The 1990s were a fruitful time for sitcoms. Seinfeld, Will & Grace, Friends, Frasier… the decade kept throwing out perfectly crafted, perfectly casted, perfectly written, half-hour comedies. No matter how good the current comedy fare may be, the ’90s classics will never fail us. And, in a recent rewatch of pretty much any of your fave shows from the decade, you may notice that there are quite a few faces you recognize. More specifically, you’ll recognize them on Seinfeld. It seems that most actors who would go on to star on other shows got their start on that one show. Episode after episode features another familiar face.
You’ll find a lot of the most popular shows on TV recycle actors all the time – and certain stars are in pretty much everything. Don’t believe us? Here are 16 ’90s Seinfeld actors you’ll recognize from other shows.
16. Megan Mullally from Will & Grace
It was five years before Will & Grace premiered and Megan Mullally would become the iconically nasal and problematic AF Karen Walker. On Seinfeld, she played George’s romantic interest and a more-or-less normal woman. As with many of Seinfeld’s female guest roles, her personality doesn’t matter as much as the situation in which she puts the gang. When Megan’s characters relative dies, she brings George to the funeral. There, her brother yells at George for “double-dipping” a chip. That’s right – without Megan Mullally, the world might never have adopted the amazing phrase to describe a germ-spreading practice: the double-dip. (As for Mullally and George’s relationship in the show? It doesn’t work out. Per usual for George.)
15. Jane Leeves from Frasier
We all know Jane Leeves as the effervescent Daphne Moon on Frasier, but on Seinfeld, she was just a good old-fashioned virgin. In a plot line that’s problematic by today’s standards, she plays one of Jerry’s personality-free girlfriends – her only defining feature is that she’s never had sex before. The gang makes this out to be a huuuuuge deal (which, for the record, it’s not – do whatever you want with your body, GF), and Jerry inevitably messes it up by offending her with a comment about her virginal status. Don’t feel bad for her though – she ends up with a Kennedy, and she was too good for Jerry, anyways.
14. Kristin Davis from Sex & the City
OCD Jerry runs wild in this episode. One innocent morning, he brushes his teeth next to his new girlfriend, and when she leaves the bathroom he drops her toothbrush in the toilet!!! Oh no!!! He picks it out gingerly, then before he can say anything, she uses it! She, therefore, is tainted for the rest of the episode and he does not want to kiss her. Totally logical, right? Don’t worry, though – she gets back at him by putting *something* of his in the toilet.
13. Courteney Cox from Friends
Future-Monica is Jerry’s girlfriend for precisely one episode on Seinfeld. The two are getting their dry-cleaning back one morning when Jerry finds the store owner’s heirloom in the pocket of one of his jackets. The laundry man is so ecstatic that he gives Jerry and his family discounts on dry-cleaning, leading Monica – erm, Courteney’s character – to jump in and pretend that she’s his wife, so she should get the discount, too. The two have fun playing “married” until, inevitably, being “married” ruins everything. Typical Seinfeld shenanigans.
12. Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls
Before she was fast-talking her way into our hearts on Gilmore Girls, she was dating Jerry, just like everybody else in Manhattan (and on NBC). Her “quirk” is that she ranks the people in her life by speed dial hierarchy. Jerry notices that when he does something bad, he goes down to, say, #7. When he does something really good (i.e. a classic dinner date in the park), he goes all the way to #2! This, however, causes some problems because it means he has usurped her stepmother. To retaliate, her stepmother “Mrs. Robinson”‘s Jerry to break the two up. It’s scandalous.
11. Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad
In this episode, George loses his glasses, setting into motion a butterfly effect chain of events. While trying on prescription-free frames, he sees what he THINKS is Jerry’s new girlfriend, played by Anna Gunn kissing Jerry’s cousin on the street. Uh-OH. Hilarity ensues, as he tries to catch the woman in her “lie,” and drives her away. After all is said and done, he realizes he’d actually seen a policewoman kissing a horse. Whoops!
10. Bryan Cranston from Malcolm in the Middle / Breaking Bad
Speaking of Breaking Bad actors, Bryan Cranston has a pretty regular role on Seinfeld as Tim Whatley, dentist extraordinnaire. The running gag is that Tim and Jerry pretty much hate each other, and Tim and Elaine have a tenuous attraction to each other. In one episode, Jerry learns about ticket-giving etqiuette when he gives Tim tickets to the Super Bowl, then wants them back. In another, Jerry is convinced that Tim and his hygenist fooled around with each other (and him!) while he was “under” for a procedure. It was years before even Malcolm in the Middle debuted, so you probably didn’t even recognize him at the time.
9. Jessica Hecht from Friends
For those who don’t know, Carol’s girlfriend, Susan, is played by Jessica Hecht. And Jessica Hecht is also on Seinfeld! It’s brief, but she’s there nonetheless! In this episode, George tries to get out of reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s for his club by watching the movie – except, of course, the only copy has been rented out by a poor, unsuspecting family. So, naturally, George stalks them and insists on joining in for the movie night. Of course, it does not go well. In the end, George inadvertently exposes himself at book club, the protagonist is gay in the movie, and Jessica’s character tells him as much. Good job, George.
8. Mike Hagerty from Friends
Mr. Treeger, the bufoon-ish landlord on Friends, is also known as Mike Hagerty, who is ALSO a character on Seinfeld. Instead of ballroom dancing with Joey or making Rachel cry, this Mike Hagerty character is a gruff vintage store owner who burns George’s dad’s moth-ridden cruise clothing.
7. Lisa Edelstein from House
Frasier couldn’t, but can George handle Lisa Edelstein? If you know George, you already probably know the answer is “no,” but we’ll explain why anyways. Lisa plays George’s girlfriend who he’s convinced he isn’t pleasing… you know, ~sexually~. Turns out, he isn’t. She says that she enjoys risotto more than sex with him. Yikes. He tries and tries to improve his progress but ultimately his work is fruitless. Better luck next time, George. In fact, he goes out with her again in a later episode but messes it up yet again. Those two simply aren’t meant to be.
6. Lori Laughlin from Full House
You know her from Full House, but – as with most women in America – she also dated Jerry on Seinfeld. Her “thing” is that she urges Jerry to really *feel* his emotions. He tries and he tries, and finally he does! But then, there are simply too many emotions. He’s crying, he’s proposing to Elaine – and in the process of all that emotion, he loses his sense of humor. That is until he gets George to open up, which scares the emotions plum out of him and brings the funny back. It’s a miracle!
5. Larry Hankin from Friends
Mr. Heckles brought about a lot of self-reflection from the Friends gang – and when watching those episodes, you may have noticed he looked just a little similar to Kramer, no? He plays the fake Kramer on Jerry, the fake NBC pilot/plot point, on Seinfeld. As Mr. Heckles, he hit his ceiling to get Monica and Rachel to stop making so much noise, and as Kramer on Jerry, he barges through doors and says things like “giddy-yup.” Honestly, the two characters aren’t that different – give Kramer a few years, and he, too, will be hitting his ceiling with a broom.
4. Drake Bell from Drake and Josh
Your favorite tweeny-bopper heartthrob, before he was making us laugh with Josh Peck on Nickelodeon, was playing frogger in a random pizza parlor on Seinfeld. The kid’s good, but George realizes he still holds the high score, and goes on a mission to buy the machine to preserve his legacy. Drake Bell‘s poor character never stood a chance!
3. Patton Oswalt from The King of Queens
Patton Oswalt is the unreasonable video store guy (TBT to the existance of video store guys), who refuses to let George return a video because he broke some bogus rule. It’s because of this debacle that George runs into Susan, his future wife, with her girlfriend. “Woah, a lesbian!” is the underlying theme of this ep. The way the characters dealt with her identity definitely wouldn’t hold up to today’s standards – but at the time it provided some good laughs.
2. Debra Messing from Will & Grace
Megan Mullally wasn’t the only Will & Grace star on Seinfeld before the show premiered. Grace – better known as Debra Messing – appeared, too! The actress was on two episodes (playing Jerry’s girlfriend) – one season seven episode titled, “The Wait Out,” and “The Yada Yada” one season later. Her character, Beth, was initially in a relationship with someone else but Jerry waited patiently for things to end between them. Then, he went for it, just to find out that she was actually a racist and Anti-Semetic. Yikes. Definitely one of the few of Jerry’s dumpees that earned it.
1. Teri Hatcher from Desperate Housewives
Teri may be a desperate housewife; she may also be Lois Lane; but she’s also one of Jerry’s many girlfriends on Seinfeld. Her arc comes on the episode “The Implant,” which is exactly what you think it’s about. A line she doled out, “They’re real and they’re spectaular,” became one of her most quotable lines. This is, of course, after Jerry dumps her because Elaine convinced him her boobs were fake. Just another day in Seinfeld-land, right?