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Seinfeld: Every Main Character, Ranked By Cynicism

What made Seinfeld such a successful sitcom was its focus on the cynicism that exists under the surface of modern life. But who's the most cynical?

It's impossible to find a person in Seinfeld who doesn't display at least a bit of cynicism. The show's recurring cast of eccentric characters inevitably ends up in strange situations due to their suspicious and awkward tendencies. Whether it's Jerry buying mangoes for Kramer after the latter has been banned from the fruit store or George accidentally poisoning his fiancee Susan via cheap envelopes, no one on the show is making uncynical decisions.

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What made Seinfeld such a successful sitcom was its focus on the cynicism that exists under the surface of modern life. By questioning customs and mainstream practices through the trials and tribulations of a misfit gang living in New York City, Seinfeld pulls the rug from underneath all the pretense that defines contemporary social interactions.

"Yadda Yadda Yadda..." Here's a list of Seinfeld's main characters, ranked by cynicism.

10 J. Peterman

Elaine's boss in the last three seasons of Seinfeld is anything but cynical. This world traveler and owner of The J. Peterman Company has a suave, urbane persona that annoys the crap out of Elaine.

Short for Jacopo, J. is always on the move. This clothing catalog magnate never misses an opportunity to reminiscence about his travels. "It was the Peace Corps that gave me my start in this business. Clothing the naked natives of Bantu Besh," he shares. The ultimate fake philanthropist, J. Peterman may be many things, but there's nothing bitter about his personality.

9 Cosmo Kramer

"I'm out there, Jerry, and I'm loving every minute of it!" Jerry's neighbor Cosmo Kramer is the most adventurous and curious of the gang. When he's not hatching a plan for a new invention or decorative element for his apartment, he's out in the streets getting in trouble.

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Jerry, George, and Elaine are sucked into Kramer's energetic aura, as well as his half-wit schemes to make an extra buck. While the rest of the group can be morose, Kramer has a real lust for life that rarely burns out.

8 Morty Seinfeld

Jerry's dad Morty, a former raincoat salesman, is the epitome of a Baby Boomer. Morty may be money-obsessed, cranky, and opinionated, but he's not a true cynic.

Morty's frugality knows no bounds. Every cent is tracked and tormented over. Despite being worried about spending, Morty always raises a fuss when Jerry attempts to buy things for him. This former raincoat salesman lives by his retail credo: "Cheap fabric and dim lighting. That's how you move merchandise."

7 Elaine Benes

Elaine Benes is a picky and intelligent woman who goes through dozens of boyfriends over the course of the show. This isn't a result of her being misanthropic as much as its a result of her being arrogant and stubborn, especially toward men. As she confesses, "I once broke up with someone for not offering me pie."

This ex-girlfriend of Jerry's doesn't hold back her feelings, and she often gets in trouble for being too honest. She loves reminding George what a complete failure he is, calling him an idiot any chance she gets. Elaine clearly has many problems, but pessimism isn't at the top of the list.

6 Helen Seinfeld

Jerry's sensitive mother Helen is always worried about disturbing or inconveniencing her son. Another product of her generation, Helen was clearly raised to be seen and not heard.

Helen dotes on Jerry to excess. When he complains about Joe Devola not liking him, her response is classic: "How could anyone not like you?" A bit neurotic, Helen and Morty are quite a match. When the three Seinfelds are all together, the nitpicking never stops.

5 Newman

"Hello, Newman." Kramer's partner in crime and Jerry's adversary, Newman is the resident villain of their apartment building. In love with Elaine, Newman always creeps around the gang at the most inconvenient times.

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He's less a doubter and intellectual detractor than he is a reactionary postal worker who trusts no one. Newman definitely wears his government employee badge openly, always ranting about the grueling nature of his job. "Because the mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming," he groans.

4 Jerry Seinfeld

While Jerry is the rock who holds his gang together, he is also a self-involved cynic who loves watching the drama unfold around him, ready to chirp in with sarcastic commentary.

This mildly successful comedian bases his routine on ironic observations and insights. He's also anal-retentive and a bit of a neat freak. His pickiness affects his relationships, and he has as many girlfriends as he does sardonic jokes throughout the show's run. Ultimately, Jerry's cynicism turns inward. "I can't be with someone like myself," he tells Kramer. "I hate myself!"

3 George Costanza

Can't-stand-ya. George, Jerry's best friend, is the gang's true cynic. Next to the dictionary definition of the word is a picture of him. Short and pudgy, George lives his life under the assumption he's owed something. His scornful entitlement, while hilarious, makes a huge mess of his life.

George is so cynical about himself he actually creates an alter-ego, architect Art Vandelay, in order to woo women and exaggerate his success in important situations. George is completely aware of his deceptive and vindictive nature. "Like I don't know that I'm pathetic," he reminds Jerry.

2 Estelle Costanza

It's only apropos that the woman who birthed George Costanza would be higher on the cynicism list than him. Estelle Costanza is melodramatic, constantly martyring herself in order to gain sympathy from her son and husband, Frank. She's also completely pessimistic about everything they do, constantly griping over every action.

Estelle has no faith in her son, and she'll tell anyone who'll listen. He, in turn, doesn't seem to care much for her, insisting he's never seen her laugh. Case in point: "George doesn't work. He's a bum. That's why he lives with us."

1 Frank Costanza

Frank Costanza tops the cynicism list for many reasons, but one, in particular, stands out: Festivus, the anti-consumerist alternative to Christmas he invents. The preeminent sneerer, Frank refuses to accept any ideas or sentiments at face-value, constantly deriding the words or actions of those around him.

The Festivus airing of grievances, where everyone sits around the dinner table and shares complaints, is the perfect expression of Frank's philosophy on life. "I got a lot of problems with you people and now you're gonna hear about it!" Kudos to this old man for making cynics around the world cackle.

NEXT: Seinfeld's 10 Darkest Episodes, Ranked

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