‘Seinfeld’: Elaine’s Pettiest Workplace Fights, Ranked By How Right She Was
Generally speaking, it’s inadvisable to be on Elaine Benes’ bad side — she’ll drop you like a bag of dirt.
From her time as a copy editor to her brief stint as a personal assistant to, finally, her service to the eccentric J. Peterman, Elaine’s professional life on Seinfeld is constantly marred by her many disagreements with the doofus colleagues and co-workers who seem to go out of their way to make Elaine’s life a living hell — or vice versa. Though not quite as calamitous as George’s career (or as nebulous as Kramer’s), Elaine’s professional life provides some of the most hilariously petty moments in the entirety of Seinfeld, which is basically just a show about pettiness.
Though arguably the most intelligent of the four main characters in Seinfeld, even Elaine isn’t always a straight shooter, but if you ask her, she’s never once picked a fight from the losing side. Here are Elaine’s most childish workplace spats in ascending order of objective justification...
Taking A Bite Out of A $29,000 Piece of Cake — Then Coming Back for Seconds
Any way you slice it, Elaine messed up on this one — even her digestive system disagreed with her. In the Season Nine episode “The Frogger,” Elaine feigns illness just to get out of the constant cake-filled celebration at the J. Peterman Catalog, skipping out on her own “Get Well Soon” party foisted upon her by her incessantly sympathetic and sugary coworkers. Then, missing the usual sugar fix, she sneaks into her bosses office and steals a bite from an innocuous-seeming but regally decorated piece of cake that is soon revealed to be a valuable artifact from King Edward VIII’s royal wedding.
Elaine returns later to cover up her tracks, but she ends up scarfing down the entire antique slice. Upon realizing what had happened to his investment, Peterman decided not to punish Elaine for basically stealing 30 grand from him since the historic gut-buster will do it for him once it reaches her small intestine.
George’s $8,000 Sable Hat Wasn’t A Business Expense
In fact, most of what Elaine charged to the J. Peterman Catalog while working as its acting president in “The Chicken Roaster” wasn’t for legitimate commercial use, but the preposterously priced and not easily counterfeited Russian hat purchased by Elaine on George’s behalf just to try to impress a pretty saleswoman was the one that couldn’t be written off so lightly. Elaine’s spat with an internal auditor exposes the extravagant purchase and nearly leads to the loss of her job.
Such selfish use of company funds for personal use would get most people fired (if not arrested), but Elaine is not most people — and J. Peterman is not most bosses.
Rob Schneider Wasn't Pretending to Be Deaf, He Was Just A Perv
In the much-maligned Season Seven episode “The Friar’s Club,” Elaine becomes obsessed with proving that the hearing-impaired new guy in the office (played by Schneider) is actually a Munchausen-level faker, a vendetta that gets misinterpreted for ableism by her boss and then later attraction by Schneider himself.
After dragging Schneider and her suspicions across town, Elaine eventually finds herself in a magic show getting forcibly felt up by her co-worker, whom she fights off before stealing his hearing aid and testing it out for herself. It turns out that the hearing-impaired can do more with their hands than just talk.
Elaine’s Not Addicted to Opiates, Just Muffins
Season Seven’s “The Shower Head” is one of those exceedingly rare Seinfeld episodes in which a character is vindicated by MythBusters themselves. Leading up to a much-desired business trip to Kenya, Elaine takes a drug test that comes back positive for opium, the results of which combine with an unexpected and chaotic visit from Kramer to convince J. Peterman that she is an irresponsible drug user. Thus, he fires her on the spot.
Unable to kick her consumption of poppy seed-infused foods, Elaine bums some fake piss off an elderly coworker, earning her job back, but the metabolic results of the test preclude her from taking her business trip since, according to her urine, she basically has the body of an old lady.
Lou Was A Louse And A Slacker, Whether He’s Chewing Tic-Tacs or Gumballs
For all the times J. Peterman’s strangeness allowed Elaine the flexibility to stay remarkably employed despite bad behavior, the sword’s other edge meant that, even when Elaine was a model employee, her position was at risk due to the incompetence and irrationality of a man who can be driven mad by the sound of shaking Tic-Tacs.
In “The Merv Griffin Show,” after the soft-walking Lou steals partial credit for every one of Elaine’s accomplishments by sidling up next to her whenever she submits her fine work, Elaine tries to turn the tables, first by sidling up to Lou, then by planting mints in his pocket like the bell on a milk cow. However, Lou’s general incompetence and Peterman’s misophonia drive Elaine down a dark path of drugs and antique gumball machines.