"The Parking Garage" is the twenty-third episode of the situation comedy Seinfeld. The episode was the sixth episode of the show's third season. It aired on October 30, 1991.
The episode was written by Larry David and was directed by Tom Cherones, and takes place entirely in a parking garage.
The cast is in search of Kramer's car in the multi-level parking garage of a shopping mall after Kramer purchases an air conditioner. Unfortunately, no one can remember where the car was parked. After carrying the air conditioner for some time, an exhausted Kramer decides to leave it behind one of the parked cars and tries to memorize the number of the parking space. Among other concerns, Elaine fears that her new goldfish will die in the airtight bag before they can arrive home. So, as the gang search for the car, Elaine desperately begs passers-by in the parking garage to offer them a ride around the building to find their car, but no one is willing to help. As for Jerry, he is eager to urinate. Kramer encourages Jerry to do it in some dark corner where no one can see him. After Jerry does so, he is spotted by an officer and is held in the officer's booth. Jerry tries to talk his way out of trouble by making up a story about the fictional disease of uromysitisis, but the officer is not convinced. Later, George is also caught in the act of urinating. Both Jerry and George are fined and released. After the two find Elaine, Jerry convinces George to ask an attractive woman, whom they saw earlier in the episode, to offer them a lift around the garage. After the woman accepts without hesitation, the gang all enter into the woman's car and drive off, but moments later, the woman kicks them out after George said something to the woman that makes her explode in anger (the viewers are not told exactly what George said to the woman, but it had something to do with L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology). Then by luck, the gang is dropped off right by Kramer's car but unfortunately, Kramer, who has the car keys, is still lost somewhere in the garage. Hours pass by as George, Jerry and Elaine wait. Finally, Kramer shows up, having gone on his own hunt for the air conditioner. Elaine's goldfish have not survived and as they all enter the car, the engine fails to start.
The Parking Garage
was difficult to write and create as it all had to be done on the normal Seinfeld soundstage. Jerry's apartment and the studio audience seating was removed. Every shot used showed the entire set so it constantly required shooting from different angles. Mirrors all around the perimeters of the stage gave the illusion of further depth and with just a dozen cars, the illusion of being in a giant parking garage was complete. The end was scripted to have the gang drive off together. The car failing to start at the end of the episode was an accident. An old car was used, and when it did not start, it was decided to keep it in the episode as something else going wrong, making a perfect unscripted ending to a classic episode.
- This is the first episode to be filmed without a studio audience
- The Newport Centre Mall in Jersey City, New Jersey is used for the exterior shots of the mall and was the inspiration for the unnamed mall in this episode.
- Michael Richards carried an actual air conditioning unit around for the whole day to appear authentic, which is why he appears tired throughout the episode.
- One of a few episodes that left bloopers in; much of Elaine and Kramer's laughter at the end is real. Michael Richards actually injured himself while putting the air conditioner in the trunk, hence the ad-libbed line "I really hurt myself, Elaine."
- The set design, often praised by fans for its realism, was not nominated for an Emmy. Some believe this is because the Emmy voters assumed it was filmed in a real parking garage.
- Many rare cars, such as the GMC Syclone, Subaru SVX, and Merkur XR4Ti can be seen in this episode.
- This is the first episode in which all four main casts after "The Chinese Restaurant" and "The Pen" get to experience outside Jerry's apartment.