Surely you recall NBC’s little-comedy-that-could — and how it became the zeitgeist of ‘90s TV? Well, even if you don’t remember (or weren’t alive) when Seinfeld dominated the airwaves, you’re surely familiar with it thanks to the show’s enduring legacy.
In the decades since the show went off the air, the sitcom continues to resonate with cultural insights that are still relevant and characters who are part of TV canon. Vox went so far as to say Seinfeld changed the entire TV landscape in at least five ways.
Perhaps most impressive of all, many Seinfeld cast members managed to even outdo their success on the NBC juggernaut, carving out new characters and careers of their own. While Friends, Frasier, and Home Improvement enjoyed immense mainstream popularity, most of it was contained to the shows themselves.
Seinfeld knocked down TV norms immediately upon its debut. But more impressively, the unconventional sitcom bucked the trend in which its main stars petered out with their careers. Sure, a few Seinfeld actors never achieved as much success on their subsequent shows. Lots of them did, however, which makes the sitcom an anomaly worth revisiting every once in a while.
SEINFELD AND THE REST OF THE MAIN CAST
Jerry Seinfeld (playing a version of himself):
Jerry Seinfeld established himself as a professional stand-up comic well before his titular show aired on July 5, 1989. He made multiple appearances on late-night TV shows like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman. He even released an hour-long special, Stand-Up Confidential, on HBO in September 1987. Jerry Seinfeld went gangbusters with his sitcom until its last episode aired on May 14, 1998 — but he didn’t rest on his laurels after that. Seinfeld featured on charity shows, TV commercials, and more late-night shows, for example. In 2002, Seinfeld released a documentary simply titled Comedian, which showcased him creating a new act. His biggest post-Seinfeld project was the self-explanatory Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which aired on streaming services Crackle and Netflix from July 2012 to July 2019. Not that Seinfeld needed the money — his net worth is almost $1 billion, according to Wealthy Gorilla. Even to this day, he continues to be one of the bestselling comedians across the country.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes):
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is arguably more ubiquitous now than she was during Seinfeld — which says a lot, as she was one of the four main cast members — and the only female among them. She starred in two more highly lauded TV comedies: The New Adventures of Old Christine, which ran from 2006 to 2010; and Veep, which aired from 2012 to 2019. Julia Louis-Dreyfus needs multiple rooms to hold all her trophies; indeed, she has nabbed more Primetime Emmy Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards than any other performer in history. She even received comedy’s highest honor — the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor — in 2018.
Jason Alexander (George Costanza):
It wouldn’t be fair to say that Jason Alexander has replicated his character’s down-on-his-luck lifestyle after the sitcom ended. While he didn’t succeed to the same heights as Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus post-Seinfeld. In fact, Alexander became most versatile than his former Seinfeld cast mates, arguably. Jason Alexander appeared in Broadway musicals, appeared on multiple TV shows, and won a Primetime Emmy Award and Daytime Emmy Award — all after the sitcom ended.
Michael Richards (Cosmo Kramer):
Of the four main cast members, Michael Richards has clearly had the toughest go of it after the series ended. While Richards was an established comedian even before Seinfeld aired, his post-Seinfeld career was a mess. The Michael Richards Show only lasted two months. Unfortunately, the most attention Richards achieved after Seinfeld was a racist rant he unleashed at a comedy club in 2006. Seinfeld co-creator Larry David tried to help revive Richards’ career by including him on his long-running Curb Your Enthusiasm show on HBO. But alas, it appears the Laugh Factory incident will always be an albatross.
Many other actors who made guest appearances on Seinfeld then enjoyed lots more fame after the fact. A brief list includes Sarah Silverman, Bob Odenkirk, Patrick Warburton, Courteney Cox, Anna Gunn, Patton Oswalt, Bryan Cranston, and Janeane Garofalo.