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Seinfeld's 10 Best And 10 Worst Episodes

"Seinfeld," the show about nothing which is somehow about everything, delivered nine seasons of comedy gold from 1989 to 1998. It's universally appreciated as one of the best sitcoms of all time — if not the best — thanks to its top-notch episodes. Truly stellar "Seinfeld" installments have become classics of the form, and make it clear why Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), George (Jason Alexander), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Kramer (Michael Richards) are a quartet made in comedy heaven. Their chemistry crackles, the jokes land, and the scripts are sharp in these absolute bangers.

But of course, not every "Seinfeld" installment is a home run. There are some true stinkers in the bunch, and loyal "Seinfeld" fanatics know where they fall in the timeline. Oftentimes, these lacking episodes split the foursome up. Other disasters double down on lousy set-ups. Which slices of this classic series stand supreme, and which slump to the bottom? We're here to answer that question. These are the 10 best and 10 worst episodes of "Seinfeld."

Worst: The Seinfeld Chronicles

It might be the episode that started it all, but "The Seinfeld Chronicles," the series' pilot, truly tests viewers' patience. This inaugural installment introduces viewers to Jerry, George, and Kramer. Elaine is famously missing from the episode, and doesn't appear until Episode 2, "The Stake Out." Here, Jerry tests the waters with a woman he met while on the road. She comes to stay with him in the city, but while the two are alone in his apartment, her fiancé calls.

The show struggles to find its identity in this episode. It doesn't help that the actors  are clearly just starting to develop their characters, and seem unsure of where to take them. "The Seinfeld Chronicles" also features different stand-up sets performed by Jerry, which are put between scenes. Thankfully, this structure was abandoned: Jerry's acts only appear at the beginning and end of the show following this episode, before disappearing altogether by Season 8. 

"The Seinfeld Chronicles" was so poorly received, it almost got the show canceled, according to Business Insider. Former NBC executive Kevin Reilly even remembered it as the lowest-rated pilot in the network's history. Thankfully, NBC higher-ups loved it, and gave the show a four-episode order.

Best: The Chicken Roaster

There's something very special about "The Chicken Roaster" (Season 8, Episode 8). Kramer and Jerry's storylines are definitely the funniest of the half-hour, but that doesn't mean Elaine and George's are duds. Watching Elaine get investigated at work for buying luxuries on the Peterman account is hilarious, while George's decision to leave a hat at a date's house to secure a second meet-up is classic stuff. But the best moments of the episode revolve around a new Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurant that opens across the street from Jerry and Kramer's apartment building. The giant neon chicken on the roof of the fast-food joint shines directly into Kramer's window, making the whole apartment glow red. The light is so powerful, it knocks Kramer backward as soon as it lands on his face.

Kramer tries to get the restaurant to go out of business, but Jerry stops him, as an old friend of his is the new assistant manager. Kramer concedes, as long as he and Jerry swap apartments. In one of Jerry Seinfeld's best performances of the series, Jerry starts to transform into Kramer just from living in his place. He slides through the door into his own apartment, and starts using the sort of hand gestures and fast-paced dialogue that distinguish his quirky neighbor. At the same time, Kramer begins to seem more like Jerry. He gives George sarcastic advice at Monk's and uses the comedian's signature catchphrase, "That's a shame." It's hysterically surreal.

Worst: The Puerto Rican Day

Not only is "The Puerto Rican Day" (Season 9, Episode 20) a truly awful "Seinfeld" episode, it also caused quite a bit of controversy. Most of the episode takes place outdoors, as the foursome travels home from a Mets game in Jerry's convertible. They get stuck in traffic thanks to the Puerto Rican Day Parade, which each character deals with differently. Elaine is determined to find a quicker way home via a cab, Jerry talks trash to a nearby car, George dips out to attend a movie in the hopes of cracking up the audience, and Kramer hunts for a bathroom. These four stories don't work well together, resulting in a very choppy episode.

The real issue with "The Puerto Rican Day," however, is how it depicts Puerto Ricans and disrespects the territory. Infamously, Kramer accidentally lights a Puerto Rican flag on fire with a sparkler and subsequently stomps on it to try and put it out. While Kramer's disrespect to the flag is unintentional, many felt the scene should not have aired on television. Later, Jerry's car is mobbed by a group of paradegoers due to the flag incident. Kramer quips, "It's like this every day in Puerto Rico."

According to the New York Times, NBC apologized for the episode after the president of the National Puerto Rican Coalition, Manuel Mirabal, publicly criticized it. The New York Daily News reported the episode was also pulled from syndication, though it's available to stream.

Best: The Comeback

While some of the situations on "Seinfeld" are totally out there, many are entirely relatable. One of the best examples of this comes in "The Comeback" (Season 8, Episode 13), when George is made fun of at a company meeting for eating a lot of shrimp. He thinks of the perfect comeback, but only after the meeting is long over. George spends most of the episode concocting a plan to make the same situation play out, just so he can dispense his timely comeback: "Well, the jerk store called, and they're running out of you." 

This line is one of the most memorable "Seinfeld" quotes ever delivered. It's also a terrible comeback, but that doesn't ding it — in fact, it might make it better. Jason Alexander steals the show in "The Comeback," but plenty of laughs come from Jerry's tennis match with Milos (Mark Harelik), the pro-shop worker masquerading as a star tennis player. Elaine and Kramer also have a lot of one-on-one time in this episode, which isn't something we see too often. Kramer appoints Elaine the executor of his living will, and the two discuss potential medical scenarios that would determine whether or not Kramer would want his plug pulled.

Worst: The Baby Shower

While Season 1 of "Seinfeld" might be a real stinker, there are also some big duds in Season 2. Case in point: "The Baby Shower" (Season 2, Episode 10). Elaine is tasked with throwing a baby shower for a friend and does so at Jerry's apartment. George is peeved at the whole situation, as he once went on a date with the woman the shower is for. Seeking revenge for a spill on one of his favorite shirts that occurred during said date, George shows up at the baby shower wearing the afflicted shirt and looking for an apology. The buildup to this scene is great, but the actual confrontation falls flat and delivers hardly any laughs.

At the same time, Kramer convinces Jerry to get illegal cable, which leads to a truly abysmal dream sequence. In a scene we're led to believe is actually happening, FBI agents wait for Jerry in his apartment. They bust him on the illegal cable, and he tries to run. He's gunned down before he can get to the door as Kramer cries over his "cable boy." It's a fun nod to "The Godfather," but its execution is just bizarre. "The Baby Shower" under-delivers on each character's story, resulting in one of those "Seinfeld" episodes that just doesn't feel right.

Best: The Strike

There are dozens of memorable "Seinfeld" quotes that fans use in their everyday lives, but who knew a show-borne ideology could also carry over into the real world? "The Strike" (Season 9, Episode 9) spawned Festivus, a holiday created by Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller) to push back against the commercialization of Christmas. The whole gang gathers at the Costanzas' house to inadvertently celebrate Festivus, where Stiller delivers one of Frank's best-ever moments. He lets everyone at the table know he has a problem with them and begins to talk trash to George's boss, Kruger (Daniel von Bargen). On December 23 each year, some loyal "Seinfeld" fans still celebrate Festivus with their aluminum poles (tinsel-less, because that would be distracting). If that doesn't highlight the impact of "Seinfeld," nothing does.

"The Strike" might be known mostly as the Festivus episode, but the other storylines are equally as hilarious. Jerry dates a two-face — a woman who looks entirely different based on the lighting — Kramer goes back to work at H&H Bagels after a 12-year strike, and Elaine goes on a quest to retrieve her lost Atomic Sub punch card.

Worst: The Stake Out

"The Stake Out" (Season 1, Episode 2) introduces us to Elaine. There's plenty of tension between her and Jerry right off the bat: They're not sure how to navigate their friendship post-breakup, and Jerry's interest in a new woman makes things especially uncomfortable. Jerry meets the new woman at a birthday dinner, but never gets her name. He only knows where she works, so he shows up at her job one day with George and stands around until he bumps into her. The premise of the episode definitely hasn't aged well, but it also suffers from a lot of wasted time in which Jerry and George just stand around. The silver lining? George invents Art Vandelay.

Episode 2 of the series also introduces Jerry's parents, Morty (John Randolph) and Helen (Liz Sheridan). The scenes between the trio are awkward, and a lot of the jokes fall flat. The moment Jerry discusses his failed relationship with Elaine with his parents, who are in bed, feels like an especially forced effort to introduce secondary characters. Kramer also floats around in "The Stake Out," with no real storyline of his own. He does interfere in a Scrabble game between Jerry and his mom, though, during which he tries to pass off "Quone" as an actual word. This is probably the episode's best moment.

Best: The Summer of George

"The Summer of George" (Season 8, Episode 22) serves as the final episode of the penultimate season of "Seinfeld." After getting three months' pay from the Yankees in his severance package, George decides to do nothing but sit on his couch. Jerry, overwhelmed with responsibilities due to his new girlfriend, employs George as a relationship intern. The two of them work together to do what one normal man does in a relationship. It works for a while, until George slips on invitations Jerry's girlfriend needs, landing him in the hospital.

All the while, Kramer attends the Tony Awards as a seat filler. He is accidentally rushed up on stage with the team behind "Death of a Salesman" and takes a Tony of his own. He starts to live his life as if he were a real winner, but it soon catches up to him: The play's producers tell Kramer he can keep his Tony if he fires Raquel Welch. He does, and she attacks him — and also Elaine on the street. This isn't Elaine's only struggle: She has to deal with a new co-worker who walks as if she's carrying invisible suitcases.

Worst: The Trip, Parts 1 and 2

There is something very bizarre about Season 4's two-parter "The Trip," which makes up the first two episodes of the season. They feel more like a "Seinfeld" movie than anything else. In the Season 3 finale, Kramer takes off for Los Angeles to become an actor. Jerry and George go looking for him in Season 4, when Jerry is set to appear on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." But there's a twist: Kramer becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation. George and Jerry see his photo plastered on the news.

Kramer is cleared when the Smog Strangler strikes while he's in custody, and is released to a waiting George and Jerry. He decides to stay in Los Angeles while George and Jerry head back home. At the end of the episode, however, Kramer enters Jerry's apartment out of nowhere, soliciting a smile from his neighbor. The two exchange apartment keys (In the Season 3 finale, everyone wants their keys back), and all is well in New York City.

"The Trip" episodes simply don't feel like "Seinfeld" installments. Most scenes are filmed in an entirely different location, there are scenes with no live audience to laugh at the jokes, and some extremely dark humor is spread across both halves. The worst part? They're two of the three episodes that don't feature Elaine.

Best: The Little Kicks

Thanks to Julia Louis-Dreyfus' brilliant work, "The Little Kicks" (Season 8, Episode 4) is one of the best "Seinfeld" episodes ever. As the current head of the J. Peterman Catalog, Elaine hosts a work party, which she allows George to attend. She gets things going by hitting the dance floor herself, where she proceeds to do an incredibly awkward dance full of little kicks and thumbs-up. The entire office has secondhand embarrassment, as does George, who also gets rejected by Elaine's employee Anna (Rebecca McFarland).

When everyone at work starts acting weird around her, Elaine assumes it's because of George. She encourages Anna to stay away from him, calling him a bad seed. This intrigues Anna, which inspires George to keep up the bad boy persona. Back in Jerry and Kramer's world, the two get into a sneak peek of "Death Blow," which is spoiled when the latter's friend Brody (Neil Giuntoli) shows up to bootleg it. However, Jerry soon finds a passion for bootlegging. Meanwhile, Elaine finds out she's a horrible dancer after she records herself on one of Jerry's bootlegs. All who buy the tape are subject to her antics.

Worst: The Dog

"The Dog" (Season 3, Episode 4) is an all-around garbage episode of "Seinfeld." This half-hour has no redeeming qualities and is one that fans often skip on a re-watch, according to a popular Reddit thread. "The Dog" has one of the worst minor characters of any "Seinfeld" episode: Gavin Pollone (Joseph Maher). Jerry meets Gavin on a flight home from a comedy gig. He's absolutely smashed — the plane even needs to make an emergency landing in Chicago after Gavin falls ill. Jerry is tasked with caring for the man's dog, who is riding with the cargo.

Gavin's dog, Farfel, is not well-behaved at Jerry's apartment. He barks throughout the entire episode, which isn't muffled in the least. Listening to the constant barking, matched with Jerry's yelling, makes the episode unwatchable. To make matters worse, Farfel's bark isn't from an actual dog — it's the work of voice actor Tom Williams. It's fairly obvious that a human is mimicking a dog's bark off-stage, making the episode even more difficult to endure.

"The Dog" cannot even be saved by the storylines starring Elaine, George, and Kramer. The former two must figure out how to hang out without Jerry, while Kramer breaks up and makes up with a girlfriend who never appears on screen. "The Dog" does have one redeeming quality, though: It introduces viewers to "Prognosis Negative," one of the great faux "Seinfeld" films.

Best: The Opposite

"The Opposite" (Season 5, Episode 22) finds George at a new low. He tells Jerry and Elaine nothing is working for him, and admits every decision he's ever made, no matter how big or small, has been wrong. Jerry tells him to start acting on the opposite of his instincts, which should ensure everything he does will be right. This theory is proven correct when George immediately goes up to a woman at the coffee shop and tells her he's unemployed and lives with his parents. She's immediately interested. This episode also kicks off George's employment with the Yankees, which begins after he tells George Steinbrenner what a horrible ball club leader he is. 

As George continues to move up in the world, Elaine slowly trickles down. By the end of the episode, she's talking and looking like George and falling into outright despair. Jerry, in contrast, discovers he's an even Steven: Things in life always balance out for him. "The Opposite" also features one of Kramer's best moments, as his coffee table book debuts on "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee." The introduction of the book with the little legs solicits one of the biggest audience outbursts of the series, making this one of the greatest "Seinfeld" episodes ever.

Worst: The Highlights of 100

Based on IMDb rankings, the Jason Alexander-directed "Highlights of 100" (Season 4, Episodes 14 and 15) is the worst "Seinfeld" episode ever. This installment is a clip show, a notoriously hated format for any television series. What's worse, it comes a little over halfway through the series and highlights some of the most mediocre episodes. Thanks to the sitcom's availability on streaming and the fact that almost every scene and blooper is immortalized on YouTube, this trip down memory lane has become even less necessary.

Believe it or not, there's another "Seinfeld" clip show, which takes place just before the final episode. "The Clip Show," otherwise known as "The Chronicle" (Season 9, Episodes 21 and 22), definitely outshines "The Highlights of 100." A lot of work was clearly put into the installment, which features iconic scenes, bloopers, behind-the-scenes footage, and Green Day's "Good Riddance." Its existence makes "The Highlights of 100" look even worse by comparison.

Best: The Marine Biologist

"The Marine Biologist" (Season 5, Episode 14) is one of those great "Seinfeld" episodes where the four characters' storylines are disconnected until they suddenly aren't. Jerry bumps into an old college friend who asks him if George ever amounted to anything. He tells her that George has become a marine biologist. After learning of this impressive career, the friend takes an interest, and she and George link up. He plays the part to perfection until they take a stroll along the beach and come upon a beached whale. When someone calls out for a marine biologist, George is forced to help the whale, though we don't see what occurs.

When George tells his friends what happened on the beach, we're given one of the greatest sitcom monologues of all time. As he tells it, George walked out into the ocean, was knocked on top of the whale by a wave, and noticed something blocking the mammal's blowhole. As he tells the story, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out the object just like he pulled it out of the whale. It's revealed to be a golf ball, which results in the eruption of the live studio audience. Kramer's face goes blank as he realizes he's responsible for the beached whale: He was hitting golf balls into the ocean earlier that day.

Worst: The Deal

"The Deal" (Season 2, Episode 9) is a perfect example of what happens when network executives force a storyline on a series' writers. In the "Seinfeld" DVD boxset, Larry David and others close to the show tell stories from behind the scenes. According to David, former NBC president Warren Littlefield was adamant that Jerry and Elaine get back together. David and Seinfeld fought against it, but some compromise had to be made. Thus, "The Deal" was born.

In this story, Jerry and Elaine make a set of rules for how to be friends with benefits. Naturally, this doesn't work out when Elaine reveals she wants to have a friendship, physical relationship, and romantic relationship. The duo has a pretty serious conversation about their future and what they want, which is oddly out of place for "Seinfeld." They eventually become an official couple by the end of the episode, and it just feels bizarre. The plan was to have Jerry and Elaine continue to be together after "The Deal," but Seinfeld put an end to it after crowds at his real-life stand-up shows expressed their disappointment with the exes being back together.

Best: The Contest

There is no "best of 'Seinfeld'" list that doesn't include "The Contest" (Season 4, Episode 11). When George's mother catches him gratifying himself, a conversation sparks between him and his friends. Jerry and George bet they can each avoid satisfying themselves longer than the other man. Intrigued by the concept, Kramer and Elaine want in, but the latter is given longer odds, because she's a woman. Each friend pays up $100 ($150 for Elaine). They make an iconic pinky swear to seal the deal. 

Every character has an obstacle in their way, which makes outlasting the others nearly impossible. Jerry dates a virgin, George is forced to watch a shadowy sponge bath, Elaine spots John F. Kennedy Jr. at the gym, and a naked woman across the street entrances Kramer. Kramer is out first in what might be the funniest moment of the entire series: Just a few minutes after the gang spots the naked lady, Kramer exits the apartment and comes back a minute later. He slams his money down on the counter and yells, "I'm out!" Next out is Elaine. There's ambiguity surrounding who really wins, as it's suggested both Jerry and George succumb. In "The Puffy Shirt," 15 episodes later, George is revealed to be the winner, but in the series finale, he admits he cheated. Who truly wins? It doesn't matter: Every joke in this episode lands, and all four stars deliver perfect performances.

Worst: Male Unbonding

Surprise! We find ourselves with another bad "Seinfeld" episode in Season 1. "Male Unbonding" (Season 1, Episode 4) suffers from something we see repeated in many subsequent "Seinfeld" episodes: an annoying side character. Sometimes, these characters can be ignored, dealt with, or glazed over by viewers — but there's just something truly awful about Joel Horneck (Kevin Dunn).

Horneck is an old friend of Jerry's and a really rude and annoying human being. Jerry tries to break up with him, as he would a girlfriend, but it all goes horribly wrong. He eventually realizes he'll never be able to get rid of this guy, who annoys Jerry just as intensely as the audience. To make matters worse, Kramer and Elaine are terribly underutilized in this episode, what with "Seinfeld" still seeming like the George and Jerry show at this early point in the series.

Despite taking a backseat in the episode, we still get the debut of Kramerica Industries by Kramer, as well as his idea for a pizza place where you make your own pie. Both reappear in later, funnier episodes.

Best: The Merv Griffin Show

It's a show within a show when Kramer adopts the old set of "The Merv Griffin Show" in this episode, which takes its title from that storied series (Season 9, Episode 6). Jerry's wacky next-door neighbor turns his apartment into the famed talk show when he finds its remains in a dumpster. From here on out, he treats everyone who walks through his door as if they were a guest on the show, complete with introductory music. During their time in the hot seat, Jerry, Elaine, and George discuss their real-life problems with host Kramer. Elaine discusses her idea to out-sidle a quiet walker at work. Jerry mentions giving his girlfriend sleep-inducing medication so he can play with her antique toys (a "Seinfeld" moment that definitely didn't age well). George brings on his adopted bionic squirrel.

How Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jason Alexander made it through one take in Kramer's apartment, we'll never know. Michael Richards is so in the zone in this episode, he absolutely nails every scene. The bloopers from "The Merv Griffin Show" are also some of the best to ever come out of "Seinfeld."

Worst: The Robbery

"The Robbery" (Season 1, Episode 3) is a rough watch, especially for newbie viewers who don't know better episodes are coming. George tells Jerry he's got an apartment listing that would be perfect for him. Jerry's on the fence, but is moved to look at it after his current place is robbed. After the first visit, Jerry decides to take it, but before he signs the contract, George makes things complicated. He also likes the new place, which makes Jerry feel conflicted about taking it. A back and forth between Jerry and George over who should take the apartment ensues. Both say they don't want it without really meaning it. 

This is yet another episode which underutilizes Elaine. She floats around in the background, waiting to see who takes the new apartment so she can move into their old one. After Jerry and George can't agree on who should take it, a waitress at Monk's becomes the owner. Kramer, who was responsible for the robbery, embarks on a quest to find the criminal. He suspects a neighbor down the hall and starts to question him, but comes up short. The subplot disappears, and we never find out if the neighbor is guilty. All in all, it's a mess. The only ray of sunshine in "The Robbery" is that it marks the first time Kramer slides through the doorway into Jerry's apartment.

Best: The Soup Nazi

If someone who has never watched "Seinfeld" was asked to name an episode, they'd likely offer up "The Soup Nazi" (Season 7, Episode 6). This episode has long been hailed as one of the best, thanks in large part to a one-off character. Jerry tells George and Elaine about a new soup stand, and promises they'll be stunned by the chef's creations. But he also warns them that the owner is referred to as the Soup Nazi because he has strict ordering rules, which, if broken, cause him to snap.

George and Elaine both disregard the rules and are kicked out of the store after owner Yev Kassem (Larry Thomas) yells, "No soup for you!" George eventually redeems himself, but Elaine shows no interest. "The Soup Nazi" also sees the return of street toughs Cedric (John Paragon) and Bob (Yul Vazquez), who steal Elaine's new armoire from Kramer. Upon hearing the story, Kassem gives Kramer one of his old cabinets, who passes it off to Elaine. Elaine thanks Kassem for the furniture, but he's furious when he finds out it went to her. Ultimately, Elaine is able to put him out of business when she finds all his recipes in the armoire's drawers. But Kassem gets his revenge: He's one of the character witnesses in the series finale who helps send the foursome to jail.