Netflix has just acquired every single episode of Seinfeld. Wasn't it on Hulu, you ask? Well, some things happened — and yadda, yadda, yadda — the show left. Now, you need the big red streaming machine to see the antics of four of the most selfish (and funny) New Yorkers in television history.
But you might find yourself wondering, "where should I start?" You could do the massive rewatch of all 180 episodes, but that mostly makes sense for the folks with the time on their hands we haven't seen since the Summer of George. So, we at Tom's Guide picked out the 11 essential Seinfeld shows to watch.
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And we're not ranking them. These episodes are listed in chronological order, which would be the best way to watch (or re-watch).
The Chinese Restaurant (Season 2, Episode 11)
The Chinese Restaurant is an episode that was ahead of its time. If it had debuted in the era of prestige TV, we would have drowned in a sea of thinkpieces about its high-concept premise and pitch-perfect execution. The setup is unbelievably simple: Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine attempt to get a table at a Chinese restaurant before they see a movie. That’s it. The entire episode is about the trials and tribulations of trying to get a quick meal when it seems like the entire universe is conspiring against you. With an intricate substory for each character and a real kicker of an ending, this episode is one of the classics for a good reason. — Marshall Honorof
The Pen (Season 3, Episode 3)
If your parents or grandparents didn’t live in a Florida retirement community, you might not fully grok The Pen. Jerry and Elaine travel to Florida to visit Jerry’s parents, but nothing can prepare the two New Yorkers for early bird dinners, a lack of air conditioning and a truly hellacious fold-out sofa. What’s remarkable about The Pen is that the episode doesn’t actually exaggerate what life in a Florida retirement community is like; it might as well be a documentary. The politics, rivalries and customs are all accurate, down to the smallest detail — and that’s what makes the episode so hilarious. — Marshall Honorof
The Limo (Season 3, Episode 18)
Why would you ever take someone else's limo at the airport? Aside from setting up a misunderstanding in a sitcom, there is little other reason. So while George and Jerry's original ride (George's car) broke down, they are fortunate enough to find a way to excuse taking a limo meant for someone named "O'Brien" (Jerry remembers someone with that name who was going to be stuck in Chicago). Unfortunately, this O'Brien turns out to be Donald O'Brien, head of the regional chapter of the Aryan Union. Chaos ensues, as George and Jerry get what they deserve for claiming a limo that wasn't theirs. — Henry T. Casey
The Contest (Season 4, Episode 10)
Perhaps the quintessential episode of Seinfeld, The Contest exemplifies everything that makes the show work. It’s a four-pronged story about slightly taboo subject matter, with hilarious jokes and a profound anticlimax at the end. Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine make a bet to see who can last the longest as “master of their domain” — in other words, refraining from acts of physical self-love. Naturally, insurmountable temptations crop up for each one, from celebrity politicians at Elaine’s gym, to a naked woman in the apartment across the street from Jerry’s. It’s a bizarre premise with bizarre developments, and yet somehow, still eminently relatable. — Marshall Honorof
The Puffy Shirt (Season 5, Episode 2)
Sight gags often make for the most memorable TV moments, and such is the case with a shirt that Jerry does not want to wear on The Today Show. As you can see, and likely remember, it's a billowy and poofy pirate's shirt, but made for the modern man. Jerry probably wouldn't have knowingly agreed to wear this garment, but Leslie (Kramer's new girlfriend) is a low-talker and got Jerry to wear it without him knowing what he was getting himself into. Jerry's complaints about this dilemma are as memorable as the shirt, as he whines about his predicament. Oh, and this is also the episode where George's hands get noticed by a talent agent, which helps pick up his mood after he's moved back in with his parents. – Henry T. Casey
The Dinner Party (Season 5, Episode 13)
Never volunteer to bring a hard-to-find item to a dinner party. Okay, sometimes you must, as Jerry and Elaine find themselves on a hunt for a chocolate babka. That doesn't sound like a terribly rare item, but it turned out to be the case as the bakery they go to devolves into a sticky situation (and we're not talking about the babka). The rules of how one waits on a line, as well as the merits of the black and white cookie are debated far further than you might expect. Meanwhile, George and Kramer struggle to buy a bottle of wine as they deal with a hard-to-break hundred dollar bill and a double-parked car. The whole situation is a lesson in "don't wait until the last second." — Henry T. Casey
The Marine Biologist (Season 5, Episode 14)
“The sea was angry that day, my friends. Like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.” In The Marine Biologist, George pretends to be a scientist to impress a potential girlfriend, while Kramer decides to go golfing on the beach. The two stories collide in a real whale of an episode. There’s also a subplot about Jerry losing his favorite t-shirt, and another one about Elaine botching a deal with a famous author, but George’s trials and tribulations elevate the whole episode. In typical Seinfeld fashion, his fib starts off so innocently, and little by little, spirals completely out of control in a way that’s just a tiny bit wackier than real life. — Marshall Honorof
The Opposite (Season 5, Episode 21)
George has always made bad decisions in life, so it's no shock that his fortunes might reverse if his choices did as well. And so he manages to get a girlfriend, a job with the New York Yankees and move out of his parents' house. Good times, right? Well, not for all. While George is thriving, Elaine is suffering. Her boyfriend breaks up with her because of her selfish need for snacks, and then she loses her job over a misunderstanding. This is the debut of Larry David's voice-over work as the temperamental Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. — Henry T. Casey
The Fusilli Jerry (Season 6, Episode 21)
Never lose your cool when a small, corkscrew-shaped noodle is nearby. This is the teachable moment of The Fusilli Jerry, an episode where a lot is going on. Not only do sex tips go awry when Elaine's new boyfriend (Puddy, Jerry's own mechanic) tries out a trick that Jerry's done in the past — and improves on it according to Elaine — but George completely screws it up when he tries it out with Nancy. But the title, and the memorable moment, come into play because of the episode's obsession with pasta and the posterior. Not only does Kramer accidentally receive a tuchus-focused license plate, but Frank Costanza gets his behind in trouble in a painful way at the end. — Henry T. Casey
The Soup Nazi (Season 7, Episode 6)
Jerry's dating life has always revolved around the inconveniences of his petty decisions. And this time it's all about soup. A new soup store opened up by Yev Kassem (Larry Thomas) is run so demandingly, with all the rules in the world, that Kessem is referred to as The Soup Nazi because he's so demanding. And even Kessem's whims create bans, such as when Jerry and girlfriend Sheila are going on and on with their public displays of affection. The Soup Nazi's also a great episode for Newman, who develops an obsession with the Jambalaya. — Henry T. Casey
The Summer of George (Season 8, Episode 22)
George Costanza was never a productive man, but now he has the chance to be unproductive for a living — with the Yankees' knowing approval. And so this is how he reacts to getting a three-months severance package from the Bronx Bombers: by never leaving the apartment or changing out of his pajamas. Today, we'd call this depression, but to George this is living a dream he's never been able to truly relish in before. He even calls Jerry to learn what's going on in the real world. Hilarious because it's George going "full George," The Summer of George is an episode you simply can't skip. — Henry T. Casey
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