Cerie Xerox (Katrina Bowden) - Airheaded Valley Girl type, Cerie is attractive, privileged, and frequently a bit insensitive, though that seems to be because she's too naÔve to notice. As a gag, she occasionally shows flashes of intellect like having an argument with her fiance about the Greek Orthodox Church's stand on Cyprus, or knowing the exact speed of light. Her role has increased through the seasons, though her last name is known only through Word of God.
Frank Rossitano (Judah Friedlander) - Tracy's biggest fan on the writing staff. A slovenly and prankish Man Child with a dose of kavorka workin'. Probably as much of a slacker as you can be while holding down a steady job. Has a passing resemblance with Garth Algar.
Josh Girard (Lonny Ross) - A guileless, idiotic actor/writer/impressionist for TGS in the earlier seasons, often thought to have been based on Jimmy Fallon. He spent most of the third season Out of Focus, to the point of appearing in only four episodes out of 22, and was put on a Long Bus Trip in the fourth.
Jack "Danny" Baker (Cheyenne Jackson) - Josh's replacement, more or less, and a walking Canada, Eh? joke. Meets the same Out of Focus fate as his predecessor.
Jonathan (Maulik Pancholy) - Jack's worshipful assistant. At times, he's hinted to have a gay crush on Jack. Between seasons five and six, his actor became a regular on Whitney and Jonathan disappeared without explanation. He returned for the seventh season, explaining that he'd been taking care of his ill grandmother in Salinas.
A sizable portion of fanbase ships Jack/Liz, enough that the show has since sort of taken to simultaneously teasing/parodying the pairing. In any case, Tina Fey always said it would never happen.
This show provides examples of:
Abhorrent Admirer: Wesley on Liz. An odd example in that Wesley feels the fact he and Liz aren't attracted to each other makes them the perfect couple.
Aborted Arc: Liz's plan to adopt, a major Season 3 arc that included an adoption case worker visiting the studio in "Do-Over". The abandonment of this arc was lampshaded in season 5's "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning".
Kenneth: I couldn't put the memo in your mailbox because it's full of unread adoption materials.
Liz: [uninterested] Yeah.
The show picks this back up in Season 6, when Liz and Criss consider adoption but decide to conceive in the natural way. However, in the 7th season Liz fails to get pregnant, and in "Florida" they adopt two children.
Absolute Cleavage: Prominently on display in the "Live Show" episode courtesy of Jenna.
Abusive Parent: Jenna's mother, Verna is a horrible parent, and her behavior explains a lot of Jenna's.
Accidental Misnaming: Cooter Burger—both "Cooter" and "Burger" are nicknames given him by then-President Bush. His real name is James Riley.
Cooter(played by Matthew Broderick): Cooter Burger? What am I, a cartoon dog? The president gave me that name! 'Cooter' because I look like a turtle and 'Burger' because he saw me eating a burger one time! It wasn't even a burger... it was a sandwich.
Alter Ego Acting: Both Jane Krakowski and Tracy Morgan's recent commercials for Florida orange juice and Wheat Thins (respectively) almost seem like they were intended to be played by Jenna & Tracy Jordan.
Much of Tracy's insane behavior is patterned on actual Hollywood celebrity behavior; for example, Tracy has his Oscar claimed by a Native American...just like Marlon Brando. Of course, unlike Brando (who was protesting the unfair treatment of Native Americans in film), Tracy simply had a mouth full of Pop-Tarts.
Anti-Advice: Jack prepares some videotapes for his expected child, in case of his demise. One piece of advice: "In the unlikely event that you encounter something that isn't covered here, find a woman named Elizabeth Lemon. Get her advice, and then do the opposite."
The Anticipator: This trope was played for laughs by being subverted in-universe but played straight to the viewer. These are the lines:
Liz approaches Jack from behind.
Jack: You've been avoiding me, Lemon.
Liz: How do you do that? Without turning around?
Jack: To be perfectly honest, the first couple of people I did that to, were not you... but, here we are.
The initial concept was to have TGS with Tracy Jordan sketches figure more prominently. This was abandoned early in the first season, and the TGS sketches became 2-second cutaway jokes about how terrible they were, leaving characters such as Josh (especially Josh) little to do.
As Jack was initially envisioned to be a recurring villainous executive (much like Will Arnett's eventual role), Pete was to be a stark contrast as the voice of reason, as well as Liz Lemon's confidant and support system. Once Jack, now a main character, evolved into the same function, Pete's role was reduced to getting stuck in vending machines and complaining about his sex life.
Artifact Title: An in-show version. The TV show Liz writes for was originally called The Girlie Show, meant to be a sketch-comedy show "by women, for women." Jack ended that in the pilot episode, adding Tracy to the cast and giving him top billing in TGS With Tracy Jordan. Liz still has the original "Girlie Show" logo hanging in her office.
Even more so in "TGS Hates Women"
Artistic License: The portrayal of Stone Mountain, Georgia in the episode "Stone Mountain" and throughout the series. It is portrayed as a super white, super country rural town with people living in caves and "hill people". Stone Mountain is a real place, and is actually 69% black and mostly suburban, being about a half-hour's drive from Atlanta.
They lampshade this a bit in an episode where Kenneth has a flashback to his high school reunion and he's the only non-African-American there.
Ascended Extra: In Season 3, Danny the "robot" street performer can be seen during a date montage with Jack and Elisa (Salma Hayek). In season 4, Jack hires him as a regular cast member. Doubles as a Brick Joke.
Sue was a nameless ("Girl Writer") non speaking extra for the first two years of the show.
Aside Comment: In the final episode, Jenna begins to talk about another strange encounter with Mickey Rourke, when she sighs and addresses the camera, "Oh, I can't do this anymore. I've never met Mickey Rourke." Liz glances to look at who Jenna was talking to and doesn't see anyone.
Ballad of X: Season 6 episode "The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell"
They even got Steve Earle to sing the titular song over the closing credits!
Batman Gambit : When Tracy's contract expires Jack uses Kenneth as leverage to get Tracy back, telling Kenneth not to assist Mr. Jordan thus luring Tracy back to the show. However knowing Kenneth will likely fail at his task, once Kenneth ruins plan A, Jack then fires Kenneth causing Tracy to agree to a new deal in order to save Kenneth's job.
Jack does it again in "Game Over." In order to convince the CEO of Kabletown to make him the new CEO, he sends a private investigator to spy on Kaylee, teams up with Devon, and gets Jenna to get a DNA sample from Kaylee to prove she isn't the CEO's granddaughter. However, it turns out that Kaylee saw right through it and tricked Jack into sending her grandfather Jenna's DNA results to humiliate Jack. Then Jack reveals that he knew that everyone would either fail or backstab him, and it was a massive ploy to send the CEO a birthday card while distracting Kaylee from meeting with her grandfather.
Before My Time: As the youngest character on the show, a Dumb Blonde, and one of the only people in the writers' room who isn't a pop-culture junkie by professional necessity, Cerie continuously fails to recognize references to anything from earlier than last month.
Berserk Button: You would do well never to steal Liz Lemon's food, or...
Liz: I'll cut your face up so bad, you'll have a chin. YOU'LL ALL HAVE CHINS!!
Earlier in that episode in a flashback:
Liz: WHERE'S MY MAC AND CHEESE?!! *Flips writer's table over*
Also, Jenna at the mention of anyone upstaging her.
Liz: Jack is hiring a new cast member. Jenna: IF IT IS A BLONDE WOMAN, I WILL KILL MYSELF!
Sue is also often shown to have a strong element of Lovable Sex Maniac being the only female running to download more porn in anticipation of a lack of Internet access and offering to have sex with cannibals as her skill After the End.
"What lovely nostrils!"
She also revealed she is a virgin... with white men.
"Well, I don't know what to say to that except that in Puerto Rico a Mc Flurry is called a SeŮor Flurry."
"Sabor de Soledad" (the name of the brand of Mexican cheese puffs that Liz Lemon is often seen eating) means "Flavor of Loneliness".
"Ahora con mŠs semen de toro!"
A Japanese man is shown singing a Japanese version of "I've Been Working on the Railroad" at a karaoke bar in season 4. What he sings and what the prompt says are totally different, but they are both about railroads. What Jenna is doing on the screen is completely unrelated (from cavorting with a man in a field to strangling an old Japanese man, and so on.)
In Season 3 Episode 14 "The Funcooker" the original name for the new portable microwave was the Bite Nuker. Unfortunately, as Jack pointed out, in a combination of Dutch and French it means "Dick Fucker".
Black Best Friend: After being repeatedly antagonized by Tracy for only granting freedom to white male land-owners, an actor playing John Hancock on Boston's Freedom Trail tries to pass off an actor playing Crispus Attucks as this, though Tracy points out that Attucks died six years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Black Comedy Rape: Only used twice, the first instance being when Sue, one of Liz's writers, comes back to Tracy's entourage after going out with a man named Doug looking disheveled and says, "I don't remember what happened, Doug put something in my drink and..." and is cut off by Tracy. The second time is when Liz and Carol do a simultaneous confession and Carol says, "Touched by a priest." And Liz isn't sure if she heard him right.
Four times. Tracy accidentally roofies himself, gasping, "Uh oh, here comes the roofies!" He then tells the gang while he's on the ground, helpless, "You can do anything you want to me." They all walk away. Later in the episode, Liz roofies her neighbor, who thinks she's trying to rape him.
More than that actually. Jenna tries to seduce Kenneth, so she'll become pregnant and receive lots of attention and because he's the only one who thinks she'll be a good mother. He doesn't want to because they're not married. And then in response to that, she says this:
Jenna: It's not rape if neither party wants it.
Black Like Me: Parodied: in one episode Jenna and Tracy get into an argument whether it's harder to be black or be a woman. Let's just say the end results were less than convincing.
Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Elisa loses all handling of English idioms after being in Puerto Rico and speaking no English for a while.
Book Ends: Tracy and Liz meet in the same strip club in the first and last episodes.
Brain Bleach: Kenneth inspires a lot of this. In the episode "Floyd", Jenna and Tracy start having sex dreams about him.
Tracy: I had a dream that Kenneth and I got intimate in a portable Jacuzzi. It was crazy, glistening black and white skin. It looked like a close up of a killer whale being born.
Later in the episode, Pete dreamed of Kenneth stripping into silver mylar underwear with the NBC logo emblazoned on his crotch and backside. Liz entered, and rubbed and spanked Kenneth while saying, in Jack Donaghy's voice, "Let's do this!" The screaming did not abate.
Lutz is a source of much Brain Bleaching. For example, Lutz playing Kinect without a shirt on is a serious threat. Then Liz discovers Lutz is wearing a thong.
Liz: UGH. LUTZ WHY?!
Lutz: I don't want tush lines.
Brainless Beauty: Drew, Liz's boyfriend for a few episodes. Played by Jon Hamm, one of the most strikingly handsome men on the planet, he's so hot that it takes Liz several episodes to realize that the poor sweet bastard is one of the dumbest human beings alive.
Kenneth: Even when things seem bad, there's someone else who's having a worse day. Like being stung by a bee, or getting a splinter, or being chained to a wall in someone's sex dungeon.
Brick Joke: Liz's "sex nightmares" (about her grandma and Tom Jones respectively) each get Freudian explanations in later episodes.
In an early episode Jack reads Kennethís file to see his potential as a threat, he seems deeply off-set by a number similarities between them but also randomly that Kennethís middle name is "Ellen". Four seasons latter Kenneth receives Jack's paycheck by accident and gleefully exclaims that Jack "Francis" Donaghy has a girl's middle name "Just like me!"
Jack (in the third episode): "In five years we'll all either be working for [Kenneth]... or be dead by his hand." Off by a few years, but...
After Jack put on the "Kidney Now" telethon at the end of Season 3, the audience did not learn whether or not it was successful until the tenth episode of Season 5, in which Milton reappears and offhandedly mentions that he did get a kidney...from Elvis Costello.
As of the end of the series, Bunny Ears Surgeon General of the United States.
Jenna's contract mandates that she be made a producer should TGS reach a fifth season; she turns out to be excellent at it and has the show's best interest at heart to the point of realizing that under the current budget she's superfluous, and asks Pete to fire her.
It doubles as a Pet the Dog moment, as Jenna could (and for efficiency's sake, should) have fired Pete, who was enjoying the fact he didn't have to do anything while Jenna was producing. Instead, she "fired" herself.
Tracy. Everyone acknowledges that he's absolutely crazy, but he gets great ratings and arguably saved the show.
Weirdly Tracy and Leo are both kept on simply for Their value. Leo is repeatedly shown as very incompotent (Not knowing where the heart is located) and few other people can tolerate Tracy for extended periods.
Neerborne, Pennsylvania is really the area around a LIRR station in Queens, NY.
Call Back: In a season one episode Liz goes to Cleveland, which seems like a paradise to her after living in New York. She calls it "The Cleve". Next season she turns in a neighbor she suspects to be a terrorist, only to learn from an audition video that he is merely trying out for The Amazing Race. When listing the places he has gone, he mentions "The Cleve". Cue raised eyebrow from Liz.
In the third episode of season one, long before any of Liz' love interests are introduced on-screen, Pete goes through a list of her former boyfriends. Two of the three later show up, including Conan O'Brien, and Dennis features in a few multi-episode arcs. The latter is notable for originally being "the guy who plays X-Box under the handle Slut Banger", which is completely appropriate for his character.
In the second episode of Season 5, Grizz can be seen reading Urban Fervor, which was mentioned as the sequel to The Rural Juror waaaay back in Season 1.
Colleen Donaghy was also reading Urban Fervor in Season 3's Christmas Special.
Jack's ability to have two conversations by giving responses that work for both pops back up in Season 6, when he gets mugged while on the phone with Liz and she misinterprets his responses to the mugger as responses to her talking about "Real Housewives of New York".
Jack's seduction methods of styling his woman's hair and making her a Western omelette came up with Cece in Season 2 and then with Avery in Season 4.
Kenneth: And then the person with the highest number gives the smallest gift to the tallest person. If they want to switch, they cannot. Unless they do; then everyone puts their head down, except the murderer. Oh wait, that's not right...
"Kidney Now" features a ridiculous amount of guest cameos: Clay Aiken, Sara Bareilles, the Beastie Boys (Mike D and Ad-Rock), Mary J. Blige, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, Wyclef Jean, Norah Jones, Talib Kweli, Cyndi Lauper, Adam Levine, Michael McDonald, Rhett Miller, Moby, Robert Randolph, and Rachael Yamagata.
Brian Williams and Matt Lauer pop up every now and then.
Aaron Sorkin competed with Liz for a job, doing the whole scene with his trademark Walk and Talk.
Tom Hanks appeared in "100". The song he sings while he knits is the theme song from Bosom Buddies.
Throwaway gags about Jack dating Condoleeza Rice were redeemed in the fifth season when she played herself as Jack's PO'd ex.
Camp Gay: All of the openly gay characters, especially Randy Lemon.
Devon Banks is kind of a hard case. In primarily "business" plots, he's basically Jack, but 20 years younger (who happens to be gay); in primarily "personal" arcs, the Camp shows up fairly frequently. Call it a zig-zag with Straight Gay, which has settled in the Camp...um...camp, at least for now (being forced out of the corporate game will do that to you, apparently).
Canada, Eh?: New castmember Danny is from Canada, and the show goofs on Canadian stereotypes.
In "Double-Edged Sword" Jack and Avery are horrified at the prospect their baby might be born in Canada.
Captain Ersatz: Wesley is a big fan of Chums, following the romantic exploits of Russ and Rebecca.
Wesley:(singing) I'll be here always, while the rain falls in Wales.
Captain Oblivious: Most of Kenneth's gags revolve around him being a sheltered southerner with a tenuous grasp on how society really works, but most of the major characters are so self-absorbed that they tend to pass around the Captain Oblivious hat throughout the series.
The Casanova: Jack has dated (or at least slept with) lots of women. Including Condoleezza Rice and Beyonce.
Casting Gag: The actors in Tracy's porn about Liz are the actual actors from the 30 Rock porn spoof.
In "Kidnapped by Danger", Alec Baldwin's brother William plays an actor playing Jack Donaghy in a TV movie.
The Cast Show Off: The writers never miss an opportunity to put Jane Krakowski's singing abilities on display. It's also averted to hell and back because Jenna Maroney (her character) has a habit of Oversinging making many of her perfomances almost unbearable.
Alec Baldwin (who produces) never misses an opportunity to show off his impersonation skills.
Liz is a Star Wars fan and sometimes quotes the movies, and even dressed up as Princess Leia to evade jury duty. However, when Carrie Fisher shows up in the Season 2 episode "Rosemary's Baby" as a writer whom Liz idolized, she doesn't recognize her as Princess Leia. Fisher even gets to do the requisite Shout-Out, yelling "Help me, Liz Lemon! You're my only hope!"
Liz can't seem to remember who the white guy was in Invictus. It was Matt Damon, who played her pilot boyfriend, Carol, earlier in the season.
There are references to Friends, usually including mentions of its infamous Ross and Rachel storyline. Yet nobody recognized Greenzo or Liz's old college friend as David Schwimmer or Jennifer Aniston.
Who knew Jack's Tracy impersonation would actually solve a plot issue three seasons after it was used for a one-off joke?
Josh's impressions of both Tracy and Jack solves their problems of talking to their loved ones over the phone.
Chew Toy: The entire cast. However, Pete gets the most abuse, even more than Lutz.
Jonathan, increasingly as the show went on.
Chick Magnet: Kenneth, who despite his naive persona, has kissed/seduced Jenna, Cerie, Hazel, an assortment of nameless women, a gay man (Devon,) and even a blind woman after saying only one line to her.
Chivalrous Pervert: Tracy, surprisingly. Despite being a pornography savant with a dedicated chair in every strip club in town, a tell-all book about Tracy reveals that he's never been unfaithful to his wife, whom he loves dearly.
Jonathan in season six, due to the fact that his actor now plays a Regular Character on Whitney. Lampshaded in "The Ballad of Kenneth Parcell" when Jack mentions that Jenna is now "bigger than Maulik Pancholy on Whitney."
Jack's extended family, including Molly Shannon and Nathan Lane as his siblings, are shown in one Season 1 episode, and never again. They don't show up for his wedding or their mother's funeral, and later interactions between Jack and his mom strongly imply that he's an only child.
Church of Happyology: The Church of Practicology, a pretty blatant Captain Ersatz version of Scientology—they love celebrities, use devices similar to e-meters, and have an equally bizarre creation story:
Jack: [The Church of Practicology?] You mean the cult that was invented by Stan Lee? Devon: No, I mean the religion founded by the alien king living inside Stan Lee.
Liz: Has it been that long? Boy, we sure have done some crazy things with Tracy in the last three years. Jack: We sure have. Liz: I'm thinking of some of them now. Jack: ...Me too.
Played somewhat straight in "100". Hundredth episodes have commonly been clip shows in sitcoms; 30 Rock legitimizes the characters reminiscing because a gas leak has gotten into the air vents, and exposure to the gas causes, among other things, hallucinations and nostalgia. Lampshades abound, especially when Danny, while singing "These Are My Memories", flashes back to Josh's memories.
Closet Geek: Jack had a cookie jar collection, which he forced himself to get rid of in order to be able to climb the corporate ladder. He also still cherishes his childhood dream of being a marine biologist.
Cloudcuckoolander: While practically the entire cast is frequently portrayed as at least slightly nuts, Tracy Jordan often has zero connection to reality. One episode involves a mention of a Christmas song he recorded, which begins with the lines "Imagine Christmas wishes / Shooting out of your eyes...". Then there's "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah": "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah / Spooky, scary. / Boys becoming men, / men becoming wolves."
Although Kenneth appears to have some understanding of what's going on around him (better than Tracy, at least), he also views the world as being populated with singing Muppets, considers hot to be 'the devil's temperature,' and is filled with rural southern wisdom/Non Sequiturs.
Clumsy Copyright Censorship: From time to time. The problem is that it's generally not reflected in the DVD subtitles. For example, "['Jaws' theme playing]" superimposed on a scene where said theme was replaced with a "sneaky" version of the main theme.
Liz's "disgusting foot secret", and her preferred underwear, Spanx.
From Peanut to President, seen in episodes "Into the Crevasse" and "Stone Mountain" after Milton Greene mentions he's writing it.
In "Live Show", Jack mentions that he agreed not to drink while Avery is pregnant ( although he ends up drinking with Liz at the end of the episode). In "Christmas Attack Zone," he is shown drinking water while Liz and Milton drink wine. In another episode, Jack is seen drinking throughout. A line in the epilogue mentions that Avery made him sleep on the couch for a week for breaking his promise.
"100" had the blue dude, Dennis, "Pam the Overly Confident Morbidly Obese Woman", and a nod to Hard to Watch, amongst others.
Alternate Jack also wears a tuxedo noting that it's after 6:00, a nod to Jack's former habit.
"Respawn" has Kenneth plead with Jacob for "more time", which he had done once already in a seemingly comic instance earlier in the season.
One of the most long reaching in the history of TV. In the pilot episode it was mentioned that Tracy fell asleep on his neighbor's roof. In the latest season we got this from Angie:
I just want to wake up, look over, and see my husband asleep. On the neighbor's roof.
In Season 5, Jenna, Kenneth and Kelsey Grammer formed "The Best Friends Gang". The next season, Kelsey mentions the Gang with Jenna.
In the third episode, Jack stated that in five years, everyone would either be working for Kenneth, or be dead by his hand. In the penultimate episode, Kenneth is running NBC. (Two years late, but still.)
Contractual Purity: A wool company imposes a morality clause on Jenna after taking her on as a spokeswoman, which Paul takes ire with because it requires him to cover up his gender-dysmorphic bigenitalian pansexuality. invoked
Contrived Coincidence: Played for laughs in the episode "Sandwich Day", where Jenna is having trouble with a drinking competition, competing by herself - that is until everyone simultaneously realizes they can now drink alcohol (Tracy's monitoring bracelet deactivates, Kenneth realizes he grew up drinking the stuff etc), and help Jenna win.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Played with regarding Jack: though classist and greedy, he is arguably the most sympathetic character on the show, and undoubtedly a good human being. However, he starts as the prototypical amoral suit.
Cultural Posturing: Jack can't take a company seriously if they're from Philadelphia, which causes Liz Lemon (from White Haven, PA) to stand up and defend it. Jack responds by defending Boston and they square off until the Los Angeles branch tries to interrupt, only for everyone to pile on them.
Cure Your Gays: Devon Banks claimed he was "cured" of his homosexuality. It didn't work, as Devon remains infatuated with men, especially Kenneth (and Jack, see Foe Yay below).
Inverted in "Cooter," when a "gay bomb" weapon malfunctions, causing Jack and Cooter to hit on each other. Later flashbacks reveal Jack was also involved with the generals in the room, and then-vice-president Dick Cheney. Later still in a confessional Jack claims to have sodomized Cheney.
Cooter: I feel weird. Jack:(hungrily) Let's do this.
Liz: Pete. You and Paula fight a lot... Pete: No! I-I walked into a door, ah, I'm so clumsy...
Dark Reprise: A sinister cello version of "Muffin Top" is heard when Tracy or Jenna are up to something.
Dead Artists Are Better: Invoked in "Jackie Jormp-Jomp"; Jack attempts to sell Jenna's awful not-quite-about-Janis-Joplin biopic to distributors by milking an accidental report of her death. She proceeds to ruin everything for the sake of obscuring her real age (a memorial show would've revealed her birth year).
Jenna: Still alive not yet 32! Worth It! Sorry, Jack.
Abby Flynn in one episode. Subverted in that it was all an act to disguise herself from her psychotic ex-husband, who saw Sleeping With The Enemy and Se7en while being electrocuted.
Depraved Kids' Show Host: The Woggles are a group of Australian children's entertainers who are also white supremacists. One of them is a werewolf who's cheated on his wife with a whore, another one is a bridge fetishist/murderer who keeps his twin in a cage.
The Determinator: Jack Donaghy's freakish willpower. Includes growing an inch and a half and defeating a peanut allergy.
I believe that when you have a problem you talk it over with your priest, or your tailor, or the mute elevator porter at your men's club. Then you take that problem and you crush it with your mind-vise. But for lesser beings, like curly haired men, or people who need glasses, therapy can help.
Avery as well. In fact, the reason their relationship lasted so long was due to their Determinator personalities, that blinded them to the fact they just didn't work all that well together as a couple.
Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Leap Day William comes from the Mariana Trench, has gills, and offers candy for tears. The end of Leap Day shows his true face, and he has a lot in common with Cthulhu.
Kenneth apparently told his mother when he was born that he was an immortal being using Kennethís body as a vessel.
The Ditz: Kathy Geiss. She signs contracts with crayon, with the requisite flowers and rainbows, and do not interrupt her soaps (You Have Been Warned). Her idea of sex is strange though, such as putting strawberry-flavored lipstick on her man to label him a "fancy boy".
"Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: During the live show, Jane Krakowski (East Coast) and Cheyenne Jackson (West Coast) sang along to the theme.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Once in a while the show pulls off enormous conceits, like using coaching a Little League team to comment on the war in Iraq or Liz acting like she's courting a man as she attempts to buy an apartment.
A NYC-specific event occurs in season 4, episode 4, when Jacknote due to his unfamiliarity with the subway system addresses the subway car for directions on how to transfer to the '4' train and everyone does their best to ignore himnote As they would a homeless person. Jack is infested with bed bugs.
Door Dumb: The scene that establishes the character of The Ditz Kathy Geiss has her pulling in desperation at a bathroom door printed clearly with the word "push".
"Women are allowed to get angrier than men about double standards!"
Jack and Liz try to smooth over a dispute between Tracy and Toofer by explaining N-Word Privileges to the latter. When he tries it out, they're all appalled, with Liz saying "it sounds so hateful when you say it!"
Double Subverted after the rest of writers find out Frank had an affair with his registered sex offender teacher as an 8th grader.
Pete: Guys, a teacher going after a student is wrong (beat) when the student is female and the teacher is male. What happened to Frank was awesome.
Dropped a Bridge on Him: Don Geiss is killed off, off-screen and "weeks ago" in Season 4 and only Jack cares. Likely an unfortunate case of Real Life Writes the Plot, Rip Torn's troubles with alcoholism made it unlikely they could count on him to reprise his role as Geiss.
Earn Your Happy Ending: At the end of the finale Liz is happily working on a show with Dot Com starring Grizz and has a good relationship with her kids; Jack is president of GE and keeps in contact with Liz; Jenna is doing something that at least gets her invited to the Tonys; Tracy has been reunited with his father and also keeps in contact with Liz; and an immortal Kenneth is still president of NBC several generations into the future, listening to the great-granddaughter of Liz pitching the plot of the show to him.
Erotic Dream/Homoerotic Dream: In "Floyd," Tracy and Jenna are forced into listening to Kenneth's stories for several hours. Tracy begins to have dreams about Kenneth trying to get it on with him. Subverted with Jenna; she states her dreams about Kenneth are very "graphic." Turns out they are very detailed about them getting married and having lots of kids. Pete also has one involving Kenneth and Liz during The Stinger.
Escalating War: The set of pranks between Frank, Toofer, and Lutz against Danny and Jack in "Floyd."
Also, the Frank/Toofer rivalry from "Secrets and Lies"
Liz and Jack get into one of these in Season 5, after they accidentally get married.
Eskimos Aren't Real: Tracy believes that Diabetes is a white myth, "Like Larry Bird, or Colorado."
Everybody Did It: Parodied in "It's Never Too Late For Now", complete with a Shout-Out to Trope MakerMurder on the Orient Express - Liz is even watching the 1974 film. The "crime" is that there was a conspiracy to get her laid with a Canadian gigolo. Like Poirot, she rejects the complex (though true) answer that all of her co-workers felt bad for her and got her laid, but the simple explanation that she met a guy, and had a fun night.
Explaining the Soap: "Generalissimo" centers on Jack trying to figure out why Elisa's grandmother hates him so much. It turns out that it's because the villain in a telenovela she watches looks exactly like Jack and the scene where they figure this out—and several subsequent scenes—involve Elisa explaining the incredibly complicated plot of the telenovela to Jack.
Elisa: And then she gave birth to The Devil. You know, sweeps week.
Failure Is the Only Option / Springtime for Hitler: Jack's strategy in Season 7 to get NBC sold to Paas; believing that he's definitely blown his chances with NBC's owner Hank Hooper, Jack tries tanking the network in order to get Hank to sell it before he can pass Jack over for the promotion. Naturally, Jack's terrible shows are all hits, but Subverted Trope in that his success puts him back in the running for CEO.
Fake Charity: Jack's brother Eddie takes a collection for "Chicago All-Saints Hospital" (C.A.S.H.)
Faking the Dead: Pete does this in the finale, off camera. It lasts a year before his wife and kids find him.
Fictional Holiday: Leap Day isn't strictly fictional, although it's not really a holiday in real life. The show develops it into a traditional, over-commercialized holiday with established traditions, a Santa Claus like figure (Leap Day William) and its own holiday movie starring Jim Carrey.
Five Stages of Grief: After Jack found out Don Geiss dies, he experienced all the stages in a matter of seconds.
Flanderization: True to an extent with several characters, but most obviously Jenna, who went from Liz's old friend and confidante in Season 1—"You're my rock!"—to an insane Attention Whore as well as being ridiculously slutty and perverted.
When Josh quits, he tries to flip the table, but thanks to his slender frame, he needs help - Liz encourages the other writers to help him.
Frank: You've got to use your lower back.
Liz:(calling over her shoulder as she walks into her office) That's incorrect! Lift with your legs!
Food Porn: No surprise that Liz being Liz, her office features a framed photo of a breakfast plate. In one episode, Jack sniffs it for motivation.
Foreshadowing: In "Respawn", Liz's Spanish lesson tape teaches her the phrase "disaster imminent" just before Tracy destroys her glass tabletop with a stray golfball.
Future!Jack in 100 confirmed one thing to be right: Jack didn't end up with Avery. He and Avery realized that they weren't meant to be together, and the only reason it took so long was that both were extreme Determinators and tried to force it into working.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: Jenna's 'sexual walkabout list' in "Meet the Woggels", containing "cause an impeachment", "Supreme Court Justice, liberal", and "the Lorax".
Why is Jenna such an Attention Whore? Every Christmas her negligent mother made her sing as a distraction while Jenna's mother shoplifted. Those few minutes that people were actually paying attention were the best parts of her Christmases.
"Friends" Rent Control: Averted—Liz's apartment is pretty nice, but quite modestly sized by the standards of anywhere in America but Manhattan. It is in Manhattan, and she is a network TV executive. In the DVD commentary for "Black Tie," Tina Fey points out how ludicrously expensive Liz's apartment would be. Then again, the high rent might explain why Liz makes showrunner money and yet her only assets are $12,000 in checking and a gas giant named in her honor.
Jack's swindler brother Eddie convinces everyone to make out checks to Chicago All Saints Hospital.
LUNCH: LEGO Utilization for Negating Crisis Hierarchies.
CLASS: Consuming Lunch And Simple Socializing ("Now that just seems intentionally confusing.")
When looking for a mentee, Jack looks for DIHC (read that out loud): Drive (and ambition to be worth Jack's time), Intelligence (to understand the challenges they're going to face), Humility (to accept Jack's help), and (a life that is a bottomless swamp of) Chaos.
HEART: Hard Equations And Rational Thinking.
In "Respawn" Dr. Spacemen tells Liz to get some "R&R—Rum & Ritalin."
Subverted with Devon's gay rights organization PEEN. When Jack asks what it's an acronym for, Devon replies "Acronym?"
In the last episode, Jack declares that he's setting off to find his bliss, "which, for once, is not an acronym for Beautiful Ladies In Short Shorts."
Game Show Appearance: In "When It Rains It Pours", Tracy Jordan hops into a cab to go to the hospital where his wife is in labor, only to find that it is the Cash Cab. He wins.
"The Beginning of the End" features "Homonym", an utterly horrible and unfair game show that Jack had greenlit where contestants have to give the definition of a word's homonym ("It's always the other one!"). An ad in "Aunt Phatso vs. Jack Donaghy" says that it airs daily from "8:00 - Midnight", meaning that it's probably padded just as badly (if not worse) as every other NBC game show.
"Game Over" featured Celebrity Homonym (NBC's most popular show) with John McEnroe. They even sold the format to Iran.
Jack: Dot Com, this need of yours to always be the smartest person in the room is very off-putting.
Genius Ditz: Tracy is apparently an American history buff.
Fridge Brilliance: In an early episode Tracy learned that he is a descendant of Thomas Jefferson, which could explain his fascination.
He also figures out ways to avoid being featured in Angie's TV show (he always makes a point of being around stuff with expensive copyrights), and stages an elaborate ploy to get her to get in a fight with him...in order to raise her ratings and guarantee a new season (when she realizes what's going on, the fight is adorable).
Jack belonged to a secret society called "The Twig and Plums".
Jenna's transvestite boyfriend (and Jenna impersonator) Paul works at Tuck Wang's Noodle Bar.
Octavia Spencer, while playing Harriet Tubman, decides the name is too masculine and should be changed to Tubgirl.
Ghostly Chill: After Kenneth suffered one induced allergic reaction too many.
Kenneth: I was technically dead for five minutes, but I'm all right. Though I think I brought something back with me. (exhales a cloud of condensation)
Gilligan Cut: Lampshaded by Pete when Tracy insists that he couldn't possibly get in trouble while going on a historical walking tour.
Girlfriend in Canada: Liz's man-bashing comedy book causes serious damage to her male friends' relationships, including Lutz, who complains that his girlfriend in Canada is very upset.
Lampshaded in "Alexis Goodlooking and the Case of the Missing Whiskey". Liz says that her boyfriend Criss is in Canada, and then insists that really, he actually is visiting Canada.
Earlier, while dating Carol, she would mention how she has a boyfriend named Carol who is an airline pilot and therefore can't spend much time with her. "I know how it sounds!"
Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have: Avery's mother and the grandmother to Jack's baby(played by Mary Steenburgen). Jack becomes attracted to her while Avery is still being held hostage in North Korea. Not that Squick-y because they are closer in age than Jack and Avery but still inappropriate and causes Jack to feel guilty.
Happily Married: Tracy and Angela Jordan. Good Parents, too. Yet that very image is what Jordan fears will get out; his reputation is built on an Urban Legend Love Life and generally being "hard," so if those go, so do his Celebrity Endorsement checks. And, ironically, his financial stability. He is quite possibly the only man in history, real or fictional, who has ever been told to have a public and scandalous affair by his wife. To save their marriage.
Jenna and Paul, who changes his name to Jenna Maroney.
Tracy: It's all coming back to me. Oh my God! I slept on an old dog bed stuffed with wigs! I watched a prostitute stab a clown! Our basketball hoop was a rib cage - a rib cage! Why did you bring me here? I blocked all this stuff out for a reason! Oh, Lord, some guy with dreads electrocuted my fish! (later) Tracy: All my life I've tried to forget the things I've seen — a crackhead breastfeeding a rat, a homeless man licking a Hot Pocket off the third rail of the G train! The G Train! (during the credits) Tracy: I've seen a blind guy bite a police horse! A puppy committed suicide after he saw our bathroom! I once bit into a burrito and there was a child's shoe in it! I've seen a hooker eat a tire! A pack of wild dogs took over and successfully ran a Wendy's! The sewer people stole my skateboard! The projects I lived in were named after Zachary Taylor, generally considered to be one of the worst presidents of all time! I once saw a baby give another baby a tattoo! They were very drunk!
Jenna's past qualifies, with her white trash stage mom Verna. "Go stand closer to the alligator!"
Hipster: Tracy encounters some when during an attempt to destroy his reputation in "100".
History Marches On: The end of "Unwindulax" features Jack and Tracy independently coming up the same prediction for how the 2012 election will play out. Perhaps inevitably, they ended up being wrong. In their prediction, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Colorado go for Romney, causing the election to come down to Florida. In the actual election, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Colorado all went for Obama, resulting in the election being called for Obama before the Florida votes were even counted. So even if Jack had gotten Jenna's followers to vote for Romney, it wouldn't have stopped Obama from winning.
Wisconsin going to Romney was attributed to an in-universe event.
In "Everything Sunny All the Time Always", Avery's imprisonment in North Korea culminates in her being forced to marry Kim Jong-un. At the time, no one knew that Kim Jong-un was already married to Ri Sol-ju. (Though they could have known that it would be extremely unlikely for the country's heir to marry a foreigner, let alone an American, as North Korean propaganda is highly xenophobic.)
Hoist by His Own Petard: Attempted by Liz in "Today You Are a Man" when she negotiates her new contract with Jack...by using his own negotiation coaching program.
Subverted in that Jack recognizes it immediately, and begins to play both sides of the negotiation, so Jack hoists Jack by Jack's own petard.
Holiday Volunteering: Tracy finds a $50,000 gift card for a chain of restaurants (that expires in a day) on Leap Day. After realizing he couldn't spend it all himself he invites everybody from the local Soup Kitchen to join him.
Honest Corporate Executive: Jack gradually gets closer over time as he becomes more sympathetic, but he's never quite there...and to be honest, most fans like it that way.
Hong Kong Dub: Used in "Future Husband". Tina Fey redubs her own line, replacing the on-screen "blah blah blah" motion with mention of Lindsey Vonn's gold medal for skiing, as the episode was shot before (but aired after) the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Hot Librarian: Liz. Jamie, a cute delivery boy, even uses that phrase to flirt with her.
How's Your British Accent? / Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Lampshaded/parodied. In the first season Jack has a posh English art-dealer girlfriend named Phoebe, played by Emily Mortimer. Liz is suspicious of Phoebe and they have a confrontation that ends with an angry Phoebe slipping into an American accent for exactly one line. Liz immediately figures out that Phoebe isn't English at all. (Of course the joke is that Emily Mortimer IS English.)
Hypno Fool: After seeing an R-rated hypnotist show, Liz will strip on hearing "nutmeg" and stop on "rodeo".
Hypocritical Humor: See below, but also used in numerous other ways, typically with Liz decrying some trope before realizing it herself. For instance, she points out how shows will use sweeping scores and shots of people staring at each other in lieu of actual development, before an exaggerated staring session with Jack backed by dramatic music.
The show really enjoys showing that Liz, despite her politics, can be fairly racist.
Hazel: Why do I keep screwing things up? Is 70 NOT a good IQ?
Improbably Predictable: Jack makes a joke, and Liz hands him an envelope predicting that joke. Then Jack hands her an envelope, predicting her prediction of his joke.
Subverted and Averted in Dance Like Nobody's Watching when Jack flaunts his abilities to predict everything Liz does - and is absolutely gobsmacked when Liz meets a guy in a movie theater - something he didn't see coming.
I Need a Freaking Drink: Liz in "Christmas Attack Zone" downs the whole glass of white wine in one gulp after finding out exactly what Jack is going to do.
Jack. Especially in the "Live Show" when he's not allowed to drink thanks to his promise to a pregnant Avery.
I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Apparently, saying the words "Twig and Plum" to a member of the secret society with that name causes them to have to do this.
Jack:: I don't know who told you to say that, Rossitano, but you have no...
Frank: Twig and Plums.
Jack:: I have to go to... an... intervention... for my... travel agent. (turns and walks away)
I Take Offense to That Last One: In "Idiots are People Three!" Liz is forced to read a pre-written apology to an idiot anti-defamation league. She has to credit them with such great achievements like the Birther movement, intelligent design, and water parks, but stops reading from the apology because water parks are the worst item on that list.
The quack celebrity doctor for the cast (and other celebrities) name is Dr. Spaceman, as Liz learns when Tracy identifies his doctor as such. Initially considering it part of his ramblings, she admits she owes him an apology when she finds it written down. Although apparently it's pronounced "Spah-cheh-min".
Then there's sexual harassment specialist Dr. Weinerslav. That's "weiner-slave", not "whiner-slav".
It Tastes Like Feet: Jack's wine apparently tastes like Satan's urine after a large portion of asparagus.
Ivy League For Everyone: Pretty much. Jack went to Princeton and Harvard Business School, Liz to Bryn Mawr, Jenna to Northwestern, Toofer to Harvard. Milton Greene teaches at Bennington.(Justified, though: this is the highly competitive corporate end of the entertainment industry we're talking about. And Kenneth studied TV theory at Kentucky Mountain Bible College.)
It's never actually stated that Liz went to Bryn Mawr; she says she went to the University of Maryland (on a partial competitive jazz dance scholarship). Jack associates her with Bryn Mawr because of her politics and because of his assumption of her sexuality...
Bryn Mawr alumnae have pointed out that her declared major doesn't exist at the school, also no one from Bryn Mawr would have such a shocked and confused reaction to having someone assume they were attracted to women.
Further averted with Liz in that her Theater Tech program was unaccredited.
I Was Quite a Looker: Jack describes his younger self this way when telling Liz about how extremely attractive people like her boyfriend Drew live in a bubble that affects their ability to genuinely accomplish things in life without having everything handed to them. He proves this by showing Liz a photo of his younger self which causes her to gush over its attractiveness. Justified in that Alec Baldwin really was that astonishingly good-looking as a young man; in another episode, in front of the HDTV, Jack is depicted as his handsome younger self in the role of Jack Ryan.
Jerkass: Tracy and Jenna don't seem to be able to understand the concept of other people being in the universe aside from them.
Jerk Ass Has A Point: As much as Liz's father was revealed to be a bit of a jerk in the first Christmas special, Liz never offered to pay for a meal when they visited and he is on a fixed income.
Jump the Shark: An in-universe discussion: in the episode "The One with the Cast of Night Court," Jenna Maroney was blamed by Harry Anderson, Markie Post, and Charles Johnson for making Night Court "jump the shark" for her three part episode as werewolf lawyer Sparky Monroe.
Harry: You made us jump the shark! You're the reason we didn't have a tenth season! Markie: I had just bought my second home when they brought that idiot werewolf lawyer in! Jenna: (insulted) Uh, that "idiot werewolf" paid for my hand reduction surgery, okay?
Jury Duty: Liz Lemon wears a Princess Leia costume in an attempt to get out of it. It works in Chicago; not so much in New York.
Just Eat Gilligan: Okay, so Tracy is too valuable to the show's ratings to fire, but what about Jenna? Half the antics on the damn show could be avoided/eased by simply firing Jenna, and TGS wouldn't take that bad a hit with ratings.
In the first episode, Liz only agreed to hire Tracy in the first place in return for a guarantee that Jenna's job was safe. One wonders if she regrets that now. And now that Jenna is a genuine star for her role on the hit show "America's Kidz Got Singing", she's probably quite valuable to TGS.
Karma Houdini: After winning his Oscar, Tracy thinks he's garnered too much of the public's respect for him to be able to pull off his usual antics. In "100" he goes on several talk shows in an attempt to re-ruin his reputation, but people love him too much to take it as anything but admirable honesty or being "real".
Kavorka Man: Frank. Somehow. However, the only conquests of his we're shown are Jenna and two decidedly unattractive staffers.
In "Queen of Jordan" we find that when he was in junior high school he had a Mary Kay Letourneau-style affair with his teacher, played by Susan Sarandon.
"I'm getting too old for this ssssshhhhhhh sound that comes from this gas pipe."
Law of Inverse Fertility: Subverted. Though Liz has a pregnancy scare near the end of Season Two, it turns out to be the cheese puffs she's been eatingnote They contain evaporated bull semen.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: 30 Rock was never shy about breaking right through the fourth wall, but they do quite a bit leaning as well, such as in the season 7 episode "Florida" when Jack tells Liz that their mentor/mentee relationship was "more interesting" than them dating. The season 4 premier also opens with the camera fixed squarely on Jack's face (as if he were actually addressing the camera) as he welcomes "you all" to "Season Four"; then it turns out Season Four is the name of the restaurant, and Jack was welcoming Liz, Tracy, and Jenna.
One of the earliest examples opens the third episode, where Liz accosts Frank for spending too much on a sketch: "You can't spend a bunch of money on bear suits that are only gonna be seen for like, 25 seconds!" Guess how long the bears appear on screen for.
There's also the Season 6 episode "Grandmentor", where Tracy goes crazy from sleep deprivation (i.e. less than 14 hours of sleep) and yells "We're on a show within a show! My real name is Tracy Morgan!"
The same thing happens with Kailey Hooper at the end of the episode. In Jack's office, she invents a girl named Jack...ie...Officecouch.
Literal Metaphor: Liz's boyfriend Floyd, upset over being passed up for a promotion, complains that he's sick of the rat race. It turns out his neighbors race rats in his apartment hallway late at night. Sometimes he places bets.
Living Prop: Lampshaded when one of the nameless writers cries out "I did it! I spoke!" in astonishment after finally delivering a throwaway line in "Respawn".
Lost Wedding Ring: Pete loses his wedding ring in a game of poker in "Blind Date", and later admits he still had money!
Pete again in "MILF Island" when he throws his wedding ring at a phone. In this case, Pete's arm was stuck in a vending machine and he would presumably be freed if he only managed to dial the four digit extension of anyone in the building. He succeeds in dialing his own extension.
Magic Realism: As the series has gotten Denser and Wackier over the seasons, events that stretch one's suspension of disbelief have started to show up. While still rare, the Running Gag of Kenneth's immortality is a fairly clear case.
Male Gaze: Discussed by Liz in "Grandmentor" when crazy page Hazel makes some very inaccurate accusations about Kenneth.
Played straight in "Brooklyn Without Limits" where Jack (and even Jenna) are mesmerized by how fantastic Liz's butt looks in her new jeans.
Also Liz's brother, who due to a ski injury still thinks it's 1985.
Jack and Devon's fights from Season Four started getting more and more childlike. In one episode, Devon bragged he was firing an imaginary laser gun at Jack. Jack pantomimed a laser shield the next time he fired it.
Jack: That wasn't supposed to be a public hearing. Devon: Awwww, I guess somebody weaked it. Jack:You did! You weaked it!
Jenna: Oh man! Do you remember that night we all danced in front of that open fire hydrant?
Liz: Haha yeah. Her roof parties.
Jenna: Karaoke and boys talk.
Liz: The all night scavenger hunt.
Jenna: Do you remember when we crashed that Polish wedding?
(both laugh a little nervously)
Liz: Yeah, she's exhausting.
Jenna: Oh, I know. She's going to make us buy more of her homemade jewelry. Birds always attack me when I wear it.
And true to form, she also steals a police officer's gun and lets Jack take the blame. Played for Laughs of course
Manipulative Editing: Angie's Show Within a ShowQueen of Jordan does this. Tracy avoids it by surrounding himself with copyrighted material so the producer can't use the footage without paying for the rights and the show makes Jack look clumsy, gay, and flatulent.
Married to the Job: A motif of the series is the question of whether Jack and Liz can "have it all"—have a successful family life in addition to their devotion to their careers.
Cerie's last name, though never spoken on screen, is "Xerox". In the series finale, Jenna leaves New York for Los Angeles, only to discover upon arriving at the airport that the entire city is apparently populated with young, attractive women who look exactly like Cerie.
Liz Lemon herself is portrayed as a sour, bitter person at many points in the series.
Mistaken for Gay: Jack does this to Liz in Season 1, setting her up on a blind date with a lesbian.
Liz: What made you think I was gay? Jack: Your shoes. [Lowtop Converse sneakers] Liz: Well I'm straight! Jack: Those shoes are definitely bi-curious.
Liz doesn't help herself, though, constantly making herself to be a bit mannish. For example:
Elisa: I have a terrible secret. Please don't ask me what it is. Liz: I don't want to know what it is! (pause) Are you a man? Elisa: ...Really, Lemon? That's your guess? You want to see me naked? Liz: Kind of.
Liz: I have a new life philosophy that I call Lizbeanism...I'm Liz and obviously my philosophy is simple like a bean. Lizbeanism means that I am a dike... against the rising waters of mediocrity.
Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: The blind girl Kenneth is smitten with in one episode seems to love it...until she feels his face. Then her chin. Then his chin. She probably was expecting a beard.
It's possible given the ensuing comments about her attractiveness and her knowing that she's good looking that she realized Kenneth wasn't good looking enough for her.
It's the fact that he doesn't have a chin at all, as the show likes to joke about (It's technically a neck ridge; I'll cut you up so bad you'll have a chin).
The reason Liz is terrible at dating, as pointed out by Jenna.
Mistaken for Pedophile: Criss, Liz's boyfriend. He gets in trouble with a cop when he tries to invite a kid into his van for a hot dog. He's actually a hot dog vendor selling out of his van.
Liz's ex-boyfriend Dennis, as well. When Liz sees him on Dateline, he turns off the TV and dismisses it by saying, "That girl said she was 16, but I swear to god I could tell she was 22."
Tracy eating from the production staff's food while Lutz calls him out on it: "Our food is separate!" Tracy responds by throwing a donut, calling Lutz a "white devil", and chasing him down the hallway.
Later, Tracy growls "I'm going to kill that cracker!", chasing Lutz with a sword. Lutz screams, "I'm half-Inuit! Hate crime!"
The maintenance people remove the paper recycling bins, conveniently located between two unisex bathrooms, just before Jack and Bookman pass by. The bins are marked "White" and "Colored" with paper posted above them on the wall. When the bins are gone, it looks like the bathrooms are segregated.
Then Jeffrey Wienerslav comes out of the "White" bathroom (or so Bookman thinks) and complains about having to hire Kenneth over some mega-diverse person; Bookman hasn't been told that Kenneth is all but indispensable.
Jenna constantly tap dancing in front of her doesn't help matters.
Regina is, however, impressed that Liz is the head writer, since the fact that women are a minority in the business world is often overlooked.
Mistaken for Terrorist: Two of Liz's Arabic neighbors. They were actually getting ready to audition for NBC's The Amazing Race.
Modern Major General: Jack, early on. He was promoted to TV programming executive despite his most notable previous achievements coming while the executive of the Microwave division.
Ms. Fanservice: lampshaded with Cerie in season one; Elisa in season 3.
Mummies at the Dinner Table: Subverted. Kenneth is shown talking to his mother, of whom we only see the back (ŗ la Psycho). The camera rotates and we see Kenneth is talking to a skeleton in mother-style shawl and wig (ŗ la Psycho). ...Then we hear Kenneth's mom respond- Kenneth's been talking to his mom "via speakerphone." She asks if he's gotten the fake skeleton she sent him for Halloween.
No Hugging, No Kissing: Fey's stance on the show in general, and specifically on Liz and Jack getting together. They've even been married without doing any of this.
Late Season Six, and they finally do as part of a Fakeout Makeout to protect one of Jack's secrets. It's . . . horrifying. No Sparks is putting mildly. It's portrayed as a great sacrifice for both parties.
Jack and Liz only admit to platonic love in the series finale.
No Bisexuals: Apparently it was just invented in the 90s to sell hair products.
No Title: The tenth episode of the second season of was written immediately before the writer's strike of 2007-2008, and apparently nobody "wrote" a title for the episode before the strike started. Therefore NBC never came up with a title for the episode before it aired and it is still referred to only as "Episode 210".
DeNiro:(thick, convincing Cockney accent) But I'm so identified with New York, you bloody tosser!
When Liz impersonates "Nurse Jamacaya" in "Future husband," her Jamaican accent starts to turn Irish.
In the final episode, Jack has a threesome with Nancy Donovan and Elisa - and the sex is apparently so good for both of them, they have lost their respective Boston and Puerto Rican accents and adopted posh British ones.
Older Than They Look / Running Gag: Kenneth is, at the very least, over 40. Depending on how many other one-off jokes you consider "canon", he's also owned a parrot for 60 years and is trying to hide the fact that he's been alive forever. Lampshaded in season 4: Frank's iPhone plays an irritating tone that can be heard only by those under 25, and a separate irritating tone that can only be heard by those over 40. Kenneth staggers by, holding his ears in agony and we're not sure which tone he's reacting to, if not both.
When his page uniform is changed:
Kenneth: I've worn this old jacket since nineteen-(incomprehensible mumble) and now they've just thrown it away.
In a recent episode, a concerned Kenneth asked Jack how the Kabletown buyout would change page rules like age restrictions for "a friend."
In "Luda-Christmas", a flashback shows Kenneth working at a video store just after Wall Street was released. He looks exactly the same, despite twenty years having passed in the meantime.
In Season Five's "When It Rains, It Pours", Kenneth packs away a framed photograph of Fred Allen with a "To Kenneth" autograph from Allen dated 1947. He puts it away in a box labeled "NBC Memories 1947-1965".
After seeing a pre-taped obituary for Tracy Jordan in the season 5 episode "Gentleman's Intermission":
Kenneth: No! NO! I'm not done with him, Jacob! He stays on this side!
In "TGS Hates Women", while giving a tour, Kenneth says he started working at NBC when Shirley Temple was eight years old (1936).
In "Que Sorpresa" Kenneth is pitching an idea to Jack about censoring inappropriate images on TV, and points to himself when he says that some things may not be appropriate for "the elderly".
In Season Four's "Into the Crevasse" there is a short scene depicting a 50's styled music video about microwaves. Jack McBrayer can be seen dancing.
An Imagine Spot of the future in "100" gives Kenneth's birth year as 1781.
In early Season 4, Kenneth reassures Jenna during a crisis with an analogy from The Brady Brunch. Jenna says she doesn't remember the show, as she was too young, then looks confusedly at Kenneth. There follows a brief awkward pause, then both laugh nervously and change the topic.
Not a Kenneth example. Following the the Brady Bunch analogy Jenna does state that she was too young to have watched the show and then looks at Kenneth as though challenging him to point out that she's lying. There is a pause and he does not point it out, and then she laughs awkwardly while he is sincere.
At the very end of the Season 5 finale, Jenna, Paul, Tracy, Liz and Jack are all looking down at baby Liddy and smiling in Central Park. Cut to a scene of Kenneth on a nearby hill:
(collapsing a telescope) You see how much good is in them? How much capacity for love? (A pause.) Yes, I know, but I need more time. Give me more time, Jacob!
In the final scene of the final episode, Liz's great-grandaughter is pitching Kenneth, who looks exactly the same, a new version of 30 Rock.
Or, more likely, the version of 30 Rock we've been seeing all along.
Only Sane Man: Grizz and Dot Com do their best to fulfill this role for Tracy.
OOC Is Serious Business: In Kidnapped by Danger, Jack tells Kenneth he has no idea how Kenneth is able to be cheerful with all of the issues in his life.
Kenneth: Well, Iíll tell you my secret, sir. (leans in close, deathly serious) I lie to myself. Every morning, when I wake up, I say everythingís going to be okay, but Iím lying, and I donít know how much longer I can do it. (To top if off, Kenneth gives a strained version of his usual squeal that sounds suspiciously like being strangulated.)
Orbital Shot: "The Problem Solvers", "It's Never Too Late For Now"
Oscar Bait: Tracy's film Hard to Watch, which actually earns him the Oscar.
Josh, who was eventually replaced with Danny. Lampshaded in "100" where Danny is assigned flashbacks of Josh's. Then Danny fades Out Of Focus in turn.
This has happened to Cerie more recently.
By Season 7 most characters other than the core five (Liz, Jack, Tracy, Jenna, Kenneth) have faded Out Of Focus. Frank, Toofer, and even Pete have little to do.
Overt Rendezvous: Subverted. Jack meets Lenny along the banks of the river, in view of the Queensborough Bridge. Lenny thanks Jack for driving out there, Jack says he doesn't mind because discretion is important. Lenny replies, "Also, my gym is right over there."
It's very clear that Jack (at least) can see into Liz's flashbacks and fantasies, and frequently comments on them. Liz also comments on Jack's on occasion, though usually there it's lampshaded as him "describing in detail."
Tracy (after a flashback from Liz): Was describing your sandwich in detail necessary to our understanding of what happened?
Arguably, some lines in the pilot; the first two lines are roughly "Hey, there's a line here!" "Now there's two lines."
The Trivection Oven is described as being able to cook a turkey in 22 minutes (the length of a half-hour comedy, minus commercials).
An annoyed Tracy is walking slowly down the stairs, and Liz yells at him, claiming they don't have time for him to be moving so slowly. Suddenly he's right in front of her and she lets out a surprised "Time jump!"
From the second "green" episode, "Sun Tea":
Kenneth: Miss Lemon, as I'm sure you know, it is "Green Week", and NBC... Liz: Oh brother, are they actually gonna do something this year, or are they just gonna put that stupid green peacock in the corner of the screen? Kenneth:(glances at the corner of the screen, where the NBC logo is placed) Actually...
Kenneth seems to be able to see credits and graphics. When one episode ended To Be Continued, Kenneth looked at the graphic, then asked directly at the screen, "Really?"
"Yeah, I get it, you went shopping. I don't need the montage."
Season four begins with Jack addressing the camera and welcoming everyone to season four. Of course, it turns out that he's talking to the other characters, and Season Four is the name of the restaurant they are at.
An early episode of season 4 begins with Pete and Liz talking in her office about the people Jack is going to see audition. As Pete gives the following line, Liz quickly and briefly smiles and nods at the camera:
Pete: Assuming nothing goes wrong in the next 8 hours...
The season five cold open ends with Liz saying, "Okay, season five. Here we go..."
In "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning" Liz tries to tell Jack what a "snart" is because it's past 10:00...AM.
Kenneth: Tracy needs at least 14 hours of sleep a night or he begins to go crazy!
Tracy:(screaming from inside his dressing room) We're in a Show Within a Show! My name is Tracy Morgan!
In the finale episode, Last Lunch, Grizz he'll be finding himself in a Fish out of Water situation as the owner of an inn in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A Grizz & Herz promo pops up on the bottom of the frame. Liz exclaims, "What is this?! Did you see that?!"
Mazel Tov, Dummies! has this little gem:
Jack (to Liz): I told him [Tony Bennett] you're Italian, so he might call you "Tina".
Paper-Thin Disguise: In "Gentleman's Intermission", Liz tries to trick her own father into flirting with her at a singles bar (with the intent of creeping him out enough to return to his wife/Liz's mother) with a disguise consisting of little more than a Southern accent, a frizzier hairstyle and a different pair of glasses. It actually worked until Liz herself got creeped out by dear old Dad starting to compliment her about her butt.
The Paragon: Kenneth, of course, may just be without sin.
Parallel Porn Titles: In "Don Geiss, America, and Hope" the Kabletown executive reveals that their highest revenues come from porn. Cue the porn movie titles.
Paralysis by Analysis: Pete gets "the yips" the '80s at the Olympics, which allows him to help Jenna when it happens to her.
Parental Substitute / Like a Son to Me: Liz and Jack often act like father and daughter. He's constantly pushing her out into the world and wants to see her take over his position when he moves up the ladder. She in turn worries about his health. This also explains the moments of Squick that can be seen on their faces whenever a romantic relationship is implied.
The Peter Principle: Both Jack who was transferred from management in the manufacturing sector to content creation and Liz who is a comedy writer by training and inclination but finds herself in a job that's more management than comedy fit this trope at times.
Parodied when Jenna is made The Beard for James Franco. They get the portmanteau "James."
Liz calls Jack and Avery "Javery."
Jack and Elisa are "Jalisa".
'Jonathan:' What about Jackonathan?
Tracy calls Kenneth and Liz "Klemon."
Pre-emptive Declaration: In "Succession", Devon Banks is plotting to usurp Jack's place as the next chairman of GE after Don Geiss retires. After he extracts incriminating information from Liz in an elevator, Liz asks "Has he seen the security footage of you cheating on his daughter yet?". Liz then promptly jumps on Devon and kisses him forcefully, for the benefit of the security camera.
Product Placement: Integrated surprisingly well into the show, either for laughs (like the examples below) or for plot purposes (like in "Leap Day", when Tracy has to spend his $50,000 Benihana gift card he forgot to use in one sitting; the episode was paid for in part by Benihana.)
Parodied and doubly subverted in the first episode. Tina Fey put in a plug for the Trivection Oven (allegedly created by Jack) just because she thought it sounded funny (though GE rushed to throw in a commercial so the audience would know it's a real product).
Later episodes lampshaded real product placements, including Snapple, Soyjoy, etc.
The gratuitous McFlurry/McDonalds references in "Saint Valentine's Day" actually weren't for pay. Fey and the writers just like McFlurries.
The situation was parodied in a later episode involving Liz's new Slanket. She's asleep at her desk, and when suddenly awoken, yells "It's not product placement, I just like them!"
"Quick Lemon, to the Kia Sorento!"
An episode has them talking about the wonders of a Verizon phone and then Liz turns to the camera and says "Can we have our money now?"
Jack: (to Liz) "There's nothing wrong with being fun and popular and just giving people what they want." (to camera) "Ladies and gentlemen, Jay Leno."
The painting in Jack's office changes periodically, always showing and glorifying a real GE product.
The following conversation:
Jonathan: Itís Cisco equipment sir. Itís almost better than being there. Breckman: You like the Cisco equipment? Jack: Of course. It continues to be the gold standard by which all business technology is judged. Cisco: The Human Network...Did you just mute me!? Did you just use Ciscoís cutting-edge sure-mute technology to mute me!?
Played straight with Apple computers and laptops, the logo displayed prominently on any shots involving a computer.
Public Domain Soundtrack: "Dance Like Nobody's Watching" features the offensively frugal "Public Domain Week" on America's Kidz Got Singing, which uses songs like "The Muffin Man" and "The Turkey in the Straw".
Pygmalion Plot: Jack often casts himself as Liz's mentor. Their relationship has grown more symbiotic as the series has gone on, but Jack still gives Liz fatherly advice. Jack has relied on Liz emotionally later in the series as well.
Jack is depressed over Don Geiss' death. He moans he hears himself being erased from contact lists around the country.
Liz: I hear something else. It's the hug plane coming in for a landing.
Running Gag: Jenna's many references to her twisted, violent relationship with Mickey Rourke. In the final episode she says "I can't do this", looks straight at the camera, and says "I've never met Mickey Rourke."
Jack and his mother frequently describe emotional or undignified acts as the sort of thing Italians do.
Schmuck Bait: Literally. In Cleveland, you can see a set for a TGS skit called "Schmuck's Bait".
The Scottish Trope: In "The Shower Principle" Jenna freaks out when asked to perform a TGS sketch that mentions Shakespeare's play Macbeth.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: In "The Funcooker", when Tracy finds out how cheap an FCC fine is for guys like him who have $300 million, he starts cursing on TV for fun. When advertisers start yanking their commercials from TGS in response, Tracy buys the ad time.
Sempai/Kohai: Called by name by Jack with respect to himself and Don Geiss.
Sending Stuff To Save The Show: In universe, Kenneth tries to save TGS by sending sugar cubes to say that fans are "Sweet on TGS." The problem with this is that the sugar cubes would end up crushed during the mailing process, and, well, Kenneth gets tackled by a SWAT team for seemingly mailing anthrax around.
Series Continuity Error: In the pilot, it is clear that The Girlie Show has been around for some time—new GE television executive Jack Donaghy hires Tracy Jordan to save an already established show. But by Season 5 of 30 Rock we are told that TGS with Tracy Jordan is also starting its fifth season.
Fridge Brilliance The Girlie Show was well established. TGS with Tracy Jordan only began when Tracy Jordan joined TGS.
Liz's mother spoke about how she went to secretary school and worked at Sterling Cooper.
There's another Shout-Out to Mad Men in an earlier episode, where Jenna puts strawberries (which Kenneth has a severe allergy to) in Kenneth's cheese sandwich. As he's starting to go into anaphylactic shock, he literally shouts out, "My real name is Dick Whitman!"
In a new microwave model being developed by GE is the TK-421.
Tracy: Every crazy A-lister has their own island: Nicholas Cage, Celine Dion, Charles Widmore. Kenneth: You see all the good that is in them? All the capacity for love? Give me more time Jacob, I BEG OF YOU!
In one episode, Liz ends up in front of a judge named Gregory L. Dredd.
A quite obscure one unless you were a Fire Joe Morgan reader; in "Stride of Pride" one of Jack's romantic rivals has the email address of "email@example.com".
Jack is trying to find a new CEO for NBC and he has Kenneth lead the final candidates on a tour. Kenneth remarks that it is like Willy Wonka. Later on you see the top candidates are similar to the children from Willy Wonka.
The final show makes reference to the finale of St. Elsewhere as Kenneth is holding a 30 Rock snow globe.
Show Within a Show: The primary one is TGS With Tracy Jordan (originally The Girlie Show). But since the series takes place at NBC headquarters, there are hundreds more which pop up throughout the series.
30 Rock is a rare case where many of the Shows Within a Show are actual shows in real life.
Grizz has his own show by the Finale, which Liz is producing.
Shown Their Work: During Tracy Jordan's attempt to get his biopic of Thomas Jefferson off the ground, he casually mentions the horse in his dressing room will play Caractacus. This is the one thing that's actually historically accurate.
Sick and Wrong: Hazel claims she's naturally blond, but dyes her hair dark brown. Jenna finds this disgusting.
Small Name, Big Ego: Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney. They even refer to non-actors as "normals" and "non-specials".
Soap Within a Show: Los Amantes Clandestinos ("The Secret Lovers"), a telenovela Elisa's abuela Yenque watches. Jack takes it over in the episode "GeneralŪssimo" for reasons almost as complex as the plot of the soap.
Something Completely Different: "Queen of Jordan", in which an entire episode was made into a fake reality show starring Tracy's wife, and the follow-up episode "Queen of Jordan 2: The Mystery of the Phantom Pooper".
Soundtrack Dissonance: A beautifully simple rendition of "Ave Maria" played on a trumpet during Don Geiss' funeral-slash-freezing continues to play in the background while Jack pitches his horrifically stereotypical "porn for women" idea to Kabletown executives.
The Southpaw: Tina Fey. The show doesn't draw attention to Liz being left-handed, but you can tell her left hand is dominant if you pay close enough attention. However, Jack does refer to her "left-handedness" in one episode.
Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Parodied in Season 6 finale "What Will Happen To The Gang Next Year?", in which no one objects at the crucial moment when Jack and Avery are renewing their vows...causing Jack and Avery to angrily demand why no one's objecting, thus acknowledging the end of their relationship.
Squee: Kenneth does this a lot, especially when he sees a television celebrity.
Staging an Intervention: Jenna puts the idea of an intervention into a few of the other characters' minds in a bid for attention. Things don't turn out so well, when the rest of the cast stages a real intervention.
Status Quo Is God: Jack can never keep a steady relationship for a length of time. There always has to be some excuse to get his latest love interest out of the picture/dueling for his attention with another woman once he is done chasing them. Often the writers will try to lampshade this by having the characters departing from the show for incredibly random out-of-character moments, including being kidnapped and held in North Korea for a whole season, or being suddenly revealed as a psychopathic black widow murderer.
The Straight Will And Grace: Jack and Liz realize they're closer than most actual married couples as they try to annul their accidental St. Esclavage wedding.
Stepford Smiler: Hinted at with Kenneth. Confirmed when Jack asks how he can possibly be so happy when his life sucks so badly. Kenneth beams, leans in, and suddenly becomes deadly serious, saying that he lies to himself each morning, saying things will be okay, but he knows it's a lie.
Kenneth: ...Iím lying, and I donít know how much longer I can do it.
Stock Footage: The show often reuses Establishing Shots of 30 Rock. One shot is particularly recognizable due to the presence of a helicopter in the sky. That helicopter's pilot must really love to fly the exact same route over 30 Rock over and over again.
The episode Cleveland has lots of stock footage of The Cleve.
In an early episode, Jack is trying to come up with a joke to open an executive dinner speech with, and comes up with "Jack Welch is so great, they named Welch's grape juice after him, because he squeezes the sweetest juice from his worker's mind grapes." In the next scene, Tracy is in the writer's room brainstorming ideas for his appearance on Conan, and he says, "What else? What else is on my mind grapes?"
In "Stone Mountain", Tracy is convinced that because two celebrities have just died, he's going to be the third (see Rule of Three above). Though everyone else thinks he's crazy, both Betty White and Jimmy Fallon understand exactly what he's doing when he tries to make sure they die first. Fallon even does the same thing to Tracy.
In "Gentlemen's Intermission," Tracy and Jenna separately conclude that saving a hero cat makes someone a double hero.
Very much averted with the strong Republican Jack—highly non-stereotypical, he seems to be more of an Establishment corporate-type member of the GOP, accepting of homosexuality and what religious conservatives might call "loose morals", and whose views seem mostly based around his belief in capitalism. He has an admittedly dim view of anything liberal. Liz, a self-described Democrat, admits to supporting Obama out of white guilt. She also has a bit of a racist streak, which the show uses to hilarious effect.
In "Respawn" Liz spouts a bunch of strawman liberal catchphrases to try and "cheer up" Jack back into his usual cutthroat self.
Any asides of supposed TGS sketches. Or any other supposed shows (MILF Island: "25 super hot moms. 50 eighth-grade boys. No rules.")
Any reference to Tracy Jordan's projects (Honky Grandma Be Trippin', Fat Bitch, Fat Bitch 2, and his adaptation of An Affair to Remember: A Blaffair to Rememblack).
Don't forget Samurai I Am Awry, Black Cop/White Cop and Who Dat Ninja.
Hard to Watch, Tracy's attempt to be seen as a serious actor. He succeeded, but it didn't last long. The film's dramatic impact was a definite Informed Ability.
Anything Jenna Maroney stars in, including The Jackie Jormp-Jomp Story (which mutated from being a biopic about Janis Joplin), Mystic Pizza: The Musical, and The Rural Juror, which took several episodes for the rest of the cast (and the audience!) to figure out what Jenna said when she mentioned the title.
And the sequel to Rural Juror being Urban Fervor.
The final episode (and final TGS) ended with Jenna singing the almost unintelligible Title Theme Song to Rural Juror.
Kenneth: Ms. Maroney, I'm afraid I have some bad news. Jenna: Jenny McCarthy died? But who could've been slowly poisoning her? Was she poisoned? I have no way of knowing because I'm just hearing about it.
Jenna: This is not a rage stroke!!
Then there's this:
Jack: Now, take off that bald cap, Kenneth. We have a lot of work to do.
Kenneth: Of course... take off my bald cap... not... put on my wig.
In the episode where Avery is kidnapped by North Korea:
Kim Jong-il: Another American reporter has come to North Korea because it's awesome and we have enough food.
In "Idiots Are People Two!", Tracy rallies the idiot community into protesting NBC. Included in the movement are the anti-vaccination crusaders and Denise Richards.
The networks covering Liz Lemon's apology to idiots in the next episode include Cinemax, Spike TV, Yahoo Answers, The Today Show (an additional jab at NBC), and Fox News.
"Queen of Jordan" and "Queen of Jordan 2: Mystery of the Phantom Pooper" are presented as "episodes" of Tracy's wife Angie's reality show, Queen of Jordan. The show is basically a parody of the Real Houswives franchises.
Talking to Themself: When Liz gets a "Dealbreakers" talk show, she cracks under the pressure and develops a split personality "performer Liz" that bears a strong resemblance to neurotic Jenna.
Tastes Like Purple: Said word-for-word by Jack while lying in his hospital bed after his heart attack.
During the Live Show, Jack states he feels like he's in a Mexican soap opera (thanks to the live video feed, instead of the show being filmed as usual.)
Team Mom: Toofer outright says that Liz is that, using it as an explanation as to why Liz isn't invited to the writers' parties: "You don't wanna go drinking with your mom." Of course, he was trying to convince an angry Liz to save them from a rabid dog at the time. True in the sense that Liz is usually the one keeping the writers and cast from killing each others or themselves.
Unless they mess with her food.
The Tetris Effect: Liz complains that she's out of whack in "Winter Madness" because she'd been playing online Boggle all night.
Liz: Okay, this is my stop. STOP. POTS. TOPS. OPTS. POST...
Devon: I'm honestly not trying to make this soundgay. Jack: No one is; it's just happening.
That Other Wiki: When Jenna is doing method acting preparation to play a Captain Ersatz of Janis Joplin, the writers mess with her by adding ridiculous lies to her Wikipedia page so that Jenna will emulate them.
The Twink: Just about every background gay character in the series.
When he demands that he no longer be called "Toofer" as a condition of his returning to the show (they need him for diversity credits), which causes great delight with the writers. Understandably, by the time Pete suggests something he just gives up and lets them call him "Toofer":
Toofer: As a condition, I have requested that I no longer be called Toofer. Frank: Great! New nickname suggestions. Go! Liz: Victoria Q. Nerdballs. Jenna: Kanye East. Frank: Super Virgin. Tracy: Splock. Short for "Black Spock". Pete: Threefer, cause youíre also gay.
Ultimate Job Security: Tracy Jordan. Jack claims that the only thing he can't get away with is dog fighting. So he does that just because he can't. And still gets off the hook after one therapy session.
Mitigated by the fact that he never succeeded in setting up a dog fight, and was as disgusted by it as anyone else. He only tried because he was told he couldn't, and probably never did after the session.
Uncanny Valley: Discussed as a difficulty in combining pornography and video games. Frank uses Star Wars and The Polar Express to explain the concept to Tracy. invoked
Strangely Frank's explanation is fairly accurate, even though DVD commentary suggests the episode's writers didn't exactly get the concept (they didn't understand why zombies/animate corpses were in the depths of the valley).
"Convenience store owner" is apparently Kenneth's slur of choice for Koreans.
Liz will often exclaim things like:
(on seeing a peacock) "Gasp! Living dinosaur!"
(on seeing Colleen) "Gasp! Necktie!"
"Gasp! Puerto Rican!"
"Gasp! Skinny arm havers!"
"Gasp! Albino Ninja!"
Jack will sometimes say things like:
(seeing Lemon in an ugly overalls outfit) "Lesbian Mario Brothers!"
Urban Legend Love Life: Tracy. He has to seem like a Casanova to keep his street cred...but when Angie demands that he have an affair to save their marriage (yes, to save the marriage; their income depends on his street cred!), he just can't bring himself to do it.
In the series' first Valentine's Day episode, "Up All Night", Lix tries to figure out who sent her flowers.
In "St. Valentine's Day" Liz goes on a disastrous first date with Dr Drew Baird. Meanwhile, Jack and Elisa spend the evening in church.
"Anna Howard Shaw Day" in the fourth season had Liz boycotting Valentine's Day, choosing to celebrate the birthday of suffragist Anna Howard Shaw instead, and scheduling a root canal for that very day. Naturally, things don't go according to plan.
"Double Edged Sword", the fifth season's Valentine's Day episode, looks at the effects of being a relationship with someone very similar in personality.
"Hey Baby, What's Wrong?" Liz and Criss' relationship is put to the IKEA test, while Frank and Tracy teach Lutz their dirtbag knowledge on how to pick up women.
Vampire Tropes: When Liz was desperately trying to avoid anyone with a flu, she used a pocket mirror to see if anyone was around a corner and saw nothing. When she walks around the corner, she bumps right into Kenneth.
Kenneth: "When I look in the mirror, all I see is a white haze."
Verbal Tic: Subtle, but throughout the show characters have a tendency to use "it" instead of "she". This is likely another reference to German, as most female pronouns are grammatically neuter in German.
Wall Run: Liz achieves one in There's No I In America.
Wardrobe Malfunction: Invoked by Jenna in "Live Show", in which she warned that if Tracy didn't stop disrupting the show by breaking character (and stealing attention from her), she was going to "slip a nip."
White Man's Burden: Parodied in the fictional films that Tracy is supposedly an expert in starring in.
"I may not know nuthin' about that fancy book learnin', but I do know one thing fo' certain—this film was written by white nerds!
Parodied in one episode where, after a misunderstanding, Liz thinks Tracy is illiterate. She bends over backwards trying to make things easier for him, and at the end it's revealed that Tracy has been screwing with Liz for his own amusement. When she asks why, he points out that her smug white savior attitude is quite racist.
In the penultimate episode Hogcock!, Jack deciding who will run NBC is a direct reference to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, complete with Expy adult versions of the kids. Subverted when the Charlie Bucket Expy turns out to be a corporate raider — Kenneth himself becomes Charlie Bucket.
"Right now it's between Frisbeeface and Glock, gender irrelevant."
Cerie considers naming her daughter "Bookcase", "Sandstorm" or "Hat", but thinks that Hat is more of a boy's name.
Will They or Won't They?: Jack and Liz. Although Alec and Tina have acknowledged the existence of sexual tension between the characters, Word of God has rejected the idea of a romantic relationship. Flat-out parodied, according to Word of God. Played deadly straight, according to some. Example: after learning Danny is dating Liz, Jack, who thinks this relationship is bad for the show, tells him, "My secret is: I'm in love with Liz Lemon." Meanwhile, Liz does a series of gross Sight Gags, and he winces almost to the point of, well, gagging.
Jack: I've never told this to anyone... not because it's a lie, but because it's a secret... Hereís my secret. My secret is... Iím in love with Liz Lemon. Danny: What? Jack: Itís true. It was love at first sight. I ache for her sexually. How could I not? Iím entranced by those mud-colored eyes set back in that skin. And her laugh. Her walk, that splay-footed walk, and that... whole situation... right there. And... oh... mustache? (aside)Good GOD, Lemon!
Jeffrey Wienerslav lampshaded this trope by name in Season 5, when Jack and Liz accidentally got married.
In What Will Happen Next Year, Kim Jong-Il gets exasperated and demands Jack and Liz become a couple in Season 7, citing shows like Moonlighting, telling the writers not to overthink it and just do it.
Tracy: 'bout time! After six years, it's been like watching Moonlighting!
They didn't. They did, however, tell each other that they loved each other.
With Lyrics: In the pilot, the "Pam, The Overly-Confident Morbidly Obese Woman" song is sung with lyrics. While the tune features the background music to practically every episode, the lyrics are not heard again until episode 100.
In "Live Show", Jenna sings the opening theme with lyrics, as the credits are displayed on a monitor behind her.
Writer on Board: Somewhat averted. Given the nature of the show, political topics came up organically, and the demographics of the show's writers and actors are decidedly liberal, but most things were handled with enough self-awareness as to not be Anvilicious. Liz Lemon's liberalism is generally presented straight, while Donaghy's conservatism is taken Up to Eleven, and both are handled cleverly. Still, some of the episodes—especially during the runup to the 2012 election—were extraordinarily heavy-handed (and, sadly, not particularly funny) in what was otherwise an outstanding season.
Xanatos Speed Chess: Jack engages in this a lot. Jack and Colleen attack each other with one each, calling it their "Christmas Attack Zone".
Jack on his relationship with Avery: "Playing psychosexual mind games IS our normal, Lemon."
Yandere: Elisa turns out to be crazy enough to murder her husband for cheating.
Yes-Man: Tracy is upset to discover that his entourage is made up of yes men.
Prior to his recurring role as Paul in the fourth season, Will Forte played Prince Gerhardt's valet in a first season episode.
The same actor has played Liz's imaginary boyfriend Astronaut Mike Dexter, her mother's real boyfriend Buzz Aldrin, an actor on the "porn for women" channel that Jack Donaghy invents, and a guest at Floyd's wedding who tells Liz he's a "plushie".
Jeff Hiller played both the hotel desk clerk at Liz's high school reunion and Stuart the flight attendant in a later episode. Since the hotel desk clerk was never named, it's possible they're both Stuart, but the way the show re-uses actors for bit parts, they probably are different characters.
Not the same character. Freeze-frame the reunion episode and the hotel clerk's name is Shawn.
You Monster!: Liz says this to Jack when he reveals who gets kicked out of Top Chef.
Your Costume Needs Work: Jenna met her boyfriend Paul at a Jenna Maroney impersonator contest. He came in first place; she came in fourth.
Your Mom: Frank, Toofer and Lutz engage in a prank war against Jack. Jack responds by sending them a tape of himself in Frank's mom's bedroom. He tells them he's been a perfect gentleman, but if the pranks don't stop, he won't be next time. Then he reminds Toofer and Lutz that they also have mothers.
Jack tells Devon in "Into the Crevasse" that tomorrow's newspaper will read: "Donaghy Saves GE, Marries Your Mom".
Liz gets one in on a rude flower shop employee in "Up All Night."
Liz: Oh well you know what? I found the card, and actually, they're from your mom, so tell your gay mom I said thanks.
Josh and Liz also engage in the Dozens, which is casually won by a visiting Jack.
You Say Tomato: Jenna does this a lot. For example, she pronounces camera as "cahmerah". When Liz gets her own Dealbreakers show, she begins to behave like Jenna and starts pronouncing stuff like her as well.
Dr. Spaceman: This is always hard to say: You have die-AB-uh-dees?