On the evening of May 14, 1998, an estimated 76 million TV viewers tuned in to watch the final episode of Seinfeld. Think you're a Seinfeld trivia expert? Here are six surprising facts you probably didn't know about about the show...
Kramer Was Originally Kessler
The names for both Kramer and George Costanza were based on the names of people who Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld knew in real life. In the pilot episode, Kramer was called Kessler, as the real Kramer—Larry David’s former neighbor, Kenny Kramer—was hesitant to let his name be used for the show. The real-life Kramer eventually agreed. Though he says he was paid just $1,000 for the use of his name in the series, Kramer has since profited in other ways, namely with his Kramer’s Reality Tour bus tour.
The Diner in the Show Has Another Claim to Fame The diner that you see in most of the episodes has one of the most famous facades in New York City -- but that fame isn't due solely to Seinfeld. The diner, named "Monk's" in the show, is really named Tom's Restaurant. If a diner-style restaurant named Tom's sounds familiar, it's because Seinfeld was not the only piece of popular culture to mention it. The diner was also the inspiration for the song Tom's Diner by Suzanne Vega. Vega used to frequent the restaurant in the early 1980s and changed "restaurant" to "diner" for rhyming reasons.
Every Single Episode Contains Unique Opening Music Listen closely to each episode and you might catch the subtle changes in the theme song, executed by composer Jonathan Wolff. The very brief intro music to each episode uses the same instruments and the same style of music, but the actual tune is slightly different each time. Wolf made each one individually and would base the tune on the opening monologue each week. "I would build each monologue based on this list, this computer printout of his voice and what he was saying, how long it was,” Wolff told Vice in 2015. “It was a little bit more labor-intensive than most other shows because I had to re-do that opening every time. But it was worth it. He was creating new material. As long as he’s creating new material, I’ll do the same thing, and I will create along with him.”
Elaine Benes Almost Wasn't in The Show Elaine was not a character in the original concept of the show. In the show's pilot, another female character named Claire was intended to be a part of the supporting cast. Claire was a waitress at the diner who would verbally spar with Jerry and George, but Seinfeld said they wanted a female character who would be more of a core character in the show. There are rumors that the actress who played Claire was let go after rewriting lines, although Seinfeld said that wasn't the case. Once the series was picked up for a full season, Claire’s character was replaced with Elaine. As strange as it may seem, Julia Louis Dreyfus was not the original choice to play Elaine. Other actresses considered for the role included Rosie O'Donnell and Megan Mullally.
The Real George Costanza Sued for $100 Million Like Kramer, George Costanza was named after a real person. Michael Costanza was a friend of Jerry Seinfeld and sued the show's creators along with NBC, claiming that they used more than just his last name for the character. Costanza wanted $100 million for supposed violations of privacy and said there were several similarities between the TV character and him. Courts sided with Seinfeld's creators.
The Puffy Shirt Is Now Part of a Smithsonian Collection On episode two of season five, the infamous puffy shirt made an appearance when Kramer's girlfriend inadvertently convinces Jerry to wear the pirate-like piece to a "Today Show" appearance. It is currently housed at the Smithsonian.