions, witty one liners, and an overall inability to understand his son. His allegiance with Kramer thought the series is memorable, but his disdain for Jack Klompus wins the day for Morty.
#13 - Uncle Leo - Jerry’s uncle is everybody’s crazy uncle. As the series progresses, his behavior and dialogue gets more outrageous. Pretending to be senile after Jerry catches him shoplifting is a peak Leo moment.
#12 - David Puddy - Puddy is Elaine’s most repeated and most memorable love interest in the series. Their breakups and reconciliations are comedic gold, and his dead-pan demeanor makes for some fantastic scenes. “You know what’s stupid? You.”
#11- Estelle Costanza - Estelle stars in one of the series’ most iconic episodes, “The Contest,” and she brings down the house when describing George “treating his body like an amusement park.”
#10 - Frank Costanza - Frank comes out on top in the parent category, and he finds his way into the top ten of the overall rankings through moments like his description of Festivus and his call for each member of the family and describe all the ways everyone else has disappointed you. Frank encapsulates the show’s brutal cynicism.
#9 - Peterman - J. Peterman comes out on top in the highly competitive bracket of Elaine’s bosses. At the top of the best Peterman moments are his description of hanging out in old opium dens along the Yangtze River while looking for horsehair vests and his summary of an office “Get Well Party,” ”Poor old walt has a polyp in the duodenum.”
#8 Soup Nazi - Yev Kassem is the Soup Nazi who appears in only one episode before returning in the disappointing series finale. But you can’t tell the story of Seinfeld without “No Soup for You,” one of the iconic lines from the entire series.
#7 - Jackie Chiles - A recurring parody of Johnnie Cochran, Jackie Chiles’ batting average has to be about .750 on his devastating one liners. His interplay with Kramer takes both characters to stunning comedic heights. “Who told you to put the balm on?”
#6 - Steinbrenner - Larry David’s uncredited work as the voice of George Steinbrenner has the highest value per appearance in the entire series. Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David made a brilliant writing decision by hiding his face the entire time, which somehow makes his presence even bigger when he does make an appearance. My favorite episode with Steinbrenner: “Big Stein wants an eggplant calzone…Costanza is in the building!!”
#5 - Newman - “Hello Newman. Hello Jerry.” This was the exchange I anticipated most through the entire series. The cumulative comedy of the episodes Newman appears in over those he misses is incalculable. Enjoy these fifty classic Newman appearances: I especially enjoyed the scenes of Newman spitting out vile weed in #4, his obsession with postal power in #3, and an epic rant about what makes postal workers go crazy in #1 .
#4 - Elaine - Elaine is brilliant, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus deserves every acclimation she gets for this character. But if I had to remove one of the core four, it would be her. If you need a quarantine hobby, you could consider learning how to dance like Elaine.
#3 - Jerry - I agonized over the top three. Of course, the show centers on Jerry Seinfeld and his three best friends. The easy thing to do would be to put Jerry #1. He is essential, but he’s not the best character on the show. In some of the show’s highest peaks of comedy, Kramer and George best him. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the best of Jerry:
#2- Kramer - Every time Kramer opens Jerry’s door, the audience roars for a reason. His character is beyond ridiculous, but he never ceases to entertain. Here’s a top ten of his memorable scenes:
But no Kramer montage should be complete without the secret of marriage.
#1 - That leads us to a celebration of the greatest sitcom character of all time. Nothing ever goes right for George. Of course, George doesn’t do much right either. Perhaps his best sustained performance for an entire episode comes in “The Opposite.” It’s hard to top, “My name is George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.
And I’ll leave you with perhaps the show’s greatest moment: “I was in the pool”