|"The Finale, Part 1"|
|Air Date||May 14, 1998|
|← The Chronicle · The Finale, Part 2 →|
After finally striking a deal with NBC over their sitcom pilot, Jerry and George are faced with having to leave New York City for California. Before doing so, they decide to take NBC's private jet to Paris with Elaine and Kramer, for one "last hurrah". Unfortunately, Kramer causes engine troubles by hopping up and down on the plane while trying to get water out of his ears, nearly killing the four friends in a crash. Upon what looks to be their final moments of life, George reveals he cheated in "The Contest", and Elaine tells Jerry, "I've always loved you," but the pilot manages to steady the plane, so Elaine says, "-nited Airlines." They make an emergency landing in the small, fictional town of Latham, Massachusetts.
While killing time in Latham, waiting for the plane to be repaired, they witness an overweight man getting carjacked at gunpoint. Instead of helping him, they crack jokes about his size while Kramer films it all on his camcorder, then they proceed to walk away. The victim notices this, and tells the reporting officer. The four main characters are then taken into custody for violating the Good Samaritan law that requires bystanders to help out in such a situation.
Reaction and ratings
The final Seinfeld was criticized by many for being vindictive towards the main characters - who are shown to be amoral, selfish misanthropes - and, by extension, towards the audience who tuned in to watch them every week. Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker seemed to echo the majority sentiment in declaring the episode "off-key and bloated...Ultimately, Seinfeld and David's kiss-off to their fans was a loud, hearty 'So long, suckers!'" Others valued it for the perceived in-joke of the four characters being convicted and imprisoned on the charge that they did nothing, a play on the "show about nothing" mantra. One way or another, the 1998 episode made TV history as the third most watched finale of a U.S. television series ever, behind only M*A*S*H in 1983, and Cheers in 1993, in front of Friends and Frasier both in 2004, Everybody Loves Raymond in 2005, and Will & Grace in 2006.
Notes About Nothing
- The two episodes aired the same day as The Chronicle parts 1 and 2, meaning that there was a two-hour marathon of Seinfeld that day to an audience of 76 million viewers.
- The working title for this show was A Tough Nut To Crack to throw off outsiders about the contents of the episode.
- The episode was originally longer than normal, so the episode was cut down in syndication.
- This episode is generally seen as a homage to Albert Camus' novel The Stranger.
- Geraldo Rivera's (then) CNBC show was used for footage for the finale only.
- The conversation in prison, about the "second button being the most important", is the exact same conversation that begins the pilot episode. This causes George to remark, "Haven't we had this conversation before?" To this, Jerry responds, "Yeah, I think we have."
- This was actually the closest to a reunion for the sketch comedy, Fridays; they include Michael Richards (Cosmo Kramer), Larry David (co-creator, writer, and can be heard as a prisoner), Bruce Mahler (Rabbi Glickman), and Melanie Chartoff.
- This episode featured many recurring characters for brief on-screen appearances. Even characters that appeared once briefly reappeared.
- It could be argued that the final scene (during credits) is a reference to the original episode, as it is just Jerry, George, and Kramer (plus inmates) in the prison. This could be a reference as the original had these three guys, and the female character, Claire, only briefly appeared.
- It could be argued that Elaine did not appear as males and females are put in separate prisons, so she would not have been there to begin with.