Seinfeld had the Biggest Show on TV and then Quit
Top of the World
Seinfeld is an American sitcom created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld and is widely referred to as one the greatest and most popular shows of all time.
It ran for nine seasons from 1989 to 1998 consisting of 180 episodes.
Here's how much Jerry was paid each episode for each season.
$20,000 per episode for Season 1
$40,000 per episode for Season 2 and 3
$100,000 per episode for Season 4,5 and 6
$500,000 per episode for Season 7 and 8
$1,000,000 per episode for Season 9
Then, at the peak of his career while he had the biggest show on TV, he quit.
Famously, NBC begged Jerry for one more season offering $5,000,000 per episode for 22 episodes but he still turned it down.
His reasons for stepping down was that he wanted to move on and focus on family and go back to stand-up comedy after giving Seinfeld his all for nine years.
The Beatles, widely regarded as the most influential band of all time and still hold the record for most record sales, were also only together for nine years. They too stopped, albeit for different reasons, at the peak of their stardom.
As Jerry Seinfeld himself puts it ,
I didn't want them to have to say, "Oh I love that show but the last couple of years were kind of... " I didn't want to have them say ‘but’
Morgan Housel writes this about Seinfeld in his book Same as Ever
A final word about why things have a tendency of getting out of hand. It’s that optimism and pessimism always have to overshoot what seems reasonable, because the only way to discover the limits of what’s possible is to venture a little way past those limits.
Jerry Seinfeld had the most popular show on TV. Then he quit.
He later said the reason he killed his show while it was thriving was because the only way to know where the top is, is to experience the decline, which he had no interest in doing. Maybe the show could keep rising, maybe it couldn’t. He was fine not knowing the answer.
If you want to know why there’s a long history of economies and markets blowing past the boundaries of sanity, bouncing from boom to bust, bubble to crash, it’s because so few people have Seinfeld’s mentality. We insist on knowing where the top is, and the only way to find it is to keep pushing until we’ve gone too far, when we can look back and say, “Ah, I guess *that* was the top.”