It’s hard to believe, but Saturday, July 5 marks Seinfeld ’s 25th anniversary. Over the course of nine seasons, Seinfeld, a.k.a. “the show about nothing,” made viewers laugh with its unexpected, always hilarious (and occasionally ridiculous) observations about life. From dinner party etiquette, to Junior Mints, to getting caught picking your nose at a stop light, there was no social custom or situation too small for Seinfeld to tackle, making the now iconic sitcom always feel fresh.
You've heard the phrase, "Don't sweat the small stuff," right? Well, Seinfeld's writers ate, slept, and breathed the small stuff — and it led to the creation of some seriously amazing comedic material.
While each episode of Seinfeld is anchored by strong performances from Seinfeld himself, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes, Jason Alexander as George Costanza, and Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer, the show’s lasting legacy is without a doubt its hysterical, incredibly unique writing. Seinfeld aired its series finale over 16 years ago, but thanks to syndication, new audiences are being exposed to its brilliance every day. And yes, Seinfeld is still making people laugh.
During its nine-year run, Seinfeld was nominated for an impressive 11 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series (winning twice). The show is full of so many memorable quotations and phrases, it’ll make your head spin. In fact, over time, many of these so-called "Seinfeld-isms" have even made their way into our collective cultural lexicon. (Granted, I’m a huge fan of the show, but even I was a little surprised to see just how many Seinfeld-isms I use in my everyday life!)
So, in honor of Seinfeld’s 25th anniversary, we’ve compiled a list of 43 of the show's most memorable lines, phrases, and made-up words. As Kramer would say, "Giddy up!"
"Yada yada yada…"
Let’s kick things off with an absolute classic! In “The Yada Yada” (Season 8, episode 19), George's new girlfriend, Marcy, likes to gloss over parts of stories by saying, "yada yada yada." At first, everything's fine — George even borrows Marcy's habit in order to skip over the bizarre details of his former fiancé Susan's death. But then Marcy throws George a major curveball...she yada yada yada's sex: "So, speaking of exes, my old boyfriend came over late last night, and yada yada yada, anyway, I'm really tired today." A truly unforgettable moment in Seinfeld history.
In "The Puffy Shirt" (Season 5, episode 2), Kramer's new clothing designer girlfriend, Leslie, is a low talker — she speaks so quietly, she can barely be understood by those around her. Actually, during a dinner with Jerry and Elaine, Kramer seems to be the only person who can understand Leslie at all! Leslie's status as a low talker gets Jerry into a rather unfortunate situation...
Also in "The Puffy Shirt," because Jerry can't hear Leslie, he just decides to smile and nod at everything she mumbles. In doing so, he unknowingly agrees to wear Leslie's latest fashion creation — "the puffy shirt" — during his upcoming appearance on The Today Show. When Kramer delivers the tragic-looking shirt to Jerry's apartment, Jerry utters one of the episode's best lines...
"But I don't wanna be a pirate!"
Poor, pitiful Jerry. He doesn't want to be a part of the upcoming pirate trend!
"...not that there's anything wrong with that!"
In "The Outing" (Season 4, episode 17), as a prank, Elaine leads an eavesdropping woman at the coffee shop to believe that Jerry and George are romantically involved. Later, this same woman turns out to be a reporter who's scheduled to interview Jerry. After the interview, both Jerry and George vehemently deny being gay, qualifying their statements with the phrase, "...not that there's anything wrong with that!" Though "The Outing" won a GLAAD Media Award in 1994, I take issue with the way that the episode employs so many gay male stereotypes throughout. However, "The Outing" does skillfully poke fun at the lengths people are willing to go when they're insecure about their own sexual orientations, and "...not that there's anything wrong with that!" is certainly one of Seinfeld's most memorable phrases.
In "The Strike" (Season 9, episode 10), Jerry discovers that his new girlfriend, Gwen, is a serious "two face." Sometimes, Gwen looks very attractive. Other times, she looks like Nosferatu. Honestly, who can't relate to poor Gwen? We can't look our best all of the time! Besides, Jerry's not exactly Brad Pitt himself! He should cut the woman some slack. I believe that a two face lives within all of us. Just ask Elaine...
"Yama hama, it's fright night!"
Also in "The Strike," after Elaine gets caught waiting for some food in a super steamy bagel shop, she ends up looking...well, absolutely horrifying. Her normally bouncy hair is limp, her skin is damp, and her running makeup forms two giant dark circles around her eyes. She looks like a cornered, rabid raccoon. When Kramer runs into Elaine on the street, he barely recognizes her, stammering, "Yama hama, it's fright night!" You better believe I'm using this phrase daily. It can be used in a shocking amount of real-life situations.
In "The Library" (Season 3, episode 5), George is disturbed to find out that a homeless man hanging around outside the library is none other than Mr. Heyman — the nasty gym teacher who tormented him throughout high school! In addition to helping other students give George "atomic wedgies," Mr. Heyman had a habit of calling George, "Can't-stand-ya," an intentional mispronunciation of his last name. Can't-stand-ya is a brilliant, all-purpose nickname for anyone who grinds your gears — regardless of what their last name is!
Usually paired with a surprisingly powerful push to the chest, "Get out!" is Elaine's exclamation of choice. I would name all of the episodes that Elaine says "Get out!" in, but we'd be here all day — there are simply too many. However, in one particular episode, Elaine's seemingly innocent habit actually gets her into some trouble...
In "The Bizarro Jerry" (Season 8, episode 3), Elaine discovers that her ex-boyfriend, Kevin, is a much better friend to her than Jerry. Jerry posits that Kevin is actually "Bizarro Jerry," explaining the "Bizarro World" concept found in various DC comic books (basically, it's an alternate universe that contains everyone's inverse). Soon, Elaine meets Kevin's friends — there's a Bizarro George, a Bizarro Kramer, and even a Bizarro Newman! She loves spending time with these polite, thoughtful, and caring people. They're so different from the heathens she's come to know in her "other world." Everything is going great...until Elaine accidentally pushes Kevin down in one of her trademark "Get out!" outbursts. Kevin is injured, injured bad. They have to break up. Elaine is simply too much for sweet Bizarro Jerry to handle.
In "The Implant" (Season 4, episode 19), George accompanies his girlfriend to her aunt's wake. Once there, he gets into a physical altercation with Timmy, his girlfriend's brother, who witnesses George double-dipping a chip in a bowl of dip. Of course, the concept of double-dipping existed looong before Seinfeld came along (people have been disgusting pigs since the beginning of time!), but "The Implant" really dragged the issue out into the open. No longer would your Aunt Fanny be able to get away with brazenly double-dipping a Baked Lay in your mom's famous queso dip at Thanksgiving dinner! Thanks to Seinfeld, everyone was watching.
Kramer has a number of idiosyncrasies (and that's putting it lightly). He's the kind of guy who likes to prepare dinner in the shower, baste himself with gallons of melted better, and warm up his pants in the oven before wearing them — he marches to the beat of his own drum, to say the least. So it should come as no surprise that Kramer also likes to answer the phone in his own unique way, saying, "Go" instead of the traditional "Hi" or "Hello." "Go" cuts right through all of the time-consuming introductory bulls@*# and gets straight to the point. I like that.
The hate that Jerry harbors for mailman Newman is so strong, he can't even hide it when he says hello. Of course, the feeling is mutual.
"Maybe the dingo ate your baby."
In "The Stranded" (Season 3, episode 10), Elaine decides to make her own fun at a boring party by strangely referencing Meryl Streep's 1988 film, A Cry In the Dark. In a terrible Australian accent, Elaine tells a ridiculous woman who can't stop wondering out loud where her fiancé has gone, "Maybe the dingo at your baby." Naturally, the woman is horrified.
"I was in the pool!" / Shrinkage
Another classic. In "The Hamptons" (Season 5, episode 21), Jerry's girlfriend, Rachel, accidentally walks in on George while he's changing. Having just gotten out of a very cold pool, George is not in his finest form, and Rachel is horrified/amused at the sight of his tiny, shriveled peepee. Later, George and Jerry discover that, as a woman, Elaine is not familiar at all with the concept of "shrinkage," so George spends the remainder of the episode trying to convince Rachel that what she saw was not an accurate representation of his manhood. The struggle is real. Skip to the 1:32 mark in the video above to watch the awkward moment unfold.
Revisiting "The Yada Yada," Jerry is offended by some of the Jewish jokes made by his dentist, Dr. Tim Whatley (a hilarious Bryan Cranston). Dr. Whatley has only just converted to Judaism, and Jerry doesn't think that its fair that he's already making jokes. After making a dentist joke and then casually referring to all dentists as "those people," Kramer accuses Jerry of being an "anti-dentite." Jerry denies the accusation, but Kramer might have a point. Maybe.
In "The Raincoats" (Season 5, episodes 18 & 19), Elaine's new boyfriend, Aaron, is a serious close talker — he has no respect for other peoples' personal space. His breath probably smells really bad, too. When you encounter close talkers in real life, their breath always smells bad — like coffee, plaque, and farts. Why can't a Listerine addict ever be a close talker? Sigh.
Master of my domain
In the Emmy Award-winning, "The Contest" (Season 4, episode 11), Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer enter into a competition to see who can last the longest without masturbating (though, of course, that particular word is never used in the episode). If you are "master of your domain," you have remained in control of your body's urges and can continue on in the contest. Unsurprisingly, Kramer is the first person to drop out. This is probably one of the more prolific Seinfeld-isms out there in the world today.
If you stopped people on the street and asked them to name an episode of Seinfeld off of the top of their heads, chances are pretty good that "The Bubble Boy" (Season 4, episode 7) would come up more than once. What makes the episode so memorable is the way that it completely defies our expectations. We're expecting Donald (the bubble boy) to be a young, innocent, and totally sweet child. Instead, he's a rude, mean, and possibly fully grown man...who just happens to still be living at home in a giant, germ-free bubble. Long live "the Moops."
In "The Junior Mint" (Season 4, episode 20), Jerry meets a woman at the supermarket and asks her out on a date, but neglects to get her name. He's convinced that he can find out on his own without having to come out and ask her (which he thinks would be embarrassing), but the task proves to be harder than he thought. Things get even more complicated when she mentions that her name rhymes with a part of the female anatomy. "Mulva" is Jerry's best guess. (Her name ends up being Dolores.)
The Soup Nazi / "No soup for you!"
"The Soup Nazi" (Season 7, episode 6) never fails to make me hungry as F$*#. All of the Soup Nazi's soups sound so freakin' delicious — I'm literally salivating right now just thinking about them. Turkey chili! Mulligatawny! Crab bisque!! I want them all. Oh, and the Soup Nazi's catch phrase of "No soup for you!" is kind of legendary. It's a perfect, succinct-yet-forceful denial to any unreasonable request (or even a reasonable one).
Jerry's public displays of affection with his girlfriend, Sheila, which include lots of kissing, high-pitched baby talk, and the nickname "Schmoopie," are totally yack-inducing. Fed up, George reluctantly tries to start doing the same thing with Susan as payback, but the nickname she comes up with for George, "Baby Bluey," just doesn't have the same ring to it as "Schmoopie."
In "The Label Maker" (Season 6, episode 12), Dr. Whatley has the NERVE to re-gift a label maker that Elaine gave him for Christmas to Jerry. Dr. Whatley violates the very first rule of re-gifting: you cannot re-gift within a circle of friends! Someone's bound to find out. If he had any sense, he would've re-gifted that crappy label maker to his second cousin or something. Or, he could've just done what I do whenever I receive a gift that I don't want: add it to the giant pile of unwanted gifts in the corner of my room. Out of sight, out of mind! Of course, I'll have to deal with that pile eventually, but why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? I think Carrie Bradshaw said that.
The Bro / Manssiere
In "The Doorman" (Season 6, episode 18), Kramer teams up with George's dad, Frank Costanza, in order to develop a supportive undergarment for men (Kramer wants to call it "The Bro," Frank prefers "The Manssiere"). I kind of like "The Bro-steeyay," myself.
Speaking of Frank, who could forget his "Serenity now!" battle cry from "The Serenity Now" (Season 9, episode 3)? Frank says that he learned the phrase from a relaxation tape in order to help lower his blood pressure, but in reality, he's probably not supposed to be screaming it at the top of his lungs. Later in the episode, George learns from his rival, Lloyd Braun, that "Serenity now!" is probably just bottling up all of Frank's anger inside of him. One day, he's going to explode! As Braun says, "Serenity now...insanity later."
Jerry's new girlfriend, Jillian, is gorgeous, but there's one part of her body that just doesn't quite fit in with the rest of her — her hands. Also appearing in "The Bizarro Jerry," Jillian's freakishly strong, masculine hands, which Jerry dubs her "man hands," are kind of amazing. She can open a non-twist off beer bottle without even breaking a sweat! Sadly, Jerry breaks up with Jillian because of her man hands. I mean, the contrast between Jillian's delicate facial features and her massive paws is pretty funny, but jeez, Jerry can be kind of a jerk! As if he's sooo perfect.
In the vault
A phrase that's used throughout the series, when Jerry, George, and Elaine say that they're going to put a particular piece of information "in the vault," they mean that they're going to keep it a secret forever. Although, strangely enough, their vaults have a way of getting pried open from time to time.
"Hellooo! La, la, la!"
In "The Voice" (Season 9, episode 2), Jerry and George imagine that Jerry's girlfriend Claire's stomach stays awake at night and talks to Jerry in this "booming, jovial voice." Mostly, it just says, "Hellooo! La, la, la!" Pretty soon, Jerry and George even have Elaine and Kramer using "the voice"! The fact that the writers never really explain how or why Jerry and George came up with the concept of Claire's talking stomach is perfect. The voice truly feels like one of those random, weird things that you and your friends just start doing at the end of a really long night for no apparent reason. However, as with most inside jokes, the voice soon begins to outwear its welcome.
I've been watching Seinfeld for a long time, so I was probably in the fifth grade when I saw "The Sponge" (Season 7, episode 9) for the first time. Needless to say, I had no idea what a sponge was, why Elaine wanted to stock up on them before they stopped being produced, or why she was withholding sex from the men in her life until they proved to her that they were "sponge-worthy." Absolutely nothing made sense to me. I kept picturing the big, rectangular sponges we kept next to our kitchen sink and thinking, "What do those musty, damp, bacteria-infested GERM scrubbers have to do with sex?" Would I need a sponge someday?? It was a few years before I learned the answers to those questions. Thanks, AskJeeves!
Another "Kramer-ism," if you will, "Giddy up!" is one of Seinfeld's most recognizable catch phrases.
"That's a shame."
And now, a "Jerry-ism"! Seriously, Jerry is such a butt sometimes.
"The jerk store called: they're running out of you!"
If there is a more perfect insult in this world, I do not know it. After being zinged by a co-worker for gorging himself on shrimp during a meeting ("Hey George, the ocean called — they're running out of shrimp!"), George spends days formulating the perfect response in "The Comeback" (Season 8, episode 13). Unfortunately (fortunately?), this "jerk store" line is the best thing that he can come up with.
"These pretzels are making me thirsty!"
Kramer's famous one-liner from his cameo in a Woody Allen movie comes from "The Alternate Side" (Season 3, episode 11).
After fleeing to Burma/Myanmar in "The Foundation" (Season 8, episode 1), J. Peterman calls Elaine to tell her that he's "burnt out" and can no longer run his clothing catalogue. He wants Elaine to take over the business for him. Elaine's first big idea as the new head of J. Peterman? The elegant, timeless urban sombrero. It is a colossal failure.
"Top of the muffin to you!"
When Elaine's former boss, Mr. Lippman, makes a comment about her habit of eating just the top of a muffin in "The Muffin Tops" (Season 8, episode 21), she remarks that a store that only sold muffin tops would be a "million dollar idea." Inspired, Mr. Lippman opens a store that does just that! It's called, Top of the Muffin to You! After being cut in for a portion of the profits, Elaine advises Mr. Lippman to get rid of the exclamation point at the end of the store's name so that it doesn't sound like it's being shouted at people. A wise suggestion.
First, we met the low talker. Then, we met the close talker. And now, in "The Pledge Drive" (Season 6, episode 3), we meet the high talker. There is just something about the combination of the high talker's voice and his face (coupled with the fact that he's obviously lip synching) that makes him absolutely BONE CHILLING to watch. If you ask me, the high talker is one of television's top three scariest ghouls.
Jerry challenging Newman to eat a piece of steamed broccoli in "The Chicken Roaster" (Season 8, episode 8) is another one of my favorite Seinfeld moments. Let it be known: Broccoli is an ABOMINATION and it must be EXTERMINATED from this Earth!!!
"You are sooo good lookin'."
Jerry's hilarious alternative to "God bless you" is introduced in "The Good Samaritan" (Season 3, episode 20).
"You can stuff your sorries in a sack, mister!"
Each time Jerry apologizes to George for sleeping with his girlfriend, Nina, in "The Betrayal" (Season 9, episode 8), George tells Jerry, "You can stuff your sorries in a sack, mister!" At the end of the episode (which unfolds in reverse chronological order), it's revealed that George picked up the curious phrase from the recently deceased Susan.
"Nobody beats me, because I'm The Wiz!"
In "The Junk Mail" (Season 9, episode 5), Elaine falls head over heels for Jack, only to discover later that he once played the obnoxious "The Wiz" character in a cheesy television commercial for a local electronics store. After this startling revelation, Elaine tries to get back with her on again, off again beau, David Puddy, but is rejected. Reluctantly, she opts to stay with The Wiz. After all, nobody beats him.
"They're real, and they're spectacular."
Jerry's girlfriend, Sidra (played by Teri Hatcher), delivers this memorable parting shot in "The Implant." Supposedly, the "and they're spectacular" bit was ad-libbed by Hatcher. The famous line is repeated by lawyer Jackie Chiles in Seinfeld's series finale. Here's what I've never quite understood about "The Implant": at the beginning of the episode, Jerry breaks up with Sidra because he thinks that she has fake breasts...what kind of reason is that?? So what? Who cares! I guess I shouldn't be so surprised, though. Jerry proves himself to be a totally superficial toad time and time again throughout the series, and this is just another fine example. But additionally, Hatcher's breasts seem to be fairly modest in size to me. Why would Jerry think that they were fake? I just don't get it.
"Who is this?"
Watch the video montage above and just try not to laugh. I dare you. (Spoiler alert: it's impossible.)
Festivus / "A Festivus for the restuvis!"
Frank's monologue about the origin of his Festivus holiday from "The Strike" is so beautiful, it makes me weep. Let us bask in its utter perfection:
Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had — but so did another man. As I reigned blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way! ...But out of that, a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the restivus!
What are you waiting for? It's Seinfeld's 25th anniversary! Get out there and starting quoting Seinfeld like you've never quoted Seinfeld before!
Images: NBC; master-kief/tumblr