In the history of television, there are relatively few series that have quite as biting a sense of humor as Seinfeld. The four main characters repeatedly show themselves quite adept at hurling insults, both at themselves and at one another.
Even though George can sometimes be a bit of a dunce, there are several points in the series where he shows that he is more than Jerry’s match when it comes to delivering a powerful insult. Unlike Jerry, however, he tends to reserve his most biting insults for himself rather than others.
10 On Himself:
“I’m Disturbed, I’m Depressed, I’m Inadequate – I’ve Got It All!”
George has many bad character traits, and though at times he can be very self-involved, he typically isn’t under any illusions about how intelligent or appealing he is. As he amply demonstrates in this insult, he saves a lot of his recriminations for himself. Of course, what makes this an especially amusing insult is that it doesn’t really change his behavior; if anything, his self-awareness allows him to not feel guilty about being insufferable.
9 On Steinbrenner:
“We Have Watched You Take Our Beloved Yankees And Reduce Them To A Laughing Stock!”
George may be a bit of a failure – in part because he’s often too lazy to do his job well or properly – he clearly has a lot of commitment to the Yankees. What’s more, he blurts out just how dissatisfied he is with the way that the team has been run. It’s lucky for George that this insult doesn’t torpedo his chances of getting a job but, instead, lands him the very position that he’s applied for.
8 On Power:
“But You Are, Blanche! You Are In The Shackles!”
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is one of the most iconic of psycho-biddy movies in the history of the movies, so it makes sense that it would appear even in a series like Seinfeld. In this case, George evokes Baby Jane’s iconic line about her sister being in a wheelchair by informing a criminal that he is, in fact, in shackles, rendering him powerless to do anything against George’s taunts. It’s one of the few moments where he actually comes out on top.
7 On Shrimp:
“Oh Yeah? Well, The Jerk Store Called. They’re Running Out Of You!”
George isn’t always the type of person who can land on his feet when it comes to an oral argument, and that’s what makes this particular insult so amusing. It doesn’t really land with the type of impact that he clearly wanted, but he still deserves at least a bit of respect for being willing to go on the attack against someone else, even if it didn’t land in quite the way he expected.
6 On Himself, Again:
“Please, A Little Respect, For I Am Costanza, Lord Of The Idiots.”
Whatever else they might be, it’s clear that Jerry and George have quite an extraordinary friendship. Though they clearly love each other, they’re also not afraid to lob insults in one another’s directions, though in this case they are insulting themselves rather than the other. Not to be outdone by Jerry’s claim that he is the bigger idiot, George asserts not only that he is the bigger idiot, but that he is the lord of them. It is a dubious distinction, but one of which George is obviously proud.
5 On His Least Favorite Person:
“There Is No Bigger Loser Than Me!”
In addition to claiming a position as the bigger idiot compared to Jerry, George also goes out of his way to say that he is also a loser.
This is a claim that has at least some basis in fact, given the way that George struggles to find any sense of success or fulfillment in his life, whether in the world of romance or in his professional life. At the very least, however, he can insult himself and take ownership of his own shortcomings.
4 On His Parents:
“What’s So Great About A Mom And Pop Store? Let Me Tell You Something, If My Mom And Pop Ran A Store I Wouldn’t Shop There.”
There are few Seinfeld secondary characters with as much zest and spirit as Frank and Estelle Costanza. Even though they aren’t present for this particular insult from George, it’s clear that he has a very difficult relationship with them and, what’s more, that he’s not afraid of expressing that to anyone who will listen. From his point of view, the two of them couldn’t even be trusted with the running of a convenience store (about which he is most likely correct).
3 On Kids:
“I Can’t Stand Kids. Adults Think It’s So Wonderful How Honest Kids Are. I Don’t Need That Kind Of Honesty. I’ll Take A Deceptive Adult Over An Honest Kid Any Day.”
It’s a bit of a contest over who is the bigger curmudgeon between Jerry and George, but with this well-directed insult, George makes a strong case for it being him. Just as Jerry likes to insult almost every group of people that he can imagine, George here aims a devastating insult at children.
However, given that George is himself very much a childish kind of person, it makes sense that he would view actual children with such contempt.
2 On His Parents, Again:
“Divorce Is Very Difficult. Especially On A Kid. Of Course, I’m The Result Of My Parents Having Stayed Together, So You Never Know.”
Frank and Estelle Costanza are an iconic TV couple, but it’s clear that they have a very volatile relationship, both with one another and with George. This is also something that George has picked up, since in this insult he attributes so many of his own failings and personality quirks to the fact that his parents, despite being ill-suited for one another, have managed to stay together for a very long time.
1 On His Ancestry:
“I Come From A Long Line Of Quitters. My Father Was A Quitter, My Grandfather Was A Quitter. I Was Raised To Fail.”
Time and again, George brings up the failings of his family, often using an insult to do it. Here, he takes aim at Frank, arguably one of Jerry Stiller’s best roles, pointing out that his father’s tendency to quit predisposes him to be the kind of failure that he understands himself to be. Given Frank’s volatile temper, however, it’s probably for the best that he wasn’t around to hear George deliver this particular insult.