Seinfeld started in 1989 and was a success until it ended in 1998. A favorite among critics, this sitcom had three episodes (“The Boyfriend,” “The Parking Garage,” and “The Contest”) featured in TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. The show followed the adventures of Jerry Seinfeld, played by Jerry Seinfeld, a stand-up comedian and mid-celebrity, and his friends who all happen to live in the same apartment building.
The episodes are based upon Jerry Seinfeld’s (the real one) life experiences. Though the show was labelled as “about nothing,” it was largely welcomed by the public and famous TV critics, making it obviously much more than a show “about nothing.” Not only did it follow Jerry Seinfeld, the show had quite a bunch of amazing main characters: Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who is Jerry’s ex-girlfriend and later, his friend; Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) who is Jerry’s weird neighbor with an extravagant hairstyle; and George Costanza (Jason Alexander), Jerry’s best friend since high school who is lovingly despicable.
These four characters, along with some interesting minor ones, marked the imagination of a lot of people by their great personalities and memorable catchphrases, such as “Yada, yada, yada.” And we’re all in our rights, as watchers of the show, to ask ourselves 17 years after the final episode aired on May 14, 1998, what happened with our beloved Seinfeld characters? Well, let’s take a look…
1. George Costanza – Jason Alexander
Known for his role as George Costanza, the dishonest, petty, jealous (and yet lovable!) best friend of Jerry, George is one of the main characters in the series and it just wouldn’t be the same without him.
Following the end of Seinfeld, Jason Alexander has been known for his poker career which made him win considerable amount of money. He gave a lot of his winnings to charity. In the 2000’s, Alexander also lent his voice to many episodes of the Twilight Zone Radio Dramas. In 2010, he joined the cast of Nickelodeon’s The Fairly Odd Parents movie. He also became Jenny Craig’s new spokesperson for weight loss. Later, he appeared in Nickelback’s music video for “Trying not to love you” as a foam coffee artist.
2. Cosmo Kramer – Michael Richards
Cosmo Kramer, the crazy neighbor, was largely inspired by Larry David‘s (co-writer) own neighbor when he was an amateur comedian in Manhattan. Known for his eccentric hairstyle, vintage clothing and energetic bursts through Jerry’s door, Cosmo was a fan-favorite from the get-go.
After Seinfeld, Michael Richards worked on The Michael Richards Show which was ultimately cancelled only a few weeks after it first aired, in 2000, due to lack of interest by the audience. In 2006, he made national headlines for all the wrong reasons after using the N-word to describe noisy people during one of his stand-up sets at the Laughing Factory in Hollywood. He later apologized during an episode of the Late Show with David Letterman. Nevertheless, this incident was the reason why Richards retired from stand-up comedy.
He appeared afterwards in some TV Series throughout the 2000s, but never really had a big role. In 2010, he married his longtime girlfriend, Beth Skipp, and in 2011 they had a child who they named Antonio Baz.
3. Elaine Benes – Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Elaine is Jerry’s ex-girlfriend and friend. She’s an attractive women who’s playful, assertive, selfish and sometimes self-righteous. She sometimes loses her temper and gets into trouble while being too frank.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the actress behind the character, is known not only for her role in Seinfeld, but also for roles in The New Adventures of Old Christine (2006–2010), and Veep (2012–present). She has had quite the post-Seinfelfd career! She also voiced quite a few animated movies, including A Bug’s Life and Planes. Her life’ work was recognized in 2010 when she received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
Louis-Dreyfus is also known for her implication in political life. In 2000 she supported Al Gore’s presidential bid. She also encouraged Obama’s bid in 2008 and 2012. She was later seen in a video urging the president not to accept Keystone XL pipeline’s proposal, afraid that if the pipelines were ever to leak, this would cause massive pollution all over the U.S. She also was a voice for a lot of pro-environmental causes, raising substantive amount of money to help the different groups and events.
4. Newman – Wayne Knight
Newman, a cunning man who often schemes against Jerry, was a character who appeared in some episodes. Jerry’s neighbor and antagonist, he was a great character to know. Though their relationship is never truly explained (at least, why they seem to hate each other), Jerry says Newman is “his Lex Luthor to his Superman.”
Beside Seinfeld, Wayne Knight has had quite a few interesting roles such as Officer Don Orville in 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dennis Nedry in Jurassic Park, and made Tantor’s voice in Disney’s Tarzan, among other roles.
After the sitcom ended, Knight lent his voice to a few animated movies and series, as in Toy Story 2 in which he was toy store manager of Al’s Toy Barn. He also guest-starred on an episode of Fox hit drama series Bones in 2010. In 2014, Knight returned to his Seinfeld character, Newman, alongside Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander, during a Super Bowl commercial.
Like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Wayne Knight is known for his implication in American politics. He is a Democrat and supported Obama’s re-election in 2012.
5. Dr. Tim Whatley – Bryan Cranston
Dr. Tim Whatley, known as “The Dentist” or the “Anti-Dentite” by Kramer, is a charming character who ends up giving Elaine a label maker, which she later re-gifts. Jerry dislikes him because he is creeped out by the penthouse magazines he has in his waiting room and because he thinks Whatley could have “violated” him while he was unconscious, during an intervention.
Bryan Cranston has known success after Seinfeld, between 2008 and 2013, for his more than impressive role as Walter White in the amazing TV drama Breaking Bad, for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series four times (2008 , 2009, 2010, 2014). He became, in 2011, one of the producers of Breaking Bad, which made him win the award for Outstanding Drama Series, twice.
Cranston also appeared in supporting roles in quite a few acclaimed movies: Saving Private Ryan (1998), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Drive (2011), Argo (2012) and Godzilla (2014). In 2015, along with David Shore, he wrote and produced Amazon.com’s original crime drama Sneaky Pete, which premiered on August 7.
6. Carol – Lisa Mende
Carol is notable for her nasally voice and her memorable quote: “You gotta have a baby!” or “You gotta see the baby!” She lives in the Hamptons with her husband, Michael, and insists Jerry and the others to come and see her two babies (one ugly, and one pretty).
Mende was best known for roles during Seinfeld’s amazing run in the 90s, including Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), Nothing to Lose (1997) and Honey I Blew Up the Kid (1992).
Mende retired from Hollywood to raise her daughter, Jenna Lancaster. She shares a home with her brother and daughter in Watkinsville now.
7. Mr. and Mrs. Ross – Warren Frost and Grace Zabriskie
Mr. and Mrs. Ross are Susan’s (George’s fiancee) parents. Mr. Ross has had a homosexual affair with an author, something we learn after Kramer burns down the family’s cabin, and Mrs. Ross is an alcoholic who only tolerates her husband. They never liked George and it only gets worse after Susan’s death, when Mrs. Ross is seen buying a gun after learning that her step-son was glad her daughter passed away.
Beside Seinfeld, Frost is known for sporadic roles in Twin Peaks, Matlock, and The Larry Sanders Show. He is the father of the writers and producer Mark Frost, actress Lindsay Frost and writer Scott Frost. Also, he is the grandfather of baseball player Lucas Giolito.
Grace Zabriskie is best known for her roles in the television series Twin Peaks and Big Love, but she appeared in many popular American movies. Recently, she played a role in The Grudge, as a senile, old woman who is sensitive to paranormal activities which occur in her house.
8. Susan Ross – Heidi Swedberg
George’s on and off again girlfriend who later becomes his fiancee, Susan, is from a wealthy family. Played by Heidi Swedberg, Susan could have made George considerably rich if she hadn’t died from an intoxication after licking cheap envelopes, which were meant to be used to send their wedding invitations… Karma, maybe?
Swedberg acted regularly in television shows, including Empty Nest, Murder She Wrote, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Grace Under Fire. Growing up in Hawaii, she learned the ukulele, and now sings and plays the instrument in her own band, Heidi Swedberg and The Sukey Jump Band. They released the albums PLAY! in 2009 and My Cup Of Tea in 2013.
9. Frank and Estelle Costanza – Jerry Stiller and Estelle Harris
George’s parents. Frank is well-known for his temper, deranged mind and weird habits (like his deep dark fear of removing his shoes into other people’s houses). Estelle is obnoxious and melodramatic, and apparently has never, ever laughed. And yet, she is the closest thing to “sanity” the Costanza family has.
Jerry Stiller, father of Ben Stiller, is also known for his role as Arthur Spooner in the hit TV comedy series King of Queens (1998-2007). He also appeared in several movies in small roles, including Zoolander.
Beside her role as George’s mother in Seinfeld, Estelle Harris is best known for her voice acting as Mrs. Potato Head in the Toy Story franchise, and also for her role as Muriel in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. She has voiced characters like Lula in Dave the Barbarian, Mama Lipsky on Kim Possible, Thelma on The Proud Family, Old Lady Bear in Brother Bear (2003), Audrey in Home on the Range (2004), and Death’s nagging mother on Family Guy.
1. Jerry Seinfeld – Jerry Seinfeld
We saved the best for last. Jerry, often seen as the voice of reason among his crazy, eccentric friends, is the main, much-loved, character of the show.
When Seinfeld ended, Jerry Seinfeld‘s (the actor) career was only beginning. He accumulated many roles, interviews, appearances and contracts during the 2000s and is still quite active now. In 2004, he appeared in two commercial webisodes promoting American Express, which were titled The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman, which was a nice reminder of his character’s hero in the sitcom. The same year, he donated a puffy shirt he had worn during an iconic episode”Seinfeld” to the National Museum of American History. He appeared at the 79th Academy Awards (2007) to present a documentary and at the 80th Academy Awards (2008) to present the “Best Animated Shot,” voicing his character Barry, featured in the animated flick, Bee Movie.
In 2012, Seinfeld started a web series titled Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The concept was that he would pick up a fellow comedian in a different car for each episode and bring them to a coffee shop where they would have a conversation. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2013 for the series. He was also criticized in 2014 for the lack of women and non-white comedians in the web series. His answer was that he only cared for funny people; it had nothing to do with their gender or their race.
To conclude, most of the Seinfeld actors had great careers before and after the hit series. The sitcom was a part of their life they would never really be able to leave behind. Some called it the “Seinfeld curse,” like Julia Louis-Dreyfus phrased it.