You may not be able to stream any Seinfeld episodes right now, but you can at least revisit the sitcom classic’s music. Twenty-three years after the series’ finale, the official soundtrack has finally been released. The signature compositional style the legendary Jonathan Wolff brought to the show may be best captured in the iconic slapping bass of the theme song, but his music also added levity to some of the show’s must memorable moments.
Of course, not all of them could be represented on the OST — Seinfeld ran for a stunning 180 episodes over nine seasons, after all. So Wolff dug through his contributions to pick out moments where the music was able to “contribute in a significant way to the comedy of the scene.” As he explained in a press statement, he wanted the selections to “serve as an instantly identifiable signature and bring warm fuzzies to a Seinfeld fan who will remember that scene.”
If the tracks themselves don’t jog your memory, we’ve reverse engineered Wolff’s process to highlight the 10 best episodes featured on the Seinfeld soundtrack. From the dark twist of “The Invitations” to the ungroovy dance moves of “The Little Kicks,” from the live-action video game of “The Frogger” to the absurd visuals of “The Package,” we break them all down for you below.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to watch any of these episodes unless you’re still a DVD collector. Seinfeld left Hulu last month, and Netflix’s terms with the series don’t begin until September. Still, as you press play on Wolff’s score, read on to revisit some of the definitive Seinfeld moments he scored.
— Ben Kaye, Editorial Director
10. “The Muffin Tops” — Season 8, Episode 21
A rare A-B-C-D plotline for a TV sitcom, everyone is off on their own stories in this one. George fakes being an out of towner to get a date, Jerry tries shaving his chest, and Kramer starts “The Peterman Reality Tour” business. All provide solid humor, but the crux of the episode is the title storyline: Elaine’s obsession with the tops of muffins.
Convinced no one else actually enjoys eating the stumps, Elaine offhandedly hatches the idea for a muffin store that only serves the tops. Mr. Lippan steals the concept and opens Top of the Muffin to You!, but the flaw in his business plan is he only makes the muffin top. See, the deliciousness of the top is only achieved by baking the full muffin and removing the exposed part. Elaine suggests going full muffin and donating the stumps to the homeless, only to receive complaints from the shelter for thinking, “They don’t have homes! They don’t have homes! What do they need the top of the muffin for?” Everyone needs the top of the muffin — it’s the best part! — Ben Kaye
09. “The Cadillac Pt. 2” — Season 7, Episode 15
The two-part episode “The Cadillac” features two very noteworthy cameos: Marisa Tomei, whom George pursues diligently in part one (even though he’s engaged); and Mabel, the woman that Jerry stole the marble rye loaf from in “The Rye” (read on for that one). George finally gets his date with Tomei, but after revealing that he’s engaged, she staunchly rejects him.
Meanwhile, Jerry’s father Morty is under fire from his fellow condo inhabitants in Florida, and upon seeing Jerry, Mabel cements Morty’s impeachment as office condo president. Eventually, George and Jerry get the punishment that’s coming for them — a repeating tradition in Seinfeld. Throughout the two parts of “The Cadillac,” George and Jerry’s immediate hopes and dreams are squandered, albeit in a way that neither could have predicted. The episode is a perfect example of what the show does best: When you least expect it, life happens. — Paolo Ragusa
08. “The Chicken Roaster” — Season 8, Episode 8
When a Kenny Rogers Roasters moves into the neighborhood, Kramer is kept awake by the restaurant’s blaring red neon sign. He’s determined to get the place shut down, but since Jerry’s friend, Seth, is assistant manager there, he decides to switch apartments with his neighbor until his pal can find new employment. Watching Jerry turn full Kramer is goofy fun, as slapstick is very much not Seinfeld’s strong suit. Of course, Kramer becomes addicted to Kenny’s delicious chicken, and the whole dynamic is thrown into deeper chaos.
In the end, it’s Jerry who gets Kenny Rogers Roasters shut down. Wearing a faux sable Russian hat Elaine bought to replace an $8,000 one George lost in an attempt to get a date (because of course), Jerry walks in out of the rain and shakes his hat dry. That sends nutria fur flying, and the Roasters is forced to close shop. Another masterful connecting of threads by the show’s writing staff. — B.K.
07. “The Rye” — Season 7, Episode 11
“The Rye” depicts George bringing his parents, Frank and Estelle, to meet his fiancé Susan Ross’ parents for the first time. Frank brings a loaf of marble rye to the dinner table, but Susan’s parents forget to serve it. Angered, Frank decides to take the loaf back, much to the Ross’ chagrin.
To try and repair the damage and avoid a family feud, George vows to replace the bread, eventually resulting in Jerry having to hilariously rob an old woman at the bakery to get the last loaf of marble rye. The lengths that George and Jerry go through to fix the situation with a new loaf of bread is comedy gold, and it’s a perfect example of the universe of Seinfeld: No matter how hard you try, carnage is inevitable. — P.R.
06. “The Invitations” — Season 7, Episode 24
By this point, audiences were about as tired of George’s fiancée Susan as he was. Watching her slight both Kramer and Elaine in a single episode was something of a last straw. Still, no one could have predicted the dastardly dark ending Larry David would pen for Susan.
Desperate to get out of the relationship but resigned to not being man enough to break it off, George opts for the cheapest wedding invitations available. Attempting to get Susan to end things for him, he tries smoking only to get sick himself, and suggests a prenup only to have Susan eagerly concur. Little did he know that being too cheap to spring for decent invitations would be his salvation — by leading to Susan’s death. Licking all that low-quality adhesive on the envelopes poisons the poor woman, giving us perhaps the series’ darkest turn. And more evidence that the Seinfeld gang are truly terrible people, as they remain apathetic about her death. — B.K.
05. “The Little Kicks” — Season 8, Episode 4
Julie Louis-Dreyfus deserves an Emmy for “The Little Kicks.” The episode features one of the series’ most brilliant and hilarious bits of physical comedy: Elaine’s bizarre dancing. When Elaine brings George along to one of her company events, he witnesses her dance moves for this first time. Complete with “little kicks,” oddly contorted moves, and a lot of weird “thumbs up” gestures, her dancing shocks the guests, causing Elaine to eventually blame George.
The moment kicks off a series of self-inflated moves from each of the four main characters, with George donning a bad boy image and Kramer and Jerry becoming bootleggers. What’s more, Louis-Dreyfus filmed the entire dancing scene without music playing — a true testament to her ability to steal the show. — P.R.
04. “The Package” — Season 8, Episode 5
There are two iconic images from Seinfeld that easily encapsulate the series in the eyes of fans. One is Kramer’s portrait from “The Letter,” and the other is George’s boudoir picture from “The Package.” Convinced the woman at the photo store is coming onto him by slipping a lingerie pic into his photos (spoiler: she isn’t), George takes some risque photos of his own. But because Newman is already suspicious Jerry is trying to commit mail fraud by damaging his own stereo (spoiler: he is), the nosy mailman discovers George’s underwear photo and blows it up for a large display. Seeing the image of course spoils George for the photo clerk — and everyone watching, for that matter.
While all this is happening, Elaine digs a deeper hole for herself as she tries to expunge her “difficult patient” status from her medical records. In a rare Uncle Leo-Elaine crossover, she ropes Jerry’s uncle into the whole scheme, eventually causing a black mark to be put on his record when she paints angry fake eyebrows on Leo’s face. The episode is a mess of misunderstandings, which were always rife for Seinfeld gold. — B.K.
03. “The Contest” — Season 4, Episode 11
One of Seinfeld’s most iconic (and controversial) episodes depicts a contest in which Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George make a bet to see who can go the longest without masturbating. The men expect Elaine to have the “easiest” time, but it wouldn’t be a Seinfeld episode without those expectations being turned around completely.
Through insomnia, George’s sponge bath temptations, Jerry’s virgin girlfriend, and Kramer’s… escapades, Elaine becomes the first to drop of out of the contest after meeting (and flirting with) JFK Jr. In the end, it’s unclear who wins the contest — but each of our four characters end up getting the opposite of what they expected. It’s a particularly spicy episode of Seinfeld, but it’s one that features Larry David’s subtle, inoffensive commentary on our primal desires. — P.R.
02. “The Summer of George” — Season 8, Episode 22
This one has it all: Kramer tripping his way into an insanely Kramer situation, Elaine getting unfairly blamed for a fight with a guest star, and a call back to one of the series’ darkest comic moments. What’s more, Kramer and Elaine’s storylines get tied together in the end with another of the show’s classic A-C connections, as her fight with coworker Sam (Molly Shannon) ends with her getting beat up by another guest star, Raquel Welch.
Jerry’s plot is actually the least interesting here, but having it lead to George’s own mishap with party invitations — aggravated by the atrophy of “The Summer of George” — is a brilliant bit of long-game comedy. As the finale episode of Season 8, this ep puts all the show’s strengths on display in one ridiculous package. — B.K.
01. “The Frogger” — Season 9, Episode 18
In “The Frogger,” Jerry continues to date a woman he doesn’t like to avoid a serial killer, Elaine raids her boss’ fridge and ends up eating a 50 year-old slice of cake, but the most remarkable storyline belongs to George. When George and Jerry hear that their high school pizza joint is closing down for good, they head to Mario’s for one last slice. While there, George discovers that his Frogger high score from years earlier was still unbeaten on the machine, and in order to preserve his feat, he must keep the machine powered and move it out of the closing pizza joint.
In true George fashion, getting the massive, high-powered game machine across the street while keeping it plugged in is no easy task — all of this culminating in a hilarious, real-time attempt to weave through traffic like the heroic frog in the game. The episode is definitely keen on its ’80s nostalgia, but George’s Frogger journey is a true highlight of the series. — P.R.