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The Best Seinfeld Episodes, Ranked

Jerry Seinfeld in Seinfeld
(Image credit: NBC)

Between 1989 and 1998, Seinfeld successfully changed the landscape of sitcom television forever. Running for nine seasons with no overarching plot to speak of, the show masterfully wove together A, B, and C-plots week-to-week and had audiences of millions falling off their couches in hysterics. Simply put, it’s one of the greatest small screen achievements in history.

So how does one rank the best of the best episodes for one of the most genius shows ever created? It’s definitely not easy, and I can say with very real honesty that I feel terrible I couldn’t change the way math works and allow myself to include classics like “The Opposite,” “The Serenity Now,” “The Invitations,” “The Movie,” and “The Dinner Party.” I had to draw the line somewhere, however, and having done so, below you will find CinemaBlend’s ranking of the best Seinfeld episodes.

The Chinese Restaurant episode of Seinfeld

(Image credit: NBC)

10. The Chinese Restaurant – Season 2, Episode 11

For its time, Seinfeld was a rebel sitcom, and “The Chinese Restaurant” was an early rebel episode. The network hated the idea of doing a show where the characters spend the entire duration waiting for a table at a restaurant ostensibly doing nothing, but co-creator Larry David fought hard for it, and it became the series’ first moment of true greatness. While it’s one of the rare episodes without any Kramer antics, Elaine’s mounting hunger, George waiting to hear from a girl following an embarrassing sexual encounter, and Jerry getting caught in a lie all provide remarkable comic fodder in the limited space around a maitre’d desk.

The Parking Garage episode of Seinfeld

(Image credit: NBC)

9. The Parking Garage – Season 3, Episode 6

Between "The Parking Garage," "The Alternate Side," "The Parking Space," "The Handicap Spot," and "The Scofflaw," there are a surprising number of Seinfeld episodes about the infernal practice of parking one’s car. They’re all great in their own ways, but the first in the group is the best of the bunch. Anyone who has ever lost their vehicle at a mall, concert, or sporting event can relate to the trials and tribulations of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer, and the kicker at the end when they find the car and it fails to start is a genius punchline (and what’s even better is that it wasn’t planned – the engine simply wouldn’t turn over during production).

George and Susan in "The Bubble Boy" episode of Seinfeld

(Image credit: NBC)

8. The Bubble Boy – Season 4, Episode 7

Television history is full of dramatic and tearful moments featuring characters spending time with terminally ill children… but that’s not really a match for Seinfeld’s tone. When the “heroes” of this genius sitcom meet a boy who lives his life in a bubble due to being immunocompromised, he’s a petulant little a-hole who treats his parents like garbage and is shockingly sexually aggressive. George’s Trivial Pursuit battle with the kid is certainly the most iconic part of “The Bubble Boy,” but Jerry and Elaine’s conflict with a waitress regarding a signed headshot is superb (“Nothing’s finer than being in your diner!”) and Kramer accidentally setting Susan’s parents’ cabin on fire is a magnificent capstone touch.

Frank Costanza and Kramer in The Strike episode of Seinfeld

(Image credit: NBC)

7. The Strike – Season 9, Episode 10

Not every sitcom can say that they successfully created a winter holiday, but there are households around the world that put an aluminum pole on display every December 23 and practice traditions including “The Airing of Grievances” and “The Feats Of Strength.” I am, of course, referring to the celebration of Festivus, which originates from the amazing Seinfeld Season 9 episode “The Strike.” It delivers top notch insanity from Frank Costanza, adds a new layer to the mysterious history of Cosmo Kramer with the revelation that he used to have a real job, and demonstrates some impressive stubbornness from Elaine, who is willing to go through a lot for a free sandwich.

George Costanza no pants in "The Boyfriend" episode of Seinfeld

(Image credit: NBC)

6. The Boyfriend – Season 3, Episode 17 & 18

Seinfeld had a number of memorable hour long episodes during its run – including “The Pitch,” “The Pilot,” “The Bottle Deposit,” and “The Finale” (which I will personally defend) – but “The Boyfriend” is number one in the subcategory, and I’m not just saying that as a devoted New York Mets fan. The awkward dynamic between Jerry and Keith Hernandez is both funny and surprisingly smart analysis of adult male friendships, and George’s extreme efforts to cheat the unemployment office are hysterical (who will ever forget his pants-less charge out of the bathroom screaming about Vandelay Industries?).

George Costanza in The Marine Biologist episode of Seinfeld

(Image credit: NBC)

5. The Marine Biologist– Season 5, Episode 14

Every Seinfeld fan knows that George Costanza views “architect” as being the ideal fake job, but it’s when Jerry puts him in the position of being a marine biologist that the show launches one of its perfect plots – one that leads to one of the show’s perfect endings. Kramer’s impulse to go to the beach and drive golf balls into the ocean seems like a standard and innocuous eccentricity for the character in the first act, but it proves a brilliant set up for the climactic ending with George removing a Titleist from a beached whale’s blowhole. Blended with a terrific B-story featuring Elaine and Jerry tussling with a temperamental Russian writer (and a snarky Carol Kane), it’s unquestionably one of the series’ greatest.

jerry Seinfeld in The Race episode of Seinfeld

(Image credit: NBC)

4. The Race – Season 6, Episode 10

The pop culture impact of certain Seinfeld episodes had a significant influence determining the rankings in this feature, but in the case of “The Race,” we’re primarily talking about an episode that I just personally love. Kramer becoming Commie Santa and Elaine getting her boyfriend blacklisted at their favorite Chinese restaurant is an excellent example of the show taking delight in tackling topical controversial themes, and the final sequence has what is the series’ finest Superman reference – with John Williams’ score from Superman: The Movie being an exemplary needle-drop in Jerry’s victory over his old high school nemesis.

The Puffy Shirt episode of Seinfeld

(Image credit: NBC)

3. The Puffy Shirt– Season 5, Episode 2

“But I don’t want to be a pirate!” Jerry Seinfeld may have received criticism for his acting abilities early in Seinfeld’s run, but that right there is a line that is delivered with inflection perfection. Jerry’s unfortunate collaboration with Kramer’s new girlfriend, dubbed “The Low Talker” is just half of the magic in this hilarious episode, as the plot with the ridiculous titular puffy shirt is paired with the beginning and ending of George’s spectacular-but-short-lived career as a hand model. The final lines – “Can you spare some change for an old buccaneer?” “You know, it’s not a bad looking shirt” – are icing on the cake.

The Contest episode of Seinfeld

(Image credit: NBC)

2. The Contest – Season 4, Episode 11

Network television censorship evolved quite a lot over the last half of the 20th century (let’s remember that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz weren’t allowed to share a bed on screen), but in the 1990s there were still a number of subjects that were considered taboo.  The writers of Seinfeld loved to splash around in those waters, and in that realm “The Contest” is their greatest achievement. The show dances around the subject of masturbation like Mikhail Baryshnikov, and while doing so executes some of the series’ most iconic dialogue – “master of my domain” being the champion. It also has the feather in its cap that is being Larry David’s favorite episode.

Elaine Benes in the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld

(Image credit: NBC)

1. The Soup Nazi– Season 7, Episode 6

Girlfriend or soup? Put in Jerry’s position in “The Soup Nazi,” most rational individuals would probably choose the intimate relationship over the broth-centric meal… but I suppose none of us really know how good Yev Kassem’s soups really are. Every aspect of the show works, from the fascistic restaurateur, to George’s misguided attack against P.D.A., to Kramer’s battle with antique-loving street toughs, to Elaine’s big revenge. It sums up the magic that is Seinfeld, made “No soup for you!” an immortal catch-phrase, and is the best episode of the NBC sitcom.

In addition to being available on DVD (opens in new tab), Seinfeld is now streaming on Netflix. For a further dive into the series’ greatness, you can read our pieces about the funniest moments from George Costanza, Elaine Benes, and Newman.

NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.