The 10 best episodes of Seinfeld, ranked
Seinfeld is one of the greatest and funniest sitcoms of all time. Based on Jerry Seinfeld’s observational stand-up comedy and infused with priceless biographical moments from co-creator Larry David, the show went out on a high after 9 glorious seasons.
Jerry, George, Elaine (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who you’ll recognise as the hilariously loathsome Selina Meyer from Veep) and Kramer’s comical misadventures continue to amuse audiences decades on. Everyone’s got a favourite Seinfeld episode, from the single location non-event magic of The Chinese Restaurant to the wackiness of The Chicken Roaster. While it’s worth bingeing from Season 1 through 9, we’ve ranked 10 of the best episodes so that you can skip straight to the “Gold, Jerry Gold”.
10. The Puffy Shirt (S5, E2)
The Puffy Shirt is one of the most iconic and funniest Seinfeld episodes. A sheepish George is moving back in with his loud parents, the rest of the gang are dining with Kramer’s low-talking girlfriend and Jerry unwittingly agrees to promote a pirate shirt on The Today Show.
George’s “nut job” parents are always a hoot, given extra screen time for a hot-headed Constanza family reunion. Between an unemployed George being identified as a “soft and milky white” hand model and Jerry agreeing to “swing in on a chandelier” as part of a charity clothing drive on national television, there are many outrageous laughs.
9. The Soup Nazi (S7, E6)
This classic Seinfeld episode centres on an “eccentric” soup kitchen chef who threatens to unleash a “NO SOUP FOR YOU” if strict order protocol isn’t followed. Behaving like school kids being kept in line, it’s only a matter of time before they break the rules. George and Elaine have to learn the hard way as Jerry disowns his precious girlfriend affectionately known as “schmoopie” in favour of a delicious bisque.
This memorable and nutty episode features a public display of affection standoff, one of Elaine’s biggest “get outta here” shoves and Jerry’s nemeses, Bania and Newman. The actual Soup Nazi actor, Larry Thomas, has become so entrenched in pop culture he now offers personalised videos in character.
8. The Bizarro Jerry (S8, E3)
Jerry’s Superman obsession spills into the equal-opposite Bizarro World of this fun oddball episode. Elaine’s forced to pick between Jerry, George and Kramer or her ex and his nice friends who look just like them. Leaning into this hilariously niche dimension, complete with its own downbeat theme music and “Newman”, it’s a wonderfully bland meta send up of the show.
Meanwhile, Kramer unexpectedly lands a job as a suit after using one of the city’s best restrooms. George tries to leverage his deceased fiancee story to get a date while Jerry finds a big reason to sabotage yet another relationship.
7. The Invitations (S7, E24)
Starting with a hilarious stand-up bit from Jerry, The Invitations extends the theme into George and Susan’s impending marriage. George’s cold feet conjure up ideas of emigrating to China to escape the exchange of vows as the outrageous kernel of dark comedy festers at the thought of breaking up the gang.
As Kramer and Elaine face the prospect of sitting at “the loser’s table”, Jerry experiences an epiphany after meeting the perfect plus-one who’s like him in every way. As George does his best to wriggle his way out of the wedding, things take a turn as Jerry regrets his choice and Susan licks one dodgy envelope too many in an infamous TV history-making moment.
6. The Summer of George (S8, E22)
Seinfeld loves to end seasons on a high note. The Summer of George finds the “stocky” and bespectacled character at a loose end when the Yankees give him three months leave. Dedicated to his inactive couch potato lifestyle, George struggles to fulfil his duties as a “relationship intern”.
Kramer gets to showcase his brilliant physical comedy as a seat-filler at the Tony Awards, Jerry worries about his girlfriend’s “dude” roommate while Elaine tries to avoid a cat fight after giving a colleague some honest advice. Threading all the stories together is a cameo from Raquel Welch with a karmic throwback to The Invitations.
5. The Marine Biologist (S5, E14)
Elaine meets a renowned Russian author, Jerry reveals his favourite T-shirt “Golden Boy” and tees up a date for George, making him out to be a marine biologist. An unemployed George leans into a lie that was designed to save face as Kramer finds 100 golf balls to turn the ocean into a driving range. What could possibly go wrong?
From an errant “War, what is it good for?” factoid to a pesky electronic organiser and a climactic whale of a tale from George, The Marine Biologist spins an epic and hilarious calamity of an episode where each character’s story arc is inextricably linked.
4. The Opposite (S5, E22)
The Opposite is essential to understanding George, who goes against every natural instinct in order to reverse his born-to-lose hot streak. Starting by introducing himself to a beautiful blonde at Monk’s as “unemployed and living with his parents”, the truth sets him on an adventure of hilarious winning choices, culminating in him landing a dream job with the New York Yankees.
In this fun and smart see-sawing episode, Kramer’s convertible Coffee Table Book About Coffee Tables makes a TV debut, Elaine gets flummoxed by Jujyfruits candy, Larry David unveils the George Steinbrenner voice while Jerry discovers he’s an Even-Steven kinda guy.
3. Fusilli Jerry (S6, E20)
Fusilli Jerry could’ve been called The Move or The Assman based on the strength of its stories. Instead it’s named after a statuette of Jerry made out of fusilli pasta, which becomes a painfully iconic Seinfeld prop. Elaine reveals that her new boyfriend has stolen his “move”, while Kramer tries to roll with his new ASSMAN identity sporting a custom license plate.
Patrick Warburton plays Jerry’s honest mechanic, the beloved David Puddy, as the two come to blows over whether to end on “the swirl” or “the pinch”. Now separated, George’s mom is also “out there”, to his dismay, as his father falls prey to corkscrew pasta in this jam-packed and madcap episode.
2. The Hamptons (S5, E20)
Most long-running sitcoms have a holiday episode, and instead of jetting off to Australia or Italy, the Seinfeld goof troop heads to The Hamptons to see a friend’s “gorgeous” baby. From nudity politics to “shrinkage” and the adverse effects of cold water, The Hamptons has it all: George’s inner monologue, Kramer’s lobster haul, Elaine’s interpretation of “breathtaking” with Jerry to string all the madness together.
It’s fun to see Seinfeld away from the bustle of New York apartment living, taking a little time for themselves and yet still finding things to obsess over. Getting George riled up always generates comedy magic and The Hamptons gives the tomato-faced character a real workout.
1. The Contest (S4, E11)
George’s hilarious confessional story starts the ball rolling with “My mother caught me… you know, I was alone”. What ensues is a hundred-dollar bet where each of the contenders tries to abstain from masturbation or sexual intercourse the longest to remain “master of their domain”. Highlights include George trying to placate his hospitalised mother to witness sponge baths as tensions rise due to a lack of sleep and an over-supply of naked neighbours.
Widely regarded as the best Seinfeld episode, The Contest presented a breakthrough for television as Seinfeld hinged on the risque topics of masturbation and sexual urges. Smart writing and an adventurous plot involving all four main characters, this is Seinfeld firing on all cylinders.