Part of the genius of Seinfeld was the way it was able to weave so many memorable side characters in and out of each episode. Many of the so-called “minor” players the show created went on to be some of the best known characters in sitcom history. I mean, you have to know someone who still says “no soup for you!” in their everyday life, right?
But what about the characters that appeared in only one episode over the course of Seinfeld‘s entire run? And when I say one episode, I mean ONE episode: They didn’t come back to testify in the finale and they never made another appearance on the show. They may have been one-and-done, but they provided some of the funniest moments in the show’s history.
Here’s a list of 10 of the best of those one-off characters. It’s totally subjective — getting it down to 10 was a tough process — but in my opinion, these were the most memorable.
Jimmy (episode: The Jimmy): “Jimmy might have a compound fracture!”
Ned Isakoff (episode: The Race): Very well read, and very well red.
Todd Gack (episode: The Calzone): Foolproof system of getting women to go to dinner with him.
Coco Higgins (episode: The Maid): Responsible for giving George the nickname “Gammy.”
Jack, a.k.a. The Wiz (episode: The Junk Mail): Nobody beats him.
The Top 10
10. Vegetable Lasagna (episode: The Butter Shave)
His appearance may have been brief, but Vegetable Lasagna made quite the impression. The poor guy was stuck next to Elaine and Puddy on their flight home from Europe and took the brunt of their misplaced anger at one another (mostly Elaine’s), being badgered about everything from what he ordered to eat to Puddy’s grasp of foreign currency.
His lowest point is probably when Elaine elbows him awake (“Excuse me, I was sleeping!”) before realizing she’s stolen his apple juice. The numerous indignities he suffers lands him 10th on this list.
9. The Doorman (episode: The Doorman)
Played by comedian Larry Miller, the vindictive doorman made Jerry’s life miserable when he tried to visit Elaine at Mr. Pitt’s apartment.
The doorman suffered from a severe inferiority complex, always making Jerry feel like a jerk for talking down to him (“What makes you think I wasn’t reading the Wall Street page? Oh, I know, because I’m the uneducated doorman”) before finally guilting Jerry into watching the door for him so he could go grab a beer. Jerry ended up letting a burglar in the complex, the couch got stolen, and Elaine and Jerry are on the hook for a new one… all because of the doorman.
8. Sam (episode: The Summer of George)
She walked like she was holding two imaginary suitcases and just may have been a complete psychopath. Sam refused to swing her arms when she walked and Elaine, in an uncommon act of selflessness, tried to help her by telling her why everyone made fun of her.
Sam didn’t take the advice very well — she showed Elaine how she could actually move her arms by tossing everything off of Elaine’s desk and trashed her office, and then left threatening voicemails that told Elaine where she would look for her to beat her up. (“She must’ve got a blueprint of the building or something!”) Sam was a scary, memorable nutcase.
7. Darin the intern (episode: The Voice)
When Kramer decided his day-to-day activities were keeping him from implementing the vast number of ideas he has in his head, he hired a college intern named Darin to help him run Kramerica Industries.
Darin was a true believer in Kramer’s vision, going so far as to stay on with Kramerica even after his college banned him from continuing once they find out the operation was “a solitary man with a messy apartment which may or may not contain a chicken.” Darin even took the fall for Kramer when their experiment with a rubber oil bladder failed spectacularly. He’s probably still in prison.
6. Miloš (episode: The Comeback)
The world’s worst tennis player who somehow worked at a private tennis club, Miloš convinced Jerry to buy an expensive racket under false pretenses; that is, Jerry thought Miloš was a competent tennis player. Miloš tried to make it up to Jerry by offering him his wife. When that didn’t work and his wife lost respect for him, Miloš asked Jerry to lose to him in tennis so he could win his wife back and was a total obnoxious jerk as it happened. (“Another game for Miloš!”) Miloš was hilarious, slimy, and totally unforgettable.
5. The Houston Astros executives (episode: The Hot Tub)
When the Yankees were exploring the idea of interleague play, they set up a meeting with execs from the Astros (still in the NL at the time) and asked George to show them around. The Astros execs were loud, thirsty, and punctuated every sentence with “son of a bitch” or “bastard,” which prompted George to talk that way since that’s how it was done in the big leagues.
They even called George from the airplane (“Do you know where we are? Thirty thousand feet above your head, ya bastard!”) and when George tried to talk back to them in the language they were used to (“You tell that son of a bitch that no Yankee is ever coming to Houston!”), Mr. Wilhelm almost fired him on the spot. The Astros executives left quite an impression.
4. Eddie Sherman (episode: The Fatigues)
His fatigues and gruff voice scared Elaine so much that instead of firing him from the mail room of J. Peterman, she promoted him. When he was terrible at his copywriting job, she promoted him again just to get rid of him. That caused all of her staff to quit, so Elaine was forced to work with Eddie alone on the new catalog.
Eddie was hilariously creepy, writing amazing copy for the catalog such as, “You think about your knife; the only friend who hasn’t betrayed you, the only friend who won’t be dead by sun up. Sleep tight, mates, in your quilted Chambray nightshirts.” And all of that creepiness is caused by one simple thing: He’s Jewish and can’t find a good Jewish girl to settle down with. Eddie was a fascinating character.
3. Gene and Feldman (episode: The Bizarro Jerry)
The bizarro versions of George and Kramer (Kevin, the bizarro Jerry, appeared in two episodes), Gene and Feldman were hilarious dopplegangers. Feldman came up with amazing, helpful products that would’ve made great inventions, and always bought his neighbor Kevin groceries. Gene was quiet and well-read, friendly, and honest to a fault. (“At work today, I discovered there’s a payphone in the lobby that has free long distance… I called the phone company and immediately reported the error”) These two were so good, it made me long for a Bizarro Seinfeld spinoff just to watch them alone.
2. Brett (episode: The Checks)
He was so enraptured by “Desperado” that he couldn’t speak whenever the song came on, and when he did talk, he was a smarmy, self-absorbed jerk who was totally hilarious. Brett was obsessed with the furniture designer Carl Farbman and looked down on anyone who didn’t own a Farbman piece, especially Jerry, whom Brett thought was nothing more than a struggling comedian who needed a proper work space to write his skits.
He drove up on Jerry in the pouring rain and was going to give him a ride, but couldn’t (“I’d offer you a ride but I’ve got Carl Farbman here!”) and again feigned sympathy for Jerry because he thought he couldn’t afford to buy an umbrella. Brett’s one episode was memorable and it’s a shame he didn’t appear in more. But he flatlined on the operating table at the end of his episode, in surgery after being inadvertently hit on the head by Jerry with an axe. RIP, Brett.
1. Jason “Stanky” Hanky (episode: The Apology)
He didn’t want George borrowing his cashmere sweater because he thought his gigantic head would stretch out the neck hole, and when he refused to apologize for that crack while going through AA’s 12 steps, it drove George over the edge. Jason Hanky was incredibly funny with a dark edge, played to perfection by James Spader in a role even better than his current gig on The Blacklist.
Jason ended up working at Baskin-Robbins and was driven crazy by George’s demands for an apology, as he climbed into the ice cream cooler in search of Rum Raisin and Daiquiri Ice. He ended up in another program: Rage-a-holics, all thanks to George. Jason Hanky owned that episode and takes the top spot as the most memorable one-off Seinfeld character.