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The Controversial Seinfeld Scene That Went Too Far

"Seinfeld" is widely considered one of the greatest (or even greatest) sitcoms of all time, and rightfully so. Aside from being a ratings bonanza for NBC during its nine-season run from 1989-1998, it is still one of the most memorable and oft-quoted comedy shows to ever come along. Starring Jerry Seinfeld (in a stretch, playing himself), Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards, the show about "nothing" collected 10 Emmy Awards and found abundant humor in the little things that make day to day life challenging — and uncomfortable. Turns out, everyone could relate.

Episodes were centered around the unique characters in Jerry's orbit, and plots ranged from an agonizing wait for a table at a Chinese restaurant, to a run-in with the "Soup Nazi," to betting on which of them could go the longest without pleasuring themselves, a bet Cosmo Kramer (Richards) lost within minutes.

All of these people were jaded and cynical New Yorkers, and they often got what they deserved, making it easy to laugh at their pain. Even Jerry, the least crazy of the bunch, once stole a marble rye from an old woman on the street. The "Seinfeld" series finale ended with the entire principal cast sentenced to jail, essentially just for being rotten individuals. The final images of Seinfeld performing stand-up for his cell block were fitting — and funny.

In the '90s, it was still possible to cross the line and offend audiences from time to time in the name of humor, and "Seinfeld" was as guilty as any show on network television. But despite all the silly antics, there was one scene that might have gone too far.

Seinfeld burned the Puerto Rican flag

In the 1998 episode titled "The Puerto Rican Day", a Puerto Rican parade causes the gang to get stuck in a traffic jam, and Kramer ends up trampling on an enflamed Puerto Rican flag (among other offenses). Flag-defacing is always kind of hard to ignore, and per a New York Times report, NBC felt embarrassed enough about the show to issue an apology. It's hard to imagine that episode airing on a major network today, but by today's standards, the '90s look a lot like the drug-fueled '60s did three decades earlier. So try to peace out when watching in the 2020s.

While not shocking that a crossing-the-line moment would come from Kramer, it's still somewhat surprising it wasn't George (Alexander). After all, George was the one who most often lacked a societal filter on whatever came out of his mouth, so much so that co-creator Larry David basically used "Curb Your Enthusiasm" as another platform to keep exploring the abrasive character.

Then again, most comedians will admit that the occasional step too far is a necessary evil to mine the best comedy. Without an edge to it, humor often feels watered-down, and let's face it, just not that funny. The trick has always been to find the right balance, and whether you loved it or hated it, "Seinfeld" set the sitcom standard for generations of fans. That's why the show still remains as popular as ever today – yada yada yada, and so on.