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George Costanza's Cheapest Moments In Seinfeld Ranked

If you've watched even a little "Seinfeld" in your life, you've probably picked up on the fact that the four central characters that make up the main cast — Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Kramer (Michael Richards), and George (Jason Alexander) — aren't particularly good people. In fact, you might go so far as to say that they're bad people, considering the reign of terror they inflict on pretty much everyone who crosses their paths over the nine seasons. Be it Jerry's overly meticulous criticisms, Elaine's misanthropic tendencies, Kramer's inability to fathom that his actions have consequences, or George's, well, everything, a major part of the humor in "Seinfeld" is laughing at the misadventures of four people we'd never want to hang out with.

To list every terrible thing a character did on "Seinfeld" would take a while, but one of the more quietly insidious traits of its crew is the cheapness of one George Costanza. Don't get us wrong; there is no crime in keeping your eye out for a deal or working extra hard to save some money, but George's unwillingness to pay out of pocket even for services he himself arranges is honestly legendary (and borderline terrifying). When Elaine calls him out for being "extremely careful" with his money in the Season 3 episode "The Truth," George nearly has a fit, but she has a point. Watching your expenses is a good thing, but George takes it to a place where people quite literally end up deceased.

13. The $20 argument

The Season 4 episode "The Movie" sees the group attempting to make it to a showing of "Checkmate," only to be derailed by circumstance every step of the way. Jerry misses the film due to a series of miscommunications, Kramer accidentally steals Elaine's seat and gets mustard on her coat, George botches buying tickets and lands in a different cinema entirely, and Elaine ends up watching "Rochelle, Rochelle," a film she has no interest in seeing. Throughout it all, small misunderstandings ruin their night at the movies, except for Kramer who happily gets to watch "Checkmate."

Though the night ends as a failure for most of the characters, George has a particularly bad night. One of the standout scenes sees him notifying Elaine that she owes him $7.50 for the ticket, but when neither of them has change for $20, she says she'll have to pay him later. This turns into an overly complicated argument in which George tries to get Elaine to give him the $20 so that he'll owe her and not the other way around, to which she wearily responds, "George, you're sapping my strength." After getting derailed by the promise of nudity in "Rochelle, Rochelle," George reconvenes with the others outside. When he attempts to collect from Jerry and Kramer, each of them replies, "Can you break a $20?"

12. Stiffing the waitress

George occasionally plays the part of a generous person, but we the viewer know better, as we find out all the way back in Season 1's "The Stock Tip" that this is not going to be a man who lets money matters slide. The episode sees George brag about a friend of a friend who offers up a stock tip that can't be missed. He and Jerry both invest thousands, only to see the stock immediately fall and nearly wipe them out. While Jerry sells his at a loss, George claims that he's "going down with the ship."

Anyone who has played the stock game in real life knows that things can rise and fall at the drop of a hat, and the same happens here. George sees a sudden spike in his stocks, leading him to play the big spender by smoking a cigar and treating his friends. However, one day of relative riches can't fundamentally change George as a person. When he hands over a wad of cash to a waitress, he chuckles that it's enough, and she goes to walk away. However, he glances at the bill and calls the waitress back, then awkwardly pulls a bill out of her hands. George notes that he has another killer stock tip at the end, but being as this is the last we hear of it, one assumes it didn't go as planned.

11. Trying to score a cheap plane ticket

While the primary story of Season 4's "The Implant" follows Jerry and Elaine on a bizarrely elaborate mission to find out if Jerry's girlfriend has breast implants, the B-plot is all about George. Accompanying his girlfriend Betsy (Megan Mullally) to her aunt's wake in hopes of progressing their relationship to the next level is already a pretty questionable move, but George doubles down on it by trying to get cheaper plane fare due to a bereavement discount, in which airlines allegedly give discounts for those on their way to or from funerals. It doesn't take a fortune teller to see that this is going to be Betsy's only appearance in the series.

When George makes it to the funeral, his desire to save a little extra money goes wild as he attempts to find copies of the death certificate so he might take a photograph of it and prove he is properly bereaved to the airline. This escalates when he's caught double-dipping a chip, one of the most famous gags of the whole series. Betsy's brother Timothy (Kieran Mulroney) is dismayed and disgusted by George's chip etiquette, leading her to break up with him well before anyone found out the extent of George's sketchy behavior at the funeral. Back at the airline, a disappointed George shows the clerk a photograph of him standing next to the casket, which the customer service agent does not see as adequate proof. Frankly, George, neither do we.

10. Opting for a healer over a doctor

When George, Jerry, and Elaine meet at Monk's Café for one of their regular hangouts in "The Heart Attack," George experiences sudden pains in his chest and has to be rushed to the hospital. However, we soon learn that he's actually in need of a tonsillectomy. Despite having his tonsils removed as a kid, they have grown back and need to be removed once more. Conspiracy theorist Kramer is alarmed by the idea of surgery, advising George not to go through with it and to instead see a "holistic healer" he knows personally. Despite Jerry's misgivings, George notices the extreme difference in price and opts to leave the hospital.

Naturally, none of this goes well. To begin with, the healer is clearly an absolute fraud and makes elaborate hand gestures around George to discover what's ailing him. He concludes that it's not a health issue and in fact a sign that George is out of step with nature. George takes a weird tea mixture which gives him a bad allergic reaction that forces him to go straight back to the hospital. However, not even this can be simple, as a fight in traffic and a car crash makes the trip to the ER a lot harder than it should be. By the end of it all, a tonsil-free George sits glumly in his hospital bed, his desire to save money having cost him exponentially.

9. Will that be cash or check?

In "The Kiss Hello," we are introduced to Wendy (Wendie Malick) — Elaine's friend and a physical therapist. While Elaine, Kramer, and Jerry all get wrapped up in a saga around her antiquated hairdo, George books an appointment to deal with his sore arm. When a family emergency arises, he is forced to cancel and is dismayed that a 24-hour cancellation policy will see him charged for the appointment regardless. Later, when Wendy cancels George's appointment to go skiing with Elaine, her receptionist has to deal with a superior George who tells her that she owes him $75 due to his own 24-hour cancellation policy.

Even at his worst moments, George proves to be the star of the show and anyone who has ever been unfairly fined might find it easy to cheer for him when he gets in a good one-liner. Yet, his need to get in a jab at a woman who is just doing her job is questionable, and in the context of all the other things on this list, we're going to go ahead and drag him for it anyway. It may go without saying that Wendy wants nothing to do with the gang after this episode. After many misunderstandings and disagreements, George and Elaine openly mock Wendy's hairdo, while Kramer breaks up with her when she changes it. The lady can't catch a break with this crew.

8. Pepsi instead of wine

So much of "Seinfeld" is about the complications that arise when trying to get from point A to point B, and the Season 5 episode "The Dinner Party" is that in a nutshell. Attempting to attend a low-pressure social gathering blows up to larger-than-life proportion when Elaine reasonably suggests they bring cake and wine. This upsets George, who believes that a comparatively cheap bottle of Pepsi should be enough of a party gift, indicating that this whole operation is about to go off the rails. To save time they split up, with Elaine and Jerry going after the cake and George and Kramer getting the wine.

While Elaine and Jerry have their own troubles in the cake shop, George and Kramer struggle to make change for a $100 bill at the liquor store as they attempt to purchase wine. After a newsstand attendant agrees to provide change on the basis that they buy a handful of items, they head back to the store to pick up the bottle. However, when they go to leave, they see that someone has blocked their car in, forcing them back inside. The store owner isn't having it, and forces them out, but not before several bottles crash to the floor, forcing George to pay further out of pocket. By the time the gang makes it to the party, they angrily drop off the gifts and immediately leave.

7. Shuffling tips in the tip jar

The seventh season saw George working for Yankees owner George Steinbrenner (voiced by Larry David) — the comical parody version of one of the most powerful men in New York at the time. In "The Calzone," Steinbrenner notices that George has a different lunch than the other people in the room and asks to try a bite of his calzone. George agrees and this leads to Steinbrenner craving calzones and demanding more. This would be fine except that George ends up in a chaotic situation with the restaurant owner when he starts going out of his way to show he's leaving a tip in the tip jar.

Naturally, this leads to a huge misunderstanding in typical "Seinfeld" fashion. When George is dismayed that the owner just so happens to look away every time he puts a tip in the jar two days in a row, he attempts to take the dollar back so he can put it back in when he's looking in order to make his generosity clear. The owner notices this and thinks he's stealing, banning George from the shop for life and putting him in serious jeopardy with his boss. In a last-ditch attempt to stay in Steinbrenner's good graces, George is forced to work out a deal with Newman (Wayne Knight), who picks up the calzones every day in exchange for George picking up the tab.

6. Trying to get bank teller to roll up his pennies

Perhaps the earliest sign of George's cheap behavior comes in the Season 1 episode "Male Unbonding." Though it is a bit more subtle than some of his other displays, it gives a pretty good idea of where he's going as a character. Kicking off the episode by complaining that he's afraid his girlfriend is going to break up with him for entirely superficial reasons (as opposed to the countless legitimate reasons to break up with George Costanza), he and Jerry make plans to go to a New York Knicks game. This is derailed when Jerry attempts to end his friendship with a childhood acquaintance, Joel (Kevin Dunn), and ends up giving George's ticket away when Joel begins to cry.

To make matters worse for George, his girlfriend actually does break up with him. We learn of this breakup as he and Jerry make a trip to the bank, with George cradling an enormous jar of pennies in his arms in hopes of getting it changed into bills by the teller. This leads to Jerry lightly teasing him, cracking jokes about going on a scenic vacation to an arcade. When the teller requests that he roll the pennies up before they can exchange them, George snaps back, "What, should I quit my job?"

5. Girlfriend concerns are money-related

The sixth season episode "The Switch" primarily revolves around Elaine's mishaps in attempting to retrieve a tennis racket for a woman who borrowed it, only to injure herself. Beyond that, Jerry spends the episode attempting to switch from dating one woman to dating her roommate, and it will come as no surprise that this doesn't go smoothly. However, George's part in the episode is genuinely messed up as he becomes concerned that his girlfriend has an eating disorder, but only because he finds it stressful to pay for dinners.

George's cheap behavior so far on this list might have been defensible, but this is where we take it up a notch into a place where we see it might be the result of a deep-seated inability to show care for other people. George enlists Kramer's mother Babs (Sheree North) to spy on his girlfriend in the restroom to get to the bottom of things, but she ultimately quits her position at the restaurant, leaving George high and dry. As simply having a normal conversation with his girlfriend is completely out of the question, George takes it upon himself to spy on her, bursting into a stall on a complete stranger experiencing stomach sickness. Not a proud day for the Costanza name.

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

4. Dating a woman for potential unemployment benefits

The third season episode "The Boyfriend" was originally an extended hour-long episode that was broken into a two-parter for syndication, and it is a wild romp for all of the "Seinfeld" characters. Jerry's plot involves meeting Keith Hernandez and his subsequent jealousy when the baseball legend begins dating the comparatively ambivalent Elaine. Meanwhile, George's activities throughout this episode all revolve around his attempts to extend his unemployment benefits as they threaten to run out. While it's perfectly understandable to collect benefits that are there to be collected, George can't help but cross several lines along the way.

In the unemployment office, George makes up an elaborate lie about only just missing an employment opportunity through the completely fictional Vandelay Industries — a latex manufacturer whose phone number just so happens to be that of Jerry's apartment. Of course, Jerry misses the call and Kramer picks up, ruining George's elaborate lie. Next, he begins dating the unemployment agent's daughter, Carrie (Carol Ann Susi), in hopes that she will put in a good word for him, despite their lack of chemistry.

Immediately dialing it in, George takes her on a date for which she dryly thanks him, noting that she hasn't had a Big Mac in a while. Still, even she breaks things off with George when she realizes he completely lacks ambition and direction in his life, which could have been a wake-up call for George to make a change. Readers, it was not.

3. Making up charity to avoid paying for gifts

Despite its decidedly Scrooge-like vibe, "The Strike" remains a holiday classic simply for the gang's inability to find even a scrap of genuine generosity in their hearts. Season 9 saw the gloves come off when it comes to the "Seinfeld" crew being terrible people, and this episode seals it as George makes up an entire charity simply to avoid giving gifts during the holiday season. Though he is quickly caught in the act when his boss attempts to join in on the spirit of things and make a donation to the company, George continues the scam by claiming he made up the charity to avoid persecution for his religious beliefs, which we soon discover are also completely fictitious.

One of the most fascinating things about George is the level of good he could do in the world if he could get out of his selfish mindset even for a little while, and this shows that in no uncertain terms as he manages an incredible feat that could have easily changed lives. This episode, however, deserves an extra shout-out for George's father Frank (Jerry Stiller), who invents a holiday known as Festivus simply to avoid the chaos of holiday shopping. George's commitment to the made-up holiday may come as a result of him trying to cover up after yet another scam, but by the end, we see that Festivus has some potential due to Frank's over-the-top commitment to the bit.

2. Buying a woman a faulty wheelchair

Bear with us here, because this is where George goes from comically corrupt to a nightmare person. In the Season 4 episode "The Handicap Spot," Kramer urges George to park in a handicapped spot due to their trouble finding suitable parking at the mall. When they attempt to return to the car, they find an angry mob awaiting them due to a disabled woman injuring herself after being forced to park far away because they snagged the spot. They avoid certain injuries by leaving and return later to discover that the car, borrowed from George's father, has been utterly demolished.

Despite having actively caused her unspeakable hardship, Kramer and George visit the woman, Lola (Donna Evans Merlo), in the hospital, where Kramer declares that he has fallen in love with her. To make amends for what they've put her through, the duo decides to buy her a new wheelchair, but in a move very typical of these two, they end up cutting corners and buying her a faulty device that leads to further injury. While we're giving George a lot of guff for his cheap behavior here, this episode proves that this whole friend group has a pretty toxic relationship with money as Kramer encourages George's wrongdoing at every turn, while Jerry and Elaine fixate on an engagement party gift that they feel should have been returned once the engagement was called off.

1. The death of Susan

Among the most terrible things George ever did throughout all nine seasons of "Seinfeld," it's hard to deny that his overall treatment of Susan (Heidi Swedberg) just might take the cake. Though we don't know much about Susan, we know that she is the daughter of wealthy parents and that her devotion to George might indicate slightly questionable decision-making skills. George previously cost her a job at NBC only to see their relationship unceremoniously come to an end. When he suddenly decides to get his life on track and become an adult for real, he looks Susan up and proposes to her on a whim. She says yes and he immediately regrets it, coming to see her as an unwelcome intrusion on his life as a bachelor. 

As such, George's character arc in the seventh season mostly revolves around his engagement with Susan. In "The Invitations," it all comes to an end. When they go to pick out invitations for their wedding, George is completely dismissive of Susan's preferences and chooses the absolute cheapest envelopes possible. When Susan starts preparing the invites to mail out, she becomes dizzy while licking the cheap glue, and it ultimately kills her. George is completely unphased by this, simply saying, "Huh" when the news is delivered, and quickly attempts to connect with other exes. It's hard to top inadvertently murdering your fiancée through cheapness — being frugal is one thing, but George's reign of terror must be stopped.