The Finale (Seinfeld): Wikis


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"The Finale"
Seinfeld episode
The 'New York four' are led into prison at the end of "The Finale".
Episode no. Season 9
Episode 179-180
Written by Larry David
Directed by Andy Ackerman
Original airdate May 14, 1998
Guest stars
Season 9 episodes
Seinfeld – Season 9
September 1997 – May 1998
  1. "The Butter Shave"
  2. "The Voice"
  3. "The Serenity Now"
  4. "The Blood"
  5. "The Junk Mail"
  6. "The Merv Griffin Show"
  7. "The Slicer"
  8. "The Betrayal"
  9. "The Apology"
  10. "The Strike"
  11. "The Dealership"
  12. "The Reverse Peephole"
  13. "The Cartoon"
  14. "The Strong Box"
  15. "The Wizard"
  16. "The Burning"
  17. "The Bookstore"
  18. "The Frogger"
  19. "The Maid"
  20. "The Puerto Rican Day"
  21. "The Chronicle, Part 1"
  22. "The Chronicle, Part 2"
  23. "The Finale, Part 1"
  24. "The Finale, Part 2"
List of Seinfeld episodes

"The Finale" is the name given to the final two episodes of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. They were the 179th and 180th episodes of the show and the 23rd and 24th episodes of the ninth season. It aired on May 14, 1998 to an audience of 76 million viewers. Its initial running time was 1 hour and 15 minutes.[1]

The fake working title for this show was "A Tough Nut to Crack" to throw off outsiders about the contents of the episode.[2] For the first time since season seven, we see Jerry's famous stand-up comedy routine. Larry David returned to write the script for the Finale.



Part One

After finally striking a deal with NBC over their sitcom pilot, Jerry, Jerry and George are faced with having to leave New York City for California. Before doing so, they decide to take NBC's private jet to Paris with Elaine and Kramer, for one "last hurrah". Unfortunately, Kramer causes the plane to go out of control by hopping up and down while trying to get water out of his ears, nearly killing the four friends in a crash.

Upon what looks to be their final moments of life, George reveals he cheated in "The Contest", and Elaine tells Jerry "I've always...", but the pilot manages to steady the plane before she finishes. In court near the end of the episode, Elaine claims she was going to say "I've always loved United Airlines." They make an emergency landing in the small town of Latham, Massachusetts.

While killing time in Latham, waiting for the plane to be repaired, they witness an overweight man (John Pinette) getting carjacked at gunpoint. Instead of helping him, they crack jokes about his size while Kramer films it all on his camcorder, then proceed to walk away. The victim notices this and tells the reporting officer. The four main characters are then taken into custody for violating a duty to rescue that requires bystanders to help out in such a situation. Because this is the first case implementing this law, the prosecutor wants to find out everything he can on Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer, in order to win.

Part Two

A lengthy trial ensues, bringing back many characters from past episodes as character witnesses testifying against the group for their "selfish" acts from throughout the series. Marla Penny, the low-talker, Donald Sanger, Babu Bhatt, Yev Kassem, George Steinbrenner, Dr. Wexler from "The Invitations", the overweight man who was carjacked, and several others are called to the witness stand, among many more enemies and acquaintances.

Their attorney Jackie Chiles mounts the defense that the witnesses are only exaggerating to settle scores with the four and that the four did not want to get shot by the criminal; even George's mother tries to get them released by offering to have sex with the judge. The four are found guilty, and sentenced to one year by Judge Arthur Vandelay.

In the final scene before the credits, the four main characters sit in a jail cell - strangely unfazed by what has just happened to them, still concerned mostly with the minutiae that has always preoccupied them. Jerry begins a conversation about George's shirt buttons, using lines from the first episode ("The second button is the key button. It literally makes or breaks the shirt..."). George then wonders if they have had that conversation before.


In the final scene of the series, we see Jerry wearing an orange jumpsuit, and performing a stand-up routine of prison-related jokes to an audience of fellow prisoners (including Kramer and George; Elaine is not seen). No one is laughing, except for the studio audience and Kramer. As he is then yanked off the stage he says to his audience "Hey, you've been great. See you in the cafeteria."


During the trial portion of the two-part finale a large number of witnesses take the stand to testify against the group, often recalling scenarios from earlier seasons that help to implicate them. Below is a list of these witnesses as well as a description of their testimony:[3]

Matt Vogel - The arresting officer. Vogel testifies that Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine were simply standing there while the fat guy was robbed.

Fat Victim- The victim of the robbing, claiming that Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George just did nothing while he was getting robbed.

Mabel Choate - The elderly woman Jerry steals the marble rye from in "The Rye". She recounts this incident. Her use as a witness leads to an objection by Jackie Chiles because she wasn't present at the crime, but the prosecution states that they plan to use a series of character witnesses.

Marla Penny- The virgin Jerry dates in "The Virgin" and "The Contest". She explains the Contest that the four had to see who could go the longest without masturbation.

Donald Sanger - The Bubble Boy whom Jerry tried to visit. Sanger describes the argument he had with George while playing a game of trivial pursuit which ultimately led to the destruction of the protective bubble he lives in (due to an unspecified medical condition).

Lola- Describes the faulty used wheelchair Kramer and George bought her after her wheelchair was destroyed when she was forced to travel a long distance after George parked in a handicap spot in "The Handicap Spot".

Dr. Wilcox - The doctor who treated Susan Ross (George's deceased fiancee) when she passed out due to toxic poisons in the cheap envelopes George bought for their wedding invitations in "The Invitations". Dr. Wilcox discusses a look of "restrained jubilation" on George's face when he was informed she died.

Sidra Holland- The woman Jerry dated from the health club in "The Implant". Holland tells the jury about Jerry's supposed plot to send Elaine into the sauna as a spy to see if her breasts are natural or implants.

Joe Bookman - The library cop from "The Library" who quickly explains that Jerry had a book overdue twenty-five years, referring to Jerry as a criminal.

Robin - George's girlfriend from "The Fire" recounts her child's birthday party, where George selfishly throws multiple children and elderly people out of the way to escape a small kitchen fire.

Mall Security Guard - From "The Parking Garage". He states that Jerry blatantly lied to him after urinating in the parking lot, claiming later that he only did it because he could "get uromysitisis poisoning and die".

Detective- From "The Wig Master". The detective refers to an incident that took place due to an odd set of circumstances that led to Kramer being mistaken for pimp and arrested.

The Low-Talker- Kramer's ex-girlfriend from "The Puffy Shirt". Jackie objects that the witness's testimony is inaudible and she never actually testifies. Her purpose in the trial is never disclosed, but it's apparent that she was testifying against Jerry for ruining her career by bad-mouthing the puffy shirt.

George Steinbrenner- George's former boss. Steinbrenner simply states that George is a Communist, as heard in "The Race"

Marcelino- From "The Little Jerry", a man who leads a cockfighting ring at the back of his store. This witness only states "Cock fighting".

The Sponge Pharmacist- The pharmacist testifies that Elaine "said she needed a whole case" of them, adding that he isn't referring to "the kind you clean your tub with".

Fred - Elaine's ex-boyfriend from "The Pick". He tells the jury of her accidental nipple exposure.

Justin Pitt- Elaine's former boss, who claimed that Elaine tried to suffocate him with a pillow, however, this was a misunderstanding.

The Soup Nazi, Yev Kassem - Kassem recalls Elaine's vendetta to destroy his business by revealing his secret recipes to the public.

Babu Bhatt - A former Pakistani restaurateur who appeared in "The Cafe" and "The Visa". Babu retells the story of Jerry's advice to change his restaurant brought him no customers and of the mail misplacement led to his deportation.


Because of the immense amount of attention and interest that the finale generated, producers went to extreme measures to keep the plot of the final episode absolutely secret. Each cast member had to sign off for his/her script and return it at the end of the day, at which time the script would be shredded. Only the script supervisor was allowed to keep a copy of the script.

The set was under 24-hour surveillance, both by security cameras and a security guard, and all on-location shots were carefully guarded to prevent outside camera crews from sneaking in. The studio audience, which consisted solely of friends and family members of the crew, was required to sign an affidavit swearing that they would not reveal the plot of the final episode to anyone. In retrospect, Larry David commented that he now wishes he had not gone to such lengths to keep the finale secret, as he feels it contributed to some fans' disappointment.


The finale of Seinfeld was criticized by many for portraying the main characters as bad people with no respect for society, and for mocking the audience who tuned in to watch them every week. Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker seemed to echo this sentiment in declaring the episode "off-key and bloated...Ultimately, Seinfeld and David's kiss-off to their fans was a loud, hearty, 'So long, suckers!'"[4]

Others valued it for the large number of cameo appearances from past episodes, as well as the perceived in-joke of the four characters being convicted and imprisoned on the charge that they did nothing, a play on the "show about nothing" mantra. The finale was the third most watched finale of a U.S. television series, behind M*A*S*H in 1983 and Cheers in 1993.

The night before "The Finale" aired, competing ABC television show Dharma & Greg aired the episode "Much Ado During Nothing". Their story centered around their title characters trying to win back a duck lawn ornament from Dharma's friend Jane by doing the most daring sexual act in public. After getting caught by the police once, they devise a scheme sure to succeed. Their plan centers on them "doing the deed" while the final episode is airing, saying that "...everybody in the country is going to be watching the last episode of Seinfeld."

Death of Frank Sinatra

The U.S. West Coast airing of the finale of Seinfeld coincided with the death of Frank Sinatra, the singer and actor perennially considered one of the very top U.S. entertainers of the 20th Century. Sinatra's ambulance was able to make it to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 10 minutes in very light traffic, due to many in Los Angeles being indoors to watch the show.[5]

Syndication version

This version had cut several parts from the original episode (US):

  • In the Plane:
    • Jerry's opening stand-up comedy act, which was the first since the finale of Season 7, is cut out.
    • When the plane was falling, Elaine said to Jerry "Jerry, I've always loved...", but in the syndication version, "loved..." is cut.
  • In the trial:
    • The Bubble Boy, George Steinbrenner, Ramon the Pool Guy and the police detective from the episode "The Wig Master"
    • The scene between Jerry and Elaine before the jury reenters the courtroom

Deleted scenes

The scenes that had to be cut are now available on DVD.

  • First half
    • The scene with Kramer in the car is much longer than originally aired.
    • Dialogue between Jerry and George in a taxi.
    • The coffee shop scene with Jerry, Elaine, Kramer and George is much longer, examining more locations than before.
    • The syndication mentioned above available in the US only.
  • Second half
    • The exchange between the minor cast members before the jury is cut down.
    • Jackie Chiles' opening dialogue is much longer than aired.
    • Following guest stars in the court has been shortened or cut in throughout the scene.
    • Jerry's final standup is much longer than before.
  • An alternate ending was filmed where the Seinfeld four were found not guilty of their crimes. This ending can be found as an Easter egg in "Seinfeld" volume 8 DVD set.


  1. ^ ""The Finale, Part 2 episode on"". Sony Pictures. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  2. ^ ""The Finale, Part 1 episode on"". Sony Pictures. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  3. ^ ""The Finale"". Seinfeld Scripts. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  4. ^ ""So long, suckers!"".,,283381,00.html. 
  5. ^ ""Nancy Sinatra"". Sunday Star Times. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 

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