Columbia Pictures Television
Columbia Pictures Television

25 Future Stars Who Appeared on Seinfeld

Columbia Pictures Television
Columbia Pictures Television

Originally titled The Seinfeld Chronicles, the sitcom went from inauspicious origins to become one of the most iconic shows of all time, turning its stars into household names. But Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards weren’t the only actors to get their break on the show about nothing. These now-familiar faces appeared in bit parts on the series before making it big.

1. Peter Krause - Tim in "The Limo" (February 26, 1992)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: Before he was spotted driving a hearse on Six Feet Under, Peter Krause played a white supremacist who winds up riding in a limo with Jerry and the gang.

Since Seinfeld: He’s gone on to become a bonafide leading man, most recently on Parenthood.

2. Jeremy Piven - Michael Barth in “The Pilot” (May 20, 1993) 

On Seinfeld: In one of the series’ more meta moments, Piven plays an actor who auditions for the part of George in “The Pilot.”

Since Seinfeld: Piven has had a long career in TV and film since Seinfeld, but his name is now synonymous with irate super agent Ari Gold from HBO’s Entourage.

3. Lauren Graham - Valerie in “The Millennium” (May 1, 1997)

On Seinfeld: She plays Jerry’s speed-dial ranking girlfriend.

Since Seinfeld: A few years after getting dumped by Jerry, Graham landed her most famous role as Lorelai Gilmore on the much-loved Gilmore Girls. She's currently on Parenthood, where she plays Peter Krause's sister.

4. Patton Oswalt - Video store clerk in “The Couch” (October 27, 1994)

On Seinfeld: A fellow stalwart of the mid-nineties stand-up circuit, Patton Oswalt made his first-ever TV appearance as a video store clerk on this episode of Seinfeld.

Since Seinfeld: Oswalt’s career now spans TV, movies, stand-up specials, books, and even video games.

5. Brad Garrett - Tony in “The Bottle Deposit” (May 2, 1996)

On Seinfeld: Garrett had a successful stand-up career and had even performed on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson before his Seinfeld debut, where he played Tony, the mechanic who was deeply dedicated to his craft.

Since Seinfeld: Garrett has lent his dulcet tones to animated hits like Tangled and Finding Nemo, but he’s perhaps most recognized for his role on Everybody Loves Raymond.

6. Michael Chiklis - Steve in “The Stranded” (November 27, 1991)

On Seinfeld: In the early '90s Chiklis was a serial guest-star of shows including Miami Vice, L.A. Law and of course Seinfeld, where he played a friend who lives way out on Long Island.

Since Seinfeld: The same year as his Seinfeld appearance, Chiklis landed his first big role in The Commish, which ran until 1996 on NBC. Since then he’s found fame and critical acclaim on The Shield and starred in blockbusters like Fantastic Four.

7. Jane Leeves - Marla in “The Virgin” (November 11, 1992)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: Pre-Frasier Jane Leeves played the titular virgin in "The Virgin" who eventually leaves Jerry for John F. Kennedy, Jr.

Since Seinfeld: Leeves clearly impressed the NBC brass — she was cast as Daphne on Fraiser just months after “The Virgin” first aired.

8. Jon Favreau - Eric the Clown in “The Fire” (May 5, 1994)

On Seinfeld: Favreau played Eric the Clown, the entertainer at a kids' party that was interrupted by a fire — and George's subsequent cowardly escape.

Since Seinfeld: Favreau turned his own struggles into the surprise hit Swingers, a breakout moment that led to a successful career as an actor, writer, and director.

9. Debra Messing - Beth in “The Yada Yada” (April 24, 1997)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: Messing played Jerry’s date in two episodes of Seinfeld, including classic “The Yada Yada,” where she’s revealed to be a closet racist.

Since Seinfeld: Just a few months after her final outing on Seinfeld, messing would go on to become one of the stars of her own groundbreaking sitcom, Will & Grace.

10. Christine Taylor - Ellen in “The Van Buren Boys” (February 6, 1997)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: Taylor made an early appearance on Seinfeld as one of Jerry's many flames.

Since Seinfeld: She’s starred in hits including Zoolander and Dodgeball. In 2000, she married Ben Stiller, whose dad Jerry starred on Seinfeld as George’s father, Frank Costanza.

11. Courteney Cox - Meryl in “The Wife” (March 17, 1994)

On Seinfeld: Courteney Cox played Meryl, a girlfriend who masquerades as Jerry's wife in order to share his dry cleaning discount.

Since Seinfeld: Cox will always be known for playing Monica during Friends’ decade-long stint next to Seinfeld on Thursday nights.

12. Teri Hatcher - Sidra in “The Implant” (February 25, 1993)

On Seinfeld: The same year that she got her big break opposite Dean Cain in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Teri Hatcher appeared as Jerry's girlfriend Sidra, who Elaine thought had fake breasts. Her oft-quoted retort, “They’re real and they’re spectacular,” told Jerry all he needed to know after it was too late.

Since Seinfeld: Alongside her aforementioned turn as Lois Lane, Hatcher starred as a Bond girl in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies before returning to the small screen on ABC’s Desperate Housewives.

13. Marcia Cross - Dr. Sara Sitarides in “The Slicer” (November 13, 1997)

On Seinfeld: Marcia played a life-saving dermatologist who Jerry dismissed as "Pimple Popper M.D."

Since Seinfeld: Cross appeared on shows like Boy Meets World, Ally McBeal, and Spin City before getting her big break on Desperate Housewives.

14. Drake Bell - Kid in “The Frogger” (August 23, 1998)

On Seinfeld: Bell featured in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment from this season nine episode.

Since Seinfeld: A Nickelodeon star turned musician, Bell has come a long way since his Frogger skills (or lack thereof) landed him in George Costanza’s bad books.

15. Jennifer Coolidge - Jodi in “The Masseuse” (November 18, 1993)

On Seinfeld: Another notch on Seinfeld’s bedpost, Coolidge made one of her first TV appearances as the masseuse from this 1993 episode.

Since Seinfeld: Coolidge went on to forge a successful career on the silver screen where she’s perhaps best remembered as Stifler’s mom from the American Pie movies. She’s also still a regular on the sitcom circuit where she has a recurring role on CBS’s 2 Broke Girls.

16. Sarah Silverman - Emily in “The Money” (January 16, 1997)

On Seinfeld: Sarah Silverman popped up as Kramer’s girlfriend Emily whose “Jimmy legs” keep the K-Man up at night, eventually forcing the couple into separate beds.

Since Seinfeld: The sharp-tongued stand-up star has appeared in her own show, released an autobiography, and recently completed the circle by joining Jerry Seinfeld as a guest on his online series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

17. Denise Richards - Molly Dalrymple in “The Shoes” (February 4, 1993)

On Seinfeld: Playing the daughter of NBC’s head of programming, Richards’ low-cut top almost costs George and Jerry their sitcom in Seinfeld’s meta show-within-a-show fourth season.

Since Seinfeld: She continued to distract the Costanzas of the world in films like Starship Troopers, The World is Not Enough, and Wild Things.

18. Kristin Davis - Jenna in “The Pothole” (February 20, 1997)

On Seinfeld: After unknowingly using a toothbrush that had fallen into the toilet, Davis’ character becomes another in an increasingly long line of Jerry’s ex-girlfriends.

Since Seinfeld: By the time she’d appeared on Seinfeld, Davis was already a familiar face to many armchair dwellers after a starring turn on teen drama Melrose Place. But it wasn’t until a year later that she’d truly hit the big time with her critically acclaimed performance as Sex and the City’s resident prude, Charlotte.

19. Rob Schneider - Bob Grossberg in “The Friar's Club” (March 7, 1996)

On Seinfeld: Rob Schneider had actually opened for Jerry Seinfeld on the stand-up circuit before he appeared on the sitcom as Elaine’s partially deaf colleague in this season 7 episode.

Since Seinfeld: The former SNL cast member has gone on to star in comedies like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and Grown-Ups.

20. Amanda Peet - Lanette in "The Summer of George" (May 15, 1997)

On Seinfeld: Peet played Lanette, Jerry's date to the Tonys whose male roommate catches Jerry totally off-guard.

Since Seinfeld: Peet's resumé since Seinfeld includes starring roles in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and The Whole Nine Yards.

21. Chris Parnell - NBC Executive in "The Butter Shave" (September 25, 1997)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: After purposely sabotaging his own set, Seinfeld is dismayed to find out that two NBC executives (one played by Parnell) were in attendance and offer Jerry's hack nemesis Kenny Bania a pilot.

Since Seinfeld: Parnell later joined the cast of Saturday Night Live and played the hapless Dr. Spaceman on 30 Rock (pictured).

22. James Spader - Jason 'Stanky' Hanky in "The Apology" (December 11, 1997)

On Seinfeld: This one's definitely pushing it—Spader had already been in several notable films before he appeared on Seinfeld—but it was a great performance. He played a recovering alcoholic who, during Step Nine of Alcoholics Anonymous' Twelve Steps, apologizes to everyone he has ever wronged—except George.

Since Seinfeld: Spader has been a mainstay in indie films and has won three Emmys for his TV work. His most recent gig has him starring as Raymond "Red" Reddington in NBC's The Blacklist.

23. Anna Gunn - Amy in “The Glasses” (September 30, 1993)

Columbia Pictures Television 

On Seinfeld: George’s poor squinting ability leads to him mistakenly identifying Gunn's Amy as a cheating girlfriend of Jerry's.

Since Seinfeld: Anna Gunn made her name as an Emmy award-winning star of AMC’s Breaking Bad.

24. Bob Odenkirk - Ben in “The Abstinence” (November 21, 1996)

On Seinfeld: Elaine's almost-doctor boyfriend, Ben, who went to medical school but had not yet passed the licensing exam.

Since Seinfeld: Odenkirk would eventually join Gunn on Breaking Bad, and is currently filming the spinoff Better Call Saul. Before Seinfeld, he was a writer for SNL, and he was starring in Mr. Show when this episode first aired.

25. Bryan Cranston - Tim Whatley in “The Mom and Pop Store” (November 17, 1994)

Columbia Pictures Television

On Seinfeld: Cranston famously had a recurring role as Jerry’s dentist, the original re-gifter who converted to Judaism for the jokes. It seems that even then he was destined for great things. Seinfeld has said that he knew the actor would become a star the second he walked on set.

Since Seinfeld: He’s had a successful and varied career in both film and TV, but Cranston will always be remembered for his Emmy-winning turn as Walter White in Breaking Bad.

Matthew Simmons/Getty Images
How Accurate are Hollywood Medical Dramas? A Doctor Breaks It Down
Matthew Simmons/Getty Images
Matthew Simmons/Getty Images

Medical dramas like Grey's Anatomy get a lot of things wrong when it comes to the procedures shown on the screen, but unless you're a doctor, you'd probably never notice.

For its latest installment, WIRED's Technique Critique video series—which previously blessed us with a dialect coach's critique of actors' onscreen accents—tackled the accuracy of medical scenes in movies and TV, bringing in Annie Onishi, a general surgery resident at Columbia University, to comment on emergency room and operating scenes from Pulp Fiction, House, Scrubs, and more.

While Onishi breaks down just how inaccurate these shows and movies can be, she makes it clear that Hollywood doesn't always get it wrong. Some shows, including Showtime's historical drama The Knick, garner praise from Onishi for being true-to-life with their medical jargon and operations. And when doctors discuss what music to play during surgery on Scrubs? That's "a tale as old as time in the O.R.," according to Onishi.

Other tropes are very obviously ridiculous, like slapping a patient during CPR and telling them to fight, which we see in a scene from The Abyss. "Rule number one of CPR is: never stop effective chest compressions in order to slap or yell words of encouragement at the patient," Onishi says. "Yelling at a patient or cheering them on has never brought them back to life." And obviously, taking selfies in the operating room in the middle of a grisly operation like the doctors on Grey's Anatomy do would get you fired in real life.

There are plenty of cliché words and phrases we hear over and over on doctor shows, and some are more accurate than others. Asking about a patient's vitals is authentic, according to Onishi, who says it's something doctors are always concerned with. However, yelling "We're losing him!" is simply for added TV drama. "I have never once heard that in my real life," Onishi says.

[h/t WIRED]

When The Day After Terrorized 100 Million Viewers With a Vision of Nuclear War

Before Nicholas Meyer's made-for-television film The Day After had its official airing on November 20, 1983, then-President Ronald Reagan and his Joint Chiefs of Staff were given screening copies. In his diary, Reagan recorded his reaction to seeing Meyer's graphic depiction of a nuclear holocaust that devastates a small Kansas town, writing:

"It's very effective and left me greatly depressed. So far they [ABC] haven't sold any of the 25 spot ads scheduled and I can see why. Whether it will be of help to the 'anti-nukes' or not, I can't say. My own reaction was one of our having to do all we can to have a deterrent and to see there is never a nuclear war."

Just a few days later, the rest of America would see what had shaken their president. Preempting Hardcastle and McCormick on ABC, the 8 p.m. telefilm drew a staggering 100 million viewers, an audience that at the time was second only in non-sports programming to the series finale of M*A*S*H. According to Nielsen, 62 percent of all televisions in use that night were tuned in.

What they watched didn't really qualify as entertainment; Meyer stated he had no desire to make a "good" movie with stirring performances or rousing music, but a deeply affecting public service announcement on the horrors of a nuclear fallout. He succeeded … perhaps a little too well.


The idea for The Day After came from ABC executive Brandon Stoddard, who had helped popularize the miniseries format with Roots. After seeing The China Syndrome, a film about a nuclear accident starring Jane Fonda, Stoddard began pursuing an "event" series about what would happen to a small town in middle America if tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States escalated to catastrophic levels. Films like Dr. Strangelove had depicted moments between politicians debating whether to use powerful weapons of mass destruction, but few had examined what the consequences would be for the everyday population.


Reagan had dubbed the Soviet Union "the evil empire" in 1982, so the time seemed right to bring such a project to TV viewers. Stoddard hired Barnaby Jones writer Edward Hume to craft a script: Hume drew from research conducted into the effects of nuclear war and radiation fallout, including a 1978 government report, The Effects of Nuclear War, that contained a fictionalized examination of how a strike would play out in a densely populated area. Stoddard also enlisted Meyer, who had proven his directorial chops with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but considered the assignment a "civic responsibility" more than a creative endeavor.

Meyer and the film's producers selected Lawrence, Kansas (pop. 50,000) as the setting for the movie and got permission from city officials to turn their town into a post-apocalyptic landscape. Throughout the summer of 1982, tons of ash, dirt, and rubble were trucked in and spread over the ground; food coloring blackened farming crops. Thousands of locals were enlisted to portray victims of a nuclear attack, agreeing to roll in dirt and have their hair shaved off to simulate a miserable death via radiation poisoning.

Meyer believed that setting the film in a small town would make it more impactful and relatable to audiences. "Other movies that had attempted to deal with the subject of nuclear holocaust had always been set in big cities," he recalled in 2003. "But a great number of people in the United States do not live in big cities, so they were witnessing an event that seemed to bear scant relation to them."

That pursuit of realism wasn't always to the network's benefit. ABC originally planned a four-hour film to run on two consecutive nights, but filling up that much commercial time proved to be a challenge. Fearing a graphic and partisan display of anti-nuclear propaganda, many loyal advertisers refused to let their spots air during The Day After. (Meyer later joked that all the "generals" pulled out, including General Mills and General Foods.) They were ultimately able to sell a little over 10 minutes of commercial time, which prompted executives to condense the movie to a two-hour presentation. Meyer, who thought the script was padded to begin with, agreed with the decision.

ABC sensed that the film would be provocative and took unprecedented steps to handle the inevitable viewer response. A 1-800 number was set up to field calls from people concerned about an actual nuclear disaster; the network also issued pamphlets that acted as viewing guides, with fact sheets on nuclear weapons. Psychologists warned audiences would experience "feelings of depression and helplessness." Meyer was, in effect, making a disaster movie with the characters being offered no help of rescue. The film had been openly endorsed by anti-nuclear organizations as being a $7 million advertisement for their stance, and some TV industry observers wondered whether ABC would even air it at all.


Prior to The Day After's November 20 debut, actor John Cullum appeared onscreen and delivered a warning. Calling the film "unusually disturbing," he advised young children to be led away from the television and for parents to be prepared to field questions older kids might have.

A still from 'The Day After' (1983)

With that, The Day After commenced. It was every bit as terrifying as viewers had been told it would be. For the first 50 minutes or so, actors like Jason Robards, John Lithgow, and Steve Guttenberg established their characters in Lawrence, largely oblivious to an incident on the border of East Germany that triggered an armed response from both Russia and the U.S. As missiles fell, a mushroom cloud vaporized the community; those who survived were doomed to brief and miserable lives as radiation destroyed their bodies.

Dramatizing what had previously been a sterile discussion about nuclear defenses had its intended effect. Viewers shuffled away from their televisions in a daze, struck by the bleak consequences of an attack. The people of Lawrence, who had a private screening, were particularly affected—it was their town that appeared destroyed. Residents exited the theater crying.

What ABC lacked in ad revenue it more than made up for in ratings. The mammoth audience was comparable to Super Bowl viewership; the network even presented a post-"game" show of sorts, with Ted Koppel hosting a roundtable discussion of the nuclear threat featuring Carl Sagan and William F. Buckley. Sagan is believed to have coined the term "nuclear winter" on the program, while Secretary of State George Shultz argued the necessity of harboring nuclear weapons to make sure the nation could protect itself.

The experience stuck with Reagan, who signed a nuclear arms treaty—the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, Treaty—with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, leading to longstanding speculation that The Day After may have helped sober political attitudes toward mutually assured destruction.


More from mental floss studios