Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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100 Years, 50 Losers: #1

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on December 25, 2008

“It’s a Festivus Miracle!”

George Costanza, Seinfeld

Played By: Jason Alexander

Born to Lose: I was watching some NFL TV special on the Top Ten Power Running Backs of All-Time, and some guy that when it came to the subject of power running backs, “Jim Brown is #1. And there is no #2.” The same could very, very easily be applied to the case of George Constanza when it comes to TV losers. Sure, there are some great loser characters out there–the great majority of which have been listed on this blog in the last month or so–but they are all nothing compared to George. Mark Corrigan? Amateur. Coach McGuirk? Wannabe. Brian Krakow? Call me in 20 years, kid. In fact, half of the characters on this list wouldn’t even exist if not for the trails that George has blazed for TV loserdom over his eight or so years of existence. Ranking George among the loser TV characters in history is like comparing Orson Welles movies, current Lakers starters, or Gin Blossoms singles–each category has a bunch of quality contenders, but there’s only one Citizen Kane/Kobe Bryant/”Hey Jealousy”. (And please spare me your e-mails, you Lady from Shanghai / Andrew Bynum / “Allison Road” apologists).

Such a classic character is Costanza–not only a slam dunk for the best loser character in TV history, but almost inarguably the best character period in TV history–that I’m not gonna waste precious webspace trying to explain or justify his greatness. Instead, I have prepared a countdown of the Top 50 Moments in George Costanza history–each of which individually can go head-to-head with any of the best moments from any of the 49 other entries on this list. Gotta find your own YouTubes, though–as if you don’t have all these memorized already…

(Happy Holidays, everyone)

50. George argues about death with Kramer, who swears he’s not bothered by it. “See, now that bothers me even more than dying bothers me–cause it’s people like you who live to be a hundred and twenty because you’re not bothered by it!!” (The Parking Garage)

49. George attempts to get a frequent flyer mile discount for visiting his girlfriend’s dead relative. He pisses off the family too much for them to sign off on the death, so instead he just takes a picture of himself by the casket. (The Implant)

48. George feuds with a similarly portly, obsessive man about a nice suit going on sale. The two compete for who will get it to it first once it goes on sale, but George hedges his bets by hiding it in a different rack the night before.  (The Pie)

47. George buys Elaine a Big Salad, but is miffed when his girlfriend is the one who hands it to her, refusing to acknowledge him as the source. He can’t resist but tell her that he deserves the credit, and his girlfriend eventually breaks up with him for it. (The Big Salad)

46. George explicitly hires an unattractive secretary so she won’t distract him, but ends up being impressed enough with her efficiency that he sleeps with her anyway. In the heat of passion, he shouts out “I’M GIVING YOU  A RAISE!!!(The Secretary)

45. George gets upset by Jerry’s refusal to be excited about his relationship with Susan’s friend, thereby eliminating the chance of the four of them spending all their time together. “I thought we were going to be like the Gatsbys!!” he exclaims, to the comprehension of no one. (The Friars Club)

44. George tries to get fired by the Yankees so he can be hired by the Mets, but his attempts to do so all backfire, as when he streaks on the field in the middle of the game, but still wears a body suit out of shyness, getting himself affectionately drubbed “Body Suit Man” by the general public. (The Millennium)

43. George tries to get a picture incriminating him as the guy that once threw his boss’s stereo into the ocean altered so that he’s not in the picture, but instead the photo guy takes out his boss. “You lost a lot of hair,” he informs George. “I AM AWARE!!!!” he responds. (The Slicer)

42. Shrinkage. (The Hamptons)

41. George points out to a woman that her husband never says God Bless You to her, leading her to fall out of love with her husband and start crushing on him. “An affair,” George contemplates. “It’s so adult!(The Good Samaritan) 

40. “We had a pact!” (Only true losers keep a trump card like this in the back of their brain at all times, just in case). (Recurring)

39. George decides that his nickname heretofore will be T-Bone, and orders t-bones at the office all the time in the hopes of acquiring the nickname among his co-workers semi-organically. However, it is instead given to another worker, causing George to try to pressure him into giving it to him. “OK, OK, you can have T-Bone…just stop crying.” “I’m not crying!(The Maid)

38. George tries an ice breaking trick that worked on Elaine–touching the fabric a woman is wearing and asking her what it is–and learns that different seduction techniques work for different people. (The Sniffing Accountant)

37. George is disparaged by his friends for pissing in the shower at the gym. “IT’S ALL PIPES!!!he protests. (The Wife)

36. George neglects to get the details on a big project he thinks he’s supposed to do, but gets clued in that he’s “got to go downtown…just like the song.” He and Jerry analyze the lyrics of “Downtown,” line-by-line, until George concludes, “I got nothing.” (The Bottle Deposit, Pt. 1)

35. George is unmoved by Jerry’s repeated apologies for sleeping with his friend (and George’s potential new squeeze) Nina, remarking “You can stuff your sorries IN A SACK, mister!!” to the comprehension of no one. (The Betrayal)

34. George attempts to reclaim some dignity against a bad date that ruined his sweater and abandoned him years ago by confronting her at her baby shower, wearing the same sweater. He ends up helping her carry her stuff out of the apartment instead. (The Baby Shower)

33. George, having told his unemployment officer that he’s working as a latex salesman at the imaginary Vanderlay Industries (under Jerry’s phone number), hears Kramer telling the officer that he has the wrong number, and comes crashing out of the bathroom with his pants around his ankles, to no avail. “And you want to be my latex salesman…” Jerry gloats. (The Boyfriend, Pt. 2)

32. George is caught eating a bitten eclair out of his girlfriend’s mother’s trash can. Jerry summarizes the situation: “You find yourself in the kitchen, you see an eclair in the receptacle, and you think to yourself: What the hell, I’ll just eat some trash?” (The Soup)

31. George is incensed by a girl breaking up with him using “It’s not you, it’s me,” since George claims to have “INVENTED ‘IT’S NOT YOU IT’S ME’!!” After must badgering, the girl breaks down–“All right, George…it’s you.” “YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT’S ME!” he exclaims. (The Lip Reader)

30. George, through a variety of circumstances, convinces his office supervisors that he is disabled, and eventually gets a motorized scooter for his efforts. “Well, it’s nice to know that you’ll be going to hell at no more than three miles per hour,” Jerry remarks. (The Butter Shave)

29. George thinks he’s come up with the ultimate movie commentary track when his exclamation of “THAT’S GOTTA HURT!” draws laughter during the climax of Blimp: The Hindenburg Story. His second time through, he is upstaged by a guy with a laser pointer. (The Puerto Rican Day)

28. George notices that he tends to hurt himself by trying to be funny for too long after making one good joke, so after making his co-workers crack up at a staff meeting, he says “Thanks, folks, you’ve been great!” and makes his exit. Consequently, George’s boss kicks everyone else on the staff off a project but him, explaining “They were BO-RING!(The Burning)

27. George ruins his and Jerry’s pitch meeting at NBC, claiming that their not being receptive to his idea of a “Show About Nothing” is disrupting his artistic integrity. Later at the diner, a seething Jerry fumes at George: “You’re NOT artistic, and you HAVE NO INTEGRITY!!” (The Pitch)

26. George is told by a mutual friend of his and Jerry’s that he faked having cancer. Despite being sworn to secrecy, Jerry sees through George’s infamously terrible “poker face” immediately, and determines that he, in fact, be holding “A FULL HOUSE??!?!?!(The Scofflaw)

25. George, dating a girl who claims that looks aren’t important to her, gets to act out his much-ballyhooed fantasy: Ensconcing himself in velvet, showing up to the diner head-to-toe in the substance. (The Doodle)

24. George, being denied sex by his sick girlfriend, finally starts to think clearly, and discovers that he has untapped reservoirs of brilliance when his mind is not flooded by thoughts of sex. Despite this, he ends up ruining his brain hours before he’s supposed to give a speech at his and Jerry’s old middle school by having sex with a Portugese waitress. “I calculated my odds of ever getting together with a Portugese waitress,” he explains to Jerry. “Mathematically, I had to do it.” (The Abstinence)

23. George’s imaginary Christmas charity fund–The Human Fund: Money For People. (The Strike)

22. George creates a candy bar police lineup to try to ensnare a mechanic who he believes stole his Twix bar. “THEY WERE ALL TWIX!!” he breaks down after the ruse is ruined. (The Dealership)

21. George, able to live off his severance package from the Yankees for a few months, declares it the “Summer of George!” and decides to spend three months watching TV and eating out of his chair-refridgerator. (Side note: Whenever I spent an unemployed summer in college, Victor would pull out the same old “oh, so it’s going to be the Summer of Utz, huh?” chestnut) (Tbe Summer of George)

20. George, having made the rash decision to quit his job over a bathroom-related injustice, breaks down his job prospects with Jerry.

“Maybe I could be like, a [baseball] announcer. Like a color man. You know how I always make those interesting comments during the game?”
“Yeah, Yeah. You make good comments.”
“What about that?”
“Well, they tend to give those jobs to ex-ballplayers, and people that are, you know…in broadcasting.”
“…well that’s really not fair.” (The Revenge)

19. George’s man-crush on Elaine’s extreme-sports beau comes to a tragic end when he accidentally causes Tony a nasty, face-destroying spill while rock climbing. “STEP OFF, GEORGE!!!(The Stall)

18. George advises Jerry on how to pass a lie-detector test with his cop girlfriend about whether or not he watches Melrose Place. “Remember–it’s not a lie if you believe it.” (The Beard)

17. George’s answering machine message, to the tune of the “Greatest American Hero” theme.

Believe it or not / George isn’t at home / Please leave a messaaaaage / At the beep / I must be out / Or I’d pick up the phone / Wheeeeere could I beeeeeee? / Beleieve it or not / I’m not hooooome!!!!

The little dance he does while he sings along with it seals the deal. (The Susie)

16. George, trying to get out of a relationship with a woman who won’t let him break up with her, cheats on her with a woman who refuses to have sex with him. He tries to get them to “discover” each other, but neither is moved enough by his betrayal to allow him to end their respective relationships. “All right…” he resigns himself, repeatedly. (The Strong Box)

15. George is furious when Jerry tells him, off the cuff, that he slept with Elaine the previous night, and then claims he’s “not in the mood” to give details. George offers the following: “You ask me to have lunch, tell me you slept with Elaine, and then say you’re not in the mood for details. Now you listen to me. I want details and I want them right now. I don’t have a job, I have no place to go. You’re not in the mood? WELL YOU GET IN THE MOOD!!!!(The Deal)

14. George achieves his dream existence as a highly-paid, under-worked, over-pursued hand model, but it all comes crashing down when the low-talker pushes him into a scalding hot iron. So close… (The Puffy Shirt)

13. George discovers that he’s better off in life doing the exact opposite of what he would normally do, resulting in him taking it easy while driving, standing up to some punks at the movie theater, telling a woman he just met that he’s unemployed and lives with his parents, and insulting George Steinbrenner during an interview with the Yankees. Evidently, he unlearns this lesson during the Seinfeld off-season and is back to his charmless self by the next premiere. (The Opposite)

12. George gets pitched by Kramer to move to LA, analyzing how pathetic George’s life in New York is. “Do you have any conceivable reason to get up in the morning?” Kramer ultimately poses to him. “I like to get the Daily News,” George meekly responds.

11. George’s dream name for his son-or-daughter-to-be, Seven, is hijacked by Susan’s friends, who are actually expecting a baby. This deeply disturbs George, who berates the woman for being selfish on her way to the delivery room and ultimately pleads with them “PLEASE!! I HAVE SO LITTLE!!!(The Seven) 

10. George gets the benefit of Elaine’s misconception that it was his presence, and not her dancing, that turned her entire office against her at their most recent party, by making himself seem like a bad boy to Elaine’s cute underling Anna. This is eventually undercut somewhat by her discovery of the orthopedic back pillow and FiberCon he keeps in his car, and ultimately completely undone when he cries after getting arrested for bootlegging. “Why did the policeman have to yell at me like that?” he bemoans. (The Little Kicks)

9. George gives the gruesome details of his life story to the approval board of an apartment he wants to move into, so he can out-maudlin the survivor of the Andrea Dorea wreck that he’s competing with. His summation: “In closing, these stories have not been embellished, because…they need no embellishment. They are simply, horrifyingly, the story of my life as a short, stocky, slow witted, bald man. Thank you….Oh, also.. my fiance died from licking toxic envelopes that I picked out. Thanks again.” (The Andrea Dorea)

8. George is seduced by a well-dressed woman who mistakes him for a rich businessman on the subway. She takes him to her hotel room, gets him to take off his clothes and handcuffs him to the bed. She then gets dressed, steals his wallet and, miffed at him only having eight dollars on him, decides to steal his clothes and leave him cuffed to the bed. “Will I see you again??” George cries as she exits. (The Subway)

7. George is petrified by the thought of Elaine starting to hang out with Susan. He explains to Jerry:

“Ah you have no idea of the magnitude of this thing! If she is allowed to infiltrate this world, then George Costanza as you know him, ceases to exist! You see, right now, I have Relationship George…but there is also Independent George. That’s the George you know, the George you grew up with–Movie George, Coffee Shop George, Liar
George, Bawdy George.”
“I love that George!”
ME TOO!!!  And he’s DYING, Jerry! If Relationship George walks through this door, he will kill Independent George! A GEORGE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF CANNOT STAND!!!!(The Pool Guy)

6. George explains to Jerry that his way of ingratiating himself to women is similar to the process used by a commercial jingle–annoying at first, then by the third date, it’s “Byyyy MENnen.”  Sure enough, later in the episode, he pisses off a woman on their first date, but weeks later, she calls him back, saying she couldn’t get him out of her head…”Coooo-STAN-za!” (The Chicken Roaster)

5. George, intrigued by the possibilities of his girlfriend’s vanilla-flavored incense, explores the possibility of combining food with sex, eventually going for the trifecta by adding TV as well. His girlfriend is extremely put off, but as he visits a friend of Elaine’s who is cooking up pastrami (“the most sensual of the cured meats”), she reveals herself to be as interested in achieving the hat trick as well. (The Blood)

4. George fights over a similarly-minded man for a parking space over an entire episode. Resolution is never reached, but clearly it is not a contest decided easily:

“Well, you’re going to have to go to the bathroom!”
Well, you’re going to have to go to work!”

3. George pretends to be a Marine Biologist to impress the old “It Girl” from his college, but is put to the test when he and the girl come across a beached whale on their walk (“IS ANYBODY HERE A MARINE BIOLOGIST???“) We never see what happens, but George regales the gang with the story later:

“So I started to walk into the water. I won’t lie to you boys, I was terrified! But I pressed on and as I made my way passed the breakers a strange calm came over me. I don’t know if it was divine intervention, or the kinship of all living things, but I tell you Jerry–at that moment I was a marine biologist! […]  The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to return soup at a deli! I got about fifty-feet out and then suddenly, the great beast appeared before me…I tell ya he was ten stories high if he was a foot. As if sensing my presence he gave out a big bellow. I said, “EEEEEASY BIG FELLA!” And then as I watched him struggling, I realized something was obstructing his breathing. From where I was standing, I could see directly into the eye of the great fish […]  Then from out of nowhere a huge title wave lifted, tossed like a cork and I found myself on top of him face to face with the blow-hole. I could barely see from all of the waves crashing down on top of me but I knew something was there so I reached my hand and pulled out the obstruction!” (Pulls out a golf ball Kramer had hit into the ocean earlier in the episode).

“Well, the crowd must have gone wild!”

“Oh yes, they did, Jerry. They were all over me. It was like Rocky 1. Diane came up to me, threw her arms around me, and kissed me. We both had tears streaming down our faces. I never saw anyone so beautiful. It was at that moment I decided to tell her I was not a marine biologist!”

“Wow! What’d she say!”

“She told me to go to hell and I took the bus home.” (The Marine Biologist)

2. George, dunked by one of his co-workers at an office meeting for eating too many shrimp (“You know, George, the ocean called…they’re running out of shrimp”), believes he’s come up with the absolutely perfect comeback (“Oh yeah? Well, the Jerk Store called, and they’re running out of you!”) Despite the prostestations and superior comebacks levied by all of his friends (and Kramer’s belief that he should just claim to have had sex with the jerk’s wife), George is certain that he’s come up with the zinger to end all zingers (“This is why I hate writing with a large group. Everybody has their own little opinions, and it all gets homogenized, and you lose the whole edge of it! I’m going with jerk store! Jerk store is the line! JERK STORE!!”) and even sets up another meeting (that he has to fly to) with the same jerk (and the same shrimp platter) to get the opportunity to use it.

The jerk repeats his zing, and George winds up and delivers the “Jerk Store” line. The jerk, a little quicker on his feet, responds: “What’s the difference? You’re their all-time best seller!” George, stunned and furious, instead reverts to the Kramer strategy: “Oh yeah? Well I had sex with your wife!!” George is informed that the jerk’s wife is in a coma, and that’s the end of that. But then, driving back to the airport, he mutters to himself “Well, the respirator called…” comes to a decision, and pulls the car back around for round three.

1. George, in the George moment to end all George moments, is at his girlfriend’s son’s birthday party, when a fire breaks out. He panics, pushes some kids and an old woman to the ground, and scampers out of the apartment without waiting for anyone else. Later, questioned by the firemen and attendees about his actions, he offers the following explanation:

George: “I…was trying to lead the way. We needed a leader! Someone to lead the way to safety!”
The Girlfriend:  “But you yelled ‘Get out of my way’!”
George: “Because!  Because, as the leader…if I die…then all hope is lost! Who would lead? The clown? Ha! Instead of castigating me, you should all be thanking me. What kind of a topsy-turvy world do we live in, where heroes are cast as villains? Brave men as cowards?..”
Girlfriend: “But I saw you push the women and children out of the way in a mad panic! I saw you knock them down! And when you ran out, you left everyone behind!”
George: “Seemingly. Seemingly, to the untrained eye, I can fully understand how you got that impression. What looked like pushing…what looked like knocking down…was a safety precaution! In a fire, you stay close to the ground, am I right? And when I ran out that door, I was not leaving anyone behind! Oh, quite the contrary! I risked my life making sure that exit was clear. Any other questions?”
Fireman: “How do you live with yourself?
George: “…it’s not easy.”

Yeah. There’s no #2 to all that.

(The rest of the 100 Years, 50 Losers list can be read in its entirety here, and in case you just need a recap:

50. Matt McNamara, Nip/Tuck
49. The Dog, Foghorn Leghorn Cartoons
48. Xander Harris, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
47. DeAndra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
46. Cassidy “Beaver” Casablancas, Veronica Mars
45. Stuart Stevenson, Beavis & Butthead
44. Roz Doyle, Frasier
43. Hugo “Hurley” Reyes, LOST
42. Trent Lane, Daria
41. Andrea Zuckerman, Beverly Hills 90210

40. Landry Clarke, Friday Night Lights
39. Ted Buckland, Scrubs
38. Richie Cunningham, Happy Days
37. Cavemen, GEICO Commercials
36. X the Eliminator, Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law
35. Bud Bundy, Married With Children
34. Jason, Home Movies
33. John Munch, Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: SVU, …
32. Edgar Stiles, 24
31. Toby Flenderson, The Office (US)

30. Samuel “Screech” Powers, Saved By the Bell
29. George O’Malley, Grey’s Anatomy
28. Non-Alltel Cell-Phone Service Providers, Alltel Commercials
27. Bill Haverchuck, Freaks & Geeks
26. Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson, Cheers
Meg Griffin, Family Guy
24. Jess Mariano, Gilmore Girls
23. Seth Cohen, The O.C.
22. Ziggy Sobotka, The Wire
21. Nelly/Lindsay Bluth Funke, Arrested Development

20. Bill Fontaine De la Tour Dauterive, King of the Hill
19. Murray Hewitt, Flight of the Conchords
18. Frank Rossitano, 30 Rock
17. Andy Botwin, Weeds
16. Carl Brutanananadilewski, Aqua Teen Hunger Force
15. Elaine Benes, Seinfeld
14. Phillip J. Fry, Futurama
13. Tim Canterbury, The Office (UK)
12. Charlie Kelly, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
11. Enrique “Ricky” Vasquez, My So-Called Life

10. A.J. Soprano, The Sopranos
9. Turtle, Entourage
8. Trix Rabbit, Trix Commercialsa
7. George Michael Bluth, Arrested Development
6. Milhouse Van Houten, The Simpsons
5. Mark Corrigan, Peep Show
4. Thomas “Tom” Cat, Tom and Jerry cartoons
3. Coach John McGuirk, Home Movies
2. Brian Krakow, My So-Called Life
1. George Costanza, Seinfeld)

14 Responses to “100 Years, 50 Losers: #1”

  1. This is the greatest blog entry you have ever written, and likely ever will write.

    There is no #2 to this. Hats off ‘drew.

    …but still i can’t resist #33 is way too low and #22 is way too high.

  2. Mitchell Stirling said


  3. Victor said

    A top 50 list to conclude a top 50 list, truly a Festivus miracle.

  4. Garret said

    Do they pay people to watch movies?

  5. projectionists

  6. Garret said


  7. Kyle said

    I thank god I know you and have access to your dementia

  8. blueballs said

    where urkel

  9. Collin said

    i’m trying real hard to pick a top george moment, and i don’t know how you did it. every time I go down the list and say to myself “man, i’d rank that higher,” i say the same thing about the next one… incredible.

  10. Sonja said

    A formidable production, all-around.

  11. dan said

    A pop cultural tour de force I’m tempted to say

  12. Jjuh said

    George is not a loser, he is a creep.

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