Here’s why Seinfeld killed off Susan Ross in season 7. Susan originally debuted on the sitcom in Seinfeld season 4, as an NBC executive hearing Jerry and George’s pitch for the Jerry show-within-a-show. She eventually became a love interest for George, and the two had a short relationship over the course of season 4. The pair broke up (an experience that seemingly drove Susan to lesbianism), but surprisingly got back together in Seinfeld season 7. At the beginning of that season, Jerry and George made a pact to get married, and George decided to propose to Susan.
Susan and George were engaged throughout Seinfeld season 7, but the show did not attempt to hide George’s misery at the turn of events. During the season, he made it his mission to find a way to get out of his sudden engagement, but didn’t have any “luck” until the Seinfeld season 7 finale, “The Invitations.” In that episode, Susan became poisoned by toxic envelopes for the wedding invitations and died as a result. Susan’s death on Seinfeld was a shocking turn of events that may have been motivated by behind-the-scenes issues.
Susan wasn’t the only minor antagonist on Seinfeld. The great part about the show is that loyalties switched relatively often, based on the group’s selfish decisions. And anyone who started as a friend in one episode could quickly become an annoyance by the next. Here’s why Seinfeld killed off Susan in season 7, and why the show had to get rid of her in the first place.
Actress Heidi Swedberg played Susan on Seinfeld, and based on comments by the sitcom’s main cast, she wasn’t the easiest performer to work with. In an interview (via THR), George actor Jason Alexander admitted, “I couldn’t figure out how to play off her.” Alexander’s co-stars had similar issues. As he recalls, Julia Louis-Dreyfus said, “Don’t you just want to kill her?” (meaning the Susan character, not Swedberg), which planted the idea in Larry David’s mind. At the time of this conversation, it was unknown if George would go through with the wedding or not.
The Seinfeld season 7 DVD set includes an inside look at “The Invitations,” where David and the cast discuss Susan’s death. Jerry Seinfeld chalked it up to the crew feeling like they should kill “at least one person” during the sitcom’s run, and Susan seemed like the best candidate. Behind-the-scenes interviews make no mention of the main cast having difficulty working with Swedberg, so perhaps it was a combination of the two. It is worth mentioning the Seinfeld cast didn’t dislike Swedberg as a person (Alexander has made sure to clear this up in the past). Their comments stem from the onscreen chemistry being off, and nothing more. For her part, Swedberg took the plot twist in stride, feeling Susan’s death was funny.
Killing Susan was definitely an extreme move made by the creative team, but considering Seinfeld ran for two more seasons after “The Invitations,” ending George’s engagement was arguably the right call. If the four main stars had trouble playing off Swedberg, it could have negatively impacted the quality of the ensuing episodes. The chemistry between the Seinfeld cast was one of the show’s strongest assets, so it was imperative to keep that intact. Susan’s death was a truly shocking moment (punctuated by the main group’s morbidly unemotional response). However, it allowed the writers to close the book on this particular Seinfeld thread, eliminating the temptation of bringing Susan back down the line.
While the Seinfeld finale is a controversial topic, like Susan, none of the characters got a happy ending — and that worked for the series. The build-up to the final episode showed that each member of the main cast was a terrible person, as proven by their reaction to Susan’s death and many other instances. The finale finally showed some consequences for their actions throughout the show. After witnessing a man being carjacked at gunpoint, and doing nothing to help, the gang got thrown in jail for breaking the “Good Samaritan Law.” Witnesses like the Soup Nazi, Dr. Wexler, and Leslie the low-talker testified against them. Therefore, they remained in the brig. The ending stays true to Seinfeld, just like the odd turn of events that ended with Susan’s death. Though Heidi Swedberg may have been difficult to work with, Susan being killed off in season 7 worked just as well as the finale.
Seinfeld is now streaming on Netflix.