Twenty-one years ago today, the Seinfeld finale aired on NBC. The show ostensibly about nothing left as something very important. Its legacy has endured through two decades even as the source material ages and the pace feels slow compared to this era’s machine-gun-fire joke making. Countless words by better writers have already been spilled explaining why this is one of the greatest comedies of all time.
But one thing that’s been striking in re-runs, which always hit the spot, is the incredibly deep cast of role players the series was able to trot out there.
Screen time, entertainment value, cultural currency, and good ol’ gut feeling helped form this list of 64 memorable characters. Surely there will be no disagreement.
#64 Matthew: Learns to swear, destroys a cassette tape, just a complete hell-raiser.
#63 Marcy: Inventor of the yada-yada, revolutionary and efficient storyteller.
#62 Ping: Hard-working yet somewhat litigious delivery driver.
#61 Stan the Caddie: A wise fount of guidance, on the course or off it.
#60 Ruthie Cohen: Made Monk’s feel like home, always behind the register.
#59 Mr. Morgan: Ate his Snickers with a knife and fork, all class.
#58 Katie: Agent from hell who hit her breaking point.
#57 Laura: A classic B.L., though not the best lip-reader.
#56 Rebecca DeMornay: Believed the homeless deserved better than topless muffins.
#55 Sid Fields: An old man who told it like it was and hated stealing.
#54 The Drake: We loved him and we hated him. Polarizing force.
#53 Marla Penny: Made the right choice in preserving her virginity for JFK Jr.
#52 Jeannie Steinman: Came the closest to ending Jerry’s bachelor lifestyle but was just too similar.
#51 Naked Man on the Subway: A forerunner of the body-positive movement.
#50 Jean-Paul Jean-Paul: A world-class athlete done in by technology and others’ incompetence.
#49 Kevin: The Bizarro Jerry, loved a good book, a bit boring.
#48 Tony: If you don’t think he was pure electricity, you need to step off.
#47 Bette Midler: Would have benefitted greatly from Major League Baseball’s safety-conscious home plate rule change.
#46 The Chinese Restaurant Maitre’d: Wanted Seinfeld himself fourth on this list.
#45 Izzy Mandelbaum: One tough son of a bitch, always willing to prove it.
#44 Alton Benes: A challenging and important author, terrible dinner companion.
#43 The Jimmy: Sneaky athleticism, but had a problem staying healthy.
#42 Cousin Jeffrey: Deep and textured character even without appearing on screen.
#41 Poppie: Culinary expert who should probably sit on the wicker chair from now on.
#40 The Rabbi: Loose-lipped man of God, aspiring matchmaker.
#39 The Mohel: Not the man you want for that particular job.
#38 The Bubble Boy: Tom Rinaldi interview target and ultra competitive game-player.
#37 Jack Klompus: Take the pen.
#36 Russell Dalrymple: NBC bigwig and father of a daughter.
#35 Mable Choate: Crime victim and marble rye connoisseur.
#34 Justin Pitt: A man who appreciated jazz music, nice socks, other fine things.
#33 Jake Jarmel: Punctuation knower who would hate this sentence!
#32 Lloyd Braun: My dude could accomplish anything he set his mind to. Vintage hot dog consumer.
#31 Delores: You probably forgot her real name.
#30 Bob Cobb: Renaissance man capable of conducting an orchestra, hustling a pool hall, and finding you places to rent in Tuscany.
#29. Mr. Lipman: Wasn’t above stealing a muffin-based business idea but drew the line at having sex with the cleaning staff in the office.
#28 Mrs. Ross: This may be out of line but it seems like she liked to drink.
#27 Sidra Holland: Again, another classic case of upgrading, ditching superficial Jerry for Salman Rushdie.
#26 Mr. Kruger: Absolute clown of a boss, should probably get that mole checked out.
#25 Matt Wilhelm: Gave his employees a sense of purpose by trusting them with big projects. Ultimately succumbed to the allure of a cult.
#24 Lt. Joe Bookman: The man was passionate about books and the ability for youth to read them without their minds being warped.
#23 Joe Davola: A violent Pagliacci who had no business roaming the streets, let alone dating Elaine.
#22 Susan Ross: Jokes aside, this is one of the most stunning casting mistakes in television history. If you haven’t read up on how poorly things went, please do. Shocking stuff.
#21 Mickey Abbott: Pound-for-pound the greatest actor of his generation.