The Heart Attack

"The Heart Attack"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 8
Directed by Tom Cherones
Written by Larry Charles
Production code 211
Original air date April 25, 1991
Guest appearance(s)
  • Stephen Tobolowsky as Tor
  • John Posey as Dr. Fein
  • John Fleck as Attendant
  • Jimmy Woodard as Driver
  • Pat Hazell as Man in Other Bed
  • Sharon McNight as The Nurse
  • Thomas Wagner as The Cook
  • Heather James as The Waitress
  • Larry David as Screaming B-movie Actor (uncredited)
Season 2 episodes

"The Heart Attack" is the eighth episode of the second season of NBC's Seinfeld, and the show's 13th episode overall. It aired on April 25, 1991.


After watching a science-fiction B movie (featuring a cameo by series co-creator Larry David), Jerry goes to bed, but wakes up in the middle of the night laughing. He scrawls a joke for his stand-up comedy act. The following day he is unable to read what he wrote down.

While Jerry has lunch with George and Elaine at Monk's Café, hoping they can interpret his scrawl, George becomes alarmed and thinks he is having a heart attack; they have him transported to a hospital. Once he's there, it is discovered that he actually needs a tonsillectomy his second one, as it turns out, as he had had his tonsils removed when he was younger, but now they have grown back (this is possible;[1] it allegedly happened to show writer Larry Charles).[2] Kramer recommends a holistic healer as a better and less expensive alternative. Jerry warns George that the healer Kramer is recommending had spent time in prison, but, because of the large difference in price, George decides to take Kramer's advice.

Meanwhile, Elaine becomes attracted to George's doctor and goes on a date with him, only to discover that he has a fetish for tongues, which causes her to dump him right away as soon as the date ends.

George, Kramer, and Jerry (who is there only in the hope of collecting comedy material), meet Tor Eckman, the holistic healer (Stephen Tobolowsky). Eckman performs a number of unorthodox methods to determine George's real ailment, which he concludes has nothing to do with his tonsils, but with his "imbalance with nature". He then concocts a tea containing "cramp bark", "cleavers", and "couch grass" that would remove his ailment, also prescribing that George is to stop using hot water entirely. Upon drinking the tea, George becomes purple and has to be transported to the hospital again. On their way, the EMT (John Fleck) and the driver get into an altercation over a missing Chuckle, causing the two men to fight outside. Later, Jerry, Kramer, and the driver are debating whether or not they should bring the EMT back, when the driver, who's trying to pick a fight with Kramer while not looking at the road, causes a crash. Later, George and Jerry are found in the hospital in neck braces. George indicates that he had the tonsillectomy, and Elaine is in the hospital only briefly, so as to avoid "Doctor Tongue", to give George some ice cream. The hospital television shows the science fiction movie again, and Jerry remembers that what he wrote down was a line from the movie (Flaming Globes of Sigmund). As he realizes this, he notes "That's not funny."


Critical responses to the episode were mixed; Mike Flaherty and Mary Kaye Schilling of Entertainment Weekly graded the episode with a D, writing "What Seinfeld excels at is finding the eccentric in the apparently normal. A kooky New Age doctor? That's hitting the broad side of a barn."[3] The Sydney Morning Herald critic Robin Oliver felt that, though he did not think the episode was bad, it was among Seinfeld's lesser episodes.[4] However, Andy Patrizio of IGN considered "The Heart Attack" one of season two's best episodes.[5] St. Louis Post-Dispatch critic Eric Mink also reacted very positively on the episode, praising the Shakespeare reference and Michael Richards' performance in particular.[6]


  1. "Mayo Clinic Identifies Risk Factors for Repeat Adenoid Removal in Children". Mayo Clinic. September 12, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2012. It isn't unusual for children to have their tonsils and adenoids removed, and the younger those patients are, the greater the risk their adenoids will grow back and they will need to have them taken out again, Mayo Clinic researchers have found.
  2. "The Heart Attack". Watching the 90s: Television and Film Notes and Musings. Retrieved September 18, 2012. Larry Charles wrote this story about George's infected tonsils (which the character mistakes for a heart attack) out of his own fear of aging, according to the DVD's "Notes about Nothing." Fear of aging, fear of death, and, especially, fear of the aged are frequent themes in Seinfeld. This episode offers several different ways that different characters cope with their mortality.
  3. Schilling, Mary Kaye; Flaherty, Mike (April 7, 2008). "The Seinfeld Chronicles: Season Two". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  4. Oliver, Robin (December 7, 2004). "Seinfeld". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  5. Patrizio, Andy (November 18, 2004). "Seinfeld - Seasons 1 & 2 Review". IGN. Retrieved August 27, 2009.
  6. Mink, Erik (May 1, 1991). "'Cheers' Or Not, 'Seinfeld' Is A Hit". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 7E.
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