Seinfeld: 5 storylines you never saw
A version of this story originally appears in Entertainment Weekly’s Untold Stories issue, on stands now or available to buy right here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
Seinfeld gave you countless memorable moments over its nine neurotic seasons (shrinkage! Junior Mint! Master of your domain!). But what about the ones they didn’t give you? Don’t you deserve those as well? Here, former Seinfeld writer-producers David Mandel (Veep) and Jeff Schaffer (Curb Your Enthusiasm) open the vault and share a few story ideas from the NBC comedy that never made it out of the writers’ room — and that just might have you shoving someone while exclaiming “Get out!”
1. Frank Costanza goes to pot. “We went very far down the road with an idea that Frank was going to need medical marijuana for his cataracts,” says Mandel. “We thought the idea of Jerry Stiller on pot just seemed like comedy gold. We heard that Cybill writers had a similar story in the works, and it was enough to make us put the idea aside. We were really rigorous about not wanting to repeat things. I don’t think it was fully outlined, but that was a story that was ready to go. That would happen a lot.”
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2. There’s someone you should meet. Who’s that, you say? It’s “the Prompter.”
“Alec [Berg, a Seinfeld writer-producer] and I pitched this idea a few times,” says Schaffer. “There was another comic, and she was a prompter. Jerry [Jerry Seinfeld] would be at lunch with her, and she would say, ‘You know, I only had one bit that really killed.’ Then she would wait, and he’d have to go, ‘Which one?’ ‘The bowling thing. It only died one time, but that’s because of who was there.’ ‘[Sigh] Who?’ You’d wait her out and she’d wait you out. Everyone knows someone like that, who just makes you pull it out of them. In “The Secret Code,” Jerry was going to do an ad for an appliance store called Leapin’ Larry’s, and she was saying, ‘If you’re going to meet with Leapin’ Larry, there’s one thing you should really know about him.’ It was the fact that he had a prosthetic leg. And Jerry just ignored it. Then when Jerry wound up insulting him, he said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me???’ ‘Well, you didn’t take the prompt. I tried.’ It seems like the easiest device in the world: You ignore the prompter, and he or she actually has good information for you. That could work in any show, but we never used it.”
3. The Soup Nazi could have been a lot more literal than we knew.
“We joked a whole bunch about an end scene that would take place in the jungles of Brazil, à la The Boys From Brazil, where the Soup Nazi [Larry Thomas] would return to the other Nazis — the actual former Nazi war criminals — with his soup recipes,” says Mandel. “It was sort of half-serious, half ‘Should we do this?,’ half ‘We’re never going to do it.’ But it was much discussed. Going down a river and seeing lots of young boys with blue eyes from experimentation with the soups — it was a full coming together of soup and Nazi. Probably just as well that we didn’t do that one.”
4. Kramer launches a new business that would chill you to the bone. “Kramer [Michael Richards] was taking regular morgue-quality skeletons, refurbishing them, and turning them into museum-quality skeletons for teaching hospitals,” recalls Schaffer. “He would get all the bones together and buff them up real nice. At the same time, Jerry was doing appliance-store ads for Leapin’ Larry’s, and Jerry was having trouble with his dishwasher, because Kramer kept using it. Leapin’ Larry says, ‘Bring it in, we’ll fix it.’ So Jerry brings it in, he doesn’t look inside, and Leapin’ Larry opens it up and there’s a tibia in there and he loses his s—: ‘This is the worst practical joke ever to a guy who’s missing a leg!’ Larry [David, the series co-creator] just said, ‘No. Kramer’s not refurbishing skeletons!’ And we’re like, ‘Come on! This is funny!’ It turns out the show was fine without it. Kramer trying to refurbish skeletons sat on our board forever, and [even after David left the show following season 7] we never used it. I guess Larry was right.”
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5. Seinfeld gets a change of scenery — but nothing changes. “There was one story that we never got to for any particular reason, but I always loved it,” says Mandel. “Had there been another season, I certainly would have tried to write this, because it was near and dear to my heart. The idea was that Jerry and the gang go on a vacation somewhere — say, Mexico — and they would check into their hotel rooms, and Jerry would end up with a hotel room right across from Kramer’s hotel room, so the hotel-room dynamic would have been the same as the apartments. The entire episode would have taken place in Mexico but everything would have been kind of the same—there would have been a Mexican diner that they sat in. I just thought the idea of taking the building blocks of Seinfeld — the apartments across the hall and the coffee shop — and transporting that to Mexico would be really fun. When Jerry decided to end the show, and I realized there weren’t going to be enough episodes, I was like, ‘Oh God, I wish there was one more season.'”