One of the Funniest ‘Seinfeld’ Episodes Was Also the Scariest

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The Big Picture

  • Seinfeld could be dark and creepy at times, with episodes like “The Invitations” and “The Opera” delivering genuine scares.
  • “The Chicken Roaster” introduced a creepy doll named Mr. Marbles, who haunted Jerry’s dreams and made for a chilling scene at the end.
  • Although played for laughs, the image of Mr. Marbles running with a knife behind Jerry’s bed is the most supernatural and terrifying moment in the show.


More than 25 years after the hit NBC series ended, Seinfeld is still regarded as one of the best sitcoms of all-time. Sure, there were a couple of missteps over the years, such as the much maligned “The Puerto Rican Day” episode, or the disappointing series finale, but along the way, the series created classic episodes, characters, and catchphrases on a weekly basis. In Seinfeld‘s eighth season, it was still at the top of its game. This was the season that gave us Elaine’s horrible dancing and the birth of “yada yada yada.” One episode, “The Chicken Roaster,” kept up with the great laughs, but went for some genuine scares as well by introducing us to a creepy doll named Mr. Marbles.

Seinfeld

The continuing misadventures of neurotic New York City stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his equally neurotic New York City friends.

Release Date
July 5, 1989

Main Genre
Comedy

Seasons
9

Studio
NBC


‘Seinfeld’ Has a Few Unsettling Moments

Despite being a hilarious sitcom following the misadventures and complaints of Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), Kramer (Michael Richards), and George (Jason Alexander), Seinfeld occasionally gets dark. Who can ever forget watching George’s fiancée, Susan (Heidi Swedberg), die from licking toxic envelopes in “The Invitations.” One of Seinfeld‘s creepiest episodes is “The Opera,” where crazy Joe Davola (Peter Crombie) is dressed up like a clown. He even traps Elaine alone in one uncomfortable scene.

In “The Bris,” a pig man jumps from a hospital window, killing himself when he lands on George’s car. In “The Frogger,” Jerry is scared of a killer on the loose called The Lopper. One of Seinfeld‘s biggest goose bump-raising episodes, “The Doll,” has George coming across a terrifying lifelike doll that looks just like his mother, Estelle (Estelle Harris). It troubles him so much that he even imagines the doll yelling at him in his mother’s voice. Thankfully, the doll wasn’t real, but that might not have been the case for Mr. Marbles.

“The Chicken Roaster” Is an Iconic ‘Seinfeld’ Episode

The Season 8 episode “The Chicken Roaster” revolves around a chicken restaurant called Kenny Rogers Roasters being opened across the street from the apartment building where Jerry and Kramer live. That would be fine if it wasn’t for the extremely bright red light on the sign on top of the restaurant. It shines so brightly night and day that it turns Kramer’s place into a neon red bulb, messing him up more than he already is. He can’t sleep, he walks into doors, and when he goes to Jerry’s for a bowl of cereal, he pours tomato juice instead of milk into the bowl. “It looked like milk to me!,” Kramer screams. “That’s it, I gotta move in with you, Jerry.” Seinfeld isn’t so sure about that, so a desperate Kramer suggests switching apartments.

Related

The Worst Thing Jerry Ever Did on ‘Seinfeld’ Really Goes Too Far

It was bad, Jerry, bad!

Kramer begins a protest of the restaurant, while surprisingly, Jerry has taken pity on his friend, and agrees to switch apartments temporarily. He has a few issues with the arrangement though, one being a ventriloquist doll of Kramer’s that he holds up. He insists that Kramer take it because “This thing is really freaking me out. I feel like it’s going to come to life in the middle of the night and kill me.” Kramer says the doll is called Mr. Marbles and that he’s harmless. That might be true, but Jerry has a point. Almost everyone finds dolls scary, and Mr. Marbles is absolutely chilling.

That night, Jerry is in Kramer’s bed. It’s dark, but the red glow is still there. Jerry hears creaks that frighten him, not knowing that it’s Kramer bouncing around in his bed eating chicken across the hall. Then Jerry hears the creak and bang of a door and tiny feet scurrying. “Mr. Marbles?” Jerry calls out, pulling the covers up tight. It’s a horrifying sound that would alarm anyone, but we know it’s just Jerry’s imagination. Probably. Still, this is why even grown-ups are afraid to sleep with their feet exposed or their arm hanging over the bed. Even though we know better, we still fear the monsters we can’t see. The next morning, Jerry is all kinds of messed up from the red light, now crazed and talking just like Kramer, but seemingly unharmed by Mr. Marbles.

Kramer’s Mr. Marbles Doll Becomes Too Real

Jerry holds Mr. Marbles on 'Seinfeld'
Image via NBC

The end of “The Chicken Roaster” sees Jerry and Kramer switching back to their own apartments after Seinfeld catches his neighbor going against his protest of Kenny Rogers Roasters because he loves the chicken too much. Shortly thereafter, the restaurant is forced out of business. All is back to normal it would seem, with the end credits appearing on-screen as Kramer mourns the loss of his chicken, but from his own bed.

Then comes the last quick scene after the credits, where Seinfeld goes for horror and leaves a realistic reality behind. It’s night and Jerry is happy to be back in his own bed. “Ah, home at last,” he says. Then comes the creaking of a door, not Kramer’s this time, but his own. “Is someone there?” Jerry asks. The terrifying scurrying of tiny feet running across the floor starts up again, and Jerry’s jaw drops as he sees something that chills him to the bone. We can only see the shadow of what he sees, but it’s pure horror. On the wall behind Jerry’s bed, we see the silhouette of Mr. Marbles running with what appears to be a knife in his hand. Oh my God!

It’s played for laughs, with the studio audience giggling at the scene, but it’s horrifying, like something out of Child’s Play. Jerry and the viewer can clearly see a doll come to life holding a knife. It can’t be a figment of his imagination when the shot is not from his point-of-view. The camera is looking at Jerry, so we are watching him. If he’s really there, then the shadow of Mr. Marbles walking in the night has to really be there as well. Seinfeld might be over-the-top, but it always existed in a world where events actually happened and could happen. This wasn’t a fantasy series. That means Mr. Marbles in the Seinfeld universe is a doll that comes to life, making it the most supernatural and terrifying moment in the show. Of course, it’s best not to overthink it. It’s not meant to be taken seriously. We are meant to laugh and move on, and later be relieved that we never see Mr. Marbles ever again.

Seinfeld is available to watch on Netflix in the U.S.

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