The Funniest Burns in ‘Seinfeld’ History

Fans choose their favorite insults, slights and smackdowns from the world’s pettiest sitcom
The Funniest Burns in ‘Seinfeld’ History

The rules of Seinfeld are very simple: “No hugging, no learning.” Not that George was ever exactly in the mood for an embrace or an education when taking calls from the Jerk Store.

On their best days, the central cast of Seinfeld could generously be described as “benign a-holes” for how they harmlessly teased and taunted everything from table condiments to each other. At its heart, Seinfeld isn’t actually a show about nothing, as the saying so famously goes — it’s a show about making fun of the small things in life, not the least of which is George Costanza. Everyone on Seinfeld is constantly trying to one-up each other in the zinger department, and sometimes the friendly and unfriendly jabs get so savage that, decades later, we still feel the sting in their words.

Over in the Seinfeld subreddit, fans recently debated which classic Seinfeld put-downs are the most hilariously disparaging. Here are their top picks, starting with…

Reilly: “The ocean called, they’re running out of shrimp!”

The way you know that this little burn is legendarily scorching is that George spent the rest of “The Comeback” trying to devise a snappy response and still couldn’t come up with anything better than the stinker, “The Jerk Store called, and they’re running out of you!” And, even after George flew to Akron, Ohio on a day’s notice, Reilly still nailed him with his own clapback, “You’re their all-time best-seller!” 

George: “She’s got a little Marisa Tomei thing going on!”
Jerry: “Too bad you’ve got a little George Costanza thing going on.”

When George falls for a sable hat saleswoman in “The Chicken Roaster,” it ends up blowing up in both his and Elaine’s faces. But that doesn’t mean Jerry’s jab about George’s very George-like appearance was appropriate. Besides, we all know that Marisa Tomei likes her men short, stocky and bald, so Jerry’s admittedly snappy response is a lot funnier than it is factual.

Puddy: “What do you care? You know where you’re going.”

Of all the moral questions ever raised on Seinfeld, one of the funniest has to be when Elaine pushed against Puddy’s indifference to his on-again, off-again girlfriend’s eventual eternal damnation. Sure, even Elaine was never committed to the idea of spending eternity with the terse mechanic, but the notion that Puddy wouldn’t even blink when St. Peter lets him pass through the Pearly Gates knowing that his old flame was going somewhere much more fiery is fairly upsetting. It’s also incredibly funny.

Kramer: “Does your girlfriend have to be here?”
Newman: “Does yours?”

There’s nothing embarrassing or wrong about the platonic love shared between Jerry and Kramer, but in “The Betrayal,” Newman nails them both when Kramer can’t even be bothered to refer to Newman’s model boo by her name. To be fair, the writers never gave Newman’s wish-fulfilled flame a name, but there’s no need for Kramer to cut her out of the conversation, especially when she was the one who gave him the idea to one-up FDR’s deadly wish with his own superstitious requests.


George: “I can sense the slightest human suffering.”
Jerry: “Are you sensing anything right now?”

Of all the times George has been put down in Seinfeld, this one felt the most petty for no other reason besides, for once, George was complaining on someone else’s behalf instead of his own. George’s intention to ease a security guard’s human suffering in “The Maestro” were pure, even if it led to Susan’s uncle’s store getting robbed while the guard rocked himself to sleep. He couldn’t sense suffering in his dreams, apparently.


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