Seinfeld writers David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer reveal the original plans they had for The Soup Nazi. For nine seasons, Seinfeld was one of the top rated shows on TV. Referred to as “the show about nothing,” it told the story of four friends in New York City dealing with day to day life. Often the various plots and stories were based on real people and events in the lives of the writers and producers, and perhaps the most famous episode to be based on a real person or story is the sixth season episode, “The Soup Nazi.”
The character of the Soup Nazi, aka Yev Kassem, was based on real life soup vendor Al Yeganeh. He was played by Larry Thomas, who was nominated for an Emmy for the role. Throughout the episode, the character maintains strict rules in regards to his customers placing their orders, punishing anyone who does not behave in a way he considers appropriate with the words, “No soup for you!” while taking back their soup. At the end of the episode Elaine acquires his recipes and puts the Soup Nazi out of business to punish him for banning her. He later appeared in the season finale, after having moved to Argentina once his business went under.
But that was not supposed to be his whole story. Writers and producers David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer recently spoke to EW about some of the story ideas they had for Seinfeld that never came to be, and Mandel revealed their original plans for the Soup Nazi:
“We joked a whole bunch about an end scene that would take place in the jungles of Brazil, à la The Boys From Brazil, where the Soup Nazi would return to the other Nazis — the actual former Nazi war criminals — with his soup recipes. It was sort of half-serious, half ‘Should we do this?,’ half ‘We’re never going to do it.’ But it was much discussed. Going down a river and seeing lots of young boys with blue eyes from experimentation with the soups — it was a full coming together of soup and Nazi. Probably just as well that we didn’t do that one.”
Mandel doesn’t explain why they never filmed the scene. It could have been that he and the other writers decided it was in poor taste, or the network didn’t like it. Or it could have been a financial or logistical issue, filming a scene in a jungle – even a fake one – and paying that many actors to be in the scene could have been a deal breaker.
Even without the elaborate ending that the writers discussed, the Soup Nazi has become firmly entrenched in pop culture. He’s been referenced and parodied numerous times in other shows and films, and his portrayer has used the character to promote soup kitchens and help the homeless. Maybe the episode did not end the way the writers wanted, but the legacy of the Soup Nazi has lived on, long past the end of Seinfeld.