Top 10 Episodes of 30 Rock Ever

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After seven seasons of weird, wonderful, pop culture-referencing humor, 30 Rock has finally signed off.  It’s a testament to the show’s brilliant writing that it was able to survive for so long, even with less-than-desirable ratings.  The show has had it’s ups and downs, but it will definitely endure as a sitcom classic for years to come.  So, without further ado, here are the 10 essential episodes that any 30 Rock fan should watch:




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10. Leap Day (Season 6, Episode 9): Season 6 marked a low point for the series, but there were still a few standout episodes that managed to pack in the laughs.  The best of these was the fantastic Leap Day, which amped up the 29th of February as a bonafide holiday, complete with mascot Leap Day Williams.  Each of the characters experiences their own Leap Day shenanigans–Liz and Jenna’s holiday party, Jack’s Christmas Carol dream sequence–but the funniest bits come from a fake Jim Carrey movie where he has to find the true meaning of the holiday.  Genius.


Photo Credit: I Do, I Do (Season 4, Episode 22): Wedding episodes are always a great way to examine various characters’ romantic lives, so imagine the fun of three weddings in one episode.  As the gang attend the weddings of Floyd, Cerie, and Grizz, Jack is forced to choose between agressive anchorwoman Avery (Elizabeth Banks) and his hometown sweetheart Nancy (Julianne Moore).  Meanwhile, Jenna deals with some strange fidelity issue with Paul, and Liz decides not to settle for Wesley Snipes (Michael Sheen) in favor of going out with a pilot she just met named Carol (Matt Damon).  It’s a lot to take in, but the episode is paced well, and provides a fitting end to season 4.


Photo Credit: Believe in the Stars (Season 3, Episode 2): Not many sitcoms can say they were able to get the Queen of Daytime TV to do a guest role.  And yet, when Liz gets on her return flight from Chicago, her seat mate ends up being none other than Oprah Winfrey herself.  Of course, it actually turns out that Liz was suffering from a sleeping pill hallucination and was really talking to a 12-year-old girl named Pam.  It makes for a pretty hilarious delusion, especially since Winfrey is game to act a little silly.  The B-plot in this episode is equally as funny, with Tracy and Jenna having a very un-PC competition over who has it harder in America.


Photo Credit: Black Tie (Season 1, Episode 12): The writers of 30 Rock lovingly nicknamed this episode “Goodbye America,” and with good reason.  It’s one of the strangest half-hours the show has ever produced.  Still, the sight of Paul Reubens playing an inbred prince with a fake tiny hand is too good to overlook.  His interactions with Jenna are hysterical, especially when he asks her to dance for him.  Meanwhile, we finally get to meet Jack’s ex-wife played to perfection by Isabella Rossellini.  Not only does this give us some insight into who Jack is, but it further bonds him and Liz together, which is always a good thing. 


Photo Credit: Mazel Tov Dummies (Season 7, Episode 7): Okay, so I’m a sucker for wedding episodes, but this one is pretty important.  After seven years of being unlucky in love, Liz finally ties the knot with her boyfriend Criss (James Marsden).  Of course, still being who she is, Liz doesn’t want a fancy wedding with a beautiful dress, she’d rather just go down to city hall.  This all changes once she comes to terms with the fact that it’s her big day and she wants to feel like a princess.  Princess Leia, that is.  No one else could have pulled off a walk down the aisle with two side-buns in their hair, but Liz Lemon does it flawlessly.


Photo Credit: There’s No I in America (Season 7, Episode 5): Another great episode from the final season, There’s No I in America sees Jack and Liz going head-to-head in order to win over Jenna’s approval.  It turns out that the lovably conceited blonde actress has the power to choose the next POTUS, so the two engage in a debate to try and bring her over to their side.  The debate itself is chock full of topical, witty humor as Liz and Jack sling the mud back and forth.  It’s also worth noting that this episode contains a brilliant cold open with Liz doing some physical comedy.  Then there’s the subplots involving Kenneth’s hometown and Pete being desperate for female affection, which always garners some laughs.


Photo Credit: Queen of Jordan (Season 5, Episode 17): In this superb sendup of reality TV–particularly the Real Housewives franchise–Tracy’s wife Angie (Sherri Shepherd) takes center stage as a camera crew follows her around the studio.  She has a wacky entourage that follows her around including the flamboyant D’Fwan and the wine-slinging Randi.  Everything in this episode perfectly parodies how ridiculous reality TV can be, from Jack being portrayed as a flatulent gay man, to Angie dropping a new single called “My Single is Dropping.”  Even more funny business occurs when Jenna tries to promote her website, and Frank is revealed to have had an affair with his middle school teacher.


Photo Credit: Rosemary’s Baby (Season 2, Episode 4): This is a near-perfect episode of 30 Rock, with all of the plotlines offering up some uproarious comedy.  Guest star Carrie Fisher appears as Rosemary Howard, a free-spirited writer and Liz’s childhood idol.  At first Liz is excited to meet her, until she finds out how loony she actually is.  It’s all great fun, and allows for Jack to utter the excellent line “Never go with a hippy to a second location.”  Elsewhere, Jenna and Kenneth get involved in a “page-off,” and Jack and Tracy share once of the series’ funniest scenes with a wonderfully inappropriate therapy session that involves some strange roll playing. 


Photo Credit: Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001 (Season 4, Episode 7): The sight-gags alone are enough to earn this episode a high ranking spot on this list.  As Liz prepares to host her own talk show based on her relationship advice book, she must deal with botched Lasik eye surgery that makes her cry out of her mouth, an unfortunate haircut, and an HD filter that shows people in a hilarious new light.  To make matters worse, Jack furthers her insecurities about being on-camera after Devon Banks (the devious Will Arnett) pressures him to make the show a success.  Needless to say, it doesn’t work out, but we do get to see Tracy begin his journey to achieving an EGOT, and his weirdly touching confession that he wants to have a daughter with Angie.


Photo Credit: Tracy Does Conan (Season 1, Episode 7): The reason this episode has earned the top spot is because it perfectly showcases everything that makes 30 Rock so amazing. Liz is forced to juggle writing jokes for a speech Jack is giving, Jenna’s diva meltdown after she’s bumped off an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in favor of Tracy, her declining relationship with Dennis (Dean Winters) and Tracy’s erratic behavior due to being off his meds.  It’s stressful for sure, but seeing Liz try to juggle it all is great fun to watch.  There are some stellar jokes throughout the episode, and we get introduced to Dr. Leo Spaceman (Chris Parnell) who will continue to offer some of the best irreverent humor for seasons to come.  Not to mention, this episode features a small interaction between Jack and Liz that’s one of the best in the series.  “Why are you wearing a tux?” “Lemon, it’s after 6:00.  What am I, a farmer?”


So, what do you think of our list?  Are there any episodes that we missed?  Let us know in the comment section below.

By Mike Papirmeister

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