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Why Seinfeld Stopped Filming: The Real Reason The Sitcom Ended After 9 Seasons

The NBC sitcom "Seinfeld" redefined the genre, focusing on four unlikeable yet hilarious characters who left a trail of damaged lives behind them throughout its nine seasons on the air. The series broke from the feel-good television tradition with its famous motto of "no hugging, no learning." Star Jerry Seinfeld stepped in as showrunner after series co-creator Larry David stepped aside after the Season 7 finale and "Seinfeld" topped the Nielsen ratings chart in its final season.

Seinfeld is a notorious perfectionist when it comes to his comedy, and a $5 million per episode offer from NBC wasn't enough to convince him to sign on for another season. As Season 9 started to wind down, Seinfeld decided that would be all for Jerry, George (Jason Alexander), Kramer (Michael Richards), and Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). He told The New York Times in 2018 that despite turning down more than $100 million for a potential 10th season of "Seinfeld," he had never questioned his decision to end the series.

"It was the perfect moment," Seinfeld said, "And the proof that it was the right moment is the number of questions you're still asking me about it. The most important word in art is 'proportion.' How much? How long is this joke going to be? How many words? How many minutes? And getting that right is what makes it art or what makes it mediocre."

Julia Louis-Dreyfus later joked about the Seinfeld series finale

"Seinfeld" ended with a two-part finale that saw the show's core characters sentenced to a year in prison for failing to help a carjacking victim (John Pinette). Their trial featured a parade of guests from the show's run testifying about their lack of morals and was not well received when it aired, but it has come to be regarded with greater acceptance in the years since. In 2015, Julia Louis-Dreyfus appeared on David Letterman's final episode and contributed this item to Letterman's final top ten list: "Thanks for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale." 

The camera then cut to show Jerry Seinfeld sporting a look of mock horror as he mouthed the word, "Really?" He later told Vulture that there was an extensive debate with Letterman's writers about the joke before it was inserted, which was done with his wholehearted approval. "I like all jokes," he said. "That's what I live for. I don't really care who the victim is or whose feelings have to be hurt. If it's a good joke, I'm into it. We were really excited to be on that show ... Maybe they didn't want to hurt my feelings? Of course, not knowing me, not knowing that I don't have feelings."