|Portrayed by Jerry Seinfeld|
Played by Jerry Seinfeld
Significant other Elaine Benes
First appearance "The Seinfeld Chronicles"
|Last appearance "The Finale, Part II" (Seinfeld)
Created by Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David
Occupation stand-up comedian umbrella salesman
Family Morty (father) Helen (mother) Unnamed sister
Creators Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David
Movies and TV shows Seinfeld, Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm
Similar Kramer, Elaine Benes, Newman, George Costanza, Frank Costanza
Jerome "Jerry" Seinfeld is the protagonist of the American television sitcom Seinfeld (1989–1998). The straight man among his group of friends, this semi-fictionalized version of comedian Jerry Seinfeld was named after, co-created by, based on, and played by Seinfeld himself. The series revolves around Jerry's misadventures with his best friend George Costanza, neighbor Cosmo Kramer, and ex-girlfriend Elaine Benes. He is usually the voice of reason amidst his friends' antics and the focal point of the foursome's relationship.
- Long term relationships
- Guest star girlfriends
- Career and finances
An eternal optimist, he rarely runs into major personal problems. Jerry is the only main character on the show to maintain the same career (a stand-up comedian, like the real Seinfeld) throughout the series. He is the most observational character, sarcastically commenting on his friends' quirky habits. Much of the show's action takes place in Jerry's apartment located at 129 West 81st Street, apartment 5A. He and his friends also frequently have coffee or meals together at Monk's Café.
Jerry appeared in all 180 episodes of Seinfeld (including several two-part episodes), the only character in the show to appear in every episode.
In the show's setting, Jerry is the straight man, a figure who is "able to observe the chaos around him but not always be a part of it." Plot lines involving Jerry often concern his various relationships - Jerry often finds "stupid reasons to break up" with women; which, according to Elaine, occurs "every week."
Jerry is generally completely indifferent to what goes on in his friends' lives, seeing their misery as merely an entertaining distraction, as well as an opportunity for joke material. He often plays along with their hare-brained schemes, even encouraging them, often just to see them fail. In the episode "The Serenity Now", Jerry is perplexed by his experience of crying, asking "What is this salty discharge?". In "The Foundation" Elaine points out that he has "never felt remorse," to which Jerry replies, "Yeah, I feel kinda bad about that." He will often nonchalantly state, "That's a shame" when something bad happens (often due to his or his friends' actions). A recurring joke is Jerry behaving unchivalrously towards Elaine, such as not helping her carry groceries or heavy objects, ignoring her when she is upset, and on one occasion taking a first class upgrade on a flight for himself, leaving Elaine in economy. Jerry, George and Elaine all share a general trait of not letting go of other character's remarks and going to great lengths to be proven right. In one episode, Jerry goes out of his way to rent a house in Tuscany, just because Elaine's boyfriend told him there weren't any available. Another example is when he buys his parents the same car over and over again, at great financial loss.
Despite his usual indifference to his friends and their actions, Jerry apparently is very satisfied with his life, to the point that he actually feels worried about anything that might threaten the group lifestyle. In "The Invitations", for example, Jerry admits that he feels depressed about George getting married, seeing as how George will eventually leave the group and Jerry will never see him again. Once Elaine told him that she was also "getting out" of the group, Jerry became so worried about a near future of just him and Kramer that he unknowingly almost walked into a car while crossing the street. In "The Bizarro Jerry", Jerry also grows panicky about losing the group dynamic when Kramer becomes too busy with his fake job and Elaine temporarily leaves to join the Bizarro group, claiming that "The whole system's breaking down!" Jerry himself perfectly sums up his relation to his three friends in the episode "The Letter". In a deleted scene from that show, he claims that his friends are "not more important" than his girlfriends, but "they're as important."
Unlike George and Elaine, Jerry rarely runs into major personal problems. In "The Opposite", this tendency is explicitly pointed out, as Jerry goes through a number of experiences after which he invariably "breaks even," even as his friends are going through intense periods of success or failure. Even when Elaine threw Jerry's $20 bill out of the window, he unexpectedly found one in his coat pocket, evening out his luck. In "The Rye", during a particularly trying time for Elaine, she angrily tells Jerry, "You know, one of these days, something terrible is going to happen to you. It has to!" Jerry simply replies, "No, I'm going to be just fine." Many of the problems he does run into are the result of the actions of his nemesis Newman, a disgruntled postal worker. In "The Old Man", George asks "What kind of a person are you?" in which Jerry replies "I think I'm pretty much like you, only successful."
However, Kramer persuades Jerry to do things that he's reluctant to do. In "The Mango", Kramer gets Jerry to buy fruit for him after Kramer is banned from the store over an argument with the owner. This continues until the owner bans Jerry, because his order is similar enough to Kramer's that it's obvious he's buying fruit for Kramer. The most famous example is in "The Chicken Roaster" in which Kramer and Jerry exchange apartments. This results in the two of them also switching personalities. In several arguments with Jerry, Kramer is incredibly stubborn, protecting his own interests. Examples of this include arguments in "The Chaperone," "The Face Painter," and "The Caddy." Probably the only exception is "The Kiss Hello" in which Kramer kissed Jerry as George walked in.
Jerry always wears a suit whenever he has to do his stand-up comedy act. In a few cases, Jerry wears an unusual item of clothing. Kramer has persuaded Jerry to wear the "pirate shirt" in "The Puffy Shirt", the cowboy boots in "The Mom & Pop Store" and the fur coat in "The Reverse Peephole". Like George, Jerry's hairstyle remains relatively the same throughout the series, though the length and thickness of it alters, especially from Season 3 onwards. There is one noticeable episode in which Jerry receives a bad haircut when he reluctantly agrees to get his hair done by an incompetent Italian barber in "The Barber".
As in real life, Jerry is a fan of comic book characters, particularly of Superman, who is his hero. As far as sports, Jerry is a fan of the New York Mets as evidenced as early as the episode "The Baby Shower" in which Kramer persuades him to install illegal cable by saying "The Mets have 75 games on cable this year." Jerry is also a fan of the New York Yankees, the New York Knicks, the New York Giants, the New York Rangers, and even the Chicago Cubs. In early episodes, a New York Yankees hat sits on the counter near his computer. Later on, by the middle of Season 3, it was replaced with a Mets cap, possibly to better reflect Seinfeld's real-life support of the Queens side. While a Mets fan, he has once attended to a Yankees games (in the sixth season). In the first episode of Season 6 and the first episode of Season 7, Jerry is shown watching a Yankees game with George.
Jerry never smokes a cigarette but is seen smoking a cigar in "The Calzone", "The Wizard", and in "The Voice". Jerry also does not appear to have any particular interest in alcohol as he is rarely seen drinking beer or any other alcoholic beverage; however, he is seen drinking beer with George once in "The Shower Head," wine at various meals, and keeps a bottle of Hennigan's scotch in his apartment, though he claims that he only uses it as a paint thinner.
Jerry and George grew up in New York City. George recalls in "The Outing" that the two were friends ever since an encounter in gym class in their school days. In "The Betrayal," Jerry mentions that he once beat George up in the fourth grade. Flashbacks in episodes such as "The Library" portray Jerry and George in high school. A pizza place which they frequented is portrayed in "The Frogger". Jerry and George attended school together at Edward R. Murrow Middle School, John F. Kennedy High School and Queens College.
After college, Jerry briefly worked as an umbrella salesman and claims to have invented the "twirl" to make the umbrella look more attractive. He eventually quit the job in order to focus more on his comedy career.
Jerry's parents are Morty and Helen Seinfeld, a retired Jewish couple living in Florida. Unlike George, who can't stand his parents, Jerry gets along reasonably well with his parents, but he still prefers they live in Florida rather than New York, so that they do not interfere with his private life. Although born and raised Jewish and he considers himself a Jew, Jerry apparently does not practice and generally does not observe many traditions. As shown in "The Soup Nazi", he does not keep Kosher, as he is seen eating crab bisque. In "The Bris", he implies he is circumcised, repeatedly asking people if they have "ever seen one" - in reference to an uncircumcised penis. He also mentions having a sister in the episode "The Chinese Restaurant", though she is never named, never appears on screen, and is never mentioned again after this episode. In order to avoid his old friend Joel in "Male Unbonding", Jerry pretends to have promised to tutor his nephew; it is unclear if the nephew really exists or is simply fabricated as part of the excuse.
Jerry has an eccentric uncle, Leo, who appears in 15 episodes. Uncle Leo has a son, Cousin Jeffrey, who works for the parks department, about whom he constantly talks, but who never appears. In "The Stake Out", Jerry speaks to an "Uncle Mac", as well as a cousin "Artie Levine". In "The Truth", Jerry mentions a cousin named "Douglass" who has an addiction with Pepsi. In "The Pony Remark", Helen, Morty, Jerry, Elaine, and Leo attend a 50th-anniversary party for Manya and Isaac, an elderly couple whose relationship to Jerry is never explicitly defined. Manya is described as a Polish immigrant. In the same episode, Jerry references having an "Aunt Rose", and Helen mentions a family member named "Claire" who is getting married. In "The Soup" episode, Jerry mentions an "Aunt Silvia", who he compares to Elaine in terms of conversation.
Jerry's maternal grandmother, Nana, is an elderly woman with memory problems, occasionally unable to tell the past from the present, living alone in the city. Nana makes appearances in "The Pledge Drive", "The Kiss Hello", and "The Doodle".
Jerry is notorious for his detached approach towards relationships and for breaking up with women for the slightest of flaws or for the most minor of reasons. According to the ninth-season DVD release of the series, Jerry has had 73 different girlfriends seen or alluded to over the course of the series.
Jerry and Elaine are depicted as having dated in the past and apparently a lot longer than they each date other people in the series. During the run of the show, they are shown mainly as best friends, sometimes even joking with one another about their failed dating relationship. However, they do date briefly during the run of the show. In "The Deal", they create a set of rules whereby they can sleep together but remain only friends. Their theory is ruined, however, when Elaine gets upset at Jerry for wanting to leave after a sexual encounter instead of sleeping over (one of the rules they discussed was that sleeping over was optional, but not whose option it was). By the end of the episode the two decide to be a couple again, which lasts until "The Note" where it is shown that they went back to being just friends. Later in "The Pen" Jerry tells his parents that "we decided that we don't work out as a couple." That is the only time in the run of the show they are shown as anything more than friends. In "The Mango", Jerry is upset at learning that Elaine had faked her orgasms while they were together. The fact cause such problems between the two, that Elaine agrees to sleep with Jerry in an effort to "save the friendship". The final scene, however, shows the two in bed, with Jerry looking distraught and gesturing towards his groin, suggesting that he was unable to perform.
There are hints throughout the series that suggest that Jerry and Elaine still have feelings for each other:
Long term relationships
Other than Elaine, Jerry has only dated a few other women for more than one episode:
Only twice in the entire series has Jerry considered marriage.
Jerry's approach to relationships is notoriously fickle, and he has broken up with women, or provoked them into breaking up with him for trivial reasons.
Likewise, some of Jerry's girlfriends have dumped him for trivial reasons.
In "The Invitations", Jerry and his fiancée had what he described as "the world's first truly mutual breakup" after she acted in the same manner as him, noting "I can't be with somebody like me. I hate myself."
Guest star girlfriends
The following celebrities starred as Jerry's girlfriend or romantic interest:
Jerry has a long-running hatred of Newman, describing him as his "sworn enemy" in "The Andrea Doria" and showing general contempt for him at their every meeting. Newman usually reciprocates, although at other times he seems quite pleased by Jerry's hostility, as if it is a testimony to his effectiveness at irritating him. The origin of their feud is never explained.
Jerry's snide greeting for him with "Hello, Newman" (in response to Newman's "Hello, Jerry") becomes a trademark of their relationship. Even Jerry's mother utters the greeting, with as much displeasure as Jerry, in "The Raincoats, Part II". Jerry wants to be rid of Newman so badly that he once even helped him on his postal route so that he could get a prized transfer to Hawaii ("The Andrea Doria").
Despite their antagonistic relationship, Jerry and Newman have ended up working in unison on rare occasions. In "The Sniffing Accountant", Jerry worked with Kramer and Newman to find out if their accountant was on drugs. In "The Soul Mate", Jerry and Newman help each other with their romance problems. Newman told Jerry about Kramer's crush on his then-girlfriend, Pam, while Jerry helps Newman get a chance to date Elaine.
Certain instances would even define their relationship as one of friendship, or at least mutual tolerance, built around their shared friend, Kramer. In "The Pick", Jerry casually walks over to Newman's apartment and brings him back to his own, to examine Elaine's Christmas card. Newman apparently puts up little fight and doesn't make any sarcastic remarks, then leaves without a confrontation. In "The Old Man", Jerry says "my friends" in reference to Kramer and Newman and in "The Bottle Deposit" he has no qualms about leaving Kramer and Newman alone in his apartment, trusting they'll "keep an eye on one another." In "The Barber", Jerry allows Newman to use his bathroom, albeit reluctantly, and even watches Edward Scissorhands with him.
Career and finances
Jerry is very successful financially, and occupationally stable in comparison with his friends (and perhaps with other stand-up comedians in general). He never seems to be at a loss for money, in comparison to both George and Elaine, whose careers go through both highs and lows but are often unsuccessful or short of money. Throughout the series Jerry suffers numerous financial and material losses, but these do not seem to have long-term impacts on his situation. Examples include:
While Jerry's career is successful and his opening and closing stand-up bits always go as planned, his stand-up performances depicted within the show occasionally go awry.
Jerry has an obsessive insistence on cleanliness and neatness.
In 2007, Entertainment Weekly placed the Jerry Seinfeld character eighth on their list of the "50 Greatest TV icons". For his portrayal, Jerry Seinfeld was nominated four times for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy, out of which he won one, along with being nominated five times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, for which he never won.