In the catalog of characters from the forever iconic show Seinfeld, George Costanza ranks among the funniest and perhaps most memorable. Almost entirely based on co-creator Larry David’s own misanthropic personality, George managed to be a cheap and completely selfish curmudgeon who somehow, despite his notably repellant personality, never lost the audience.
It turns out, a character based on someone always willing to say or do what other people are too polite to, or maybe too scared to, is the exact type of character the audience wants to watch. Almost a proto anti-hero created years before Tony Soprano or Don Draper would popularize the concept, George’s antics leave him a plethora of notable quotes that seem to be plucked directly from the subconscious of a truly warped, but funny, mind.
“God Would Never Let Me Be Successful; He’d Kill Me First.”
George is no stranger to things not going his way. Throughout the show’s nine-season run, fans could probably count the number of times something actually worked out for the man on one hand. This is precisely why when he and Jerry’s television pilot is about to air, George’s anxiety grows as he waits for the moment the universe decides to drop the other shoe and destroy his success.
Always a realist, this line of thinking is exactly what most people feel when they’re dealt a suspiciously good hand, something George knows all about since he is suspicious of everything.
“Jerry, Just Remember. It’s Not A Lie If You Believe It.”
Another wise piece of advice from a man who’s entirely too comfortable with lying, this moment finds George giving Jerry advice before he submits himself to a polygraph test to prove to a police officer he’s interested in that he’s never seen Melrose Place.
Of course, Jerry is unable to truly embody this lie as George might, and he caves during questioning revealing his love of the show. While unhelpful in the end, this quote is a succinct encapsulation of the George Costanza mindset that undoubtedly always leads him into embarrassing situations.
“Parole, That’s Dynamite.”
In his lifelong quest to craft his reality into whatever is most convenient for him, George becomes giddy at the prospect of a new girlfriend who’s currently in prison. To him, this is the perfect arrangement as he’ll have full control over when they can see each other and he’ll never have to worry about losing her to another man.
Naturally, this plan falls through when she reveals that she’s up for parole. Horrified by the idea of his new girlfriend gaining the freedom to come and go in his life as she sees fit and too scared to break up with her, George spits out this half-hearted display of his excitement at the unwelcome development. This leads him to lie to the parole board and tell them of her plans to join a heist when she is released, causing her to be denied.
“You Know I Always Wanted To Pretend That I Was An Architect!”
Never one to go above and beyond to improve himself, George is far more comfortable pretending to do something than to actually do it. Nowhere is that more clear than when he’s arguing with Jerry before a dinner party and lets this slip out. While George’s obsession with being seen as an architect is long studied, he never once gives any effort into actually becoming one.
With George, he’s far more interested in the illusion of intellect and money that the profession offers than the actual work involved with it. Not entirely admirable, it’s at least relatable, in George’s mind the only thing better than actually doing something is pretending to do something.
“If It Wasn’t For The Toilet, There Would Be No Books.”
A theory only George could craft, this comes after he is forced to buy a $100 French impressionist book as a result of reading it in the bathroom. Never one to read in the first place, the idea of actually paying for a book is truly alien to him, leading him on a hunt to find someone to whom he can sell this tainted book.
After trying to return the book at the original store, donating it to charity for a $200 write off, and selling it to Elaine, George finally decides that the only way to recoup his losses on the book is to steal another one from the original store, only to get turned in by Jerry as a way to clear his uncle’s name.
“The Jerk Store Called, They’re Running Out Of You.”
Burned by a coworker while gorging on cocktail shrimp at a meeting, George realizes the perfect comeback to his coworker’s jab. In reality, this isn’t a great comeback at all, which Jerry and Elaine try to convince him of. Only furthering his insistence on recreating the scene in which the original joke occurred so he can deliver this comeback.
Going so far as to fly to a different state in order to attend a meeting, with shrimp, that his coworker will be part of, George finally gets his moment to deliver his rebuttal only for his coworker to lob it right back with another insult. This prompts George to make a joke about the man’s wife, who is revealed to be in a coma, and he officially loses the altercation. Of course, on his way home, he thinks of the perfect response and the cycle continues.
“If She Can’t Find Me, She Can’t Break Up With Me.”
In another instance of George being more interested in the appearance of something than anything else, he’s obsessed with the idea of bringing his new girlfriend Allison to a ball hosted by his employer. Hearing that she “wants to talk,” and knowing exactly what this means, he goes to excessive lengths to avoid her.
Another look into the mind of George, it’s clear he isn’t worried about losing his girlfriend on any emotional level, he makes no attempts at saving the relationship out of love, he’s exclusively interested in holding out just long enough so he can parade her in front of his coworkers. Just like his dream of pretending to be an architect, it’s all about appearances.
“When You Look Annoyed All The Time, People Think You’re Busy.”
This is a mantra that George has crafted in order to be given as little work as possible, while simultaneously looking like he’s doing a fantastic job at what in reality is absolutely nothing. While normally not a person to take advice from, this is a rare moment of wisdom where fans may actually have something to gain from his sage advice.
Of course, things go wrong and he ends up playing it a bit too well, eventually leading his boss to think he has anger issues, something avid viewers of the show might not think is too far off.
“Of Course I’m Concerned, I’m Paying For Those Meals!”
In one of George’s more twisted moments, when Elaine is asking him whether he is concerned that his new girlfriend might be bulimic, he shares his concern in probably the most selfish way possible.
As a character, George is almost exclusively concerned with his own wellbeing, which is perfectly illustrated in this moment. In the end, his new girlfriend isn’t actually bulimic and did indeed just need to freshen up after eating, prompting her to leave him when he follows her into the women’s bathroom in order to catch her in the act.
“I Live My Whole Life In Shame. Why Should I Die With Dignity?”
Worried about potentially having cancer after a vague answer from a doctor at a biopsy appointment, George exclaims that he would like to die as he lived, with no dignity. Fans have to admire the honesty with which George presents the situation, one of the few things he does that could be considered admirable.
Again from George’s downward spiral while filming his and Jerry’s pilot, his worries end up being overblown and he doesn’t actually have cancer. In the end, the show doesn’t get picked up and the two are back where they started, but at least they have their health.