Though the finale of the show aired nearly 25 years ago, "Seinfeld" has never left the airwaves. On any given day, fans new and old alike can watch the iconic series in one of multiple media markets as well as streaming services. The show’s popularity in syndication might rival the success it had when the episodes first ran on the NBC network, with the New York Post pointing out that over 40% of its viewers today are 34 or younger.
You don’t have to look at the show through a certain lens to see how its main players have a penchant for ruining the lives of others. Whether due to a bizarre quirk, a plot for revenge, or a scheme to get ahead, Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer seem to inadvertently (and sometimes deliberately) amass a body count of casualties that sometimes makes the series feel like war.
But who suffered the most at the hands of Jerry and his borderline sociopathic cohorts? The list of victims is a long one, created from situations that are equally horrifying and hilarious. The next time you settle in and watch one of your favorite episodes from the series, you might find yourself taking some mental notes about which life the gang ruined the most spectacularly.
Kramer sends a man to prison
Kramer brings on an NYU intern for his "company" Kramerica Industries in the Season 9 episode "The Voice." In an attempt to test his oil tanker bladder system (one that Kramer is convinced will solve the world’s petroleum spill problems), he and Darren fill a rubber ball with oil and throw it out a high window from the Play Now building where George is employed.
The ball of oil lands on Jerry’s girlfriend, who was probably seriously injured in the incident. At the episode’s conclusion, it’s apparent that Kramer had no legal repercussions, as he sits at the coffee shop with his friends a free man. When asked about Darren, Kramer’s mood turns dark, however, as he reveals that "Darren is going away for a long time." A college kid with a promising future that has his whole life ruined by one of the group is just one example of how terrible things happen to many of the people in the periphery of Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer. But there’s so much more.
Jerry gets a man deported
Jerry not only convinces restauranter Babu Bhatt to completely change his eatery’s concept, leading to his bankruptcy, but he also winds up inadvertently getting the poor man deported. Inside Hook tells of how Babu blames Jerry for the disastrous business suggestions that led him to lose everything, leading him to employment at Monk’s. Babu is forced to move and finds an apartment in Jerry’s building. But when Babu’s visa renewal forms wind up in an aloof Jerry’s mailbox by mistake, he is unable to renew them. Babu is subsequently deported back to Pakistan, where he vows to get his revenge.
In "The Strongbox," Jerry takes being a bad neighbor to a whole new level. He leaves his neighbor Phil stranded outside the locked door of the building, Phil having forgotten his key and Jerry not believing that he lives in the building. It’s later revealed that Phil and his wife live just down the hall from Jerry, showing just how self-absorbed the comedian is.
After Kramer and Jerry suspect that Phil’s pet parrot ate Kramer’s strongbox key (dying in the process), they go to the pet cemetery to dig up the bird. As his shovel is in the ground, Jerry belts out the iconic line, "Hey, Kramer! I dug Fredo up, now let’s cut him open!" just as Phil and his grieving wife are back at the gravesite of their beloved pet to get one last goodbye.
Elaine vs. Sue Ellen Mischke
The busty and bra-less nemesis of Elaine makes four appearances on "Seinfeld," beginning with the character’s debut in the 1996 episode "The Caddy." Throughout the show, Elaine reveals that her hatred for Sue Ellen stems from the time that she stole her boyfriend in high school. It seems like her hatred goes much deeper than that, however. Elaine appears to be jealous of the male attention given to her enemy, as well as angry at the fact that Sue Ellen is the heiress of the Oh Henry! candy bar fortune.
In the Season 9 episode "The Betrayal," Sue Ellen is revealed to be engaged to an Indian American named Pinter. After she introduces her fiancé to Elaine, Elaine realizes that Pinter is someone that she slept with years ago. Keeping this quiet (for now), Elaine is shocked when Sue Ellen invites her to their wedding … in India. Elaine suspects that her invitation is just a ploy to get a wedding gift, as there is no way she would be expected to attend. But to Sue Ellen’s surprise, Elaine and the gang show up and is the only of Sue Ellen’s friends to have made the journey. This prompts Sue Ellen to ask Elaine to be her maid of honor, which she accepts.
The gang ruins Sue Ellen’s wedding
Enter Jerry. He knows that Elaine is hiding something, so he plots to get her to "open the vault" with the only key: alcohol. He gets her drunk, and she reveals to him that she slept with Pinter. Later in the episode, George (who is desperate to find out a secret he suspects that Elaine knows about his girlfriend Nina and Jerry) uses the same key to the vault. A drunken Elaine abruptly tells George that Jerry and Nina slept together.
Not willing to let it go, George’s anger boils over at the ceremony the next day, and Elaine tells him that it’s not a big deal. In a move to perhaps further calm him, she also says (quietly) that she slept with Pinter. This makes George blurt out, "You slept with the groom!?!" Needless to say, Elaine and George are responsible for wrecking an expensive wedding and destroying a relationship.
Jerry and George do a number on Rachel
Rachel’s first appearance is in Season 5’s "The Raincoats, Part 1." Jerry and Rachel are caught making out "like the Titanic going down" by Newman as the couple is attending a showing of "Schindler’s List." A disgusted Newman tells Rachel’s parents (whom she lives with), resulting in her father forbidding her to see Jerry any longer.
But it wasn’t just the rift between herself and her parents that made her a victim of Jerry and his pals. Several episodes later in "The Hamptons," Rachel joins Jerry and the crew at a friend’s home in the upscale Long Island area. After resisting fresh lobster prepared by Kramer, Rachel boasts of how she has kept kosher her entire life. Unbeknownst to her, George had prepared the breakfast eggs that morning with bits of leftover lobster meat, which Rachel wolfs down. His motive? He is convinced that his date for the weekend left after Rachel informed him of George’s apparent size inadequacies (he WAS in the pool just before Rachel got a look, remember?).
Kramer gets Mickey ostracized for heightening
Many fans of the show will recall Kramer’s friend Mickey from episodes that feature the two of them working as actors. In the Season 5 episode "The Stand-In," Kramer and Mickey are doubling for a TV father and son on the daytime soap "All My Children." As a little person, Mickey privately tells Kramer that he is worried that the child actor he is standing in for is growing too fast and will soon put Mickey out of a job. Kramer convinces Mickey to put lifts in his shoes — an act Mickey condemns as "heightening" and says he will take no part in. But as the episode progresses, Mickey relents under Kramer’s pressure.
It’s later revealed that a rival of Mickey’s discovers the lifts in Mickey’s locker and outs him to their peers. Kramer’s insistence and pure desperation led Mickey to "heighten," costing him all of his friends in the little person community and leading to him being ostracized.
George is somewhat responsible for Susan’s death
Finally, who could possibly have suffered more at the hands of Jerry and company than the entire Ross family? For starters, in the episode "The Bubble Boy," the gang makes plans to meet up with George and his girlfriend Susan and the latter’s family cabin. Kramer makes it there first, carelessly discarding a cigar that later burned down the cabin just as George and Susan arrive.
But the savagery doesn’t end there. In the following episode, "The Cheever Letters," it’s discovered that the only item recovered from the ashy ruins of the Ross cabin is a box full of old letters. The letters are addressed to Susan’s father, written by the late writer John Cheever. Mr. Ross is unceremoniously outed by the gang, as these letters chronicle details of the affair he had with Cheever.
And let’s not forget that Susan would still be alive if it weren’t for George. In the Season 7 finale, "The Invitations," the now-engaged George and Susan are preparing for their upcoming wedding. When shopping for invitations, George immediately picks the cheapest ones available, an ancient box that has been sitting in the warehouse for who knows how long. Susan is seen at several points throughout the episode licking the envelopes, seemingly getting more ill with each cutaway until she is shown collapsing. After George discovers her, she is rushed to the hospital, where she is pronounced dead by the attending physician. The doctor explains to George that Susan succumbed to "toxic glue poisoning," stemming from the envelopes she had been licking all afternoon.