Created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, Seinfeld quickly became one of the most highly acclaimed and wildly popular sitcoms of the 1990s. While it took a year or two to find its feet, it went on to give audiences some of the greatest installments of television ever broadcast.
According to TV Guide, Seinfeld is responsible for the best TV episode of all time. The show’s nine seasons went up and down in quality over the years, but each one has at least one all-time classic episode in its line-up. So, here is The Best Episode In Every Season Of Seinfeld, Ranked.
9 Season 1: “The Stake Out”
In the second ever episode of the series (and the first one in which Elaine appears), Jerry tries to woo a new romantic interest, but all he learned from her when they met was where she worked because he didn’t want to make Elaine jealous by asking for her number. (This was back when Jerry and Elaine’s relationship was a focus of the show.)
So, he decides to just stake out her office building and wait for her to show up, so he can pretend to bump into her. While it’s not a great episode, neither is anything from the five-episode first season. At least this one gave us the inception of the Art Vandelay alias.
8 Season 9: “The Betrayal”
By the ninth and final season of Seinfeld, the show’s decline in quality was in full swing, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still head and shoulders above all the other sitcoms on the air. Even on the final-season downslide, the writers came up with “The Betrayal,” a parody of the Harold Pinter play of the same name.
Like the play, the episode is told backward – and they went all in, with the closing credits over the first scene and the opening credits over the final scene – and on top of running jokes like Kramer’s big lollipop, the plot is as complex as it needed to be.
7 Season 6: “The Fusilli Jerry”
The best episode in the sixth season of Seinfeld takes that title simply by having so many iconic moments. From the little pasta figurines that Kramer makes of all his friends to the “ASSMAN” vanity plates to Frank Costanza’s “stopping short” technique being used around town, “The Fusilli Jerry” marks itself as a classic Seinfeld episode by being a Seinfeld episode constructed using classic Seinfeld moments.
There’s also some brilliant dovetailing in the script, with the pasta figurine storyline and the vanity plate storyline converging at the end at the proctologist’s office. “Million to one shot, doc. Million to one!”
6 Season 8: “The Bizarro Jerry”
Arriving just three episodes after Larry David’s departure from the show, “The Bizarro Jerry” smacks of a premise that Jerry Seinfeld had been dying to do for years – a parody of the Bizarro World from Superman comics – but David wouldn’t let him.
While it’s decidedly more surreal than the established tone of Seinfeld, there’s no denying that it’s a hilarious installment of the show. It starts off as an off-the-cuff comment about Elaine’s new boyfriend being the opposite of Jerry, but the writers just ran with the premise and gave us the opposites of George, Kramer, Newman, and even the set design of Jerry’s apartment.
5 Season 3: “The Subway”
The best Seinfeld episodes take something that everyone has to deal with regularly – like waiting for a table at a restaurant or trying to find your car in a parking garage or, indeed, riding the subway – and turning it into something hysterical.
In “The Subway,” Jerry meets a nudist, Elaine gets trapped in a tunnel with no announcements about her safety, Kramer stumbles upon a gambling tip, and George gets conned by a seductive woman on his way to a job interview. The real star here is simply a well-crafted script (delivered by the phenomenally talented cast, of course), and that’s Seinfeld at its best.
4 Season 5: “The Fire”
George Costanza did a lot of terrible things over the course of nine seasons of Seinfeld, but mowing down a room full of children and the elderly in order to escape a fire has to take the crown as the absolute worst.
And yet, it’s perfectly in character for him, and Jason Alexander plays the scene brilliantly. Meanwhile, Kramer’s girlfriend heckles Jerry, so he goes to her office and heckles her – realizing every comedian’s ultimate dream – only to send her running out of the building, where she loses a toe. In this instance, Kramer shows himself to be heroic where George is cowardly.
3 Season 7: “The Cadillac”
Any episode that takes us down to Jerry’s parents’ retirement community in Florida is guaranteed to be a doozy. The weird internal power dynamic has always been the funniest part of these storylines, like when Jerry simply accepted a pen and it tore a friendship group apart irreparably.
In “The Cadillac,” a hysterical two-parter penned by series creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, Jerry buys his parents a Cadillac and it ends up getting him impeached from the condo board. Plus, George finds out he’s Marisa Tomei’s type and Kramer gets a poetic form of revenge against the cable guy.
2 Season 2: “The Chinese Restaurant”
The term “a show about nothing” is often used deridingly when referring to Seinfeld, but frankly, if a show is able to take the minutiae of daily life and make it more interesting than the writers of a show about murder investigations can make theirs, that’s pretty impressive. The first example of Seinfeld doing this came in the second season with “The Chinese Restaurant.”
The whole episode sees Jerry, Elaine, and George waiting for a table. NBC executives initially rejected the premise, but it was executed so well, with all three characters following their own story thread, that it’s now considered an all-time classic episode.
1 Season 4: “The Contest”
“The Contest” is widely regarded to be not only the best episode in Seinfeld’s fourth season but the best episode of the entire show. In fact, it was ranked by TV Guide to be the single greatest episode of television ever made, period.
The genius of Larry David’s Emmy-winning script is the fact that he alludes to the episode’s topic every ten seconds without ever even using the word. And with all four characters enjoying their own plot thread packed with comedic gems, the episode fits in more genuine laughs in 22 minutes than most sitcoms get into a season.