We miss the NBC sitcom and all its hijinks and glory, but what if we revisited it for a spell? Below are the 30 greatest episodes of this seven-season show. Don't agree with me? Concur wholeheartedly? Leave your thoughts in the comments! Have fun!
This season 2 episode is a lot of fun from the minute it starts until it ends. It features David Schwimmer as an actor who takes his role as Greenzo, an environmentalist character, much too seriously. It's well written and a great commentary on our environmental state, something 30 Rock was always great at.
Best Line: "This earth's ruined. We gotta get a new one."
29. "Believe in the Stars"
The highlight of this episode from the show's third season is Liz's medically-induced fantasy that she's spilling her guts to the most emotionally intelligent woman on the planet, Oprah Winfrey. Of course, when "Oprah" turns out to be a teenage girl, things get even better when she shows up at TGS to deal with Tracy and Jenna's race relations feud. Standout moments include Oprah saying teenage things and Liz dressed up as Princess Leia for jury duty.
Best Line: [Oprah as a teenager] "My boyfriend's in ninth grade!"
28. "Dance Like Nobody's Watching"
The season six opener is one of the best the show ever saw. In it, Liz is inexplicably happy, and Jack becomes obsessed with finding out why. Also, the subplot consists of Kenneth being convinced the world is about to end, and the TGS writers do everything they can to amp up that conviction. But the best part of this episode is when Jack discovers why Liz is truly happy -- she's met the love of her life, and it's adorable!
Best Line: "Wrong, Jack, because they weren't sweaters -- they were dickeys! Happy 2012!"
Liz goes to her high school reunion because Jack thinks she should show her tormentors how successful she is. When she arrives and talks to her former classmates, she finds out she was, in fact, the bully, and her classmates have been in therapy for years because of her. It's a classic and relatable storyline. Meanwhile, Jack attends the reunion and pretends to be a guy named Larry, wistfully reminiscing false memories because Don Geiss wasn't ready to name him CEO. This episode is awesome.
Best Line: "Rich 50 is middle class 38."
26. "Queen of Jordan"
This is an epic reality show parody. Was I the only one who thought it felt like I was watching something on Bravo? Liz was totally right -- if Angie had her own reality show, everyone would watch it. It's way better than TGS... or are they the same? The subplot where Angie and Co. become convinced that Jack is gay is fantastic.
Best Line: "My single is called 'My Single Is Dropping.' And it's dropping!"
25. "Queen of Jordan 2: Mystery of the Phantom Pooper"
Season 6's "Queen of Jordan" episode is slightly better than the one in season 5 for a few reasons. As shown above, one of them is the improved descriptions of the characters. At one point, the blurb under Liz is "Lisa Lampenelli?". Another reason is the appearance of Tracy and Angie's daughter, Virginia, who is adorable but in a fight with Liz about her legs. But the third and perhaps most classic reason is the completely staged physical brawl between Mr. and Mrs. Jordan at the episode's end. Are you trying to tell us something about reality TV?
Best Line: "Contractually, I can only hold beautiful, black babies in Benetton commercials."
24. "Live Show"
[30 Rock](series:200489)'s first live episode is awesome. It's Liz's birthday, and everyone forgot, including Jack, and her current boyfriend, Carol Burnett. The cameos by Matt Damon and Bill Hader are blessings. I've always been a huge fan of Fantasy Liz being played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (and the fact that they visibly trade places in Jack's office at the end). Jack smelling Jenna's mouth for alcohol is iconic. But the best bit is the very end, when Jack and Liz take a drink, and we're back to film. Awesome.
Best Line: "Does it seem weird in here to you? Everything looks like a Mexican soap opera."
23. "My Whole Life is Thunder"
This quote by Jenna is the second best moment of the episode. But the season 7 episode, which immediately follows the episode where Liz gets married, is about Jenna's jealousy that Liz had her special day and completely ignored her. To make it up to her, Liz takes Jenna to a Lifetime Internet Awards ceremony, which Jenna sabotages in true, Maroney fashion. The death of Colleen Donaghy (Elaine Stritch) is shockingly sad for a comedy, but Jack giving her the greatest funeral ever is an awesome testament to both of their characters. The pamphlet showing the "other" Liz Lemon is the episode's best visual moment.
Best Line: "I have to go to the bathroom." / "Me, too!" / "I just went, but I guess I could go again!"
Season 7 was only disappointing because we knew it was 30 Rock's last season, and "Florida" is one of its many gems. Liz, afraid of not being spontaneous enough, skips work to accompany Jack to Florida to deal with his mother's recent passing. While they're there, they discover that Colleen was actually nice when not around her son, and more shockingly, she was in a lesbian affair with her housemaid, Martha. Liz and Jack climbing into bed together and falling into the spooning position is classic.
Best Line: [police operator voice] "If you want to know why JAG wasn't on last week, press four."
The first appearance of Devon Banks (Will Arnett) is a classic rivalry and character foil for Jack Donaghy. Liz accidentally follows Floyd (Jason Sudeikis) into his AA meeting and falls so hard for his emotional vulnerability that she pretends to be an alcoholic to get to know him better, which is cruel, but it makes for great comedy -- exactly like Liz Lemon herself.
Best Line: "I feel more confused and betrayed than those people who worked with Tootsie."
20. "Subway Hero"
While Dennis Duffy (Dean Winters) was not the guy for Liz by any means, his appearances were always welcome among fans. In this season 2 episode, Dennis saves someone's life on the subway and becomes a kind of local celebrity, and Liz thinks she still has feelings for him. No, girl! He's gross! In the subplot, Jack gets Tracy to become the celebrity face of the Republican Party, which could never, on any universe, go well.
Best Line: "Choosing is a sin, so I always just write in the Lord's name!" / "That's Republican! We count those!"
19. "Kidney Now!"
When Jack Donaghy has compassion for someone, he goes all out. That's exactly what he does in this episode for his biological father, Milton Greene (Alan Alda). Jack rounds up some of the most well known and talented musicians to date and by writing a song that's 9,123 times better than "We Are the World", he raises enough money to get Milton a kidney. From Elvis Costello. Jack Donaghy for son of the year.
Best Line: "[Clay] Aiken, your cousin Kenneth Parcell already promised me you'd do this."
18. "Kidnapped by Danger"
Season 6 had a few great standouts, and this was one of them. To bring his wife, Avery Jessup, back from North Korea, Jack decides to make a documentary about her story, and this episode details the production process. Of course, Avery's mother, Diana (Mary Steenburgen), to whom Jack is strangely attracted, shows up to oppose the movie and ends up in an affair with Lance Drake Mandrell (Billy Baldwin), who plays Jack in the TV movie. Undoubtedly, the best part of the episode is Weird Al Yankovic's parody of the show's theme song.
Best Line: "We really do love our fans, yes, both of you."
17. "Leap Day"
There is something so terrifying about this episode. What is it? Oh, yeah, it's the sight of Kenneth Parcell dressed as the "spirit of Leap Day", Leap Day William. But the idea of Leap Day being a holiday as important as Christmas is hilarious, and the Groundhog Day-esque movie, Leap Dave Williams, is an incredible parody. The plot in which one of Liz's college associates wants her to take his virginity for money is slightly more unsettling than Kenneth in this costume, but it's typical, classic 30 Rock.
Best Line: "Of course. Take off my bald cap. Not put on my wig."
16. "Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning"
Think of the worst thing that could ever happen. Now, it's not as bad as what happens at the end of this season 5 gem. Yet again, Jack overdoes it with preparedness and decides to film a disaster benefit telethon in advance, and then an island catches on fire. Great news for NBC's ratings, right? Except the island belongs to Mel Gibson, he and his houseguest, Jon Gosselin, are alright, and his cousin Oscar thinks the Holocaust never happened. Liz and Tracy's reality show face off is classic, especially when they sing insults to the tune of Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl."
Best Line: "I want to get it perfect because Perfection is my middle name. Unclaimed Perfection Baby Boy!"
15. "Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001"
It's the one liners that make this episode... that, and Liz's new haircut. I'll never stop being angry that this talk show didn't pan out for her. She was such a natural before the pressure of the camera made her crack. But aside from Lemon's epic breakdown in her dressing room, Dr. Spaceman (Chris Parnell) absolutely makes this episode. I'm really relieved and oddly disappointed that he is not my doctor. Liz crying out of her mouth is in the top ten best gags of the show's history.
Best Line: "This baby is a genuine... Lazig. Hmm, that's weird.
14. "Apollo, Apollo"
I'm a huge fan of Jack, so a lot of the episodes I consider the show's finest center around him. This is no exception. In the episode, Jack is about to turn fifty, and he wants to remember the happy moments of his childhood. It sounds cliche, but it ends up adorable when we learn when Jack gets too excited, he pukes. The episode also features Dennis Duffy claiming he's a sex addict, but the greatest thing it has to offer is the way the characters see reality. Jack sees everything with price tags. Kenneth sees everybody as singing puppets, and it's awesome.
Best Line: "If you have a spaceship and you're looking for a hilarious astronaut with an irregular heartbeat and $30 million, I am prepared to leave as soon as tomorrow. I wrote that yesterday."
Season 3 might have been 30 Rock's best, which explains another of its episodes on this list. At this point, Jack is dating Elisa Donovan (Salma Hayek) and finds out her grandmother hates him because he so strongly resembles the villain on her favorite, Spanish soap opera. Jack does whatever it takes to stop the madness, and the Generalissimo turns kind. That's Jack. Meanwhile, Liz starts to accidentally get her neighbor's (Jon Hamm) mail and decides she's in love with him based on what he's supposed to receive -- typical Lemon. It's probably Alec Baldwin's best performance of this season.
Best Line: "No, I'm going to tell Drew that I'm having a little welcome to the building party for him but there is no party and then when he shows up I'll laugh and say "oh it's the wrong night" and then he'll laugh and say one glass couldn't hurt and then I will put my mouth on his mouth!"
This episode from the show's first season is probably the one where we saw what this show is made of. Jack decides he wants to make an appearance on TGS, but he turns out to be a killer businessman and horrible actor. It takes him five days to film a simple snippet on GE's product integration policy, and the video of all the outtakes is fantastic. Not only is Jack aces in this episode, but so are Liz and Jonathan ("I'm only showing you this because I care about him SO MUCH!"). Liz's pep talk when Jack thinks he's a flop is the epitome of our Lemon.
Best Line: "It's called product integortion. Inte... integortion?!"
While the title of this season 5 standout is clearly related to Jack, the true standout of this episode is our very own Liz Lemon. She and Jack are on their way to the airport so Liz can break up with Carol, and Jack thinks he can save their relationship because he's going for 24 hours without making a mistake -- in other words, Reaganing. Liz realizes that her sexual hangups are because of an incident with roller skates, underwear, and posters, and that's all I can say if you haven't seen the episode. It's freaking gold. Oh, and the subplot where Kenneth, Jenna, and Kelsey Grammar pull one over on Carvel? Beautiful.
Best Line: "When I see you chew your nails like that, it's either because you're nervous or because you handled some ham earlier."
10. "Mazel Tov, Dummies!"
After seven years, we were all pretty certain Liz wouldn't end up with a husband... but she did. Lemon gets married in the most Lemon fashion possible -- with hours notice and in a Princess Leia costume. This episode earns top ten status because it means so much to character and plot progression over the series' course. And because, obviously, Liz Lemon is a princess.
Best Line: "Gray, gray, gray... am I depressed? Eh, I'll deal with that later."
9. "The Tuxedo Begins"
It's probably the comic book fan in me, but this Batman parody gets me every time. Jack gets mugged and decides he needs to run for mayor so he can stand up for the 1% -- sounds like Jack. But Liz realizes that she can actually get a seat on the subway if she dresses like, well, that, and the dynamic duo dukes it out. Chaos versus order. The best part of the entire episode is the extremely short clip of Jack in a Batman cape. If you blinked, you missed it. Good thing we have Netflix.
Best Line: "Is that brain? Hopefully it's not an important flerg of my blern."
8. "Live from Studio 6H"
The better of the live episodes, this season six episode has a lot to offer. This includes, for fellow East Coasters, a cameo by PAUL MCCARTNEY. But the episode's plot is that Jack decides no longer to do TGS live, which disrupts Kenneth's world, so he locks the production staff in Tracy's dressing room to convince him otherwise. The flashbacks to other shows are genius, and the fake commercials might be even better. But in the end, when Liz, Jack, and Tracy realize that live television brought them all together, everything works out perfectly. Paul's (Will Forte) proposal to Jenna is also incredible.
Best Line: "Recent studies have shown that while pregnancy is disgusting, babies don't need tar or nicotine."
The hour long epic is fantastic. Liz and Kenneth discover that Tracy isn't live in Africa, but in Liz's apartment, and they need to get him to come back to TGS for the 100th episode. At the same time, there's a gas leak in the building, causing the characters to have strong hallucinations, among them, Jack. His fantasy of seeing himself in the 80s and in the very distant future is hilarious, but it points out that he wouldn't be anywhere if he never met Liz Lemon. And that's the episode's theme. None of the characters would be where they are without each other.
Best Line: "This better be important, Jack. I was in the middle of buying a bag of bras on eBay."
30 Rock had some fine holiday episodes, but among them, "Ludachristmas" was best... one of the series' finest. It's Christmastime, and the Lemons are in New York to visit their daughter, including Liz's older brother Mitch (Andy Richter) whose brain damage keeps him living in the day before his skiing accident in 1984. That alone is comedy perfection. But Colleen Donaghy's in town, too, and she wants to turn the sweet Lemons sour. She, of course, succeeds. Meanwhile, Kenneth is appalled that the writers are materialistic on Christmas, so he puts together a sad-yet-hilarious presentation on the true meaning of Christmas. Fabulous work.
Best Line: "It's only positive reinforcement when they say it to you. With me, they're just stating the facts. I do look like the Arrow shirt man, I did lace up my skate professionally, and I did do a fabulous job finishing my muffin."
5. "Hogcock! / Last Lunch"
I cried like an idiot baby when these episodes aired. But this was the perfect farewell to the show. So many things were wrapped up, and yet so many brilliant jokes were made. Liz and Jack's relationship proved steady even when I was sure he was actually going to kill himself. Tracy's goodbye to Jenna will reduce you to a puddle, and Lutz's determination to get Blimpie's for lunch will make you howl. We officially discover that Kenneth is in fact immortal, which apparently some people didn't see coming. But the best part of the episode is when Liz and Jack finally tell each other they love each other in the most Liz and Jack way possible. What a brilliant end to a brilliant show.
Best Line: "I love you, too, Jack."
4. "Rosemary's Baby"
This episode has everything. Carrie Fisher as a crazy lady, Liz Lemon as a rabid fangirl, Tracy Jordan doing dog fighting, but it especially has the best bit of comedy I've ever seen. Jack puts Tracy in therapy to deal with his daddy issues, which are resolved by Jack doing impressions of his whole family in, basically, one breath. It's outstanding. I'm really, really jealous of the person who wrote it.
Best Line: "Lady, just because I'm an ignorant black man and you paid me a nickel to bust up your chifforobe, doesn't give you the right to call me ridiculous just 'cause I'm proud of my son." -- It's horrible. It's racist. But the delivery is epic.
3. "Everything Sunny All the Time Always"
I don't know what the best part of this episode is. Is it Margaret Cho as Kim Jong-Il? Is it the fact that Tracy is friends with Kim Jong-Il? It could be Jack's battle of the instruments with Condoleeza Rice to get Avery back from North Korea. But it's actually Liz Lemon's obsession with getting a plastic bag down from the tree outsider her window. Because she's right. It's so offensive to the environment, and you see it all the time. Tina Fey's portrayal of fixation is awesome.
Best Line: "You know what, Mr. Bag? I will have a nice day. I'm gonna hang you in my kitchen and fill you with other bags! You will eat your family!"
2. "Black Tie"
This is a bizarre show. More bizarre than shows that claim they're bizarre. Liz and Jack going to a party for a prince (Paul Reubens) who is a product of generations of inbreeding is probably the most ridiculous storyline of the series. It's brilliant. The episode, co-written by Fey herself, is rip-roaring hilarity from start to finish. I don't even know what to praise first. Reubens as the prince is filled with iconic one liners ("7:45, and I'm still awake!"), but Jenna's determination to marry him is equally wonderful. Jack's ex-wife, Bianca (Isabella Rossellini) is delightfully nuts. I can't praise this episode any more without rambling.
Best Line: [a woman in an elevator to Kenneth] "Mmm. You look like a baby."
1. "Tracy Does Conan"
Personal story time: When I was 16, I sat down on a Thursday night, and I saw Tracy Morgan get very distressed over a Smurf-esque Rachel Dratch. That was when I knew I had to get into comedy. This episode is pure perfection. Liz's stresses are true for any woman, and it's riotous to see Tracy go off his meds. Jack needing Liz's help for a benefit in February is a cruel yet amusing distracting. And, oh yeah, there's that Aubrey Plaza cameo years before she was our April. The writing, the performances, and the pacing of this episode are all flawless. It was enough to sell me for the season and enough to sell me for life.