It’s possible that you’ve already circled the date on your calendar. If not, you’ll want to. Because on Oct. 1, one of the greatest and most bingeable sitcoms in television history, Seinfeld, arrives on Netflix. Which means that you will be able to stream any and all of the show’s 180 episodes (originally aired between 1989 and 1998 on NBC) whenever the mood strikes.
What better time to dig deep — past the Soup Nazi and Masters of Their Domain — to name the cream of that crop, those top 20 episodes that combine the petty (and hilarious) trials and tribulations of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer. But we weren’t done — we also ranked them. Which means that at the bottom of this story lies our choice for the best Seinfeld episode of all time. So fire up your Netflix, check out our Top 20, and let us know in the comments if our ranking matches yours.
20: “The Conversion” (Season 5)
The Plot: After four seasons of disastrous dating, the unlucky-in-love George (Jason Alexander) is convinced that he’s finally met The One. But, it turns out, her parents will only allow her to settle down with someone of the same faith: Latvian Orthodox. So George, in one of his grand (and misguided) gestures, decides to switch faiths, even if he has to cheat on his conversion exam. Meanwhile, a Latvian Orthodox nun has doubts about her vow of chastity after meeting Kramer (Michael Richards), who possesses "the Kavorka" — a.k.a., “lure of the animal.” And in the episode’s solid B-plot, Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) finds a tube of fungicide in the medicine cabinet of a girl he’s starting to date — a definite deal breaker for the Upper West Side’s biggest germaphobe.
Best Moment: Kramer fending off the nun’s advances while wearing a string of garlic cloves around his neck.
19: “The Implant” (Season 4)
The Plot: The ever-picky Jerry begins dating a beautiful woman (Teri Hatcher), but suddenly gets turned off when Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) suggests that her breasts are too perfect and therefore must be implants. Or as Elaine puts it, “She’s playing with Confederate money.” Jerry enlists her to find out the truth, which leads to a clumsy fall-and-grab in a health club sauna. Meanwhile, the cheapskate George schemes to get a “bereavement fare” to attend the funeral of a relative of the woman he’s dating. In the end, Elaine’s intel turns out to be faulty, and after Jerry explains the whole scheme to his perky pal, she storms out, informing him, “They’re real, and they’re spectacular.”
Best Moment: George getting into a fight at the funeral reception over the etiquette of double-dipping a chip.
18: “The Little Jerry” (Season 8)
The Plot: We can all agree that cockfighting is wrong. However, the taboo sport led to one of the most surreal, screwball-paced episodes in the show’s nine-season run. Jerry bounces a check at the local market, and the shopkeeper will only take the bounced check down from the wall of shame if Kramer allows his rooster, “Little Jerry,” to battle in the ring. Meanwhile, George thinks he’s found a dating loophole by going out with a woman in a white-collar prison, thus preventing the “drop-in” and being smothered. Classic Costanza.
Best Moment: Who knew Jerry apparently favors personal checks with paintings of clowns on them?
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17: “The Merv Griffin Show” (Season 9)
The Plot: During seasons 8 and 9, Seinfeld began to take stranger and stranger detours into the absurd. The show was no longer quite so rooted in reality, like in this episode, where a dumpster-diving Kramer finds the old discarded set (chairs, table, signage) of Merv Griffin’s TV talk show. He hauls it home and turns his apartment into a replica of the show. Visitors are now treated like talk-show guests, and Kramer's the stiff, stilted host with note cards in hand and Newman (Wayne Knight) as his sidekick. Meanwhile, Jerry dates a woman with a collection of old-school toys she won’t let Jerry play with, so he feeds her turkey as a tryptophan mickey and finally gets his hands on her G.I. Joe.
Best Moment: Old Costanza home movies reveal that George wore a diaper until he was eight.
16: “The Sponge” (Season 7)
The Plot: This Elaine-centric episode shines a spotlight on her comical promiscuity and a pickiness that rivals her ex, Jerry. When Elaine finds out that her birth-control method of choice, the sponge, is being discontinued, she goes into survivalist mode and stocks up. But the supply is finite. And is the guy she’s currently dating truly “spongeworthy”? These are the little phrases and dilemmas that make Seinfeld so great. Meanwhile, it’s confirmed that Jerry is, in fact, the shallowest person on Earth when it’s revealed that he changes the waist measurement on the back of his jeans from a 32 to a 31.
Best Moment: Elaine quizzing her boyfriend about his personal grooming habits and career prospects before determining whether he’s worth using a sponge on.
15: “The Little Kicks” (Season 8)
The Plot: Another gem of an Elaine episode, in which she stuns the J. Peterman holiday party by … dancing. Her cluelessly herky-jerky moves, with her ankles twisted in and her thumbs arthritically pointed out, are one of the series’ all-time sight gags. You’ll never listen to Earth, Wind and Fire with a straight face again. Meanwhile, George poses as a “bad boy” to get one of Elaine’s coworkers to fall for him. Needless to say, he can’t quite pull it off.
Best Moment: George comparing Elaine’s dance moves to “a full-body dry heave set to music.”