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Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry introduces a program that shows highlights from the first 99 episodes
First appearance "The Seinfeld Chronicles"
Last appearance "The Finale, Part II"
Cause/reason End of Show
Created by Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David
Portrayed by Jerry Seinfeld
Information
Aliases Dylan Murphy
Kel Varnsen
Slappy White
Gender Male
Occupation stand-up comedian
Family Morty (father)
Helen (mother)
Unnamed sister
Isabelle (daughter)
Relatives Leo, Mac (uncles); Stella, Silvia, Rose (aunts); Jeffery, Artie, Douglass (cousins); Nana (grandmother)

Jerome "Jerry" Seinfeld is the main protagonist of the American television sitcom Seinfeld (19891998). The straight man among his group of friends, this semi-fictionalized version of comedian Jerry Seinfeld was named after, co-created by, based on, and played by Seinfeld himself.

The series revolves around Jerry's misadventures with his best friend George Costanza, neighbor Cosmo Kramer, and ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes. He is usually the voice of reason amidst his friends' antics and the focal point of the foursome's relationship. An eternal optimist, he rarely runs into major personal problems. Jerry is the only main character on the show to maintain the same career (a stand-up comedian, like the real Seinfeld) throughout the series. He is the most observational character, sarcastically commenting on his friends' quirky habits.

Much of the show's action takes place in Jerry's apartment located at 129 West 81st Street, apartment 5A.[2] He and his friends also frequent Monk's Cafe.

Jerry appeared in all 180 episodes of Seinfeld (including several two-part episodes), holding the distinction of being the only character in the show to appear in every episode.[3]

Contents

Characteristics

Jerry is the most grounded character in the show, a figure who is "able to observe the chaos around him but not always be a part of it."[4] Plot lines involving Jerry often concern his various relationships - Jerry often finds "stupid reasons to break up" with women[5] which, according to Elaine, occurs "every week."

Jerry is generally completely indifferent to what goes on in his friends' lives, seeing their misery as merely an entertaining distraction, as well as an opportunity for joke material. He often plays along with their hare-brained schemes, often just to see them fail. In the episode "The Serenity Now", Jerry lets out his emotions and cries, and is perplexed by the experience ("What is this salty discharge?").[5] In "The Foundation" Elaine points out that he has "never felt remorse," to which Jerry replies, "Yeah, I feel kinda bad about that."[6] He will often nonchalantly state, "That's a shame" when something bad happens (often due to his or his friends' actions). A recurring joke is Jerry not helping Elaine carrying groceries or heavy objects. Jerry, George and Elaine all share a general trait of not letting go of other character's remarks and going to great lengths to be proven right. In one episode, Jerry goes out of his way to rent a house in Tuscany, Italy, just because "The Maestro" told him there weren't any available. Another example was when he bought his parents the same car over and over again, creating a great financial loss.

Despite his usual indifference to his friends and their actions, Jerry apparently is quite satisfied with his life, to the point that he actually feels worried about anything that might threaten the group lifestyle. In "The Invitations", for example, Jerry admits that he feels depressed about George getting married, seeing as how George will eventually leave the group and Jerry will never see him again. Once Elaine told him that she was "getting out" of the group, Jerry became so worried about a near future of just him and Kramer that he unknowingly almost walked into a car while crossing the street. In "The Bizarro Jerry", Jerry also grows panicky about losing the group dynamic when Kramer becomes too busy with his fake job and Elaine temporarily leaves to join the bizarro group, claiming that "The whole system's breaking down!" Jerry himself perfectly sums up his relation to his three friends in the episode "The Letter". In a deleted scene from that show, he claims that his friends are "not more important" than his girlfriends, but "they're as important."

Unlike George and Elaine, Jerry rarely runs into major personal problems. In "The Opposite", this tendency is explicitly pointed out, as Jerry goes through a number of experiences after which he invariably "breaks even," even as his friends are going through intense periods of success or failure. In "The Rye", during a particularly trying time for Elaine, she angrily tells Jerry, "You know, one of these days, something terrible is going to happen to you. It has to!" Jerry simply replies, "No, I'll be fine." Many of the problems he does run into are the result of the actions of his archnemesis Newman, a disgruntled postal worker. In "The Old Man", George asks "What kind of a person are you?" in which Jerry replies "I think I'm pretty much like you, only successful."

However, Kramer persuades Jerry to do things that he's reluctant to do. In "The Mango", Kramer gets Jerry to buy fruit for him after Kramer is banned from the store over an argument with the owner. This continues until the owner bans Jerry, because his order is similar enough to Kramer's that it's obvious he's buying fruit for Kramer. The most famous example is in "The Chicken Roaster" in which Kramer and Jerry exchange apartments. This results in the two of them also switching personalities. In several arguments with Kramer, Jerry is incredibly stubborn, protecting his own interests. Examples of this include arguments in "The Chaperone," "The Kiss Hello," "The Face Painter," and "The Caddy."

Jerry always wears a suit whenever he has to do his stand-up comedy act. In a few cases, Jerry wears an unusual item of clothing. Kramer has persuaded Jerry to wear the "pirate shirt" in "The Puffy Shirt", the cowboy boots in "The Mom and Pop Store" and the fur coat in "The Reverse Peephole". Like George, Jerry's hairstyle remains relatively the same throughout the series, though the length and thickness of it alters, especially from Season 3 onwards. There is one noticeable episode in which Jerry receives a bad haircut when he reluctantly agrees to get his hair done by an incompetent Italian barber in "The Barber".

As in real life, Jerry is a fan of comic book characters, particularly of Superman, who is his hero. As far as sports, Jerry is a fan of the New York Mets as evidenced as early as the "The Baby Shower" in which Kramer persuades him to install illegal cable by saying "The Mets have 75 games on cable this year." Jerry is also a fan of the New York Knicks, New York Giants and New York Rangers. In early episodes, a Yankees hat sits on the counter near his computer. Later on, by the middle of Season 3, it was replaced with a Mets cap, possibly to better reflect Jerry's real-life support of the Queens side.

Jerry never smokes a cigarette but has been seen smoking a cigar. He is seen smoking a Cuban cigar briefly in "The Calzone". In "The Voice", Jerry is smoking a Cuban cigar while laughing and receiving money from Elaine (she bet that she could stop sleeping with David Puddy). Jerry also doesn't appear to have any interest in alcohol as he has rarely, if ever, been seen drinking beer or any other alcoholic beverage.

Background

Jerry grew up in New York with George, who, according to "The Outing", were friends ever since an encounter in gym class in their school days, although in "The Betrayal," Jerry mentions that he once beat George up in the fourth grade. Flashbacks in episodes such as "The Library" portray Jerry and George in high school. A pizza place which they frequented is portrayed in "The Frogger". Jerry and George attended school together at Edward R. Murrow Middle School, John F. Kennedy High School and university at Queens College.[7] After college, Jerry briefly worked as an umbrella salesman and reportedly invented the "twirl" to make the umbrella look more attractive. He eventually quit the job and went into stand-up comedy. Jerry's PIN code for his bank account is Jor-El, who is the father of Superman and George's PIN code is BOSCO, the chocolate sauce brand as portrayed in the episode "The Secret Code".

Family

Jerry's parents are Morty and Helen Seinfeld, a retired Jewish couple living in Florida. Unlike George, who can't stand his parents, Jerry does love his folks, but he still prefers they live in Florida rather than New York, so that they don't interfere with his private life. Although born and raised Jewish, Jerry apparently doesn't practice and generally doesn't observe many traditions, unlike the real Seinfeld. As shown in "The Soup Nazi", he does not keep kosher, as he is seen eating crab bisque. He also has a sister (mentioned in "The Chinese Restaurant"), although she is never named, and never appears on screen. In order to avoid his old friend Joel in "Male Unbonding", Jerry pretends to have promised to tutor his nephew; it is unclear if the nephew really exists or is simply fabricated as part of the excuse.

Jerry has an uncle, Leo, an eccentric minor (yet notable) character who appears in 15 episodes. Uncle Leo has a son, Cousin Jeffrey, who works for the parks department, about whom he constantly talks, but who never appears. In "The Stake Out", Jerry speaks to an "Uncle Mac", as well as a cousin "Artie Levine". In "The Truth", Jerry mentions a cousin named "Douglass" who has an obsession with Pepsi. In "The Pony Remark", Helen, Morty, Jerry, Elaine, and Leo attend a 50th-anniversary party for Manya and Isaac, an elderly couple whose relationship to Jerry is never explicitly defined. Manya is described as a Polish immigrant. In the same episode, Jerry references having an "Aunt Rose", and Helen mentions a family member named "Claire" who is getting married. In "The Soup" episode, Jerry mentions an "Aunt Silvia", who he compares to Elaine in terms of conversation.

Jerry's maternal grandmother, Nana, is an elderly woman with memory problems, occasionally unable to tell the past from the present, living alone in the city. Nana makes appearances in "The Pledge Drive", "The Kiss Hello", and "The Doodle".

According to the Seinfeld reunion on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Elaine has a daughter, Isabelle, through a sperm donation from Jerry.

Relationships

Jerry is notorious for his detached approach towards relationships and for breaking up with women for the slightest of flaws or for the most minor of reasons. According to the ninth-season DVD release of the series, 73 different partners have been seen or alluded to over the course of the series.

Elaine

Jerry and Elaine are depicted as having dated in the past and apparently a lot longer than they each date other people in the series. During the run of the show, they are shown mainly as good friends, sometimes even joking with one another about their failed dating relationship. However, they do date briefly during the run of the show. In "The Deal", they create a set of rules whereby they can sleep together but remain only friends. Their theory is ruined, however, when Elaine gets upset at Jerry for wanting to leave after a sexual encounter instead of sleeping over (one of the rules they discussed was that sleeping over was optional). By the end of the episode the two decide to be a couple again, which lasts until "The Note" where it is revealed they went back to being just friends. Later in "The Pen" Jerry tells his parents that "we decided that we don't work out as a couple." That is the only time in the run of the show they are shown as anything more than friends. In "The Mango", Jerry is upset at learning that Elaine had faked her orgasms while they were together. The fact cause such problems between the two, the Elaine agrees to sleep with Jerry in an effort to "save the friendship". The final scene, however, shows the two in bed, with Jerry looking distraught and gesturing towards his private area, indicating he was not able to perform. According to the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" reunion, Jerry donated the sperm for Elaine's daughter.

There are hints throughout the series that suggest that Jerry and Elaine still have feelings for each other:

  • In "The Stake Out", Elaine becomes jealous when Jerry flirts with another woman, Vanessa, at a party that Jerry is accompanying her to.
  • In "The Tape" when Jerry listens to an erotic message on his tape recorder, he becomes obsessed with finding who's the person on the tape; eventually, he pushes George into revealing that it's Elaine and it's supposed to be a joke.
  • In "The Boyfriend", Jerry becomes jealous of both Keith Hernandez and Elaine when Keith asks Elaine out.
  • In "The Junior Mint", Elaine asks Jerry to accompany her to the hospital as her boyfriend, Roy, to fool one of her ex's. Jerry smiles and responds "Well I believe I've played that role before to some critical acclaim."
  • In "The Dinner Party" Jerry and Elaine are sitting in the back of Kramer's car. Since Kramer doesn't have a heater, Jerry tries cuddling with Elaine to stay warm, but she refuses and pushes him away.
  • In "The Cadillac" after Jerry buys his parents a Cadillac and Elaine realizes how much money he has, she becomes very flirtatious towards him.
  • In "The Abstinence" when Elaine is denying her current boyfriend, Ben, for sex in the hope that it will help him pass his medical licensing exam, she begs Jerry to have sex with her, but, after a brief moment of consideration, he turns her down.
  • In "The Serenity Now" when Jerry's emotions come flooding out after being locked up, he confesses his love for Elaine and proposes to her. Later the horrifying tale of George's life frightens him back into his formerly cold demeanor and he takes back his proposal.
  • In "The Finale", when they think their plane is about to crash, Elaine says "Jerry, I've always...", but the pilot manages to steady the plane, so in the courtroom, Elaine finishes her comment by saying later "I've always loved United Airlines."

Long term relationships

Other than Elaine, Jerry has only dated a few other women for more than one episode:

  • He starts dating Vanessa in "The Stake Out" and breaks up with her in "The Stock Tip". Although she is only seen in these two episodes, Jerry dated her throughout the course of four episodes (three in production order). They break up because of an uncomfortable weekend trip to Vermont.
  • He dates Marla, a virginal woman in the closet business, in "The Virgin" and "The Contest" and Tia, a model, in "The Airport" and "The Pick". These relationships are strange in that both women break up with Jerry for reasons of disgust, rather than it being the other way around.
  • He dates Dolores (a.k.a. Mulva) in "The Junior Mint" and "The Foundation". (Season 4 then Season 8). This was the only time he dated a woman in 2 non-consecutive episodes.
  • He dated Rachel over the course of four episodes, and she appears in all these episodes: "The Raincoats" (a two-part episode), "The Hamptons" , and "The Opposite". Rachel ends the relationship, but Jerry, who was "even steven" at the time, didn't become upset, and was confident that he would find another girlfriend (which he did in the deleted scene for that episode).

Engagements

Only twice in the entire series has Jerry considered marriage.

  • The first time was with his "perfect" girlfriend, Jeannie, in the Season 7 finale, "The Invitations", but he soon learned that he didn't want to be with someone exactly like himself. In the first Season 8 episode, "The Foundation", Jerry tells Elaine that he had a perfectly mutual break-up with Jeannie over the summer.
  • Jerry almost got engaged a second time, to Elaine. In the Season 9 episode "The Serenity Now", after Jerry undergoes a personality change and becomes deeply sensitive and emotional, he proposes to a shocked Elaine. She leaves the apartment, but returns later to accept his proposal. By that point, however, he had gone back to his old self and he turns her down.

Breakups

Jerry's approach to relationships is notoriously fickle, and he has broken up with women, or provoked them into breaking up with him for some of the most trivial of reasons.

They include:

  • For refusing to taste his pie at the coffee shop ("The Pie").
  • For wearing the same dress on every date (she dumped him for snooping around her closet). ("The Seven").
  • For eating her peas one at a time ("The Engagement").
  • Because she had "man hands" ("The Bizarro Jerry").
  • Because she had once dated Newman, who had ended the relationship ("The Big Salad").
  • Because she wouldn't give him a massage ("The Masseuse").
  • Because she wouldn't let him play with her collection of antique toys ("The Merv Griffin Show")
  • Because he kept spitting out the mutton she cooked for him and hiding it in her napkins. ("The Wink")
  • Because he cheats on his "wife" to give another woman his family dry-cleaning discount. ("The Wife")
  • Because she thinks she saw him scratch his nose from the side, making it look like he picked it. ("The Pick")
  • Because she acted in the same manner as him: "I can't be with somebody like me! I hate myself!". ("The Invitations")
  • Because he admitted to changing the size 32 to size 31 of all his jeans because he "doesn't want to be a 32." ("The Sponge")

Jerry's famous guest star girlfriends

Career and finances

Jerry is very successful financially, and occupationally stable in comparison with his friends (and perhaps with other stand-up comedians in general). He never seems to be at a loss for money, in comparison to both George and Elaine, whose careers go through both highs and lows but are often unsuccessful or short of money. Throughout the series Jerry suffers numerous financial and material losses, but these do not seem to have long-term impacts on his situation. Examples include:

  • Jerry buys his father a Cadillac Fleetwood[8] and buys it back after his parents sell it, spending over $20,000. Jerry himself seems to only drive luxury European makes, such as BMW ("The Smelly Car") and SAAB, although in early episodes such as "The Ex-Girlfriend", he drives a mid-70s American coupe. In "The Apartment", it is revealed that Jerry could easily lend Elaine $5,000 for an apartment. Also, Jerry is regularly called upon to pay the check for the group at Monk's and allows Kramer to depend on him for food. Despite his apparent financial security, his parents seem to think he needs money, offering to pay for everything when they visit him (even if they have no money, as seen in "The Watch") and occasionally urging him to find a new job.
  • In "The Checks", Jerry is revealed to be famous in Japan where he appears in the opening montage of Japanese TV's "Super Terrific Happy Hour" and he even continues to earn royalties from each appearance (although each royalty check is only for twelve cents, due to the heavy difference between the worth of Japanese and American currency.)
  • Jerry spends most of the series making a living from stand-up comedy, except for the periods when he and George co-write their own sitcom. Jerry also acts in the pilot episode of their show "Jerry", playing himself.
  • Twice, Jerry is encouraged to switch to a career at Bloomingdales in their Executive Training Program. First his parents suggest it after he bounces a check; then in another episode, George and Kramer suggest it after he starts dating a "loser".

While Jerry's career is successful and his opening and closing stand-up bits always go as planned, his stand-up performances depicted within the show can go awry at times.

  • In "The Red Dot", Jerry's stand-up is cut short by Dick who is drunk over being "on the wagon" and "off the wagon".
  • In "The Fire", Jerry is thrown off his act by Kramer's girlfriend Toby, who heckles him and later sees his entire crowd run for the exits when George screams "he's got a gun!" when referring to a prop comic.
  • In "The Diplomat's Club", Jerry's manager oddly warns him that the pilot of the plane in which he flew to the show in was in the audience. Jerry tells that there is no way that could bother him but when he takes the stage, he can't stop looking at the pilot.
  • In "The Abstinence", Jerry is twice bumped from playing an assembly at his old middle-school. When he finally takes the stage, he's promptly booed for his opening act about homework. David Letterman later calls him to bump him from the Late Show due to the poor middle-school performance.
  • In "The Butter Shave", Jerry intentionally "takes a dive" to expose Kenny Bania, whom Jerry had accused of benefiting from the fact that Jerry warms up the audience for him.
  • In "The Finale, Part 2", Jerry performs stand-up for his fellow inmates in jail but gets no laughs (except from Kramer) and is heckled and threatened by a prisoner who was in for grand theft auto (the last scene of the series).

Cleanliness

Jerry has an obsessive insistence on cleanliness and neatness.

  • A girlfriend of his (played by Teri Hatcher) comments that "he would have made a great Nazi" because "everything has to be just so."[9]
  • In "The Pothole", Jerry inadvertently knocks his girlfriend's toothbrush into the toilet bowl, and after she uses it, he is unable to bring himself to kiss her. As revenge, she proceeds to put one item of his in the toilet without telling him what it was; a distraught Jerry, thinking it could be anything, ends up throwing away virtually every item in his apartment in panic. Upon learning it was the toilet brush, he reassures himself that it can be replaced (his girlfriend is later bombarded with toilet water following a plumbing accident in her bathroom, causing him to break up with her). Elaine says that in some instances, his cleanliness can verge into a serious disorder.
  • In "The Voice", he throws out a belt because it touched the edge of a urinal.
  • In "The Butter Shave", he throws out a shoelace because it touched the floor of a men's room.
  • Jerry is horrified when Poppy forgets to wash his hands after using the bathroom, and refuses to eat the food he prepared in "The Pie". His look is described like he had just "seen a ghost."
  • Jerry almost gets into a state of panic when he finds out that Kramer is not wearing any undergarmets under his pants in "The Chinese Woman".
  • During the course of events in the episode "The Limo", Jerry and George are misidentified as Nazis. Elaine remarks that Jerry is not a Nazi, "he's just neat."

Newman

Jerry has a long-running hatred of Newman, describing him as his "sworn enemy" in "The Andrea Doria" and showing general contempt for him at their every meeting. Newman usually reciprocates, although at other times he seems quite pleased by Jerry's hostility, as if it is a testimony to his effectiveness at irritating him. Seinfeld has also commented in interviews that Newman is his "Lex Luthor". The origin of their feud is never explained.

Jerry's snide greeting for him with "Hello Newman" becomes a trademark of their relationship. Even Jerry's mother utters the greeting, with as much displeasure as Jerry, in "The Raincoats, Part 2". Jerry wants to be rid of Newman so badly that he once even helped him on his postal route so that he could get a prized transfer to Hawaii ("The Andrea Doria").

Despite their antagonistic relationship, Jerry and Newman have ended up working in unison on rare occasions. In "The Sniffing Accountant", Jerry worked with Kramer and Newman to find out if their accountant was on drugs. In "The Soul Mate", Jerry and Newman help each other with their romance problems. Newman told Jerry about Kramer's crush on his then-girlfriend, Pam, while Jerry helps Newman get a chance to date Elaine.

Certain instances would even define their relationship as one of friendship or at least mutual tolerance built around their shared friend, Kramer. In "The Pick", Jerry casually walks over to Newman's apartment and brings him back to his own to examine Elaine's Christmas card. Newman apparently puts up little fight and doesn't make any sarcastic remarks, then walks out without a confrontation. In "The Old Man", Jerry says "my friends" in reference to Kramer and Newman and in "The Bottle Deposit" he has no qualms about leaving Kramer and Newman alone in his apartment, trusting they'll "keep an eye on one another". Finally, in "The Barber", Jerry allows Newman to use his bathroom (he told him to flush twice) and even sit down and watch Edward Scissorhands with him, a move which comes back to haunt him later.

Nicknames

  • A few times, Elaine refers to him by his full name "Jerome". In The Truth George's girlfriend also refers to him as Jerome.
  • In "The Robbery" he calls himself the "Master Packer".
  • In "The Statue" he is referred to as "the King of Comedy" by Raymond Bochinski.
  • In "The Boyfriend" he calls himself Kel Varnsen to help George with his "Vandelay Industries". He also uses this alias in "The Puerto Rican Day".
  • In "The Contest" he calls himself "Lord of the manor".
  • In "The Limo" he refers to himself as "Dylan Murphy" along with George as "O'Brien" just to get in the limo.
  • In "The Maestro," Jerry tells Elaine to refer to him as "Jerry The Great," because Elaine calls Bob Cobb (played by Mark Metcalf) "Maestro."
  • In "The Opposite" Kramer refers to him as "Even Steven."
  • In "The Baby Shower" Kramer refers to him as "Cable Boy."

Reception

The Seinfeld cast was placed sixth on Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters.[10] In 2007, Entertainment Weekly placed Jerry Seinfeld eighth on their list of the "50 Greatest TV icons".[11] Jerry Seinfeld was nominated four times for the Golden Globe Awards for the Best Actor - Musical or Comedy Series category, out of which he won one.[12]

References








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