I’ve gotta tell you, it is pretty tough coming up with a list of the top 10 Seinfeld episodes of all time. With so many hilarious options to choose from there are literally dozens of episodes that could arguably land in the top 10. Everyone has their favorite Seinfeld moments, and the incredibly quotable nature of the show has provided fans with conversational humor ever since the show first aired back in 1989. Executive producer and head writer, Larry David really broke the mold with this show, creating strong, memorable characters that are still a household name across North America well over a decade after the series finale aired. That strong characterization has wound up being a curse for the actors of the hugely popular show. The actors are so identifiable with their Seinfeld alter-egos that their attempts to launch new shows with fresh new characters have essentially fizzled. Still, for 9 full seasons they gave us some great laughs, and I am going to present the best of the best with this list of the top 10 Seinfeld episodes:
10 – The Keys
Jerry finally gets fed up with Kramer constantly abusing the privilege of carrying Jerry’s spare keys for him. After one too many apartment invasions Jerry finally can’t stand it any longer and Jerry demands his keys back, setting off a chain of events where Kramer eventually upends his life and heads off to Los Angeles, where he is mistakenly accused of being the Smog Strangler serial killer.
9 – The Chinese Restaurant
This brilliantly done real-time episode takes place entirely in a Chinese food restaurant where George, Elaine and Jerry wait with unconcealed exasperation as they wait for a table. Seinfeld’s dialog is always spot-on, but this long scene takes the humor to a whole new level. After failed attempts to “grease” the host, and eat the food off a strangers table, the trio finally gives up, departing the restaurant in disgust mere seconds before their names are called for a table.
8 – The Junior Mint
You can’t offer someone a junior mint these days without advising them that “they are very refreshing”. Coming in at number 8 of the top 10 Seinfeld episodes, this episode has two gut-splitting storylines. The main one revolves around Elaine’s old boyfriend who, while in surgery, has a junior mint accidentally dropped into his open surgical wound, compliments of Kramer’s clumsiness. He hovers on the brink before finally making a full recovery. The other storyline focuses on Jerry who finds himself in the increasingly awkward situation of not knowing the name of the girl he is dating. All he has to work with is the fact that her name rhymes with a female body part. She is unimpressed when he calls her Mulva.
7 – The Boyfriend
Keith Hernandez makes a guest appearance in this pair of episodes, wooing Elaine, while simultaneously renewing an old hostility between himself and Newman and Kramer, who accused him of spitting on them after a Mets game. Memories of the incident are presented in grainy film stock, a tongue-in-cheek nod to the grassy knoll and the Kennedy assassination.
6 – The Bubble Boy
You knew the Bubble Boy was going to show up in the top 10 somewhere. This grumpy little trivia expert fits in nicely at the number 6 spot. Jerry and Elaine, George and Susan take a weekend trip up to the cabin. Jerry is waylaid along the way, convinced to visit a sick fan who’s immune system is so deficient he is permanently confined to a plastic bubble. George naturally gets into a physical confrontation with the boy over a misprinted Trivial Pursuit card, popping the bubble, and the uninvited Kramer manages to burn the cabin down for good measure.
5 – The Marine Biologist
When George isn’t busy impersonating an architect, he can be found saving whales as a marine biologist. To be fair to George, it is actually Jerry who makes this claim when running into an old female friend who inquires about George. After Kramer blocks a whale’s blowhole driving golf balls into the ocean, George is put in the awkward position (as a marine biologist) of saving the creature, striding manfully into the ocean and removing the blockage with his bare hands.
4 – The Betrayal
Of all the entries of this list of top 10 Seinfeld episodes, this is by far the most cleverly done. The entire episode takes place in reverse with Elaine, George and Jerry going to India after Elaine is “unvited” to a friend’s wedding. Brilliant and creative, this episode really was a breath of fresh air in the 9th season, just when we thought this “show about nothing” was getting a little stale.
3 – The Puffy Shirt
“But I don’t wanna be a pirate!” Jerry whines, after unwittingly promising to wear a ridiculous looking puffy shirt on the Today Show while having dinner with Kramer’s low-talking girlfriend. George, meanwhile, has obtained work as a hand-model after an ad-exec notices the exceptional, smooth quality of his hands that are enjoying the benefit of a life of work avoidance. George’s dreams are dashed as always after he is pushed and burns his delicate hands on a hot iron. In the meantime, Jerry, who can no longer take the mockery of host, Bryant Gumbel, finally snaps and derides the shirt on air. Classic, funny Seinfeld moments.
2 – The Contest
After George’s mother is put in the hospital after throwing out her back after walking in on George pleasuring himself, Jerry, Kramer, George and Elaine come up with the idea of a contest to see who can go the longest without masturbating. Kramer basically throws his money away, bowing out almost immediately, and the rest of the gang suffers restless nights as temptation after temptation is dangled before them. Are you master of your domain?
1 – The Soup Nazi
The top 10 Seinfeld episodes ever is a very subjective list, and no doubt anyone who sat down to write out their own would find great variances with other lists published elsewhere. However, one episode would be guaranteed to make every list, and would likely sit in top spot more often than not. The Soup Nazi episode is the epitome of everything Seinfeld. Of course there’s the laugh-out-loud main storyline that revolves around a fascist soup chef, whose soup is so good his customer’s will accept verbal abuse and ridiculous rules of behavior to obtain it. The secondary storylines provide plenty of laughs as well. Kramer is terrorized by two (likely gay) street toughs who steal Elaine’s armoire, and the gang is driven mad by Jerry and his new girlfriend’s public affections, finding the use of the word, Schmoopie particularly offensive. No question the funniest Seinfeld episode ever.