Here’s Why ‘Seinfeld’ Ended

by Suzanne Halliburton

Seinfeld was appointment viewing back in the 1990s. If you missed the comedy, what would you talk about the next day at lunch or in the break room?

The show about basically nothing was the most discussed series in the country. Not that there was anything wrong with that. So let’s yada, yada, yada our way through why NBC finally took the show off the air.

American viewers couldn’t get enough of Seinfeld, which ran on NBC from 1989 through 1998. It’s difficult to imagine the 1990s without Seinfeld. It was as integral to 1990s pop culture as the Clintons, grunge, hip hop and the Rachel haircut. The final five years of Seinfeld saw the series entrenched among TV’s top three highest-rated shows. It finished its run at No. 1, averaging more than 35 million viewers per half-hour episode. Want some context? CBS’ Young Sheldon was the most watched comedy for the 2021-22 season, averaging 9 million viewers per show. Seinfeld’s audience was almost four times that total.

Plus, almost a quarter-century since the show went off the air, you can flip on the TV and find a late-night rerun. Kramer still walks unannounced into Jerry’s apartment. Elaine is dating a crazy guy. George is raging about something and Seinfeld is making it all part of his stand-up. But he still doesn’t like the shirt with puffy sleeves.

And, the show even has a very modern social media account. It’s truly like the series never left.

Wow! Jerry Seinfeld Rejected $5 Million Per Episode to Continue Series

So with all that success, why did Seinfeld leave the airwaves? It’s not like it was canceled. It just ended, some would say, with a thud of a finale. And it all had to to do with wishes of the real Jerry Seinfeld. In 1998, he starred in the series and served as the comedy’s showrunner.

Seinfeld also declined an offer from NBC to stay on for another season. The network offered him $5 million per episode. He still said no. Give me serenity now.

So again, why do you close down this pop culture phenomenon? In a 2018 interview with the New York Times, the comedian said he has no regrets.

“It was the perfect moment,” Seinfeld told the Times. “And the proof that it was the right moment is the number of questions you’re still asking me about it. The most important word in art is “proportion.” How much, how long is this joke going to be, how many words? How many minutes? And getting that right is what makes it art or what makes it mediocre.”

And when the comedian sees a rerun of his old show, he just flips the channel. It’s like someone said “no soup for you.”

“I think there’s a level of focus you need to get something to a certain point creatively, and you pay a price for that,” Seinfeld said.

And what’s that price? “You can’t ever look at it again,” the comedian said.

But that doesn’t stop fans from celebrating all the inanities of the show about nothing. Did someone say Newman?