HomeFashionWhy Seinfeld's Ending Is So Hated (& Why It's Actually Great)

Why Seinfeld’s Ending Is So Hated (& Why It’s Actually Great)


Despite the love fans had for the series overall, few episodes of television have been as controversial as the Seinfeld ending. “The Finale,” which originally aired on May 14, 1998, was an hour-long episode that brought back just about every character Jerry, George (Jason Alexander), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) or Kramer (Michael Richards) wronged throughout the show’s nine-year run. Anyone who has ever seen the episode has a strong opinion about it, and those opinions are often negative.


For a show that has spawned such classic episodes as “The Contest,” “The Soup Nazi” and “The Puffy Shirt” throughout the ’90s, it was always going to be difficult to please everyone and end the show on a high note. The general consensus is that the Seinfeld finale failed to stick the landing, and similar to shows like Lost, Dexter, and Game of Thrones, was a great show with a subpar ending. However, looking past the flood of criticism fans might find that the episode isn’t as bad as its reputation. There’s plenty to like in this two-parter, and it’s far from the disaster that some make it out to be.

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What Happens In Seinfeld’s Finale

seinfeld finale characters in jail

The Seinfeld finale begins with Jerry getting news he has finally struck a deal with NBC to create Jerry, the fictional show-within-a-show that was a meta storyline in Season 4. NBC lends Jerry their private jet, and as a last hurrah, the gang heads to Paris to celebrate. But as they are en route, Kramer stumbles into the cockpit, causing the plane to crash in the fictional town of Latham, Massachusetts (not before the characters make some notable admissions, including George saying he cheated in “The Contest”, which was paid homage to in It’s Always Sunny, and Elaine telling Jerry she is in love with him).

As they wait in Latham for their plane to be repaired, they witness a man getting carjacked at gunpoint. In typical Seinfeld fashion, they laugh at the man instead of helping him, as Kramer films it on his video camera. But when the cops show up, the victim reports the four of them for not helping, and they are all arrested under the “Good Samaritan Law,” which requires bystanders to help out when they witness a crime. They hire Jackie Chiles (Phil Morris), a recurring character who is a spoof of Johnnie Cochran, to represent them, which riles the district attorney and prompts him to dig up as much dirt as he can on the four of them.

The DA calls several witnesses, most of whom have had some sort of negative experience with Jerry and his friends (as well as being iconic Seinfeld guest stars): Mabel Choate, the elderly woman who Jerry mugged for a marble rye; Sidra, whom Jerry dumped for rumored breast implants (“they’re real, and they’re spectacular!”); Dr. Wexler, who noted Georges “jubilation following Susan’s death; Leslie, the low talker whose “Puffy Shirt” Jerry ridiculed on national television; the Soup Nazi, who claimed Elaine ruined his business; Babu Bhatt, who believed Jerry got him deported. The damning testimony results in a guilty verdict. The final scenes show all four in prison, where Jerry gets heckled while doing standup for the inmates.

Why Fans Hated Seinfeld’s Finale


In addition to the already-massive expectations for the Seinfeld ending, which is considered to be the greatest sitcom of all time, co-creator Larry David, who had left the show after Season 7, returned to write the final script. But when 76 million people tuned in, many of them thought that it did not strike the right tone. Seinfeld had a winning formula of getting viewers to root for despicable characters, largely because their antics were so funny. But in the finale, there were none of the typical Seinfeld antics. Recapping all the terrible things they had done over the course of the series — all within the span of an hour — it got a bit overwhelming.

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Some also found that the final episode undermined the entire premise of the show. The whole joke of Seinfeld is that it is a “show about nothing,” where every episode features the characters getting into comic situations of little significance (deciding which pastry to bring to a dinner party, trying to get a table at a Chinese restaurant), then making some selfish decision that makes everything worse. But no episode had any real consequences.

Even when characters reappeared, they seemed to forgive Jerry and his friends for whatever indiscretion happened in the earlier episode. So when they were ultimately forced to grapple with those consequences, some felt it to be a betrayal of what made the show great. As USA Today put it, “it may remind viewers of the last episode of NBC’s St. Elsewhere, which basically told faithful fans they’d been wasting their time on a child’s dream.”

Even many of the Seinfeld cast members had lukewarm opinions of the finale. Despite saying he was “happy” with the episode in a 2014 Reddit AMA, Seinfeld seemed to walk those comments back in a 2017 interview at the New Yorker Festival. “I sometimes think we really shouldn’t have even done it,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure on us at that time to do one big last show, but big is always bad in comedy.” Jason Alexander said it was “a good episode, not a great episode” in an interview with Emmy TV. And Julia Louis-Dreyfus made an infamous joke on David Letterman’s final episode, saying, “Thanks for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale.”

Why Seinfeld’s Ending Is Great

Seinfeld finale

TV show finales often have the expectation to be the best episode of the entire series., especially for a show as beloved as Seinfeld, which had so many overwhelming successes throughout its run. Some shows succeed in making everyone happy, but not every show can be Breaking Bad. After peeling away all the hype and expectations and viewing the episode on its own, it’s still a funny, well-crafted episode. The “Good Samaritan Law” is the ultimate Seinfeld joke, a ridiculous, annoying thing from the real world that gets played out to completion. Just about every beloved side character made an appearance, and to comic effect — not just to show face.

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George Steinbrenner shows up to testify, and Frank Costanza interrupts to yell “How could you give $12 million to Hideki Irabu!” — a callback to Jerry Stiller’s Frank Costanza’s Jay Buhner rant from “The Caddy.” Leslie the Low Talker talks so quietly that the court can’t hear her. After Jackie Chiles sleeps with Sidra, he revives the iconic line by telling Jerry, “by the way, they’re real, and they’re spectacular!” Most of the cameos add to the episode’s arc, whereas they could have been thrown in without purpose.

While some can argue that the finale wasn’t true to the formula, it was certainly true to the characters. Jerry and his friends were never going to have a happy ending. The show famously preached a mantra of “no hugging, no learning,” and while Seinfeld could have paired Jerry and Elaine together like Ross and Rachel in Friends, or given him his NBC show, it wouldn’t have fit within the show’s universe. Larry David told Grantland that he “was not interested in an emotional ride, and neither was Jerry.” Which was absolutely the right attitude to have. Fans might have wanted something else, but the show stuck to its guns.

The Ending Of Seinfeld Won’t Be Followed Up – Which Makes It Better

Elaine and Jerry at an airport in Seinfeld.

Plenty of television shows are getting reboots nowadays, but Seinfeld isn’t one of them, making the ending a lot better even if it was divisive. Unlike popular like Sex and the City, Charmed, or Gilmore Girls, the Seinfeld finale was the definitive end of the series. It was great to finally see that the gang got some comeuppance for their self-centered behavior throughout the course of the show, ultimately bringing closure to the long-running TV series. Bringing Seinfeld back would cheapen the ending of the TV show, rendering all of their antics and punishment as insignificance.

Jerry Seinfeld himself has been adamant that Seinfeld will not return, despite shows like 30 Rock making gags about the series returning through Seinfeld-vision. While discussing Seinfeld‘s transition to the streaming service Netflix with ET, the comedian stated that a return to the small screen would be sad. “It would seem sad to me. It would seem like we couldn’t think of a new idea,” the comedian stated. Even though the Seinfeld ending wasn’t loved by all, it was a great way to close out the show and assured that the series wouldn’t make a return.

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Jerry Seinfeld Knew When To End The Show

jerry seinfeld

Part of the reason the Seinfeld ending didn’t sit well with everyone might have been the confusion over losing the most popular show on television. Seinfeld changed a lot from season 1 when it was struggling to find its footing and in constant fear of being canceled. However, by season 9, it was a massive hit that showed no signs of slowing down. However, Jerry Seinfeld himself (via Esquire) admits the decision was an easy one and mutual among the cast when they all met in his dressing room as season 9 began. Seinfeld recalls discussing with the others “We’ve had a lot of good fortune here. Maybe we shouldn’t push our luck too far. And we all agreed that this was the right moment.

Looking at Jerry Seinfeld’s career and his approach to the show, coming to this conclusion is not all that surprising. Similar to Quentin Tarantino’s decision to retire with 10 movies, Seinfeld has always been interested in the legacy of what he leaves behind being as solid as can be rather than seeing how long he can continue on. His obsession with his joke rewriting reflects this determination to get it just right and the idea of going on and possibly tarnishing the once-great show doesn’t appeal to him at all. As much as fans can debate the Seinfeld ending, Jerry Seinfeld’s lesson in when to walk away is perhaps something other shows should learn from.

MORE: Seinfeld’s Next Movie Is About Pop-Tarts – Really!


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Denis Ava
Denis Avahttps://bizgrows.com/
Denis Ava is mainly a business blogger who writes for Biz Grows. Rather than business blogs he loves to write and explore his talents in other niches such as fashion, technology, travelling,finance,etc.

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