On July 5, 2019, the beloved sitcom Seinfeld celebrated its 30th anniversary. The so-called "show about nothing" debuted thirty years ago, changing sitcoms and television forever. Created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, Seinfeld made us laugh for nine seasons, received wide critical acclaim, gave us iconic catchphrases, and continues to be relevant and praised even today.
Over the course of its nine-season-run, Seinfeld has produced tons of unforgettable, sometimes groundbreaking, and utterly hilarious episodes. We're sure you have your favorites, as do we, however, in honor of the show's 30th anniversary, we're taking a look at the ten best Seinfeld episodes, according to IMDb.
We kick things off with the tenth-highest-rated Seinfeld episode “The Abstinence” which holds a rating of 9.1 on IMDb. This early season eight episode follows several plotlines. There’s George who stops having sex because his girlfriend has mono and thus turns into a genius because the huge chunk of his brain, as illustrated by Jerry with cabbage, that was previously preoccupied only with sex is now finally being put to more productive use.
Abstinence, however, is having the reverse effect on Elaine, who starts turning into an idiot after three days, or as Jerry explained it, no one’s taking out the garbage and the sidewalk is now blocked, so nothing’s getting through and she's stupid. While George was getting smarter and Elain was getting dumber, Kramer was getting uglier. He opened a smoking lounge in his apartment and as a result, his face got all disfigured from the smoke. Or as Jackie Chiles put it, the man’s a goblin. In conclusion, “The Abstinence” gave us some pretty memorable lines and hilarious moments, so we can see why it’s such a popular episode.
Next up is another season eight episode, “The Chicken Roaster,” which has a rating of 9.1. This is one of the best plotted Seinfeld episodes, in which three storylines run parallel and intertwine in a glorious conclusion. A Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurant opens across the street from Jerry’s building and the giant red neon sign renders Kramer’s apartment uninhabitable. Meanwhile, Jerry inadvertently gets his old college buddy fired by convincing him to blow off an important meeting, so he ends up working at Kenny Rogers. Elsewhere, Elaine misuses the Peterman account to buy personal items, including a ridiculous Russian sable hat for George.
Kramer takes to the streets to run Kenny Rogers out of business, but Jerry doesn't want his friend to lose his job again so he switches apartments with Kramer. Meanwhile, George kind of misplaces the hat, which Elaine has to return. On no sleep, Jerry essentially turns into Kramer and offers to get a fake hat for Elaine from one of Kramer's friends. While all that is happening, Kramer gets hooked on the chicken, prompting Jerry to send him back to his own apartment. In the end, Jerry shakes the fake Russian hat at Kenny's, covering everything in fur. The restaurant shuts down, and so does the sign, much to Kramer's disappointment.
The season five episode “The Hamptons” holds a rating of 9.1 as the eighth-highest-rated episode of Seinfeld. The episode sees the group traveling to Hamptons, joined by George’s girlfriend Jane and Jerry’s girlfriend Rachel, to see their friends' new baby because “you gotta see the baby.”
However, they end up seeing a whole lot more. Jane walks around topless in front of Kramer, Jerry, and Elaine, which upsets George because he hasn’t even seen her naked yet. Jerry jokingly asks George if he wants to see Rachel naked to even the score, but instead, Rachel ends up walking in on George with his pants down. Even worse though, because women don’t know about "shrinkage," Rachel tells Jane about George’s penis size, prompting Jane to go back to New York in the middle of the night. The episode is credited for giving a whole new meaning to the word “shrinkage,” which is one of the most memorable Seinfeld-isms.
What if Seinfeld was a talk show hosted by Kramer and Newman, and Jerry, George, and Elaine were the guests? Well, in the season nine episode “The Merv Griffin Show,” which holds a 9.1 rating, Kramer finds the set from The Merv Griffin Show in the trash and re-builds it in his apartment. The other characters then start appearing as guests, discussing the bizarre goings-on in their lives.
George is accidentally massacring the pigeons who, for some reason, are breaking “the deal,” Elaine is creeped out by a new employee who keeps sidling on her so she decides to sidle him, and Jerry is upset that the woman he’s dating won’t let him play with her incredible toy collection so he drugs her. It all goes from bad to worse when George runs over a squirrel and spends a fortune to save its life, Elaine’s plan to sidle the "sidler" backfires causing her to give him some noise-making Tic-Tacs which annoy Peterman, and Jerry keeps drugging his girlfriend so that he, George and Elaine can play with her toys. Unfortunately for Jerry, Kramer exposes him on his show, now in the format Scandals and Animals. Meanwhile, birds get revenge on George when a hawk attacks him and his new pet squirrel.
“The Bizarro Jerry,” which has a 9.2 rating, is one of the most memorable season eight episodes and the one with the most Superman references. Seinfeld runs wild with his Superman obsession and crafts an episode in which Elaine enters a bizarro world in which Jerry, George, and Kramer have polar opposite lookalikes.
Jerry’s counterpart Kevin (Elaine's ex-boyfriend) is kind and reliable, George’s counterpart Gene is polite and charitable, and Kramer’s counterpart Feldman brings Kevin groceries and always knocks. Elaine is fascinated with the bizarro world and starts studying the group like a scientist, but ultimately realizes that it's not the right fit for her. Meanwhile, Jerry is dating a gorgeous woman with “man-hands” (another Seinfeld-ism), Kramer inexplicably stumbles into a corporate job and he and Jerry start bickering like an old married couple, and George discovers the golden ticket to the forbidden city of beautiful women. Additionally, Elaine hilariously sums up the show when she says to Jerry: "I can't spend the rest of my life coming into this stinking apartment every ten minutes to pore over the excruciating minutiae of every single daily event."
This fan-favorite and critically acclaimed season five episode has a 9.3 rating. The story starts off with Kramer going out to the beach to shoot some golf balls into the ocean, while Jerry stumbles upon a former college classmate who asks about George. Given that George recently mentioned watching a documentary about whales, Jerry tells her he’s a marine biologist. George is nothing if not a dedicated liar and carries out this one to the extremes.
In the final scene, George tells the group about his big heroic moment in what is possibly the show’s funniest scene (or, at the very least, it's the joke Jerry Seinfeld's most proud of). While George was at the beach with Diane, they came upon a beached whale and George was called up to use his nonexistent marine biology skills to save the great fish (mammal… whatever). The sea was angry that day, my friends, but George did not let that stop him and he saved the whale. The moment he pulls out the obstruction out of his pocket, which is revealed to be one of Kramer’s golf balls, is side-splitting. The episode commonly ranks among the top ten Seinfeld episodes, which isn't surprising considering it's perfectly plotted, paced, and incredibly funny.
In this GLAAD Media Award-winning season four episode with a 9.4 rating, Elaine notices a girl eavesdropping on their conversation so she implies that Jerry and George are a couple. The girl turns out to be the reporter that is supposed to interview Jerry, and even though Jerry and George try to convince her that it was all a just a joke, she outs Jerry in her article.
To avoid coming off as homophobic, throughout the episode both Jerry and George tag-line their every denial with yet another one of Seinfeld’s hilarious catchphrases “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” which other characters soon start repeating. It’s amazing how such a limited joke gets so many laughs due to hilarious throwaway gags. George exclaiming “my father’s gay” and his attempt to convince his overly attached girlfriend that he is indeed “steeped in gayness,” the unfortunate two-lined phone, Elaine’s coat, and Jerry’s “I’ve been outed! I wasn’t even in!” line are all just so funny.
The season four episode “The Contest” which holds a rating of 9.6 is quite possibly the show’s most groundbreaking episode. What happens is, George’s mother goes out to get milk and comes back to find her son “treating his body like it was an amusement park” and this little mishap prompts the group to bet on who can go the longest without doing that thing (yes, they never say the actual word).
The naked neighbor eliminates Kramer the very next day, and the others meet various temptations. George gets the first-row seat to an attractive nurse giving an attractive patient a sponge bath, Elaine runs into John F. Kennedy Jr. in her aerobics class and they share a cab, and Jerry gets frustrated because his virgin girlfriend won’t sleep with him. Nevertheless, all three remain masters of their domain but become increasingly cranky and sleep-deprived. As more temptations befall them, one by one they drop out of the contest, finally getting some sleep. It’s a hilarious episode from start to finish, rightfully considered one of the best TV episodes of all time.
The season five episode “The Opposite” ranks at number two with a rating of 9.6. Down on his luck, George comes to the conclusion that every decision he’s ever made was wrong because his instinct was always wrong. Jerry convinces him that he should do the opposite of his instinct since that would have to be right. George adopts “the opposite” as his personal philosophy and things start to turn around for him. He goes on a date with a gorgeous woman, gets a job with the New York Yankees and moves out of his parents’ house.
Meanwhile, Elaine gets dumped by her boyfriend because she stopped to buy Jujyfruits after finding out he’s been in an accident, loses a promotion, a raise, and essentially ends Pendant Publishing after causing her choosing to eat Jujyfruits instead of helping her boss, and gets evicted due to a series of complaints filed against her. Jerry, on the other hand, concludes that he always comes even, which makes him even less interested in the lives of others. The plotting in this episode is nothing short of brilliant, the essence of the characters is so perfectly captured, and every scene is hilarious.
The number one Seinfeld episode with a 9.6 rating is “The Soup Nazi.” Guest starring Larry Thomas as the titular meanest soup vendor in all of New York City, this season seven episode gave us one of Seinfeld’s most iconic catchphrases, “no soup for you,” first heard when George gets his soup taken away because he asked for bread.
However, it is Elaine who makes possibly the biggest offense the Soup Nazi has ever seen. Disregarding the strict ordering procedure, Elaine drums her hands on the counter, makes unnecessary remarks, and does an impression of Al Pacino, which gets her banned for a year. Jerry, on the other hand, does the sensible thing and disowns his girlfriend when their PDA threatens to get him banned as well. In an amusing turn of events, Kramer replaces Elaine's stolen armoire with the one he got from the Soup Nazi and Elaine ends up in possession of all the Soup Nazi's recipes and essentially runs him out of the country. In the end tag, Newman and Jerry are shown running to get big pots because the Soup Nazi is giving away the leftovers. "The Soup Nazi" is without a doubt one of the funniest, most inspired, and best-written episodes of Seinfeld.