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Artificial Seinfeld

With new episodes of Seinfeld extremely unlikely, how can we combat the prospect of watching syndicated episodes for the rest of our lives? Sit quietly, watching all 180 episodes 'til death? I think not. If Seinfeld won't make new episodes, we'll have to do it ourselves -- but we'll definitely need some AI to do the actual writing. Nobody wants to do that much work.

This repository is an exploration of this idea and contains some tools to:

  1. Scrape all Seinfeld episode transcripts (based on a fork of seinfeld-scripts)
  2. Extract all character statement/response pairs from the HTML transcripts
  3. Train a Long-Short Term Memory Neural Network on the Seinfeld character corpus (using Keras)
  4. Generate your own Seinfeld scripts

I'm not giving up hope that NBC will pay me $100 million to produce another season of Seinfeld. Or maybe they'll go the other way, fail to see humor in this very complex joke. Either way, this is a good way to explore character-based language modeling and the outer fringes of Fair Use Copyright Law.

How it works

The model operates on a simple principle: for each Seinfeld character in the transcript corpus, take their response(s) to any statement/question posed. Then we can orchestrate models from different characters, creating new scenes and episodes.

The model input is a statement/comment/question and we train on the character's response. If we generalize this as a "question/answer" problem, we can encode each pair like so:

jerry i wanna tell you that meal was the worst.<q>what do you expect? it's airline food.<a>

Our model is trained by seeding the network with the first chunk of the question. The y target is the next character. We continue to move this text-window forward, one character at a time, each time supplying the next, unforseen character as the target. We do this until we get to the end-of-response marker, <a>. (Note that <a> is an example and the actual implementation uses a single-character marker, which is removed from the corpus input in preprocessing.)

To illustrate this, using the second question/answer pair, with a WINDOW of 10 and a batch size of 1, our inputs to our model (X and y) would look like this:

# first input
X[0] = 'jerry i wa'
y[0] = 'n'
# second input ...
X[1] = 'erry i wan'
y[1] = 'n'
# ... Nth input (end of second Q/A pair)
X[N] = 'ne food.<a'
y[N] = '>'

The next iteration, we'd move to the start of the next Q/A pair, fill the window, and continue as above. We do this until we've gone through the entire corpus.

The full corpus is split into three chunks: 30% validation, 60% training, 10% test. During hyperparameter optimization, we do a full model generation, training, and evaluation cycle five times, returning the average training and test loss. The optimizer looks to minimize our test, not train, loss to avoid overfitting. We also use dropout to break symmetry and improve model generalization.

The overall theory here is that we could generate a full Seinfeld script by training a model for each character, training a model to develop a synopsis and outline, and then gather the outputs into a series of scenes.

Getting Started - Character Models

If you just want to train a Jerry LSTM model, you can simply use the Makefile to do so:


This will install dependencies (make sure you're in your virtualenv), download the Seinology transcripts, build character corpus, train the LSTM model, and perform a search for optimal hyperparameters.

To change the character, append the character override. This works with any of the other make commands (below) as well:

make CHARACTER=kramer

Synopsis Model

Just having a question-answer for each character isn't enough. We need some form of structure and plotline. Luckily for us, Seinfeld episodes are typically named after an object, place, or short action that appears in the episode. We exploit this to build a synopsis-generation model that takes a short input and outputs a synopsis. To get started, use the following command to build the synposis corpus:

make summaries

This will download all the "episode guides" from Seinology and will build a title/synopsis corpus in the same format as statement/response for character models.

Once we have this built, we can train a synopsis model on it:

make optimize CHARACTER=synopsis CORPUS=./synopsis_corpus.txt


While the python scripts take command line arguments, it gets annoying keeping track of all the default params and specifying them everywhere. To make this easier, the default params, as well as some non-specified params, such as start/end sequences, are given in


Once we have a trained model, in this example let's use our trained synopsis model, we can use the output command to generate outputs like so:

echo "the bottom feeder#" \
| ./ --character Synopsis --temp 0.7 ./models/model_synopsis_1.48.h5

    Synopsis: george discovers that he hears to broke at the pired to him 
    man be nemeves the break up with the one of cake he makes a job ex a 
    steel to to frank the reest uncle from the sane takes to mivi seod of 
    george meets discovers the real pronices.


The makefile contains the following commands:

make install_deps ....... install python requirements
make download_scripts ... download transcripts from seinology
make character_corpus ... extract character corpus from transcripts
    you can change the default character, jerry, by specifying another:
    make corpus CHARACTER=kramer
    character options: elaine, george, kramer, newman, jerry
make train .............. train LSTM model using default params
make optimize ........... perform optimal hyperparameter search
    this accepts MONGOHOST=localhost:1234 and MONGODB=seinfeld_job after make
    optimize to enable distributed searches. use CHARACTER and CORPUS
    options to change character label and corpus location (optional)
make clean .............. delete all models, scripts, corpus, etc
make download_summaries .. download the episode summaries
make summary_corpus ...... compile summaries into a title/synopsis corpus for training
make summaries ........... wrapper for download + compile synopsis corpus

By default these commands will use the Jerry corpus and will label the model 'jerry'. You can override corpus location by appending CORPUS=/corpus/location.txt to your make commands.

An Open Letter to Jerry Seinfeld