Few comedies have been subjected to as much scrutiny as Seinfeld, which premiered on NBC on July 5, 1989 and featured a cast of bizarre characters orbiting the life of comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Each episode is a stream of intertwined plots, quotable dialogue, and world-building, from Kramer’s various side businesses to George's unfortunate love life.
The audience’s enduring devotion has led to a number of theories about certain story threads. Check out some of the wildest alternative thinking about Jerry and the gang.
1. There’s a reason everyone is always catching up with one another.
Many, many episodes of Seinfeld are predicated on George (Jason Alexander), Kramer (Michael Richards), and Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) popping into Jerry's apartment to update everyone else on who they’re dating, how their jobs are working out, or why everyone needs to mind the Soup Nazi. These constant exposition dumps might be due to the idea that Jerry is constantly on tour doing stand-up and is out of town for weeks at a time. By the time he returns, the group has plenty of catching up to do.
2. Kramer is a widower.
Despite an endless stream of failed business ventures—Kramerica, sausage manufacturing, underwear modeling—Kramer never appears at a loss for money. He’s able to afford a New York City apartment without any apparent means of employment. User NwlinsTigers9 of the TigerDroppings.com forum posited that the reason Kramer appears unconcerned with his finances is because he’s a widower living off an inheritance. Having a deceased wife would explain why he attempts to emulate a domestic dynamic with Jerry, seemingly sharing in everything Jerry owns. Those nonsensical attempts to earn money are simply a way for Kramer to occupy his sad, lonely mind following the loss of his significant other.
3. George’s brother died by suicide, because of George.
Few onscreen families appear to be as dysfunctional as the Costanzas, with George being continually browbeaten by his parents, Frank and Estelle. In 2016, Cracked writer Markos Hasiotis presented a possible motivation for why the family relations are so strained. In the season three episode “The Suicide,” George is reminded that his brother once got a woman named Pauline pregnant. George’s tendency to dwell on the lives of others may have prompted him to call this mystery sibling and remind him his life is in tatters, sending him into a depression that led to his death. In the next episode, “The Fix-Up,” George is clearly dismayed. And in subsequent episodes, his parents’ hostility could be attributed to their resentment over George inciting his brother to make a premature exit. This would also explain the urn seen in the Costanza household, as well as the single table spot left empty when the family gathers to eat.
4. Kramer is a drug dealer.
Kramer’s lack of any obvious source of income will always be puzzling to viewers. According to one Redditor, his lifestyle may be the result of illegal narcotics dealing. Drug usage would explain his frequently unexplainable behavior and his seemingly insatiable appetite, which sees him constantly bursting through the door to raid Jerry’s refrigerator.
5. The gang has the dynamics of grown-up Peanuts characters.
While not necessarily a plausible continuity theory, there is an argument that the four main Seinfeld characters could be inhabiting some of the dynamics of another group—the Peanuts gang of Charles Schulz's comic strip. Redditor aehutton framed George as Charlie Brown, with his extreme neuroses and pessimism. Elaine is Lucy, taunting George. Jerry is Linus, clinging to childhood objects (cereal and Superman instead of a blanket). Kramer is alternately Pigpen or Snoopy, mellow and seemingly carefree. This also dovetails with a theory that Kramer is actually a dog prone to erratic movements and uninhibited emotions, and explains why he crashes into Jerry’s apartment with the enthusiasm of a canine.
6. TV’s Jerry is actually a bad comedian.
Jerry Seinfeld is a good comedian. He’s a student of the craft, has been practicing for decades, and sells out live shows to this day. While we extrapolate that to mean his sitcom counterpart was also a good comic, that may not be necessarily true. As one Redditor pointed out, viewers never actually see Jerry “kill” on stage. Distractions like hecklers ruin his concentration. In “The Abstinence,” he bombs in front of a junior high school class. In “The Ex-Girlfriend,” a woman breaks up with him specifically because she found his performance so unfunny. He’s also never shown hanging out with fellow comedians, save for the annoying Kenny Bania. In “The Finale,” even a captive audience of prisoners doesn’t seem amused by him.
A version of this story originally ran in 2019 and has been updated for 2022.