Even after all of this time, there’s a great deal about Seinfeld that continues to resonate today, and many of its jokes and quips have proven especially timeless. Of all of the characters, it’s Jerry who seems to have the most finely-honed ability to deliver an insult.
While most of these are directed at either other people or a generalized element of the populace, he’s also not afraid to insult himself, and during the series’ numerous seasons, he delivered many insults and put-downs that stand the test of time and continue to amuse.
10 On Dating:
“Salad! What Was I Thinking? Women Don’t Respect Salad Eaters.”
Jerry is well-known for having a finely-tuned sense of absurdity on Seinfeld, and he often turns that against others. However, he’s also not afraid to take a good hard look at himself in the mirror, which is what he does here when he reprimands himself for deciding to eat a salad rather than a presumably more manly meal.
It is, of course, a little ridiculous, not to mention dated as it relies on old notions of masculinity, but it’s precisely this that makes it such an extraordinary insult, made all the more amusing because it’s directed at himself.
9 On PDA:
“People On Dates Shouldn’t Even Be Allowed Out In Public.”
Though Jerry is prone to insulting even his friends, he often seems to reserve his greatest ire for the elements of the public that he disagrees with. As he makes clear in this particular insult, he has a specific kind of disdain for people who are out on dates.
In part, this stems from his own rather checkered romantic history, but it also reveals his generally curmudgeonly attitude toward people who show affection to one another in a public setting.
8 On Telemarketers:
“Oh, I Guess Because You Don’t Want Strangers Calling You At Home. Well, Now You Know How I Feel.”
Seinfeld was one of those series that captured so many of the most absurd and frustrating aspects of modern life, including the ever-present specter of the telemarketer.
Being Jerry, he’s not the type to just let a telemarketing call go without some sort of remark, which is why he delivers this powerful insult, reminding the unfortunate person on the other end of the line that he doesn’t like being interrupted and neither would the caller if put in a similar circumstance. It’s certainly a Seinfeld scene that fans love to watch over and over.
7 On Himself:
“All Of A Sudden It Hit Me, I Realised What The Problem Is: I Can’t Be With Someone Like Me. I Hate Myself! If Anything, I Need To Get The Exact Opposite Of Me. It’s Too Much.”
Jerry isn’t just capable of reprimanding his own choices when it comes to what he eats, he’s also capable of insulting his entire personality.
In this insult, he reveals just how much he can’t stand himself (even as he refuses to really change very much about his personality or his way of engaging with others). What’s more, he realizes that he can’t date someone who shares his personality, given his own very deep level of self-loathing.
6 On Dressing Down:
“You Know The Message You’re Sending Out To The World With Sweatpants? You’re Telling The World: ‘I Give Up. I Can’t Compete In Normal Society. I’m Miserable, So I Might As Well Be Comfortable.’”
In addition to insulting people out on dates, Jerry has a great deal of ire for those who wear sweatpants in public.
In this particular insult, he doubles down on his dislike of this particular segment of the population, essentially saying that wearing sweatpants in public is somehow indicative of one’s initiative or lack thereof, to say nothing of whether one should be considered suitable for being seen in polite or normal society.
5 On Vacations:
“Who Goes On Vacation Without A Job? What Do You Need A Break From, Getting Up At Eleven?”
The dynamic between George and Jerry in Seinfeld is one of the best aspects of the series, and it’s clear that, despite their contempt, they do care about each other (they do have many wholesome moments, after all).
That being said, Jerry isn’t afraid to take George to task when he thinks that his friend is doing something foolish or silly, as seen in this case, when he points out that, given that he doesn’t have a job, there’s really not much point in taking a vacation. It may not be particularly gentle, but he also has a point.
4 On George’s Deals:
“Cheapness Is Not A Sense.”
Jerry also isn’t afraid to call out George when the other man is engaging in some self-delusion (which he does on a fairly regular basis). Among other things, George seems to think that he has a sixth sense when it comes to finding a good deal.
As Jerry points out, however, being cheap doesn’t necessarily mean that one actually knows how to find a good deal. It’s one of Jerry’s more profound pieces of wisdom, in addition to being a stellar insult.
3 On The Mail:
There’s no question that Newman is one of the best secondary characters in Seinfeld, and it’s also true that he earns the ire of almost everyone that he comes into contact with, and that includes Jerry.
In fact, so great is Jerry’s dislike of the other man that he’s able to turn a simple greeting into one of his best insults. He manages to imbue so much contempt into his tone of voice that leaves Newman, and the viewer, with no doubt how he feels.
2 On Books:
“What Is This Obsession People Have With Books? They Put Them In Their Houses Like They’re Trophies. What Do You Need It For After You Read It?”
Sweatpants wearers and people going on dates aren’t the only people to earn Jerry’s ire, and with this insult, he makes it clear that he doesn’t think especially highly of bibliophiles either. To Jerry, books are clearly something that are to be read and then discarded, not kept.
It’s one of those points that Jerry frequently makes, many of which are framed as insults, that have an irritating amount of relatability to them.
1 On Children:
“Boy, A Little Too Much Chlorine In That Gene Pool.”
Throughout the series, Jerry shows that he’s not a huge fan of children (or really, anyone), but he saves one of his best insults for the child of someone that they happen to be visiting.
Regardless of what a baby might look like, it’s still a pretty low blow for Jerry to point out that its ugliness might be genetic, insulting the child and parents in one fell swoop. But given that this is Jerry, it makes sense and thus earns its place as one of his best insults on the show.