One of the most quoted sitcoms ever, the best Seinfeld lines have transcended the show and are icons of pop culture. But, that doesn’t mean lesser quality lines from the show deserve to be lost with time.
With Larry David as the head writer, Seinfeld stacked so many memorable quotes into a single episode that it’s hard to keep up with the brilliance of it all. Sure, there is a laugh track, but some of the quotes David, Jerry Seinfeld, and the writers came up with deserve a standing ovation. Though it was famously referred to as a show about nothing, the banter and witticisms heard in Seinfeld are far from forgettable.
Updated on May 31st, 2022 by Tanner Fox: Modern sitcoms don’t seem to have the same pull they had in bygone decades. While there’s something to be said for Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory, hits of the recent past don’t have the staying power of a series as iconic as Seinfeld. As relatable today as it was when the show was new, it’s full of funny moments and lines that fans still ponder and recite to this day.
From the repeated mantra of “it’s a shame” to the laugh-out-loud ramblings of Kosmo Kramer and George Costanza, Seinfeld had quite a few quips that won’t dip from pop culture relevance any time soon.
Ya Gotta Do It Like A Bag Of Chips
“Probably To Give The Woman A Chance To Change Her Mind.” – Jerry
Seinfeld never shied away from addressing topics that were once considered taboo for television, and it’s the accuracy of how the writers approached the topic that helps the show continue to maintain its relevance. One such topic broaches the difficulty some men have with opening a condom wrapper.
George’s complaint about the packaging of condoms struck a chord with audiences because many have asked the same question. The icing on the cake comes with Jerry’s response, which is framed as a joke about the universal experience but is also directed towards George.
What’s The Deal With…
“What’s the deal with lampshades?” – Jerry
“What’s the deal with lampshades? I mean if it’s a lamp, why do you want shade?” In 2021, it’s easy to rewatch Seinfeld and walk away with the opinion that Jerry is a mediocre standup comedian. His humor hasn’t aged as well as other comedians from his generation, as the observational style of comedy seems relatively safe in retrospect.
In the episode “The Butter Shave,” Seinfeld pokes fun at his own brand when he purposely tries to elicit a hostile reaction from the crowd so they will take their anger out on fellow comedian Kenny Bania. The phrase “what’s the deal?” is often associated with Jerry’s comedy, and this is one instance it’s used in self-mockery.
Floating Through Life
“I like to get the Daily News.” – George
Kramer sometimes adapts a searing, brutal realism in his observations, especially when it comes to George’s personal and professional failings. In “The Keys,” Kramer makes George realize that he has no job, money, dating prospects, or anything to look forward to in life. His only reason for waking is to pick up the Daily News.
While the quote is often overlooked due to it being a part of a larger dialogue between the two characters, George’s delivery of the final line captures what it feels like when one realizes they are merely floating through life.
We’re Comfortable With Our Bodies
“If Someone Wants To Help Themselves To An Eyeful, We Say ‘Enjoy The Show!'”
Another in a long list of harebrained schemes, Kramer and Newman avow to flip the peepholes on their apartment doors so that those on the outside can see in. When asked why, Newman responds that they hope to use the peepholes to prevent “an ambush.”
Of course, this means that any passerby could see into their apartment, but Kramer doesn’t seem to mind. Paradoxically, he’s terrified of intruders lying in wait in his apartment, but he’s pretty blasé about random strangers watching him.
We Live In A Society
“What kind of sick society are we living in when nice is bad?” – George
What makes George one of television’s greatest characters is his self-deprecating sense of humor. He recognizes his shortcomings and points them out on a consistent basis. In the episode “The Cafe,” George rails against the cliched notion that women prefer bad boys over nice guys.
Out of all the characters, George is the most critical of society, which stems from his lack of confidence, even though he had several great girlfriends throughout Seinfeld. It’s a character flaw that remains pertinent, even in other, more modern television series.
“Why Do I Always Get The Feeling Everybody’s Doing Something Better Than Me On Saturday Afternoons?” – Jerry
Long before the term “FOMO”—fear of missing out—entered the national lexicon, Jerry perfectly summed up this feeling of worry and despair while trying to find his car in “The Parking Garage.” The quote also captures what many experience on a daily basis while living in a bustling city. With so many options, it’s hard not to think there is always something better one could be doing with their time.
It also reflects the burdens of keeping up appearances in friend groups and social circles. It’s impossible to spend a low-key night out or a quiet night in when friends or rivals are out living it up.
“I Was In The Pool!”
The gang takes a weekend trip to the Hamptons, but things go awry when Jerry’s girlfriend Rachel walks in on a naked George. Pausing in the doorway for an uncomfortably long period of time, she apologizes, giggling as she does so. George, flabbergasted, repeatedly blurts out “I was in the pool!”
George’s ego is easily bruised, and this encounter was a blow from which he would not easily recover. Awkward as the encounter was, George’s embarrassed attempt to save face became one of Seinfeld’s most memorable lines.
Feels Like Tuesday
“Tuesday has no feel.” – Newman
“Tuesday has no feel. Monday has a feel, Friday has a feel, Sunday has a feel…” Stick Jerry, Kramer, and Newman in a scene together, and hilarity is sure to ensue. In the episode “The Sniffling Accountant,” the trio take on roles as private investigators and are stuck inside a car together on a stakeout.
Newman’s quote is a reaction to Kramer commenting that the day felt like a Tuesday. It eloquently captured the slog of Tuesdays; not dreadful enough to evoke Monday feelings, and not nearly as thrilling as the end of the week. Tuesdays are devoid of feeling.
I Got A Line In The Movie
“These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty.”
One of George Costanza’s most memorable lines came about after Kramer managed to land a very minor role in a Woody Allen movie. Tasked with delivering the simple sentence “these pretzels are making me thirsty,” Kramer puzzles over how it should be delivered.
George, in the midst of something akin to an existential crisis, cries the line out in a desperate bleat. It’s hilariously over-delivered, and the thought of Kramer screaming such an innocuous line for a slim chance at fame is perhaps funnier than anything else.
A Damn Shame
“That’s A Shame.” – Jerry
Though not exclusive to Jerry, the term “that’s a shame” is often associated with his character, and with the show as a whole. While it’s sometimes used in earnest, it’s often used as an indicator of apathy or to mock others.
Of the many quotable lines from Seinfeld, “that’s a shame” is perhaps the most commonly used by fans. A perfect phrase for passive-aggressive disinterest, there’s no better three-word combination to spout when a friend encounters an unfortunate circumstance.
Boxers Or Briefs?
“Boxers! How do you wear these things?” – Kramer
“Boxers! How do you wear these things?! Look at that—they’re baggin’ up, they’re rising in! And there’s nothing holding me in place! I’m flippin’! I’m floppin’!” Seinfeld addressed the heated boxers versus briefs debate in the episode “The Chinese Woman” when Elaine suggested Kramer switch to boxers since briefs supposedly cause infertility. Upon switching, Kramer soon realizes that boxers don’t provide the support that comes with briefs.
Kramer is at his funniest on Seinfeld when extenuating circumstances force him to change his routine, and even something as simple as picking new undergarments proved to be one of his best lines that nobody talks about.
We’re Supposed To Act Civilized
“You know, we’re living in a society.” – George
George’s critiques against society originated in the episode “The Chinese Restaurant” after an unpleasant encounter with a woman at a payphone. After having spent the entirety of the episode waiting for a table at the restaurant, George takes center stage and expresses his frustrations to anyone who cares to listen.
As outdated as the concept of a payphone is, George’s tirade is strangely relatable, even today. “We live in a society” has transcended the show and became a popular meme. “The Chinese Restaurant” is notable for being the first episode where the show perfected its formula and began the ascent to greatness. With quotes like this, it’s easy to see why.
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