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The Best Joke In Every Seinfeld Season

As a show that claimed loudly and regularly that its whole point was that it didn't have a point, it's easy to forget the offbeat ingenuity that made "Seinfeld" the megahit that it was. A group of four seemingly mismatched personalities forming a surprisingly tight bond despite the chaos of their lives isn't necessarily groundbreaking in itself, but it can't be understated how unique the dynamics between the characters truly were. In an era where sitcoms regularly focused on growth, "Seinfeld" instead celebrated its characters' shortcomings.

Keeping the interpersonal conflict between its central players at a minimum opened up space to explore the mundanity of work and romance, which could be a major reason the show struck such a chord with audiences. Setting up a solid foundational structure in the first episodes and then expanding its parameters exponentially as time went on, the show's absurdist view of social norms created endless laugh-out-loud funny scenarios over its many years on the air. Indeed, "Seinfeld" remains infinitely quotable, to the point that it's entirely possible that the mention of the series calls dozens of examples of its cringe-inducing social faux pas to mind.

Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine are each known to have surprising moments of emotional maturity, but we'd be fibbing if we said that those were the moments that stuck with us the most. We're here for the painfully uncomfortable, the selfish, the cringe. In short, we're here for the best jokes. Of course, if we were to analyze every gag in the series, we'd be here for a long, long time. So instead, we're picking the most hilarious, awkward, sensational jokes from each individual season to show the best of what "Seinfeld" has to offer.

Season 1: I'll go if I don't have to talk

Imagining "Seinfeld" without Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Elaine Benes is a bit like imagining the Beatles without Paul McCartney, but it wasn't until the fourth episode of the first season, "Male Unbonding," that she made her debut as a cast member. "Seinfeld" was finding its footing in this abbreviated 5-episode outing of a season, but when Elaine appears on the scene, it becomes clear that the show has struck comedic gold. While George, Kramer, and Jerry all lean into over-the-top line delivery for their funniest moments, Elaine is a master of understated wit, giving the series a whole new element to how it would set up its jokes going forward.

While Kramer is busy trying to get his "make your own pie" restaurant concept off the ground, George attempts to navigate his standard minor relationship problems blown way out of proportion, and Jerry ends a friendship, his ex-girlfriend Elaine drops by the apartment to jokingly offer new ways of avoiding Jerry's former friend, adding a new sense of absurdity to the situation. But before that goes down, she and Jerry are trying to think of things they could go do to alleviate their boredom, like going to the movies, when Jerry suggests checking out a coffee shop. Elaine is skeptical, noting that all they'll do there is talk. Frowning, she quips, "I'll go if I don't have to talk." And so fans were introduced to one of the most iconic friendships of the series.

Season 2: I saw your act

In Season 2's "The Ex-Girlfriend," George breaks things off with a woman named Marlene, who annoys him due to a tendency to drag out conversations ad nauseum. Avoidant to the bitter end, he sends Jerry in his stead to collect some books he left at her apartment. However, Jerry becomes enamored with Marlene despite also finding her annoying, and the two begin a briefly clandestine relationship before Jerry comes clean with George. In a remarkable display of maturity for a "Seinfeld" character, George confesses that he doesn't care in the slightest and understands why Jerry has found her "psycho-sexual hold" too strong to resist.

This could all just be another case of brief attraction followed by an inauspicious breakup as seen so often on "Seinfeld," but Jerry is smitten, and he invites Marlene to watch one of his stand-up sets. And this is where everything goes downhill. The series sidesteps the traditional sitcom formula of jealousy and competition between friends to instead give us one of the most memorable moments of the series as Marlene breaks things off with Jerry. When Jerry is stunned and presses her for a reason as to why she no longer wishes to see him, she says, "I saw your act."

Jerry tries to negotiate with Marlene, telling her that he'll be better on the weekend, but Marlene says she can't respect him after watching his comedy. "It just didn't make it for me," she winces, ultimately leaving a flabbergasted Jerry alone in the car.

Season 3: Fish! What do they do?

One of the great strengths of "Seinfeld" is the show's willingness to break up the standard sitcom formula to try something new. More often than not, episodes that do so rank among its most iconic, as is the case with Season 3's "The Parking Garage." The episode begins on what should be the conclusion of an outing, focusing on the empty space between an outside event and spending time at home that would seldom be highlighted on TV. That usually blank spot of time spent in the parking garage is where the entire episode takes place, with our protagonists struggling to find the car that they came to the mall in.

Jerry needs to use the bathroom, George is late to his parents' anniversary dinner, Kramer is hauling an enormous air conditioner by hand, and Elaine is carrying a bag of slowly dying fish, making the apparently minor inconvenience of a temporarily lost car seem unbearable. Even worse, when they make progress in tracking down the car, Kramer is nowhere to be found, having gone looking for his now-lost air conditioner. When he finally returns with the keys, the car fails to start.

This episode is a masterclass in setting up a scenario that is itself an episode-long joke, but the individual crack-ups are what makes it work. For example, take the best gag of Season 3. When George is dismayed by Elaine's interest in her goldfish, he smugly asks, "Ha! Fish. What do they do?" To which Elaine bitingly replies, "What do you do?"

Season 4: I can't go back to coach

Elaine and Jerry have a top-notch friendship based on mutual respect, but that doesn't change the fact that they're both kind of rude. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Season 4's "The Airport," during which a simple flight home becomes an ordeal entirely due to their mutual selfishness. When their flight to JFK International is canceled, the two are offered tickets into LaGuardia. Unfortunately, one ticket is first class, and the other is coach ... and Jerry immediately claims the first-class ticket.

Elaine is understandably upset, but Jerry protests that she's never flown first class and won't know what's she missing. "I can't go back to coach," he says. "I can't — I won't." In first class, Jerry meets a woman he shares instant chemistry with, and they enjoy a spacious ride with delicious ice cream sundaes. Meanwhile, Elaine is cramped, misses her meal, and is kicked out of first class when she tries to sneak in.

Before anyone feels too bad for Elaine, she begins the episode talking Jerry out of leaving a reasonable tip for the skycap, so a major part of what set her terrible trip in motion is her own bad vibe. Out of retaliation, the skycap "accidentally" drops her luggage on a flight to Honolulu. No one gets a worse deal than George, however, who attempts to give his pals a ride home from the airport, runs afoul of a Charles Manson type, and ends up stuck on a flight to who-knows-where.

Season 5: But I don't wanna be a pirate!

In Season 5's "The Puffy Shirt," Elaine and Jerry do a little work on behalf of Goodwill, orchestrating the latter's appearance on "The Today Show" to help promote a benefit for the organization. But while having dinner with Kramer and his love interest of the episode, Leslie, they are dismayed to find her voice too quite to be understood. This leads to Jerry accidentally agreeing to wear one of her specially designed "pirate" shirts on "The Today Show," only to regret it when he realizes what he's done, childishly protesting, "But I don't wanna be a pirate!" Elaine is furious that Jerry would wear something so ridiculous to promote helping the unhoused while host Bryant Gumbel razzes Jerry until the comedian admits he thinks the shirt is ridiculous, which infuriates Leslie.

Besides being one of Jerry's funniest episodes, this is a fantastic George spotlight, as well. While Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer are navigating the schematics of the puffy shirt ordeal, George briefly becomes a hand model. Caught up in the ego-boosting world of modeling, he begins protecting his delicate hands with oven mitts, only to see his career ended when Leslie angrily pushes him and causes him to scald himself. Even still, George might have dodged a bullet, as earlier in the episode, the modeling agent warned him of a successful model who tragically caused his own downfall when he fell in love with the sight of his own beautiful hands.

Season 6: You are the wind beneath my wings

With a powerhouse like Bette Midler on the set, it's no surprise that the cast was at the top of their game with Season 6's "The Understudy." Here, Jerry is dating Bette Midler's understudy from a theatrical musical adaptation of the fictional indie darling film "Rochelle, Rochelle." When George accidentally stumbles into Midler and injures her during a charity baseball game, most of New York becomes convinced they orchestrated the injury to help Jerry's girlfriend win the part.

This episode has it all, from callbacks to prior episodes to celebrity cameos and references to real-life events like the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan scandal. Naturally, references to Midler's hit film "Beaches" abound, with George acting as catcher when she's up to bat and telling her that he saw it on cable and wasn't impressed in the least. Midler is irritated and flips the tables on him, shouting, "Shrimp! Get your shrimp!" while gesturing at an embarrassed George.

There are few on-screen delights so wonderful as watching Bette Midler absolutely drag George Costanza over the coals after his comparatively mild attempt at shaking her confidence, but the true highlight of the episode (and the whole season) is an emotional Kramer shakily singing "You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings" to an injured Midler. Later, in the hospital, Kramer treats Midler like a star and blocks the others from entering her room, not even if they've come to apologize to her.

Season 7: We'd like some wedding invitations

Season 7's "The Invitations" is the culmination of a stellar season-long joke, in which George suddenly decides to become a mature adult in the season premiere, "The Engagement," and promptly ruins his own life by proposing to an ex-girlfriend, Susan, a woman he actively dislikes. George's animosity towards a relatively unaware Susan grows throughout the season, leading him to more and more desperate attempts at breaking things off. Finally, in "The Invitations," the two go to buy envelopes for the wedding invitations, and when the clerk hands them over a folder noting that the cheapest are in the back, he unceremoniously flips the book to the very last pages.

Susan grudgingly agrees to the cheap invitations, but the glue with which they're made turns out to be poisonous, ultimately causing her untimely demise. In the hospital, George reacts to the news of Susan's death with an underwhelming, "Huh." Later, he's back to his shenanigans, immediately calling up exes to see if they're interested in going on a date with him, including Marisa Tomei, who socked him in the eye at their last meeting in "The Cadillac."

Ending the season on Marisa Tomei hanging up on George is a masterstroke, but Susan's line delivery is top-notch to the bitter end. For example, when George asks her to sign a prenuptial agreement in the hopes of offending her so much that she breaks up with him, she laughs uproariously and agrees. Rest in peace, Susan. You were a real one.

Season 8: Come on! Who's dancing?

In Season 8's "The Little Kicks," Elaine invites George to a work party where he flirts with a woman named Anna who at first rejects his advances. But this is far from the most awkward thing that happens at the party. Ready to kick off the celebration, Elaine exclaims, "Who's dancing?" And then she jumps right into some of the worst dancing anyone has ever seen. The entire room is stunned, and the staff immediately loses respect for her, but Elaine blames George's general presence for this — not realizing how bad her moves really are. Meanwhile, aware of Elaine's animosity toward him, Anna becomes interested in George, forcing him to attempt to uphold a "bad boy" image.

Elaine's dancing is bad, but it's some of the best physical comedy the show ever did, and up against Kramer's high-energy antics, that's saying a lot. George refers to it as "a full body dry heave set to music" even as he and Jerry are reluctant to be truthful with her about her lack of skill. Fortunately, the problem is solved when the too-honest Kramer openly tells her that her moves stink. Anna ultimately realizes George is not actually a bad boy, and Elaine never quite regains her prior standing in her office as the employees continue to imitate her dance behind her back.

Elsewhere in the episode, Jerry has his own problems as he's forced into becoming a bootlegger of films that are still only available in theaters. At first forced into the process by an aggressive criminal, Jerry's perfectionist nature interferes, and he becomes too committed to providing quality bootlegs, leading the criminal to break all ties with him.

Season 9: The perfect combination of Mountain Dew and mozzarella

The final season of "Seinfeld" is full of gems, but "The Frogger" is the kind of George Costanza showcase that dreams are made of. Upon hearing that their old hangout, Mario's Pizza, is closing, George and Jerry go for a slice for old time's sake. Mario is less than impressed by their late-in-the-game show of solidarity, but George's attention shifts to the old "Frogger" arcade game in the corner. As they reminisce, Jerry points out that the high score is still George's. George is thrilled, noting that he was on fire that day, with "the perfect combination of Mountain Dew and mozzarella."

George can't let go of his "Frogger" success and conspires to move the arcade machine into his apartment. Realizing that he can't unplug the machine without resetting the high scores, George enlists the help of a mechanic with the promising name of "Slippery Pete," and they formulate a plan. However, Pete gets carried away playing the game while it's on battery power, draining it.

In a moment of desperation, George frantically tries to get the machine across a busy New York street to the nearest power supply. This turns into a real-life game of "Frogger" as he dodges oncoming traffic. The inevitable splat occurs when he makes it to the opposite side of the street and believes himself safe, only to fail the get the machine over the curb. Hit by a truck, the arcade game shatters majestically through the air, littering the road with debris.