How ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Ended: Did Larry David Go to Prison?

The HBO comedy welcomes Jerry Seinfeld and Allison Janney during its eventful series finale

curb-your-enthusiasm-larry-david-hbo
Larry David in "Curb Your Enthusiasm." (HBO)

Note: The following story contains spoilers from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Season 12, Episode 10.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” sent Larry David to prison in its series finale, wrapping up the HBO comedy series with a “Seinfeld”-esque conclusion. But a last-minute twist made things right for both shows.

In the series’ final episode, “Curb” brought its cast together for Larry’s trial in Atlanta after he broke a Georgia voting law in the Season 12 premiere, with Jerry Seinfeld, Allison Janney and Greg Kinnear joining the festivities. The hourlong installment, titled “No Lessons Learned,” also featured the return of some of Larry’s past nemeses during the progression of the trial, including his ex-girlfriend Irma (Tracey Ullman), Mocha Joe, Bruce Springsteen and Trump whistleblower Alexander Vindman.

The entire ordeal was a callback to the series finale of “Seinfeld,” which found Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer put on trial for violating a “Good Samaritan law,” which resulted in a revolving door of characters from the comedy’s history appearing as witnesses to decry the actions of the quartet over the course of the series. That episode, written by David, ended with all four characters in jail and was largely derided by fans and critics — although it was also one of the most-watched episodes of TV of all time.

The “Curb” finale followed a similar track with one significant difference. Larry was found guilty and put in a jail cell, but Jerry himself ended up saving him from the slammer after pointing out that one of the jurors had been seen outside during the sequestering period, leading to a mistrial. The ending got even more meta when both Larry and Jerry noted this is how “Seinfeld” should’ve originally ended in the first place.

The episode opened with Larry heading to Atlanta with Leon, Jeff and Susie. During the flight, an attendant approached Larry and told him that they were notified by another passenger that he had not turned his phone on airplane mode or turned it off and asked him to do so.

David then asked who the squealer was, though the flight attendant refused to tell him, leading him to immediately accuse Susie before ratting out Leon and Jeff for having their phones on as well. After landing, Larry and Leon drove to the hotel. As they attempted to get off an exit, they are cut off by a woman, played by Janney, who proceeded to flip them off.

Upon entering the hotel, Larry was hit in the head with a ball by a young boy. The boy’s mother told her son to apologize and learn his lesson, to which David responded he’s never learned a lesson in his entire life.

The group proceeded to meet up with Richard Lewis (a final appearance for the late actor), who was waiting for his “great lover” Cynthia. Lewis revealed that when he last broke up with Cynthia, she attempted suicide. But David was skeptical, telling Lewis “sometimes when you break up with someone to get pity they say they attempted suicide so the person will go back with them.”

The conversation was interrupted when Cynthia (Janney) walked in, prompting a surprised Larry to bring up being cut off on the highway. She denied doing so and she and Lewis proceed to leave while the rest of the group headed to Auntie Rae’s. On the way out, they ran into Cheryl, who declined an invite to eat with them as she waited for Ted Danson to finish an interview related to a protest he was planning for Larry’s trial — which David said was because he was trying to steal the spotlight.

On day one of the trial, the district attorney, played by Kinnear, revealed that he was going to bring in a series of witnesses to speak to David’s character (Sound familiar?). The first witness was none other than Mocha Joe, who told the jury abut David’s spite store and the fire that destroyed his coffee shop. Then Mr. Takahashi entered, who said David was “always disgruntled,” never said “fore” when he golfed, with a nod back to Troy Kotsur getting hit in the back earlier in the season, and revealed he killed his black swan. Colonel Alexander Vindman followed, revealing that David attempted to bribe a Santa Monica city councilor. He added that he “will not tolerate corruption from Trump, Putin, or Larry David.”

After a rough first day, Leon told David that he needed to win sympathy from the jury, prompting him to convince Susie to pretend to be his handicapped girlfriend. But that attempt failed after Rachel Heinemann, Irma, Bruce Springsteen and Tara Michaelson — the little girl from the “Doll” episode — all recounted horrifying incidents from his past via a montage.

Auntie Rae proceeded to enter the court room and told the jury about the time Larry used the N-word while she was living with him, before turning her attention to Jeff for stealing her salad recipe — an anniversary gift he gave to Susie after she inquired about it earlier in the episode. Susie proceeded to get out of the wheelchair to scream at Jeff, revealing that her injury was fake.

As Larry’s chances of avoiding jail worsened, Jerry Seinfeld appeared to offer support.

“It’s not your fault! You’re a decent human being,” Seinfeld said. To which David replied, “Let that be a lesson.”

David took the stand during the final day of the trial, where he argued that it was hot in the line to vote and that there was no shade.

But the district attorney proceeded to bring up Larry stealing flowers from a woman’s memorial and a golf club from a dead man’s coffin — as well as that terrible typo from Cheryl’s aunt’s obituary. The closing remarks then brought up more cringeworthy moments from his past, including breaking into a graveyard to move his mother’s body, bringing a sex offender to a Passover seder, hiring prostitutes to drive in a carpool lane and lying about being an incest survivor.

While David awaited a verdict from the jury, Jerry ran into one of the jury members who bore a resemblance to Joe Pesci. Back in the court room, David was unsurprisingly found guilty and sentenced to one year in prison.

Once in his cell, David began to strike up a conversation with another inmate about pants tents — a reference to the first episode of “Curb.” As the camera pulled out with David sitting in the cell, it looked like the show was about to end the exact same way as “Seinfeld.” But Jerry appeared with news that David was free to go, after the man who looked like Joe Pesci turned out to be a juror that broke his sequester, resulting in a mistrial and thrown out sentence.

“You don’t want to end up like this. Nobody wants to see it. Trust me!,” Jerry told him.

As the pair walked out of jail, David said to Seinfeld: “This is how we should’ve ended the finale!” to which he responded, “My gosh, you’re right, I didn’t think of that.”

This wasn’t the first time “Curb” tackled “Seinfeld” finale criticism — Season 7 of the HBO series found David writing and producing a “Seinfeld” reunion, and during the season-long arc, David was defiant whenever others would tell him the “Seinfeld” finale wasn’t good.

“Curb” ended with the entire main cast on a plane headed home. The group started arguing with each other about the shade on the plane. As they all started screaming at each other, the “Frolic” theme began to play before the episode cut to black and the credits rolled for one last time.

All episodes of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” are now streaming on Max.

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