‘Seinfeld’: 5 Jokes That Would Be Highly Controversial Today

Seinfeld was well-known for pushing boundaries. In many ways, the series was ahead of its time, tackling sensitive issues from racism to immigration. Seinfeld writers considered themselves progressive and tried to handle the topics appropriately. But there are certain jokes that wouldn’t ever make it on modern television today.

The hit NBC comedy premiered in 1989 and wrapped in 1998 after nine seasons. Since then, societal norms have shifted considerably. There are a handful of jokes on Seinfeld that would be considered completely taboo for modern audiences.

A journalist thinks George and Jerry are gay in ‘The Outing’

Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza
Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander as George Costanza | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

The classic line, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!” became a Seinfeld mainstay. It originated on the episode “The Outing” in season 4. The two men keep accidentally confirming the journalist’s assumptions about their relationship despite their best efforts.

Jerry and George keep saying “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” every time they deny being a couple. Co-creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David reportedly worried about offending the gay community with the bit. It didn’t happen, but in today’s more sensitive climate, the episode probably never would have gotten approval in the first place.

Kramer offends an entire culture in ‘The Puerto Rican Day’

Michael Richards as Kramer
Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer | Spike Nannarello/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Seinfeld’s zaniest character frequently finds himself in difficult situations. In “The Puerto Rican Day” during season nine, Kramer accidentally lights a Puerto Rican flag on fire and stomps on it to put out the flames. The episode received a ton of backlash not only because Kramer burned the flag, but also because it was thought to negatively depict Puerto Rican citizens.

An angry mob of parade-goers damages Jerry’s car. Later, Kramer says the line, “It’s like this every day in Puerto Rico.”

NBC later apologized for the episode, NY Times reported, and the scene was temporarily deleted from reruns.

Jerry obsesses over his girlfriend’s body in ‘The Implant’

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Overanalyzing mundane details is a major theme on Seinfeld. But modern fans thought Jerry took it too far in season 4’s “The Implant” when he couldn’t stop wondering if his girlfriend had breast implants. In today’s society, the more accepted response would be: “Who cares?”

And this wasn’t the first time Jerry and his friends got hung up on body parts. The same goes for Jerry’s girlfriend with “man hands” in “The Bizarro Jerry.”

‘The Merv Griffin Show’ episode feels uncomfortably like date rape

During season 9, Kramer finds an old set from The Merv Griffin Show and recreates it in his apartment, turning the tossed set pieces into a stage for interviews. But the problems arise when Jerry becomes obsessed with his girlfriend’s antique toy collection and decides to forcibly put her to sleep so he can play with her toys.

Jerry, George, and Elaine all use various methods to drug Jerry’s girlfriend and force her to go to sleep. It’s supposed to be silly, but some fans find it cringe-worthy and even accuse the episode of promoting date rape. In any case, drugging a person against there will is no laughing matter.

Kramer offends Japanese citizens in ‘The Checks’

Kramer on Seinfeld
Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer | Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

In “The Checks,” Jerry gets carpal tunnel syndrome from signing so many 12 cent royalty checks he received from an appearance on a Japanese television show. Then Kramer meets some Japanese businesspeople and encourages Jerry and George to pitch them a TV pilot.

The trouble arises when Kramer invites the Japanese citizens to sleep in dresser draws after encouraging them to spend all their money on souvenirs.

It may have inspired laughs at the time, but the premise of the episode felt a little problematic to current fans of the series.