One of the ways that Seinfeld revolutionized the sitcom was letting its female lead – Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ unmarried, cigar-chomping feminist Elaine Benes – get in on the cast’s wacky antics.
Until Seinfeld came along, women in sitcoms were relegated to roles like the nagging wife or the buzzkill receptionist. Of course, there were exceptions, from Lucille Ball to Mary Tyler Moore, but these women had to give themselves strong roles – no one was giving them to them. Instead of standing at the side and rolling her eyes at what the guys were doing, Elaine was there alongside them. Here are The 10 Worst Things Elaine Ever Did, Ranked.
10 Putting the Soup Nazi out of business
All throughout “The Soup Nazi,” the characters will do whatever it takes not to bother the titular soup maker – Jerry even breaks up with his girlfriend when she gets banned from the soup restaurant – but Elaine drums on the counter and tells the Soup Nazi he looks like Al Pacino. She gets herself banned and then, when she comes across his recipes in an old armoire, she uses them to put him out of business.
The Soup Nazi might have been strict, he might have stricken fear into all of his customers, and he might have been a terrible salesperson, but at the end of the day, he was just a small business owner and those soups were his whole livelihood. Just because he hurt Elaine’s feelings, she destroyed his business.
9 Using an ink pen that made Mr. Pitt look like Hitler
Mr. Pitt had already told Elaine not to use an ink pen while she was working for him and she’d completely ignored him and continued using one when it exploded all over her desk. As he tried to clean it up, he accidentally smudged a little bit of black ink on his upper lip and – paired with his beige-colored riding gear – it made him look an awful lot like Adolf Hitler.
And then she didn’t even tell him! She knew what he looked like and she let him walk out the door and go straight to an important business meeting with that black smudge on his upper lip.
8 Breaking up with Tony because a rock-climbing accident disfigured his face
Seinfeld fans remember Elaine’s one-time boyfriend Tony as the guy that Jerry called a “mimbo” (a “male bimbo”). George was obsessed with him and they went rock-climbing together. While George was trying to get Tony one of the sandwiches he made, he forgot to tie his rope up and Tony ended up falling a great height, head-first, onto a rock.
This accident got Elaine to admit that she didn’t want to date someone that she deemed unattractive, and with Tony’s face getting disfigured by his rock-climbing incident, she had to confess that she no longer found Tony attractive and didn’t want to be with him anymore. She immediately started working on a breakup strategy.
7 Making a priest think he was going to die
David Puddy was Elaine’s on-and-off boyfriend for several seasons of Seinfeld, but the twist with this couple was that, unlike other on-and-off sitcom couples like Ross and Rachel or Leonard and Penny, we didn’t want them to end up together. At one point, Puddy disgusted Elaine by painting his face like the Devil to show off his fandom at a New Jersey Devils game.
Then, he yelled at a priest and petrified the poor guy. Later, Elaine visited the priest to see how he was doing, but because she was dressed a little like the Virgin Mary, it only terrified the priest even more.
6 Eating a piece of wedding cake worth $29,000
In the episode “The Frogger,” while George was busy trying to preserve his high score on an arcade game, Elaine was in trouble at work for eating a piece of wedding cake she found in J. Peterman’s office. Since the cake was from King Edward VIII’s wedding to Wallis Simpson, it was worth $29,000.
The wedding threw the British Empire into a tailspin due to a British monarch wanting to marry an American socialite who’d already been married and divorced before. And pretty much all that remained of this historical event from 1936 was a piece of cake and Elaine ate it.
5 Coughing all over Peggy’s stuff
This was a great response to slut-shaming. Elaine’s co-worker Peggy – who she worked with when she wrote fanciful narratives for the J. Peterman catalog – refused to go in the bathroom after her, because she’d seen a number of Elaine’s male acquaintances come in and out of the office and she thought she was dirty.
So, Elaine responded by going into Peggy’s office and coughing on her doorknob, rubbing her stapler all over her armpit, and sitting on her keyboard. Peggy, of course, was horrified by this – it was a classic example of Elaine getting some pitch-perfect revenge against one of her many enemies.
4 Getting Babu deported
We don’t see Jerry on the road a lot in Seinfeld, because a comedian sitting in a hotel room isn’t as interesting as when he gets involved in cockfighting rings and bootlegging operations with his wacky neighbor. However, there were some hints that he often spent time on the road, like when Elaine was collecting his mail.
One of the envelopes contained Jerry’s Pakistani friend Babu’s visa application, but since Elaine didn’t notice this, Babu missed the deadline and got deported. Once again, Elaine’s negligence led to the destruction of somebody’s life. It was something of a pattern in Seinfeld.
3 Buying Jujyfruits on the way to see her boyfriend in the hospital
This is a classic Seinfeld moment, but it was also pretty awful. Elaine was supposed to be meeting a guy at the movie theater, but the usher informed her that he’d been in a car accident and had to be rushed to hospital.
Instead of rushing off to the hospital to make sure he was okay, she stopped off at the concessions stand to buy a box of Jujyfruits. When she eventually got to the hospital with a mouthful of Jujyfruits, the guy realized what she’d done and decided to break up with her right there. It’s fair to say he made the right decision.
2 Kidnapping a dog
To be fair to Elaine, she didn’t do this alone. She enlisted the help of Kramer and Newman and they did most of the dirty work – Newman grabbed the dog and Kramer abandoned it at a random house upstate. However, it was all based on Elaine’s idea.
The dog was keeping her up at night with its barking, so her response was to put together a team to kidnap it (or would that be dognap?) and take it far away from the city. Since the dog got a piece of Kramer’s shirt from Rudy’s, they all ended up getting arrested.
1 Thinking about murdering the phone guy
In the episode “The Maid,” when Elaine was having her phones replaced because Kramer’s fax machine made her old ones whir and beep constantly, she considered murdering the phone guy. He was working on the phone lines and she was standing behind him, idly playing with a candlestick. In a voiceover narration, we heard Elaine thinking to herself, “I wonder if anyone knows he’s here. If he just disappeared...would anybody notice?”
All she needed was a few moments with her own thoughts to start contemplating committing a murder. At the end of the scene, she tells him, “You know, I could’ve killed you, and no one would’ve known.”