Hello, Newman! As a friend to Kramer and an antagonist to Jerry, Newman was Seinfeld’s most memorable recurring character. Actor Wayne Knight crafted a humorously sinister and gleefully wicked character with a deep disdain for “pretty boy” Jerry. Of all the Seinfeld recurring characters, Newman was a welcome addition to an episode as he provided a foil to the usually indomitable Jerry Seinfeld.
Newman first appeared offscreen in season two’s “The Revenge,” and was voiced by series creator Larry David. However, when the show went into syndication, David replaced his voice with Knight’s, George Lucas-style. Wayne Knight ultimately appeared as Newman in 48 episodes as Jerry’s arch-nemesis and became one of television’s most iconic characters.
The Old Man – S4E18 – 8.0
Kramer and Newman go into business together selling used records to Ron, played by Saw’s Tobin Bell, over at Bleecker Bob’s record store. In this episode, we discover that Newman is a United States Postal Worker and he memorably rants why postal workers go postal – “it’s because the mail never stops.”
Newman also shines in several scenes where Ron rejects their haul of used records, inspiring Kramer to feed Newman words of defiance. Unfortunately for Newman, a “real brouhaha” breaks out between him and Ron and all the records break.
The Junk Mail – S9E5 – 8.1
Kramer decides to cancel his mail after receiving too much junk mail from “jack-booted thugs” like Pottery Barn. In a scene spoofing Three Days of The Condor, mailman Newman warns Kramer that his protests against mail are going to get them both in trouble.
Ultimately, Kramer’s anti-mail campaign lands him in hot water and he must answer to the Postmaster-General, played by Wilford Brimley. Kramer gets scared straight, but a bucket-covered Newman must face the consequences. “Tell the world my story,” Newman says to Kramer before having to contend with the General.
The Big Salad – S6E2 – 8.2
Jerry becomes disillusioned about his new relationship with Margaret when he discovers that she previously dated Newman. Elaine posits that there must be more to Newman than meets the eye, to which Jerry replies, “No, there’s less. I’ve looked into his eyes, he’s pure evil.” Jerry becomes even more disturbed to find out that it was Newman who ended things with Margaret. She “liked him.”
Newman takes great pleasure in seeing his arch-nemesis have such a dilemma. Jerry continues dating Margaret, but can’t get past her prior romance with Newman. Jerry can’t even bring himself to kiss her, so, she throws him out of her car. “Newman!”
The Reverse Peephole – S9E12 – 8.3
Kramer and Newman decide to reverse the peepholes on their apartment doors to prevent potential intruders from ambushing them “with a sock full of pennies.” The super, Silvio, allows Kramer to install the reverse peephole but brands Newman as an agitator and evicts him.
Meanwhile, Elaine needs Puddy’s coat back from Newman, so she reluctantly comes on to “Newmie” to get it. It’s Newman’s dream that his unrequited love wants him, but he rejects her advances and admits that he’s in love with Silvio’s wife. Now, it’s up to Kramer to stop Silvio from evicting Newman despite the fact that he’s sleeping with Silvio’s wife, although admitting there is “very little sleeping going on.”
The Bookstore – S9E17 -8.3
Kramer and Newman hatch a plan to start a homeless person-operated rickshaw ride business in Manhattan. As Newman states, “it’s the romance of the handsome cab, without the guilt or dander of the equine.”
However, their plan backfires when a homeless man steals the rickshaw. Memorably, after reacquiring the rickshaw, Kramer accidentally allows the conveyance to roll down a very steep incline with Newman still onboard. Since there are no steep inclines in New York to pull off such a hilarious moment, producers filmed this classic scene in hilly San Francisco.
The Ticket – S4E4 – 8.3
Newman contests a speeding ticket and uses Kramer as his witness. However, Kramer was recently kicked in the head by Joe Davola and now has a walking concussion. Newman tries to get out of the ticket by claiming he was racing home from Westchester, where he was playing Parchesi with an old blind man, to stop Kramer from committing suicide over the fact that “he never became a banker.”
Unfortunately, on the witness stand, Kramer forgets the story they concocted and Newman fails to get out of the speeding ticket. This would be Newman’s biggest storyline to date and the courtroom debacle makes this a classic Seinfeld episode.
The Boyfriend – S3E17 – 8.7
Jerry starts having a bromance with baseball player Keith Hernandez, much to the chagrin of Kramer and Newman who memorably describes an incident where the famous MLB player spit on them.
Parodying the at-the-time popular film JFK, which co-starred Wayne Knight as a character named “Numa,” Jerry has Kramer and Newman reenact the spitting incident so he can poke holes in their “The Magic Loogie” theory. By this point, Newman’s presence on the show was growing, making him a welcome addition to the quartet.
The Engagement – S7E1 – 8.8
Elaine avails herself of Newman’s services to help get rid of an incessantly barking dog next door to her. So, Elaine, Kramer, and Newman kidnap the noisy dog and set it free upstate, however, it’s able to miraculously find its way back home.
While this storyline was an example of how the initially New York-realistic show could get down-right silly, Wayne Knight effectively amplifies the evil genius aspects of Newman’s persona with hilarious results.
The Package – S8E5 – 8.8
Jerry gets himself suspected of mail fraud, thanks to Kramer, and mailman Newman is happily put in charge of the investigation.
Newman gleefully takes the opportunity to nail his arch-nemesis with a crime. Wayne Knight even spoofs his own appearance in Basic Instinctwhen Newman incompetently and unsuccessfully interrogates cool, calm, and collected Jerry under hot lights.
The Bottle Deposit – S7E20 – 8.9
Kramer and Newman scheme to collect as many cans and bottles as they can so they can deposit them in Michigan for more money. However, the scheme fails when Kramer decides to chase after a mechanic who absconded with Jerry’s car, leaving Newman on the side of the road. However, a local farmer rescues Newman and gives him shelter and a meal.
This episode marks the most Newman screen time without the show’s three leads, giving him a quick side-adventure worthy of a main cast member. Newman’s scene at the dinner table where he tries to impress the farmer’s daughter, while in the presence of her stern father, exemplifies why Wayne Knight’s Newman was an integral part of Seinfeld.