Who would have thought that a “short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man” would become one of the funniest sitcom icons in TV history? Jason Alexander was robbed of an Emmy time and time again as he spent nine years playing Jerry Seinfeld’s neurotic best friend to hilarious and unforgettable effect. Entertainment Weekly named George Costanza the third best sidekick ever. TV Guide named him the 10th greatest television character of all time. Ricky Gervais called him “arguably the greatest sitcom character of all time,” and many people echo that sentiment. So, Seinfeld fans, here are the 11 Funniest George Costanza Quotes.
11 “I’m disturbed, I’m depressed, I’m inadequate – I’ve got it all!”
George Costanza has gone to great lengths on many occasions to convince women that he’s a normal, well-adjusted guy in order to get dates. But the one time he actually managed to do that, she turned out to be more interested in the kind of dark, disturbed soul that he really is. He’d made Jerry act like that to make himself look better in comparison and she ended up being more interested in Jerry’s impression of the kind of guy George is than George’s impression of the kind of guy Jerry is. George desperately tries to tell her, “I’m disturbed, I’m depressed, I’m inadequate – I’ve got it all!” but it’s fruitless.
10 “Oh, no, thanks. I can’t drink coffee late at night. It keeps me up.”
George said this to a woman who invited him up to her apartment in the season 2 episode “The Phone Message.” Then she stops answering his calls and he gets so mad that he leaves a series of angry messages before realizing she’s been on vacation. So, he ends up trying to erase the tape when she gets back. It’s not so much the initial “It keeps me up” line that’s the hilarious part – it’s the storyline it reminds fans of, and also George’s explanation of the situation to Jerry: “She invites me up at twelve o’clock at night, for coffee. And I don’t go up. ‘No, thank you. I don’t want coffee. It keeps me up. Too late for me to drink coffee.’ I said this to her. People this stupid shouldn’t be allowed to live.”
9 “We have watched you take our beloved Yankees and reduce them to a laughing stock!”
In the episode “The Opposite,” George decides to do the opposite of every one of his instincts. When he interviews for a job at the Yankees and meets George Steinbrenner, he launches into this rant: “I must say, with all due respect, I find it very hard to see the logic behind some of the moves you have made with this fine organization. In the past twenty years, you have caused myself, and the city of New York, a good deal of distress, as we have watched you take our beloved Yankees and reduce them to a laughing stock, all for the glorification of your massive ego!”
8 “I know I’m not Cartwright!”
The network executives initially weren’t sure about season 2’s “The Chinese Restaurant” episode, but this kind of episode would become one of Seinfeld’s hallmarks. Sure, it’s just about the characters waiting for a table in a restaurant, but they each have their own conflicts and storylines going on. For example, George is waiting for a call from a woman, and when she called, the waiter said the wrong name.
She asked for “Costanza” and he said, “Cartwright!” George tells Jerry that the waiter answered the phone and called out the name Cartwright and Jerry asks, “Who’s Cartwright?” George says, “I’m Cartwright.” Jerry says, “You’re not Cartwright.” George cries out, “I know I’m not Cartwright!”
7 “Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?”
In the episode “The Red Dot,” Elaine gets George a job at her office and, within a few short days, he has slept with the cleaning woman on his desk. In Mr. Lippman’s office, as he’s told about this and backed into a corner, George realizes he’s about to be fired and goes all in with his response: “Was that wrong? Should I have not done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon, you know, ‘cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices and I tell you, people do that all the time.” It doesn’t work.
6 “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
George Costanza is a master in the art of lying, but he finds it difficult to keep up lies and choreograph his deceits when other people are involved. For example, Susan ends up thinking George is having an affair because Elaine couldn’t get the lie about what they were actually doing straight. When Jerry was made to do a lie detector test after his cop girlfriend didn’t believe he’d never seen an episode of Melrose Place, George decided he couldn’t teach him how to lie. But he did offer him one sage piece of wisdom: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
5 “The sea was angry that day, my friends...”
The whole monologue at the end of “The Marine Biologist” is a classic moment, brilliantly delivered by Jason Alexander: “The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. I got about 50 feet out and suddenly, the great beast appeared before me. I tell you, he was ten stories high if he was a foot. As if sensing my presence, he let out a great bellow. I said, ‘Easy, big fella!’ And then, as I watched him struggling, I realized that something was obstructing its breathing...So, I reached my hand in, felt around, and pulled out the obstruction.” And of course, it turned out to be Kramer’s golf ball.
4 “Worlds are colliding!”
Anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship can relate to George’s “Worlds are colliding!” theory. Your circle of friends and your partner seem completely separate, and if you see them together in the same room, it’s really weird. It really is like worlds are colliding – it’s a perfectly apt metaphor.
And if they’re chatting and getting along, like Elaine and Susan do in this episode, it can be quite worrying. If Susan joins George’s friendship group and starts hanging around with Jerry and Elaine, “relationship George” will have to merge with “independent George,” and eventually, “independent George” will die.
3 “But you are, Blanche! You are in the shackles!”
In the episode “The Airport,” as George gets to the last magazine on the shelf before a convicted criminal (who is photographed on the cover), he channels Bette Davis in the movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. In the movie, there’s a moment where Blanche tells Jane, “You wouldn’t be able to do these awful things to me if I weren’t still in this chair,” and Jane gleefully replies, “But you are, Blanche! You are in that chair!” The criminal tells George, “If I wasn’t in these shackles...” and George – in the same gleeful tone as Davis’ Jane – says, “But you are, Blanche! You are in the shackles!”
2 “Oh, yeah? Well, the jerk store called. They’re running out of you!”
We can all relate to George in the season 8 episode “The Comeback.” He’s insulted by a co-worker for his ravenous devouring of all the shrimp in the meeting – “Hey, George, the ocean called; they’re running out of shrimp!” – and he only comes up with the perfect comeback on the drive home: “Oh, yeah? Well, the jerk store called. They’re running out of you!” He ends up flying across America so he can use it. What makes the episode work so well is that, as all of George’s friends point out, it’s not that great of a comeback. So, George is going to these great lengths to utter this comeback and it’s not even very funny.
1 “Please, a little respect, for I am Costanza, lord of the idiots.”
In an early episode of Seinfeld, George tries out a social experiment by wearing a wedding ring to see if it makes him more approachable to women. He ends up missing out on a friends-with-benefits situation and courtside seats to every sporting event at Madison Square Garden. Throughout the episode, Jerry and George have been arguing over who’s the bigger idiot. This is one of the quotes that led Mike Costanza – Jerry Seinfeld’s old friend who the character was named after – to sue NBC and claim that his name had been slandered by being depicted as, among other things, the “lord of the idiots.”