Jerry Seinfeld (character)
|First appearance||"The Seinfeld Chronicles"|
|Last appearance||"The Finale, Part II" (last appearance on Seinfeld)
|Created by||Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David|
|Portrayed by||Jerry Seinfeld|
Unnamed grandfather (deceased)
Jerome "Jerry" Seinfeld is the protagonist of the American television sitcom Seinfeld (1989–1998). The straight man among his group of friends, this semi-fictionalized version of comedian Jerry Seinfeld was named after, co-created by, based on, and played by Seinfeld himself. The series revolves around Jerry's misadventures with his best friend George Costanza, neighbor Cosmo Kramer, and ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes. He is usually the voice of reason amidst his friends' antics and the focal point of the foursome's relationship.
An eternal optimist, he rarely runs into major personal problems. Jerry is the only main character on the show to maintain the same career (a stand-up comedian, like the real Seinfeld) throughout the series. He is the most observational character, sarcastically commenting on his friends' quirky habits. Much of the show's action takes place in Jerry's apartment located at 129 West 81st Street, apartment 5A. He and his friends also frequent Monk's Café. Jerry appeared in all 180 episodes of Seinfeld (including several two-part episodes), holding the distinction of being the only character in the show to appear in every episode.
In the show's setting, Jerry is the straight man, a figure who is "able to observe the chaos around him but not always be a part of it." Plot lines involving Jerry often concern his various relationships - Jerry often finds "stupid reasons to break up" with women; which, according to Elaine, occurs "every week."
Jerry is generally completely indifferent to what goes on in his friends' lives, seeing their misery as merely an entertaining distraction, as well as an opportunity for joke material. He often plays along with their hare-brained schemes, even encouraging them, often just to see them fail. In the episode "The Serenity Now", Jerry is perplexed by the experience of crying, asking "What is this salty discharge?". In "The Foundation" Elaine points out that he has "never felt remorse," to which Jerry replies, "Yeah, I feel kinda bad about that." He will often nonchalantly state, "That's a shame" when something bad happens (often due to his or his friends' actions). A recurring joke is Jerry behaving unchivalrously towards Elaine, such as not helping her carry groceries or heavy objects, ignoring her when she is upset, and on one occasion taking a first class upgrade on a flight for himself, leaving Elaine in economy. Jerry, George and Elaine all share a general trait of not letting go of other character's remarks and going to great lengths to be proven right. In one episode, Jerry goes out of his way to rent a house in Tuscany, Italy, just because Elaine's boyfriend told him there weren't any available. Another example was when he bought his parents the same car over and over again, at great financial loss.
Despite his usual indifference to his friends and their actions, Jerry apparently is very satisfied with his life, to the point that he actually feels worried about anything that might threaten the group lifestyle. In "The Invitations", for example, Jerry admits that he feels depressed about George getting married, seeing as how George will eventually leave the group and Jerry will never see him again. Once Elaine told him that she was also "getting out" of the group, Jerry became so worried about a near future of just him and Kramer that he unknowingly almost walked into a car while crossing the street. In "The Bizarro Jerry", Jerry also grows panicky about losing the group dynamic when Kramer becomes too busy with his fake job and Elaine temporarily leaves to join the Bizarro group, claiming that "The whole system's breaking down!" Jerry himself perfectly sums up his relation to his three friends in the episode "The Letter". In a deleted scene from that show, he claims that his friends are "not more important" than his girlfriends, but "they're as important."
Unlike George and Elaine, Jerry rarely runs into major personal problems. In "The Opposite", this tendency is explicitly pointed out, as Jerry goes through a number of experiences after which he invariably "breaks even," even as his friends are going through intense periods of success or failure. Even when Elaine threw Jerry's $20 bill out of the window, he unexpectedly found one in his coat pocket, evening out his luck. In "The Rye", during a particularly trying time for Elaine, she angrily tells Jerry, "You know, one of these days, something terrible is going to happen to you. It has to!" Jerry simply replies, "No, I'm going to be just fine." Many of the problems he does run into are the result of the actions of his nemesis Newman, a disgruntled postal worker. In "The Old Man", George asks "What kind of a person are you?" in which Jerry replies "I think I'm pretty much like you, only successful."
However, Kramer persuades Jerry to do things that he's reluctant to do. In "The Mango", Kramer gets Jerry to buy fruit for him after Kramer is banned from the store over an argument with the owner. This continues until the owner bans Jerry, because his order is similar enough to Kramer's that it's obvious he's buying fruit for Kramer. The most famous example is in "The Chicken Roaster" in which Kramer and Jerry exchange apartments. This results in the two of them also switching personalities. In several arguments with Jerry, Kramer is incredibly stubborn, protecting his own interests. Examples of this include arguments in "The Chaperone," "The Face Painter," and "The Caddy." Probably the only exception is "The Kiss Hello" in which Kramer kissed Jerry as George walked in.
Jerry always wears a suit whenever he has to do his stand-up comedy act. In a few cases, Jerry wears an unusual item of clothing. Kramer has persuaded Jerry to wear the "pirate shirt" in "The Puffy Shirt", the cowboy boots in "The Mom & Pop Store" and the fur coat in "The Reverse Peephole". Like George, Jerry's hairstyle remains relatively the same throughout the series, though the length and thickness of it alters, especially from Season 3 onwards. There is one noticeable episode in which Jerry receives a bad haircut when he reluctantly agrees to get his hair done by an incompetent Italian barber in "The Barber".
As in real life, Jerry is a fan of comic book characters, particularly of Superman, who is his hero. As far as sports, Jerry is a fan of the New York Mets as evidenced as early as the episode "The Baby Shower" in which Kramer persuades him to install illegal cable by saying "The Mets have 75 games on cable this year." Jerry is also a fan of the Chicago Cubs, the New York Knicks, the New York Giants, the New York Rangers and the New York Yankees. In early episodes, a New York Yankees hat sits on the counter near his computer. Later on, by the middle of Season 3, it was replaced with a Mets cap, possibly to better reflect Jerry's real-life support of the Queens side. In the first episode of Season 7, Jerry is shown watching a Yankees game while on the phone with George.
Jerry never smokes a cigarette but is seen smoking a cigar in "The Calzone", "The Wizard", and in "The Voice". Jerry also does not appear to have any particular interest in alcohol as he is rarely seen drinking beer or any other alcoholic beverage; however, he is seen drinking beer with George once in "The Shower Head," wine at various meals, and keeps a bottle of Hennigan's scotch in his apartment, though he claims that he only uses it as a paint thinner.
Jerry grew up in New York with George, who, according to "The Outing", were friends ever since an encounter in gym class in their school days, although in "The Betrayal," Jerry mentions that he once beat George up in the fourth grade. Flashbacks in episodes such as "The Library" portray Jerry and George in high school. A pizza place which they frequented is portrayed in "The Frogger". Jerry and George attended school together at Edward R. Murrow Middle School, John F. Kennedy High School and university at Queens College. After college, Jerry briefly worked as an umbrella salesman and disputedly claims to have invented the "twirl" to make the umbrella look more attractive. He eventually quit the job in order to focus more on his comedy career. Jerry's PIN code for his bank account is Jor-El, who is the father of Superman, as portrayed in the episode "The Secret Code".
Jerry's parents are Morty and Helen Seinfeld, a retired Jewish couple living in Florida. Unlike George, who can't stand his parents, Jerry gets along reasonably well with his parents, but he still prefers they live in Florida rather than New York, so that they do not interfere with his private life. Although born and raised Jewish and he considers himself a Jew, Jerry apparently does not practice and generally does not observe many traditions. As shown in "The Soup Nazi", he does not keep kosher, as he is seen eating crab bisque. In "The Bris", he implies he is circumcised, repeatedly asking people if they have "ever seen one" - in reference to an uncircumcised penis. He also mentions having a sister in the episode "The Chinese Restaurant", though she is never named, never appears on screen, and is never mentioned again after this episode. In order to avoid his old friend Joel in "Male Unbonding", Jerry pretends to have promised to tutor his nephew; it is unclear if the nephew really exists or is simply fabricated as part of the excuse.
Jerry has an eccentric uncle, Leo, who appears in 15 episodes. Uncle Leo has a son, Cousin Jeffrey, who works for the parks department, about whom he constantly talks, but who never appears. In "The Stake Out", Jerry speaks to an "Uncle Mac", as well as a cousin "Artie Levine". In "The Truth", Jerry mentions a cousin named "Douglass" who has an addiction with Pepsi. In "The Pony Remark", Helen, Morty, Jerry, Elaine, and Leo attend a 50th-anniversary party for Manya and Isaac, an elderly couple whose relationship to Jerry is never explicitly defined. Manya is described as a Polish immigrant. In the same episode, Jerry references having an "Aunt Rose", and Helen mentions a family member named "Claire" who is getting married. In "The Soup" episode, Jerry mentions an "Aunt Silvia", who he compares to Elaine in terms of conversation.
Jerry's maternal grandmother, Nana, is an elderly woman with memory problems, occasionally unable to tell the past from the present, living alone in the city. Nana makes appearances in "The Pledge Drive", "The Kiss Hello", and "The Doodle".
Jerry is notorious for his detached approach towards relationships and for breaking up with women for the slightest of flaws or for the most minor of reasons. According to the ninth-season DVD release of the series, 73 different partners have been seen or alluded to over the course of the series.
Jerry and Elaine are depicted as having dated in the past and apparently a lot longer than they each date other people in the series. During the run of the show, they are shown mainly as best friends, sometimes even joking with one another about their failed dating relationship. However, they do date briefly during the run of the show. In "The Deal", they create a set of rules whereby they can sleep together but remain only friends. Their theory is ruined, however, when Elaine gets upset at Jerry for wanting to leave after a sexual encounter instead of sleeping over (one of the rules they discussed was that sleeping over was optional, but not whose option it was). By the end of the episode the two decide to be a couple again, which lasts until "The Note" where it is shown that they went back to being just friends. Later in "The Pen" Jerry tells his parents that "we decided that we don't work out as a couple." That is the only time in the run of the show they are shown as anything more than friends. In "The Mango", Jerry is upset at learning that Elaine had faked her orgasms while they were together. The fact cause such problems between the two, that Elaine agrees to sleep with Jerry in an effort to "save the friendship". The final scene, however, shows the two in bed, with Jerry looking distraught and gesturing towards his groin, suggesting that he was unable to perform.
There are hints throughout the series that suggest that Jerry and Elaine still have feelings for each other:
- In "The Stake Out", Elaine becomes jealous when Jerry flirts with another woman, Vanessa, at a party that Jerry is accompanying her to.
- In "The Tape" when Jerry listens to an erotic message on his tape recorder, he becomes obsessed with finding who's the person on the tape; eventually, he pushes George into revealing that it's Elaine and it's supposed to be a joke.
- In "The Boyfriend", Jerry becomes jealous when former New York Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez asks Elaine out.
- In "The Junior Mint", Elaine asks Jerry to accompany her to the hospital as her boyfriend, Roy, to fool one of her ex's. Jerry smiles and responds "Well, I believe I've played that role before to some critical acclaim." At the hospital, Jerry appears annoyed when Elaine begins to show interest in her ex once again.
- In "The Dinner Party" Jerry and Elaine are sitting in the back of Kramer's car. Since Kramer doesn't have a heater, Jerry tries cuddling with Elaine to stay warm, but she refuses and pushes him away.
- In "The Cadillac" after Jerry buys his parents a Cadillac and Elaine realizes how much money he has, she becomes very flirtatious towards him.
- In "The Abstinence" when Elaine is denying sex to her current boyfriend, Ben, in the hope that it will help him pass his medical licensing exam, she begs Jerry to have sex with her, but, after a brief moment of consideration, he turns her down.
- In "The Serenity Now" when Jerry's emotions come flooding out after being locked up, he confesses his love for Elaine and proposes to her. Later the horrifying tale of George's life frightens him back into his formerly cold demeanor and he takes back his proposal.
- In "The Finale", when their plane appears to be crashing, Elaine begins saying to Jerry "I've always loved..." but is interrupted. Later on, she claims that she intended to say "I've always loved United Airlines."
but the pilot manages to steady the plane, so in the courtroom, Elaine finishes her comment by saying later "I've always loved United Airlines."
Long term relationships
Other than Elaine, Jerry has only dated a few other women for more than one episode:
- He starts dating Vanessa in "The Stake Out" and breaks up with her in "The Stock Tip". They break up because of an uncomfortable weekend trip to Vermont.
- He dates Marla, a virginal woman in the closet business, in "The Virgin" and "The Contest" and Tia, a model, in "The Airport" and "The Pick". These relationships are atypical in that both women break up with Jerry for reasons of disgust, rather than it being the other way around.
- He dates Dolores (whose name he forgets, guessing it to be Mulva, having the clue that it rhymes with a part of the female anatomy) in "The Junior Mint" and "The Foundation". (Season 4 then Season 8). This was the only time he dated a woman in two non-consecutive episodes.
- He dated Rachel in the following episodes: "The Raincoats" (a two-part episode), "The Hamptons", and "The Opposite". Rachel ends the relationship, but Jerry, who was "even steven" at the time, didn't become upset, and was confident that he would find another girlfriend.
Only twice in the entire series has Jerry considered marriage.
- The first time was with his "perfect" girlfriend, Jeannie, in the Season 7 finale, "The Invitations", but he soon learned that he didn't want to be with someone exactly like himself. In the first Season 8 episode, "The Foundation", Jerry tells Elaine that he had a perfectly mutual break-up with Jeannie over the summer.
- Jerry almost got engaged a second time, to Elaine. In the Season 9 episode "The Serenity Now", after Jerry undergoes a personality change and becomes deeply sensitive and emotional, he proposes to a shocked Elaine. She leaves the apartment, but returns later to accept his proposal. By that point, however, he had gone back to his old self and he turns her down.
Jerry's approach to relationships is notoriously fickle, and he has broken up with women, or provoked them into breaking up with him for trivial reasons.
- For eating her peas one at a time ("The Engagement").
- For refusing to taste his pie at the coffee shop ("The Pie").
- Because she once dated Newman ("The Big Salad").
- Because she would not give him a massage ("The Masseuse").
- Because she got covered in toilet water after a pipe exploded ("The Pothole")
- Because she liked a commercial that he hated ("The Phone Message").
- Because she had large thick hands like a man's ("The Bizarro Jerry").
- Because she never laughed at his jokes ("The Switch").
- Because she had an irritating laugh ("The Bubble Boy").
- Because she seemingly encouraged people to mistake her as being Chinese ("The Chinese Woman")
Likewise, some of Jerry's girlfriends have dumped him for trivial reasons.
- Because he admitted to changing the size 32 to size 31 of all his jeans because he "doesn't want to be a 32" ("The Sponge").
- For snooping around her closet having become suspicious of her wearing the same dress on every date ("The Seven").
- Because he is caught spitting out fatty meats his girlfriend cooked for him in to napkins after going on a health kick ("The Wink").
- Because she discovered he'd been getting her drunk so he and his friends could play with her collection of antique toys ("The Merv Griffin Show").
- Because he refuses to use her toothbrush ("The Doodle")
- Because he cheats on his "wife" to give another woman his family dry-cleaning discount ("The Wife").
- Because she thinks she saw him pick his nose, when Jerry was in fact only scratching it from the side ("The Pick").
- Because she did not think his stand-up comedy act was funny and refuses to date someone whose work she does not respect ("The Ex-Girlfriend").
In "The Invitations", Jerry and his fiancée had what he described as "the world's first truly mutual breakup" after she acted in the same manner as him, noting "I can't be with somebody like me. I hate myself."
Guest star girlfriends
The following celebrities starred as Jerry's girlfriend or romantic interest:
- Teri Hatcher in "The Implant" and in "The Finale".
- Marcia Cross in "The Slicer".
- Courteney Cox in "The Wife".
- Jami Gertz in "The Stall".
- Jane Leeves in "The Virgin","The Contest" and "The Finale".
- Jennifer Coolidge in "The Masseuse".
- Janeane Garofalo in "The Invitations".
- Kristin Davis in "The Pothole" and "The Butter Shave".
- Amanda Peet in "The Summer of George".
- Marlee Matlin in "The Lip Reader".
- Catherine Keener in "The Letter".
- Debra Messing in "The Wait Out" and in "The Yada Yada".
- Christine Taylor in "The Van Buren Boys".
- Lauren Graham in "The Millennium".
- Lori Loughlin in "The Serenity Now".
- Melinda Clarke in "The Muffin Tops".
- Mariska Hargitay in "The Pilot"
- A.J. Langer in "The Fatigues"
- Paula Marshall in "The Outing"
- Anna Gunn in "The Glasses"
Jerry has a long-running hatred of Newman, describing him as his "sworn enemy" in "The Andrea Doria" and showing general contempt for him at their every meeting. Newman usually reciprocates, although at other times he seems quite pleased by Jerry's hostility, as if it is a testimony to his effectiveness at irritating him. The origin of their feud is never explained.
Jerry's snide greeting for him with "Hello, Newman" (in response to Newman's "Hello, Jerry") becomes a trademark of their relationship. Even Jerry's mother utters the greeting, with as much displeasure as Jerry, in "The Raincoats, Part 2". Jerry wants to be rid of Newman so badly that he once even helped him on his postal route so that he could get a prized transfer to Hawaii ("The Andrea Doria").
Despite their antagonistic relationship, Jerry and Newman have ended up working in unison on rare occasions. In "The Sniffing Accountant", Jerry worked with Kramer and Newman to find out if their accountant was on drugs. In "The Soul Mate", Jerry and Newman help each other with their romance problems. Newman told Jerry about Kramer's crush on his then-girlfriend, Pam, while Jerry helps Newman get a chance to date Elaine.
Certain instances would even define their relationship as one of friendship, or at least mutual tolerance, built around their shared friend, Kramer. In "The Pick", Jerry casually walks over to Newman's apartment and brings him back to his own, to examine Elaine's Christmas card. Newman apparently puts up little fight and doesn't make any sarcastic remarks, then leaves without a confrontation. In "The Old Man", Jerry says "my friends" in reference to Kramer and Newman and in "The Bottle Deposit" he has no qualms about leaving Kramer and Newman alone in his apartment, trusting they'll "keep an eye on one another." In "The Barber", Jerry allows Newman to use his bathroom, albeit reluctantly, and even watches Edward Scissorhands with him.
Career and finances
Jerry is very successful financially, and occupationally stable in comparison with his friends (and perhaps with other stand-up comedians in general). He never seems to be at a loss for money, in comparison to both George and Elaine, whose careers go through both highs and lows but are often unsuccessful or short of money. Throughout the series Jerry suffers numerous financial and material losses, but these do not seem to have long-term impacts on his situation. Examples include:
- Jerry buys his father a Cadillac Fleetwood and buys it back after his parents sell it, spending over $20,000. Jerry himself seems to only drive luxury European makes, such as a BMW 5-series ("The Smelly Car") and a SAAB 900 Convertible, although in early episodes such as "The Ex-Girlfriend", he drives a mid-1970s American coupe, and also a Chevrolet Sport Van in The Junk Mail episode. In "The Apartment", it is revealed that Jerry could easily lend Elaine $5,000 for an apartment. Also, Jerry is regularly called upon to pay the check for the group at Monk's and allows Kramer to depend on him for food. Despite his apparent financial security, his parents seem to think he needs money, offering to pay for everything when they visit him (even if they have no money, as seen in "The Watch") and occasionally urging him to find a new job.
- In "The Checks", Jerry is revealed to be famous in Japan where he appears in the opening montage of Japanese TV's "Super Terrific Happy Hour" and he even continues to earn royalties from each appearance (although each royalty check is only for twelve cents, due to the heavy difference between the worth of Japanese and American currency.)
- Jerry spends most of the series making a living from stand-up comedy, except for the periods when he and George co-write their own sitcom. Jerry also acts in the pilot episode of their show "Jerry", playing himself.
- Twice, Jerry is encouraged to switch to a career at Bloomingdale's in their Executive Training Program. First his parents suggest it after he bounces a check; then in another episode, George and Kramer suggest it after he starts dating a "loser".
While Jerry's career is successful and his opening and closing stand-up bits always go as planned, his stand-up performances depicted within the show can go awry at times.
- In "The Red Dot", an inebriated Dick cuts Jerry's stand-up short over the usage of the phrases "on the wagon" and "off the wagon".
- In "The Trip, Part 1", the hotel chambermaid throws Jerry's notes away causing him to stumble and bumble his way through a performance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
- In "The Fire", Jerry is thrown off his act by Kramer's girlfriend Toby, who heckles him and later sees his entire crowd run for the exits when George screams "he's got a gun!" when referring to a prop comic.
- In "The Diplomat's Club", Jerry's manager oddly warns him that the pilot of the plane in which he flew to the show in was in the audience. Jerry tells that there is no way that could bother him but when he takes the stage, he can't stop looking at the pilot.
- In "The Abstinence", Jerry is twice bumped from playing an assembly at his old middle-school. When he finally takes the stage, he's promptly booed for his opening act about homework. David Letterman later calls him to bump him from the Late Show due to the poor middle-school performance.
- In "The Butter Shave", Jerry intentionally performs hackneyed comedy material in a successful attempt to prove that, without his warming up the audience first, Kenny Bania, who performs following him, will not get any laughs.
- In "The Finale, Part 2", Jerry performs stand-up for his fellow inmates in jail but gets no laughs, except from Kramer, and is heckled and threatened by one of the prisoners.
Jerry has an obsessive insistence on cleanliness and neatness.
- In "The Pothole", Jerry inadvertently knocks his girlfriend's toothbrush into the toilet bowl, and after she uses it, he is unable to bring himself to kiss her. As revenge, she proceeds to put one item of his in the toilet without telling him what it was; a distraught Jerry, thinking it could be anything, ends up throwing away virtually every item in his apartment in panic. Upon learning it was the toilet brush, he reassures himself that it can be replaced (his girlfriend is later bombarded with toilet water following a plumbing accident in her bathroom, causing him to break up with her). Elaine says that in some instances, his cleanliness can verge into a serious disorder.
- In ""The Outing", Jerry comments that most people think he's gay because he's "thin and neat".
- In "The Statue", he is delighted to find how thorough his new cleaner has been, to the extent of decoagulating the dried matter from the nozzle of his bottle of dishwashing liquid.
- In ""The Voice", he throws out a belt because it touched the edge of a urinal.
- In ""The Butter Shave", he throws out a shoelace because it touched the floor of a public bathroom.
- In ""The Couch", after Poppie's gastro-intestinal disorder causes him to urinate on Jerry's couch, Jerry, rather than having the cushion cleaned, gives the couch away.
- In ""The Blood", when Kramer announces that he moved his blood from the blood bank into the building, Jerry panics until Kramer tells him that the blood is in his apartment. Jerry tells him that if any blood gets into his apartment he will "freak out". Later when Kramer's freezer breaks, Jerry freaks out again, checking his freezer for the blood, thinking that the bowl of jello and the jug of tomato juice is blood. Kramer proceeds to drink the juice, causing Jerry to freak out even more.
- "In "The Pie", Jerry is horrified when Poppie neglects to wash his hands after using the bathroom and refuses to eat the food Poppie prepares for him.
- In "The Apology", while Elaine is talking to Jerry about a germaphobic woman in her office, Jerry starts meticulously cleaning a spot where Kramer spilled soda. Elaine says about the woman, with implied commentary about Jerry, that she is probably "one of those neurotic clean freaks".
- In "The Chinese Woman", Jerry almost gets into a state of panic when he finds out that Kramer is not wearing any underwear.
- In "The Limo", Elaine corrects someone who has misidentified Jerry as a Nazi, explaining that "he's just neat."
- In "The Implant", a girlfriend of his comments that "he would have made a great Nazi" because "everything has to be just so".
In 2007, Entertainment Weekly placed the Jerry Seinfeld character eighth on their list of the "50 Greatest TV icons". For portraying him, Jerry Seinfeld was nominated four times for the Golden Globe Award for the Best Actor - Musical or Comedy Series category, out of which he won one.
- "The Alternate Side"
- George did not appear in The Pen; Elaine did not appear in The pilot, The Trip, Part 1, and The Trip, Part 2; and Kramer did not appear in The Chinese Restaurant and The Pen.
- BBC Comedy Guide: Seinfeld
- "The Serenity Now"
- "The Foundation"
- "The Marine Biologist"
- "The Cadillac, Part 1" and "Part 2"
- "The 50 Greatest TV Icons". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-05-13.
- "Jerry Seinfeld awards for Golden Globe". Golden Globes. Retrieved 2015-02-05.