100 Best 'Seinfeld' Characters: From Soup Nazis to Nuts - Rolling Stone
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From Soup Nazis to Nuts: 100 Best ‘Seinfeld’ Characters

Close talkers, braless wonders, library cops and bad tennis pros: we rank the most memorable members of the ‘Seinfeld’ universe

From Soup Nazis to Nuts: 100 Best 'Seinfeld' Characters


For “a show about nothing,” Seinfeld certainly had a lot of somebodies weaving in and out of its fictional Upper West Side universe. 

For every one of the sitcom’s main foursome, there were practically dozens of agitated relatives, annoyed ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, beleaguered shopkeepers, bad dates, celebrity drop-bys and put-upon coworkers. (There were even nice “opposite” versions of Seinfeld, George and Kramer — the “Bizarro Jerry” crew.) In fact, when we talk about our favorite Seinfeld episodes or quote our favorite lines, many of them revolve around the nut cases, nasty New Yorkers and “no soup for you!” villains who entered in the main characters’ orbit: Hey, remember the one with the “close talker”? Or the one where Kramer’s girlfriend has the “Jimmy legs”? “So my ex-boyfriend came over last night, and yada yada yada, I’m really tired today.” “Elaine, you gotta have a bayyy-beeeee!”

So we’ve assessed and assembled the 100 greatest Seinfeld characters, and ranked them in order of their significance to the Seinfeldverse, their overall hilarity factor and our own personal preferences. Yes, Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer are here — and so are the soup nazis, the library cops, the bubble boys and the horny dentists who make the series so endlessly re-watchable. Sit back, grab some Junior Mints and enjoy.

kevin the bizarro jerry

Courtesy of NBC



Best-known episode: "The Bizarro Jerry"
Superman fans will tell you that there exists a place called "Bizarro World," where everything is the exact opposite of the Man of Steel's adopted home. ("Up is down, down is up, he says hello when he leaves and goodbye when he arrives.") It's from this alternate Earth that Elaine's ex-boyfriend Kevin apparently hails — where, because he's reliable and considerate, he's the "Bizarro Jerry." The parallels don't stop there: Kevin hangs out with his friends Gene (bald, bespectacled) and Feldman (lanky, eccentric) in an apartment that's the mirror-image of Jerry's. Eventually, Elaine finds herself kicked out of Kevin's up-with-people universe; as for "Bizarro Jerry," his shiny, happy sitcom seems to go on without her, complete with lots of hugging and learning. DAVID FEAR

Joey Delvalle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images


Rebecca DeMornay

Best-known episode: "The Muffin Tops"
The violent clerk at Housing Works Thrift Shop has a movie-star name and a charitable job. But do not make her mad. She rages at Elaine in "The Muffin Tops" for donating stumps to the homeless shelter, and makes a deal with George in "The Bookstore": "You get your toilet book out of here, and I won't jump over this counter and punch you in the brain!" Actress Sonya Eddy is better known to General Hospital fans as nurse Epiphany Johnson. But this Rebecca DeMornay is no relation to the real-life Hollywood actress, most famous for deflowering Tom Cruise in Risky Business. ROB SHEFFIELD



The Polar Bear Guy

Best-known episode: "The Pez Dispenser"
Thank God Kramer's buddies from the Polar Bear Club show up at Jerry's apartment just as he's about to host an intervention for Richie Appel, an old comedian friend who's messed up on drugs. No one knows what to say or do, but the lead Polar Bear, played by Allen Bloomfield, has some experience to draw on: "We used to do that when one of our polar bears stopped coming. We'd go to his house, ‘What you don't wanna be a polar bear anymore? The water's too cold for you?'" He also educates Elaine on the concept of male kangaroo "pouch envy." JENNY ELISCU

Mrs. Hamilton seinfeld

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Mrs. Hamilton

Best-known episode: "The Millennium"
Speed dials were a new thing in the Nineties, but they were already a tricky dating issue. When Jerry climbs to the Number One spot on the speed dial of his girlfriend Valerie (a not-yet-famous Lauren Graham), her jealous stepmother Mrs. Hamilton jumps into Jerry's car to interfere. (Like much of the episode, this scene is a brilliant twist on The Graduate.) "Jerome, I have a deliciously naughty idea — why don't I put you on my speed dial?" Sadly, actress Louan Gideon just passed away in February. Here's to you, Mrs. Hamilton. ROB SHEFFIELD

Tony the Deranged Mechanic seinfeld

Courtesy of NBC


Tony the Mechanic

Best-known episode: "The Bottle Deposit"
Most of Seinfeld's quirky characters were harmless oddballs — but others, like Crazy Joe Davola, crossed the line from offbeat to disturbing. The same year he debuted as Ray Romano's goofy brother in Everybody Loves Raymond, Brad Garrett appeared in this two-parter as the creepily obsessed grease monkey Tony, who seems competent until he accuses Jerry of automotive abuse ("You barely know the car…when was the last time you even checked the washer fluid?"). Finally, he kidnaps Jerry's car, complete with JFK's golf clubs in the trunk — that final dark-side-of-the-loon touch. DAVID BROWNE


Photo courtesy of NBC


Tina Robbins

Best-known episode: "The Truth"
Elaine's roommate Tina proves why we're lucky the Seinfeld characters mostly dodged the traditional New York curse of annoying roommates. Because Tina is really annoying. When Tina dates Kramer, Elaine's domestic life becomes a nightmare, especially all the make-out sessions in the living room. (As Kramer explains, "Tina likes the couch.") Actress Siobhan Fallon had a short-lived stint in the Saturday Night Live cast, usually stuck playing one-third of the Delta Delta Deltas. ROB SHEFFIELD

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Best-known episode: "The Hot Tub"
The tardiness of a long distance runner: Jean-Paul was an athlete from Trinidad & Tobago staying at Elaine's pad in the days prior to the New York City Marathon. This episode confronted man's eternal struggle against alarm clocks, snooze buttons and our tendency to oversleep in the direst of circumstances: Jean-Paul had previously dozed through his Olympics trial ("No snooze, wasn't a.m./p.m… it was the volume," he explains), and Jerry becomes obsessed with making sure the runner gets to the marathon on time. Of course, things go awry. After actor Jeremiah Birkett played the runner, he became a prolific TV presence and played Tackleberry on the Police Academy television series. But his claim to fame may be that he was the guy who accidentally threw Kramer's hot tea in his own face. DANIEL KREPS

Dr. Ben Seinfeld

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Dr. Ben

Best-known episode: "The Abstinence"
Elaine's doctor boyfriend isn't really a doctor — he finished med school, but he keeps flunking the licensing exam. And when there's an actual medical emergency at the coffee shop, Ben has no idea what to do. By the time he played Ben, Bob Odenkirk was already a comedy cult hero on Mr. Show. He went on to play Saul on Breaking Bad — alongside fellow Seinfeld alumni Anna Gunn (Jerry's girlfriend in "The Glasses") and "dentist to the stars" Bryan Cranston. ROB SHEFFIELD

the fatigues seinfeld

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Eddie Sherman

Best-known episode: "The Fatigues"
Poor Eddie Sherman can't get over that time he went on a couple dates, thought the woman really liked him, and then things cooled off. On the bright side, if his army fatigues and dark vibes hadn't mistakenly given Elaine the impression that he was a shell-shocked Vietnam veteran on the verge of a murderous rampage, he'd be out of a job. Too freaked out to fire him, she promotes him twice at Peterman — first to copywriter, then director of corporate development. He and Elaine eventually write the whole catalog themselves, with Elaine helping soften entries like the one he wrote for Bengalese galoshes: "It's tough keeping your feet dry when you're kicking in a skull." JENNY ELISCU




Ned Isakoff

Best-known episode: "The Race"
He reads The Daily Worker, wears bland, drab, olive-colored clothing and feeds Kramer ideology that gets him fired from his job as a Santa at Coleman's department store. Yes, he's a communist. "We still got China, Cuba… we had a good run," Ned (Todd Kimsey) laments to Elaine as she uncovers his political identity. But the last straw comes when Elaine gets him blacklisted — from Hop Sing's, the Chinese restaurant where his father used to plot his survival during the McCarthy era. She named names. CARYN GANZ

rachel goldstein seinfeld

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Rachel Goldstein

Best-known episode: “The Raincoats, Part 2”
Best known as the woman Jerry makes out with during Schindler’s List, Rachel Goldstein actually had a remarkably long run as his girlfriend, considering how fickle he could be. Their relationship spanned four episodes in Season Five — Jerry’s longest relationship in nine seasons. She returns in “The Hamptons,” where she walks in on George with his pants down and gossips to his date about his shrunken member. Jerry may have been perfectly happy with Rachel, but he agrees with her suggested breakup in “The Opposite,” because he figures “things always even out for [him]” anyway. JENNY ELISCU

See Also:

• And They’re Spectacular! 10 Actors on Their Memorable ‘Seinfeld’ Roles
• Master of Their Domain: 10 Great ‘Seinfeld’ Episodes
• Not That There’s Anything Wrong With These: 5 ‘Sein-Fail’ Episodes
• Stopping Short: 10 ‘Seinfeld’ Episodes You Forgot You Loved
• Close Talkers and Double Dippers: 15 Phrases ‘Seinfeld’ Spawned
• Yada, Yada, Yada: Larry David on 25 Years of ‘Seinfeld’
 Milos, Mets, Magic Loogies: The 25 Greatest ‘Seinfeld’ Sports Episodes




Donna Chang

Best-known episode: "The Chinese Woman"
Her full last name is Changstein and she is a white chick from Long Island. But Donna Chang (played by Angela Dohrmann) is more than happy to have Jerry and the gang assume she's a "Chinese woman," when her phone line is crossed with George's and she keeps getting his calls. She suggests a Chinese restaurant when Jerry asks her out, takes acupuncture class and calls the phone company's screw-up "ridicurous." She even briefly helps stave off a divorce between George's parents, when she offers "a few bits of wisdom from Confucius" to a receptive Estelle Costanza. JENNY ELISCU

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Mr. Morgan

Best-known episode: "The Diplomat's Club"
George Costanza's boss at Yankee Stadium, Mr. Morgan (played by Tom Wright, veteran of several John Sayles films) fumes at George's dumb ideas — like the Yankees hosting a Jon Voight Day — and even dumber remarks. ("You look a lot like Sugar Ray Leonard!") But Mr. Morgan loses his job after George gets squirted in the eye with grapefruit juice and can't stop winking. He was one of George's unluckiest co-workers, which is saying something. ROB SHEFFIELD 

the rye seinfeld Mabel Choate

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Mabel Choate

Best-known episode: "The Rye"
Late in life, actress Frances Bay established a career playing sweet little old ladies in films like Happy Gilmore. On Seinfeld, she had a brief but impactful appearance as Mabel, the feisty bitty who buys a bakery's last marble rye and refuses to sell it to Jerry. (Ever the gentleman, he just wrestles it away from her and calls her an "old bag.") Fear not: She'd have her revenge a few episodes later when she vindictively cast the deciding vote in Jerry's father's impeachment. TIM GRIERSON




Best-known episode: "The Money"
The 27-year-old Sarah Silverman had one season of Saturday Night Live under her belt, but she was still a relative unknown when she was cast as Kramer's girlfriend, the Jimmy-leg suffering Emily. Her restless leg syndrome causes Kramer to lose sleep, so he starts going back home after they have sex — only to change his mind when he thinks a cat burglar (actually Jerry's father, exercising in the hallway) is breaking into his apartment. When he tries to stay over at her place, though, Emily declines: "You're right, I sleep so much better alone," she explains. "And you scream in your sleep." Fortunately, Jerry's parents return to Florida, and Kramer and Emily find pre-marital bliss sleeping in their separate twin beds. CADY DRELL

Sarah Silverman on Her Seinfeld Role

the susie seinfeild

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Best-known episodes: "The Susie"
Peggy (played by Megan Cole) is a designer at J. Peterman who is initially under the impression that Elaine is someone named Susie. As far as she's concerned, Elaine Benes is "that dolt" who "nearly ran the company into the ground." After Susie "dies" and Peggy realizes she's been talking to Elaine all along, she becomes convinced that Elaine is riddled with germs. In Season Nine's "The Apology," Peggy refuses to drink from a bottle of water that Elaine touched and uses a seat-protector in the ladies room, even though they're the only two women with access. She eventually explains that she's concerned that Elaine "seem[s] to be with a lot of men." JENNY ELISCU




The Lawyer in a Cape

Best-known episode: "The Chinese Woman"
Larry David shows up a lot on Seinfeld — most often as the voice of Yankees' owener George Steinbrenner. Since nobody knew what Larry looked or sounded like in those pre-Curb Your Enthusiasm days, he usually stayed anonymous. But he makes his most eye-grabbingly bizarre onscreen cameo when he appears as Frank Costanza's lawyer, wearing a long black cape for no apparent reason. Everybody spends the rest of the episode puzzling over the cape — as George says, "I don't trust men in capes." Way to make an entrance, Larry. ROB SHEFFIELD

'Desperado' Brett seinfeld

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Best-known episode: "The Checks"
Elaine's boyfriend Brett might seem like a nice guy — but as always with Elaine's boyfriends, there is a catch. Brett is obsessed with furniture designer Karl Farbman and the Eagles song "Desperado." He even shooshes Elaine when it comes on. ("He's in his own world when he hears that song. It's like I'm sitting there in the car, and he's out riding fences.") Unfortunately, Elaine hates "Desperado" and tries to convert Brett to "Witchy Woman," with no luck. Things get dark for poor Brett after he suffers a bizarre axe injury at Kramer's apartment — the ER doctor is a really big "Witchy Woman" fan. ROB SHEFFIELD

Photo courtesy of NBC


Mr. Heyman

Best-known episode: "The Library"
Most folks would observe a homeless man doing calesthenics on the steps of the New York Public Library and see nothing but a person who fell on hard times. If you're George Costanza, however, you recognize that, beneath the craziness and filth, is the gym teacher who made your high school years a living hell. Back in the day, Mr. Heyman used to torment the young George, calling him "Can't-Stand-Ya" and organzing massive atomic wedgies administered by his athletic toadies. These antics — along with George "tattling" on him — got the coach fired, resulting in a downward spiral for Heyman. But the former teacher has the last laugh, both metaphorically (guess who has that missing copy of Tropic of Cancer?) and literally. DAVID FEAR

Mr. Lippman



Mr. Lippman

Best-known episode: "The Muffin Tops"
One of the few Seinfeld supporting characters to be played by two actors — Richard Fancy took over for Harris Shore — the boss of Pendant Publishing gradually discovered what we all knew: Elaine is a terrible employee. Mr. Lippman endlessly suffered as she blithely added exclamation marks to manuscripts and dumbly insisted that War and Peace was originally titled War, What Is It Good For? That didn't stop him from falling in love with Elaine, though — or going into a muffin-top business with her. TIM GRIERSON




Best-known episode: “The Kiss Hello”
Elaine’s friend Wendy, the physical therapist, has a tragic flaw: her old-fashioned Fifties-style haircut. As Jerry says, “If you were hitch-hiking, you’d never get into a car with someone with a hairdo like that.” At least Kramer likes it. Wendy also infuriates Elaine by dropping her off three blocks from her apartment with a load of ski gear. The ever-glamorous Wendie Malick has starred in comedies from Kate and Allie to Just Shoot Me; she’s currently on Hot in ClevelandROB SHEFFIELD

See Also:

• And They’re Spectacular! 10 Actors on Their Memorable ‘Seinfeld’ Roles
• Master of Their Domain: 10 Great ‘Seinfeld’ Episodes
• Not That There’s Anything Wrong With These: 5 ‘Sein-Fail’ Episodes
• Stopping Short: 10 ‘Seinfeld’ Episodes You Forgot You Loved
• Close Talkers and Double Dippers: 15 Phrases ‘Seinfeld’ Spawned
• Yada, Yada, Yada: Larry David on 25 Years of ‘Seinfeld’
 Milos, Mets, Magic Loogies: The 25 Greatest ‘Seinfeld’ Sports Episodes



Gennice Graham

Best-known episode: "The Understudy"
The understudy to Bette Midler in the musical version of the movie Rochelle, Rochelle, Jerry's girlfriend Gennice (played by Adelaide Miller) bursts into tears when she drops her frankfurter, but has no reaction when she learns that her grandmother died. As Kramer notes, "understudies are a very shifty bunch," and Gennice is supposed to be the Tonya Harding of Broadway — suspected of foul play after Midler is hurt during a softball game with Jerry and George's team. JENNY ELISCU 




Best-known episode: "The Fire"
The overly enthusiastic, sublimely annoying Toby (played by Veanne Cox) allows Jerry to realize the comedian's ultimate dream: to heckle the heckler. When Elaine's excited-about-everything colleague at Pendant Publishing accompanies Kramer on a date to see Seinfeld's act, she boos and hisses bits she doesn't agree with, throwing Jerry off his game in front of an important critic from Entertainment Weekly (it was 1994, after all). Jerry takes his revenge at Toby's workplace, upsetting her so much that she sprints into traffic, gets run over by a street sweeper, and nearly loses her pinky toe. She gains, however, a promotion Elaine was coveting. CARYN GANZ

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The Subway Nudist

Best-known episode: "The Subway"
Live in New York long enough, and you'll see some crazy shit on the subway. That's the brilliant plot of the 30th episode of Seinfeld, where Jerry encounters a surprise nudist (played by Ernie Sabella) on his way to Coney Island. The good news? The naked guy's a Mets fan, so he and Jerry bond and take the train to the end of the line to ride the Cyclone together. The bad news? The Mets still have no bullpen. But you gotta like their chances. CARYN GANZ




Best-known episode: "The Alternate Side"
Sid is the older gentleman whom Jerry and his neighbors pay to move their cars in order to avoid parking tickets. He's retired, but earning upwards of $2,000 a month, working just a few hours a day at a job that he says is "don't take no more sense than putting on a pair of pants." Played by Jay Brooks, whose early acting career included recurring appearances on Amos & Andy, Sid resurfaces a few episodes later in Season Three, cutting down Mike Moffatt with the line, "Never mind who I am. I know who I am. Do you know who you are?" JENNY ELISCU



Jake Jarmel

Best-known episode: "The Sniffling Accountant"
Jake Jarmel is that rare creature — an Elaine boyfriend who manages to last three episodes. (And who isn't Puddy.) He wins her heart by approaching her in the office and flirtatiously feeling the fabric of her gabardine jacket. ("He just felt your material?") However, Elaine finds it hard to forgive Jake's punctuation habits when he writes down a phone message but neglects to add an exclamation point. He adds an exclamation point to his next sentence: "I'm leaving!" They later break up again over eyeglasses and Jujyfruits. ROB SHEFFIELD




Jeannie Steinman

Best-known episode: "The Invitations"
After Jeannie Steinman (played by Janeane Garofalo) saves Jerry's life, he discovers that she is his female counterpart, sharing all his obsessions from comic books to cereal. "Now I know what I've been looking for all these years: myself!" Jerry cries. "I've been waiting for me to come along, and now I've swept me off my feet!" They get engaged, but simultaneously break it off after Jerry realizes that "I can't be with someone like me  — I hate myself!" GAVIN EDWARDS

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Marla Penny

Best-known episode: "The Contest"
Professional closet organizer Marla Penny (Frasier's Jane Leeves) never met the right guy, and by the time her path crosses with Jerry Seinfeld's, it's revealed that she is still a virgin. When she's introduced in the series, she's sweet and naïve – that is until she has a chat with Elaine, who opens a Pandora's Box of horrors about men. Luckily for her, Mr. Right – John F. Kennedy Jr., whom Elaine was pursuing – shows up just after she's shuffled off the Seinfeld gang after learning about their "contest." She revisited that turn of events by offering it up as damning testimony in the series finale. KORY GROW





Best-known episode: "The Secretary"
In what has to be the most flagrant breach of the Dry Cleaner's Code in television history, Jerry thinks he sees his professional launderer, Willie, at the movies — steppin' out in the same houndstooth jacket that Jerry had just left with him. He warns Willie that he'll take his business elsewhere, but then runs into Willie's wife at Barney's, wearing his mother's fur coat that he'd also dropped off. Fortunately, he's able to attack her in the dressing room and get it back, but there's something refreshing about seeing Jerry's ridiculous suspicions about people actually confirmed for once. CADY DRELL




Best-known episode: "The Red Dot"
Long before she was a cleaning lady at Pendant Publishing, having illicit after-hours sex with George, Evie (played by Bridget Sienna) was a little girl in Panama with big dreams. One day a rich American man came to her town wearing the softest, most beautiful sweater. She said, "What do you call this beautiful fabric?" He said, "They call it cashmere." She repeated the word — "cashmere…. cashmere" — and asked him if he could have it and he said, "No, get away from me." He started to walk away, but she grabbed onto his leg, screaming for him to give her sweater and he dragged her to the street. And then he kicked her with the other foot and threw some change at her. Oh, but she didn't want the change, Georgie. She wanted the cashmere. JENNY ELISCU



Darryl Nelson

Best-known episode: “The Wizard”
Unlike Donna Chang, who seemed to be making conspicuous efforts to be mistaken for Chinese, Darryl Nelson doesn’t really do anything to suggest a particular ethnic identity. But Elaine is nonetheless confused and intrigued after Jerry mistakes her new beau for being “a black guy.” Darryl (played by Samuel Bliss Cooper) complicates matters further when he explains the reason he has so many traditional African masks hanging in his apartment: They are from South Africa, he says. “My family used to live there, but they got out years ago…for obvious reasons.” Although he mirrors Elaine’s excitement about being part of an interracial couple after he assumes she is Latina (“Your name’s Benez…you kept taking me to those Spanish restaurants”), Darryl doesn’t seem too fazed when they figure out that they’re “just a couple white people,” and gladly agrees when Elaine suggests they “go to the Gap.” JENNY ELISCU

See Also:

• And They’re Spectacular! 10 Actors on Their Memorable ‘Seinfeld’ Roles
• Master of Their Domain: 10 Great ‘Seinfeld’ Episodes
• Not That There’s Anything Wrong With These: 5 ‘Sein-Fail’ Episodes
• Stopping Short: 10 ‘Seinfeld’ Episodes You Forgot You Loved
• Close Talkers and Double Dippers: 15 Phrases ‘Seinfeld’ Spawned
• Yada, Yada, Yada: Larry David on 25 Years of ‘Seinfeld’
 Milos, Mets, Magic Loogies: The 25 Greatest ‘Seinfeld’ Sports Episodes




Best-known episode: "The Hamptons"
"Elaine, you gotta have a bay-beeee!" With her intense Long Island accent and bouffant hairdo, Carol is a devoted mother of two who just wants her friend Elaine to feel the same joy she feels: being so in love with your spawn that their shit ceases to stink. ("Because it comes out of your baby, it smells good!") We first meet Carol in "The Boyfriend, Pt. 2," when she chastises Jerry for taking so long to see her firstborn — a baby girl whom Kramer says looks like Lyndon Johnson. But it's her featured role in "The Hamptons," when she is oblivious to how ugly her baby boy Adam is, that solidifies her place among the series' best recurring characters. She makes her final appearance in "The English Patient," when she is aghast that Elaine hated the movie of the same name. JENNY ELISCU 




Best-known episode: "The Voice"
If only every intern were as devoted as Darin, an NYU student who's up for everything: mending chicken-wire, "high tea with a Mr. Newman," taking notes on Jerry and George's conversation at the diner because "Mr. Kramer is in a meeting with Mr. Lomez." The NYU dean determines that Kramer's make-believe business, Kramerica Industries, is "little more than a solitary man with a messy apartment that may or may not contain a chicken," but Darin (played by Jarrad Paul) remains committed. Even after the internship is canceled, he shows up at Kramer's door declaring, "I don't care about the internship. I care about Kramerica." JENNY ELISCU



Dr. Abbott

Best-known episode: "The Yada Yada"
"If this wasn't my son's wedding day, I'd knock your teeth out, you anti-dentite bastard." Robert Wagner made one of the all-time classic Seinfeld cameos as a snarling dentist and mentor to one Dr. Tim Whatley. Wagner, of course, is a Hollywood legend — always the dashing gentleman, the essence of polished charm, husband to Natalie Wood and Jill St. John. So it's a shocker to see Mr. Smooth as Mickey Abbott's dad, with St. John right there on his arm, staring at Jerry with cold-blooded rage. He might have less dialogue than anyone on this list, but he definitely earns his spot in the pantheon. ROB SHEFFIELD

The Drake, Seinfeld



The Drake

Best-known episode: "The Handicap Spot"
Just as Homer couldn't describe the ocean as anything other than "the wine-dark sea," the gang can't let a mention of their pal "The Drake" (Rick Overton) pass without chorusing "Love the Drake!" When the Drake finds out his wedding (to "The Drakette") coincides with the Super Bowl, he tries to reschedule it; consequences include the Drakette dumping him, the gang having trouble getting back the large-screen TV they gave them and Jerry sitting next to Newman at the Super Bowl. GAVIN EDWARDS




Best-known episode: "The Comeback"
The tortured tennis-club employee with a terrible secret: He can't play. Unfortunately, Jerry discovers this only after Milos has convinced him to buy an expensive racket, and Milos goes to great lengths to keep the matter private, sending his wife to Jerry's apartment as a form of "medieval sexual payola." The plan backfires ("That's the risk you run when you dabble in the flesh trade"), and Jerry must let Milos beat him in tennis so the hapless salesman can regain the respect of his wife. His exuberant celebrations annoy Jerry ("ANOTHER GAME FOR MILOS!") but in the end, he allows Milos to win back his wife. Since the role, actor Mark Harelik has shown up on Scandal, Monk and Breaking Bad. Not too shabby for a guy without a backhand. JAMES MONTGOMERY

Joseph Del Valle/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images


The Rabbi

Best-known episode: "The Postponement"
The rabbi in Elaine's apartment building is probably an excellent spiritual advisor — but avoid telling him your secrets. In Season Seven's "The Postponement," the rabbi (identified as Rabbi Kirschbaum or Rabbi Glickman at different times during Seinfeld's run) ruins Elaine's life by spilling her darkest confessions, including the crush she has on a neighbor and her belief that George is a loser. (Well, maybe that last admission wasn't so surprising.) Police Academy alum Bruce Mahler made the character's hilariously nasal pronunciation of "Eeeee-lane" nebbish-y perfection. TIM GRIERSON

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Sid Fields

Best-known episode: "The Old Man"
Among all Seinfeld's feisty old coots, Sid Fields stands out as one of the feistiest. Jerry meets him as a charitable senior-citizen volunteer, but 87-year-old Sid just spews insults at Jerry, bites Kramer and rails against the Senegalese housekeeper. ("She plays that freaking voodoo music, tries to hypnotize me!") Veteran actor Bill Erwin had screen credits dating back to I Love Lucy; he kept working up until he died in 2010 at the age of 96. ROB SHEFFIELD




Best-known episode: "The Comeback"
Elaine loves his picks. Vincent is a mysterious employee at Champagne Video, where Elaine enjoys his selections on the "Staff Picks" rack. She ends up falling for Vincent, based on their shared taste in movies, even though she hasn't met him in person. But when Kramer (who dismisses Vincent as an "art-house goon") convinces Elaine to rent Weekend at Bernie's II, Vincent is heartbroken and takes it as a personal betrayal, sending her the play button from his VCR. In a proto-Catfish twist, Elaine discovers that Vincent isn't quite the man she imagined. For one thing, he's 15. ROB SHEFFIELD




Best-known episode: "The Summer of George"
All men seem to love a catfight, and Elaine gets into a doozy when she makes an enemy out of Sam (a glorious Molly Shannon), a colleague in the accounting department at Peterman who doesn't swing her arms when she walks. ("They just hang like salamis." "She walks like an orangutan." "It's like she's carrying invisible suitcases.") Elaine suggests Sam learn to swing her upper limbs so she's not lurching around like a caveman and Sam responds by violently swinging all of Elaine's belongings off her desk. Reer! CARYN GANZ



Franklin Delano Romanski

Best-known episode: “The Betrayal”
A hot dog vendor known to his pals as FDR, Franklin Delano Romanowski (played by Michael McShane) has been holding a grudge against Kramer for two years when we meet him in Season Nine. In “The Betrayal,” FDR gives Kramer “the evil eye” and wishes that he would “drop dead.” The reason? Kramer beaned FDR with an ice-packed snowball a couple winters earlier. JENNY ELISCU

See Also:

• And They’re Spectacular! 10 Actors on Their Memorable ‘Seinfeld’ Roles
• Master of Their Domain: 10 Great ‘Seinfeld’ Episodes
• Not That There’s Anything Wrong With These: 5 ‘Sein-Fail’ Episodes
• Stopping Short: 10 ‘Seinfeld’ Episodes You Forgot You Loved
• Close Talkers and Double Dippers: 15 Phrases ‘Seinfeld’ Spawned
• Yada, Yada, Yada: Larry David on 25 Years of ‘Seinfeld’
 Milos, Mets, Magic Loogies: The 25 Greatest ‘Seinfeld’ Sports Episodes

Carin Baer/NBCU Photo Bank



Best-known episode: "The Lip Reader"
It wouldn't be Seinfeld if it didn't make fun of otherwise-sensitive subjects, so when Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin played Jerry's girlfriend, out came the deaf jokes. Jerry picks up Laura the Lip-Reading Lineswoman at the U.S. Open (a great excuse to get rid of his tennis-themed material in one go) and convinces her to use her lipreading as a party trick, because George wants to know why his girlfriend broke up with him. ("It's a skill, like juggling! She probably enjoys showing it off!") But lipreading is an art, not a science. Laura mistakes "sweep with" for "sleep with," George calls her an idiot, and the gang proves once again why they can't have nice things. CADY DRELL 



Bob Cobb

Best-known episode: "The Maestro"
His job description — conductor for the Police Benevolence Orchestra — is hilarious in and of itself. But it's the Maestro's pomposity that's the ultimate joke. In the world of Seinfeld, lowbow art (comic books Rochelle, Rochelle) always trumps the boring highbrow stuff (classical music, opera); in that way, the show pioneered the celebrate-trash aesthetic of our times. And what could be more insufferable than a low-rent Leonard Bernstein wanna-be (played with brilliant cluelessness by Mark Metcalf, a.k.a. the sadistic Neidermeyer form National Lampoon's Animal House) who insists on being called the Maestro? DAVID BROWNE

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Russell Dalrymple

Best-known episode: "The Shoes"
Based on real-life NBC president Warren Littlefield, this crucial Season Four character tickled us precisely because he didn't match our vision of a slick, soulless, screaming entertainment executive. Instead, as played by Bob Balaban (who would go on to portray Littlefield in The Late Shift), Russell was an ineffectual, nerdy guy who just happened to run a network. (Just don't leer at his daughter's cleavage.) Littlefield loved the performance so much he had Balaban record the audiobook for his memoir, Top of the RockTIM GRIERSON



Nina West

Best-known episode: "The Letter"
Without Nina, a painter Jerry dates in Season Three, we'd never have gotten the now-famous portrait of Kramer: a vision of "an innocent orphan in the postmodern world," according to the wealthy couple that buys it for $5,000. But Nina (played by Catherine Keener) is one of Jerry's most unlikeable sweethearts — jealous of his friendship with Elaine and annoyed when he "[has] fun with anyone but her." After Jerry tries to end things, she plagiarizes a scene from Neil Simon's Chapter Two for a letter chastising Jerry: "You want me, then fight for me. Because I'm sure as hell fighting for you." JENNY ELISCU

Seinfeld, Dr. Reston



Dr. Reston

Best-known episode: "The Watch"
Among the least comforting therapists in TV history, Dr. Reston embodied everyone's mental picture of a super-intense shrink: gravelly voice, intimidating intellect, smirking face, a fascination with our humiliating hang-ups. ("Elaine, have you been urinating a lot again?") It's telling that in Seinfeld's world of overgrown adolescents, he seemed like an actual adult — a mean one who bullied Elaine with his superior mind and manipulated Kramer into befriending him. No wonder our heroes never wanted to grow up. TIM GRIERSON

Dolores, Seinfeld



Dolores, a.k.a. ‘Mulva’

Best-known episode: "The Junior Mint"
Jerry's torrid affair with this mysterious lady (played by Susan Walters) takes a tragic turn when he forgets her name — all he knows is that it rhymes with a female body part. It could be Mulva, it could be Celeste, it could be Bovary or even Gipple. But once Jerry starts guessing, it's all over. ROB SHEFFIELD  




Best-known episode: "The Jimmy"
"Jimmy's gonna get you, Kramer! Jimmy holds grudges!" Jerry, George and Kramer have a basketball buddy named Jimmy (played by Anthony Starke), except Jimmy has a problem: Jimmy can't stop referring to himself in the third person, even when he's flirting with Elaine. ("Jimmy's been watching you…you're just Jimmy's type.") This causes a few misunderstandings — and Jimmy doesn't like misunderstandings. ROB SHEFFIELD



Beth Luchner

Best-known episode: "The Yada Yada"
Before the world had a chance to fall in love with Debra Messing in Will and Grace, we all got to see her on Seinfeld bonding with Jerry over their mutual hatred for dentists. Beth first appears in "The Wait Out," as Elaine and Jerry scheme to move in on both halves of a couple with a rocky marriage. Then in "The Yada Yada," Jerry finally gets his shot — after Elaine ruins Beth's second marriage. But it's a brief romance; after sharing her anti-dentite sentiments, Beth adds, "Not to mention the blacks and Jews." ROB SHEFFIELD



Mr. Kruger

Best-known episode: "The Strike"
After George gets fired from the Yankees, he goes to work for the head of Kruger Industrial Smoothing (noted for botching the Statue of Liberty job because "they couldn't get the green stuff off"). Though the deeply apathetic Mr. Kruger only shows real interest in nicknaming his employees, he's a catalyst for one of the greatest contributions to the Seinfeld lexicon when he catches George accepting donations for a fake charity, the Human Fund. George explains that he was really just protecting his belief in Festivus, a holiday his father made up — and invites his boss to his parents' house to prove it. Mr. Kruger gets to partake in the traditional Airing of Grievances and viewers are introduced to a Festivus for the rest of us. CADY DRELL

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