Earlier this year, "Seinfeld" celebrated its 25th anniversary (watch a one-hour documentary on the show here), bringing forth lots of reminisces about the groundbreaking sitcom and ever-quotable half-hour that still plays routinely in syndication. And while the show was a ratings titan, critically adored and loved by audiences, as any fans know, it didn't come out fully formed. The first and second seasons especially are a bit wobby, with Jerry Seinfeld and company still figuring out the tone of the show and what they could get away with. And an episode about guns was something that wouldn't do.
ScreenCrush has the fascinating story of "The Bet," an episode written for season two that was scripted, cast, but never went into production after pushback from those around the show. Here's the plot breakdown via SC, and perhaps you can see why it made folks uncomfortable:
The episode actually featured two bets as part of its plot. The subplot centered around Kramer’s (Michael Richards) claims that, on a flight back from Puerto Rico, he had slept with the flight attendant while in transit. George Costanza (Jason Alexander) doubted Kramer’s story, while Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) believed it to be true. The story’s validity would determine who won a bet between George and Jerry. During the course of this episode, Kramer’s first name would be revealed — instead of when it was eventually revealed in the series’ sixth season (we’ll get to that, and his name wasn’t always Cosmo). [Ed. it would've been Conrad]
The other bet, which was the main focus of the episode, was whether or not Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) would purchase a gun for protection. During the episode, Kramer would take Elaine to meet a man named Mo Korn (played by Ernie Sabella, best known by "Seinfeld" fans as the naked man on the subway) who still lives with his mother, and who also happens to be a black market gun salesman.
So why didn't it get made? In short, many around the show didn't believe an episode—which would've been the fourth of season two, so still very early in the show's going (and long before they'd do entire storylines around stuff like masturbation and contraception)—featuring guns would fly. Particularly given how cavalier attitude about it.
“As I recall, there was some reference to make a joke called ‘a Kennedy.’ And that offended me. And I guess it offended the cast as well,” longtime "Seinfeld" director Tom Cherones said. “I was told to go back to the stage and work on the episode, which is what normally happens. I went back to the stage and the actors looked at me and said, ‘We don’t want to do this episode.’ I said, ‘I agree with you. Guns are not funny, no matter what you say.’ I walked back before the network guys left and I said, ‘We don’t want to do this episode. That cast and I do not want to do this.’ ”
The curious thing is how many of these elements wound up recycled. "The Airport" loosely rejiggered the setting for Kramer in the twelfth episode of season four. The JFK assassination was restaged with spit in season three two-parter "The Boyfriend," and of course, Kramer's name (Cosmo) was revealed in the sixth season episode "The Switch."
Fascinating stuff, so put "The Bet" with "Puerto Rican Day" (which was initially banned from syndication) in the file of infamous "Seinfeld" episodes.