Seinfeld Began And Ended With Exactly The Same Line Of Dialogue

Seinfeld began and ended with a discussion about shirt buttons.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

It’s impossible to overstate how big Seinfeld was in the 90s. The “show about nothing” made stars out of not only the entire cast but most of the secondary characters as well, and yet, it’s easy to overlook one of the best jokes of the entire series. The discussion George (Jason Alexander) and Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) have in the very first scene of the pilot is the same discussion they have in the very last scene of the finale while sitting in a jail cell. Pointed out on Reddit by user TheRavenSayeth, the circular dialogue perfectly encapsulates the entire record-setting series.

The mundane conversation about how George has buttoned his shirt sums up the entire series in that it has nothing to do with anything; there’s no grand purpose behind it. As Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld envisioned, Seinfeld was always supposed to have been like that, even when the ratings skyrocketed, and it became the number-one show on television. It wasn’t a hit at first, which is why a lot of viewers may not have even realized the repeating dialogue since the pilot was only viewed by a fraction of the audience the show had at the end.

On July 5, 1990, the pilot episode earned a rating of 13.8, which would be the biggest show on broadcast television today, but back then, that was a mild success in danger of cancellation. By comparison, the finale scored a 41.3 rating, making it viewed by over 76 million people and holding a record for the most-watched finale in history. When Lost pulled a similar trick by having Jack open his eyes and then close them to bookend the series, more fans noticed as most of them had left by the time the finale aired, but not so for Seinfeld.

Seinfeld endless episode

The main cast of Jerry and George were joined by Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss) and Kramer (Michael Richards), as four friends going about their lives in New York, through dating, career changes, and multiple get-rich-quick schemes. Along the way, viewers meet Jerry’s nemesis, Newman (Wayne Knight), Elaine’s boyfriend, Puddy (Patrick Warburton), Mr. Peterman (John Hurley), Frank Constanza (Jerry Stiller), and so many more that it’s impossible to list them all. Some of the stars that appeared on the show include Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Coolidge, Keith Hernandez, Marisa Tomei, Bryan Cranston, and Debra Messing (via IMDb).

Through it all, the dialogue about a shirt button remains the guiding light for each episode, whether it’s about trying to purchase soup, finding a car in a parking garage, or attempting to meet up at a Chinese restaurant. Seinfeld is not the series for anyone looking for major stakes or even characters that evolve over time, because they don’t, and that’s the whole point of the recurring dialogue.

In the pilot, George and Jerry are prisoners of their narcissism without realizing it, while in the finale, they are literal prisoners because of their narcissism. Seinfield beat It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia to the punch by featuring characters that are, at times, hard to root for, but the show was also incredibly realistic in one other overlooked aspect: Jerry’s friends never attend his stand-up shows.