On This Day: ‘Seinfeld’ Airs Final Two-Part Episode ‘The Finale’ in 1998

by Matthew Wilson

On this day, a show about “nothing” came to an end 23 years ago. The popular sitcom “Seinfeld” aired its finale on May 14, 1998.

For nine seasons, “Seinfeld” entertained audiences with its colorful cast of characters. The show followed a fictional version of Jerry Seinfeld and his friends living in New York City. During its run, the show became insanely popular. And over the years, the characters managed to make many enemies. Audiences connected with the main cast who were often selfish and never seemed to learn from their mistakes.

In 1998, the show decided to go out on top while it was still popular. In fact, a total of 76 million people watched to see what would happen. Co-creator Larry David, responsible for the series early success, returned to pen the finale.

Most TV finales follow around a big event happening to the characters. But “Seinfeld” always seemed to focus more on day-to-day living. The finale episode, titled “The Finale,” switched things up for a change. The “Seinfeld” cast was finally going to get their justice after years of wronging people. Police arrested the four for failing to help a man being car-jacked.

Their trial resulted in several previous guest stars returning to testify against the gang. Ultimately, “Seinfeld” ended with the gang getting sentenced to a year in jail. The show closed with them in a jail cell, up to their usual sitcom antics still.

Fans Hated the ‘Seinfeld’ Finale

But fans were not pleased by the “Seinfeld” finale. They thought the series ended on a downer note with the cast in jail. Many didn’t want the characters to end up in jail. Later “Seinfeld” creator Larry Davis discussed the backlash with Bill Simmons of Grantland.

“I think the thing about finales is everybody writes their own finale in their head … They go, ‘Oh, well this should happen to George, and Jerry and Elaine should get together,’ and all that. They’ve already written it, and often they’re disappointed because it’s not what they wrote. … I was not interested in an emotional ride, and neither was Jerry. No wonder why [people] would dislike it,” Davis said.

But not everyone hated the finale. In fact, series lead Jerry Seinfeld loved the way that the show bowed out.

“I was happy with the Seinfeld finale because we didn’t want to do another episode as much as we wanted to have everybody come back to the show we had so much fun with,” Seinfeld said in a 2014 Reddit interview. “It was a way to thank all of the people who worked on the show over the years that we thought made the show work. I don’t believe in trying to change the past but I’m very happy with it.”