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There’s a reason "Seinfeld" still stands out as one of the best sitcoms of all time, more than two decades after its record-breaking finale. For a show that’s supposedly about nothing, there sure is a lot that happens to the crew of wonderful weirdos at the center of the series. We’ve got "Seinfeld" to thank for lasting cultural moments like Festivus and the puffy shirt and go-to GIFs a plenty, and it’s never a bad time to queue up an episode and enjoy the soothing sounds of all the conversational mayhem in that modest gray apartment.
So what’s the deal with "Seinfeld" remaining a must-watch for so long? Well, one of the many reasons for its enduring popularity is the fact that the show is still so very quotable. Many fans can easily find a line from "Seinfeld" to apply to any situation — particularly the more awkward encounters we may have in life. So to celebrate the lasting legacy of the series, here’s a look at some of the most quotable moments ever on "Seinfeld."
"No soup for you!"
Even those who’ve never watched an episode of "Seinfeld" have undoubtedly heard about "The Soup Nazi." The Season 7 episode was an instant classic thanks to its titular wacko, a restaurant owner who serves the very best and most sought-after soup in all of New York City but has extremely rigid expectations of his customers. Yev Kassem (Larry Thomas) is his real name, we later learn, and the guy tolerates absolutely no nonsense or backtalk in the line at his restaurant. It’s worth enduring his stern expression and sharp tongue, though, because his food is pure quality, and everyone knows it.
Among those who experience the wrath of this mean maestro are George (Jason Alexander), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and even Jerry Seinfeld’s girlfriend, and they’re always treated to the exact same, indelible expression that lingers on the tip of the tongue even more than his fabulous recipes: "No soup for you!" It’s such a simple phrase, but uttered with Yev’s signature sneer, it’s deliciously spicy on anyone’s lips.
"Yada yada yada"
Another "Seinfeld" expression that tends to be called up by even the most casual fans of the series comes along in Season 8’s "The Yada Yada." The episode finds George growing increasingly annoyed by his new girlfriend Marcy’s (Suzanne Cryer) favorite phrase: "yada yada yada."
At first, it seems cute and maybe even convenient for bypassing uncomfortable details in their couple-y chats. However, when she abbreviates her description of her time spent with an ex with "yada yada yada," well, things go right off the rails. Soon after, Elaine tells George that she herself has used the phrase as a code word for a certain adult activity, which basically confirms George’s worst fears. From there, those three simple words carry more weight than anyone could have ever imagined, and they’re forever cemented as an ultra quotable line from the show.
"Not that there’s anything wrong with that"
One of the consequences of the main characters in "Seinfeld" spending so much time together is that their relationships are often confusing to outsiders, who sometimes suspect them to be more than just friends. One such misunderstanding takes place in Season 4’s "The Outing," when a prank by Elaine convinces an eavesdropping reporter that Jerry and George are secretly lovers.
The student journalist, Sharon (Paula Marshall), later interviews Jerry at his apartment, and the quirky interactions between Jerry and George only seem to confirm a more-than-platonic connection. Once Jerry realizes that she’s mistaken their antics for intimacy, though, he furiously insists they’re both straight — but makes sure to indicate their acceptance of others who are gay by adding, "not that there’s anything wrong with that." As the situation continues to spiral out of control, and the reporter goes forward with her story, the two become increasingly agitated by being falsely outed but Jerry always dutifully includes that memorable little caveat.
Everyone gets their turn being horribly embarrassed throughout "Seinfeld," but no one spends more time wading in his own pool of mortification than George. And his many pitiful plights certainly lead to some of the show’s most hysterical exchanges, including an unforgettable moment from Season 5’s "The Hamptons." The episode finds the main characters relocating to the Eastern Long Island getaway for a brief vacation, and George’s humiliation spree continues unabated when Jerry’s girlfriend accidentally catches him changing clothes after a swim.
If being exposed in front of a friend’s significant other isn’t embarrassing enough, George is particularly bothered by the fact that his nether region wasn’t in its most, erm, presentable form as a result of being in the cold water, and this leads to a detailed — and oddly useful to fans at home — discussion with Jerry and Elaine about the quietly ubiquitous phenomenon of male "shrinkage."
"You double dipped the chip"
Another all-timer moment involving George comes in Season 4’s "The Implant," which finds him dating a new woman named Betsy (Megan Mullally), whom he joins on a trip to Detroit for her aunt’s funeral services in hopes of getting in good with her family. At first, things go pretty well, and George manages to make a surprisingly great impression with Betsy and her folks. However, his insatiable appetite for ignominy eventually catches up to him at the snack table.
See, George accidentally ignites the ire of Betsy’s previously silent little brother when he "double dips" his chip, which prompts young Timmy (Kieran Mulroney) to give him an impromptu, highly recitable tutorial on chip-eating etiquette. The resulting exchange is so memorable that even TV’s "Mythbusters" took on the challenge of finding out whether Timmy is right to insist that double dipping is really the same as "putting your whole mouth right in the dip."
"Maybe the dingo ate your baby"
Another character who’s a consistent source of quotable one-liners is Elaine Benes, who is just as awkward and unhinged as the guys she spends all of her time with. One moment that encapsulates just how much of a kook she is comes in Season 3’s "The Stranded," when she finds herself stuck in a boring conversation with one of George’s colleagues and cannot help but crank the cringe meter to full tilt.
In the episode, Elaine becomes visibly annoyed with a woman in her company on the couch when she repeatedly refers to her missing fiancé, emphasizing the word to an agitating degree, before also coining him a "baby." To that, Elaine responds by adopting an Australian accent and saying, "Maybe the dingo ate your baby." This phrase itself is a cultural reference from the ’80s movie "A Cry in the Dark," but by using it here, with her garbled outback accent and snide smile, she manages to make it all her own.
"I gotta have that chicken!"
Cosmo Kramer is also known to crawl right into your brain with his oddball antics and stay there. There are many moments that fans can point to as his most memorable scenes, from his full-body butter ritual to his technicolor coat to his infamous towel dance. Kramer’s humor isn’t just limited to his extraordinarily funny physical comedy, though; he also says some hilariously weird things as well. In Season 8’s "The Chicken Roaster," for example, he’s reduced to begging in iconic fashion by some junk food.
In the episode, Kramer switches apartments with Jerry after a new chicken restaurant’s neon sign outside Kramer’s window proves to be too bright to live with. But while Kramer might not like the bright lights of the place, Newman (Wayne Knight) manages to get him hooked on its signature flavors…and Kramer has to keep his newfound chicken obsession a secret from Jerry. Once Jerry discovers the truth, though, he threatens to put an end to the neon-signed restaurant once and for all, reducing Kramer to a hysterically blubbering mess who memorably confesses, "I gotta have that chicken!" Who can’t relate to that?!
It’s not just the quirky quartet at the center of the show’s action that create the most repeatable lines throughout "Seinfeld." There are also quite a few supporting characters that say things that stand the test of time, including George’s outrageous father Frank (Jerry Stiller). The elder Costanza can be credited with many favored lines from the series, but the one that fans can’t help but keep in rotation at all times is from Season 9’s "The Serenity Now."
Fans well know that Frank has some trouble controlling his temper, particularly when it comes to dealing with George’s shrill mother Estelle (Estelle Harris). So, in an effort to keep his blood pressure down, he’s taken the advice of a self-help tape to say "serenity now" every time he gets heated. Naturally, this means Frank has to spout the phrase quite often throughout the episode, but the mad little method is also adopted by some other colorful characters in the show, including Kramer (Michael Richards). Yes, Cosmo also gives those words a whirl when the going gets tough for him. And he finds out the hard way that there’s a major downside to bottling up all that anger.
"It’s not easy"
Last, but certainly not least, if there’s one moment from "Seinfeld" that’s bound to make the best-of highlights reel for all of entertainment eternity, it’s the infamous birthday party escape from Season 5’s "The Fire" with — who else? — George making a complete fool of himself yet again. In the episode, George attends his girlfriend’s son’s birthday and picks a fight with a hired clown because he’s frustrated that no one else remembers Bozo.
As if his obsession with this bit of pop culture nostalgia isn’t strange enough, George really lets his true colors come through when he notices that there’s a grease fire in the kitchen, and he proceeds to shove all of the kiddos and even an elderly woman out of his way to escape. Once the danger is cleared, George has to face the consequences of his cowardice and gets absolutely grilled by a condemning crowd. He initially tries to defend himself, insisting that he was merely showing everyone a proper escape route. But he eventually comes to terms with himself when asked by a fireman, "How do you live with yourself?" to which he responds, frankly and mousily, "It’s not easy." Truer words were never spoken.