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The Dark Kramer Theory That Will Change The Way You View Seinfeld

"Seinfeld" fans already know that the show's sensibility is no stranger to darkness. Death, addiction, neo-Nazis, and overdue library books are just some of the unsavory topics that the classic sitcom turned into comedy gold with grace and charm. 

Of course, it's worth remembering that despite the conventional wisdom that mass audiences don't typically go for the kind of dark humor favored by the show's co-creators, "Seinfeld" was and is one of the most popular TV shows of all time. In 1998, it ended its run at the top of the ratings (a rare feat, as pointed out by the New York Daily News) and retains a sizable cultural footprint in the age of online streaming and social media. The series is available for streaming on Netflix, where it remains a popular commodity to millions of new viewers all over the world (via TheWrap).

Given the show's dark humor and wide popularity, it's no surprise that some of the show's fans have ideas that put the show in an even darker light than was intended by its cast or crew. That's certainly the case with one fan theory that suggests a possible sad backstory for Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards), the hipster doofus next door we all know and love.

Kramer's mysterious background could include a marriage that went bad

When people think about the four main characters on "Seinfeld," they generally think of four perpetually single, never-married arrested adolescents unable to stick to any serious relationship for very long. George Costanza (Jason Alexander) sees his one chance at matrimonial bliss end in tragedy, while Jerry Seinfeld's much shorter engagement to his female counterpart Jeannie Steinman (Janeane Garofalo) ends in the only way such a relationship could end: blasé indifference. Not even Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gets any closer to marriage than she did with her on-again, off-again, dumb boyfriend David Puddy (Patrick Warburton). However, one fan theory raised on Reddit posits that the man known as Kramer might have a bad marriage somewhere in his dim, dark past — one that apparently left him a shell of his former self.

The theory begins by pointing out something that is hard to miss when you watch the early episodes of "Seinfeld" — that Kramer probably changed more than any other character on the show. Although Kramer eventually becomes an almost clown-like cartoon, this user argues that he didn't always start out that way. "At the beginning of 'Seinfeld' the character of Kramer is almost nothing like the one audiences grew to know and love," opined u/ALifeIsButADream. The Kramer seen in his earliest incarnation is a near shut-in who only seems to leave the safety of his apartment to ask Jerry if he's "got any meat."

There's no shortage of theories out there about the enigmatic K-Man — even prolific series writer Larry Charles told The Daily Beast that Kramer could be a QAnon disciple today. But this one is especially interesting and seems pretty well grounded in the text of the show.

Perhaps there is more to Cosmo Kramer than meets the eye

How could a quasi-agoraphobic eccentric go from barely scrounging enough cold cuts for a sandwich to Batman-like acts of heroism? As the theory lays out, a clue could come from a particularly memorable moment during Season 7, Episode 1 ("The Engagement"). In this episode, Kramer gives his own opinion on the institution of marriage (via TheSeinfeldScenes on YouTube). Following the announcement of George's engagement, Jerry gives the news for Kramer, whose attitude toward matrimony can be described as ambivalent at best. "They're prisons," Kramer says. "Man-made prisons ... and you can forget about watching TV while you're eating." In the "Seinfeld" universe, this is a nightmarish vision of the future, and one that convinces Jerry not to go along with the engagement pact he shared with George. 

This fan theory draws a reasonable conclusion that he's speaking not just from abstract wisdom, but from personal experience. "To me, it sounds like Kramer himself was married and the experience was so bad it left Kramer the shut-in we see at the start of the series," the theorizer wrote. "It even sounds to me like whoever Kramer was married to was possibly abusive and controlled every aspect of his life. He got out of it (possibly with the help of Jackie Chiles), but the ordeal left him traumatized." This user also theorized that Kramer only managed to recover with the help of time and his unwittingly helpful neighbor Jerry.

With Kramer's illustrious background, it's not hard to swallow some never-mentioned bad marriage in his past, one that his three friends choose not to mention if they even know about it at all. But it does give Kramer's solitary habits in the show's early episodes a melancholic flavor they might not have otherwise.