Seinfeld is not only the greatest sitcom of all time, it's also the most profitable. Since we bid adieu to our heroes on May 14, 1998, reruns of Seinfeld have generated an astounding $3.1 billion.
Let's put that into perspective. Three billion is three thousand million. The robotic space probe Stardust traveled just under three billion miles during the 12 years it spent gliding through the cosmos before returning home with a piece of a comet's tail. Life on Earth was really starting to get going three billion years ago, as little single-celled critters got the hang of photosynthesis.
And now Seinfeld, equally as important as cosmic dust and the oxidation of the Earth's atmosphere, has banked over $3 billion in repeat fees by showing reruns of its 180 episodes at odd hours. The Independent reports that Jerry Seinfeld, creator Larry David, and Warner Brothers, which owns the rights to the show, are enjoying the profits. Seinfeld and David, who own a stake in the series, are reportedly pocketing $400 million per year. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine), Michael Richards (Kramer), and Jason Alexander (George), however, are making measly fractions of that amount, only earning revenues from DVD sales. Louis-Dreyfus can't be too mad though; as the daughter of billionaire Gerard Louis-Dreyfus, she has a reported net worth of, you guessed it, $3 billion.
Seinfeld won't be labeled "Most Profitable" in the sitcom yearbook forever. Syracuse University pop culture professor Robert Thompson told the New York Post in 2010 (when Seinfeld had already brought in $2.7 billion) that he expects The Simpsons, with 523 episodes and counting, to eventually make more money on reruns. "When the end of world history comes, The Simpsons will be the most-rerun show of all time and make the most money," said Thompson.
It does seem appropriate that when the end of world history does come, and the Earth is on the verge of becoming space dust once again, we'll all be shouting, "Simpsons did it!" Still, even if Seinfeld will eventually lose its top spot, $3 billion is not shabby for a show about nothing.