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Series / 30 Rock

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"We were trying to make Home Improvement and we did it wrong. You know those scientists who were developing a blood-pressure medicine and they accidentally invented Viagra? We were trying to make Viagra and we ended up with blood-pressure medicine."
Tina Fey on the creation of the show, from Bossypants

30 Rock is a fast-paced and outlandish NBC Work Com starring Tina Fey (also a writer and executive producer as well as the creator of the series) and Alec Baldwin. The show was launched in 2006, and ended in January 2013 after seven seasons — not because of the suits, but because the showrunner wanted it to and Baldwin decided he wanted to do something else for a change.note  Not bad, and a fitting run for a show that made out like a bandit at three consecutive Emmy Award ceremonies.

The series follows the life of the supposedly homely Liz Lemon (Tina Fey more-or-less playing herself), who is head writer of a fictional Show Within a Show based on Saturday Night Live. "30 Rock" refers to a nickname of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the address of NBC's New York headquarters where SNL is filmed, which is where the series takes place.

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.

Compare and contrast with Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which not only had a similar premise, but was greenlit by NBC at the same time as 30 Rock. Sorkin would later make a self-deprecating cameo in a later episode of 30 Rock.

Now has something of a Spiritual Successor in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which recognizably also comes from the same mind (but—we should note—is still quite different), as well as Girls 5 Eva (which features Fey and other alumni from both), and Mr. Mayor, another Fey-Carlock creation originally developed as a Spinoff with Jack Donaghy as the lead. Not to be confused with 3rd Rock from the Sun.

This show provides examples of:

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  • 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:
    • Ultimately Subverted. Liz's plan to adopt, a major Season 3 arc that included an adoption case worker visiting the studio in "Do-Over", is just dropped at the beginning of season 4. The show only picks this back up in Season 6, when Liz and Criss consider becoming parents after the latter finds the adoption papers, and they end up adopting two children in the Series Finale. 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.
    • Towards the end of the first season Tracy decides to make his own movie about the life of Thomas Jefferson. This never goes anywhere.
  • Abusive Parent: Jenna's mother, Verna. True to 30 Rock fashion, it is implied that this is responsible for Jenna's narcissism and general neuroticism.
  • Accent Slip-Up: 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.)
  • Accidental Marriage: Jack and Liz in "Mrs. Donaghy"
  • 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.
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: Liz dreams she gave birth to a Bland-Name Product version of the Cheetos mascot after overeating Cheesy Blasters in "Verna".
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Liz references Megamind (which Tina Fey starred in) by calling Lake City, FL "Lay-keh-ceh-dee" (similar to Megamind mangling the pronunciation of Metro City.)
    • Alec Baldwin
      • Jack, to a priest during confession: "I once declared 'I am God' during a deposition." (Aaron Sorkin's Malice.)
      • In the Season Five episode "College" Jack mentions that his voice was used for, among other things, Thomas & Friends.
      • "Always be talking, Jack!" (Glengarry Glen Ross)
      • In the 100th episode, Jack explains to Tracy that his movie star reputation will be immediately destroyed if he starts doing television again.
      • In "100: Part 2" Jack gives Tracy a big speech about walking away from a movie franchise to do a movie with Anthony Hopkins and so forth in order to get Tracy to return to the show after winning an Oscar.
      • In Season 5's Live Episode, someone suggests they cut out a sketch based on Capital One credit cards. Alec Baldwin turns to the camera and repeats his pitch from those same commercials.
      • Doubled with Hypocritical Humor: Jack mocks Jenna for wanting a producer's credit, claiming it's a cheap handout to shut actors up. This just before "Producer: Alec Baldwin" ticks across the screen.
      • "The Tuxedo Begins" is, in addition to all the Batman references, also a big allusion to Baldwin's earlier role as The Shadow. Hell, there's even a shot where Jack suddenly has a dodgy CGI cape added to him, referencing an unfinished shot from the Shadow film where a CGI cape would've been present but wasn't (the effect wasn't able to be completed in time).
      • In "Jack-Tor", Jack makes a particularly sly allusion:
      • Jack stifles a laugh when Haley Hooper mentions her boyfriend going to NYU to study acting. NYU is Alec Baldwin's alma mater, where he studied acting.
      • In the finale Jack rattles off a list of liberal foes he's vanquished, including Alec Baldwin.
    • Guest star Carrie Fisher: "Help me, Liz Lemon, you're my only hope!"
    • Guest star Alan Alda parodies his own star-making role on M*A*S*H by asking, "A man crying about a chicken and a baby? I thought this was a comedy show!"
    • Guest star Matthew Broderick's episode featured him and Jack searching government files for the worst plan ever, which was guaranteed to offend everyone, flop, and get them both fired. The plot and Broderick's mannerisms are very similar to his role in The Producers.
    • After dating Matt Damon for half a season, Liz tries to remember who played the white guy in Invictus.
    • Elizabeth Banks playing The Veronica in a love triangle, and unexpectedly getting pregnant, only to leave the show after giving birth?
    • A minor, possibly unintentional example: Liz refers to her ex, Dennis, as "the Terminator with cheaper glasses". Dennis is played by Dean Winters, who played Charley Dixon on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
    • In the first episode of season 4, Steve Buscemi, who plays a private investigator, claims that he is called "The Chameleon". In Monsters Inc., Steve Buscemi voices Randall the chameleon.
    • At one point in Season 1, Liz has an awkward interaction with Floyd, who's carrying a basketball. Floyd is played by Jason Sudeikis, who is a big amateur basketball player and had a shot of him shooting hoops as his introductory on the Saturday Night Live opening credits.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Liz has a habit of conceding that jabs against her are pretty good. After an exchange with Jack, whom Liz has called old and compared to Tony Randall, she raves at his comeback comparing her to Jack Klugman:
    Liz: Damn, I'm a writer, I'm messy, I'm a lovable curmudgeon; that is solid! Advantage Donaghy!
  • Adam Westing:
  • Adored by the Network: The Biggest Loser, in-universe.
  • Age Insecurity:
    • This is a Running Gag with Jenna. At one point, she survives a rapid-fire interrogation from Jack by rattling off what are clearly memorized answers to questions such as what her high school prom theme was. In another episode, Jenna starts trying to pretend she's older than she actually is, because while middle-aged actresses rarely get work, there are great roles for older distinguished actresses like Judi Dench and Helen Mirren.
    • Also, in one episode Liz pretends to be in her twenties to justify a relationship with an allegedly twenty-five-year-old guy who turns out to be only twenty, and she agonizes over the fact that, for her usual feminist reasons, she's always promised herself she would never lie about her age.
    • Kenneth is implied to be immortal and anywhere from a few centuries to a few millennia old. He tends to avoid direct questions about his age, and at one point nervously asks if there will be any new rules for the page program, 'like age limits and age verification'.
  • Air Quotes: "Dr." Spaceman is legally required to put quotes around "Dr.", including when he says it (via air quotes).
  • 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 and Tracy Jordan.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version features a much different opening with much different music.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: Sung by Jenna in "Don Geiss, America, and Hope," but cut off by the opening credits.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Carmen Chao in "¡Qué Sorpresa!". The actress, Vanessa Minnillo, is an appropriate mix of Italian, Irish, and Filipina. Lampshaded by Jack:
    Jack: She's very sneaky, which isn't racist since we don't know what she is.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Lutz, whose deep-in-the-closet status is a Running Gag throughout the series. He at one point, for example, dreamily commented on Chris Evan's body in Captain America: The First Avenger. The ambiguity ends in the series finale, where Lutz refers to himself as bisexual. Lampshaded in "Idiots Are People Two!", when Liz is pointing out co-workers who are gay to Tracy ("Her, when she's drunk") and stumbles on Lutz:
      Liz: ...I genuinely don't know.
      Tracy: That one's a puzzler.
    • A much less ambiguous example (if only towards Jack specifically) is Jonathan, who combines this trope with hero worship.
      Jack: Jonathan, I want you to cut off my pinkie.
      Jonathan: But I can't do that, sir! Then you wouldn't be perfect anymore!
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle. Tracy's public service message about the importance of Japanese sex dolls.
    Tracy's Sex Doll: You know a lot of people look down on sex dolls. But as you saw tonight they save lives and bring families together. How am I such an expert? Iím Tracy Jordanís sex doll!
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Liz gives one to her boyfriend in "St. Patrick's Day", to which he responds, "I know."
  • 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 is played for laughs by being subverted in-universe but played straight to the viewer. When 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...
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    Tracy: ...If Wall Street crashes, it'll be the 1970's all over again. People'll get mean, the streets won't be safe, it'll be graffiti everywhere, and the movies'll only cost three dollars.
    Larry King: Tracy Jordan, saying three serious things, and then a joke.
  • The Artifact:
    • 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.
  • 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, upper middle class note , 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.
  • Artistic License Ė Law: When Jack and Averyís daughter Elizabeth is born in Canada, theyíre upset that she canít be president since she was born outside of the US. However, the "natural-born citizen" clause they're referring to is not clearly defined in this case, and there's a very good chance it would NOT prevent her from becoming President, since she was a citizen due to her parentage at the time of birth. Summary of the issue here. Ted Cruzmore  and John McCainmore  are recent candidates who probably demonstrate that Liddy Donaghy would have a good shot to qualify, albeit not 100%.

  • 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 is a nameless ("Girl Writer") non-speaking extra for the first two years of the show.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Kenneth, who loves television and everything about it.
  • 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.
  • Aside Glance: "I love America."
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The German translated as ďYeahĒ in ďBlack Tie.” The rest of the conversation is correct, though.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Tracy. He often demonstrates it by starting to mention he has it and then switching after he says "Deficit." He even said "Shiny" once.
  • Attention Whore:
    • Jenna's primary characterization is that she's desperate for attention and approval.
    • Hazel has almost as much of a need for attention, but without any of Jenna's talent.
  • Audience Murmurs: Parodied more than once—in "Let's Stay Together" Rob Reiner quite clearly says "Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, peas-and-carrots rhubarb" at a Congressional hearing.
  • Author Tract: An obvious parody of Studio 60 in an early episode, ending with Lemon confusing herself and saying that she needs to read more.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: "Dr." Leo Spaceman. He has a medical degree from the Ho Chi Minh City School of Medicine, is only allowed to practice in seven states and is legally required to put quotation marks around his "doctor" title.
  • Bad "Bad Acting":
    • Jenna's improv skills. She and Liz as "Sling Blade and Oprah Winfrey on a date":
      Liz (as Sling Blade): I do love me them french-fried potaters!
      Jenna (as herself): No you don't, Oprah! note 
    • Liz in "When It Rains, It Pours" when she acts out a fake break-up with Ritchie (one of the editors for TGS) to set him up with Donna (another member of the editing department)
      Ritchie: Liz, we need to talk... about us. Liz, we've had a lot of fun.
      Liz: End it, why?
      Ritchie: But I need to end it.
      Liz: [beat] End it, why?
  • Badass Boast: Jenna, of all people, gets one in when she finds out that Hazel had been trying to scare her off the show by staging dangerous accidents.
    Jenna: Nice try, but you should have killed me when you had the chance.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The format of many jokes in the show. For example, from "The Fighting Irish":
    Eddie (Jack's brother): Now, I know thereís been a lot of controversy around the church latelyóyou know, because of The Da Vinci Code.
  • 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!
  • Based on a True Story:
    • The series is based on Tina Fey's tenure as the head writer of Saturday Night Live
    • The episode "TGS Hates Women" was inspired by a article bashing The Daily Show's hiring of Olivia Munn simply as Ms. Fanservice even though she had prior cable journalism experience.
    • The "Idiots Are People Two" arc kicks off with Tracy facing condemnation for homophobic remarks in his stand-up act. Tracy Morgan experienced the same thing in real life prior to the start of that season.
  • 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.
  • Be Yourself: The Aesop of Season 7 episode Stride of Pride.
  • The Beard:
    • In "Klaus and Greta" Jenna is a Beard for James Franco and his love of a body pillow.
    • In an early episode, Liz says that "If you're a gay guy looking for a beard, I don't do that anymore."
  • Becoming the Boast: Butt-Monkey Lutz lies that he owns a car, and enjoys newfound popularity as everyone sucks up to him in order to get access. This comes to a head when he is offered a ticket to a movie premiere on the condition that he drive; rather than admit the lie, he purchases a car and hastily modifies it to match the description that he gave the other writers. They quickly see through the deception and abandon him; the car is promptly stolen.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: In "The Return of Avery Jessup" Jack throws Avery a party combining all the holidays she missed, including Halloween, and New York City Mayor Bloomberg wears this as his costume.
    Tonight, I'm Mayor Boomberg!
  • 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]note 
    • Also, Jenna at the mention of anyone upstaging her.
      Liz: Jack is hiring a new cast member.
    • On picket line:
      Jenna: [picketing] Jenna is great! No new cast member!
      Tracy: New cast member?! If it is a blonde woman, I will kill myself!
    • Don't insult Ronald Reagan in front of Jack.
      Jack: [to Liz] I appreciate it, Lemon, but if you ever speak ill of Reagan again I'll smack those teeth straight.
  • Better as Friends: Jack and Avery realize this at the end of Season 6.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: A classic example, as everything about television was lampshaded all the time.
  • Betty and Veronica: Jack between Nancy and Avery. A very hard choice considering it's Julianne Moore and Elizabeth Banks. Lampshaded in the season 4 finale when Nancy confronts him about loving two people at once. "Haven't you ever read Archie?" Ultimately subverted from the usual outcome when Jack ends up with one of them.
  • Big Applesauce: actually filmed there, though. (OK, in Queens, but it's still New York.)
  • Big Eater: Liz Lemon is obsessed with food and is frequently shown eating large portions of hearty dishes.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • "Well, I don't know what to say to that except that in Puerto Rico a McFlurry is called a Señor 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 más 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".
  • Billy Needs an Organ: "Kidney Now!"
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: A lot of it at NBC and GE's expense. When GE sold a majority stake of NBC to Comcast in real life, the show had a plot arc about being sold to "Kabletown". With a "K". Cue disses to Philadelphia.
  • Black and Nerdy: A Running Gag has Dotcom and Grizz show that, in spite of being gigantic Scary Black Men in Tracy's entourage, they're the most cultured and educated people on the show.
  • Black Comedy: Avery is kidnapped and forcefully made into a Propaganda Machine...and it's played for laughs! Yet again this is the same creator that managed to make getting kidnapped by a cult funny.
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    • 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.
    • Liz and Carol do a simultaneous confession, and Carol says, "Touched by a priest." Liz isn't sure if she heard him right.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    Tracy: Liz, it's Becky! Your college roommate!
    Jenna: [singing] Ease on down, ease on down the road!
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • In "St. Patrick's Day" the writers (and later Jack) play a fantasy resource management board game called Colonizers of Malar.
    • The episode "Stone Mountain" plays it up with "Schwupp's Ginny Pale" and "Puppy Bismilk."
    • The episode "TGS Hates Women" features a analogue called
    • Kabletown is Comcast
  • The Blank: On a show within a show episode, we see a manager whose face appeared to be blurred for the camera, but we learn he has "Blurry Face Syndrome."
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Jack finds a Chinese knock-off of Liz's Dealbreaker book—Dealbreaker: The Book For You Man No Good. by Lesbian Yellow-Sour-Fruit.
  • Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Avery, Avery, Avery.
  • 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.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    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.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Liz does this occasionally. It impresses no one.
    Liz: [upset] Call my assistant to set up a meeting.
    Jack: And by "your assistant," you mean you, with a British accent.
    Liz: [Beat] I have a new assistant. She's a cool, college student from... [attempting a South African accent] South Africa—yeah, she'll be British.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • Dr. Leo Spaceman. 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.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Matthew Broderick returns as Cooter Burger in "Governor Dunston" after a five-season absence.
    • In a meta-example, after three seasons, Rachel Dratch resurfaces in "Live Show," playing a cleaning lady. She came back again in "100" in her former role of TGS animal wrangler.
    • Josh comes back in "Audition Day", trying to get his old job. He's been doing gay porn.
    • Jack's old girlfriends Nancy and Elisa pop back up in penultimate episode "Hogcock!" after long absences.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lutz and Jonathan.
    • Everyone Shut up! Shut up, Lutz!
  • Buxom Beauty Standard:
    • When Liz thinks she's pregnant and that Dennis is the father, Dennis enthusiastically points out that her boobs will get bigger. She looks at him in disgust, but then thinks about it a second and gives a "well, there's that" kind of shrug.
    • Jack's girlfriend Elisa is very well-endowed, which is pointed out many times. From "St. Valentine's Day":
      Liz: If I had knockers like that, I'd be thanking God too.
  • 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 Halo under the handle SlutBanger", which is completely appropriate for his character.
    • In Season 2, while listing things people are trying to keep under wraps, Jack mentions a suspicion that "Alan Garkel from Legal doesn't really need that wheelchair." Garkel was the one who beat out Floyd for a promotion in Season 1.
    • 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 C.C. in Season 2 and then with Avery in Season 4.
    • In "Floyd" Kenneth drinks the off-brand ginger ale "Shwupps" first seen in "Stone Mountain" earlier in Season 4.
  • Calling Your Attacks: "Blacklight Attack!"
  • Calvin Ball: Kenneth's insane Secret Santa variant. It's implied even he is confused by the rules:
    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...
  • The Cameo: Ghostface Killah twice, Whoopi Goldberg twice, Joy Behar, Jerry Seinfeld, Conan O'Brien, Al Gore, former GE head Jack Welch, and many, many others.
    • Will Ferrell as the main character in Bitch Hunter.
    • Comedienne Margaret Cho as Kim Jong-il.
    • "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.
    • Buzz Aldrin was Liz's mother's old boyfriend
    • Jim Carrey playing himself in a role in Leap Dave Williams, which is a cross between The Santa Clause and Liar Liar. His wife is played by Andie McDowell.
  • Camp Gay:
    • All of the openly gay characters, especially D'fwan and Randy Lemon.
    • Devon Banks is kind of a hard case. In primarily "business" plots, he's 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.
  • Catapult Nightmare / Dream Within a Dream:
    • Tracy and Pete both have sex dreams about Kenneth in "Floyd".
    • Liz also has one about the writers dying when the show gets canceled in season 7.
  • Catchphrase: "Shut it down!"; "Blerg"; "By the hammer of Thor!"; "I want to go to there"; "Nerds!"; "That's a dealbreaker, ladies!" For a more complete glossary of the show's catchphrases, click here.
    • And Jack Donaghy's iconic "Good God Lemon".
    • "I'm not doing that!"
    • Lampshaded in "Queen of Jordan"
      D'fwan: ... D'fwan forgot his catchphrase!
      Portia: Portia reads the papers! ... I hate that that's my catchphrase!
    • Jack's invokedExecutive Meddling in his and Liz's television movie "Kidnapped by Danger" includes forcing the inclusion of an "awesome catchphrase!"
    Jack: That suggestion was off the charts, kemosabe!
  • Celebrity Impersonator: Jenna meets her boyfriend Paul when he wins a Jenna impersonator contest (Jenna herself came in 4th).
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • 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!"
    • Tina Fey apparently exists in-universe, since she's credited as the creator of the Reality Show Within a Show Queen of Jordan.
    • Liz does some Lampshade Hanging when she 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. Or that Jack looks a lot like Phoebe's short-lived boyfriend Parker. Or that Dr. Spaceman resembles one of Chandler's coworkers.
    • The Hunger Games is referenced in Season 6. Jack's ex-wife Avery is played by Elizabeth Banks, who also played Effie Trinket.
    • Tracy worries that without his persona, "I'm Wayne Brady!" A few episodes later Brady plays Stephen Black. invoked
    • In the third episode of the show, Liz suggests going to see Margaret Cho. Fast forward to Season 5, and Cho is playing Kim Jong-Il on the show. Oddly, this one downplays the trope since Cho plays a real-life figure who, supposedly, bears some resemblance to her in real life as well, making it less of a contradiction to have the Cho and Kim in the show's universe also resemble one another.
    • Jimmy Fallon worked with Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan for years on Saturday Night Live, and is particularly well-known for co-anchoring "Weekend Update" with Fey, who is believed to have based 30 Rock character Josh Girard on Fallon. Despite these real-life connections, Tracy Jordan does a Jimmy Fallon impression (which seems to be voiced by Fallon himself) in "Nothing Left to Lose", and Jenna appears on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in "Kidnapped by Danger".
    • The ad agency Sterling Cooper from Mad Men apparently exists in the 30 Rock universe (Liz's mother was a secretary there in the sixties), but Jon Hamm, who played Don Draper, appears as Drew, one of Liz's boyfriends. Also, like Jimmy Fallon and several other actors including the main cast, Hamm plays a few roles in the live episodes in "clips" from fictional TV shows past. Adding to the confusion, Mad Men also exists as a show, as Liz discusses the series finale with Jack in 30 Rock's own series finale, and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner is credited as one of the co-creators of Bitch Hunter. Mad Men, in response, paid an homage to 30 Rock by referencing a drink invented on the show.
    • Kenneth makes Rule of Funny references implying he is attached to the mythologies of both Mad Men and Lost, yelling, "My real name is Dick Whitman!" as well as talking to Jacob more than once. Lost exists as a TV show on 30 Rock, while the Mad Men one is extra-nonsensical for the above-mentioned reasons.
    • In season 6 Dennis describes a "lez movie" ending with the daughter going to college Mark Ruffalo going back to "do his own thing on the restaurant". This is a Dennis-y but unmistakable description of The Kids Are All Right which stars Julianne Moore, who played a major love interest for Jack two seasons earlier.
    • Jack asks who plays the black kid on Community and Liz incorrectly guesses "Donal Glover". Donald Glover has multiple guest roles throughout the series: an assistant, an executive, a closeted gay graduate Tracy singles out during a speech, and as Young Tracy in a flashback.
    • The finale deploys the most direct possible version of the trope when Jack Donaghy lists liberals who hate him, and includes Alec Baldwin.
  • Centipede's Dilemma: "I'm a little busy, Kenneth, can you Walk and Talk?" "...I thought so, but now you got me thinking about it..."
  • Characterization Marches On: In early episodes Liz is much more of a Beleaguered Bureaucrat type character. Her many eccentricities, love of food, and romantic woes don't emerge until later.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: When Liz announces to Jack that she is getting married and wants him to meet her at town hall, he says "It's thirty minutes away, I'll be there in ten", turns around... and is instantly wearing a tuxedo.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Subverted in "Episode 210," a number of references to Gladys Knight being the musical guest are made ("Did you see Gladys Knight's sound check?"). Kenneth decides he needs to return to Stone Mountain, Georgia, because the city has changed him too much; he plans to leave (of course) on the midnight train. The cast performs a slightly-altered version of "Midnight Train to Georgia," which changes mid-stream when it is revealed he missed his train ("He missed it—he missed his midnight train to Georgia."). Near the end of the song, Gladys Knight appears and tells them to keep it down and Tracy sheepishly apologizes and name-checks Ms. Knight, I guess so everyone will know who she is.
    • The Tracy Jordan Japanese sex doll in "Gavin Volure."
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • 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.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Jonathan in season six, because 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 sometimes 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.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Danny asks one of Liz in Season 7 episode There's No I In America. Liz reacts with shock since Danny was Put on a Bus.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: In "100" Jenna somehow generates a baby bump by virtue of wanting to get pregnant hard enough. It immediately vanishes when Hank Hooper offers her a talk show deal.
    • That is actually a real medical condition, according to The Other Wiki, and it really is called a hysterical pregnancy. The absurd part is that Jenna goes from not-pregnant to nine months pregnant to not-pregnant again within a single day, and the changes occur instantly.
      Dr. Spaceman: That's redundant, all pregnancies are hysterical - they're started by penises.
  • Class Reunion: Where Liz learns she was the universally loathed high school bully, not the shy quiet bullied nerd, which is how she remembered it.
  • Cleveland Rocks: Shows up in "Cleveland", natch. In contrast to its usual depiction in media, Cleveland here is shown as a very nice city (albeit more modest than New York).
  • Clip Show:
    • Subverted in season three's "The Bubble":
      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. Interestingly, while his weirdness is real, he seems self-aware enough to realize that his popular appeal depends on it, and is horrified at the idea of losing that edge.
    "If I'm normal, I'm boring. And if I'm boring, I'm not a celebrity."
    • 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.
  • Compressed Vice: Happens frequently to Jack or Liz's love interests of the season when it's time to break up. Notable examples include a nurse who becomes Ax-Crazy when she gets a ring on her finger, and an apparently competent pediatrician who is suddenly Too Dumb to Live.
  • Comically Small Demand: When NBC is interested in creating his show idea, Gold Case, Kenneth initially asks only for the Head Page position and a new clock radio. However, with Jack's guidance, he quickly amends it to add 5 points on the back end, 20% gross on merchandising, a creator credit on this and any international editions...and a new clock radio.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • 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.)
    • In the opening of "Argus", it can be seen that the first two letters of the TGS sign in Liz's office are still missing after Jenna knocked them off.
  • Continuity Porn: The final few episodes are a long string of Call Backs, Brick Jokes, and Mythology Gags.
  • 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.
    • In "It's Never Too Late for Now," Liz comments on the remarkably lucky events that ended with her finding a perfect guy at a club (said guy finds her missing license which she's never lost before, a fight breaks out just as she's considering staying instead of going home with him, etc.). It's ultimately subverted, though, as the Genre Savvy Liz realizes that it's impossible for so many coincidences to line up just right. It turns out that the whole staff worked together to arrange for the one night stand as a confidence booster.
  • 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.
    • On the other hand, Jack's rival Devon Banks is definitely first anyway.
  • Country Matters:
    • An episode titled "The C Word" centered on the fallout after Liz overhears one of the writers refer to her by the word in question.
    • Kenneth provides a subversion in a different episode.
      Kenneth: You are being a C-word! That's right, a Cranky Sue!
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: In order to convince her roommate to move out, Liz tries a scheme where Dotcom masquerades as one of these:
    Dotcom: I'm going to be coming by all the time, getting jealous, taking things out of context! That dude, Brian, would be happier moving out!
  • Creator Breakdown: In-universe. Apparently Liz tried her hand at writing a novel once. Jenna opens to an early page to find "Liz stabbed Jenna repeatedly."
  • Credits Gag: In "Subway Hero", The Stanley Cup briefly appears. Come the closing credits:
    And Introducing Lord Stanley Cup as Himself.
  • Crosscast Role: Margaret Cho has a recurring role in Seasons 5 and 6 as Kim Jong-il.
  • Crossdresser: Jenna's Jenna-impersonating boyfriend, Paul.
  • Crowd Song: "Episode 210" ends with a memorable cast rendition of "Midnight Train to Georgia".
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    Sideways Jack: What the hell is a Pwomp?
    Normal Jack: It's when two fat people-
  • Curse of Babel: Pete suffers a bout of aphasia due to the gas in "100".
  • Cut Himself Shaving:
    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.
  • Dawson Casting: In-Universe, Jenna thinks she's up for an audition as a college freshman on Gossip Girl in "Black Light Attack!". She was actually up for that character's mother - who dies of old age at age 42.
  • 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.
  • Decapitation Presentation: "Stone Mountain". Well, it's a dummy's head.
  • Deep South: Where Kenneth is from. The episode "Stone Mountain" actually shows it, and he mentions it frequently.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Writer Rosemary Howard (Carrie Fisher) comes up with concepts for the show that were edgy in The '70s, but downright offensive in The 2000s.
  • Demoted to Extra: Poor Josh Girard, from Jenna's male co-star in Season 1 to largely anonymous staff writer. Got Put on a Bus in Season 4.
  • Denser and Wackier: At the beginning, the weirdest thing was that Jack was Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming. A few seasons later, you have an immortal Kenneth and "Leap Day William" (the Eldritch Abomination Kenneth once mentioned) is real. Note that this has been an improvement in the minds of many viewers and critics.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "New blood is the lifeblood of every company's blood."
    • From the pilot: "This is the set of The Girlie Show, it's a real fun ladies' comedy show for ladies."
  • Depraved Bisexual:
    • Hazel, in spades.
    • 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.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Just about all of Liz's love interests are introduced as being incredibly charming, attractive and successful only to inevitably reveal themselves to have some kind of previously unmentioned absurd and outlandish quirk that makes them incompatible with her.
  • 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 Not Think This Through:
    • "Gentleman's Intermission": Liz learns that her father intends to cheat on her mother. She tries to put a stop to this by going to a bar he's at and pretending to be someone else so he can hit on her. However, when she reveals who she is, the other patrons react in disgust and one of them tells her it was a terrible plan.
    • "Plan B": In order to save TGS from getting cancelled due to Tracy's absence, Kenneth starts a fan campaign in which fans will send in envelopes containing sugar cubes to show that they are "sweet on TGS". What Kenneth doesn't take into account is that the sugar cubes will be crushed into a fine white powder during the process of delivery, making it look like Kenneth is sending anthrax.
  • 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.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: During Season 2 (when Pete is exiled from his house and sleeping on Liz's couch), Liz suspects Pete is having an affair when he shows up to work well-dressed and cheerful. It turns out, he is having an affair—with his wife.
    Paula: We like the sneaking around.
  • Different in Every Episode: The humorous message on Frank's trucker cap.
  • Direct Line to the Author: In the finale, we see Liz's great-granddaughter pitching a series based on the stories about 30 Rock she heard growing up. Presumably, the version of 30 Rock we've been watching is that series.
  • Disappointing Heritage Reveal: In one episode, Tracy learns that he's a descendant of Thomas Jefferson. This bothers Tracy as he always saw himself as a black man and now has an identity crisis. After a dream sequence, he comes to terms with his heritage and decides to make a biopic about Jefferson, where he plays all the parts. In the same episode, there's a joke where Toofer learns that his ancestor was a Confederate (he had previously thought his ancestor served in the Union army).
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Liz in Dance Like Nobody's Watching envisions herself as a Disney Princess.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Octavia Spencer (As Herself) proves to be a female Tracy.
    Octavia: (playing Harriet Tubman) ... I don't like the last name Tubman. Sounds too much like a dude. Let's call her Tubgirl.
    • Additionally her two entourage members, Mizz and Dot Gov to Grizz and Dot Com.
  • Distant Finale: The series ends during The Stinger a year later, then jumps an indeterminate amount of time into the future with Kenneth hearing a pitch from Liz's great-granddaughter about a show that talks place in 30 Rockefeller Plaza inspired by Liz's stories.
  • 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  addresses the subway car for directions on how to transfer to the '4' train and everyone does their best to ignore himnote . 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".
  • Double Standard:
    • "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.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted. When Jack showed Liz the check she'd get because of a promotion, she slapped him in surprise. However, when Liz showed Pete the check he'd get, he slapped her, all Played for Laughs.
    • Played With in Pete's relationship with his wife. While, her implied abuse of him is Played for Laughs, so is him raping her in an episode.
  • Drinking Contest: "Sandwich Day"
  • 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.
  • invokedDude, Not Funny!: Tracy makes an inappropriate (unheard) joke about Madeleine Albright at a dinner. Bill Clinton looks completely embarrassed by him.
    Tracy: What? She does look like one of those!
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • As explained above in Denser and Wackier, the show started out much more low-key. Jenna was only sort of self-involved, Tracy was weird (albeit recovering from a public meltdown) but primarily in a clueless "rich idiot" way, Liz was not quite the neurotic weirdo she would become later on (also, her apartment was noticeably different early on), and Jack was set up in a minor antagonist role, where Liz and Jack would tangle over the running of TGS. The writers dispensed with the Work Com angle (with TGS serving as a recurring punchline and occasional plot device rather than the focus of the show), heavily Flanderized all of the main characters, and cranked up the overall weirdness relatively quickly (Jack was dating Condoleeza Rice as early as the eighth episode of Season 1). All of this is widely accepted to have made the show better.
    • A Running Gag of the first season was that Rachel Dratch would appear as a different bit character in every episode. This was dropped in Season 2 and she barely appeared after Season 3.
  • 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.
  • Earth Day Episode: The show has done many ecologically themed episodes in accordance with NBC's "Green Week."
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • As a Running Gag, Kenneth is implied to be one: He is repeatedly implied to be immortal, apparently spoke to his mother when he was born, has a perfect, encyclopedic knowledge of NBC history, sees only a white haze as his reflection, and at one point accidentally let slip that he does not sleep. Confirmed in the finale, where Kenneth is still running NBC generations later, without having aged a day.
    • Leap Day William is revealed to be a little more Lovecraftian than he first appears.
  • Embarrassing Cover Up: "I don't have alopecia... I'm very hairy."
  • Embarrassing Last Name: Jeffrey Weinerslav. Liz makes a valiant attempt to pronounce it as something other than the obvious.
    Liz: Excuse me, Mr. Whiner-slahv—
    Weinerslav: It's pronounced "Weiner-slave".
    Liz: Okay, Jeffrey...
  • End-of-Series Awareness: Done in a typically meta, Leaning on the Fourth Wall-kind of way, as the final arc of the last season involves TGS getting cancelled.
    Tracy: That's our show. Not a lot of people watched it, but the joke's on them 'cause we got paid anyways.
  • Engineered Public Confession
  • 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.
  • Escape Call: Jack has a system for first dates — he has his assistant contact him halfway through regarding a fictional conference call with the Geneva office. If it's not going well, he has an excuse to leave; if it is going well, he gets to impress the woman by blowing off the conference call for her. Backfires with Avery Jessup, who correctly concludes that the call is fake due to the fact that it's the middle of the night in Switzerland.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Tracy believes that Diabetes is a white myth, "Like Larry Bird, or Colorado." In another episode, his entourage isn't there when he needs them because one of them had to go to the optometrist, and his response is, "Making up words won't save you!"
  • Establishing Character Moment: Several in the pilot.
    • Liz is in line to buy hot dogs, and upon seeing a rude businessman trying to cut in line angrily buys all of the hot dogs so that he can't get any and gives them all away, both to everyone in line except the businessman and various people she passes on the street, whether they're interested or not.
    • Kenneth politely introduces Liz as one of the writers to a tour group and gets treated poorly for it.
    • Jenna complains a bit about the fat suit she's wearing for a number as soon as the camera goes off.
    • Tracey is introduced running around in the middle of a street in his underwear, swining around a lightsaber and babbling that he is a Jedi.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Jack says "Et tu, Kenneth?" in "Audition Day". He replies in flawless Latin
    Kenneth: "You speak Latin? Then you understand. The safety of the people is the highest law."
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: It may have taken a polygraph to get Jack to admit it, but...
  • Everybody Did It: Parodied in "It's Never Too Late For Now", complete with a Shout-Out to Trope Maker Murder on the Orient Express - Liz is even watching its 1974 film adaptation. 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.
  • Everyone Owns a Mac: "Promotional considerations furnished by Apple"
  • Everything Is Racist:
    • Wayne Brady's character in "The Source Awards" isn't a good match for Liz. Not because he's a prudish, boring, conspiracist weirdo—no, it's because he's black. Or, she's lesbian.
    • Tracy is hyperparanoid about racism as well. He thinks everyone at TGS is racist, and has supposedly learned derogatory terms for blacks in every language throughout history - including dolphin.
      Liz: [to Toofer] Yeah, well, Tracy is a buffoon.
      Tracy: [from the hallway] That's a fifteenth-century term for a black pirate. Racist!
    • Another show had this exchange:
      Tracy: I know ya'll are all secretly mad 'cause we finally have a black Disney Princess!
      Jenna: You know, there hasn't actually been a white princess since 1991.
      Pete: Tiana, Mulan, Pocahontas, Jasmine... Wow, she's right!
    • One episode shows Tracy has a literal race card. An index card that simply says the word "race" in big, block letters.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In "¡Qué Sorpresa!", Jack steals credit for an idea Kenneth came up with and is so racked with guilt over it that he tells Kenneth, expecting the latter to exact vengeance or use this knowledge as leverage for a favor. To Jack's surprise, Kenneth does neither and doesn't even see what Jack did as a bad thing.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: Amusingly dodged when Frank says that Stephen Black works for the law firm "Dewey, Cheatum & Livingston," narrowly averting the old joke name for a law firm, "Dewey, Cheatum & Howe," a pun on "Do we cheat 'em and how!"
  • Evil Laugh: Jaden in "Audition Day".
    Jaden: Would a crazy person laugh like this? Hoo-hoo-haha-HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Tracy's movie "Hard to Watch", which reduces everyone to tears.
  • Executive Excess: Downplayed in two cases.
    • While not a major focus of his character, NBC Executive Jack Donahue is often seen drinking scotch during office hours (even once pouring himself the entire bottle), with several characters outright calling an alcoholic multiple times throughout the series. He likewise at one point happily relates the time he went hunting manatee (even keeping a framed picture of the manatee he shot on his office wall).
    • Similarly, Jack's own boss and mentor Don Geiss. While always seeming wise and professional, it's established that even into his seventies he has several much younger mistresses, both of the male and the female variety, and his funeral reveals he has no less than two additional secret families (one Canadian, one attic).
  • Executive Meddling: In-Universe. Jack does this a lot, but since he's extremely Genre Savvy, he's often right. See the Trivia page for a non In-Universe example.
  • Exiled to the Couch:
    • After Paula figured out that Pete had lied about having a vasectomy, Pete is forced to leave the house and moves in with Liz. He stays there for most of Season 2.
    • When Jack breaks into Nancy Donovan's house to erase the embarassing drunken voicemail that sent her, his hope for a relationship is rekindled when he finds evidence that Nancy's husband has been sleeping on the couch, indicating that they may go through with their divorce.
  • 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.
  • Fag Hag:
    • Jenna usually just hangs out with Liz, but when she gets her own entourage to emulate Tracy and get her way, every member of it is very gay.
    • Angie is also friends with a gay man and his "even gayer boyfriend".
    • Liz used to be this. Kinda.
  • Failed Future Forecast:
    • 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, all three of the aforementioned swing states went to 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. (Though 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.)
  • 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 by greenlighting awful shows, such as God Cop (a police procedural where God is the main character's partner), Tank It (seniors wearing tank tops, "the reality event of the year!"), and Homonym, 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 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.)
  • Fake Identity Baggage: In "Reunion", Liz and Jack attend the former's high school reunion where Jack is mistaken for a former popular student named Larry Braverman. Jack at first goes along with it because he likes the attention until Larry's ex-girlfriend reveals that she had a son with him. Naturally, Jack is not interested in taking responsibility for a son that isn't his and immediately gives up the ruse.
  • Faking the Dead: Pete does this in the finale, off camera. It lasts a year before his wife and kids find him.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Dream!Kenneth stripping his clothes and dancing in nothing but his tie and underwear in "Floyd."
    • Tracy's "trademark" move of removing his shirt. Also his attempt at seduction in "Don Geiss, America, and Hope."
    • Some parodies of Liz Lemon's Hollywood Homeliness use some pretty horrific makeup/effects - for instance, see Poor Man's Porn below.
  • Fanservice: The episode "Brooklyn Without Limits" features an extraordinary amount of focus on Liz's butt.
    • However, the way the shots are done lampshades the show's use of a butt double for Liz in BWL jeans.
    • Tracey makes a porn version of 30 Rock during 'Into the Crevasse' and recruits real life porn stars Savanna Samason and Caitlin Fowler to play Liz and Jenna.
  • Fashion-Shop Fashion Show: In the episode "Flu Shot" the trope is played straight for two seconds in a flashback sequence, with Tracy and Jenna.
    Liz: Stop. I don't need the montage.
    Jenna: Sometimes I was like this [shakes head no], but other times I was like this [gives thumbs up].
  • Fate Drives Us Together: The only reason Wesley Snipes (not that one) made any appearances after his first.
  • Femme Fatale: Hazel, who views herself as both this and a Single White Female-style stalker. She's also rock stupid.
  • Fetish Retardant: In-universe example: Tracy's "signature move" of taking off his shirt.
  • Feud Episode: "The Rural Juror"
  • 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.
  • Fight Clubbing:
    • Pete is seen in cutaways partaking in a Fight Club to get his aggression out
    • Liz also discovers that the group of rich unemployed women she's been hanging out with is in actuality a Fight Club in "Jackie Jormp Jomp".
  • Finish Dialogue in Unison: Jenna and Paul do this a few times, showing how they think alike.
  • 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.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Parodied. Kenneth has an enemy for the first time, and isn't really sure what to do, except . . .
    "Pray for a body switch that allows us to see the world from each others' perspectives?"
  • Flashback Cut: Frequently done, and most brilliantly executed in the Live Episode, when Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Liz Lemon in the flashbacks.
    Jack: Why are you better-looking in your memory?
    Liz: My memory has Seinfeld money.
  • Flipping the Table:
    • "WHERE'S MY MAC AND CHEESE?" (episode "Sandwich Day")
    • Liz again in "Queen of Jordan".
    • 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.
  • Formula for the Unformulable: In episode "Khonani", Jack tries to decide between his two Love Interests by following his HEART. HEART being an acronym for Hard Equations and Rational Thinking. It doesn't work.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • "Live Show", an episode shot live in front of a studio audience, just like The Girlie Show is done in-universe. The gimmick is later repeated with the episode "Live from Studio 6H".
    • "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".
  • Foul First Drink: Subverted, The main cast gets involved in a drinking contest, and eventually needs to rely on Kenneth to help. Since he's extremely sheltered (to the point of thinking coffee is evil), the group thinks they're doomed — but then Kenneth takes a sniff and remarks "This smells like hill-people milk! I've been drinking this since I was a baby!" He promptly starts throwing back shots with ease.

  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Jenna's 'sexual walkabout list' in "Meet the Woggels", containing "cause an impeachment", "Supreme Court Justice, liberal", and "the Lorax".
    • In the finale, Kenneth's list of concepts no longer allowed on NBC productions include a lot of descriptors of 30 Rock, but also "Immortal Characters."
    • Liz's lists of positives and negatives about Dennis include a lot of funny reasons.
    • In "Hogcock!", the parenting forum Liz visits has several other discussion threads, including a parent whose child is possessed, a woman considering killing her husband so she can change her name back, and a chimpanzee wondering why humans are so unhappy and self involved.
  • Freudian Excuse: Mostly Played for Laughs.
  • "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.
  • Friday Night Death Slot: In-Universe. TGS is on at 11:00 PM on Fridays, unless there's wrestling.
  • Full-Name Basis: Tracy frequently calls Liz "Liz Lemon," when he gets her name right at all.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • After Jack demos a voice-controlled television and finds its obvious flaw of unintended commands, he turns away and mutters, "Crap." Behind him, the TV can be seen switching over to Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
    • As part of his Running Gag, Kenneth can be seen dancing in the background of a 1950s flashback.
    • Kenneth in general is a magnet for these, as is Jenna.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • 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 (pronounced "dick"): 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."
    • One episode sees Jenna and Tracy start an idiot's-rights lobbying group. They name it the National Association for Zero Intolerance.
  • Fun with Subtitles:
    • "Black Tie" has the classic "overly long line translated as one word" gag.
    • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped:
      • In "Episode 210", Liz can't keep up with the German TV executives' German, resulting in the subtitles being "Return Germany... Tell the... Time... Hubcap(?)".
      • In a season 3 episode, Jack and Drew both speak awful French, which is subtitled as a bunch of nonsense letters.
  • Furry Fandom: One guy Liz hits on claims to be a "plushie", specifically referring to furries who wear school mascot-style body suits.
  • Gainax Ending: The Season Five finale.
  • Game Show Appearance:
  • Gasshole: Liz.
  • Genius Bruiser: Grizz and Dot Com.
    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. 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 order to raise her ratings and guarantee a new season (when she realizes what's going on, the fight is adorable).
  • Genre Savvy: Jack for the most part. Jenna veers wildly between Genre Savvy and Genre Blind.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Everyone but Tracy and Jack, whose job security is certainly a plot point on occasion but typically is involved with actual corporate machinations instead of being in and out on a whim.
  • 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.
  • Girl-Show Ghetto: The premise of the show, with The Girly Show turned into TGS With Tracy Jordan In-Universe.
  • 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!"
  • Glamour Failure
    Kenneth: I've never been on TV before! I hope I photograph okay, because when I look into a mirror, there's just a white haze.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: parodied in "Black Tie".
  • Gratuitous German: Many characters on several occasions. Ranges from good (with an accent) by Liz and Kenneth to As Long as It Sounds Foreign with Jack. One episode spoils a major plot point if you understand German.
  • Greenwashed Villainy: Jack Donaghy introduces a new corporate-friendly mascot, Greenzo, to promote GE's new line of environmentally friendly products. Jack is thoroughly upfront that he only sees environmentalism as a fad to be exploited for profit, and is panicked when the actor playing Greenzo starts publicly supporting actual environmentalist policies that would harm his bottom line.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Criss' method of trying to get featured in America's Funniest Home Videos
    • Liz gets hit in the crotch by a baseball in "Hey, Baby, What's Wrong?" and by a door handle in "Grandmentor."
  • Guttural Growler:
    • Even among Alec Baldwin characters, Jack stands out.
    • Jack's rival, Devon Banks, speaks in the same way. Lampshaded by Liz:
      "If this turns into a showdown, you guys can settle it with a talking-like-this contest."
  • Half-Hour Comedy
  • Hammerspace
    Jack: How did you even get a snowball?!
  • Hannibal Lecture: The gas leak in "100" causes Jack to hallucinate an alternate GE CEO Jack, who delivers one to him to to persuade him into firing Liz.
  • Happily Married: One of the show's ironies is that Tracy Jordan, who's entire brand is being an irresponsible, self-centered party animal, is also the only major character in a functional marriage. In one episode, both him and his wife are furious when a tabloid reveals that he's never cheated on her, because it could destroy his 'bad boy' reputation and their livelihood with it. In another episode, Jack convinces Tracy to ask his wife for a "post-nup", preventing her from getting money in a divorce. She points out there's no actual reason for her to agree to that, but signs it anyway, because she's that confident that Tracy is never going to leave her.
    • Jenna and Paul, who changes his name to Jenna Maroney.
    • Liz and Criss.
  • Has Two Thumbs and...: "Succession"
    Liz: Hey, nerds! Guess who has two thumbs, speaks limited French, and hasn't cried once today. (points to herself with both thumbs) This moi!
    • Subverted by Jack: "Lemon, who thinks gesturing with one's thumbs is for poor people and is going to be the next CEO of Kabletown? [Points to self using both pinkies] This guy."
  • Hated Item Makeover: In the episode "Respawn", Liz is chastising Tracy for invading her personal life, leading to this exchange.
    Tracy: After all I've done for you? How many times have I come over and painted your apartment?
    Liz: Three! And by the way, stop doing that!
  • Haunted House: Lampshaded by a Genre Savvy Liz Lemon.
    Liz: Word of advice: if the will says you have to spend the night in a haunted house, you better hope that everybody else there is black guys and sluts.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Lutz does this. A lot. No one is fooled.
  • The HDTV Shows Your True Self: Liz is a hag, Pete resembles Larry David, Kenneth is a Muppet, and Jack is Jack Ryan.
  • He's Just Hiding:invoked Kim-Jong Il, apparently. This is probably due to Margaret Cho doing such a hilarious job as the now-deceased dictator, the show simply couldn't give the character up.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Liz's night with James Franco and his body pillow lover.
    Liz: Randy, this is James Franco, and... friend.
    James Franco: Randy. (Kimiko's head bows)
    Randy: (disturbed) I should probably go.
    • From "Black Light Attack!":
      Jack: What did he do to the back of your knees?
      Liz: A lady never tells.
  • HeelĖFaith Turn: Referenced by Tracy; he mentions that his attorney recommended that he preemptively join a church, since juries are suspicious of celebreties who find religion after getting in trouble.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": Megan Dennis's wife says that she's late to meet him because she passed out laughing on 69th street.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • It's established early on that Tracy's two enormous bodyguards Grizz and Dot Com are far more erudite, cultured and intelligent than you'd expect.
      Jack: Dot Com, this need of yours to always be the smartest person in the room is very off-putting.
    • Cerie also counts, knowing the exact speed of Light, refusing to have an Greek Orthodox wedding because of the Church's stance on Cyprus, and appearing to be saner than some of the TGS Staff
    • When Jenna was briefly promoted to Producer she actually excelled at improving efficiency, to the point where she deemed herself as unneeded and fired herself as a Producer.
    • Apparently Tracy is the most stable person in the series
      Tracy: Why is everyone asking me for advice? I'm Tracy Jordan, father of three, married 22 years, I run my own business! (beat) Oh my god, I'm the most stable adult here!
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Jack. He truly cares about his staff inspite of himself.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy:
    • Jane Krakowski in Season 5. This is lampshaded in "100" when Jenna develops a hysterical pregnancy just to be an Attention Whore, and the show briefly stops hiding Krakowski.
    • In-universe: Avery does this on her news show.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood:
    • Tracy in "Emanuelle Goes to Dinosaur Land":
      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!
      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".
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Attempted by Liz in "Today You Are a Man" when she negotiates her new contract with 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.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: In-universe, the show ruthlessly parodied this trope in Season Two. Jenna spends her summer in a musical version of Mystic Pizza, and has to eat four slices per show, eight times a week. When she returns to the show, she's gained weight in her stomach—and ONLY her stomach, everything else looks identical—and couldn't be considered fat by any means. Regardless, the staff at TGS treats her as if she's become a total blimp, and even Jenna eventually jumps on board, using "ME WANT FOOD!" to cover a mistake in a sketch and becoming a spokesmodel for a line of "plus-sized women's fragrances." Jack lampshades during the series that a woman can only be fit or grotesquely obese in show biz, never something in the middle.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Danny deliberately sings this way in a duet with Jenna, to let her be the star on Christmas.
  • 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.
    • Also used for "Weird Al" Yankovic's guest spot during his credits parody of the theme song. The original lyrics were "Where the ratings are dismal...", but some random guy dubbed over "dismal" and replaced with "awesome!". The original "dismal" recording is shown during Al's concerts.
  • Hospital Hottie: Elisa, played by the luscious Salma Hayek.
  • Hot Librarian: Liz. Jamie, a cute delivery boy, even uses that phrase to flirt with her.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Kenneth is implied to be one of these.
  • 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 also really enjoys showing that Liz, despite her politics, can be fairly racist.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: Frequent, especially in the vicinity of Product Placement


  • I Always Wanted to Say That: From "The Tuxedo Begins"
    Jack: (to Liz) There's a war coming, and you're going to have to choose a side. I've always wanted to say that, and I can't believe I wasted it on you.
  • Idealist vs. Pragmatist: In season six, Kenneth takes an interest in moving up the corporate ladder, and Jack decides to help him. However, Jack's methods are incredibly cutthroat and ruthless, which puts him at odds with Kenneth, who is fairly naive and values morality.
  • I Have This Friend: Invoked a lot on the show.
    Jack: Tracy, what building is right next to Penn Station?
    Tracy: The Manhattan Center for Penis Enlargement? I know because my friend goes there. His name is Tracy.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Frank discovers he's sexually attracted to Jamie, then discovers he's not gay—the only male he's sexually attracted to is Jamie.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Jack accidentally shoots Tom the janitor while running through 30 Rock brandishing a handgun.
  • I Know You Know I Know: The stalemating between Liz and Jack gets to ridiculous levels in "Today You Are a Man".
  • Imagine Spot: An entire plot thread of "I Heart Connecticut" is about Pete imagining that he's an incredible arm-wrestler.
  • Impairment Shot: Jack in "Hiatus" after he has a heart attack.
  • Improbably Low I.Q.: Hazel Wassername, Kenneth's replacement as the Page.
    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)
  • Informed Emotion: Grizz in "Argus".
  • Inherently Funny Words:
    • Invoked by Liz in The Shower Principle. Later, it becomes a Running Gag in the episode.
      Liz: Last year, Jenna accused me of trying to destroy her because her lines didnít have any 'K' sounds, which she thinks is the funniest sound.
      Pete: Oh my God. My cousin Carl crashed his car, and now he's in a coma at the Kendall Clinic.
    • Played straight earlier in the series:
      Milton: Without a kidney, I'm going to die.
      Dr. Spaceman: [giggling] I think itís the hard K sound thatís making me giggle. Kidney!
    • Also played straight with Tracy, who loves to use the word "booby".
  • Initialism Title: The Show Within a Show T.G.S.
  • Innocent Innuendo: In the episode "Gentleman's Intermission," Jack says that he demands from his mentees, "Drive, Intelligence, Humility and Chaos," which he refers to by the acronym DIHC, pronounced "dick." This leads to him saying things like, "I'm looking for DIHC, Avery, and I'm going to take it wherever I can find it." After a few more examples of this, he pauses and says, "I hear it, and I don't care."
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • In Hogcock!, Liz gets this when trying to get advice from other moms on a message board.
      "So what? Our 2-yo is supergay and we love him more than a str8 child BC HE DOESN'T RAPE!"
    • From 5x09 when Liz is using Kenneth as her therapist.
      Kenneth: Miss Lemon, there's a reason God gave us two ears and only one mouth; listening is twice as important as talking. (beat) But He gave us 10 fingers...He must really want us to poke things!
  • Instant Book Deal: Liz's Dealbreakers book. Naturally, it helps that she had the network's backing in promoting it.
  • Insult Backfire: from "The Problem Solvers":
    Liz: God, Jack, why are you being such a wang about this?
    Jack: I'll take that as a compliment. An Wang, the founder of Wang computers, is one of the greatest businessmen of the twentieth century.
  • Interspecies Romance: Geiss's peacock Argus attempts to woo Liz.
  • Irony:
    • In the competition for Don Geiss's CEO position, the head of the stress ball division cracked under pressure and, uh...hanged himself.
    • The kids whom Liz adopts are Tracy and Jenna as little kids. Liz doesn't mind, for her it's continuity.
  • Is This Thing Still On?
  • 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.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Jack's wine apparently tastes like Satan's urine after a large portion of asparagus.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Jack went to Princeton and Harvard Business School, Jenna went to to Northwestern, and Toofer can't stop mentioning that he went to Harvard. In reality, it's quite common for TV comedy writers to come from very prestigious universities.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The reason Kim Jong-Il does not raise objections to Avery and Jack's marriage vow renewals.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass 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.
  • Jewish Smartass: Danny discusses the stereotype of the sarcastic Jew when he has an exchange where he quips that Canadians have a hard time understanding sarcasm because of Canada's small Jewish population.
  • Joisey: Despite numerous opportunities, thoroughly averted. Never once does anyone make a joke about Tracy's house being in New Jersey, and when Liz's mom talks about going to high school in Montclair with Buzz Aldrin, where she was his high school sweetheart, no jokes were made about that either.
  • 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 Robinson 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".
    • Jack's mother.
  • 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.
  • Keeping the Enemy Close: As quoted by Jack Donaghy:
    Jack: The Italians have a saying, Lemon: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." And although they've never won a war or mass-produced a decent car, in this area they are correct.
  • Killed Off for Real: Colleen, shockingly.
  • Known by the Postal Address: 30 Rock is named for 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, home of NBC Studios.
  • Lampshade Hanging: SO MUCH. In fact the constant lampshading of television tropes is one of the running themes of 30 Rock.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In "Secret Santa," Kenneth loses his faith in God when Twofer, Frank, and Lutz prank him with an imaginary holiday and receive no punishment for their actions. His faith is restored when the three are arrested later for a bomb threat Liz called in to the train station using their telephone.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: The janitor in "100":
    "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 .
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Literally from the first moments of the series with Liz at the hot dog cart, which are the first lines of dialogue in the show.
      Liz: Hey, there's a line.
      Man: Now, there's two lines.
    • In the season 7 episode "Florida," Jack tells Liz that their mentor/mentee relationship was "more interesting" than them dating.
    • In her book Bossypants, Tina Fey points out that Prince Gerhardt from "Black Tie" could be seen as a metaphor for NBC. He's the grotesque, barely-functioning relic of a once-proud family, mirroring the way NBC went from being a powerhouse in the 90's to an utter joke by The New '10s.
    • The season 4 premier 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.
    • In the Season 6 episode "Grandmentor", 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!"
    • In a season 2 episode, Jack accidentally switches phones with a woman he slept with. He and Liz go on to talk about how those "great Verizon wireless phones" are everywhere, how Liz wonders where her nearest carrier is, with Liz finally trailing off, turning to the camera...
      Liz: "Can we have our money now?"
    • Jack's office in Boston is the same as the one in New York, thanks to an "office replication service":
      Liz: "Is it identical?"
      Jack: Not quite. Seven items are different. See if you can spot which ones.
      [Liz turns and looks toward the high-angle shot and they both wait a moment for the audience to play spot the difference.]
    • The last season of the show is about TGS ending.
  • Life Imitates Art: the show would feature a fictional reality show called 'Milf Island' where a group of beautiful older women would compete to be the favourite of a set of young boys. In 2022 TLC would launch the series 'MILF Manor' with almost the exact same premise, Tina Fey commenting on Twitter that it "Sounds familiar?".
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Liz and Jack's bickering often causes observers to wonder if they aren't already married - including when they technically are married.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Rounding out the TGS family is Tracy and Jenna. They become best friends due to their shared obsession with fame and Psychopathic Manchild tendencies.
  • Line-of-Sight Alias:
    • In "Standards and Practices" Liz's pseudonym while hiding (and talking to Kenneth) in the men's bathroom was Kenneth.....Toilethole. She cringes at her own poor effort. She later uses a Wig, Dress, Accent to make the Invented Individual real for a meeting in The Stinger.
    • In the same episode, Kailey Hooper is in Jack's office and invents a girl named ...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.
  • Live Episode:
    • The fifth season episode "Live Show". Two performances were aired live, one for the Eastern and Central time zones and one for the Mountain and Pacific time zones.
    • Again with season six episode "Live from Studio 6H".
  • Living Bodysuit: According to Kenneth's mother, Kenneth is this.
  • 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".
    • The TGS credits shown in "The Fabian Strategy" give credits to Ricky and Ronnie, neither of whom are even given last names.
  • 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.
  • Love Triangle: Jack finds himself in one in season 4, stuck between his high school sweetheart Nancy Donovan and the much younger Avery Jessop, the host of a political talk show on NBC.
  • Luxurious Liquor: Jack Donaghy is a Corrupt Corporate Executive and Magnificent Bastard who likes fine whiskey. Often shown drinking or needing a drink, rarely shown visibly drunk. This trope is lampshaded constantly.
    "Business drunk is like rich drunk. Either way it's legal to drive."
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Jenna and her mother's "Do It to Me One More Time" duet.
    Liz: How are you not moved by this?
    Jack: Because I'm listening to the words.
  • Ma'am Shock: Liz simply purses her lips and shakes her head at no one in particular when a judge calls her "Miss, I mean ma'am" in "Respawn."
  • The Magic Poker Equation: Subverted in "First Date," when Jack's pair of 2s beat Kenneth's King-High.
  • Magic Realism:
    • The Running Gag of Kenneth's immortality.
    • Several characters don't even blink an eye on meeting the real Leap Day William (a Leap Day equivalent of Santa Claus, roughly).
    • Stone Mountain, Georgia apparently has "hill people" who occasionally kidnap hikers or attack the town. From the way Kenneth talks about them, it's debatable if they're civilized, or even human. Kenneth's family was captured by them once, an event Kenneth has no memory of, merely months of missing time.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Tracy and Angie Jordan will get it on wherever they happen to be—even if that's Jack's office or the lobby of Studio 6H.
  • Male Gaze:
    • Discussed by Liz in "Grandmentor" when crazy page Hazel makes some very inaccurate accusations about Kenneth.
      Hazel: Then he undressed me with his eyes. And then he had his way with me... with his eyes.
      Liz: [disapprovingly] Ugh. The male gaze.
      Hazel: Yeah, they're all a bunch of gays!
    • Played straight in "Brooklyn Without Limits" where Jack (and even Jenna) are mesmerized by how fantastic Liz's butt looks in her new jeans.
      Jenna: [watching Liz walk away] I'd hit that.
      Tracy: [critically] Too small.
  • Manchild:
    • Kathy Geiss, who is also The Ditz.
    • 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!
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Claire Harper, played by Jennifer Aniston in season 3. However, her antics become less charming as the episodes goes on and and it becomes clear that she's called "Crazy Claire" for a reason. At the end she steals a police officer's gun and lets Jack take the blame. All Played for Laughs of course.
    Liz: Yep. Fun, craaaazy Claire.
    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.
  • Manipulative Editing: Angie's Show Within a Show Queen 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.
  • MayĖDecember Romance:
    • At one point Liz romances a 20 year-old. It ends badly when Liz discovers that she looks exactly like his mother.
    • Jack and Avery.
    • Frank and all of the cleaning ladies at 30 Rock.
    • Frank and his former elementary school teacher.
    • Kenneth and Hazel, given Kenneth's true age.
  • Meaningful Echo: In "MILF Island," Liz and a cutthroat Reality TV contestant say the same line simultaneously.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Kenneth's last name is Parcell. As a page, he would obviously be handling a lot of parcels.
    • Don Geiss, CEO and patriarch of GE.
    • 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 is a basketcase in the way a malfunction-prone car is called a "lemon."
  • Meat-O-Vision: Apparently happened to Tracy once while fasting, since he referred to Liz as a "talking turkey leg".
  • Medal of Dishonor: Liz's "Followship Award".
  • Memory Wipe Exploitation:
    • A social worker comes to inspect Liz's workplace to ensure she is fit to raise a child. It goes disastrously wrong, and the woman deems Liz unfit to adopt before receiving a concussion. She forgets the entire day, which Liz uses as a second chance and gives her the perfect tour of the studio... only for the woman to be so banged up she forgets that as well.
    • In another episode, Liz's brother (who suffers from short-term memory loss due to an accident and who thinks he's still a teenager in the 1980s) meets Liz's co-workers; Cerie tells him that she'll meet him "later" in the hot tub, knowing he'll have had another memory lapse by then.
  • Metaphorgotten: From "The Natural Order":
    "Dear racist Liz Lemon. This is how you treat me: like a white-whiskered gibbon put on this earth to do nothing but dance around for your amusement and reduce the insect population of Malaysia."
  • Mic Drop:
    • Liz Lemon at the end of her high school reunion.
      Liz: Liz Lemon out!
    • Kenneth, after being fired, drunkenly grabs a mic to tell everyone exactly how he feels about them. He angrily tells them that they are his best friends, and he hopes they all get... what they want out of life. Then he forcefully drops the mic, before stumbling away muttering hateful sounding compliments under his breath.
  • 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, or lack thereof.
    • The reason Liz is terrible at dating, as pointed out by Jenna.
  • Missing Reflection: 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.
  • Mistaken for Cheating:
    • Tracy's wife kicks him out after a misunderstanding with a transvestite prostitute; however, Griz and Dot Com confirm that Tracy never messes around with transvestite prostitutes, he just tries to get them to turn their lives around by enrolling in computer school. It's later confirmed that Tracy has never cheated on his wife, despite his reputation as a philanderer.
    • When Pete lives with Liz after his wife kicks him out, his coworkers begin to suspect that he is having an affair due to his change in demeanor; however, it turns out that that he's actually sleeping with his wife, as the sneaking around has rejuvenated his love life.
    • When Pete and Liz are tasked with finding a new cast member but try to hide it from the current cast, their sneaking around is interpreted as them having an affair. When the crew accuse them, they go along with it, only coming clean when Pete's wife hears of it and reluctantly offers to open their marriage to Liz.
  • Mistaken for Fake Hair: Tracy's wife, Angie, gets to be on a reality show centered around herself. However, her contract states she must rip out the weave of several people during the show, so she repeatedly tugs out Liz's hair despite the latter protesting it's not a weave.
  • 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.
    • Also:
      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.
  • 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."
  • Mistaken for Racist:
    • The whole of NBC during Congresswoman Regina Bookman's (played by Queen Latifah) visit to 30 Rock in "Let's Stay Together." Namely:
      • Tracy eating from the TGS staff's food while Lutz calls him out on it (Tracy had been working on DotCom's pilot, which had a separate food budged and separate catering): "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.
    • In The Source Awards, Liz goes on a date with Tracy's business manager, an African-American man named Steven Black:
      • Liz initially mistakes Jack for racist when she thinks his remarks regarding Steven's family (the Blacks) as referring to African-Americans in general:
      "Remarkable people, the Blacks. Musical, very athletic, not very good swimmers. Again, I'm talking about the family."
      • When Liz and Steven are on the date, Liz quickly realizes that they have nothing in common and tries to break it off; he loudly announces that he gets it, it's because he's black. Liz then resolves to keep dating him until he realizes for himself that they aren't a good match.
      • It culminates when they attend the Source Awards ceremony; Liz accidentally shoots Steven as he's looking in her purse for his phone that he had asked her to carry. Steven assumes that she shot him intentionally because she though he was trying to rob her. Jack is then again mistaken for racist when he exclaims "You shot a Black!", and then again has to explain that he's referring to Steven's last name.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: Two of Liz's Arabic neighbors, who she sees studying maps, training physically, and finding quick routes to the airport. 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. Somewhat explained by the nature of his job; Jack's job is routinely showed to mostly be about high-level executive management functions and major business deals, whereas work specific to television production is delegated to employees like Liz. He was, at the time, expected to hold the office for six months to a year while being groomed as the new CEO of General Electric.
  • Moon-Landing Hoax: A group of candidates for Jack's old position take a tour in the "A Goon's Deed in a Weary World" episode and one gets quite excited when he sees Studio 6H.
    Charlie: This is Studio 6H. Do you know what's been shot on this stage? TGS, the Joey Montero show, the Lovebirds.
    Jack: And the moon landing.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: Subverted. Kenneth is shown talking to his mother, of whom we only see the back (à la Psycho). The camera rotates and we see Kenneth is talking to a skeleton in mother-style shawl and wig (à 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.
  • Mushroom Samba: The gas leak in "100" causes hallucinations, flashbacks, and nostalgia.
  • Music Video Syndrome: Parodied in the finale of season 4, where Jack and Avery can't hear each other over the song.
  • My Beloved Smother: Colleen.
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Liz, big time, but even Jack gets in on the fun sometimes.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: Avery hides her pregnancy from her co-workers for as long as possible, as part of a play to get a promotion. Since she works as a news anchor, this involves a bunch of jokes about standard things TV shows do to hide pregnancies ó she does one broadcast holding a large ham in front of her belly, and later takes up wearing black wizard cloaks.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • N-Word Privileges:
    • Toofer has apparently lost them, by virtue of his educated demeanor.
      Liz: It just sounds so hateful coming from you.
    • Subverted when Grizz makes Liz read a message to Tracy and Dotcom. Stumbling over the ending, she says that there's a word she can't, as a white person, say: "homie", although it could als be interpreted as Liz replacing the N-word with the word "homie."
    • Jack and Liz are convinced that other races don't even have the privilege to say "Puerto Rican."
      Jack: I'm sorry, what do you call yourself?
      Elisa: A Puerto Rican.
      Jack: No, I know you can say that but what do I call you?
      Elisa: A Puerto Rican!
      Jack: Wow, that does not sound right...
    • Tracy is slightly confused by his. During his attempt to make people lose respect for him:
      Tracy: (plaintively) I even called a basketball team a bunch of nappy-headed hoes, but apparently I'm allowed to do that? Why?note 
  • Naked Nutter: Tracy's Establishing Character Moment shows a flashback of him running down a highway in his underwear waving around a plastic lightsabre and yelling "I'm a Jedi!".
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: In the "Live Show" episode, Jenna wore a green outfit with a neckline that reached her navel.
  • Never Learned to Read: In "Jack-Tor" Liz comes to the mistaken conclusion that Tracy can't read, and Tracy uses this as an excuse to goof off.
  • Nerd Glasses: Liz Lemon.
    Jenna: "She doesn't even need those glasses!"
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Kenneth briefly becomes a parody of one in the season 4 episode "Secret Santa."
  • No Bisexuals:
    • According to Liz Lemon in the season three finale, bisexuality doesn't exist, "it's just something they invented in the '90s to sell hair products". Much earlier in the series, Liz attempts to 'become a lesbian' but can't because she likes men too much.
    • Averted in the final season, when Ambiguously Gay Lutz is revealed to be bisexual.
  • Nominated as a Prank: One episode had Liz going to her High School Reunion with Jack. Liz, who had imagined herself as a put-upon nerd when she was in high school, realizes her classmates viewed her as the Alpha Bitch. Jack meanwhile impersonates a former student who didn't show up to the reunion and becomes popular with Liz's classmates. He learns that they plan to get back at Liz by voting her Best School Spirit and dumping something unpleasant on her when she goes to accept the award. Jack is able to intervene and defends Liz to the crowd.
  • Noodle Incident: The unsolved crew death; the Angela Lansbury lawsuit.
    • Also, in one episode, Jack and Liz are talking in a flashback, and Liz's chatter inspires him- he gets on the phone with someone and orders "dump all the unsold dishwashers into the ocean". We never got any more specifics about that.
  • 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".
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?:
    • "I think we need to change this Donald Trump joke... because he was eaten by a lion this morning on the International Space Station."
    • "You're not listening to a word I'm saying. Poop! Monkey butt!"
      • "Thanks! Just portion control and exercise!"
  • The Not-Love Interest: Despite the occational Ship Tease, this is the show's stance on Liz and Jack's relationship. They've even accidentally gotten married without any impact on their relationship. In late Season Six they kiss as part of a Fakeout Makeout to protect one of Jack's secrets. No Sparks is putting it mildly and it's portrayed as a great sacrifice for both parties. Jack and Liz discuss the fact that they've never gotten together in the final season, as a way of discussing what the fans really want. They only admit to loving each other platonically in the series finale.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Spoken aloud by Generalissimo to Jack in "Generalissimo": "We're not so different, you and I..."
    • Liz, whose job is taken up in large part by reining in Jenna's neurotic diva meltdowns, finds that being an on-air personality reduces her to a high-strung mess as well. Frank, meanwhile, finds that trying to do Liz's job turns him into Liz.
  • Not-So-Final Confession: Liz confesses to Jack during airplane turbulence in "Reunion".
    Liz: "One time I laughed at a blind guy eating spaghetti! Sometimes I pee in the shower if I'm really tired! I saw my grandparents making love once and I didn't leave right away!"
  • Not So Great Escape: Lampshaded; Liz says, "This would've worked on Ugly Betty."
  • Not So Harmless: Hazel's sexual harassment lawsuit gets TGS canceled.

  • Obsolete Mentor: Rosemary Howard.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Played With. The GE (and later Kabletown) executive hierarchy at NBC sometimes seems to consist entirely of Jack, although this is mostly because he has a large personal interest in Tracy (who is high-maintenance and a mainstay of their income) and Liz (whom he has an interest in grooming for the elite). There are also several occasions where Kenneth acts like Jack is his direct supervisor, prompting Jack to remind him that this is very much not the case.
    Kenneth: Sir, I have a problem with my time card.
    Jack Donaghy: So, naturally, you came to me, because this company is just the two of us.
  • The One Who Made It Out: Parodied with Tracy.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Subverted when Jack threatens Robert De Niro with revealing he was actually from England.
      DeNiro: [in a thick, convincing Cockney accent] But I'm so identified with New York, you bloody tosser!
    • In "Future Husband", where Liz calls Wesley in order to trick him into coming back to the dentist's office:
      Liz: This is Nurse Jamakaiah from Dr. Kaplan's office. So here's da ting. You need to come in today so the doctor can check dem teeth, mon.
      Wesley: Oh, is there something wrong? My check-up isn't for another week.
      Liz: He tinks dat toot might have some bad mojo in it, ja see. Might you be available to come in around 1:30, me lad?
      Kenneth (standing by): You're going 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: The Running Gag that Kenneth is, at the very least, over 40. Depending on how many one-off jokes you consider "canon", he may be a youthful-looking man, The Ageless or not even human:
    • In "Cutbacks" he claims to have owned his parrot for 60 years.
    • His response to being asked if he wants to be a page forever is a very alarmed "Who said I've been alive forever?".
    • At one point 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 one 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.
    • 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:
      Kenneth: [collapsing a telescope] You see how much good is in them? How much capacity for love? [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 an in-universe version of 30 Rock to Kenneth, now head of NBC and looking exactly the same.
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: When Liz agrees to be a bridesmaid at Cerie's wedding:
    (Smiling, hugging Liz) Now I have my something old!
  • Old Shame: When Liz was still trying to be an actor in Chicago, the only role she ever got was in a commercial for an adult chat line. She considers this very embarassing, and is mortified when she realizes that a copy exists on YouTube.
  • Once a Season:
    • Typically, Liz has a new multi-episode boyfriend usually played by a special guest star (Dean Winters, Jason Sudeikis, Jon Hamm, Michael Sheen, and Matt Damon among them) every season.
    • Dennis Duffy and Devon Banks usually make one, if not two, appearances per season.
  • One-Steve Limit:
    • Hilariously lampshaded when Jack essentially orders new cast member Jack Baker to go by the name Danny. The fact that Danny's actual name is Jack is never brought up again.
    • Jack has this done to him by Real Life GE CEO Jack Welch in "Future Husband". Laser-Guided Karma, anyone?
      Jack Welch: Please, John, call me Jack.
      Jack Donaghy: I actually go by Jack as well.
      Jack Welch: I don't think so.
  • Only Sane Employee: Former Trope Namer as "Liz Lemon Job".
  • Only Sane Man: Grizz and Dot Com do their best to fulfill this role for Tracy.
  • O.O.C. 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". The one in "The Problem Solvers" is specifically a parody of an Orbital Kiss:
    Jack: [smiling] Lemon.
    Liz: [also smiling] Jack.
    Jack: I was wrong. It's you, it's always been you. I want to do business with you, Lemon.
    Liz: I'd like that.
    [they grin and shake hands as the camera goes around them]
  • Oscar Bait: Tracy's film Hard to Watch, which actually earns him the Oscar.
  • Out of Focus:
    • 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.
    • By Season 7 most characters other than the core five (Liz, Jack, Tracy, Jenna, Kenneth) have faded Out Of Focus. Cerie, 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."
  • Outdated Outfit: In season 6 when Kenneth works in the standards and practices department all his suits are from the 70s, a nod to his implied Really 700 Years Old status.
  • Painting the Medium: The nature of the show allows them to paint regularly.
    • 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?
    • The very first lines in the pilot are "Hey, there's a line!" and "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.
    • "Flashback, please!"
    • In Grandmentor:
      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 and 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.
  • Personality Swap: When Liz makes an ill-fated foray into on-camera work, the constant scrutiny and stress turns her into a neurotic diva like Jenna. Meanwhile, Frank steps in to replace Liz, and winds up becoming Liz.
  • 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.
  • Phony Degree: "Dr" Spaceman. (Don't forget the Scare Quotes, he's legally required to use them.)
  • Phrase Catcher: Cerie with, "Thank you, Cerie!" (Usually said by Liz in an annoyed tone to Cerie after she says something unintentionally offensive).
  • Plucky Office Girl: Despite being the head writer on a very successful TV show, and despite technically being lower-level management, Liz Lemon fits this trope to a T.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Jack Donaghy in earlier episodes. Funnier because he actually does have pointy spiked hair in earlier episodes ("Hair like a Viking, God bless ya!").
  • Poor Man's Porn: Liz starred in a phone sex ad for 1-900-OK-FACE.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name:invoked
    • 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."
  • Post-Robbery Trauma: Jack in "The Tuxedo Begins" refuses to leave his office for days after being mugged.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Played for comedy in "Apollo, Apollo". Apparently Kenneth sees everyone as Muppets; Tracy sees everyone as copies of himself; and Jack sees everything captioned with its price (and believes Kenneth to be worth $7).
  • 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." This is sly Biting-the-Hand Humor, as the comedy world's low opinion of Leno's comedic style is well established.
    • Jamba Juice:
      James Franco: Five dates a week, one fight a month, and because of a product placement deal with Jamba Juice, the fight will take place in a Jamba Juice.
      Jenna: I love Jamba Juice!
    • They hit the obligatory Biting-the-Hand Humor later in the episode when Jenna complains that the frequent visits to Jamba Juice have left her suffering from "ice-cold diarrhea."
    • In the episode with Jerry Seinfeld, Bee Movie is heavily plugged, with a look to the audience, telling them the release date.
    • The painting in Jack's office changes periodically, always showing and glorifying a real GE product.
    • The following conversation:
      Jonathan: Itís Cisco equipment sir. It's 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".
  • Publicity Stunt Relationship: James Franco's manager asks actress Jenna Maroney to pretend to date Franco. This is proposed as a business transaction: Jenna gets the media attention she craves, and James Franco wants to "dispel certain unsavory rumors" about his sex life (he's secretly in love with a Japanese body pillow). They sign a detailed contract (specifying things like "number of fights per month") and at first Jenna is thrilled, but she eventually breaks it off to pursue a real relationship.
  • Punctuation Changes the Meaning:
    • When Grizz and Dot Com show Tracy his birthday invitations, Tracy notices that they put "Give to charity please! No presents." on the invites. Dot Com says that that's what he told them to put on them. Tracy says that what he meant was "Give to charity? Please, no. Presents!"
    • At one point Jack mentions that the first edition of a book he wrote had a typo. He said "By the end of this quarter, we're all gonna be in the black-comma-guys", not "We're all gonna be in the black guys."
  • 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.
      Jack: (near tears) You're cleared for approach!
  • Ratings Stunt: Discussed by Elisa in "Generalissimo".
    Elisa: He drugged her champagne and had his way with her. Later, she gave birth to the devil. You know, sweeps week.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • NBC is sold to 'Kabletown', a Philadelphia-based cable company. This may or may not have something to do with the announced sale of NBC Universal to Comcast, a Philadelphia-based cable company.
    • The death of Don Geiss probably is due to actor Rip Torn breaking into a bank in the middle of the night while armed and drunk.
    • In "Khonani", the subplot of two janitors fighting over the late shift paralleled the Jay Leno/Conan O'Brien drama. It was also a Take That! aimed at NBC by the show.
    • Season 6 episode "Idiots Are People Two!" addresses Tracy Morgan's homophobic ranting during the summer after Season 5.
    • Finally, Season 7 episode "Florida" reveals that TGS will be canceled, just like 30 Rock.
  • Really 700 Years Old: A Running Gag suggests that Kenneth is immortal, or at least keeps getting reborn. In the final show, Kenneth is still president of NBC, but he's listening to show pitches from Liz Lemon's granddaughter, with flying cars outside - and he's the same age.
  • Record Needle Scratch: In "Queen of Jordan 2: The Mystery of the Phantom Pooper", when the cameras catch Jack and Avery's mother Diana kissing.
  • Recurring Extra: Lampshaded in "100" when Liz directly acknowledges the "recurring hobos."
  • Regent for Life: Variation in Jack's attempts to steer Kaylie into following her parents' generation into "Trust Fund Kid Syndrome" so that he can become CEO of Kabletown.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: Multiple licensed songs were replaced with public domain songs in the versions available on streaming services, but the subtitles will show the song titles and lyrics from the original run.
  • Retconning the Wiki: Jenna was set to play Janis Joplin on a movie, so the guys vandalized the Wikipedia article on her to mess with Jenna and get her to do silly stuff.
  • Retirony: One of the maintenance guys is on his last day in "100". There's also a gas leak... He ends up getting shot in the abdomen.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Attempted by Jack in the Finale - but then he gets an epiphany: see-through dishwashers! He finds himself back where he's happiest: innovating for GE.
  • Right Behind Me: Liz overhears Lutz using a bad word to describe her.
  • Royally Screwed Up: Exaggerated with Prince Gerhard Habsburg, who has visibly (and audibly!) suffered from generations of inbreeding in his family line.
  • Rule of Three
    • Referenced when Liz says, "I found Tracy, I saved the show, I always think of a third thing when I'm listing stuff..."
    • In "Stone Mountain", after two celebrities die Tracy is convinced he will be the third.
    • In "Hey Baby, What's Wrong", Kenneth actually calls out "It's the rule of threes" as Jenna is listing times that she's been under pressure.
    • "Jack Donaghy...he's the only guy out there with the programming experience, business savvy, and piercing blue eyes of a Siberian Husky that the job requires." -Avery Jessup
  • 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.
    • References to Kenneth being immortal:
      • When people ask his age or birthday, he'll say with uncharacteristic firmness, "Don't worry about it!"
      • On his imagined gravestone, the first two digits of his birth year are obscured.
      • He's seen in the background of a distant flashback looking the same as he ever days.
      • The distant flash-forward in the final episode shows Kenneth still as President of NBC and looking like he hasn't aged a day.
    • Lutz being a closeted gay man.
    • Jenna saying certain words, like "camera," in a stilted accent.
    • Tracy getting people's names wrong.
    • Liz's enormous appetite and prudishness.
    • Cerie saying things that remind everyone how much younger than them she is, making them feel old.
    • Jack stating that Liz is his age and having to be reminded that she is twelve years younger than him.
    • A character is surprised by another character and the surprised person yells out something insulting, accompanied by a Scare Chord.
      Floyd: (Seeing Liz at her grossest) Crone!
      Liz: (Surprised by Elisa) Puerto Rican!
      Liz: (Surprised by Avery) Albino ninja!
      Kenneth: (Surprised by Jenna) Vampyr!
    • Shouting "Shut it down!" when something isn't working
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: Cerie's wedding is delayed by several months because her fiancée is captured by Somali pirates. Due to Stockholm Syndrome, some of them end up as groomsmen at the wedding.
  • Sadist Show: While a lot of Liz's misfortunes are brought on by herself, the show takes a lot of joy in dragging her mercilessly, as none of her cowrokers seem to respect her except, sometimes, Jack.
  • Sanity Slippage: The pressure of running General Electric gets to Devon Banks in "Do Over".
    Jack: Are you insane? Think about the jobs, the economy! This is G.E.!
    Devon: It's just G now, Jack, I sold the E, to Samsung, they're Samesung now!
  • Sassy Black Woman:
    • Tracy's wife, Angie.
      Angie: Oh, you lookin' for a sassy black friend?
      Liz: Oh no, I didn't mean...
      Angie: Well you got one now, girlfriend, go on!
    • Shanice, played by Adrienne C. Moore, in "Governor Dunston" as the office supply store employee and "Mazel Tov, Dummies!" as the flirty marriage license clerk.
  • 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.
  • invokedThe Scrappy: Jenna was cast on Night Court as a werewolf lawyer, which caused the show to Jump the Shark (and Harry Anderson, Markie Post, and Charles Robinson are still mad at her about it).
  • "The Scream" Parody: Jack gets mugged by a middle-class, white man and decides it is a sign that there is a war being waged on the rich. Tracy tries to support him, and after they discover no one is willing to do anything about it, he announces they should take matters into their own hands. Jack then promptly agrees, causing Tracy to shriek in horror while grabbing his head.
  • 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.
  • Screw Yourself:
    • Jenna attempts this with a drag queen who impersonates her.
    • Jack's hallucinatory alternate, past, and future selves decide to pull a threesome once the real one runs off.
  • Secret Other Family: Don Geiss is revealed to have had a secret Canadian family and a secret attic family. Fridge Horror sets in when you look at Kathy and Bertram and assume they're the "best" of his kids.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • In-show examples:
      • Being who he is, Tracy might not have realized it, but:
        Tracy: I hope the new dude isn't impossible to work with like some people I know. (jabs thumbs at self)
      • Kenneth calls himself a "chinless piece of human garbage" while role-playing Avery in "Respawn".
    • Meta examples:
      • Every baby name Jack suggests to Liz is put down in spectacular fashion, especially "Christina, 'cause then everyone calls her Tina, and every Tina I've known is a real judgmental bitch."
      • Jack instructing Tracy on how to lose the image of being a serious actor: go back to doing television shows.
      • Jack in one episode accuses Liz of inserting left-leaning political messages into her show. Alec Baldwin is an outspoken liberal activist, and Tina Fey was at the time rather well-known for her satirical portrayal of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. The show itself frequently takes swipes at the Bush Administration, and in the 2012 election season, at Mitt Romney.
      • In the final season, Jack slips "Alec Baldwin" into a list of liberal nemeses he has overcome.
      • As a whole, 30 Rock makes fun of NBC, its own network, almost Once an Episode.
  • Self-Induced Allergic Reaction:
    • Kenneth intentionally eats strawberries so Jenna can have an excuse to see an EMT she likes.
    • Jack states that he eats peanuts because he has a peanut allergy and has forced his body to acclimate to them.
  • Self-Serving Memory:
    • In "The Rural Juror", Liz remembers herself as being much more supportive of Jenna than she really was. She remembers herself with a much hotter boyfriend, too.
    • Liz remembers herself as the loveable nerd in high school; when she goes to her reunion, she learns that her humor and sarcasm were much harsher than she realized and she was viewed as a bully by the rest of the students.
  • 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 2, 30 Rock and TGS are always on the same number of seasons for purposes of Leaning on the Fourth Wall jokes. The unaired pilot establishes that The Girlie Show has only been airing for five weeks, providing an explanation for this.
  • Serious Business: The final lunch order for the writing staff. Lutz insists on choosing Blimpie, which the rest of the staff despises, as a power play. Each side goes to extraordinary lengths to have their way.
  • Set Behind the Scenes: Set backstage of The Girlie Show.
  • Seven Dirty Words: Tracy Jordan in an episode decided to exploit the fact that he could easily pay the $50,000 fine for every time he swore on TV.
    Tracy: I'm off to appear on Martha Stewart Live. Oh, it's gonna be raunchy!
  • Sexiness Score: In "Reaganing", Jack tells Liz that under "certain lights" and while using the "East Coast over-35 standards", she's an "8".
  • Ship Tease: Tina Fey is just toying with us.
    • One episode contrived to have Jack claim to be in love with Liz so that her current boy-toy would break up with her. She finds out and confronts him about it.
      Liz: What did you say made you fall in love with me? Was it my body? My dancing? It started off as a joke but now it's becoming real!
  • Shout-Out: See the subpage.
  • 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. Notable examples are Milf Island, Gold Case, and America's Kidz Got Singing.
    • 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.
    • Whenever Grizz and Dotcom wax erudite, you can bet that they'll say something well researched.
  • Sick and Wrong: Hazel claims she's naturally blond, but dyes her hair dark brown. Jenna finds this disgusting.
  • Silver Vixen: 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.
  • Similarly Named Works: In-Universe. Jack quotes the poem "Invictus", prompting Liz to wonder who the white guy from Invictus was.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
    • Jack considers teenaged Kaylie Hooper (ChloŽ Grace Moretz), the granddaughter of his boss this and even calls her his "nemesis".
    • Devon Banks (Will Arnett) also fills this role. Or at least he used to before he became a joke.
    • In "Game Over", Kaylie and Devon unite against Jack.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Literally with Jack and C.C. in the first episode they first meet. She slaps him (for being a representative of the Big Business she hates so much) then kisses him (because she's really into him), then slaps him, then kisses him, then goes into the elevator, then holds open the elevator door so she can run out and slap him and kiss him again.
  • 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 "Generalíssimo" for reasons almost as complex as the plot of the soap.
  • So Unfunny, It's Funny: TGS with Tracey Jordan tends to be depicted as this whenever we see it in action. The idea that everyone in the main cast had to sign off on a skit titled "Prince William and Prince: Time-Traveling Fart Detectives" is infinitely funnier than any attempt at an actually good skit could be.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Special Guest: Jerry Seinfeld and others; lampshaded in "SeinfeldVision", but usually played straight. Frankly, every other guest role gets played by a Hollywood A-lister.
  • Spell My Name with an S: There are spelling inconsistencies within the subtitles, such as Donaghy vs. Donagee, Cerie vs. Suri, and Devon vs. Devin.
  • Spit Take:
    • "100".
      Liz: "And I wasn't even drinking anything."
    • In "The Problem Solvers", to express astonishment, Liz actually says the words "spit take".
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Tracy gets quite a bit more focus than many of the other characters. By comparison, Toofer is rarely given anything to do.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title: the Show Within a Show The Girlie Show becomes TGS with Tracy Jordan thanks to Jack's invokedExecutive Meddling.
  • 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.
  • Story Arc
  • 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. (gives his usual laugh but sounds more like a strangled scream)
  • 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.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: The former Trope Namer ("Did A Korean Person Die"). Happens frequently, especially between Tracy and Jenna.
    • 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.
  • Strawman Political:
    • 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 one early episode, Liz admits to telling all her friends she's voting for Obama but secretly intending to vote for John McCain. It appears not even Jack is aware of this, as he later refers to Obama derisively as "your president" when addressing Liz. Four years later while objecting to the Romney campaign, Liz tries to list Obama's great accomplishments and humorously fails.
    • In "Respawn" Liz spouts a bunch of strawman liberal catchphrases to try and "cheer up" Jack back into his usual cutthroat self.
    • In "Secrets And Lies" Jack gives an inspiring speech to a room full of Republicans, causing many members of the crowd to stand up and confess "sins" such as "I gave to NPR," "My children go to public school," and "I'm black!"
    • In-Universe example: Jack intentionally uses Liz as one to prompt donors to give to the Romney campaign.
    • Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign is portrayed as highly stereotypical of Republicans - wealthy plutocrats out of touch with ordinary people who believe money can buy their way to victory.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • Any asides of supposed TGS sketches. Or any other supposed shows (MILF Island: "25 super hot moms. 50 eighth-grade boys. invoked No rules.")
    • Any reference to Tracy Jordan's projects: Honky Grandma Be Trippin', Fat Bitch, Fat Bitch 2, his adaptation of An Affair to Remember: A Blaffair to Rememblack, Samurai I Am Awry, Black Cop/White Cop, Who Dat Ninja, and Sherlock Homie. Then there's his attempt to be seen as a serious actor, literally called Hard to Watch. 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 Tune to Rural Juror.
  • Surreal Humor: In spades.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Jenna does this incessantly, but the rest of the cast is susceptible too.
    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.
    • Also:
      'Jenna: This is not a rage stroke!!
    • After Liz had an uncharacteristic one-night-stand: Jack: "He's certainly not a Swiss prostitute that Martha Stewart recommended to me."
    • Liz: Hey Jenna can I talk to you a sec?
Jenna: Thats ridiculous! Why would I steal a file from personnel?
  • 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.
  • Sycophantic Servant: Jonathan.
  • Take That!: In addition to their parent network NBC, many jabs are taken at everything from the obscure to the popular.
    • When Jack is showing off a voice-controlled TV to the Kabletown president, Jack mutters "Crap". Behind him, the television changes channels to Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
    • Aaron Sorkin makes a cameo on "Plan B":
      Sorkin: I'm Aaron Sorkin. West Wing, A Few Good Men, Social Network
      Liz: Studio 60?
      Sorkin: Shut up.
    • 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 a parody of the Real Houswives franchises.
    • In "Mazel Tov, Dummies!", the Cold Open ends with Dennis Duffy pushing his equally-loutish wife and Afro-clad black adopted son Black Dennis through a diner, screaming "21st-century family coming through! This is The New Normal!"
    • Liz notes with disgust that Wesley has a parrot named "Arli$$". In another episode, Kenneth states that 22 years is half the time it felt like Arliss was on the air.
    • The two-part finale includes an epic battle of wills between Lutz and the rest of the writing staff over Lutz's insistence on getting lunch from Blimpie as vengeance for the rest of the writing staff insulting him.
  • 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 Episode, 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.
  • Temporary Substitute: In the first season, Jonathan disappeared for two episodes. A character called Matt filled in as Jack's assistant until Jonathan's return.
  • Tempting Fate: When Jack is trying to convince Liz to go on a blind date, he says that he thinks a single woman's greatest fear is choking to death in her own apartment, which Liz rolls her eyes at. Later that night, she nearly does just that, which convinces her to go on the blind date.
  • 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...
  • That Came Out Wrong
    Devon: I'm honestly not trying to make this sound gay.
    Jack: No one is; it's just happening.
  • The Twink: Every background gay character in the series.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Bitch Hunter, of course.
    Bitch Hunter: Put down the mimosas, bitch!
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Lampshaded on 30 Rock episode "I Heart Connecticut", with the fictional NBC show "Who Nose?" about an investigative reporter who must compensate for a lack of smell.
    Reporter: You under estimated me, Congressman, because I canít smell. But you made one mistake: You let me see the documents.
  • Three-Way Sex: In his last act of awesomeness, Jack pulls this off with Nancy and Elisa in penultimate episode "Hogcock!".
  • Title Drop: Frequently with episode titles.
  • Token Black 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.
  • Too Dumb to Live: After Jenna has a messy break-up with a sniper, a laser sight appears on her forehead in Liz's office. Jenna decides to run up to the window and mock him for his mother issues.
  • Took A Level In Jerk Ass: Pops up quite a bit in the series, especially with Liz and the writing staff.
  • Too Many Halves: Jack describes an incredibly fancy dessert as being "topped with 25-carat gold leaf." Note that 24-carat gold is pure, 100% gold.
  • Totally Radical:
    Randy Lemon: But I'm not going home until I give my cool cousin a makeover!
    Liz: (giggles) Is it gonna be fierce?
    Randy: It would be if it was 2006!
    • Jenna has problems with this.
      Jenna: No more making fun of me when I misuse dated cultural references, okay? Are we cowabunga on this?
      Liz: This party has to be off the hook!
      Tracy: People don't say that anymore...they say Surf Party USA!
  • Trust Me, I'm an X: From "Christmas Attack Zone".
    Milton: "Listen to me, dammit, I'm a doctor."
    Jack: "Of history! In what emergency would you be necessary? If someone wanted to know whether the 60s were awesome or not?"
    Milton: "They were!"
  • Truth-Telling Session: Jack is dating a liberal Congresswoman and hides it from his colleagues, as she is an anti-big-business crusader. When he decides to finally announce their relationship in the executive lunch room of GE, he sparks this. His conservative colleagues confess to various "sins" such as donating to NPR, sending their children to public school, and being gay or black, while his liberal girlfriend admits to having voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984. Everyone applauds in mutual understanding, then another man stands up and confesses that he murdered his wife.
  • Turn in Your Badge: When Kenneth is fired in the final episode of Season 4, he hands in his NBC page badge - and his gun, which disturbs Pete.
  • Twofer Token Minority: James Spurlock, both "a Black guy and a Harvard guy", is nicknamed "Toofer." 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. 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).
  • Unconventional Food Usage: Pete Hornberger and his wife use Pop-Tarts for sexual purposes; Liz completely loses her composure when she sees one on her bed while Pete and his wife are having sex in her apartment (after having already eaten a Pop-Tart she found in her apartment earlier in the episode).
  • Unique Pilot Title Sequence: The opening credits of the first episode feature Liz in a That Girl/The Mary Tyler Moore Show-type opening, but this ends up as a Left the Background Music On gag and actually they're singing about the Show Within the Show character "Pam, the Overly-Confident Morbidly Obese Woman". The second episode introduces the regular opening credits (although the Pam tune is frequently heard as background music during the series, when Liz is on-screen.)
  • Unlucky Everydude(tte): Liz Lemon
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Much of the cast, but especially Liz and Jack.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • "Here comes the Funcooker!"
    • "Lizzing," a combination of laughing and whizzing.
    • "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.
  • Valentine's Day Episodes: Liz Lemon does not have the best of luck on Valentine's Day.
    • In the series' first Valentine's Day episode, "Up All Night", Liz tries to figure out who sent her flowers. Turns out they were sent to her accidentally, as she had a similar name to the senders girlfriend.
    • 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.
  • Values Dissonance: Invoked with Bucky Bright, an entertainer from the early days of television on NBC. He's a throwback to entertainers like Milton Berle, who worked clean, but were much less so in their private lives.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: Pete Hornburger once spends an entire episode with his hand trapped in a vending machine.
  • 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.
    • Tracy has a tendency to repeat the final word or two of a sentence for emphasis. "You're forcing me to act like an adult. "An adult!"
  • Vertigo Effect:
    • "Flu Shot", when the flu hits the TGS set and Liz becomes terrified of catching it from her coworkers.
    • "Greenzo" when Liz realizes with horror that Kenneth is inviting people to one of his parties.
    • "The Beginning of the End" when Liz (again) realizes that Jack is deliberately tanking NBC.
    • "Florida" when Liz (yes! again!) realizes that Jack's late mother Colleen had entered into a lesbian relationship in her later years.
    • "Live from Studio 6H", the second live show, when Kenneth (not Liz!) is told that TGS will no longer be live. Liz does poke her head into frame, though...
  • The Voiceless: Since season 1, there's been a number of silent, nameless writers in the TGS writer's room. One of them finally speaks in "Respawn," which actually surprises the person himself. Another female writer manages to speak up as well in "Last Lunch."
  • Wake Up Fighting: Lutz, with a golf club, when the writers dare Kenneth to wake him up wearing an ape mask and roaring.
  • Walk and Talk: Subverted and lampshaded.
  • 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."
  • Waxing Lyrical: In "What Will Happen to the Gang Next Year?", after Criss sells his hotdog van named "Van Der Beek", he says "I don't wanna wait for our lives to be over." Part of joke was that earlier in the episode Criss mentioned that he had never actually seen Dawson's Creek.
  • Wedding Episode: Liz finally finds Mr. Right in Season 6, and gets married to Criss in Season 7's "Mazel Tov, Dummies!".
  • Weirdness Censor: Kenneth suddenly realizes how odd the whole TV industry is.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Invoked when Jenna asks Kenneth to find her a new light bulb for her dressing room.
    Kenneth: Easy as pie, Miss Maroney! What could go wrong? (beat) Why would I even say that?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The episode where Tracy became a Republican suddenly ends with him being a Republican and nothing in the show references it again.
    • Angie: We support Kucinich.
  • What Is This Feeling?: Tracy and Jenna react this way to feeling guilt in "Florida".
  • What Would X Do?: Tracy realises that he dealing with an actress that is difficult to manage as he is in the "Game Over" episode and Grizz says that Liz manages to control him so Tracy asks himself "WWRXW [sic] - What would Liz Lemon Do?"
  • 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.
  • The Whitest Black Guy:
  • Whole-Plot Reference:
    • The B-plot of "Succession" is one for Amadeus, with Tracy as master porn-composer.
    • 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.
    • "It's Never Too Late for Now" turns out to be a take on Murder on the Orient Express, specifically the famous Twist Ending where Everybody Did It. In the book, Poirot realizes that everyone in the Calais coach stabbed the victim; in "Never Too Late," Liz realizes that everyone in the office contributed to an elaborate plot to arrange a one-night-stand for her and boost her confidence.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Jenna hopes to garner press buzz with her future child's crazy name.
    "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.
    • In "Hey Baby, What's Wrong", Lutz accidentally hits on Liz (It Makes Sense in Context), leading to this line from Tracy:
      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 subsequent episode, the lyrics are not heard again until episode 100.
    • In the two live episodes, Jenna sings the theme with lyrics, as the credits are displayed on a monitor behind her.
    • In "Kidnapped by Danger", "Weird Al" Yankovic adds lyrics to the closing credits theme.
  • Wolverine Publicity: "Seinfeld-Vision" Jack inserts Jerry into various shows to increase ratings,without his consent.
  • Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer:
    Pete: I said you could do it.
    Jenna: Why not?! Oh... I mean, thank you.
  • Work Com: The show is inspired by Tina Fey's experience working as head writer at Saturday Night Live.
  • Worth It:
  • Worthless Foreign Degree:
    • One of the doormen at Liz's apartment building used to be a doctor in Poland.
    • Dr. Spaceman's Vietnamese medical degree. It's worthless in the sense that he's not a very good doctor; he's able to maintain a successful practice anyway due to his status as Dr. Feelgood.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: In "Argus" Pete reveals where Jenna bit him.
  • Writers Suck:
    • The entire writers' room is depicted as a group of cloud-cuckoolanders who do everything but work.
    • The Writers Guild's go-to health provider is Dr. Leo Spaceman, a known quack, with the implication that the union can't afford anyone with a legitimate practice.
  • Write What You Know: An In-Universe example in "TGS Hates Women", where several sketches have several women get their period and have some version of Non Sequitur, *Thud*, turns out Liz wrote those sketches and after getting her period also blurts out a non sequitur then collapses.
  • 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.
  • Yoko Oh No:
    • Breaks up Frank and Pete's band in "It's Never Too Late For Now".
    • In "Cleveland" Phoebe says she wants to be Jack's Yoko, much to Liz's horror.
    • In "Meet the Woggels!" Jenna sets out to "Yoko" a band.
      • "Are you afraid my sexuality might tear this band apart?"
  • You Can See That, Right?: "We can all see the little black boy in the corner, right?"—Dr. Spaceman when Tracy brings his son to the office (episode "Sun Tea").
  • You Get What You Pay For: Liz's discount eye surgery.
  • 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.
  • You're Insane!: This gets invoked quite a bit on the show.
    Devon: You know, revenge is a dish best served cold, Jack. Like sashimi, or pizza.
    Jack You prefer cold pizza?
    Devon: The morning after? It's the best.
    Jack: Better than hot pizza? That's insane.
    Devon: You don't tell me what kind of pizza to like!
  • 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.
    • Also:
      Dr. Spaceman: This is always hard to say: You have die-AB-uh-dees?


Video Example(s):


McDonald's As Featured In Meal

McDonald's is so ubiquitous in pop culture that they can make commercials consisting of nothing but references to, parodies of, and product placements for the fast food corporation and its products. This August 2023 commercial is for their limited-time "As Featured In" meal based on these references and also serves as a cross-promotion with Loki's second season (note the "Streaming October 6 on Disney+" message) as well as Palace Skateboards, who started a collaboration with McDonald's at the same time. (Palace doesn't have a TV Tropes page; we don't cover lifestyle brands.) Note that, as of the uploading of this video, the 30 Rock episode "St. Valentine's Day" does not have a Recap page here yet. Also, the commercial doesn't mention the episode title for The Office (US) episode used in the ad ("Hot Girl").

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / ReferencedBy

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