Seinfeld Still ‘A Bit’ Bothered by Series Finale, Says Mad Men’s Was ‘Greatest’

Coming up on the 26th anniversary of Seinfeld’s much-discussed series finale, Jerry Seinfeld admits he is still “a little bit” bothered how the beloved NBC sitcom ended things.

“The Finale,” which aired May 14, 1998, and drew (wait for it) 76 million viewers, has since landed on many a “Worst Series Finales Ever” ranking, including TVLine’s own (where it sits at No. 6 out of 25).

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“Though ‘The Finale’ trotted out classic characters like the Soup Nazi and Bubble Boy, it was still a criminally bad ending to a historically terrific comedy,” our Worst Series Finales entry for Seinfeld reads. “By the time Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer were sent up the river for violating a Good Samaritan law, fans felt like they’d already done hard time!”

Similarly, among other Worst Series Finale rankings, our sister site Variety opined, “The ending is bad because it’s painfully, painfully boring”; The A.V. Club said, “The way the show ended almost feels like a poorly executed twist. ‘They’re bad people, actually wasn’t a revelation; it was self-evident from the start”;  and ScreenRant asserted, “Seinfeld chose to wrap up on a pitiful and disappointing note with Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer complaining about their situation and rehashing mishaps from previous episodes.”

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Seinfeld, when asked by GQ if his eponymous comedy’s finale has “bothered [him] all these years,” answered, “A little bit, yeah,” though he was quick to note, “I don’t believe in regret.

“I think it’s arrogant to think you could have done something different. You couldn’t. That’s why you did what you did,” he explained.

Addressing critiques like those noted above, Seinfeld said, “we were affected by some things that people had said, that they were selfish or whatever… [but] that’s an essential element of comedy, since Shakespeare and forever. You can’t do comedy without selfish people. That’s what people relate to.”

Plus, Seinfeld‘s finale got a bit of a “do-over” when co-creator Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm recently ended its own run with a similar sendoff that, at the last second, got right what the NBC sitcom’s got wrong (by releasing David’s character from jail).

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Seinfeld hails Mad Men — which ended in May 2015 with Don Draper in meditation at a retreat, and implied that the ad man went on to create the iconic “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” Coca-Cola spot — as serving up perhaps the “greatest” series ender of all time.

“[M]e and [writer/director/EP] Jeff Schaffer and [Seinfeld co-creator] Larry [David] were standing around, talking about TV finales and which we thought were great,” he shared with GQ. “I feel Mad Men was the greatest. A lot of people like the [Newhart] one. Mary Tyler Moore [Show] was OK. I think Mad Men was the greatest final moment of a series I’ve ever seen. So satisfying.”

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