The 40 Best ‘Seinfeld’ Episodes, from ‘The Conversion’ and ‘The Invitations’ to ‘The Contest’

·2-min read

We might be living in the era of Peak TV, but there’s no denying that multi-camera sitcoms peaked from July 5, 1989 to May 14, 1998.  A cultural phenomenon during its original run that became one of the most quoted shows of the past quarter century, “Seinfeld” is a work of art that remains in a class of its own.  

Seinfeld played a fictional version of himself across nine stellar seasons, with “Seinfeld” racking up 10 Emmys (and an additional 68 nominations) during its 180-episode run. But while the observational humor that fueled Seinfeld’s standup career was at the core of the show, the real stars were Jerry’s eccentric friends. 

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The comedian starred opposite Jason Alexander’s George Constanza, an unapologetically selfish Queens native who displayed true brilliance in his attempts to avoid work, accountability, and anything resembling human virtue. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was equally excellent as Elaine Benes, Jerry’s ex-girlfriend turned close confidante whose misadventures as a single woman working in publishing afforded her countless opportunities to share her strong opinions. And then of course there’s Michael Richards’ Kramer, the ball of manic energy in human form who lives across the hall from Jerry and splits his time between shamelessly mooching and devising elaborate schemes. 

For years the series has been defined by its own tongue-in-cheek moniker that it’s merely a “show about nothing,” but it’s hard to find a work of art that did a better job of explaining human nature in the 21st century. Jerry and his Upper West Side friends represent the worst parts of all of us: they spend their relatively easy lives nitpicking every inconvenient detail, they judge everyone by standards that they themselves could never meet, and they gradually let the mundanities of everyday life turn them into monsters. Depending on the day, watching “Seinfeld” is either a hilarious lesson about what not to do or a sobering look in the mirror.

With the caveat that cherry-picking any series as fantastic as “Seinfeld” is an exercise in futility (or should we say, fusilli-ty?): Here are the 40 best “Seinfeld” episodes, from “The Bottle Deposit” and “The Invitations” to “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Contest.”

Editor’s note: The following was original publishing on August 9, 2022 and has been updated multiple times since.

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