10 Best ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Episodes, Ranked

Unmistakable tuba notes accompanied by the trill of a mandolin introduce HBO’s long-running hit show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, in the most apropos theme song ever composed. The half-hour comedy by Seinfeld co-creator Larry David also features David as its star, inviting reoccurring guest stars like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bob Einstein, Ted Danson, Mary Steenbergen, Wanda Sykes, and Richard Lewis. The show wouldn’t be a hit without cast regulars Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman, Cheryl Hines, and J.B. Smoove, providing scores of laughs on and off for the past 24 years.



David, playing his « alter ego » in the show, is a master of social offense and a repeat perpetrator of deeds devoid of decorum. Audiences enviably wish to air grievances as Larry does: with abandon. The show has earned 51 Primetime Emmy Award nominations in the series’ history, picking up several wins. An incredible guest star roster, ranging from sports and political figures to A-list Hollywood stars, have appeared each season, eager to participate in one of the funniest shows ever broadcast. Here are a few examples of series staples in a crowded compilation of the most irreverent, hysterical episodes.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

The life and times of Larry David and the predicaments he gets himself into with his friends and complete strangers.

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10 « Foisted » (2017)

Season 9, Episode 1

Larry holding his arms out looking satisfied in Curb Your Enthusiasm
Image via HBO

In the season 9 opener, a door-holding debate concerning a masculine-presenting lesbian (Julie Goldman) results in ripples of recourse throughout the episode. Amid that storyline, Larry and Jeff (Garlin) celebrate the completion of Larry’s long-awaited musical, Fatwa!. Leon (Smoove) introduces Larry to a new slang word, « Lampin, » and the pair scheme to « foist » Larry’s ineffective assistant Mara (Carrie Brownstein) onto Susie (Essman) after the assistant was foisted onto Larry by Jimmy Kimmel. Larry goes on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote Fatwa!, but offends the Ayatollah of Iran. After a 6-year hiatus, the show is as funny as ever, with guest stars who made it worth the wait.

Coming in with an 8.6/10 rating on IMDb, Foisted! was a highlight of season 9, laying the necessary groundwork for the remainder of the season’s story arc. Brownstein is hilarious as Larry’s secretary, citing ‘constipation’ as a reason for missing two days of work, doing the bare minimum, then telling Larry the job wasn’t « challenging enough. » Ironically, the episode centered around Larry intentionally trying to avoid acts of offense. Instead, he managed to offend practically everyone involved in the episode. Larry’s layered missteps culminated in the most high-stakes consequences committed in the show’s history: a Fatwa of his own.

9 « The Black Swan » (2009)

Season 7, Episode 7

curb your enthusiasm the black swan
Image via HBO

« The Black Swan«  opens with Larry, his father (Shelley Berman), and cousin Andy (Richard Kind) paying their respects at Larry’s mother’s grave, where the headstone reads, « Adele David, past away. » Larry is disgusted by his father’s frugality (saving $150 by misspelling the word on purpose) and contacts a stonemason to rectify the situation. Meanwhile, Larry and friends Jeff, Funkhouser (Bob Einstien), and Cousin Andy dine at the country club before a round of golf. The arrival of the notoriously slow golfer, Norm, incites a panic at Larry’s table. On the golf course, Larry yells at Norm to hurry up, later learning Norm has sustained a fatal heart attack. The following afternoon, Larry takes a swing at club owner Takahashi’s (Dana Lee) beloved black swan, killing it in self-defense. Larry is accused of two counts of murder.

Though Takahashi threatens to banish Larry from the country club for years, including several times in this episode, Larry remains one of the most annoying and problematic members. Cousin Andy steals many moments in the episode; his repeated « this is horrible » remarks after Larry kills the swan are hysterical. Andy also attempts to take advantage of Larry’s monetary generosity, while Larry tries to blame the swan for Norm’s death. Takahashi ultimately learns the truth about his swan’s fate in this fan-favorite episode in a season filled with some of the best writing and hijinks in the show’s run.

8 « The Freak Book » (2007)

Season 6, Episode 5

Larry David and Jeff Garlin laughing at a book on the couch in Curb Your Enthusiasm
Image via HBO

Cheryl (Hines) and Larry order a car service to take them to Ted Danson’s birthday party, driven by Charlie (Toby Huss), the limo driver. Larry is excited about giving Ted his gift, a coffee table book called « Mondo Freaks. » Upon delivery, Larry is concerned about Charlie having to sit and do nothing for 3 hours and asks an annoyed Ted if Charlie could wait in the house, and Ted reluctantly agrees. Ted opens Larry’s gift, unimpressed and confused. Larry then takes the book to show Jeff, and the two fools laugh uproariously at the « freaks, » disrupting Ted’s party until Charlie comes in, upping the ante. Fully inebriated, Charlie tells Ted, « Happy Birthday, Becker, » breaks a vase and gropes Ted’s wife, Mary, resulting in Larry, Cheryl, and Charlie’s ejection. Larry then helps Charlie by driving the limo and escorting a vital client, John McEnroe, to whom Larry offers the Freak Book.

Larry attempting to extricate the parallel-parked limo and perform an 8-point turn in the narrow suburban street in front of his house was a hilarious highlight. The Freak Book makes another appearance at a party where McEnroe and Larry flip through it, yelling, « Three legs! Aagh! Three legs– what a freak! » The men gag, laugh, and are generally disruptive until they’re kicked out for a freak-related misunderstanding. The episode pays tribute to McEnroe’s epic meltdowns from his tennis playing days, as he and Larry get into a shouting match about the book in one of the most satisfying endings to an episode in the series.

7 « The Anonymous Donor » (2007)

Season 6, Episode 2

Larry David looking confused in HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm
Image via HBO

Larry meets Leon, and Ted Danson is « Anonymous » in this celebrated episode featuring unwritten rules of dry cleaning. A repulsed Cheryl approaches Larry to inquire about a mysterious stain on a blanket in a guest room, and Larry riotously questions Leon. This is followed by a trip to the dry cleaners, where Larry learns his Joe Pepitone jersey has been lost, and Leon offers to help Larry recover it. Larry and Cheryl attend an event unveiling the new wings of a museum, one financially sponsored by Larry David and the other by « Anonymous. » Larry quickly learns that Danson is « Anonymous » because he’s told everyone, angering Larry, who declares this an act of « fake philanthropy » and « faux anonymity. »

Larry’s magnanimous « generosity » backfires, and Jeff is banned from Larry’s house and Larry from his, in a milestone episode marking the introduction of Larry’s charismatic roommate and partner in crime, Leon. Audiences learn reasonably early that Leon « brings the ruckus » as a ladies’ man with impressive talent. The erosion of Larry’s marriage to Cheryl and her growing interest in Danson is further exposed, but with the addition of Leon, the David household is far from uneventful. Mary Steenbergen and Ken Jeong guest star in an unforgettable, unforgettable episode.

6 « The Grand Opening » (2002)

Season 3, Episode 10

Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' episode
Image via HBO

After a season-long build-up to the opening of Larry and Jeff’s restaurant investment, the season 3 finale begins with the Grand Opening of Bobo’s. In an episode with non-stop laughs, Larry fires their bald chef after discovering he lied about a toupee, Cheryl gets an unorthodox bath, and Larry plays dodgeball. A notoriously harsh food critic (Paul Wilson) sustains a bilateral thumb injury during an innocent schoolyard game after Larry pelts him with the ball. Without using his thumbs to perform his trademark thumbs up or down, the critic cannot review the restaurant on opening night. The restaurant needs a chef, so the vindictive critic recommends someone with Tourette’s syndrome, unbeknownst to Larry and the investors.

« The Grand Opening » features multiple laugh-out-loud moments. One such moment involves Larry and Cheryl, trapped in a car wash just as Cheryl realizes her colon cleansing medicine has taken effect, and she exits the car mid-wash. If watching Cheryl jostled by foamy car-washing strips, fully clothed and in need of a toilet doesn’t promote laughter, Larry’s tet-a-tet spoon-feeding the food critic will. The episode’s epic end is one of the most memorable in the series, coming full circle by granting Larry an opportunity to stand in solidarity with a comrade.

5 « Happy New Year » (2020)

Season 10, Episode 1

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Happy New Year- larry-Jeff
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Larry is fed up with getting « Happy New Year » weeks after the fact and decides to correct anyone foolish enough to congratulate him. The episode tackles the #MeToo movement, MAGA hats, and the enforcement of rules for mothers during pregnancy. Additionally, Larry and Leon are banned from Mocha Joe’s, prompting the beginning of a « spite store. » Jeff is mistaken for Harvey Weinstein, and Larry inadvertently « assaults » two women. The season 10 opener is more like « Larry Unleashed, » as he strides down the city streets, snapping selfie sticks in half, toppling scooter rentals, and returning « Happy New Year » sentiments like swear words.

It’s challenging to rank a show like Curb Your Enthusiasm and more burdensome to narrow 100+ episodes down to 10. If possible, « Happy New Year » would be ranked in a 5-way tie for number one because it’s that great. There’s a post-pandemic recklessness to Larry in season 10, as evidenced in his iconic take-down of a fashionably festooned Susie. Larry is mingling at a party when Susie approaches wearing a variation of a top hat, prompting Larry to recite the Gettysburg Address as audiences watch at home, belly laughing through tears. It’s impossible to mention everything introduced in the episode because it’s crammed with incidents, innuendo, one-liners, and tongue-in-cheek references. For fans of the long-running show, the season opener proved Larry could still bring the ruckus.

4 « The Carpool Lane » (2004)

Season 4, Episode 6

Larry David at a baseball game in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
Image via HBO

Larry is a walking contradiction in this gem of an episode nestled in the bosom of season 4. To evade jury duty, Larry pretends to be racist, then scores marijuana on a street corner for his father’s glaucoma. Rather than allow Larry to accompany him to the Dodgers game utilizing his dead father’s season ticket seat, Funkhouser reserves it for his father’s ghost. Flying solo, Larry scrambles to make it to the game and finds a fast-track carpool lane opportunity when he drives by sex worker Monena (Kym Whitley). Funkhouser gets arrested for possession, Larry is denied access to a conservative country club, and the ever-resourceful Monena saves the day again with her stash of « schwag. »

Spectacularly, the episode is equally shocking, cringe-worthy, and entertaining, resulting in one of the most iconic episodes in the show’s history. « The Carpool Lane » would have been less effective (and funny) without the support of Whitley as Monena, the sex worker, and Larry’s dad, Nat (Berman). In the season 4 opener, Larry reminds Cheryl of a promised « sex pass » if their marriage made it to the 10-year mark. In the end, Monena, Nat, and Larry partake in Monena’s stash, then later realize they have no compensation. Larry appeals to Cheryl to pay Monena for her « services, » and Cheryl assumes Larry has redeemed his « pass » in this classic episode.

3 « Denise Handicap » (2009)

Season 7, Episode 5

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Denise Handicapped-Larry David
Image via HBO

While seated at a restaurant wearing a baseball cap, Larry meets a quick-witted woman (Anita Barone) with similar interests, only to discover she is in a wheelchair after they’ve made a date. Unsure of how to proceed, Larry shows up for their date sans hat, and the woman, Denise, is bewildered to discover he is bald. After the date proved too tricky for Larry (he carried Denise up a flight of stairs because the chosen restaurant wasn’t wheelchair accessible), he planned to end it with Denise. However, something magical happened when people began to look at Larry anew, reevaluating his character as he wheeled Denise around town. He continued to date her, obviously.

After Susie throws Larry’s phone into the ocean in retaliation for nearly killing her daughter, he can’t recover Denise’s number because she was listed as « Denise Handicap » on his phone. Audiences were rapt, desperate to know how Larry got out of this predicament, capitalizing on public perception in the most reprehensible way imaginable in an episode IMDb awarded 9.1/10. Ultimately, Larry fails to locate Denise and finds another woman he calls « Wendy Wheelchair, » in a finale accented with a chef’s kiss, as Rosie O’Donnell emerges to kick Larry’s a**.

2 « Palestinian Chicken » (2011)

Season 8, Episode 3

Image Via HBO

Larry attends a dinner party and learns that Funkhouser has reaffirmed his commitment to Judaism, newly outfitted with a yamaka. Jeff and Susie’s teen daughter Sammi is inexplicably invited to the adult party, using overheard information to extort Larry. Another partygoer begs Larry to get his wife to stop saying « LOL. » Later, Larry and Jeff secretly frequent a Palestinian restaurant, lured by a delicious chicken dish they can’t stop eating, though the restaurant is filled with anti-Jewish propaganda. After Larry demands the removal of Funkhouser’s yamaka before entering their forbidden lunch spot, the Palestinian patrons, watching from within, celebrate. Larry begins an affair with a sexy Palestinian woman but is forced to pledge allegiance to his family and friends or sex and chicken.

Larry David has claimed this episode as his all-time favorite, and it consistently ranks highly on lists featuring the show’s best episodes. « Palestinian Chicken » is the origin of Larry’s « social assassin » label, assigned by Jeff after attending the chaotic dinner party where Larry wrestled the host to the ground. The maniacal lengths Larry will go to for the sake of a golf tournament are comically ridiculous in an episode steeped in mischief. IMDb awarded the episode with a massive 9.2/10 score, and it seems audiences prefer Larry when he pushes the envelope nearly off a cliff. The show has subjected fans to an on-again/off-again viewership, but this episode has yet to depreciate as a series favorite.

1 « The Doll » (2001)

Season 2, Episode 7

Larry David and Jeff Garlin staring at a doll in Curb Your Enthusiasm
Image via HBO

After attending a miniseries screening, Larry attends an after-party at an ABC executive’s (Zach Grenier) house, wherein he discovers the bathroom for guests doesn’t lock. Larry sneaks upstairs and meets the host’s young daughter Tara (Bailey Thompson), combing her doll’s hair. She asks Larry to give her doll, Judy, a haircut. After several annunciated « Ju-dy, Ju-dy, Ju-dy »s from Larry, he obliges, clipping Judy’s hair into a short bob. Unfortunately, the haircut turns disastrous, requiring Larry to replace the doll, a collector’s item, to salvage his deal with ABC and appease the exec’s horrified wife, Anne (Rita Wilson). Jeff gives Larry the head of his daughter’s Judy doll to exchange with the desecrated Judy doll, followed by the most memorable moment in the episode: Susie’s reaction to their crime.

Susie Essman gives a tour-de-force performance in a season-stealing barrage of disparaging remarks directed at Jeff and Larry. The scene has become iconic, featuring Susie’s drawn-out syllables of « HYS-TERR-I-CAAALLL » and « DE-CAAAP-I-TAAAAT-EDDD, » followed by Susie accusing Jeff and Larry of using the doll’s head for voodoo. The ick factor in the episode escalates after an embrace between Larry and the child results in a further misunderstanding only Larry can deliver. Securing one of the season’s highest ratings and maintaining years-long admiration from fans, « The Doll » captured the essence of the show – which is pretty, pretty, pretty good.

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