10 Outrageous 30 Rock Fan Theories

NBC
NBC

The 30 Rock universe is a wild, wacky place where people can become Muppets at the drop of a hat. But some fans maintain there are even stranger things lurking beneath the surface of this show business sitcom. Here are 10 of the weirdest theories surrounding the series, ranging from the plausible to “dude, it’s X-Men.”

1. KENNETH PARCELL IS IMMORTAL.

This theory is widely accepted, in part because 30 Rock seems to believe it. There are multiple threads and whole articles devoted to the many references to Kenneth’s immortality. He’s appeared in fake NBC shows from the 1960s, has personalized autographs from the 1940s, and understands references too old for even Jack Donaghy. In a season four episode, he even asks, “Who said I’ve been alive forever?” Kenneth is almost definitely an immortal being — if not an outright angel.

2. TRACY JORDAN IS DOING ONE LONG ANDY KAUFMAN BIT.

Tracy Jordan’s boss thinks he’s an idiot, but some fans think he’s a brilliant meta comedian. According to one theory, Tracy is a witty social critic simply playing a character to make his points. Throughout the show, Tracy has dropped hints to his secret intelligence. He appreciates Anton Chekhov plays and checks people’s grammar when he temporarily joins the TGS writing staff. Tracy apparently plays the buffoon as performance art, most notably in stunts like his “idiots” protest with Denise Richards. If he’s already pretending to be a serial cheater, could he be playing dumb, too?

3. LIZ LEMON’S FAVORITE SNACK MADE HER INFERTILE.

Liz Lemon loves a lot of food, but perhaps none more so than Sabor de Soledad. The cheese puffs, which translate to “Flavor of Loneliness,” appear in several episodes. In season two, they give Liz a pregnancy scare because of their special ingredient: bull semen. But what if the side effects didn’t stop there? Redditor griftersly thinks Liz’s prolonged consumption of this, uh, substance might’ve affected her fertility. The proof isn’t just in Liz’s struggle to get pregnant; she also makes casual references to super long periods lasting 61(!) days. And wouldn’t it be typical for Liz to be betrayed by her own snacks?

4. JENNA MARONEY MET PAUL L'ASTNAMÉ AT PRINCE GERHARDT’S BIRTHDAY PARTY.

Jenna Maroney ultimately finds love with Paul, a drag Jenna Maroney impersonator. Paul is played by Will Forte, who initially cameos in the show much earlier. In the season one episode “Black Tie,” he plays Tomas, an attendant to Gerhardt Hapsburg, the chronically ill heir to the Austrian throne. Jenna flirts with Gerhardt at his birthday party in hopes of marrying into a royal family, but the prince dies by the end of the episode. Tomas and Paul are seemingly two different characters. But as one theory goes, Tomas fell in love with Jenna at the party and decided to stay in New York after his master’s death. He made a new life as Paul, channeling his affections for Jenna into impersonation. Clearly, it worked out.

5. TRACY’S EGOT IS A LIE.

For two seasons, Tracy is on a dogged quest to EGOT—win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. He supposedly achieves this goal, but does the math add up? We know he won an Oscar for the gritty drama Hard to Watch: Based on the Novel ‘Stone-Cold Bummer’ by Manipulate. He also put a one-man show on Broadway, which presumably earned him a Tony. The Grammy could have gone to “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,” “Fat Neck Girl,” or another of his original songs. But what about the Emmy? One Redditor thinks he never won one at all. Instead, Tracy counted the fake Emmy that Liz gives him in “Secrets and Lies.” He got the idea from Whoopi Goldberg, who proudly counts her Daytime Emmy.

6. LIZ HAS DEMENTIA.

In the series finale, we see Liz’s great-granddaughter pitch a show to Kenneth, the immortal president of NBC. Her concept is based on stories she heard from her great-grandmother, all taking place in 30 Rockefeller Plaza. She’s describing 30 Rock, but could older Liz’s mental state have informed the pitch? In the season four episode “Moms,” Liz’s mother reveals that dementia runs in the family. One theory suggests that, when elderly Liz told her children’s children about her job, she greatly exaggerated character quirks and wacky situations due to dementia. It’s a little bleak, but would explain the heightened reality of the TGS writers room.

7. 30 ROCK EXISTS IN THE SAME UNIVERSE AS UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT.

Mike Carlsen and Tituss Burgess in Unbreakable Kimmy SchmidtNetflix

Right after Liz begins dating Carol (Matt Damon), she receives a lot more male attention, including from a construction worker. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, another Fey creation, has a similar catcalling experience with a similar construction worker … actually, the exact same one. Mike Carlsen plays both construction workers, leading some fans to believe the 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt universes are connected. Although Fey has denied that Kimmy and Liz exist in the same New York City, the evidence piles up. Kenneth also references a “Reverend Gary” who thinks the world is going to end, who sounds an awful lot like Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne, the man who kept Kimmy in a doomsday bunker for 15 years.

8. THE CHARACTERS ARE SUPERHEROES.

What if Liz Lemon’s horrible eating habits were actually, in a way, her superpower? One especially bizarre theory claims the core 30 Rock characters are all superheroes. Liz’s junk food addiction is proof of mutant genetics, since none of the awful, illegal foods she eats have killed her. Frank uses the phrases on his hats to bend others to his will, while Jack has telepathic abilities that allow him to read Liz and others. Topher is an immortal lost in time, Lutz is an androgynous alien, and, well, you should just read the whole thing for yourself.

9. GRIZZ AND DOTCOM ARE IMAGINARY FRIENDS.

Tracy has a loose grip on reality. Redditor franktopus believes he also imagined his two best friends, Grizz and Dotcom. But these figments of Tracy’s imagination are also manifestations of Tracy’s ambitions: Dotcom is a thespian, the respected stage actor Tracy sometimes wishes he could be. Grizz, meanwhile, is the devoted partner to “Feyonce,” symbolizing Tracy’s romantic ideals. This latter part of the equation kind of falls apart, considering Grizz, Feyonce, and Dotcom are in a bit of a messy love triangle and Tracy actually has a pretty solid relationship with his wife Angie. But of course Tracy’s hallucinations would be complicated.

10. LIZ, TRACY, AND JENNA REPRESENT THE ID, EGO, AND SUPEREGO.

NBC

Sigmund Freud believed that all humans were subject to the warring influences of our “id” and “superego.” The id is basically the primal, unchecked self; the superego counters the id, essentially functioning as our conscience. It’s very concerned with societal order and expectations. The ego is simply the individual—the one listening to both the id and superego, while calling the shots. One fan theory posits that Tracy is the id, Liz is the superego, and Jenna is the ego. But Reddit has extensively debated that triangle. Some have said that Jack is the superego. Or it’s actually Kenneth. Or Liz is the ego. The only part everyone agrees on? Tracy is the wild id.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

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But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

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To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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6 Too-Cool Facts About Henry Winkler for His 75th Birthday

Getty Images
Getty Images

Henry Winkler thumbs-upped his way into America’s hearts as the Fonz in Happy Days more than 40 years ago, and he hasn’t been out of the spotlight since—whether it’s playing himself in an Adam Sandler movie, a hospital administrator with a weird obsession with butterflies in Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital, the world's worst lawyer in Arrested Development, a pantomiming Captain Hook on the London stage, or the world's most lovable acting coach to a contract killer in Barry

1. Henry Winkler made up a Shakespeare monologue to get into the Yale School of Drama.

After graduating from Emerson College, Winkler applied to Yale University’s drama program. In his audition, he had to do two scenes, a modern and a classic comedy. However, when he arrived at his audition, he forgot the Shakespeare monologue he had planned to recite. So he made something up on the spot. He was still selected for one of 25 spots in the program. 

2. HENRY WINKLER’S FATHER INSPIRED “JUMPING THE SHARK.”

CBS

In the fifth season of Happy Days, the Fonz grabbed a pair of water skis and jumped over a shark. The phrase “jumping the shark” would become pop culture shorthand for the desperate gimmicks employed by TV writers to keep viewers hooked into a show that’s running out of storylines. But Winkler’s water skiing adventure was partially inspired by his father, who begged his son to tell his co-workers about his past as a water ski instructor. When he did, the writers wrote his skills into the show. Winkler would later reference the moment in his role as lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn on Arrested Development, hopping over a dead shark lying on a pier.  

3. Henry Winkler is an advocate for dyslexia awareness. 

Winkler struggled throughout high school due to undiagnosed dyslexia. “I didn't read a book until I was 31 years old when I was diagnosed with dyslexia,” he told The Guardian in 2014. He has co-written several chapter books for kids featuring Hank Zipper, a character who has dyslexia. In 2015, a Hank Zipper book is printed in Dyslexie, a special font designed to be easier for kids with dyslexia to read. 

4. Henry Winkler didn't get to ride Fonzie's motorcycle.

On one of his first days on the set of Happy Days, producers told Winkler that he just had to ride the Fonz’s motorcycle a few feet. Because of his dyslexia, he couldn’t figure out the vehicle’s controls, he told an interviewer with the Archive of American Television. “I gunned it and rammed into the sound truck, nearly killed the director of photography, put the bike down, and slid under the truck,” he recalled. For the next 10 years, whenever he appeared on the motorcycle, the bike was actually sitting on top of a wheeled platform. 

5. Henry Winkler has performed with MGMT. 

In addition to his roles on BarryArrested Development, Royal Pains, Parks and Recreation, and more, Winkler has popped up in a few unexpected places in recent years. He appeared for a brief second in the music video for MGMT’s “Your Life Is a Lie” in 2013. He later showed up at a Los Angeles music festival to play the cowbell with the band, too.

6. Henry Winkler won his first Emmy at the age of 72.

The seventh time was a charm for Henry Winkler. In 2018, at the age of 72—though just shy of his 73rd birthday—Winkler won an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as acting teacher Gene Cousineau on Barry. It was the seventh time Winkler had been nominated for an Emmy. His first nomination came in 1976 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Happy Days (he earned an Emmy nod in the same category for Happy Days in 1977 and 1978 as well.

This story has been updated for 2020.