The List: Masters of their domain: Ranking the best 'Seinfeld' side players

Jim Fischer
Jason Alexander sits between Jerry Stiller and Estelle Harris, who play his parents.

You can't talk Festivus (this weekend at 400 W. Rich, see the Arts section) without talking about "Feats of Strength," "Airing of Grievances," and the aluminum pole. And you can't talk those things without talking "Seinfeld."

In addition to Festivus (actually an invention of writer Daniel O'Keefe in the 1960s - O'Keefe's son, Dan, was a writer for "Seinfeld"), the '90s sitcom introduced a unique lexicon into the popular culture. Consider this a definitive list of the top nine (one for each season) secondary characters that helped make it happen.

9. Kenny Bania

This eager but annoying and inept comedian only gets laughs when he borrows Jerry's material. Jerry at one point calls him a "timeslot hit," a play on the success of shows NBC aired after "Seinfeld." "That's gold, Jerry! Gold!"

8. George Steinbrenner

You know that Larry David voiced "Big Stein," but the boss was played by actor Lee Bear, whose top non-Seinfeld credit is as "Cutter's bodyguard" in 1994's "Clear and Present Danger."

7. Helen Seinfeld

Perhaps the most grounded character on the show, Helen is not without idiosyncrasies. Her absolute refusal to put Jerry at inconvenience was comic brilliance in its mom-ness. Actress Liz Sheridan's Helen is the only secondary character to appear in all nine seasons.

6. Uncle Leo

This character changed a bit through the seasons, his eccentricities, if possible, amplified. "Jerry! Hello!"

5. Jacopo Peterman

Elaine's boss at the J. Peterman Catalog, his speech apes that of the overly colorful language used to promote the products in his publication. He lives his life in much the same, outsized manner (maybe). Brilliant work by John O'Hurley.

4. Morty Seinfeld

There has to be room on this list for the inventor of the beltless trenchcoat (aka The Executive) and the past president of the Pines of Mar Gables.

3. Estelle Costanza

George's mom was probably the sweetest lady in the neighborhood while George was growing up, although George does claim that she's never smiled, so maybe Estelle has always been … off.

2. David Puddy

No one can repair a car or move a bureau like Puddy. Am I putting this die-hard New Jersey Devils fan at No. 2 on this list? "All signs point to yes!"

1. Frank Costanza

It's impossible to overrate Jerry Stiller's work here. His character drove so many of the show's zanier, over-the-top moments, from "Serenity now!" to the manziere to, of course, "Festivus for the rest of us!"

Honorable mention: Bob Sacamano

Kramer's friend never actually appears on the show, but from his myriad medical conditions to his capitalistic ventures, Sacamano opened the door for so much good Kramer.