Jerry Seinfeld shares how he really feels about the Seinfeld finale

In the history of television, few episodes have been as controversial as the Seinfeld finale. Written by series co-creator Larry David, the two-part finale originally aired in 1998 to an audience of more than 76 million viewers — but the beloved sitcom failed to stick the landing.

“A lot of people didn’t like it,” Jerry Seinfeld tells Q‘s Tom Power in an interview.

Seinfeld ends with friends Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer locked up in prison for standing by and cracking jokes instead of helping a man who was mugged in front of them. The finale features numerous callbacks, as past characters are brought into the courtroom to testify against the so-called “New York Four.”

WATCH | Jerry Seinfeld’s full conversation with Tom Power:

“What we wanted at the time was to see all the great characters that we had had over the years … and give them one last chance to speak their peace,” Seinfeld says. “We thought that would be fun and it was fun. I think the only mistake, if there was one, was leaving them in jail. We didn’t really have to do that.”

Recently, however, Seinfeld and David got another shot at ending a show with the series finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which concluded last month after 12 seasons. In the final episode of Curb, Larry is sentenced to one year in jail when all of a sudden Jerry rushes in with the news that the judge has declared a mistrial and Larry will be walking free.

“This is how we should’ve ended [Seinfeld],” Larry says, with Jerry responding that “no one wants to see” their comedy protagonist in jail.

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Seinfeld says the idea to end Curb with a direct callback to Seinfeld occurred late on a Friday night, just about five minutes before they shot the scene.

“They were wrapping their entire series and, obviously, they were reflecting [on] the end of the Seinfeld series,” he says. “I thought, ‘Let’s talk about how this would have been a great idea for the end of the Seinfeld series. Why didn’t we do it?’ And we couldn’t think of a reason why we didn’t think of it.

“Honestly, it was one of the most exciting moments of my life that that idea occurred just five minutes before you see it in Curb. And then I realized that we set up a joke 25 years ago and just paid it off. The only possible way that could happen is two TV series run in succession, with each of the creators playing themselves in the series.”

The night they shot that scene, Seinfeld says he and David had been debating the best series finale of all time.

“I’m personally a fan of the Mad Men finale and I also like The Sopranos final moment,” Seinfeld tells Power. “And we thought, ‘Well, we tried. We’re not in that conversation of one of the greats.’ And then we became one of the greats in that moment that we connected two TV series 25 years apart. That was an arrow that landed in the sun, comedically speaking.”

The full interview with Jerry Seinfeld is available on our podcast, Q with Tom Power. He also talks about his new Netflix movie Unfrosted, his “crazy connection” with Larry David and his early days on Johnny Carson. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Interview with Jerry Seinfeld produced by Kaitlyn Swan.

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