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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

50. Señor Macho Solo (Season 3, Episode 7)
Dir. Beth McCarthy
Writer: Ron Weiner


Hey Peter Dinklage! I’m sorry your entire role revolved around your stature, but you seemed like a good sport about it. Especially considering you get to be justifiably mad about Liz’s awkwardness about it in the episode! This episode sets up one of the greatest arcs of 30 Rock: Jenna Maroney and her knock off Janis Joplin biopic that’s just different variations on her name. In this episode she’s Janis Jorpler singing “Piece of My Heart” with new lyrics like “Take another little piece of my love now mister!” Classic, pure 30 Rock.

49. Murphy Brown Lied to Us (Season 6, Episode 18)
Dir. John Riggi
Writer: Robert Carlock, Vali Chandrasekaran


Hey! Murphy Brown is back! So, did she lie to us? Well, maybe? No, she didn’t! Women can be single mothers and still have fruitful careers! But who wouldn’t want to be a parent with paragon of masculine virtue Criss Chros? I mean, c’mon! But it is extremely touching to see Jack work his steely blue eyed magic to trick Liz into realizing that she is ready to have a child. On top of the A plot, we also get Jenna staging a celebrity breakdown and we get Stacy Keach parodying the awful Clint Eastwood Chysler commercials from 2012. “When did gum get so soft you sons of bitches? Life is hard. Shouldn’t everything else be harder?”

48. I Do I Do (Season 4, Episode 22)
Dir. Don Scardino
Writer: Tina Fey


Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Matt Damon’s Carol was good for Liz Lemon. His distance, both physically and emotionally, let Liz have a relationship while still pursuing her passions and drives. Not to mention, girl has had so many bad relationships it’s nice that Carol, at the very least, loves TGS. But this is a season finale after all so not only do we finally wrap up the long overdue arc of Nancy Donovan with Jack discovering Avery is pregnant, Jenna discovers that Paul is having an affair (when in actuality he is just doing a Cher drag act), and Kenneth is fired from NBC! But not before he gives an impassioned rant to all of his friends he’ll be leaving behind. “I’ll see you AAAAALL in HEAVEN!” he screams!

47. Believe in the Stars (Season 3, Episode 2)
Dir. Don Scardino
Writer: Robert Carlock


While the line of the episode is Kenneth asking Jack “Is Spongebob Squarepants supposed to be terrifying?”, this episode is great because it has OPRAH! Do I wish Oprah had been playing some crazy abstract character? Sure! But then that would have robbed us of the hilarious twist when Liz, after sobering up from the sedative Jack gave her, she discovers it wasn’t Oprah she was speaking to after all but rather a 12 year old named Pam. But be warned: this is the first episode where Jenna wears blackface and it is not only problematic and uncomfortable, it’s racist, plain and simple. Is the joke that it is extremely offensive? Sure, but excuses for your jokes still don’t make them acceptable.

46. Mrs. Donaghy (Season 5, Episode 11)
Dir. Tricia Brock
Writer: Jack Burditt


Due to an error at Jack’s wedding to Avery, he accidentally winds up marrying Liz by mistake. Liz though decides to use her new found “husband” as leverage to fight back budget cuts at TGS. Jack, not to be outdone, attempts to get even by making Angie, Tracys wife, Liz’s intern much to her chagrin. What does all of this result in? The creation of one of 30 Rock’s strongest jokes: The Queen Of Jordan, and Angie’s catchphrase “It’s my way till pay day.” By the episodes end though we get a genuine moment between Jack and Liz where they both realize that their relationship is the longest, and most stable, of their lives.

45. The Beginning of the End (Season 7, Episode 1)
Dir. Don Scardino
Writer: Jack Burditt


The title is right! This episode is the beginning of the end of 30 Rock! And while Season 7 may not be the best, or longest, season of the show it is still sweetly perfect. The season begins with Jack attempting to tank NBC by ordering a slew of terrible TV shows like Homonym, a game show where players have to define the homophone of a given word. It’s frustrating, it’s rage inducing, and it’s one of 30 Rock’s all-time jokes. This episode also answers the question “Who could ever be Jenna Maroney’s bridesmaid?” Duh! Jenna herself!

44. Cleveland (Season 1, Episode 20)
Dir. Paul Feig
Writer: Jack Burditt, Robert Carlock


In this episode, Liz and Floyd “flee to the Cleave”, a statement I try to work into most conversations despite having no interest in ever visiting Cleveland, despite the show making it out to be a utopia. One where you get to pet horses and everyone east of the Allegheny is a super model! You can have lunch with Little Richard! But we can’t because we have responsibilities, as Jack reminds Liz. But it is the perfect place to hide if you’re someone like Tracy who finds himself being targeted by The Black Crusaders, a fictitious cabal inspired by a conspiracy theory centering on why The Chappelle Show was cancelled. This was spurned because Tracy read that Bill Cosby hates him and 13 years later I think we can all say in unison: fuck Bill Cosby.

43. My Whole Life Is Thunder (Season 7, Episode 8)
Dir. Linda Mendoza
Writer: Jack Burditt, Colleen McGuinness


In the wake of Liz and Criss’s marriage, Jenna is of course in a rage that it will overshadow her and Paul’s secret surprise wedding. Throwing a bigger wrench into Jenna’s plans though is the death of Jack’s mother, Colleen. Jack decides to write the greatest eulogy ever given and invites insane guests to the funeral like Sir Paul McCartney, The Harlem Boys Choir, and Kermit The Frog. Of course Jenna crashes the funeral and with Paul dressed as a statue of an angel, decides to have her wedding at the same time as Colleen’s funeral. “She would have hated this.” Jack smiles. A fitting end to one of the greatest guest stars of 30 Rock the indelible Elaine Stritch.

42. Larry King (Season 3, Episode 12)
Dir. Constantine Makris
Writer: Matt Hubbard


Tracy, who is appearing on Larry Kings talk show, inadvertently sets the finance world in a panic as he warns of a coming economic crisis where “New York, as we know it, will no longer exist tomorrow.” This sparks the writers team to go into a frenzy to find a cache of money that Tracy has hidden at TGS, that turns out to be Kenneth Parcell (in a joke reminiscent of Arrested Development’s ‘There’s always money in the banana stand”).

41. When It Rains, It Pours (Season 5, Episode 2)
Dir. Don Scardino
Writer: Robert Carlock


How much you appreciate When It Rains, It Pours is dependent on how much you enjoyed the TV game show Cash Cab, which features heavily in the plot as Tracy attempts to get to Angie’s side as she goes into labor. This episode also features Paul Giamatti as Ritchie an editor and part time Civil War Reenactor, who Liz convinces to prioritize TGS if she helps him land a date with the true apple of his eye: Donna Strunk. Ya see, Ritchie and Donna have some things in common, like their mutual love of unicorns, waterbeds, and visiting Canada. Jack in this episode, realizing that he may be too old to properly raise his child, decides to make a series of videotapes to his unborn son to teach him everything he won’t be able to. But in a classic Billy Bigelow move, once he realizes that he may be having a girl, he enlists the help of Liz telling his unborn daughter “Take her advice, and do the opposite.”

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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)