Three decades ago, TV shows were about something… and then a little show about nothing changed everything.
On July 5, 1989, Seinfeld made an unremarkable debut on NBC and puttered along for a few low-rated seasons — it would’ve been cancelled five times over by today’s NBC, of course — before blossoming into a true cultural phenomenon. Now, 30 years later, the misadventures of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer stand as one of the greatest and most popular comedies in TV history, with a refreshingly low-stakes look at life’s little quirks and annoyances — and an avalanche of catchphrases we’re still quoting today. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
To celebrate 30 years of Seinfeld, we’re rolling up the sleeves of our puffy shirts and ranking the 30 best episodes across all nine seasons. For Seinfeld obsessives like us, this was a near-impossible assignment, and we ended up having to leave many iconic moments — the Pez dispenser, “shrinkage,” Bizarro Jerry, “yada yada yada” — on the cutting-room floor. (In general, we favored overall episode quality over individual moments or quotable dialogue.) But we emerged with a final list that’s not only real… it’s spectacular.
So check out the gallery to the right — or click here for direct access — and see which episodes made our ranking of Seinfeld‘s all-time best… and which classic installment came in at number one. (And as a public service announcement, all nine seasons of Seinfeld are available to stream right now on Hulu.) Got a problem with our choices? Grab your astronaut pen and join us in the comments below to share your own list of Seinfeld favorites.