Believe it or not, but it’s been almost 20 years since Seinfeld left the air. And NBC’s flagship “show about nothing” has spawned countless meme-worthy quotes and even more moments of cringe-inducing classic comedy in its wake. But for all of its genius writing, the series wouldn’t have succeeded without a strong cast of characters. And besides Kramer, Jerry, Elaine and George, there were a whole host of memorable ne’er-do-wells waiting in the wings. Nearly two decades on, then, here’s what they’re doing now.
20. Bryan Cranston (Tim Whatley)
Bryan Cranston loved every minute of his Seinfeld experience as Jerry’s long-suffering dentist Tim Whatley. “It was so much fun,” he recounted to People in 2016. “We had to stop rolling the tape often because Jerry would be laughing.” And after the show, Cranston starred in Malcolm in the Middle and the phenomenal Breaking Bad.
19. Jerry Stiller (Frank Costanza)
While actor John Randolph originated Frank Costanza, Jerry Stiller became synonymous as George’s cantankerous father and even earned an Emmy nomination for the role in 1997. The comedy legend would go on to star in The King of Queens and as Maury in his son Ben’s 2001 smash hit Zoolander. However, aside from the odd role, he’s now pretty much retired from acting.
18. Estelle Harris (Estelle Costanza)
Like her husband Frank, nagging Estelle Costanza had a habit of making son George’s life hell. Indeed, the actress’ shrill voice – described by Jason Alexander as “instant comedy” to Emmy TV Legends in 2013 – consequently became world famous. And shortly afterwards Harris endeared herself to countless more fans by voicing Toy Story 2’s Mrs. Potato Head.
17. Jon Lovitz (Gary Fogel)
After appearing briefly in Seinfeld as George’s cancer-faking friend Gary Fogel, Jon Lovitz racked up an enviable string of film and TV appearances. Indeed, the comedian has also starred in the iconic likes of Friends, The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live. Comedy aficionados, however, will perhaps know him best as The Critic’s Jay Sherman.
16. Patrick Warburton (David Puddy)
Though his face-painting character David Puddy was well received, Patrick Warburton didn’t think he’d make it through one Seinfeld episode. “I just didn’t want to stick my foot in my mouth or say something stupid,” he told News.com.au in 2016. He now primarily sticks to voice work – most notably as Joe in Family Guy.
15. Jane Leeves (Marla Penny)
Most actors would have been thrilled to get a Seinfeld casting, but Jane Leeves – a.k.a. Jerry’s virginal girlfriend Marla – was dying of embarrassment when it came to her role. “To be playing a virgin at my age,” she chuckled to the New York Daily News in 1994. Luckily, her following turn as Frasier’s Daphne would surely have wiped comedy fans’ memories clean.
14. Philip Baker Hall (Lt. Joe Bookman)
Despite a storied career in entertainment, Philip Baker Hall still gets most recognized as library cop Joe Bookman. “I’ve played so many roles,” he told The A.V. Club in 2012. “But the one that’s most often mentioned with my name is Bookman.” After Seinfeld, Hall starred in critically acclaimed films like Magnolia.
13. Larry Thomas (Soup Nazi)
Seinfeld came up with many quotable lines, but “no soup for you” is by far its most famous. And for actor Larry Thomas – who spoke the iconic line as the Soup Nazi – it proved a life-changing experience. Currently, he reps for company The Original Soupman in character as the beloved creation.
12. Brenda Strong (Sue Ellen Mischke)
Just as Jerry had Newman, Elaine had Sue Ellen Mischke – a former classmate with whom she comes to blows over a gifted bra. And while she’d gain fame through her role in Desperate Housewives, actress Brenda Strong keeps getting Seinfeld kudos. In fact, as she told Rolling Stone in 2014, fans still ask her to sign their bras to this day.
11. Phil Morris (Jackie Chiles)
It’s not uncommon for sitcom characters to get spin-offs, and that’s almost what happened with Jackie Chiles. According to a 1999 appearance on BET, in fact, actor Phil Morris claimed to have pitched a standalone show for Kramer’s eccentric lawyer. And while a pilot duly failed to materialize, the character would nevertheless go on to reappear in commercials for Honda and Dr. Pepper.
10. Steve Hytner (Kenny Bania)
We all have that one annoying friend we secretly just can’t stand, and Jerry was no exception. Steve Hytner, however, played Jerry’s irritatingly effervescent pal Kenny perfectly. And since the show’s end he’s continued to act, including in a role in Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. “I feel lucky and blessed to be a part of Seinfeld,” Hytner told Rolling Stone in 2014.
9. Bob Balaban (Russell Dalrymple)
In hilariously meta fashion, Jerry and George spend season four pitching a “show about nothing” to NBC executive Russell Dalrymple. However, their plans go awry when Dalrymple – smitten with Elaine – drowns in the ocean. Fortunately, though, actor Bob Balaban has fared a little better, having starred in the likes of Capote and Moonrise Kingdom in recent years.
8. Heidi Swedberg (Susan Ross)
The death of George’s fiancée Susan is one of Seinfeld’s darkest yet funniest moments, but the character’s passing was no accident. Jason Alexander, who played George, told Howard Stern in 2015 that Susan was axed because actress Heidi Swedberg was “impossible” to work with. We guess the musician won’t be asked to any future cast reunions, then.
7. Richard Herd (Matt Wilhelm)
While we never saw George’s Yankees boss George Steinbrenner, his supervisor Matt Wilhelm served as a fitting stand-in. “We just hit it off so well, Jason Alexander and myself,” Richard Herd told Circa in 2016. He added, “It was such a pleasure to work for him.” Herd, meanwhile, is now a dedicated painter as well as, from time to time, an actor.
6. John O’Hurley (J. Peterman)
After playing a caricature of fashion mogul John Peterman in Seinfeld, John O’Hurley’s life took a surprising turn. When the show finished, in fact, O’Hurley was approached by the real Peterman with a job offer. And, surprisingly, the actor has been serving on his company’s board of directors ever since.
5. Wayne Knight (Newman)
“Hello, Newman.” Has there ever been a greeting in TV history so loaded as the one shared by Jerry and his arch-enemy? And even though he and Jerry’s hatred wasn’t explained, Newman remains one of TV’s best villains. Besides Seinfeld, meanwhile, actor Wayne Knight also channeled his villainous side in 1993’s Jurassic Park.
4. Michael Richards (Kramer)
Although Kramer was one of Seinfeld’s best-loved creations, Michael Richards lost much of his fans’ respect following the show’s end. Infamously, the actor launched into a universally condemned racist tirade during a 2006 stand-up show. But while the incident undoubtedly damaged his career, Richards was able to return to the screen in 2013’s Kirstie.
3. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine Benes)
During her stint playing Elaine Benes in Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus received one Golden Globe and one Emmy for her work. And, more recently, the actress made Emmy history by winning five awards in a row for her work in Veep. Strangely, then, it seems that Seinfeld is taking second fiddle in her impressive career.
2. Jason Alexander (George Costanza)
Modeled on Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, George Costanza was the neurotic loser you couldn’t help loving. But while David wrote many of his real experiences into the character, actor Jason Alexander gave Costanza a life of his own. Since the show’s end, then, Alexander has continued to act as well as perform stand-up.
1. Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld)
Following his show’s finale, Jerry Seinfeld has kept busy with films like Bee Movie and web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. However, his self-obsessed alter ego may be gone for good, as the comedian has stressed that a Seinfeld reunion will never happen. “I’m absolutely happy keeping it the way it is,” he told Reddit users in 2014.