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Trivia / 30 Rock

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  • Acclaimed Flop: Especially in the early years, the show never had great ratings despite being a critic favorite.
  • Acting for Two:
    • In "Generalissimo" Alec Baldwin plays a Mexican soap opera star who looks just like Jack Donaghy. In "100" Jack hallucinates a couple of alternate universe Jack Donaghys.
    • In "Governor Dunston" Tracy Morgan also plays the titular buffoonish politician.
    • In "There's No 'I' in America" Scott Adsit plays Pete's confident, not-bald alter ego, Pete Horn.
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    • In "Aunt Phatso vs. Jack Donaghy" Baldwin is an actor who plays "Jack Donaghy" in Tracy's movie.
    • Baldwin yet again plays a sandwich delivery guy who looks just like Jack, causing GE's Indian engineers to wonder if they're racist.
    • In "Mazel Tov, Dummies!" Alec Baldwin yet again again plays Harriet Tubman in Tracy Jordan's mind.
    • In "Fireworks," Alec Baldwin yet again again again plays Thomas Jefferson in Tracy Jordan's mind (...Again).
    • John Lutz plays both the writer JD Lutz and his mother.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Liz references Megamind (which Tina Fey starred in) by calling Lake City, FL "Lay-keh-ceh-dee" (as Megamind did with 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 the Tank Engine.
      • "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 its a cheap handout to shut actors up. This just before "Producer: Alec Baldwin" ticks across the screen.
      • 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.
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    • Guest star Carrie Fisher: "Help me, Liz Lemon, you're my only hope!"
    • Guest star Alan Alda parodies his own star-making role on Mash 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.
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    • 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.
  • Actor-Inspired Element: Frank's trucker hats were inspired by Judah Friedlander's real life habit of wearing those hats in public, which had become something of a trademark for him before the show began.
  • Actor-Shared Background: Jack McBrayer, like Kenneth Parcell, is also from Stone Mountain, Georgia.
  • The Danza:
    • Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan; last names rhyme.
    • John Lutz plays John Lutz.
    • Tina Fey's real first name is Elizabeth ("Tina" coming from her middle name of Stamatina), of which "Liz" is a nickname.
    • Grizz is both the character's and actor's first name.
    • Sue La Roche-Van der Hout is played by Sue Galloway.
  • Dawson Casting: Jenna seems to think 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 crazy bitch of a mother - who dies of old age at age 42.
    • Averted throughout as every actor is the same age as their character with Katrina Bowden possibly even younger than Cerie and every teenager played by an actual teen. Played straight in one instance with twenty-six year old Pheobe Strole as a teen.
    • Tina Fey appears as a younger Liz Lemon in a number of flashbacks. In one of them she was nine.
    • A relatively minor example appears in "Cougars": Jamie is supposed to be seventeen years younger than Liz, but Val Emmich is only nine years younger than Tina Fey.
  • Descended Creator: Tina Fey was not originally going to star in the show.
  • Dueling Shows: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. 30 Rock won, as Aaron Sorkin acknowledges, bitterly, in a later cameo.
  • Executive Meddling: In Fey's original treatment the Show Within a Show was a newscast; they told her to go ahead and make it a sketch comedy because that's what she knows.
  • Fake American: Subverted, a British actress plays an American pretending to be a Brit and only has to do one line with an American accent.
  • Fake Nationality: The Mexican Salma Hayek as the Puerto Rican Elisa.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: In the Show Within a Show, Danny's workaround when inserted into a Christmas duet with Jenna. As Christmas Vengeance.
  • McLeaned: Don Geiss was killed off between seasons after Rip Torn's increasingly bizarre behavior culminated in him breaking into a bank while drunk.
  • Milestone Celebration: The 100th episode "100", a one-hour episode with clips from past shows and special guest stars Michael Keaton, Tom Hanks, Brian Williams and Rachel Dratch.
  • Name's the Same: Liz briefly dated men named Wesley Snipes, Carol Burnett and is currently dating Criss Chros.
    • Wesley complains that "Wesley Snipes" should belong on a white British gentlemen. When you think about it, yes, it does.
  • The Other Darrin: In an early episode, Tracy's wife Angie was played by Sharon Wilkins in a non-speaking cameo. In all subsequent episodes, Angie is played by Sherri Shepherd.
    • The street performing robot hired as a new actor in Season 4's audition day may be covered in silver paint, but it's still obvious enough that he is not Cheyenne Jackson.
    • During the fifth season live show, Julia Louis-Dreyfus also played Liz Lemon, alongside Tina Fey.
    Jack: Why are you better-looking in your memory?
    Liz: My memory has "Seinfeld" money.
    • During the sixth season live show, Amy Poehler played Liz Lemon as a young girl.
      • Jimmy Fallon played young Jack in the same flashback of this episode.
      • Donald Glover plays young Tracy, again, in the same flashback.
  • The Other Marty: Rachel Dratch as Jenna, though they kept her for the first season and gave her a number of cameos.
  • Playing Against Type:
    • Jennifer Aniston as a Stalker with a Crush. Though arguably matching her portrayal in certain tabloids.
    • Jason Sudeikis as Nice Guy Floyd, which is quite a contrast from the loudmouthed idiots, boisterious Southerners, and preppy douchebags he normally plays (both on and off Saturday Night Live).
    • In the show itself, Tracy Jordan was known to do this. In the movie, Black Cop/White Cop, Tracy played both the black cop and the white cop. According to Tracy, he was set to star in the movie Rush Hour until being replaced by Jackie Chan. He also starred in a movie with Betty White about a rapping grandma. Betty remarked about how well Tracy played the grandma. And there's a constant tension between his normal persona, his happy home life, and his efforts towards critical success.
  • Real-Life Relative: Bertram Geiss (Tony Torn) playing a son of the late Don Geiss (not late-yetRip Torn). Tony is Rip's son IRL. Also, actor John Lutz who plays Lutz on the show is married to actress Sue Galloway who plays Sue LaRoche-Van der Hout, though they aren't married on-screen and rarely interact directly with each other.
    • Tina Fey's daughter Alice Richmond portrays Liz as a child in a flashback in "Mazel Tov, Dummies!".
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • The bookstore worker in the window who beats up Liz's cutout in the cold open of "Into the Crevasse" is Councilman Jamm!
    • The real estate lady who busts into Liz's apartment and informs her that it's going condo is (depending on what you watch) either Fig or Wendy Parks.
    • One recurring cameo was an assistant played by Donald Glover, then a writer for the show and later known as Troy Barnes and Grammy award winner Childish Gambino.
    • Tituss Burgess definitely made an impact on Tina Fey and Robert Carlock with his role as Angie's gay friend D'Fwan. He would later star as Kimmy Schmidt's gay friend, Titus Andromedon.
    • Adrienne C. Moore, who plays two separate Sassy Black Woman characters in the final season, is now more recognizable as Black Cindy on Orange Is the New Black.
    • Comedian Hannibal Buress wrote for the show in its later seasons, before his standup career took off. He also had several bit parts: he's one of the recurring hobos, as well as Tracy's stand-in at the end of the first "Queen of Jordan" episode.
    • Aubrey Plaza cameos as an NBC page in a Season 1 episode.
  • Star-Making Role: Kenneth Parcell for Jack McBrayer.
  • Throw It In!: The Credits Gag of "Black Light Attack!" has Lutz dancing energetically, with the rest of the cast chanting, "Go Lutz! Go Lutz! Go Lutz!" It was actually completely unscripted, as the actor Lutz was grooving to the generic techno music. It was such a fun moment that the scene was left in.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Tracy wants to be the first black male EGOT, which John Legend became in 2018.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Blake Lively and Leighton Meester were set to appear as themselves, but the timing couldn't be sorted out with fellow California Doubling-averter Gossip Girl. (Blake did, however, host the 12/5/09 episode of another show from the same producers.)
    • Among aspects to have changed from the initial draft of the "Untitled Tina Fey Project" script (later to become the basis of the Pilot episode), Liz Lemon was named Lisa Lemon, Tracy Jordan (presumably not yet cast) was Lawrence Jordan, and the SNL-like show Jenna initially appears in is called "Friday Night Bits" (set to be retooled by Jack into an Artifact Title-free "The Lawrence Jordan Show").
    • According to Tina Fey, the earliest pitch for the show was one where Alec Baldwin played a conservative news pundit and she played a liberal who reluctantly took on the job of producing his show - She was asked to make it about the behind the scenes goings on of a live sketch show instead, and of course the pundit and the producer were reworked into Jack and Liz.
    • Alec Baldwin actually considered leaving the series after the first season due to the stress he was having as a result of constant media coverage over an angry voicemail message in which he called his daughter, Ireland Baldwin, a "rude, thoughtless little pig" as a result of constant custody battles between him and his ex-wife, Kim Basinger. Tina Fey and all the other cast and crew members convinced him to stay on.
  • The Wiki Rule: The 30 Rock Wiki.
  • Word of God: We know of Cerie's last name (Xerox) from executive producer Robert Carlock. We know of Liz and Jack's lack of a romantic future from Tina Fey.
  • Writer Revolt:
    • When forced to write an environmental-themed episode for NBC's Green Week, the writers instead wrote a brutal satire of NBC's own environmental greenwashing, and then did it again the following year, and brought back former VPOTUS Al Gore to "re-cycle" a joke. Also the one episode broadcast during the WGA writer's strike in season 2 (the un-named episode 210) has no writers in it, implying that they are on strike. During the Writer's Strike, the cast of 30 Rock performed a live episode on-stage off-Broadway to raise money for the strikers.
    • Executive Meddling during initial development of the show changed the actor playing Jenna from Rachel Dratch—Tina Fey's friend and long-time collaborator. Dratch was nonetheless retained throughout season 1 to perform many miscellaneous roles, often without significantly changing her appearance between characters.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Rachel Dratch in several different guest roles.
    • Prior to his recurring role as Paul in the fourth season, Will Forte played Prince Gerhardt's valet in a first season episode.
    • The same actor has played Liz's imaginary boyfriend Astronaut Mike Dexter, her mother's real boyfriend Buzz Aldrin, an actor on the "porn for women" channel that Jack Donaghy invents, and a guest at Floyd's wedding who tells Liz he's a "plushie".
    • Jeff Hiller plays both the hotel desk clerk at Liz's high school reunion and Stuart the flight attendant in a later episode.
    • Adrienne C. Moore plays two Sassy Black Woman characters in the final season: the office store clerk and the flirty marriage license clerk. She's named "Shanice" both times, so perhaps the same character changed jobs.


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