The 10 Best Running Gags In 30 Rock


The critically acclaimed sitcom 30 Rock proves the behind-the-scenes chaos of a sketch comedy series is just as funny as the show itself. The series followed head writer Liz Lemon, her staff, boss, and eccentric cast of the NBC sketch comedy series TGS with Tracy Jordan.

RELATED: 30 Rock: 10 Things You Forgot From The First Episode

The series first hit the airwaves in 2006 and was met with rave reviews. In many ways, the series feels like a live-action version of an animated sitcom, seeing as 30 Rock often used surreal humor and cutaway gags. Indeed, the series became famous for its plethora of running jokes, including ones that transcend time and remain popular despite the series ending in 2013.

10 TGS With Tracy Jordan Sketches

Sketches from 30 Rock's TGS with Tracy Jordan

Liz Lemon struggled to balance her personal life while dealing with an erratic boss, lazy employees, and difficult stars. However, Liz manages to produce a weekly comedy show with all the chaos going on around her.

The fictional sketches play an essential role throughout the series. The series depicts the sketches at every stage, including the writing process, rehearsals, and showtime. TGS produced a long list of sketches including, Cat Lady, President Flava Flav, and Macbeth with Mayor McCheese.

9 Shows-Within-A-Show

Liz and Kenneth in 30 Rock

TGS with Tracy Jordan isn’t the only TV series on the air in 30 Rock. Jenna and Tracy are often landing roles on other series. At the same time, Jack Donaghy is constantly adding new programming to NBC’s lineup.

RELATED: 30 Rock: 5 Reasons Liz Lemon Is Our Hero (& 5 Not So Much)

For instance, Tracy appeared on the sports talk show Sports Shouting while Jenna was a judge on America’s Kidz Got Singing talent show. Tracy’s wife, Angie Jordan, starred in the reality series Queen Of Jordan as well. 

8 Liz Lemon Loves Junk Food

30 Rock's Liz Lemon eats junk food

Liz Lemon is proud that she loves junk food more than her work, friends, or even boyfriends. A running gag throughout the series is how much Liz loves food. Liz enjoys a wide range of unhealthy food including, a folded-up pizza, night cheese, and Sabor De Soledad.

In the season 2 episode, “Jack Gets in the Game,” she eats a whole $54 steak in a few seconds. Of course, it’s a grave mistake to get in between Liz and food. For instance, Liz reacted angrily when the writers ate her sandwich on Sandwich Day.

7 Hit Singles

Jenna singing in 30 Rock

Jenna Maroney’s a hilarious and talented actress. She’s always prepared to show off her singing skills, too. Of course, she’s not the only one to break into a song and dance. The series featured a long list of fictional songs that became famous running gags.

Jenna sang several classics including, “Muffin Top,” “The Rural Juror Song,” and “Chunk Of My Lung.” Tracy sang his fair share of classics such as “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.” Tracy’s wife, Angie, dropped her single “My Single Is Dropping,” as well.

6 Liz’s Dream Guy Astronaut Mike Dexter

Liz Lemon in 30 Rock

Liz Lemon is searching for love throughout the series but wants to do it on her terms. She doesn’t want to settle, but she also wants something simple.

Of course, she already has the picture of the perfect man in her mind, and that’s astronaut Mike Dexter. Liz references astronaut Mike Dexter several times throughout the series. She often mentions him as the ideal husband. Liz eventually falls in love, but astronaut Mike Dexter always had a special place in her heart.

5 Dr. Spaceman

Liz and Dr. Spaceman in 30 Rock

When Tracy runs out his medication in season one, he begs Liz to call Dr. Spaceman. Liz understandably thinks the doctor doesn’t exist. Well, it turns out his doctor’s name is really Dr. Spaceman, pronounced “Spah-CHEM-in.”

RELATED: 30 Rock: 10 Hilarious Dr. Spaceman Quotes That Make No Sense

Dr. Leo Spaceman became a popular recurring character. Despite Jack Donaghy praising him, Dr. Spaceman seems to know nothing about the medical profession. A constant running gag in the series is that Dr. Spaceman is not qualified to be a doctor. In the season 2 episode, “Succession,” Spaceman claims, “We have no way of knowing where the heart is.”

4 Fictional Movies

Kenneth in 30 Rock

Jenna and Tracy dream of starring in a big-budget movie or a critically acclaimed classic. Despite being about a TV series, 30 Rock featured several fictional movies. For instance, Jenna starred in The Jackie Jormp-Jomp Story, which was initially a Jans Joplin biopic.

Shockingly, Tracy won an Oscar for his role in Hard To Watch: Based on the Novel Stone Cold Bummer. Of course, the series included several others movies such as The Rural Juror, Sherlock Homie, and the classic leap day movie, Leap Dave Williams starring Jim Carrey.

3 Liz Takes A Stand

Liz Lemon carries a box of hot dogs in 30 Rock

Liz Lemon was stubborn, outspoken, and defiant. She gave rousing speeches when standing up for a cause or issue. Liz could also be spiteful but usually learned a lesson in the end. Regardless, Liz often would take a stand and break into intense rants.

For instance, she gives an inspiring speech and purchases every hot dog from a hot dog stand because some guy tried cutting the line. Liz’s other classic speeches included a rant about love directed at Grizz, standing up to her writers, and not backing down from Carol on the airplane.

2 Kenneth’s Immortal

Jack Liz and Kenneth in 30 Rock elevator

Kenneth Parcell loves television and working at NBC. He’s sweet, naïve, and innocent. He also never ages and speaks to a force called “Jacob.” A running joke in the series revolves around Kenneth being immortal. Indeed, the series implies that he’s a supernatural being with undying loyalty to NBC.

RELATED: 30 Rock: The 10 Best Episodes of Season 4 (According To IMDb)

Initially, Kenneth’s a mere NBC page who is too nice to a fault. He’s a hard worker, loyal, and cares about TV. Eventually, he takes over NBC and remains in the role for eternity. In the end, Kenneth truly is immortal.

1 Frank’s Hats

Frank's many hats in 30 Rock

TGS writer Frank Rossitano often dressed like a slob, enjoyed pulling pranks, and making Liz’s job difficult. Frank didn’t go anywhere without his trademark trucker hat, which featured a different slogan each week.

It first appeared in the pilot episode and became a long-running joke. Frank’s hats were always different with a witty phrase, silly joke, or absurd innuendo. Frank’s hat included hilarious phrases such as Ninja Expert, Click Here, Nap Partner, Time Travel Agent, and Letters.

NEXT: The Simpsons: 10 Funniest Running Gags, Ranked


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