Scandals that haunt the cast of Seinfeld

Almost 20 years after it went off the air, Seinfeld remains one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. But behind the scenes, the four-person ensemble dealt with enough scandals to turn their laughter into some serious drama. Cue the laugh tracks as we check out the biggest scandals that rocked the cast of Seinfeld during and after its nine-season run on NBC.

Seinfeld's wife was sued for plagiarism

In January 2008, Jerry Seinfeld and his wife, Jessica, were targeted in a lawsuit from cookbook author Missy Chase Lapine, who alleged that Jessica's children's cookbook, Deceptively Delicious, "brazenly plagiarized" from Lapine's own cookbook, The Sneaky Chef. Lapine also filed a defamation lawsuit against Jerry after he poked fun at Lapine's allegations in a now-famous 2007 interview with David Letterman. Although it took a little over three years to happen, Seinfeld and his wife were ultimately cleared in their respective lawsuits. In May 2010, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled in favor of Jessica in her ongoing copyright and trademark dispute with Lapine, saying, "Stockpiling vegetable purees for covert use in children's food is an idea that cannot be copyrighted." Less than a year later, Lapine's defamation lawsuit against Jerry was thrown out of court after the court ruled it would have been "inconceivable that a reasonable viewer would have believed that Seinfeld's statements [on the Late Show with David Letterman] were conveying facts about Lapine."

Michael Richards' racist rant (that destroyed his career)

In 2006, Michael Richards' career died virtually overnight after video footage leaked to TMZ showing the actor firing off racist obscenities at a heckler during a stand-up routine at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood, CA. "Shut up!" Richards' rant began. "Fifty years ago, we'd have you upside down with a f****** fork up your a**." Amid gasps from the audience, Richards then repeatedly used racial slurs while yelling at the alleged heckler, causing his stand-up show to come to a complete halt.

Richards later apologized via satellite on an episode of the Late Show With David Letterman, on which Seinfeld was a guest. "I lost my temper onstage," Richards said during a long-winded and admittedly awkward apology. "I said some pretty nasty things to some Afro-Americans… You know, I'm really busted up over this and I'm very, very sorry." Years later, Richards addressed his rant during an episode of Seinfeld's web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. "I busted up after that event. It broke me down," he confessed. Since his rant went public, Richards has acted on only four occasions, two of which were through his Seinfeld connections—Bee Movie and Curb Your Enthusiasm, respectively.

Seinfeld's diversity comments drew major criticism

Years after Richards' rant dominated the media, Jerry Seinfeld also came under fire for making seemingly dismissive comments about race and gender in comedy during a BuzzFeed Brews with CBS This Morning interview in 2014. "It really pisses me off," Seinfeld declared when asked about the lack of diversity on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. "People think [comedy] is the census or something, it's gotta represent the actual pie chart of America. Who cares?" Later, he continued: "Funny is the world that I live in. You're funny, I'm interested. You're not funny, I'm not interested." Seinfeld's comments were later criticized by a number of major publications, ranging from Gawker to Time and The Independent. Incidentally, Seinfeld's famous NBC sitcom faced similar criticism throughout its nine-season run; the show's much-anticipated finale was described as a "nonevent" in parts of the black community by the Los Angeles Times in 1998.

Seinfeld dated a 17-year-old

In May 1993, a then-38-year-old Seinfeld fell for a 17-year-old high school senior named Shoshanna Lonstein after casually getting her digits in Central Park. According to People, Seinfeld was initially grilled by radio shock-jock Howard Stern about Seinfeld and Lonstein's 21-year age gap. "She's not 17, definitely not," Seinfeld said of Lonstein, who turned 18 shortly after they met. In a separate interview with Stern the following month, Seinfeld elaborated: "This is the only girl I ever went out with who was that young. I wasn't dating her. We just went to a restaurant, and that was it."

According to People, Seinfeld and Lonstein's relationship "changed" slowly after their initial Central Park meeting. Later that year, Seinfeld made trips to visit Lonstein at her college, George Washington University; and Lonstein often took weekend visits to Los Angeles, where Seinfeld filmed. "Shoshanna is a person, not an age," Seinfeld told People in 1994. "She is extremely bright. She's funny, sharp, very alert. We just get along. You can hear the click." According to The Daily Mail, the couple split in 1997 due to intense media coverage of their relationship. It gets even better: Jerry supposedly started hooking up with his would-be wife, Jessica, shortly after her honeymoon to her then-newlywed husband Eric Nederlander.

Jason Alexander called Cricket 'Gay'

Now, there's definitely something wrong with this. In 2012, Jason Alexander drew major criticism from the LGBTQ community following an interview he gave on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in which he referred to the sport Cricket as "gay." "You know how I know it's really kind of a gay game?" Alexander said. "It's the pitch. It's the weirdest… It's not like a manly baseball pitch; it's a queer British gay pitch." About a week after his controversial comments, the Emmy-nominated actor released a statement through the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). "I should know better," Alexander said (via The Huffington Post). "My daily life is filled with gay men and women, both socially and professionally. I am profoundly aware of the challenges these friends of mine face and I have openly advocated on their behalf. So, I can only apologize and I do. In comedy, timing is everything."

Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Rolling Stone cover mistake

For the most part, Julia Louis-Dreyfus' history is squeaky-clean. However, the Emmy-winning actress and current Veep star did come under fire in 2014 over a Rolling Stone cover on which she appeared nude with a tattoo of the Constitution on her back. The criticism of Louis-Dreyfus' cover had less to do with her posing nude and more to do with one glaring error: the tattoo was signed by John Hancock, whose large signature is at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. Embarrassing, right? Sure. Except, Louis-Dreyfus handled the scandal with the grace and humor of someone who's won six Emmys. "John Hancock not part of tattoo. It is a birthmark," the comedienne quipped on Twitter, alongside a photoshopped image of her as a baby with a fake tattoo of Hancock's signature. Hilarious and classy—or, just about what we'd expect from Julia-Louis Dreyfus.