Seinfeld

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Seinfeld is a show about nothing. No hugging, no learning.

Okay, seriously. One of the most popular shows of The Nineties, it mostly centered around unpleasant people doing unpleasant things to Innocent Bystanders, following Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer. It lasted for nine years (1989 to 1998) and as many seasons, only ending when Jerry Seinfeld himself refused to go on, even after being offered 5 million dollars an episode for a tenth season.

Revolutionary for its time, as the idea of characters spending whole episodes doing and resolving basically nothing, with all humor based on the minutiae of everyday life, was unheard of in 1989 in America[1] Seinfeld was so revolutionary in America, in fact, that it was mercilessly copied. It remains very difficult to describe to the younger generation just how huge the show was in the '90s, and how memetic its plots and sayings became. To use an analogy, Seinfeld is to TV shows what The Godfather is to movies. Part of what contributed to the authenticity of the "about nothing" theme was the fact that a great deal of the plots were based on personal stories from the lives of Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, and various members of the writing team.

Jerry Seinfeld plays a fictionalized, Jerkass version of himself as the ostensible main (though in practice arguably least interesting) character, who works mostly as a foil for his eccentric neighbor Cosmo Kramer, his best friend George Costanza, a man who can make your regular Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist look like a winner, and his sassy ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes, who couldn't spell "tact" if her life depended on it. Jerry was the technical Only Sane Man between these colorful personalities, but a highly ineffective one because, like his friends, he is supremely indifferent towards others, opting instead for the role of Deadpan Snarker extraordinaire. This quality of Jerry's, flavored with co-creator Larry David's gift for irony, coupled with the characters' propensity for Snowball Lies and Fawlty Towers Plots is what fueled most of the elaborate yet utterly mundane plots of the episodes.

Although none of the characters worked together, lived together, or were related by blood, and even though -- or perhaps even because -- no emotional or deliberately touching moments of friendship were ever shown between them, the four remained close friends throughout the show's run, spending a great deal of their waking hours in each others' company and seemingly going by an unspoken rule to always brush off their friends' minor offenses and to never inflict any gross offenses against one another in order to preserve real-life Status Quo Is God -- one of the only social rules they bothered themselves to follow.

And then there's Jerry's other neighbor. Hello, Newman.


Seinfeld is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in Seinfeld include:


Tropes A-D[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Aborted Declaration of Love: "I've always loved you--nited airlines."
  • Absentee Actor: Jerry was the only character to appear in every episode, the other three leads missed at least one.
    • Specifically:
  • Absurdly Bright Light: The neon sign from Kenny Rogers Roasters chicken restaurant outside Kramer's apartment. It drives Kramer nuts.

Jerry: What's going on in there?
Kramer: What?
Jerry: That light.
Kramer: Oh, the red. It's the chicken roaster sign. It's right across from my window.
Jerry: Can't you shut the shades?
Kramer: They are shut.

Jerry: He's doing great in rehab. He's hooked on Pez! He's eating them like there's no tomorrow!

  • Adult Child: Jerry's love of cartoons, superheroes and cereal qualifies him, but ironically he's the most mature of all the cast (who fall more into Man Child territory).
  • An Aesop: Frequently subverted.

Kramer: The important thing is that you learned something.
Jerry: (smirking) No I didn't.

    • Interestingly, the show does deliver aesops, even if incidentally. For instance, the main characters frequently lie, and in pretty much every instance, the lie comes back to bite them in the ass by the episode's end. So the aesop? Don't lie, it only makes things worse.
  • Affair Hair: Parodied in "The Barber": unsatisfied by a haircut given by long-time barber Enzo, Jerry gets his haircut by Enzo's nephew, Gino, in secret so as not to hurt Enzo's feelings. But Enzo eventually puts the pieces together by matching hairs (with help from Newman) and threatens to kill Jerry and Gino for betraying him.
  • Air Vent Passageway: George uses one to get into his office while being locked out by his employer in "The Voice".
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Anna, George's girlfriend in "The Little Kicks".
  • All Men Are Perverts: Jerry and George explain to Elaine how a man will say anything to get a woman. She doesn't believe them, so they elaborate:

George: I once told a woman I coined the phrase "Pardon my French".
Jerry: I once told a woman I don't eat ice cream because it goes straight to my thighs.
George: I once told a woman I enjoy spending time with my family.
The two men sip their coffee triumphantly while Elaine sits there looking shocked.

    • In "The Contest", the guys make Elaine pay double to enter the titular contest, reasoning that women don't have to masturbate every day, whereas for men it's "part of their lifestyle".
  • Alter Kocker: Uncle Leo. Morty Seinfeld acts like one sometimes, too, and most of the residents of Del Boca Vista probably qualify.
  • Alternate Universe: See "The Bizarro Jerry".
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The diner is a real Manhattan diner, in the Upper West Side, called Tom's. The food there is mediocre at best, although the milkshakes are actually pretty good.
    • The Boston Red Sox actually have an "Administrative Assistant to the Traveling Secretary and Baseball Operations".
  • Ambiguously Brown: Invoked with Elaine's boyfriend in "The Wizard", who everyone thinks is black (or possibly biracial). Amusingly, it turns out they're both actually white, and he thought she was Hispanic.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: George, though Word of God has it that he's half-Jewish.
  • Annoying Laugh: Naomi from "The Wallet", "The Watch", and "The Bubble Boy". Her laugh is described as "Elmer Fudd sitting on a juicer."
  • Anti-Advice: George does this to himself. Reasoning that following his instincts never got him anywhere, George decides that doing the opposite of his instincts should make him successful. It actually works... for one episode.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From "The Revenge".

Jerry: Elaine? How did you rope her into this?
George: I told her what a sexist he is. How he cheats on his wife.
Jerry: She knew that.
George: But she didn't know he doesn't recycle.

  • As Himself: Happens a few times, most notably when Keith Hernandez shows up and his friendship with Jerry becomes the basis of an episode.
    • Jerry himself is an example.
    • I gotta say, several of the New York Yankees are surprisingly good actors.
  • Ask a Stupid Question: George wondering how lesbians decide who will be the bride and groom at their weddings.
  • Ass Shove: In "The Fusilli Jerry", Kramer discusses this trope... and Frank demonstrates it.
  • Audio Erotica: "The Tape" revolves around an erotic message that was left on Jerry's tape recorder by Elaine, which none of the guys know initially.
  • Back to Front: "The Betrayal".
  • Bad Bad Acting: Kramer on Murphy Brown in "The Keys".
  • Bad Dreams: Kramer, in "The Millennium". The dream is never shown, but based on the words he says, it's obvious the dream is about competing with Newman on who gets to host a millennium party.

Kramer: Jerry... Newman... it's 2000... (wakes up) NEWMANIUM!

    • Speaking of bad dreams, Elaine had a nightmare that she had a foursome with Jerry, George, and Kramer in "The Slicer". This bit is usually cut for time in syndication.
    • In "The Bookstore", Jerry had a bad dream about Uncle Leo in prison, now buff from so many pull-ups and menacingly saying "Jerry... HELLO! Jerry... HELLO! Jerry... (phone rings) ANSWER THE DAMN PHONE!!!"
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Numerous examples.
    • Kramer pretending to be a detective to get into an apartment in "The Statue". He has also pretended to be a proctologist and wealthy investor, among other things.
    • Both Kramer and George have pretended to work at companies for which they were never actually hired.
    • Jerry and George impersonate two men called "O'Brien" and "Murphy" to ride in a limousine (they quickly regret it when they realize the people they were mistaken for are actually neo-Nazis, of course).
  • Beastly Bloodsports: One episode involves Kramer realizing that he has improbably come into custody of a fighting cock. When the fight comes, Kramer leaps in to save the cock.
  • Beef Bandage: The trope image.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Parodied as part of Jerry's ridicule of Kramer's claim that Keith Herandez spat on him. He traces the imaginary path of the spittle which involves changing directions and pausing in mid air. "That is one magic lugee." The point being to illustrate how impossible it was for the event to happen in real life.
  • Big Word Shout: See Skyward Scream for more examples.
    • SEVEN!
    • SUUUUUUUUZE!
  • Bi the Way: Apparently runs in the Ross family. Susan's father apparently once had a torrid love affair with author John Cheever and late in Season 4 Susan is seen dating another woman, although in her case it's implied that it's a result of dating George, since at the end of the episode she starts dating the woman George dated after her.
  • Bizarro Universe: Elaine's new friend, Kevin. His friends include the charitable and well-dressed Gene; quiet and considerate next-door neighbor, Feldman; and a FedEx employee known only as "Fargus", whom Kevin is very jovial with. His apartment is a mirror-opposite of Jerry's, complete with a unicycle hanging on the wall.
    • When Jerry and Kramer have to switch apartments, Kramer become more sarcastic and reserved, while Jerry becomes more spastic and eccentric, even using Kramer's Catch Phrase "Giddy up!".
  • Blah Blah Blah: "The Yada Yada".
  • Blind Without'Em: George. Although he can apparently squint down to 20/20 vision without glasses.
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: While in the diner waiting for a reporter who's going to do a story on Jerry, he and George notice a young woman eavesdropping on their conversation, so to mess with her they pretend to be gay for each other. It turns out that she's the reporter Jerry was waiting for, who then outs them in her school newspaper as gay. They try desperately to convince her that they're not gay -- Not That There's Anything Wrong with That.
  • Book Ends: The real tragedy of the end of the series is that they've run out of things to talk about, and have started looping back on themselves.
    • Scenes of George and Jerry considering settling down with the women currently in their lives bookend Season 7.
  • Boomerang Bigot: In one episode, George's mother rejects the advice of Jerry's girlfriend Donna Chang because she finds out (having previously talked to the woman only on the phone) that Donna is not Chinese. "I don't want to take the advice of some girl from Long Island!" she shouts.
  • Bottle Episode: "The Chinese Restaurant", "The Parking Garage", etc.
  • Bottle Fairy: Susan Ross's mother.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Towards the beginning of "The Understudy", as Jerry is leaving his apartment with George, the two are talking about how hard it is to tell bad actors that they stink. Jerry then directly talks to the camera: "Just once I would like to tell someone they stink. You know what? I didn't like the show. I didn't like you. It just really stunk. The whole thing, real bad. Stinkaroo. Thanks for the tickets though."
    • Jerry winks at the camera at the end of "The Race", in homage to George Reeves as Superman.
  • Breakout Character: Cosmo Kramer.
    • George Costanza seems to have become this in the years after the series' end having nearly made the top 5 of various "Greatest Sitcom Characters" lists all by himself.
  • Brick Joke: In several cases:
    • One episode had Jerry forget his girlfriend's name. Through a failed Batman Gambit, he finds out that it rhymes with a part of the female anatomy. His best guess is "Mulva", and the episode ends with "Mulva's" name ending up as a mystery. Some span of time later, we learn that her name was indeed his final guess Dolores.
    • In "The Puffy Shirt", George mentions that he won "a contest" to see who can go the longest without A Date with Rosie Palms. In "The Finale", it's revealed that he cheated.
    • The majority of episodes' subplots are arranged to have one of these in some way or another.
    • Halfway through Season Four, Jerry's father finds his wallet missing after going to a doctor, and accuses him of stealing it, which is left unresolved. In the season finale, Jerry discovers it simply fell out of his pocket and between the couch cushions.
  • Brief Accent Imitation:

Elaine: Maybe the dingo et yer baby.

    • Also discussed by Jerry and Kramer with their (very bad) attempts at a Cockney accent.

Kramer: Not bloody likely!
Jerry: That's the worst Cockney accent I've ever heard in my life.

  • Call Back: During the Season 7 premiere "The Engagement", George goes to the beach pier to re-evaluate his life. He starts thinking of Susan and how he'd like to give her another shot. He starts running and a flock of pigeons disperses as he runs towards them. This type of scene is used two more times, only with Jerry in George's place (the Season 7 finale, "The Invitations", has Jerry contemplating whether he should marry Jeannie, while Season 9's "The Voice" has Jerry contemplating whether he wants to keep seeing his latest girlfriend or dump her so he can do a silly voice).
    • George asking Jerry what kind of professions he would be best suited for first appears in "The Revenge" after he quits his job. This same type of conversation is revisited much later in the series (using the same staging and everything) in "The Slicer" when George is concerned that he'll get fired for the photo on Kruger's desk.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Likely more examples than can be reasonably counted - the "who owns a pony" line comes to mind.
  • The Caper: Often overlapping with Zany Scheme.
    • Lampshaded in "The Café":

Jerry: Hey, I love a good caper.
Elaine: Yeah, that's what this is. A caper.

  • Carrying a Cake
  • Casanova: Over the course of the show, 73 women were shown or said to be dating and/or sleeping with Jerry, though that has more to do with his tendency to drop a girl at the slightest provocation than any of his supposed seduction skills.
    • Him being able to get a new woman each time he dumped another one, though, can be chalked up to either this trope or his "Even Steven" powers.
    • Kramer is said to have an inexplicable ability to land beautiful women.
    • George also has a quite impressive number of girlfriends over the show's run, despite how much he bemoans his difficulty with getting one.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Kramer, in "The Millennium".
  • Catch Phrase: "George's getting upset!" Also, Elaine's "Get out," Jerry's "That's a shame," and Kramer's "Giddy up!"
    • "Helloooooo, Newman..." And alternatively, "NEWMAN!"
      • Even Jerry's mother says hi to Newman that way.
    • David Puddy: "Yeah that's right."
    • "That's gold, Jerry, gold!", "Evidently...", "We're trying to live in a society here!", "NO SOUP FOR YOU", etc. There's a lot.
  • Caught on Tape: Kramer's video recording of an armed robbery (including the Main Characters' mockery of the victim) gets used against them in court during the finale.
  • Caught on the Jumbotron: In one episode, George eats very sloppily on the Jumbotron, and the commentators mock him for not using a napkin.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: "The Contest".
  • Cavemen vs. Astronauts Debate: Elaine's breakup with Jake Jarmel over an exclamation point.
    • Additionally, Jerry breaking up with his latest girlfriend because he didn't like a Cotton Dockers jeans ad and she did.
  • Character Development: Completely averted, by design. "No hugging, no learning."
  • Chekhov's Gun: Two examples.
    • In Season 3's "The Subway", Kramer meets a blind guy on the subway. Later, he gets a hot tip on a horse race, bets on it, and wins a large sum of seanotes which a thug hunts him down for. It turns out the blind beggar from earlier was an undercover cop, who Kramer gave money to, and arrests the thug.
    • The other example, lampshaded by some source, is in Season 5's "The Marine Biologist". George makes a high school friend believe he is a marine biologist. Kramer goes to the beach and hits golf balls into the ocean, never brought up again. Until the end, when George must rescue a whale from dying, and he finds an obstruction in its blowhole. It turns out to be one of the golf balls from earlier, and Kramer recognizes it when George regales the whale of a tale (sorry) to his friends.
  • The Chew Toy: George Costanza. A trope named after him was eventually merged with this one.
  • Christmas Episode: "The Pick", "The Strike".
  • Circular Reasoning: Attempted by Elaine in "The Maid":

Elaine: 646? What is this?
Phone guy: That's your new area code.
Elaine: I thought 646 was just for new numbers.
Phone guy: This is a new number.
Elaine: No, no, no, no. It's not a new number. It's, it's, it's just a changed number. See? It's not different. It's the same, just... changed.
Phone guy: Look, I work for the phone company. I've had a lot of experience with semantics, so don't try to lure me into some maze of circular logic.

  • Clingy Costume: Kramer's jeans in "The Wait Out".
  • Clip Show: Two of them: One in Season 6, the other in Season 9.
    • And the finale... sort of.
  • Closer to Earth: Subverted in the case of Elaine: she really only thinks she's closer to earth, when in reality, she is as bad as the other three. Exemplified best in "The Bizarro Jerry", where she dumps Jerry, George, and Kramer for well-adjusted, sophisticated doppelgangers, only to be dumped by the doppelgangers for being too eccentric violent.
    • This can also apply to Jerry, who is quite sane if he puts his mind to it, but usually doesn't care enough to clean his act up.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Kramer.
    • Also, Peterman.
    • And Steinbrenner.
      • And Steinbrenner's Expies Fidel Castro and the President of Tyler Chicken.
    • Pretty much the entire cast actually.
  • Cold Opening: One episode showed exactly what Kramer does when Jerry is out of town.
  • Comeback Tomorrow: The whole premise of George's subplot in "The Comeback"; he's told by co-worker Reilly, "The ocean called. They're running out of shrimp." He can't think of a comeback until later: "Oh yeah? Well the jerk store called; they're running out of you." George wants to re-enact the same scenario so he can deliver the comeback, but unfortunately for George, Reilly has transferred to a sister office in Akron, Ohio. George decides to fly there just to deliver the comeback. But when he does, Reilly retorts with "What does it matter? You're their all time best-seller!" George, unable to think of a witty comeback, blurts out: "Oh yeah? Well I had sex with your wife!" After being informed that Reilly's wife is in a coma, George feels guilty. However, on the car ride home, he thinks of a comeback for that line. And he turns the car around.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Often occurs with Kramer. An example from "The English Patient":

Jerry: (on the phone with Kramer) They're real Cubans?! They're human beings, from Cuba?!
Kramer: I said Cubans; what did you think I meant?
Jerry: CIGARS?!
Kramer: Jerry, Cuban cigars are illegal in this country!

  • Confessional: Jerry visits one in "The Yada Yada", although it's not so much to repent of sins, but to complain to the priest that Tim Whatley's making Jewish jokes.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The entire finale.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Almost every episode with an A plot and B plot will have them collide at the end, no matter how unlikely.
  • Control Freak: After George's therapist doesn't think the "Jerry" pilot script is funny, George accuses Jerry of being a control freak, having taken out all his good lines.
  • The Couch
  • Courtroom Episode: Several, including the finale.
  • Covert Pervert: Many of the women Jerry dates, including one who had an entire closet full of contraceptive sponges. Although, to be fair, they had been discontinued, and women in the Seinfeld-verse are unflinchingly loyal to their preferred methods of birth control.
  • Crack! Oh, My Back!: The hyper-competitive Izzy Mandelbaum throws out his back in "The English Patient" trying to show up Morty Seinfeld in the exercise room. Later, he tries to jump out of bed... and he does it again. And so does his son. And his father.
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: "Festivus", George's dad's alternative to Christmas.
  • Creepy Doll: It looks exactly like George's mother.
    • When Jerry and Kramer switched apartments, one of the things that disturbed him to most was a ventriloquist dummy Kramer referred to as "Mr. Marbles".

Jerry: You gotta get rid of this thing! I keep thinking it's gonna come to life at night and kill me!

Kramer: Jerry, this relationship is killing me. The distance, the longing, the distance...

  • Did You Just Have Sex?: Jerry deduces that Elaine and Puddy are "backsliding" by her hair and the clothes she's wearing (the same as yesterday's). Later, she's shown with messy hair handing Jerry money, presumably because she lost their bet that she wouldn't do it again.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Lola, who was denied "The Handicap Spot".
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In "The Soup Nazi", the titular character refuses to serve Elaine because she annoys him. In the course of the episode, she ends up finding the Soup Nazi's recipes. What does she do? She uses the recipes to drive him out of business and force him to move to Argentina.
    • The entire show is full of this. How about physically attacking someone over double dipping a chip?
  • Distaff Counterpart: In one episode, Jerry falls in love with a woman (Janeane Garofalo) who is exactly like him in every way. He even considers proposing to her, before realizing that he can't marry someone exactly like him... because he hates himself.
  • Distant Prologue: If you watch "The Betrayal" in sequential order, the episode begins years ago when Jerry first moved across the hall from Kramer.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Elaine does this to George's boss in "The Revenge".

Elaine: So, I'm going to a nudist colony next week...

Kramer: Do you have a leaf blower?
Jerry: Yeah, it's in my tool shed, next to my ride-on lawnmower.

[minutes later]

Kramer: Now, where's that tool shed of yours?

    • When Kramer is losing sleep due to the neon sign outside his window.

Kramer: I'm just gonna have to move in here with you.
Jerry: Or I can just go live in the park! Yeah, you can knock down these walls, get an eight-room suite!

Kramer: Jerry, these are load-bearing walls! They're not gonna come down!

    • After Poppy pees on Jerry's couch.

Kramer: Ah, you're making too much of it.
Jerry: Yeah, you're right. It's just a natural human function...happens to be on my sofa, instead of in the toilet, where it would normally be!

Kramer: Right!

Kramer: Well, I signed up for a food delivery service, Now We're Cookin'. That's a play on words.

  • Doppelganger Dating: In "The Cartoon" and "The Invitations".
  • Downer Ending: The series finale. Not that it actually bothered any of the protagonists.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Elaine, as seen in "The Wait Out".
  • Drop-In Character: Kramer.
  • Dump Them All: In the backwards episode, one woman chooses this solution.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: It's debatable that Elaine almost told Jerry she loved him in "The Finale (Part 1)" because she thought their plane would crash. But the plane straightens out before she can finish her sentence. Also debatable that Russel Dalrymple did this in "The Pilot (Part 2)" when he is seen drifting away and a fellow Greenpeace member is shouting "I'll remember her name! Elaine Benes! I'll write to her. I'll tell her all about you and what you did out here!"
  • Dynamic Entry: Kramer, every time he comes through the door.
    • Episode-specific example: In "The Susie", George and Kramer, acting like a bickering couple, are at a ball. During a scuffle, George accidentally rips the back of Kramer's tux, causing Kramer to twirl towards some spectators. Wilhelm: "Wow! What an entrance!"


Tropes E-H[edit | hide]

  • Early Installment Weirdness: The pilot features a different theme song; Jerry is living in a studio apartment with a grey leather couch and a skylight; Kramer (actually, "Kessler") knocks on the door, owns a dog, and is agoraphobic; the hangout is a place called Pete's Luncheonette rather than Monk's; and Elaine is absent (it appears that a deadpan waitress at Pete's was meant to be the major female character).
  • Eldritch Abomination: To Jerry anyways, the woman with the man hands.

Jerry: Like a creature out of Greek Mythology! Part woman, part horrible beast!

    • And thus the parentage of the Slender Man Mythos is discovered...
    • The unriddable B.O. someone leaves in a car is much the same to him. "Even Superman couldn't stop this thing! It's The Beast!"
  • Embarrassing First Name: Cosmo Kramer, but he eventually embraces it... especially when he gets his new license plates mixed up with a proctologist...

Kramer: I'm Cosmo Kramer -- the Ass Man!

  • Episode on a Plane: "The Airport".
  • Establishing Shot
  • Even Beggars Won't Choose It: In one episode, Elaine sells muffin tops, and needs to dispose of the stumps (making them without stumps just isn't the same, you see). Both a homeless shelter and a garbage dump reject them.
    • Jerry finally rids himself of the unkillable B.O. in his car by just abandoning the car on the street and handing the keys over to some bum. The episode ends with a freeze frame of his expression after getting in the car, which indicates he didn't bother keeping it.
  • Everything Is Racist: Uncle Leo seems to think so.

He's an anti-Semite!

  • Everytown, America: Kramer turns his apartment facade into "Anytown, USA", which is waterlogged with Type-I Eagle Land and all the tropes accompanying it. This was during the "Serenity Now" episode.
  • Failure Is the Only Option
  • Fan Disservice: Used in-universe in one episode when Jerry and his girlfriend walk around the apartment naked. He sees her as a vixen, she sees him as a gorilla.
  • Fantastic Racism: Played for laughs in "The Yada Yada" when Jerry is annoyed that his dentist Tim Whatley (who recently converted to Judaism) is making so many Jewish jokes. However, Jerry is chided by Tim for telling a dentist joke, proclaiming Jerry has no idea what his people (that is, the dentists) have been through.

Kramer: You think that dentists are so different from me and you? They came to this country just like everybody else, in search of a dream!
Jerry: Kramer, he's just a dentist.
Kramer: Yeah, and you're an anti-dentite.
Jerry: I am not an anti-dentite!
Kramer: You're a rabid anti-dentite! Oh, it starts with a few jokes and some slurs. "Hey! Denty!" Next thing, you're saying they should have their own schools!
Jerry: They do have their own schools!
Kramer: Aaahhh!!!

    • Later, as Jerry meets with a priest...

Priest: And this offends you as a Jewish person?
Jerry: No, it offends me as a comedian!

Elaine: Perhaps there's more to Newman than meets the eye?
Jerry: No, there's less. I've looked into his eyes. He's pure evil.

  • Fawlty Towers Plot: Many examples, the best being "The Wizard", where George drives to the far eastern tip of Long Island before "blinking" first.
  • Finger-Licking Poison: Susan drops dead from licking toxic envelopes in "The Invitations".
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: One of Jerry's girlfriends did this; the trope is subverted in that how she finishes Jerry's sentence is not what he was going to say at all.

Jerry: I'll tell you Lisi, I never expected that movie to-
Lisi: ...End underwater?
Jerry: ...Be that long.

  • First Name Ultimatum: "Newman". Probably his last name, but still.
  • Flanderization: Everyone goes through some level of this, except arguably Jerry.
    • His neat-freak tendencies grew, somewhat.
      • They deliberately had to flanderize George's idiocy; because he wore glasses, people insisted on seeing him as The Smart Guy, to the point where the writers had to have him openly proclaim himself "Lord of the Idiots".
        • In another episode, George calls out these people by mentioning that a lot of people think he is smart when he really isn't.
  • Flashback Cut: In "The Library", there's a brief cutaway to Jerry and George in high school during the '70s, when Jerry lends George "Tropic of Cancer" after gym class.
  • Foreshadowing: In the episode "The Rye", Elaine tells Jerry "You know, one of these days, something terrible is going to happen to you. It has to!" Come the series finale, and not only does something terrible happen to Jerry (not that it bothers him), it happens to Elaine too. Woops.
  • For the Evulz: George Steinbrenner once threatened to move the Yankees to New Jersey "...just to upset people!"
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Kramer's friend Mickey marries one of the two girls he and Kramer are double-dating after only a few dates. Made funnier in that she confesses to having wanted Kramer all along.
  • Freak-Out: Jerry loses it in "The Diplomat's Club" after getting bugged about every little detail by his assistant.
  • Friends Rent Control: Despite being able to live in a decent one-bedroom Manhattan apartment, Kramer holds down nothing resembling a steady job. He gets by by mooching most of his food off of Jerry and playing with various odd jobs (department store Santa, film extra, babysitter, illness actor for medical interns, the list goes on) and money-making schemes. Some of these are actually quite successful, like when he wins $18,000 dollars at the horse track in an early episode, and later gets his coffee table book about coffee tables published and eventually optioned as a movie (allegedly making him enough money to "retire" to Florida briefly). Subverted in that it's never hand-waved as being rent control, but also vaguely plausible at times.
    • An early episode, back when George was in real estate, implies that the building is pretty cheap. An entire episode revolves around trying to move Jerry into a better building as he can afford much better.
    • Averted with George moving in with his parents in Season 5.
  • Friends with Benefits: Jerry and Elaine try to do this in "The Deal". Lampshaded with George telling Jerry An Aesop about how it can't be done. Turns out George was right.
    • The Season 5 premiere "The Mango" features a Call Back to this premise after Jerry discovers Elaine faked orgasms with him when they were dating, which put him in a foul mood.

Elaine: We have to have sex to save the friendship!
Jerry: Sex... to save the friendship?

George: ...Oh yeah? Well, I had sex with your wife!
Man: His wife is in a coma.

  • The Gambling Addict: Kramer.
  • Gave Up Too Soon: The episode with the Chinese restaurant.
  • Gayngster: Cedric and Bob, the Puerto Rican thugs who steal Elaine's armoire, harass Kramer for not wearing an AIDS ribbon and then chase him for accidentally burning a Puerto Rican flag.
  • The Ghost: Kramer's various friends, such as Bob Saccamano and Lomez.

Jerry: You sure have a lot of friends. How come I never see any of these people?

Kramer: They want to know why they never see you.

  • Gilligan Cut: Seen in "The Voice" when Elaine keeps sleeping with David Puddy, and then the scene cuts to Elaine forking over lost bet money to Jerry because of it.
  • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Discussed.

Elaine: What is it men find so appealing about a Cat Fight?
Jerry: It's just that when two women are pawing at each other, there's a chance they might somehow... kiss.

Frank: I have good news and bad news, and they're both the same: You're fired.

Tony: Hey Kramer, what are you doing mañana?
Kramer: Mañana? I'm doing nada.

  • The Greys: According to George in "The Raincoats", if there was an alien invasion, they would relate first to bald humans.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Sid Fields in "The Old Man". George's father Frank could also qualify.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: George in the flashback from "The Library".
  • Half-Human Hybrid: In "The Bris", Kramer is convinced he saw a half man, half pig in the hospital, which he dubs "Pigman".
  • The Hedonist: Dr. Tim Whatley (Bryan Cranston).

Jerry: Is this guy a dentist or Caligula??

  • Hellistics: Many of the events one character caused ended up biting another character in the ass...
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Jerry and George. George more-or-less admits to himself that the one thing he wants more than anything is a female version of Jerry that he can sleep with. Eventually he gets it, and freaks out because Kramer mentions it.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: George.

Frank Costanza: "Blow out the candles! Blow out the damn candles!"

    • Also...

George: "I need my glasses..."
Fank: "You don't need glasses, you're just weak! You're weak!!"

  • Hint Dropping: In "The Burning", Jerry keeps trying to get his latest girlfriend to tell him "The Tractor Story" by dropping not-so-subtle verbal hints about farms.

Jerry: (playing a board game) They should update these pieces. Nobody rides horses anymore. Maybe they should change it to a tractor.
Sophie: Jerry, are you embarrassed that you're losing?
Jerry: Losing? You know, yesterday I lost control of my car. I almost bought the farm.
Sophie: "Bought the farm"?
Jerry: TRACTOR!

  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The series finale, where the characters finally get punished for all the people they've screwed over.
  • Hollywood Dateless: George.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Jerry, in "The Blood".
    • Also in "The Non-Fat Yogurt"; the other characters, especially Kramer, make fun of Jerry and Elaine for their weight gain, but they don't look much different compared to other episodes. Must be the smallest eight and seven pounds ever.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Jerry and George, which was lampshaded in "The Outing". Between Jerry and Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez in "The Boyfriend".
    • Pfft, those are nothing compared to Kramer/Jerry. Case in point: "The Kiss Hello". After a rant about how Jerry hates kissing, Kramer passionately kissed him.
      • Best part? It was never mentioned again.
      • No, the best part is that George walks in on it, stares, and then slowly backs out of the room and closes the door behind him.
    • Susan's father is revealed to have had a passionate affair with gay author John Cheever in his first appearance, though it's never mentioned again.
  • Hype Backlash: An in-universe example. Elaine hates The English Patient, and everyone she talks to loves it, including her boyfriend (who leaves her because of it), the waitress at Monk's (who refuses to serve her after finding out she hates it) and her boss (who forces her to watch it until she agrees to travel to Tunisia just so she'll never have to see it again).
  • Hypocrisy Nod: In "The Burning", George is flabergasted that Kruger is eating in Monk's when he's supposed to be helping George out with a big project. After asking Kruger to get back to work, George remarks to Jerry:

George: Have you ever seen anything like this?!
Jerry: Never.


Tropes I-L[edit | hide]

  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: With the exception of exactly one episode ("Male Unbonding", which was the first post-pilot episode produced - though not the first to be aired), every episode starts with "The".
  • If I Had a Nickel: In "The Rye", where George's parents, Frank and Estelle, have dinner with the parents of his fiancée, Susan Ross:

Estelle: I couldn't help but notice that you have quite a library in there.
Mrs. Ross: If I had a dime for every book he's actually read, I'd be broke.

  • I Have Boobs - You Must Obey!: Accidentally invoked by Elaine when she loses the top button on her shirt without realizing it.
    • George is also well aware that he must obey.

"Every woman on the face of the Earth has complete control over my life... and yet, I want them all. Is that irony?"

  • I'll Be in My Bunk: Kramer's elimination from "The Contest".
  • I Love You, Man: One of Jerry's odd behaviors (i.e. showing emotions) in "The Serenity Now" is telling his friends how much he loves them.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: Many, but especially Kruger Industrial Smoothing, where George works for the final season and where no one seems to do any work.

George: Hey, I work for Kruger Industrial Smoothing: "We don't care and it shows."

  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Jerry when Elaine asks him about the sweater in "The Red Dot".
    • Elaine pretends to need one as part of her ruse about a "gang of teenagers" who chased her.
  • Informed Judaism: Jerry and his family.
    • Also, Kramer's friend Lomez.

Jerry: Lomez is Jewish?
Kramer: Yeah, Orthodox. Old-school.

    • George's mother, Estelle, is a perfect Jewish Mother except for her name.
    • Ed from "The Fatigues" claims to be Jewish, despite his arms being covered in tattoos.
  • Innocent Bigot: Jean-Paul in "The Hot Tub", who is from Africa and doesn't know a lot of English slang. He learns some words he doesn't fully know for Seinfeld and the gang, which backfires when he sees a mother with a baby in the hallway of Elaine's apartment and says "Aw, look at the cute little bastard!" The woman is offended, since she had the baby out of marriage, and Jean-Paul gets in further trouble when he innocently calls the building manager a son of a bitch.
  • Inspector Javert: Mr. Bookman the library cop.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune
  • The Internet Is for Porn: George's chief selling point for his father's computer business in "The Serenity Now".

George: Well, I got just the thing to cheer you up. A computer! Huh? We can check porn, and stock quotes.

Later:

Elaine: I am not buying a computer from you.
George: There's porn.

Jerry: ...It's brown.
Elaine: It's chestnut with auburn highlights.

"I invented 'It's not you, it's me!' If it's anyone it's me!"
"Fine, it's you."
"You're damn right it is."

  • Japanese Tourist: Played surprisingly straight in "The Checks".
  • Jerkass: Everyone, especially since there are no "good" characters with which to contrast them (unless you count the series finale).
  • Judgment of Solomon: Done with a bicycle.
  • Just Between You and Me
  • Karma Houdini: George was harboring an escaped fugitive that the police knew about, and yet it was Elaine's then-boyfriend who went to jail, just because he was starting to look like George.
    • To be fair, said boyfriend told Elaine he punched the cop who accused him of being George; he was in prison for assault, not for harboring a fugitive.
  • Karmic Protection: Almost the entire series, but averted hard in "The Finale".
  • Kavorka Man: Trope Namer. Used to describe Kramer, but applies equally to George. When asked how George kept dating gorgeous women, the best answer his actor could give was, "He's very... persistent...?"
    • Newman is also an example as he's been seen dating or having dated some very attractive women.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Elaine did this to a mail room worker in "The Fatigues"; instead of firing him for late mail delivery, she promoted him to writer when she saw he wore combat fatigues and had a gruff voice. Once he began writing for the catalog, she promoted him again after he freaked out the other workers with his dark poetry (she made him Director of Corporate Development, which got him out of the writer room). This didn't go over well with the other writers.
  • The Klutz: Kramer.
  • Knuckle Tattoos: In Jerry's nightmare, Uncle Leo has "JERRY" and "HELLO" tattooed on his fingers.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Done in Season 7's "The Checks": Jerry and George discuss pitching their failed pilot "Jerry" to Japanese executives who would air the show in Japan. George argues that the reason it would do better in Japan than over here is because it has more novelty, whereas when you turn on the TV in America, "all you see is four morons sitting 'round an apartment, whining about their dates."
    • Also, in Season 9's "The Cartoon", Newman remarks to Sally Weaver that he loves her one-woman show and that it's refreshing to see a show that's actually about something and looks snidely at Jerry in the process. Obviously, this is a play on the whole "Show About Nothing" tagline when talking about the series.
      • That, and her show consisted of nothing but insulting Jerry and calling him a Complete Monster. Of course Newman would like it.
    • In Season 4's "The Wallet", there is a standup bit from Jerry about cliffhanger episodes shortly before the episode ends in one.
  • Large Ham: Quite a few: Michael Richards as Kramer, George, Newman, Peterman, and Steinbrenner. Also the oneshot character Mr. Bookman in "The Library", an Inspector Javert... for library fines.
  • Last-Episode New Character: J. Peterman made his debut in "The Understudy", the Season 6 finale.
  • Last Het Romance: Straight and Inverted. George is this to a woman who becomes a lesbian, only for Kramer to "set her straight".
  • Lethal Chef: Frank Constanza believes himself to be this because of a traumatic episode in the Korean War (he inadvertently made his entire platoon sick by serving spoiled meat).
  • Local Hangout: Monk's Café.
  • Longing Look
  • Long List: In "The Little Kicks", George remarks that a woman is attracted to him for being the "bad boy". He says he's never been the bad boy before, to which Jerry rattles off a long list of other "bad" roles he's played.

Jerry: You've been the bad employee, the bad son, the bad friend...
George: Yes, yes...
Jerry: The bad fiancé, the bad dinner guest, the bad credit risk...
George: OK, the point is made.
Jerry: The bad date, the bad sport, the bad citizen... (George leaves) The bad tipper!

  • Loony Fan: Kramer is nicer to celebrities than he is to his own friends. His slavish devotion to Bette Middler in "The Understudy" stands out particularly.
    • Speaking of celebrities, Kramer's time working at the Alex Theater seemed to make him a little snooty.
    • Can you believe that someone, somewhere out there, likes cashmere to the point that they pester a rich man because of it?
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: Sorta. Steinbrenner traded George to Tyler Chicken in exchange for a discount.
  • Low Speed Chase: When George gets a scooter-chair in "The Butter Shave", the show's climax features him slowly driving down the street, being chased by a group of old folks who are also on scooter-chairs.
    • There's also a low speed chase in "The Big Salad", which parodied the then-recent O.J. Simpson highway chase.


Tropes M-P[edit | hide]

  • Madden Into Misanthropy: George gets so upset with how his luck has been going that he decides to go ahead and do the opposite of what he would normally does. The girl he was trying to woo became his despite him saying he still lives with his parents and was unemployed. He also finds his own place And gets a job with the New York Yankees after telling off George Steinbrenner about how he's run the team into the ground in the past two decades.
  • Make a Wish: Jerry's latest girlfriend, whom he had dubbed "Man Hands" (due to having large hands for a woman), picked an eyelash from Jerry's face. She told him to make a wish, and after Jerry blew the eyelash off her finger, he looked at Man Hands's hands and said, "Didn't come true", obviously hinting that he wished her hands would've shrunk.
    • Thoroughly explored in the backwards episode "The Betrayal" - Kramer's plotline "begins" with FDR wishing he would drop dead, and is spent with the two of them counter-wishing and re-wishing that using most of the methods on the trope page. At one point, he finds a shooting star and shouts "I wish I don't drop dead!" only to have an annoyed man downstairs telling him to drop dead, continuing the chain.
  • Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: Occasionally in Jerry's early-season standup bits.
  • Meddling Parents: Jerry and George's parents.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: The U.S. Postal Service is portrayed as a powerful and sinister organization, one which Newman feels no guilt about exploiting to his benefit.
  • Misery Builds Character: In one episode, Jerry claims that the ability to refrain from urinating builds character.
  • Missed Him by That Much: Frank's long-lost cousin, Carlo, in Tuscany.
  • Mistaken for Gay: "The Outing". Popularized the phrase "Not That There's Anything Wrong with That".
    • Also Elaine, when an older woman reacts with disgust to Elaine saying that she's the "best man" at a lesbian friend's wedding.

Elaine: I'm not a lesbian! I hate men, but I'm not a lesbian!!

  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Kramer wrongfully guesses that a woman he bumps into on the street is pregnant in "The Parking Spot". In his defense, she did look like she was expecting:

Kramer: Congratulations.
Maryedith: On what?
Kramer: Well, you're pregnant.
Maryedith: What?!
Kramer: You're not pregnant?
Maryedith: (offended) NO, I'm not pregnant!
Kramer: Are you sure you're not pregnant??

  • Mistaken for Racist: George accidentally offends a black co-worker after noting his resemblance to Sugar Ray Leonard.
    • Though at the end of the episode, a black waiter actually mistakes the man for Sugar Ray.
      • Unfortunately for George though, the man had already gotten fed up with George and left before this happened.
    • Jerry when he gives Elaine a Cigar Store Indian in front of her Native American friend. After apologizing, he goes on a date with her and messes it up again by asking a mailman for directions to a nearby Chinese restaurant. The mailman turns out to be Chinese and gets offended.
  • Mistaken for Servant: When Jerry wears a white polo shirt "Nah, go ahead, take it all."
    • Happens another time to Jerry in drugstore with Mr. Pitt.
  • Mobstacle Course: The Frogger part.
  • Mock Millionaire: Kramer attempted multiple times to pull this off under the pseudonym H.E. Pennypacker. Jerry also tried it once using the name Kel Varnsen ("Advantage Varnsen!"), as did George as Art Vandelay.
  • Monochrome Casting: Boy, there sure are a lot of white people in that picture up there.
  • Motor Mouth: Kramer's lawyer Jackie Chiles.
    • Kramer himself when he drinks one too many cafè lattes.
    • Sally Weaver. She annoyed Kramer so much that he broke his vow of silence to tell her to shut up.
  • Must Make Her Laugh: In "The Switch", Jerry is dating Sandy, a woman who never laughs, only says "That's funny." while barely smiling. Jerry tries multiple jokes on her before deciding he likes Sandy's roommate better and wants to attempt the switch.
    • Inverted in another episode where Jerry tries to be as mopey and depressing as possible so he won't upstage George on a date. Turns out she finds him more interesting that way.
  • Never Heard That One Before: In "The Voice", George is told "Go to hell" by two co-workers in the hallway when it's revealed that he's not handicapped and was faking it.

George: (to second person who said "Go to hell") Heard that one already.

  • Never Trust a Hair Tonic: George Costanza's Chinese baldness cure.
  • Nobody Ever Complained Before: Elaine's dancing is truly horrible, but no one can ever bring themselves to tell her... until Kramer sees her dance, that is.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Once again, Jackie Chiles, parodying Johnnie Cochran.
    • Averted with the back of the Late George Steinbrenner, the torso and doughnut of Joe DiMaggio, and JFK Jr.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: When Jerry imagines himself being arrested by the FBI for stealing cable, he tries to flee in the dream and gets shot multiple times (although oddly, there is no blood).
  • No More Lies: Subverting this is a specialty of George's. Ofttimes it will be plain that continuing whatever lie he started with will harm him more than help him (most famously with Susan's parents) but he will, on principle, perpetuate the falsehood.
  • No Name Given: Kramer for several seasons.
  • Noodle Incident: Just about everything Kramer's friends Bob Sacamano or Lomez do.
  • No, Really, It's Okay
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Elaine's boyfriend in "The Raincoats".
    • Kramer in "The Wig Master" when he wants to sleep in Jerry's bed when he's locked out of his apartment.
  • Not-So-Great Escape: George builds an elaborate sleeping space under his desk. Later, Steinbrenner (his boss) comes looking for him and, not seeing him sleeping under the desk, spends the afternoon waiting for George to "come back." George eventually gets out of it by calling in a bomb threat. Later in the episode (after George is out), Steinbrenner hears George's ticking alarm clock in the desk and calls the bomb squad.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Jerry to his nudist girlfriend in "The Apology"; she's nude so much that he's become desensitized to it and actually is repulsed by some of the things she does while naked, such as crouching and opening pickle jars.
  • No Theme Tune: The show doesn't really have an opening sequence to speak of, just the title superimposed over the action already in progress. However, in the early seasons, they at least played the theme underneath Jerry's stand-up act. But as the seasons progressed and the stand-up was excised, the show didn't even play the theme song, just a couple random transition notes over the superimposed title.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Seen in "The Contest"; Jerry and George are looking at the naked woman across the street, and Elaine tests them by saying she's been selected to go to Mars. "Uh-huh" and "Have a good time." are the responses she gets.
    • Seinfeld, a Jewish man, tests this with a friend who won't listen by saying Hezbollah invited him for a gig.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Jerry giving his girlfriend some money he owed her, which made it look like he was hiring a prostitute to a police officer.
  • Obfuscating Disability: In a two-parter, George does this at his new job to receive special treatment. In another episode, Kramer does it by accident and ends up the guest of honor at a charity dinner for the mentally challenged.
  • Oh, the Humanity!: Newman shouts this as his mail truck catches on fire at the end of "The Pothole".
  • One-Scene Wonder: Quite a few, but one that stands out is Robert Wagner in "The Yada Yada": "If this weren't my son's wedding, I'd punch your teeth out, you anti-Dentite bastard!"
  • One Scene, Two Monologues
  • One Steve Limit: George tries to get everyone at his office to nickname him "T-Bone", but fails when they bestow it to someone else who makes a single mention of enjoying steak. He finds himself in a difficult situation because he refuses to let go of the nickname but his boss is quite adamant that there can be only one person with that nickname in the whole office. It seems he runs a very tight ship.
  • One We Prepared Earlier
  • Online Spin Off: The Jerry Seinfeld Program, an Affectionate Parody consisting of super-short unofficial episodes.
  • On Second Thought: In "The Finale (Part 1)", George rejects the new NBC president's suggestion that they incorporate more "relationship humor" into the show Jerry. The president then suggests they not do the show at all, to which George says, "...Or we could get them together!"
  • Overly Narrow Superlative:

Peterman: All right, brace yourself, Lubeck. You are about to be launched via pastry back to the wedding of one of the most dashing and romantic Nazi sympathizers of the entire British royal family.

  • Parallel Parking: The conflict in "The Parking Space": George and Mike get into a fight on who should get a spot: George, who was parallel parking, or Mike, who just decided to pull in front first. It's never solved by episode's end, because both think they're right.
    • In "The Postponement", Kramer does a poor job of parallel parking, bumping both the front and rear cars while parking. Though in Kramer's defense, the spot was incredibly tight.
  • Parking Garage: An entire episode set in one.
  • Parking Payback: George nearly gets lynched for parking in a disable parking space.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: The New Yorker's response to Elaine asking why a particular cartoon in their magazine was supposed to be funny: "Vorshtein?"
  • Perp Sweating: Parodied. In "The Package", Newman attempts to do this to Jerry, when he suspects him of committing mail fraud. It backfires since the lamp is positioned over his chair, rather than Jerry's.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Newman!"
  • Please Dump Me: George has attempted to break up with a woman who simply told him "no, we're not [breaking up]".
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Jerry to his girlfriend in "The Apology", who likes to walk around the apartment naked.
    • Gender-flipped in "The Truth" when Elaine begs Kramer to put some clothes on (he was wearing a towel).
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Elaine is promoted to head of the J. Peterman Catalogue just because she happened to be the closest person physically to Peterman when he snapped and decided to skip the country.
    • Elaine was at least aware of this:

Elaine: I'm not qualified to run the catalogue!
Jerry: You're not qualified to work at the catalogue!

  • Police Lineup: "The Beard", where Kramer volunteers to be in a police line-up to make $50.
  • Poor Man's Porn: George Costanza was caught with a copy of Glamor, which led to the infamous "contest".
  • Prenup Blowup: George tries to invoke this with Susan. It doesn't work.
  • Prima Donna Director: In "The Little Kicks", after one of Kramer's associates threatened him into bootlegging a movie, Jerry discovers a hidden talent for cinematography. When he's "hired" to bootleg another film, he first sees the new film to know what to expect, and won't work unless he was additional camera operators throughout the theater and walkie-talkies to keep in contact with them.
  • Product Placement: Despite the widespread belief that the show had intentional plugs for Snapple and other products, it was not sponsored by them in any way.
  • Purple Prose: The stories written for J. Peterman's clothing catalog.


Tropes Q-T[edit | hide]

  • Race Fetish: In "The Chinese Woman", Jerry dials a wrong number and gets a woman named Donna Chang. He apologizes and hangs up.

Jerry: (redialing) Should've talked to her; I love Chinese women.
Elaine: Isn't that a little racist?
Jerry: If I like their race, how can that be racist?

  • Rage Breaking Point: The "serenity now" segment.
  • Real After All: The "forbidden city" in "The Bizarro Jerry".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Two endings were shot for "The Non-Fat Yogurt" depending on the outcome of the NYC Mayoral election. They used the ending that reflected Rudy Giuliani being elected.[2]
    • Had David Dinkins been re-elected, Jackie Chiles would've debuted as a spokesman for the Dinkins campaign, apologizing for the "Name-Tag" fiasco thought up by Elaine, and executed by her then-boyfriend (and Dinkins aide) Lloyd Braun.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: George plans to give one of these to a woman he had a bad date with years ago (she was a performance artist who got chocolate all over his shirt) but is upstaged by a woman who sees Jerry and gives one to him instead.
  • Reset Button In the finale of Season 2, Jerry and Elaine decide to start having casual sex with each other. However, as dictated by the rule of Sex Equals Love, this causes their feelings for each other to resurface, and the final scene implies that they have rekindled their relationship. The writers later agreed they didn't want to take this any further and the solution was to completely forget about it from the start of Season 3.
  • Reunion Show: It didn't have a real reunion show; however, in the series Curb Your Enthusiasm, where co-creator Larry David plays a fictionalized version of himself, there was a storyline in which he reunited the cast (who played themselves, and themselves playing the Seinfeld characters) for a reunion show.
    • We never see the whole thing, but we do get a good idea of the reunion show's plot and a few scenes from it.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: "Magic Loogie" parodies JFK's use of this trope.
  • The Reveal: Kramer's first name (Cosmo) was a mystery for the show's first six years. When we finally found out what it was, they managed to write the entire episode around the revelation, and NBC advertised it as a major television event.
  • Reveal Shot: Peterman in a phone booth that turns out to be in Burma in "The Foundation".
  • Riddle for the Ages: Why wouldn't Jerry's girlfriend try the pie?
    • Also, we never find out why Jerry's one other girlfriend always wears the same clothes.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside An Enigma: In one episode, when Elaine and Jerry get into a discussion about the nature of Newman.

Elaine: Maybe he's an enigma--a mystery wrapped in a riddle.
Jerry: He's a mystery wrapped in a Twinkie.

  • The Rival: Newman!
    • Kenny Bania, to a lesser extent. Jerry can't stand him, yet Bania thinks they're great friends.
  • Rule 34: Jerry apparently has drawings of naked Lois Lane.
    • Discussed in "The Bris". Jerry tells a skeptical George that there certainly are women who would find a Pig Man attractive.

Jerry: Believe me, there'd be plenty of women going for these pigmen. Whatever the deform is, there's always some group of perverts that's attracted it it. [Singsong voice] Oooh, that little tail turns me on!

  • Running Gag: Any reference to the name "Art Vandelay", as well as George's ambition to be an architect (or to pretend he is one).
    • Jerry got himself an amazing stable of girlfriends on a near weekly basis just so they could have a gag at the end where she would storm out over whatever element of the plot offended her and Jerry would stand in the doorway calling back "What's wrong?!"
    • During Season 6: "Hi, Mr. Pitt! Is Elaine there?"
    • Repeated references to 'Rochelle, Rochelle.' [3]
    • Someone (usually George) calls someone else (usually Jerry) requiring some insane help, and the callee will respond "Who is this?"
  • Sassy Black Woman: The clerk at the thrift store when George tries to return his 'bathroom book.' She first appeared in "The Muffin Tops" as a woman who hassles Elaine for trying to unload muffin stumps on the homeless.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Jerry chasing Newman in "The Soul Mate".
  • Screwed by the Network: An in-universe example. Jerry and George had been pushing for a long time to get their "show about nothing" approved by NBC. Finally, their first episode is aired and is successful. However, at the same time, the head executive who had approved the show goes AWOL and is replaced by a vindictive woman who cancels the show out of spite.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Elaine doesn't appear in the pilot because the character had not yet been created. She was added to the second episode when NBC demanded that a woman be added to the show or they'd cancel it.
  • Self-Deprecation: A lot of jokes came from Jerry supposedly being a hack excuse for a comedian, and (at the time of the Show Within a Show) a bad actor.
    • One episode had Jerry and Elaine stuck at a party with people they didn't even know waiting for Kramer to arrive. Kramer didn't show up until several hours after the party had ended and in the mean time they were forced to engage in... gasp... small talk.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The first episode opens with Jerry and George talking about how the second button on the latter's shirt is too high 'in no man's land' and this continues for nine seasons.
    • Whether or not Iron Man wears anything underneath.
    • Why chocolate fudge should be on the bottom of the sundae.
      • "You know so much about nothing".
    • The missing lyrics to a certain song from Les Miserables.
    • Ending in the Series Finale in a Brick Joke where the first conversation from the first episode is brought up, in prison.
  • Senior Sleep Cycle: Jerry's parents, to the point that they eat dinner at 4 in the afternoon and consider waking up at 5:30 a.m. to be sleeping in.
  • Serial Killer: The Lopper from "The Frogger". Why "The Lopper"? Because he goes around lopping off people's heads.
  • Serious Business: George had a habit of taking little things personally, and going far out of the way to achieve his idea of "justice." See "X Called ..." below for a good example.
    • Jerry and George's argument about whether Iron Man wears underwear under his outfit.

George: (angrily) And I still say he's naked under there!
Jerry: Oh, that makes a lot of sense!

  • Sex Dressed: This is how Jerry knows Elaine's been having sex with Puddy and thus, losing the bet that the two of them wouldn't get back together.
  • Sex God: Jerry, apparently. One episode has a plot revolving around George and Puddy employing one of his "moves" for their girlfriends because it works so well.
  • Shaped Like Itself: In one episode, when George asks his latest girlfriend how her eggs were, she blandly replied, "Eggs are eggs."
  • Shiksa Goddess: Elaine's "Shiksappeal". Extremely odd, given that she was originally written as Jewish and that Julia Louis-Dreyfus is also Jewish.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: Willard organizers in "The Wizard".
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: The two-part episode "The Trip".
  • Show Stopper: Kramer.
  • Show Within a Show
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Jerry and his Girl of the Week in "The Soup Nazi". "No, you're Schmoopy!"
  • Sick Episode: Kramer has a cough and hoarse voice throughout all of "The Andrea Doria".
  • Significant Reference Date: In the final episode, the events brought up as evidence against the gang are referenced as happening on the original air dates.
  • Similar Squad: Kevin, Gene and Feldman in the "Bizarro Jerry" episode.
  • A Simple Plan
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: "Newman!"
    • "Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!"
  • Sit Comic
  • Skyward Scream: George, in "The Dealership": "Twiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiix!"
    • Also, Elaine in "The Susie": "Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuze!"
    • George also got to do a Shout Out to the original "KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNN!"
  • Slice of Life: Largely the basis for the show's popularity.
  • Slipping a Mickey: One of the plots of Season 2's "The Revenge", when George slips a mickey in his boss's drink. Also present in season 9's "The Betrayal".
  • Slow Motion: Demonstrated at the end of "The Race" during the climactic rematch race between Jerry and Duncan.
    • Also demonstrated in "The Little Jerry" during the cockfight. Oddly, despite being in slow motion, the voices of Jerry, George, and Elaine are all in normal pitch, just delivered in a slower manner.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Elaine in particular, but Kramer has his moments too (for example, he seems to think he's fluent in Spanish).
  • Smug Snake: Newman, though he tends to think this way about Jerry.
  • Sock It to Them: Kramer and Newman reverse their peepholes "so they can tell if somebody is hiding in their apartments with a sock filled with pennies". Later in the episode, an acquaintance is attacked by their superintendent (under the belief that he was sleeping with his wife) a sock of pennies.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Several episodes built around it, including "The Café".

Babu: You bad man! You very, very bad man!

Jerry: Some of my best friends are gay!
George: My father's gay!

  • Sound Effect Bleep: Demonstrated in "The Non-Fat Yogurt" many times, as Jerry is more foul-mouthed than usual.

Jerry: This [yogurt] is so (bleep)-ing good!

  • Spell My Name with a "The": Jerry's friend The Drake.
    • Subverted, since The Drake never insists on being called; Jerry and Elaine just thought it made a cool name sound cooler. In "The Pilot (Part 2)" The Drake and his wife refer to Jerry as "The Sein".
  • Spinning Paper
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: Demonstrated in a couple episodes:
    • "The Chicken Roaster" had Jerry and Elaine on the phone before Jerry was put on hold so Elaine could talk to the company accountant, at which point it cuts to three screens. However, Elaine forgot about Jerry after being made nervous by the accountant and left Jerry hanging on the other end. "Hello?.......... Anybody?"
    • "The Millennium" had Jerry switching back and forth between two women (thus, two different split screens) as he tried to work out the speed dial controversy.
  • The Spook: The Doorman.
  • Springtime for Hitler: George's attempt to get fired from the Yankees in "The Millennium". While the first two attempts failed and thus played this trope straight (wearing a Babe Ruth jersey and spilling strawberries on it; streaking on the field while wearing a flesh-colored body suit), the trope was almost averted when George drove around the parking lot of Yankee Stadium yelling demeaning things about the club and Steinbrenner, all while dragging the World Series trophy. If only Wilhelm hadn't taken the credit for all of it and was fired in George's place...
  • The State Room Sketch: Elaine moves into a janitor's closet so she can order food, and Jerry and the gang drop by.
  • Status Quo Is God
    • Lampshaded by Jerry, who takes joy in noting that while George's life is bad and Elaine's is good (and sometimes vice-versa, though rarely) he always "breaks even" at life.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In "The Puffy Shirt", a man with a self-control problem is referred to as not being "master of his domain" by another character.
  • Studio Audience
  • Subways Suck: "The Subway".
  • Suddenly Sexuality: Susan. Dated George for several episodes, but then became a lesbian at the drop of a hat. Went back to men because her lesbianism "didn't take".
  • Supreme Chef: The Soup Nazi - which is why everyone (except for Elaine) put up with his behavior.
  • Surprise Checkmate: George is on the receiving end of one.

George: I don't think we should see each other anymore.

  • Survival Mantra "Serenity Now!... Insanity later!"
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Like George would ever be interested in Marisa Tomei. Right?
  • The Tag: When the episodes got more packed with story material, it became regular for an additional scene over the closing credits. The first two seasons had still photos of Jerry's stand-up act over the closing credits, but due to the longer running times of the earlier seasons, Jerry's closing stand-up was edited to become The Tag in syndication.
  • Take Our Word for It: Several times, such as the horrific BO in Jerry's car, in "The Smelly Car" the titular character's knee-buckling soup in "The Soup Nazi", the dot on the cashmere sweater in "The Red Dot" or Elaine's erotic message in "The Tape".
    • Also the horrific results of George's girlfriend badly-performed nose job in, what else, "The Nose Job". We only see her from the back during those scenes.
    • "The Contest" mentions a beautiful women across the street from Jerry's apartment who walks around naked with the blinds open; naturally, we never see her until The Stinger at the end (when she's in bed with Kramer, who lost the contest).
    • In the episode "The Shoes", we never actually see the eponymous Botticelli shoes that Gail was fascinated by and Elaine got defensive about.
  • Telethon: Jerry works the WNET 13 telethon the night his Nana goes missing in "The Checks".
  • Tempting Fate: On more than one occasion, Sid Farkus told someone (to George in "The Sniffing Accountant", and Kramer/Frank in "The Doorman") that barring some unforeseen development, he would hire George and sell the manseire, respectively. Immediately after Sid said this, something would occur that would sour the whole deal. In "The Sniffing Accountant"'s case, it was George feeling Ms. De Granmont's material, and in "The Doorman"'s case, it was Sid asking out Estelle (she and Frank were separated at the time).
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: "Georgie boy's getting upset!"
  • That's Gotta Hurt: George yells this during a movie in "The Puerto Rican Day".
  • The "The" Title: Nearly every episode has a title that begins with "The".
  • This and That: Jerry and Elaine discussing the "friends with benefits" agreement in "The Deal".
    • Elaine repeatedly refers to a penis as "it" in "The Stand-In". Arguably, the blatant avoidance of the word is what makes the scene funnier, especially since Kramer (who walks in late on the conversation) knows exactly what Elaine means when she tells him, "He took it out."
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Jerry, in "The Voice", right before a rubber container filled with oil hits Jerry's girlfriend from a few stories up:

Jerry: This is gonna be a shame.

Man: Is anyone here a marine biologist?!

  • Three-Way Sex: notable for being one of the earlier uses of it in modern mainstream fiction. In fact, it's even referred to by the French name (ménage à trois), as the term Three-Way Sex hadn't been popularized yet. George devises this as a scheme to help Jerry become romantically involved with the roommate of the woman he's currently dating. It would offend the current girlfriend, making her break up, while the roommate would be flattered and thus open to a relationship. It backfires when they actually agree to it, and Jerry has to backpedal because he considers the proposition more Squick than erotic. "I'm not an orgy guy!".
    • George later tries it to get her to break up with him when he discovers the velvet furniture he adored (and was the entire motivation for moving in with her) actually belonged to her other (male) roommate. She gleefully exclaims to the male roommate "he's into it!" Fade to Black.
  • Timmy in a Well: Parodied in "The Andrea Doria": Kramer is sick with a nagging cough, and he's told to get police when Elaine starts stabbing her boyfriend. Kramer runs up to some cops but by this time, has lost his breath and can't talk without coughing. The cops have to decipher that he's saying there's trouble at the Old Mill Restaurant.
  • Title-Only Opening
  • Title Please
  • Token Good Teammate: Kramer is the only member of the cast who is consistently shown to be kindhearted and caring, who goes out of his way to help people. It should be noted that his efforts to help others rarely succeed, though.
  • Too Many Halves: At the end of "The Sniffing Accountant", Jerry describes his shirt as "half silk, half cotton, half linen".
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: George was once taken to a "Rage-aholics" meeting. David Puddy is also apparently a recovering "Germ-ophobe".
  • Two for One Show


Tropes U-Z[edit | hide]

  • Undying Loyalty: According to Elaine, the women on this show have this towards their preferred birth control methods of all things.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The show's main gimmick.
  • Unusual Euphemism: From "The Contest" (and referenced a couple times after): "Master of your Domain" or "queen of the castle".
    • In "The Face Painter", Jerry tells George that if his girlfriend doesn't give an "I love you" in return for his, "that's a pretty big matzo ball hanging out there."
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Jerry got burned out by the weird things going on involving Kramer. For example:
    • Jerry sees two goons carrying a body wrapped in a carpet leaving Kramer's apartment.

That nut's always up to something.

    • In another episode, George is sleeping in Jerry's cupboards. Jerry opens the door, closes it, opens it again, and exclaims that he bought the wrong food with no mention of George.
    • In another episode, Kramer came in, had a conversation with Jerry and George, all the while going to Jerry's sink, filling up a bucket with water, and walking back out.

George: ...he doesn't have running water?
Jerry: I don't ask those kind of questions anymore.

    • George got used to them as well, as proven by an episode where Jerry and George were watching television when they heard a woman scream from down the hall. Jerry casually remarked that Kramer must have something to do with it and they both went back to the television.
  • Vapor Wear: Sue Ellen Mishke, the "Braless Wonder".
  • Vigilante Execution: Susan's parents are seen purchasing a handgun during the trial in the season finale presumably with intent of carrying out one of these on George as retribution for Susan's death if the gang is found not guilty.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: In "The Pitch". More specifically, a Vomit Discretion Cut, when Kramer, having drunk the expired milk, vomits all over Susan the NBC executive's vest.
    • An example also occurs in "The Gum", when Kramer vomits on the sidewalk after eating a 70-year old hot dog.
    • An example of this was created in "The Fatigues". Originally in the scene parodying Platoon, they were going to have the soldiers spit fake vomit at the camera, but the director decided that showing the vomit wouldn't be funny, so what we end up seeing is a bunch of food poisoned soldiers vomiting into their hats.
  • Wacky Guy: Kramer.
  • We Can Rule Together:

Elaine: Together we can put Putamayo out of business, and make Cinco de Mayo numero uno!

Jerry: Of course, I've never had Pakistani food. How bad it could be?

  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: "The Pick" ends with Jerry and Elaine independently giving highly melodramatic responses to, respectively, being mistaken for picking his nose and accidentally showing her nipple on a Christmas card.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out why Audrey rejected the piece of pie.
    • The titular character of "The Old Man" is still apparently wandering around lost at the end of the episode.
    • He is seen safe at home in the Season 4 finale "The Pilot", where he sees Jerry on TV and exclaims, "That's the idiot who took all my records!"
  • Will They or Won't They?: Elaine and Puddy are a subversion, since it's pretty much outright stated they had no intention to get serious and were just "having a good time". Also, George and Susan.
    • Also Jerry and Elaine. They dated before the series began but then existed as 'just friends', leaving many to wonder when and if they would ever get back together. They hook up (or nearly hook up) a few times over the course of the series but nothing ever really comes of it. Their sexual tension gets a couple of brief mentions in "The Finale" but only as diversions from what will turn out to be the true ending. "The Reunion" on Curb Your Enthusiasm only pushes their relationship further into ambiguity when it turns out that Elaine and Jerry have had a baby together... sort of.
      • Julia-Louis Dreyfus said on her appearance on Inside The Actors Studio that in her opinion Jerry and Elaine were meant for each other but, their chief problem was that they were both too immature to realize that, hence their set-up of just being friends.
  • The Worst Seat in the House: In one episode, Jerry, a big New York Rangers fan, was desperate to attend NHL playoff series games between the Rangers and the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. By the end of the story, Jerry's one means of getting a good seat is with Elaine's boyfriend, Puddy, and his friends... but they're all going with their chests painted to spell out the team name, and to only make things more embarrassing for Jerry, Puddy's group is composed of Devils fans.
    • The ending to "The Label Maker" also counts: Due to a mix-up, Jerry gets a seat right next to Newman at the Super Bowl. Jerry has barely any room next to Newman's girth, not helped by the fact that Newman keeps leaning over when talking.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The basis of the episode "The Merv Griffin Show" is Kramer finding the set of The Merv Griffin Show in a dumpster, and setting it up in his apartment. He then spends 10 hours a day conducting a talk show, down to taking 'commercial breaks' (read: awkward silences) and 'revealing' a secret to Jerry's girlfriend while she was 'backstage', with hilarious results.
  • Wrote the Book: George claims to have invented It's Not You, It's Me.
  • X Called. They Want Their Y Back.: When George is scarfing down a play full of shrimp, a co-worker says (to much laughs) "Hey, George. The ocean called, they're running out of shrimp!"
    • George later thinks up the "perfect comeback", and goes out of his way to recreate the same scenario in which to use it. "Yeah? Well the Jerk Store called, they're running out of you!", which gets no laughs and is casually countered by "What's the difference? You're their all time best seller!" George then counters with what Kramer believes is the ultimate comeback for any situation. "Well, I just had sex with your wife!"
      • This then leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny when everyone at the table goes silent and the guy beside George quietly says "George, his wife is in a coma".
      • In the tag, George comes up with the "perfect" comeback when driving home: "The life support system called..." We never hear the punchline, but apparently it's good enough to turn the car around and drive back.
  • The X of Y: "He's the Sakharov of cable guys!"
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: "Thou who cureth can maketh ill", attributed for laughs to the Bible by Kramer in "The Slicer". Kramer's convincing attitude may put this into fridge territory.
  • You Are Grounded: Frank grounded George in "The Cigar Store Indian" after George had sex with a woman in Frank's bed.
  • You Are Number Seven: As a tribute to his favorite player, Mickey Mantle, George plans to name his firstborn child "Seven".

Jerry: You know George, just because you had a terrible childhood doesn't mean you have to ruin someone elses.

Jerry: All I could think of when I was looking at her face... was that Newman found this unacceptable!

  • Your Cheating Heart: George secretly getting together with Marisa Tomei in "The Cadillac"; his fiancée Susan is unaware, until she asks Elaine (who is supposed to have a cover story) and George the same questions, and both give different answers. Susan punches George.
  • You Say Tomato: One episode involves George breaking up with his girlfriend because she's pretentious, pronouncing words such as "pap-ee-ay mache" instead of "paper mâché."
  • Zany Scheme
  1. An earlier British precedent would be Hancock's Half Hour.
  2. His high cholesterol, caused by the allegedly "fat-free" yogurt, apparently made him appeal more to average New Yorkers.
  3. A young girl's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.