For a show about people in their 30s living in New York City’s priciest borough, Seinfeld‘s central foursome spend an awful lot of time not working. Out of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer, Elaine is the only one with the kind of employment that some viewers can relate to.
Nevertheless, throughout the famed sitcom’s nine seasons, all four enter into a variety of jobs, most of which are either less than fruitful or ill-fated. And when their jobs aren’t terrible, they’re usually lost in an elaborate mix-up of some kind. Fans know Seinfeld for exposing the foibles of everyday situations, and disastrous workplaces are no exception.
- 1 10 Kramer: Department Store Santa
- 2 9 Jerry & George: Sitcom Writers
- 3 8 George: Computer Sales For Frank Costanza
- 4 7 Jerry: Movie Bootlegger
- 5 6 Kramer: Baker At H&H Bagels
- 6 5 Elaine: Editor For The J. Peterman Catalog
- 7 4 Kramer: Hansom Cab Driver
- 8 3 Jerry: Standup At A Junior High Assembly
- 9 2 George: Parking Attendant
- 10 1 Elaine: Mr. Pitt’s Personal Assistant
10 Kramer: Department Store Santa
In “The Race,” Kramer has scored a gig playing Santa Claus at a major department store but soon discovers he’s not up to the demanding job.
His sense of humor doesn’t go over well with the parents, he finds out he’s not allowed to take breaks, and his lap aches from children leaping onto it. After Elaine’s boyfriend talks to him about Communism, he’s let go for giving a kid a radical explainer on Christmas toys.
9 Jerry & George: Sitcom Writers
In the show’s fourth season, Jerry and George are approached to write a sitcom pilot bearing the name Jerry. Although it appears to be a dream gig, the comedic duo finds they can’t come up with any viable ideas in the entire lead-up to their pitch meeting.
After George fumbles the salary negotiations, their financing is slashed by a third. In “The Pilot,” the poorly financed show is canceled by a new NBC executive, putting an end to Seinfeld‘s most self-referential storyline.
8 George: Computer Sales For Frank Costanza
“The Serenity Now” finds George miserable to be working for his father – until he devises a hare-brained scheme. Enlisted to sell computers out of the family garage, George finds himself sorely underperforming compared to his old friend (and his mother’s favorite), Lloyd Braun.
George plots to buy up his own merchandise and store it at Kramer’s (only to return it later). The plan ends in disaster when Kramer, terrorized by local children’s pranks, destroys George’s entire stockpile in a furious fit.
7 Jerry: Movie Bootlegger
The episode most famous for Elaine’s horrifying dance moves also inducts Jerry into a scary new gig. When he, Kramer, and Kramer’s friend Brody attend an exclusive sneak preview, Jerry is shocked to see Brody recording the film.
Even more shockingly, Brody orders Jerry at gunpoint to complete the filming when he must leave. Jerry’s skills turn him into an underground legend, but he quits the practice when he and Brody can’t agree on a system to tape the highest-quality bootlegs. It’s a doubly dangerous occupation Jerry was certainly better off avoiding.
6 Kramer: Baker At H&H Bagels
One of Kramer’s least unusual jobs is one of his least favorite. In “The Strike,” he finds out the 12-year strike at his former bakery job has ended because of gradual minimum wage increases.
His employment quickly becomes miserable when his boss won’t give him time off for Festivus, so he resumes the strike and engineers a steam explosion in the shop. Although he calls off his demonstration when he needs to use the bathroom, he’s fired by the end of the episode for contaminating bagel dough with his chewing gum.
5 Elaine: Editor For The J. Peterman Catalog
As an editor under Jacopo Peterman, Elaine deals with innumerable obstacles, including multiple dismissals. Her power grab after her boss disappears due to a nervous breakdown only leads to a demotion upon his return. Soon after, she’s forced to ghostwrite Peterman’s autobiography and run a foundation in memory of her own (supposedly deceased) alias, Susie.
After her second firing for disliking the film The English Patient, she must take a trip to its Tunisian filming location to get her taxing job back.
4 Kramer: Hansom Cab Driver
In “The Rye,” Kramer’s temporary job becomes central to George’s plot to keep the peace between his and his wife’s families. Although delighted to operate his neighbor’s horse-drawn cab while the latter is away, Kramer sabotages his own gig by feeding the horse discounted ‘Beef-A-Reeno.’
The cab ride carefully engineered by George for the Rosses turns nightmarish when the horse becomes flatulent. In the history of Kramer’s moneymaking schemes, this boasts one of the silliest conclusions, as Kramer is trapped squarely behind the gassy horse.
3 Jerry: Standup At A Junior High Assembly
In “The Abstinence,” Jerry experiences a hiccup in his relatively successful stand-up comedy career. His guest appearance at his junior high school’s career fair is postponed twice, leading his agent to book him for a full two-hour performance during an assembly.
With no idea how to fill the time, Jerry bungles the performance with a 20-minute bit about homework. The bombed appearance tragically results in him losing his upcoming spot on The Late Show With David Letterman.
2 George: Parking Attendant
In the third-season episode “The Alternate Side,” George temporarily takes over Jerry’s friend Sid’s job of moving parked cars to the other side of the street to comply with by-laws. Although it seems like a fairly simple job, George quickly becomes flustered by his new responsibilities.
Eventually, distracted by a Woody Allen movie being shot down the street, he has a run-in with an ambulance on its way to treat Elaine’s boyfriend. If that weren’t terrible enough, George’s actions also result in Sid losing most of his clients.
1 Elaine: Mr. Pitt’s Personal Assistant
After losing her job at Pendant Publishing, Elaine fails to secure a dream position at a publishing company where Jackie Kennedy Onassis once worked. She does, however, land a gig assisting a company executive, Justin Pitt.
However, her new job turns out to be a nightmare when she discovers the extent of Mr. Pitt’s demands. She must track down the Rolamech 1000 (a hard-to-find mechanical pencil), pick the salt off pretzel sticks, and miss a trip to Atlantic City with Jerry and George to buy a particular pair of socks. Fans of the show know it’s not the last time Elaine will be subject to an employer’s eccentricities.
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