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Although Seinfeld has been off the airways for 17 years, the show remains as popular as ever thanks to syndication and its devout fan base. During its nine-season run, the sitcom generated an endless supply of water-cooler talk, iconic catch phrases, and unforgettable secondary characters.
Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), Elaine (Julia Louise Dreyfus), George (Jason Alexander), and Kramer (Michael Richards) may have been the leads, but the show’s quirky cast of minor characters created some of the show’s best moments.
With the recent passing of Daniel von Bargen in mind — the actor who famously played George’s boss Mr. Kruger—we’ve decided to honor Seinfeld’s 9 greatest unsung heroes.
As for methodology, this list is limited to characters that appeared in 10 episodes or less. So for the sake of brevity, recurring characters like Frank and Estelle Costanza, Morty and Helen Seinfeld, Uncle Leo, Puddy, Newman, and Mr. Peterman have been omitted.
Keep reading to see if your favorite character made the list.
9. Russell Dalrymple
Episodes: "The Pilot," "The Shoes," "The Watch," "The Pitch" and "The Ticket"
Played by Wes Anderson regular Bob Balaban, Russell Dalrymple works with Jerry and George on their sitcom pilot Jerry. In addition to being the President of NBC, viewers will also remember Dalrymple as the father of an attractive daughter (Denise Richards) and fervent admirer of Elaine. And who could forget his unfortunate case of nausea in season four’s episode “The Shoes.”
8. Dr. Tim Whatley
Episodes: "The Mom and Pop Store," "The Label Maker," "The Jimmy," "The Yada Yada," and "The Strike"
Before he played Hal in Malcolm in the Middle and long before he was Walter White in Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston was Dr. Tim Whatley in Seinfeld. Appearing in five episodes as Jerry’s dentist, Whatley is best remembered for throwing a killer party; having Penthouse magazines in his waiting room; and for possibly having taken advantage of Jerry (with the help of his dental assistant) while Jerry was under anesthesia.
7. Sue Ellen Mischke
Episodes: "The Caddy," "The Bottle Deposit," "The Abstinence," and "The Betrayal"
The “bra-less wonder” herself, Sue Ellen Mischke (Brenda Strong) makes our list due to her bold fashion statement in “The Caddy.” After Elaine buys Mischke a bra as a gift, the Oh Henry candy bar heiress decides to wear it with just a blazer—an event that causes Kramer to crash his car. Following the accident, Kramer and his lawyer Jackie attempt to sue Mischke, but their case crumbles when Kramer’s caddy insists that she tries the bra on over her shirt. In an allusion to the OJ Simpson trial, the bra doesn’t fit, so the jury acquits.
6. Lt. Bookman
Featured in season three’s “The Library," Lt. Bookman—portrayed by the legendary Philip Baker Hall (Hard Eight)—is a library cop who’s come to obtain a late fee for a book that Jerry checked out in 1971. Jerry insists he has returned the book, while Lt. Bookman begs to differ. And what ensues is one of the show’s most unforgettable scenes.
5. Mr. Kruger
Episodes: "The Slicer," "The Strike," "The Burning," "The Maid"
A versatile character actor, Daniel von Bargen (Malcolm in the Middle) made his debut in the show’s final season playing George’s easygoing boss Mr. Kruger. Appearing in classic episodes like “The Slicer” and “The Maid,” Mr. Kruger hires George despite the airbrushed photo incident; donates $20,000 to George’s fictitious charity “The Human Fund” and even gives George the nickname “Koko.” Check out the clip above to see Mr. Kruger’s best moments.
4. Mr. Pitt
Episodes: "The Chaperone," "The Pledge Drive," "The Gymnast," "The Mom and Pop Store," "The Doorman," "The Diplomat's Club" and "The Finale"
Justin Pitt, better known as Mr. Pitt, appeared in seven episodes of Seinfeld, including the finale where he testifies against Elaine. But before he testified in court against Elaine, Mr. Pitt (Ian Abercrombie) was her unconventional boss at Doubleday Publishing. Mr. Pitt hires Elaine solely based on the fact that she reminds him of Jacqueline Onassis and tasks her with finding him the perfect pair of white socks—an endeavor that takes hours of trial and error.
3. Jackie Chiles
Episodes: "The Maestro," "The Caddy," "The Friars Club," "The Abstinence," and "The Finale"
A parody of famed defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, Jackie Chiles (Phil Morris) appeared in six episodes as Kramer’s lawyer. Known for catchphrases like “your face is my case,” Chiles helps Kramer sue a tobacco company, a bra-wearing candy bar heiress, and a coffeehouse that served extra hot coffee. In fact, the latter case spawned the hilarious series of clips above.
2. Kenny Bania
Episodes: "The Soup," "The Secretary," "The Soup Nazi," "The Fatigues," "The Butter Shave," and "The Finale"
An obnoxious comedian and one-time protégée of Jerry, Kenny Bania (Steve Hytner) is known for quotes like “It’s the best Jerry. The best!” and “Gold, Jerry, Gold!” Bania once gave Jerry an Armani suit in exchange for a bowl of soup. Check our Bania’s best bit above.
1. The Soup Nazi
Episodes: "The Soup Nazi" and "The Finale"
The Soup Nazi will forever be remembered for uttering one of television history’s most memorable catchphrases: “No soup for you!” Played by Larry Thomas, the Soup Nazi appeared in the seventh season of Seinfeld as the extremely strict proprietor of a soup stand. Watch the clip above to see the Soup Nazi’s greatest hits.
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