The Top Five ‘Seinfeld’ Cold Opens
When Seinfeld co-creator Larry David left the show after its seventh season, Jerry Seinfeld had to drop the iconic stand-up routines that kicked off each episode to free up time to showrun solo. The stand-up bits themselves were replaced with equally hilarious cold opens. Some were dedicated to setting up that episode’s story, while others were about, like the show itself, nothing.
Either way, the cold opens became a staple during Seinfeld’s final two seasons, with some fans coming to prefer them to Jerry’s stand-up routines. Here are our five favorites...
Episode: “The Soul Mate,” Season Eight, Episode Two
What’s The Deal: Jerry and George are in a cab, with George bragging about how he can bite his fingernails so evenly that he doesn’t need to use a clipper anymore. Jerry replies, “But it’s a pleasure to use clippers. Why gnaw away like a mental patient when we have this elegant device?” George argues that if someone were in prison, they wouldn’t be given clippers because they’re like a weapon. Jerry tells him, “You know what’s really a weapon? That big toenail. You let that grow for a month; take it in the shower, (and) it’s like a shiv!” George contemplates this thought for a moment and says, “I love prison.” Jerry agrees that prison is fascinating. George pauses before responding, “Maybe someday.”
Why It’s Sponge-Worthy: “The Soul Mate” was only the second episode to air after David left Seinfeld. Yet the writers perfectly foreshadowed the gang’s fate in this cold open, even without knowing what David would have in store for “The Finale” two years later. For what it’s worth, when Jerry and George do find themselves behind bars for violating “The Good Samaritan Law,” Jerry does seem to be enjoying himself, performing stand-up for the inmates. George, however, not so much.
Episode: “The Slicer,” Season Nine, Episode Seven
What’s The Deal: Elaine wakes up with Jerry in bed beside her, an image Seinfeld fans haven’t seen since Season Five’s “The Mango,” when they had sex “to save the friendship.” Elaine tells Jerry, “This is crazy; I can’t go on like this. I need some space.” When she turns over, George is on her other side and asks, “Does that mean I have to go too?” Jerry and George start bickering as Kramer pops out from under the sheets. Elaine explicitly tells them, “I don’t want this anymore,” but the boys tell her that they’ll be with her all the time: “We’re going to work with you, and on your dates, and shopping, and to the bathroom!” Elaine finally wakes up from her nightmare and screams, “You’re all killing me!”
Why It’s Sponge-Worthy: During the final two seasons of Seinfeld, it seemed like Elaine desperately wanted to leave the group. At one point in Season Eight, she finds a bizarro version of her friends — i.e., the opposite versions of Jerry, George and Kramer — and quickly inserts herself into the clique. As she tells Jerry, “I can’t spend the rest of my life coming into this stinking apartment every 10 minutes to pour over the excruciating minutiae of every single daily event.” She also abandons her friends when they’re stuck in traffic during the Puerto Rican Day Parade. When Jerry tells her, “You can’t do that; you can’t just leave the group,” Elaine replies, “I’ve been trying to leave this group for 10 years. Vaya con Dios!”
This dream sequence further proves that Elaine wanted to vaya con Dios herself, sans, of course, Jerry, George and Kramer. She always felt she could do better, but because she was so flawed, they were the only ones who would accept her.
Alien Zoo vs. Alien Circus
Episode: “The Bizarro Jerry,” Season Eight, Episode Three
What’s The Deal: Jerry and George discuss being abducted by aliens and debate whether they’d rather be in an alien zoo or an alien circus. George picks the zoo because he could set more of his own schedule. Not to mention, “I’m wearing a little hat. I’m jumping through fire. Putting their little alien heads in my mouth.” He also defends his choice on the grounds that the aliens might put a woman in there with him to mate. When Jerry asks him, “What if she has no interest in you?” George replies, “Then I’m pretty much where I am now. At least I got to take a ride on a spaceship.”
Why It’s Sponge-Worthy: This cold open brings fans back to the early seasons of Seinfeld, with Jerry and George’s discussion feeling like a potential real conversation that Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David could have had, even if the show was now Larry-less.
The Summer of George
Episode: “The Summer of George,” Season Eight, Episode 22
What’s The Deal: George discovers that the New York Yankees are giving him a severance package and says, “The Yankees are giving me three months of pay for doin’ nothing!” He immediately starts formulating plans to take advantage of this cash, declaring, “I want to read a book — from beginning to end. In that order!” and play Frolf, or “Frisbee golf! Golf with a frisbee!” He even has a moniker for all this paid time off, famously proclaiming it, “‘The Summer of George!’”
Why It’s Sponge-Worthy: Thanks to George’s proclamation, this is certainly the most quoted cold open. It also sets up the rest of the episode perfectly. “The Summer of George” is full of ambition and hope, but will be ruined when George ironically slips on party invitations. Better yet, we get closure of sorts about George’s time working for the Yankees. Though we never do find out the finer details of what he did for the team — when Jerry asks him, “When you actually did work, what is it that you did?” George doesn’t have an answer and instead talks about the pastry cart in the office — it is a poetic conclusion to his longest story arc.
Kramer Alone in Jerry’s Apartment
Episode: “The Bookstore,” Season Nine, Episode 17
What’s the Deal: Jerry leaves his apartment with Kramer inside, and from the moment the door closes, Kramer madness ensues. He spills sauce in Jerry’s meticulously clean kitchen and uses a couch cushion to clean his mess. He instigates a fight with a neighbor by shouting at him through Jerry’s window. And he does his best impression of Jerry’s comedy as he rhetorically asks, “What’s the deal with politics? I don’t get it. Am I right, people?” The cold open ends with Jerry returning to a clean home and Kramer resting on the couch after a busy day, even if Jerry disapprovingly sighs as he notices that Kramer forgot to use a coaster.
Why It’s Sponge-Worthy: Forget the show’s cold opens, this is one of the best “Kramer” moments in the entire series. From bumping his head on the doorframe to hurriedly attaching a hose to combat smoke coming from Jerry’s bedroom, Michael Richards’ physical comedy really shines here.
Jerry once said to Kramer, “You sure have a lot of friends. How come I never see any of these people?” The answer may be in this scene, as Kramer hosts a party with many guests in Jerry’s small apartment. While we don’t know the guest list, we assume some of Kramer’s unseen pals — e.g., Bob Sacamano or Lomez — attended the shindig. There is also a really clever Easter egg to be discovered: The woman sitting next to Kramer at the party is Jerry’s real-life mother, Betty Seinfeld.