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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

40. Sandwich Day (Season 2, Episode 14)
Dir. Don Scardino
Writer: Robert Carlock, Jack Burditt


The best TV shows make you see yourself in the characters. And look, I love sandwiches. They are almost a perfect a food. So when Liz Lemon gets her sandwich stolen, and eaten, by the writers I too would have lost it. Especially if the sandwich was THAT GOOD. While I may not stop to eat it before going through airport security so I can make sure I have the dipping sauce, I would intentionally go out of my way to eat a great sandwich. Also we learn a teeny bit more about Kenneths bizarre upbringing when we discover that our alcohol is simply his Hill People Milk. “I’ve been drinking this since I was a baby!” he exclaims as he triumphantly pounds shots of Jameson.

39. Generalissimo (Season 3, Episode 10)
Dir. Todd Holland
Writer: Robert Carlock

Ah, the introduction to beautiful, woefully dumb Dr. Drew Baird (Jon Hamm), whos mail is accidentally sent to Liz’s apartment. Of course she goes through his mail, decides he’s perfect for her, despite accidentally roofying him by the episodes end. But we’re not here for Jon Hamm, he’ll get better episodes later. We’re here for Jack vs. The Generalissimo, a villain on a telenovela that Elisa’s (Salma Hayek) grandmother watches religiously. The grandmother hates Jack because he is the spitting image of The Generalissimo, who we discover is not only gay but as conniving as his white doppelganger.

38. Brooklyn Without Limits (Season 5, Episode 7)
Dir. Michael Engler
Writer: Ron Weiner


Living in New York means you get to see not only a lot of theatre, but a lot of theatre actors who others may not recognize in television shot in the city. In this case it’s Michael Cyril Creighton who won a Writers Guild Award for his web series Jack in a Box, and has written and co-starred in some of the best episodes of HBO’s High Maintenance. He sells Liz the knockout pair of jeans from Brooklyn Without Limits, a clear pastiche of the Brooklyn Industries brand. Of course what Liz doesn’t know is that the company is owned by Halliburton, sending her into a moral tailspin. Halliburton is horrible but damn if the jeans don’t fit well! But also this episode features a hilariously inebriated John Slattery as Steve Austin, an independent candidate Jack backs to to keep Regina Bookman (Queen Latifah) from being re-elected. His platform? “No paved roads, rum used as an anesthetic, legal slavery.”, which if you look around at certain politicians today, we have far more Steve Austin’s in government than we really should have.

37. Alexis Goodlooking and the Case of the Missing Whisky (Season 6, Episode 10)
Dir. Michael Slovis
Writer: John Riggi


I like Frank a lot, despite him being a one-note character, but I never warmed to his story arc with Lynn (Susan Sarandon) who he had “an affair” with in middle school. I dunno, pedophile humor just isn’t my bag, especially since Frank clearly has some emotional repercussions from the torrid affair. But that’s not why this episode is so high on the list. That’s because of the episode long parody of Dick Wolf’s Law and Order series (“It was a tent pole!”) that Jenna and Tracy roleplay to get to the bottom of who drank Pete’s whiskey. Lutz mindlessly stacking and restacking empty cardboard boxes as he’s questioned by Jenna and Tracy is the minute, studied humor that 30 Rock does so well.

36. Rosemary’s Baby (Season 2, Episode 4)
Dir. Michael Engler
Writer: Jack Burditt


How many times do you think Carrie Fisher had to say variations on her Princess Leia’s most important line: “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope?” Probably innumerable right? But how many times did she enjoy having to perform that line? Not too sure, but I can only imagine as wine swilling second wave feminist Rosemary Howard, a childhood idol of Liz’s, has to be up there. And while the episode leans into how offensive it is that Jack roleplays as not only Tracy’s mother and father but also an upstairs neighbor, it’s Tracys openness to this strange alternative therapy that makes it so funny.

35. The Tuxedo Begins (Season 6, Episode 8)
Dir. John Riggi
Writer: Dylan Morgan, Josh Siegal


This is the closest thing 30 Rock gets to a superhero episode, riffing on specifically Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight series while also poking fun at Alec Baldwins own superhero past as The Shadow. But if you’ve ever lived in New York and dreaded the packed subway’s on the way home, you may notice yourself commiserating with Liz, slowly turning into 30 Rock’s The Joker, as she attempts to appear crazy to jockey for the primest real estate the MTA has to offer: a subway seat on a packed train.

34. Hogcock! (Season 7, Episode 12)
Dir. Beth McCarthy-Miller
Writer: Jack Burditt, Robert Carlock


The final episodes of 30 Rock revolve around one idea really: are we happy? Are we happy in our jobs, are our lives fulfilling? And if they are not, what do we do about that. For Liz that means going meta on meta and attempting to pitch a show to new NBC Exec Kenneth about her own life which he swiftly rejects. Kenneth tells Liz that they actually need to make one more episode oF TGS due to a stipulation of Tracy’s contract that if they don’t make 150 episodes then he gets a payout of $30 million. There’s a melancholy ennui to these final episodes that are surprisingly genuine and sentimental.

33. Idiots Are People Two! (Season 6, Episode 2)
Dir. Beth McCarthy-Miller
Writer: Robert Carlock


The first of a two parter featuring professional idiot Denise Richards, and while Liz’s war with Tracy and the other idiots is central to the episode, this is about Jack confronting Liz about her new beau and her second guessing everything as per usual. But it’s Criss Chros, played with doofy sensitivity by James Marsden! How could Jack ever hate that FACE! This episodes B plot is one of the best B plots of the series, featuring Kelsey Grammar, as Kenneth attempts to replace Jenna’s lights resulting in framing Pete for auto erotic asphyxiation. It makes complete sense in the episode, I promise!

32. Live from Studio 6H (Season 6, Episode 18)
Dir. Beth McCarthy-Miller
Writer: Jack Burditt, Tina Fey


What! I like the live episodes. In this star studded follow up to season threes live episode Jack announces that TGS will cease doing Live shows leading Kenneth to make an impassioned plea for live tv with examples celebrating how painfully offensive TV used to be. From the spousal abuse of a send up of The Honeymooners to an Amos and Andy riff starting Tracy and Jon Hamm in blackface. Granted the humor is intended to be derived from the reaction of Tracy’s civil rights leader character, but joking that the joke is offensive doesn’t make it any less racist.

31. Tracy Does Conan (Season 1, Episode 7)
Dir. Adam Bernstein
Writer: Tina Fey


While they hadn’t found their footing just yet, Tracy Does Conan is arguably the first hilarious episode of 30 Rock, nimbly jumping between storylines and balancing the manic tone the show can have with Liz’s mundane love life. And while we do agree that Liz and Dennis are terrible together, he also does have the forethought to buy her a cheeseburger at the end of a long day. And trust me y’all: ladies love getting a cheeseburger after a long day.

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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)