Seinfeld: 5 Times We Felt Bad For Elaine (& 5 Times We Hated Her)

Elaine was one of the central four on Seinfeld, and while she sometimes made bad decisions of her own, other times we felt bad for her.

Unlike her male counterparts in Seinfeld, Elaine offers a different outlook on the absurdities of living in NYC, whereas she is exactly like them in terms of guts, nerve, and unadulterated audacity. The four of them make a fantastic team, considering that misadventures are magnetically and mysteriously drawn to them,  but Elaine’s are a cut above the rest.

It’s not like she’s an unsympathetic character, as she experiences all sorts of trouble that viewers can identify with, for example, her secretive but deep desire to get married before her “clock runs out.” On the other hand, Elaine has gotten herself into so many avoidable messes that it just feels like she’s being provocative on purpose.

Felt Bad: When She Runs Out Of Sponges

Elaine Benes in Seinfeld

Elaine is extremely sex-positive, which is honestly one of the more progressive attitudes she holds towards society, but this also means that she is as picky when it comes to having sex with people. She is hellbent on using a single method of contraception, the famous “sponge”, and cannot deal with the fact that the company who makes them has stopped production.

Elaine, with great difficulty, procures the last sixty in existence (except those hoarded by Lena, Jerry’s girlfriend), and forces her men to give her a presentation of why they deserve one of her sponges. At some point, she’s going to run out of all of them, though.

Hated Her: When She Tries To Convert A Gay Man

Elaine, George and Jerry

Elaine is quite inane when it comes to her romantic life, given that she believes in the antiquated notion of her “ticking biological clock.” This causes her to enter unnecessarily complicated situations to find the right mate, even if that person happens to be a gay man.

Elaine attempts to “convert” Robert, after spending an evening at the ballet with him, because she is awed by how sophisticated and open he is about everything. At one point, it seems that her scheme has worked, but Robert thankfully returns to his true form, leaving her disappointed.

Felt Bad: When She Performs A Nip-Slip

Elaine and Kramer in Jerry's apartment on Seinfeld

When Kramer “accidentally” takes a picture of Elaine for her Christmas card, she loves it so much that she sends it out to pretty much everyone she knows (even her little nephew.) Sadly for her, her nipple is blatantly displayed for everyone to see, which is confirmed when Newman instantly realizes the problem with a single glance.

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Elaine endures way too much pain for something that isn’t even her fault, and Kramer is in hot water once again, this time or thinking that Elaine actually wanted to expose herself to her friends and family.

Hated Her: When She “Germifies” Peggy

Elaine coughs on Peggy's doorknobs

Peggy, Elaine’s colleague at J. Peterman, believes that she is a mythical woman named Susie, and confides in her regarding her true opinions — basically judging her for being a “loose woman” with multiple partners.

Elaine is understandably furious, because this attitude signifies a serious amount of internalized misogyny, but does her response have to be so over the top? Taking into account that Peggy is a “germophobe”, she runs around her office smearing her “germs” on various objects, including doorknobs, staplers, keyboards, and so on.

Felt Bad: When She Didn’t Get A Single Square

Elaine Benes asking for a single square

Elaine requests an unknown woman in the toilet cubicle next to her to “spare a square” of paper, since her roll had run out and they were both in a public bathroom.

This mysterious character, who’s really Jane, Jerry’s then girlfriend, bluntly denies her a single shred, even though she begs and pleads for it, which is truly appalling behavior since she could have simply given her a toilet paper roll from outside. This time, however, Elaine’s revenge is justified, as she does the exact same thing to Jane in the bathroom at Monk’s Cafe.

Hated Her: When She Gets Babu Bhatt Deported

Babu testifies in Seinfeld

Jerry returns after a comedy stint from out of town, having asked Elaine to take care of all his mail for him. She does the job, but only at a perfunctory level, because if she had actually gone through it, she would have found Babu Bhatt’s visa renewal form that had been sent to Seinfeld’s mailbox in error.

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Due to this, the poor restaurateur is hauled off by the INS and deported to Pakistan. To be honest, it’s as much Jerry’s fault as it is Elaine’s, considering that Babu promises to have his revenge against him.

Felt Bad: When She Loses Her Dream Apartment

Elaine Benes, Jerry Seinfeld, and Cosmo Kramer

Jerry offers Elaine the chance to move into the apartment directly above his own, after discovering that the previous tenant had died and the rent was shockingly low. However, he soon comes to realize that having her so nearby would put a damper on his private life, because she keeps going on about how they can hang out together all the time.

At the end, Kramer manages to find someone to pay $10,000 for the place, an amount of money Elaine can neither afford nor borrow, forcing her to give up on her dream. As luck would have it, Jerry comes to regret his decision soon enough, because a painfully noisy neighbor moves in upstairs.

Hated Her: When She Abandons The Gang

Elaine is stuck between two groups of three men on the street in Seinfeld.

After dating Kevin for a short time, Elaine chooses to end the relationship but continues on as friends. Despite Jerry’s claims that he is literally a “Bizarro” version of himself, she becomes closer to Kevin’s group of friends, both of whom are eerie opposites of Kramer and George.

Elaine goes so far as to choose the new group over her old, which is nothing short of a betrayal, but this doesn’t work out for her after all. It turns out that she’s the only one who doesn’t fit into the ethos of Kevin’s gang, and is consequently told to leave and never return.

Felt Bad: When She Gets Banned By The Soup Nazi

Elaine and the Soup Nazi

The “Soup Nazi” episode is where Elaine truly shines — she tries to show off her cavalier attitude towards the finicky culinary genius, and basically mocks every single one of Kassem’s rules while ordering her soup.

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For her audacity, he forbids her from entering his restaurant for an entire year, a judgement that she finds way too extreme and unfair. Elaine has a point here: getting kicked out is one thing, but for twelve whole months? The Soup Nazi has really earned his name, hasn’t he?

Hated Her: When She Destroys His Life

Elaine and the Soup Nazi

As a consequence of her ban, Elaine scoffs at the Soup Nazi’s soups (without even tasting them!) and tries to move on with her life; in this case, by focusing on the armoire that Kramer magically finds for her.

The ancient piece of furniture turns out to be Kassem’s, and inside it she finds the recipes for most of his dishes, something he had unfortunately forgotten to remove before giving the armoire to Kramer. Elaine’s response is far too spiteful for the situation, because she forces the Soup Nazi into early retirement by claiming that she would disclose his secrets to the entire city of New York.

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