Seinfeld certainly had its provocative moments (see: “sponge-worthy”). So it’s hard to imagine that there was any subject too controversial for the hit comedy. But one topic did manage to cross the line: guns.
The cast and crew refused to shoot what would have been the show’s ninth episode, “The Bet.” The second season episode, written by Borat director Larry Charles, followed the friends making a bet whether or not Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Elaine Benes would purchase a gun for protection. The narrative was inspired by a firearm purchase made by Seinfeld writer Elaine Pope.
Charles told Screen Crush that the episode came at a time when more and more women were seeking out the weapons, explaining, “I think it was as simple as me wondering, ‘What if Elaine bought a gun?’”
Sounds simple enough in theory, but in the script, Elaine joked about shooting herself in the head and referred to “The Kennedy,” imitating the assassination of the president. The joke went too far for the cast and director Tom Cherones, who said, “Guns aren’t funny.”
In the Screen Crush article, Charles and Cherones debate whether the episode would have worked later in the series, when the show was well established and could more easily approach difficult subjects. Charles thinks so; Cherones doesn’t.
Also scrapped was the episode’s subplot: Kramer (Michael Richards) claims he slept with a flight attendant on a plane back from Puerto Rico. Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) believes him; George (Jason Alexander) does not. A second bet was made over who was right. Oh, but that’s not all that was lost: The episode also revealed Kramer’s first name to be Conrad. Viewers wouldn’t find out his given name until the sixth season, and by then it had been changed, of course, to Cosmo.
Ironically, Louis-Dreyfus’ Vice President Selina Meyer attended a gun show on Veep this season, but it broached the controversial subject in a much different way: