If you watch the pilot for “Seinfeld,” you’ll notice one glaring omission. Elaine Benes, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, is not in it. The pilot opens with Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) and George (Jason Alexander), not at the familiar Monk’s Café but rather at Pete’s Luncheon. After an earnest conversation between the two about the placement of buttons on men’s shirts, we meet Claire the Waitress. She’s a sarcastic server who fits right in with the cast. Claire is played by veteran film and TV character actor Lee Garlington.

In 2010, Jason Alexander told Kevin Pollak how Elaine Benes ended up replacing Claire the Waitress as a regular character on the show. During an appearance on “Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show,” Alexander said:

“There was no Elaine in the pilot. It was Kramer, George, Jerry, and a waitress. A waitress at the coffee shop. A very fine actress who made the critical error of suggesting to Larry [David] that she, she’d looked at the scenes overnight and made a few tweaks that she wanted to share with him … A few ideas, a few ideas. In the spirit of community and collaboration.”

Nearly a year later, when the show’s second episode aired as part of a four-episode NBC late-season replacement, Claire was gone, replaced with Jerry’s ex-girlfriend-turned-friend, Elaine Benes.

So, what happened to Claire, and what did it mean for “Seinfeld?”