Photo Credit: Ali Goldstein/NBC
"Thank you America!" said Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) at the end of the final episode of 30 Rock's fictional sketch show, TGS. "That's our show. Not a lot of people watched it. But the joke's on you, cause we got paid anyway!"
In the end, 30 Rock got its happy ending. As the finale winds down, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is a working mom, who's happily helming a low-quality hit sitcom. Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) is still presiding over GE (which is now propelled by his greatest idea yet, the clear dishwasher). Kenneth (Jack McBrayer) is NBC president, apparently eternally. And 30 Rock signed off with the same clever, irreverent comedy that made it so beloved by critics throughout its seven-year run.
For longtime fans, the final episode was packed with inside jokes and numerous cameos from favorite guest stars over the years. And Fey managed to express a heartfelt goodbye, which had us laughing through our tears. Here are some of the best things about the finale.
1. The self-deprecating humor. The episode had lots of thinly veiled jokes about 30 Rock's place in the TV landscape. (Need reminding? Critics loved its sharp humor, but network suits weren't thrilled with the low ratings.) "I actually think there may be a show about my life, you know, about a woman writer living in New York," Lemon says while pitching new NBC chief, Kenneth. "I'm sorry," he replies. "Woman. Writer. New York. Those are on my list of TV no-no words." Also on that list: "quality."
2. Lemon's last long-running joke. Once again, Fey pulled that signature 30 Rock move, where she cracks a joke and then lets it play out throughout the rest of the episode. "OK, well, then maybe I won't take my ideas to NBC," she says. "I'll go to cable, where you can swear and really take time to let moments land." Next scene: Jenna (Jane Krakowski) is cursing out the writers, but of course, she has to do it without cursing. "How dare you, you rotting pear!" she cries. And in a later scene: "Goodbye, forever, you soup line at a gay homeless shelter!" And even later: "You Eastern European knockoff Mr. Potato Heads!" The joke actually disproves Liz's assertion that cable is better. The fact that she's not allowed to swear made her comedy that much funnier.
3. The silly one-liners. These stars also know how to deliver a quick punch of funny -- and the finale had its fair share of quotables. "Kenneth, I've been thinking about something a lot lately, something that's never bothered me until now," Jack says. "Me too!" replies Kenneth. "Where are all the baby pigeons?" First of all, so true. Where are all the baby pigeons? And secondly, oh how we'll miss Kenneth's brain!
4. Jenna comes clean. Ongoing gags, like Jenna's constant name-dropping, were also addressed. She's about to tell an anecdote involving Mickey Rourke, when she stops and looks into the camera. "Okay," she says. "I can't do this anymore. I've never met Mickey Rourke." It's Okay, Jenna. We knew that.
5. Alec gets called out. Another element of 30 Rock's distinctive humor: Referencing current events, even when they involve the very actors playing the show's characters. At one point, Jack realizes he's no longer finding pleasure in angering his left-wing enemies, "Pelosi, Maddow, Baldwin." When he gives away his possessions, among them is a bag of his hair. Baldwin fans, of course, know all about that his lefty activism…and his hair.
6. The crazy-haired guest star. The show paid homage to its own, insightful use of famous faces with several cameos. The best one? Conan O'Brien, riding the elevator with Lemon. "Come on, you can't pretend I don't exist," he begged. "We dated for a year. We were gonna lose our virginity to each other!"
7. Liz and Jack's declaration of (platonic) love. Fey also acknowledged the show's central relationship, between Lemon and Jack. "I called you up here for one meeting, seven years ago, and you kept coming up!" he told her. "I guess you and I were just a boss and his employee," she says. "And now we're not anymore." He looks at her blankly. "Yes, that pretty much sums it up." But they -- and we -- know that their friendship was the heart and soul of the show. In the end, they admit they love each other. Well, Lemon does, and Jack beams back at her with moist eyes.
8. The characters say goodbye. As expected, everyone deals with the show ending in their own ways. Lutz (John Lutz) insists on Blimpies for their last lunch. Pete (Scott Adsit) tries to change his identity to a southern guy named Dan Silversmith who works at Carolina Mutual. And Tracy hides out in a strip club because he doesn't know how to say goodbye.
"I guess there's a reason people don't say honest goodbyes," Lemon tells him. "Because when stuff is coming to an end, people act crazy. They pick fights. And they pick Blimpies. And I don't know what Pete's doing. So you lie to them. But if you want a hardcore truth goodbye…We were forced to be friends because of work, and we're probably not gonna hang out after this. Working with you was hard, Tracy. You frustrated me, and you wore me out. But because the human heart is not properly connected to the human brain, I love you. And I’m gonna miss you."
We're gonna miss you, 30 Rock.