Throughout Seinfeld’s nine-season run, which is now available for streaming on Hulu, one constant that could nearly always be counted on was that Jerry would begin the next episode as either a single man or with an entirely new girlfriend than he had the previous week. Rare was the occurrence that one of his love-interests would make their way into the following episode’s storyline. In fact, of the 62 girlfriends Jerry had throughout the series, only four appeared as his girlfriend in back-to-back weeks, three if you don’t count Elaine. They were Jeannie Steinman from “The Invitations” and “The Foundation,” Marla from “The Virgin” and “The Contest,” and Rachel from “The Hamptons” and “The Opposite.” The rest were kicked to the curb for one odd reason or another faster than you can say “Sagman, Bennett, Robbins, Oppenheim, and Taft.”
The other constant when it came to Jerry’s girlfriends was that he often broke up with them for trivial reasons. Let’s face it, Jerry was a bit of a child. And in later seasons, he even began to embrace that label. But throughout the show, he would nitpick the smallest and seemingly most insignificant personality traits of all of the women in his life, which oftentimes resulted in the two of them breaking up for the most ridiculous reasons.
Now, before I get into breaking them down into a definitive list of which of his break-ups was the most ridiculous, it’s important to note that there very easily could have been 30 more entries. You may think to yourself, how in the world is Jodi the masseuse, Sharon from NYU, Sidra and her implants, and a long list of others not included? Please know that I considered each and every one of them, but because we’re only doing a top 10, there were a lot of hard choices and a lot of worthy candidates that didn’t make the final cut. Sorry.
Without further delay, here are Jerry’s top 10 most ridiculous break-ups.
10. Sheila – “The Soup Nazi”
We begin our countdown with Jerry breaking up with his girlfriend Sheila in the middle of a soup line. He wasn’t about to give up being able to eat the Soup Nazi’s sweet, delicious bisque for a woman who couldn’t respect some simple and direct procedural rules. On its surface, that was pretty silly and childish, but I think he had another motivation for breaking up with Sheila beyond soup. He hated saying “Schmoopie” just as much as George hated hearing it, so it was only a matter of time. Soup was just an excuse.
9. Lisi – “The Frogger”
Being that Lisi was an annoying sentence-finisher who made it seem like he was dating Mad Libs, it’s no surprise that Jerry wanted to break up with her. What was surprising, however, was that he chose to sit in her apartment for 10 hours arguing about it. Granted, he was doing it in order to avoid a confrontation with The Lopper, but not even Lisi’s superior bean recipe is worth all that noise.
8. Police Sergeant Cathy Tierney – “The Beard”
In season six, Jerry dated Sgt. Cathy, who wasn’t buying it when Jerry denied being a fan of Melrose Place. So, she did what any woman would do who had the means to do it… she gave him a polygraph test. Of course, Jerry really was a fan of Melrose Place, but rather than admit to his guilty pleasure, he did what any man would do who had the means to do it… he consulted with George on how to beat the poly. “It’s not a lie, if you believe it,” George wisely pointed out.
In the end, however, Jerry cracked (damn you, Jane, why’d you have to sleep with Michael again?), and he had no choice but to leave Sgt. Cathy high and dry at the precinct.
7. Tia – “The Pick”
This time, it was Jerry’s girlfriend breaking up with him for a superficial reason. While stopped at a traffic light, he coincidentally ended up next to his girlfriend, Tia. As she looked over, he was in the middle of a nose-scratch, but from her angle, it looked like something else. He was caught in full pickage, and there was nothing he could do about it. Then again, so what if he was? Is he not human? If he picks, does he not bleed? He is not an animal!
6. Melanie – “The Engagement”
First, Jerry broke up with Melanie because she shushed him. But after mulling it over with George at the coffee shop, they both decided to be more mature when it comes to their relationships, so he decided to give her another shot. That shot was not meant to be, though, as he later discovered that she eats her peas one at a time, and that was clearly a deal-breaker.
5. Gillian – “The Bizarro Jerry”
Poor Gillian and her man-hands. Sure, they were highly functional, and she could open bottles of beer that weren’t twist-offs. But visually, they were like part of a creature out of Greek mythology. Part woman, part horrible beast. Too bad she couldn’t have had hooks.
4. Marla – “The Contest”
Some people might put this at No. 1, because it occurred within the episode by which all other sitcom episodes are judged. But to me, that fact only bumps it up slightly. On its own merit, this break-up had one of the most adult themes of any other break-up on this list, so considering that, it cannot rank any higher than fourth. Sure, the overall premise was silly: Marla, a virgin, broke up with Jerry after learning he and his friends had a contest over who could go the longest without pleasuring themselves. But, honestly, who hasn’t been there before? I mean, he was dating a virgin, for Pete’s sake. Something had to give.
3. Dolores – “The Junior Mint”
After forgetting Dolores’ name immediately after meeting her, he ended up waiting too long to simply ask her again. Later, she inadvertently gave him a hint that it rhymed with a part of the female anatomy, so he spent the remainder of their relationship trying to guess what it was. Celeste? No. Aretha? Not quite. Bovary? I’m not sure that’s even a name. Turns out, it wasn’t Mulva or Gipple, either, so this relationship never stood a chance.
2. Donna – “The Phone Message”
Jerry hated a commercial he saw on television for Cotton Dockers. Donna liked it. That was it. That was the basis for their break-up. Granted, there was the subplot about Jerry telling his friends that he’s dating someone who would dare like a commercial about a group of guys sitting around in tan pants. But, essentially, the relationship was over as soon as she admitted it. If ever there was a more anti-social reason for breaking up with a person, disagreeing about a commercial has to be near the top of the list.
1. Claire – “The Voice”
The plot lines within the ninth and final season of Seinfeld were certainly more preposterous than in previous seasons, and no episode encompassed its foolishness more than “The Voice.” Jerry’s girlfriend, Claire, discovered that he and his friends have been imagining that when she falls asleep, her stomach stays awake and talks to him. Then, for reasons never made clear, they gave it a funny voice (“heeeelloooo”). Claire was not impressed, and gave Jerry an ultimatum: Lose the voice, or lose her.
After he lost her, he didn’t even seem to mind. Classic Jerry.