When Larry David worked on Seinfeld with Jerry Seinfeld, he revolutionized the sitcom by making the first and last episodes of the seasons worthwhile. The season premiere episode is the one that reintroduces audiences to the characters after a year-long hiatus, so it should be a significant and memorable episode.
The same goes for the season finale episode, which is the last the audience will see of those characters before another year-long hiatus. David realized that and started doing it with Seinfeld. Now, he does it with his own semi-autobiographical sitcom, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, so here is Every Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Finale, Ranked.
In “The Bat Mitzvah,” Larry recommends an old Seinfeld director to Richard Lewis for his new pilot as a favor, but Lewis doesn’t get the intonation in his voice that he’s only doing it as a favor. Plus, Larry contends with a rumor going around that he stuck a gerbil up his ass. On the whole, this isn’t a particularly exciting or memorable episode.
The highlight is the montage at the end after Larry starts dating Loretta and realizes all the perks that come with the relationship, like how she’ll yell Susie out the door if Susie tries to berate Larry.
The second season of Curb Your Enthusiasm was the first to introduce the idea of serialized season arcs. Season 2 saw Larry come out of semi-retirement to work on a new sitcom, first with Jason Alexander and then with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The project was a disaster from start to finish, as Larry alienated every network head in Hollywood, one way or another.
The season finale went out with more of a fizzle than a bang, with Larry getting a “happy ending” massage and then trying to hide it from Cheryl. The season arc was concluded by the network heads simply seeing Larry with an “I steal forks from restaurants” sandwich board outside a restaurant.
Curb’s season 5 finale probably would’ve worked as a series finale if the show had stopped there. Larry meets his birth parents, discovers he’s not Jewish, returns to California to give Richard Lewis his kidney, finds out he wasn’t adopted at all, and then nearly dies during the operation, going to Heaven and meeting his personal guides.
Season 5 as a whole is one of Curb’s weaker installments, so it’s unsurprising that its finale isn’t all that strong. There’s some strong storytelling, with twists and turns and existential crises, but it’s not hysterically funny in the way that Curb is at its best.
Curb’s ninth season was its first in six years after a length hiatus following season 8, so fans’ expectations were pretty high. The story arc, in which Larry is sentenced to death by the Ayatollah for writing a musical about the time Salman Rushdie was in the same predicament, had a great concept, and it was executed brilliantly.
The season finale had its ups and downs. Larry’s recreation of the Burr-Hamilton duel with Lin-Manuel Miranda was funny, but a little cartoonish for the once-grounded show, while Larry’s use of a stand-in at Sammie’s wedding felt a little forced. However, the final stinger, as an Iranian man who doesn’t know the fatwa has been lifted chases Larry through the streets of L.A., is hilarious.
In season 7, Larry spearheads a Seinfeld reunion show in an effort to win back Cheryl. The season finale sees the production of the reunion in full swing, with Cheryl getting close to Jason Alexander and Larry eventually being driven to quit the show.
The storyline with Mocha Joe is a little too annoying to be funny, but on the whole, it’s a strong episode. At the end, we get to see finished scenes from the Seinfeld reunion episode, and it’s a great joy to see the actors back in character, even if it is just a show within a show.
The season 1 finale episode, “The Group,” is easily one of Curb’s darkest episodes. Larry’s ex-girlfriend asks him to come with her to an incest survivors’ group for emotional support, since he’s one of the few people she’s ever told about her experience. While he’s there, Larry is expected to share his story, so he makes up a story about his uncle who’s coming to visit.
The story leads to all kinds of unintended consequences when one of the group’s members turns out to be the person directing Cheryl in a production of The Vagina Monologues. The episode is good, not great, but a bold way to end the show’s first year.
The season 3 finale “The Grand Opening” hilariously wraps up the season-long arc in which Larry has invested in a new restaurant. It ratchets up the trail of misfortune that Larry has beset on the restaurant as he fires the chef for lying about not wearing a toupee, accidentally breaks the thumbs of the food critic who can make or break the restaurant, and hires a new chef who has Tourette’s syndrome and occasionally lets out swear-filled rants.
The episode has the perfect ending, with Larry showing solidarity to the chef by cutting through the awkward silence with his own swear-filled rant, inspiring everyone else to do the same. The final camera pull towards a proud-looking Larry is a moment of TV history.
Season 4 culminates with Larry heading to New York to star in The Producers on Broadway. He butts heads with his co-star David Schwimmer, the staff at the hotel he’s staying in, and a random tourist played by Stephen Colbert. A series of classic Larry situations punctuate a storyline that sees all the running story arcs of season 4 wrapped up in a neat bow.
The episode ends with a hilarious plot twist that lines up Curb’s Producers storyline with the actual plot of The Producers when Mel Brooks reveals that he only cast Larry David to doom the play.
Michael J. Fox is easily one of the best guest stars the show has ever had. In the season 8 finale, Fox played himself in a role that found comedy in his affliction with Parkinson’s disease without actually laughing at Parkinson’s. Larry’s relationship with Fox is contentious, as he can’t tell if some of his actions are a slight towards him or simply his Parkinson’s.
This leads to Larry getting kicked out of New York and making up a trip to Paris just to get out of charity work, which is how he ended up in New York in the first place. It’s a spectacular finale and it’s done in the most Curb way possible.