"The Opposite" is the 86th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which was also the 21nd episode of the fifth season. It aired on May 19, 1994. This was the first episode shot for Season 5, but it was intended to be the season finale. This is the last episode Tom Cherones directed. Andy Ackerman would take over as the primary director for the remaining seasons.
Elaine gets a raise at Pendant Publishing, which is merging with a Japanese conglomerate to avoid bankruptcy, and is publishing Kramer's coffee table book. She has also reunited with her boyfriend Jake Jarmel. (It is never revealed how they got over their exclamation point dispute.) George returns from the beach and decides that every decision that he has ever made has been wrong, and that his life is the exact opposite of what it should be. George tells this to Jerry in Monk's Café, who convinces him that "if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right". George then resolves to start doing the complete opposite of what he would do normally. He orders the opposite of his normal lunch, and he introduces himself to a beautiful woman (played by Dedee Pfeiffer) who happens to order exactly the same lunch, saying, "My name is George. I'm unemployed and I live with my parents." To his surprise, she is impressed and agrees to date him.
Jerry loses a stand-up gig and five minutes later is asked to perform another one on the same night, for the same pay, prompting Kramer to call him "Even Steven". This causes Jerry to start noticing how everything always ends up turning out exactly the same for him as originally planned, never losing or gaining. George continues to do the Opposite on his date with Victoria. He stops shaving, yells at noisy cinema patrons, and refuses to come up to her apartment. Meanwhile, Elaine, upon hearing that Jake has been in an accident (from a theater manager, played by French Stewart), quickly buys some Jujyfruits from the concession stand before heading to the hospital. Jake takes extreme exception to her lack of consideration and breaks up with Elaine on the spot because of it.
The next day, Kramer appears on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee to promote his book. After kissing Kathie Lee on the mouth, he accidentally burns his mouth on the hot coffee and spits it all over Kathie Lee. This leads to a premature cancellation of his book tour. Thanks to his date, George gets an interview at the New York Yankees, where he also does the opposite of his instincts and criticizes George Steinbrenner (voiced by Larry David) about his management practices, thus landing him the job of Assistant to the Traveling Secretary. He moves out of his parents' house, making sure to tell them how much he loves them, again, an example of "opposite" behavior.
Elaine finds out that she is being kicked out of her apartment building. The list of grievances includes putting Canadian quarters into the washing machine and buzzing a jewel thief and a group of Jehovah's Witnesses past security, after which "[they] couldn't get them out of the building." Later, when her boss (Mr. Lippman) forgets his handkerchief in her office, Elaine (her mouth full of Jujyfruits) cannot tell him to take it. Later, when he sneezes without his handkerchief, he will not shake hands with his Japanese counterpart (and spread germs); the Japanese executive takes this as a sign of disrespect and becomes angry, refusing to close the deal, thus putting an end to Pendant Publishing. By the end of the episode, Elaine claims that she has "become George," but Jerry can only marvel at how things always even out for him: first, Elaine was up and George was down; now, George is up and Elaine is down, but Jerry's life is exactly the same.
According to Jerry Seinfeld, the line from George's angry rant at the movie theater – "...we're gonna take it outside and I'm gonna show you what it's like!" – is taken almost verbatim from a Buddy Rich bootleg tape, where he would berate his big band players for playing too loud. Regis Philbin, as recounted in his memoir How I Got This Way, was embarrassed and disappointed with Jerry Seinfeld and the show's writing crew after his repeated line, "This guy's bonkos!" bombed with the audiences. Philbin had objected to the line prior to the taping of the episode, a request which Seinfeld and the writing staff did not honor.
The concept for George's plotline is in fact already suggested in "The Seinfeld Chronicles", Seinfeld's pilot. In one scene, George tells Jerry not to clean his bathroom before a woman visits, because "...in these matters you never do what your instincts tell you. Always, ALWAYS do the opposite." When Jerry asks if this is George's own practice, he responds, "Yeah, I wish."