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Every Episode of ’30 Rock’ Ranked

Twelve years since it premiered, five years since it concluded: here’s the definitive ranking of every episode of ’30 Rock’
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By  · Published on October 10th, 2018

20. The Funcooker (Season 3, Episode 14)
Dir. Ken Whittingham
Writer: Tom Ceraulo, Donald Glover


Every time I’ve thought of or worried that my number would be chosen to participate in jury duty my brain immediately flashes to this episode where Liz shows off her tried and true method for getting out of the civic duty: pretending to be Princess Leia. Because of this she can’t clean up Jenna and Tracy’s St Patty’s Day Parade debacle (Jenna passed out, Tracy cursed loudly). All of this is enough to make a person want to burn the place down, which is exactly what Liz considers taking a note from her jury duty case (featuring national treasure Jackie Hoffman) and torching TGS. She doesn’t, but the threat is enough to whip the writers into shape!

19. Queen of Jordan 2: Mystery of the Phantom Pooper (Season 6, Episode 20)
Dir. Ken Whittingham
Writer: Luke Del Tredici, Tracey Wigfield


Not to be confused with Bobs Burger’s “Mad Pooper”, the “Phantom Pooper” is just a ruse. This is the sequel to last seasons Queen of Jordan episode. As a send up of the trashy Bravo reality shows, there’s plenty of conflicts that could be central, but namely it’s the imminent return of Avery from North Korea and what Jack and Avery’s mom will do now that they have kissed. But personally I love Liz’s feud with baby Virginia after she insults Virginia’s thighs. I don’t care that they fed that baby those lines, it’s adorable. Also adorable is Tracy’s sly way to gift his wife something she doesn’t have: a long drawn out fight that will boost her shows ratings! Unlike the reality shows it’s parodying, here everyone gets a happy ending.

18. Reaganing (Season 5, Episode 5)
Dir. Todd Holland
Writer: Matt Hubbard


There’s many reasons why this episode is a classic, none more central than the concept of Reaganing: when you are on a hot streak of problem solving. Jack is on a role until he finds himself with an almost impossible task: help Liz’s love life (stalled from intimacy issues with Carol stemming from her mother mistaking a teenage Liz for masturbating to a poster of Tom Jones) and try to convince Tracy to say the scripted lines for a very intricate commercial for big brothers big sisters. We also have the first cameo of Kelsey Grammar, working with Kenneth and Jenna to scam Carvels of about $2000 by asking for a mistake on their ice cream cakes and then returning them when the mistake is caught. “I should know! I am Frajer.” grammar says purposefully misspelling his last name before threatening to throw scrambled eggs all over the cashiers face upon return. The Best Friends Gang is one of the purest, strangest, jokes of 30 Rock.

17. Reunion (Season 3, Episode 5)
Dir. Beth McCarthy-Miller
Writer: Matt Hubbard


While high school may end at 18, the battle scars it leaves us last a life time. But time is the greatest revealer of false perceptions, and as Liz realizes as she begrudgingly attends her school reunion. She wasn’t the nerd who was picked on, but rather the bully herself. As she continually puts her foot in her mouth Jack plays into his small town fantasy of buds brews and babes by pretending to be an absent attendee. That is until Jacks persona winds up being the father to a child he didn’t know then it’s see ya later!

16. 100 (Season 5, Episode 20 and Episode 21)
Dir. Don Scardino
Writer: Jack Burditt, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey


Guest starring Michael Keaton as an HVAC repairman for the Kabletown building, mere days from retirement, who discovers a toxic gas leak driving everyone insane on the eve of Hank Hooper cancelling TGS. That is unless their 100th show is a success. And with everyone tripping balls Liz and Jack decide to let the gas leak ride because goddamnit! Not only must the show go on, but it’s WAY better super high.

15. A Goon’s Deed in a Weary World (Season 7, Episode 11)
Dir. Jeff Richmond
Writer: Lang Fisher, Nina Pedrad


Each episode in 30 Rock’s final season was used effectively to tie up any loose ends and close this chapter in the lives of Liz, Jack, and company. And after seven seasons of wondering if Liz would ever become a mother, after marrying literal Prince Charming Criss Chros, she finally does. And it’s exactly what she thought it would be: child versions of Tracy and Jenna. “Seems about right.” she says as she embraces both of them. We also finally find out the future of NBC would be in good hands when Jack decides that the only person suitable to run the network is the man who’s been running it this entire time: Kenneth Parcell. It’s an episode full of feels, both of emotions and perfection.

14. It’s Never Too Late for Now (Season 5, Episode 15)
Dir. John Riggi
Writer: Vali Chandrasekaran


Look, one of the highlights of this episode is that it features who my fiancée and I refer to as “Fake Paul Rudd from Center Stage”. I’ll take this moment to remind you: Center Stage fucks. Eion Bailey plays a man hired by Jack and the TGS crew to try and get Liz out of her spinster slump post airplane runway showdown with her now ex-boyfriend Carol (Matt Damon). He loves white wine with ice cubes and obscure jokes about protocol droids in Star Wars. Just too bad he is a Swiss prostitute recommended by Martha Stewart to Jack! But the title is taken from the B Plot of this episode featuring Frank and Pete, who we discover was a guitarist for the 80s band Lover Boy. Their song “It’s Never Too Late For Now” sends them on an inspired ride through the ups and downs of the music business until it bottoms out when Frank starts dating Yuki, another one of the show’s Yoko Ono avatars.

13. Christmas Attack Zone (Season 5, Episode 10)
Dir. John Riggi
Writer: Tracey Wigfield


With a clear A, B, and C Plot Christmas Attack Zone is my personal favorite of 30 Rock’s Christmas episodes because there is just so much going on and every single one strikes hot. In our A Plot we have Jack having holiday dinner with his mother who Liz discovers doesn’t know about Avery’s pregnancy. Upon learning that she’ll be a grandmother, Colleen disapproves forcing Jack’s hand to invite his father, Milton Greene (Alan Alda), to dinner to rub it in Colleen’s face. Meanwhile Tracy is upset that, due to his status as a serious actor, that he can’t screen the Christmas-set sequel for his The Chunks franchise and opts to show Hard To Watch, his drama about growing up in the ghetto, to a women’s shelter. The C Plot follows Jenna and Paul waffling on rather they should be together, until they both think of a New Years couples costume: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann and Natalie Portman from the film Black Swan, so they will be two Black Swans. Again, Tina Fey thinks it’s funny to put Jenna in blackface, fully aware of that it is racist. The duet between the couple swings deeply into anti-comedy territory, but there is no way to dispel the ickiness of this uncomfortable moment.

12. Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning (Season 5, Episode 12)
Dir. Beth McCarthy-Miller
Writer: Robert Carlock


To get a jump on the highest rated programming for television, natural disaster relief benefit concerts, Jack decides to pre-record a benefit so that he can air it the night that the disaster happens. But he’s a little too trigger happy when an island destroyed by a hurricane winds up to just be owned by noted anti-semite, misogynistic racist Mel Gibson. Meanwhile Tracy is up to his old shenanigans again but refuses to act on them in front of Angie’s reality show cameras, which Liz decides to use to her advantage to get Tracy to show up to rehearsal promptly. That is of course until Tracy figures out a loophole involving copywrited material like singing his feelings to the tune of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” or fighting with Liz while wearing a New York Rangers hockey mask. But what will never leave my head from this episode? How epicly, amazingly, beautifully cheesy they use the OneRepublic song “Secrets”.

11. Meet the Woggels! (Season 6, Episode 17)
Dir. Linda Mendoza
Writer: Ron Weiner


On her sexual walkabout Paul, Jenna wants to cross something off her bucket list: to Yoko a band. But it’d be too easy to Yoko a regular band! A true professional Yokos a kids band! And in this case it’s a riff on the popular Australian act “The Wiggles”, The Woggles. While everything about this episode is absolutely aces, it’s the snippets of The Woggles lyrics that we get that are utter genius and dark AF, including references to killing people, sex abuse, and TURNING INTO WEREWOLVES!

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Jacob Trussell is a writer based in New York City. His editorial work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Rue Morgue Magazine, Film School Rejects, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the author of 'The Binge Watcher's Guide to The Twilight Zone' (Riverdale Avenue Books). Available to host your next spooky public access show. Find him on Twitter here: @JE_TRUSSELL (He/Him)