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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 "Subway Hero" Alec Baldwin plays Richard Nixon in Tracy Jordan's mind.
    • 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.
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    • In "There's No 'I' in America" Scott Adsit plays Pete's confident, not-bald alter ego, Pete Horn.
    • In "Aunt Phatso vs. Jack Donaghy", Baldwin is an actor who plays a character named "Jack Donaghy" (a Mr. Potter-like miser) in Tracy's movie. Apparently Liz knows about him. ("That's Leslie Van Von Der Van! He used to be in Knots Landing.")
    • 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).
    • In "Live from Studio 6H", many of the show's main cast play the cast members of the old TV shows that Kenneth recalls.
    • John Lutz plays both the writer JD Lutz and his mother.
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  • 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.
  • 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 LaRoche-Van der Hout is played by Sue Galloway.
  • Dawson Casting:
    • Subverted In-Universe when 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 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.
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    • 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: With Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which is also about the Troubled Production stories and backstage drama on a weekly live sketch comedy show (only Sorkin's show was Played for Drama while 30 Rock was Played for Laughs and some drama). 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. It was changed to a Saturday Night Live-style sketch show because Tina Fey had more experience in that.
  • 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.
  • Missing Episode: As a response to the 2020 George Floyd riots and heightened concerns over systemic racism against black people in America, three episodes featuring blackface got pulled from reruns and streaming (season three's "Believe in the Stars", which had the subplot of Jenna posing as a black man and the live episode from season six [both the East Coast and West Coast versions] that had the parody of Amos 'n Andy featuring Jon Hamm as a black stereotypical character and Tracy Morgan as a dignified black actor asking Jon's charater to stop acting stereotypicalnote ). Strangely, the season one episode "The Source Awards" was kept in, despite including a lot of scenes where white characters are Mistaken for Racist in the eyes of black characters and the line in "Rosemary's Baby", where Rosemary suggests that they do a sketch where a white cast member is in blackface and calls Tracy Jordan the N-word, wasn't altered or censored.
  • 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.
  • 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, Jimmy Fallon and Donald Glover play young versions of Liz, Jack and Tracy, respectively.
  • 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 party girl (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.
    • Actor and former SNL writer 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 and series composer/director Jeff Richmond’s daughter Alice Richmond portrays Liz as a child in a flashback in "Mazel Tov, Dummies!" Alice is also the child in the "Little Stranger" logo that concludes every episode.
  • Screwed by the Network: The show's 2020 reunion special, which also doubled as an upfront presentation for NBCUniversal as a whole, saw it's initial NBC broadcast preempted by well over half of the network's affiliates, including (and notably) many affiliates owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Nexstar Media Group, Tegna, Gray Television and Hearst Television, largely as these stations viewed the special as a glorified 60-minute commercial for Peacock, and also the fact that the special itself would be airing commercial-free, a fact that did not sit well with these stations, whose advertising revenues had been harshly impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • 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 EGOTnote , 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 had it be about the behind the scenes goings of a news program, 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.
    • Baldwin also considered leaving after the fifth season, disappointed by a bunch of poorly thought-out plotlines for his character. Tina Fey and the crew seemed to agree, restoring everything to a blank slate by the sixth season and keeping Baldwin on for the rest of the duration.
  • 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.
  • Working Title: Peacock.
  • 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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