The ‘Seinfeld’ Pilot Was Much Different Than the Rest of the Series

Seinfeld became a part of pop culture relatively early on in its tenure. In the more than 20 years since its finale episode aired, the “show about nothing” has proven its value and staying power. Many of the show’s storylines are just as relevant today as they were in the 1990s. That doesn’t mean the series knew exactly what it wanted to be right away, though. While the character of Jerry Seinfeld remains the same throughout the series, some other key elements of the show were absent from the pilot episode. Do you remember just how different it was? 

Cosmo Kramer had an entirely different name during the pilot episode of ‘Seinfeld’ 

Cosmo Kramer, Jerry’s quirky neighbor, remains an enigma to fans even today. That was the point. No one was entirely sure where Kramer came from, how he made money or managed to maintain an apartment in Manhattan without any discernable income. Theories abound about his ability to make it all work with just a little help from his neighbor’s refrigerator. 

That isn’t the weirdest thing about Kramer, though. Between the pilot episode of Seinfeld and the second episode of season 1, Kramer’s name changed. Initially, Kramer was named Kessler. Reportedly, Larry David used his real-life neighbor as inspiration and worried he’d sue if they used the name. It was apparently all worked out by episode 2. According to a Reddit user, the name Kessler is referenced again in season 1. There is also a subtle nod to the name in the series finale. 

Elaine Benes didn’t show up until episode 2 of the show 

Elaine Benes was an integral part of Seinfeld. She appeared in 169 of the show’s 180 episodes. Over time, the show’s writers expanded her role further and further. By the time the series ended, Elaine even had some of the juicier storylines. The famed character almost wasn’t, though. 

Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus stand in his kitchen
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jerry Seinfeld | Joseph Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank

Elaine was never mentioned in the pilot, and she was certainly never seen. Elaine was only added after the pilot was filmed because the show’s creators wanted a female character who was more involved. According to the Huffington Post, a waitress named Claire was supposed to fill the female role on the show. She was too far removed from the core group of friends to work, though. The character was axed and replaced by Elaine. 

Jerry and his pals spent their time at a luncheonette instead of Monk’s Cafe 

Jerry, Kramer, Elaine, and George Costanza were the key members of the cast. Still, the places they spent their time also became central to the show’s storylines. Monk’s Cafe, the small eatery that Jerry and his pals frequented for the duration of the series, was an important element of the series. Still, it was absent during the pilot episode.

Instead of hanging out at Monk’s, Jerry and his pals spent their time at Pete’s Luncheonette. A waitress at the luncheonette was also a central member of the cast during the pilot episode. Somewhere between the pilot and episode 2, Pete’s and the waitress vanished. The eatery was replaced by Monk’s, and the waitress, Claire, was replaced by Elaine.