‘Seinfeld’ Writer Larry Charles Confirms Leaked Script for Lost Episode ‘The Gun’ Is Real

Joey Delvalle/NBCU Photo Bank
Joey Delvalle/NBCU Photo Bank

Earlier this month, a post popped up on the r/seinfeld subreddit with the headline, “Lost Seinfeld script for 'The Bet' aka 'The Gun' finally found” and a link to a PDF on the Internet Archive of what appeared to be the original script, complete with scribbled notations and edits, of an infamous Seinfeld episode that was never filmed about Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character Elaine deciding to purchase a firearm.

Reached by email on Friday, the credited writer of that episode, Larry Charles, confirmed to The Daily Beast that not only is the script legit but that he recognizes his own handwriting throughout.

“I haven’t gone through it page by page but it looks real, including my penciled-in revisions,” Charles says. “I still have my original table read copy with the cover. From looking at the first few pages it seemed funnier than I remember. But very hard-edged.”

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The episode, which has variously been referred to as both “The Bet” and “The Gun,” has long been part of Seinfeld lore after NBC declined to move forward with shooting it during the show’s second season in February 1991. The script made it as far as a table read, but both the episode’s intended director Tom Cherones and members of the cast felt it was just too dark and didn’t align with the established tone of the show.

“In my opinion, guns aren’t funny,” Cherones said bluntly in a Seinfeld DVD extra about the episode. Jason Alexander, who played George Constanza, similarly said that immediately after reading the script, he knew it was never going to make it to air.

The only core member of the team who seemed unfazed by the story line was Michael Richards (Kramer), who joked, “Why not? I think Kramer could justify the use of the weapon.”

“I remember it didn’t get a lot of laughs,” Louis-Dreyfus told me of the script as she remembered it on The Last Laugh podcast last year. “And believe me, I love Larry Charles, don’t misunderstand, but that script felt a little dark. It was out of people’s comfort zones, and that’s saying something on that show.”

The episode opens in Monk’s Cafe, where Elaine tells Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) and George she wants to buy a gun for self-protection. While Jerry argues that having a gun will only make her more unsafe, George thinks she has the right idea. “I don’t blame her,” he says. “You need some protection in this city. You need some security.”

“Elaine, if you buy a gun you’re just perpetuating the violence!” Jerry counters. “You’re as bad as the criminal!”

A later scene in the backseat of a car finds Elaine brandishing her recently purchased toy gun—she chickens out of getting a real one—and jokes about the Kennedy assassination, which would ironically become the inspiration for a later episode that centers on the “second spitter” theory surrounding Mets star Keith Hernandez in Season 3’s “The Boyfriend.”

The episode’s other main plot involves a $1,000 bet between Jerry and George over the question of whether Kramer actually slept with a stewardess during a flight as he claims in explicit detail for the network show, which tended to favor more subtle innuendo.

By the end of the episode, the two storylines have—of course—converged into one, with Kramer’s stewardess friend both confirming their sky-high fling and revealing that she has decided to buy a gun herself because “a girl can’t be too careful these days.”

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When I spoke to Charles in 2019 about the “lost” episode, he blamed himself for attempting to “push the envelope” too far without “executing the lightness that needed to be juxtaposed with the darkness to make it work.” He said he wished he could have pulled it off the way Seinfeld co-creator Larry David did in the classic episode “The Contest” where the four main characters employ network-friendly euphemisms like “master of your domain” in place of masturbation.

“There is some misogynistic language I would change,” Charles admits now. “But it was 35 years ago. At the same time I’ve always been proud to seek comedy where it isn’t supposed to be. And sadly, it’s a subject that is still quite relevant today.”

After learning about the leaked script’s existence, Charles went into his archives and pulled out his version, which he describes as “clean” with no marginalia. “Looking at what I have, it seems like someone stole my copy of the script, with my notes,” he says. “Not sure how or when but I would guess they picked it up at the table read decades ago.”

For more, listen to Larry Charles on The Last Laugh podcast.

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