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 Schmidt'
Mike Carlsen and Tituss Burgess in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Netflix

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.

Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, and Jane Krakowski in '30 Rock'
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.

21 Things You Didn't Know About The Nightmare Before Christmas

Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

Christmas is a time for donning festive garb, singing holiday songs, festooning your home in decorations, and giving thoughtful gifts. Of course, all those tasks turn out a bit more twisted when assigned to the denizens of Halloween Town. The Nightmare Before Christmas, which arrived in theaters 25 years ago, mixes light and dark with jolly and macabre with great success. Even if this Halloween/Christmas movie mash-up movie is part of your regular holiday tradition, we'd roll Oogie Boogie's dice that you don't know all of these secrets from behind the scenes.

1. TIM BURTON DID NOT DIRECT THE MOVIE.

It is a common misconception spurred by the film's alternate title: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Burton was busy with Batman Returns and handed this hefty responsibility to his old Disney Animation colleague Henry Selick, who made his feature directorial debut here. Burton's name goes above the title for serving as producer, creating the story, and coming up with the look and the characters for The Nightmare Before Christmas. It probably doesn't hurt that his name was much bigger than Selick's at the time, thanks to the success of Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, and Batman.

2. JACK SKELLINGTON RESURFACED IN HENRY SELICK'S LATER FILMS.

1996 saw the release of Selick's follow-up, a stop-motion/live-action adaptation of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach. It also saw the resurrection of The Nightmare Before Christmas's bare bones protagonist, who appears in one spooky scene as a skeletal pirate captain. He's much harder to spot in Selick's 2009 translation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline, but if you look closely as the Other Mother makes breakfast, you'll see Jack's smiling skull hidden in the yolk of a cracked egg.

3. THE PLOT WAS INSPIRED BY THE RECURRING COLLISION OF HOLIDAY STORE DECORATIONS.

In the film's DVD commentary, Burton explains that his childhood in ever-sunny Burbank, California was not marked by seasonal changes, so holiday decorations were an especially important factor in the year's progression. When it came to fall and winter, there was a melding of Halloween and Christmas in stores eager to make the most of both shopping seasons. This, he claimed, planted the seed for his tale of the king of Halloween intruding on Christmas.

4. A BURTON POEM PREDATED THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

While Burton was working as an animator at Disney on productions like The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron, he began toying with cartoon projects of his own. This eventually led to animated shorts like "Vincent," as well as the penning of a poem called "The Nightmare Before Christmas." A sort of parody of Clement Clarke Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (also known as "The Night Before Christmas"), this poem focused on Jack Skellington's inescapable ennui and featured his ghost dog Zero as well as Santa.

5. RANKIN/BASS WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR THE STOP-MOTION APPROACH.


Walt Disney Pictures

In the same DVD commentary, Burton admits the animated Christmas specials from Rankin/Bass Productions were hugely influential.

6. BURTON ORIGINALLY IMAGINED THE FILM AS A TELEVISION SPECIAL.

Like Rankin/Bass's Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer or Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, Burton envisioned his take on Christmas could play well on television annually. This turned out to be true, but in a way he had not expected. He initially pitched the animated effort to TV studios. When that failed, he tried book publishers. No one bit until he pitched it as a full-length feature film. On the commentary track, Burton estimates that roughly 20 years passed between the project's earliest inception and its theatrical debut on October 29th, 1993.

7. RONALD SEARLE AND EDWARD GOREY WERE ALSO INFLUENTIAL.

In a behind-the-scenes video about The Nightmare Before Christmas's backbreaking creation, a narrator notes that the production design team took a page from the pen and ink drawings of these two memorable artists, aiming to create in the physical set designs the kinds of cross-hatching and textures found within their works. Selick explains that they'd smear sets in plaster or clay, then scratch lines into this material "to give it that sort of etched texture or feel to make it look like a living illustration."

8. SHOOTING BEGAN BEFORE THE SCRIPT WAS COMPLETED.

Stop-motion demands a great deal of time, so when Danny Elfman had mastered most of the film's songs, Selick plus a team of 13 specially trained animators and an army of prop makers, set builders, and camera operators got to work without a final screenplay. Animators began by crafting Jack's big moment of discovery with "What's This?" Shooting 24 frames per second meant the animators had to create unique motions for 110,000 frames total. One minute of the movie took about a week to shoot, and The Nightmare Before Christmas took 3 years to complete.

9. SELICK IS RESPONSIBLE FOR JACK'S SIGNATURE SUIT.

In Burton's original sketches, Jack was dressed all in black. It is revealed in the film's commentary track that it was director Selick who gave Jack a marvelous makeover that added white stripes to his slim-fit suit. More than a smart sartorial choice, the addition of the pinstripes was needed to help Jack pop. In early camera tests, it became a major concern when Jack's flat black suit blended in to the dark backdrops of Halloween Town.

10. DISNEY FOUGHT FOR JACK TO HAVE EYES.

Because of the dark and deeply weird nature of Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, Walt Disney Studios decided it was too off-brand to be released under their banner. So the film was made through their branch Touchstone Pictures. But this didn't keep Disney from dropping some serious studio notes, including the insistence that Jack Skellington's empty sockets be filled with a pair of friendly eyes. A common guideline in animation and puppet-creation is that eyes are crucial to having an audience connect to a character, but Selick and Burton wouldn't budge, and ultimately proved their anti-hero didn't need oculars to connect.

11. THE MOST DIFFICULT SHOT WAS OPENING A DOOR.


Walt Disney Pictures

Because of the filmmakers' dedication to be as true to shooting like live-action as possible, one Nightmare Before Christmas shot proved especially challenging. When Jack discovers the part of the forest with pathways to other holiday worlds, he looks longingly at the Christmas tree door. A close-up of its shiny golden knob reflects this mournful skeleton as well as the trees behind him as he advances to open it. Getting the reflection just right took a great deal of time, care, and attention.

12. VINCENT PRICE WAS NEARLY NIGHTMARE'S SANTA.

Burton had previously worked with the renowned horror icon on Edward Scissorhands and "Vincent." From there, Price had agreed to give voice to the plump and flustered Santa who is kidnapped by treacherous trick 'r treaters Lock, Shock, and Barrel. However, this plan was derailed when Price's wife Coral Browne passed in 1991. Selick explained in the commentary track that the actor was so grief-stricken that the director felt he sounded too sad for Santa. Edward Ivory was then brought in to replace him.

13. PATRICK STEWART WAS CUT FROM THE FILM.

Early on, The Nightmare Before Christmas planned to rely heavily on its poetic inspiration. As such, Star Trek: The Next Generation star Patrick Stewart was called in to read poetry that was intended for the film's opening and closing narration. The lengthy monologues were eventually pared down to a few lines, and those were reassigned to the film's Santa, Edward Ivory. However, Stewart's version can be found in full on the film's soundtrack.

14. TIM BURTON WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE A CAMEO.

Unearthed in cut footage is an alternate version of the vampires playing hockey. In the theatrical and all subsequent releases, the ice-skating vampires swat a jack-o-lantern. However, the original version of this scene had them batting about a recognizable decapitated head. With its ghostly pallor, black spiky hair, angular shape, and deep bags under its eyes, the creepy creation is clearly Burton. But this seems to have been deemed too grisly for a kids' movie.

15. THERE ARE SOME HIDDEN MICKEYS.


Walt Disney Pictures

Since the film became a success, Disney has become less shy about their association with Nightmare Before Christmas. But the commentary track reveals that, despite their reluctance, Disney allowed Selick and Burton to include a hidden Mickey in the form of a menacing toy. In the scene where Jack's Christmas gifts attack, there's a flying stuffed animal with a sharp-toothed grin that's meant to be the Burton version of Mickey Mouse. Also, the girl it attacks is wearing a Mickey print nightgown, while her brother's pajamas are covered in Donald Duck faces.

16. THERE'S A HIDDEN ED WOOD REFERENCE.

While The Nightmare Before Christmas was in production, Burton not only completed Batman Returns but also dug into pre-production on Ed Wood, a biopic about the notoriously untalented filmmaker. A nod to Wood's works is found tucked into the fearsome folk of Halloween Town—the burly, bald Behemoth is a sweet-natured brute who bears a striking resemblance—down to the scars on his face—to Swedish wrestler Tor Johnson as seen in Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space.

17. THERE'S A HIDDEN DANNY ELFMAN CAMEO.

The former Oingo Boingo front man began collaborating with Burton back in the early 1980s when he composed the score for Burton's feature directorial debut, Pee-wee's Big Adventure. The pair reteamed for Beetlejuice, Batman and Edward Scissorhands before Elfman was called to write the music and lyrics for The Nightmare Before Christmas. He also lent his singing voice to Jack Skellington, and for all this he gets the dubious distinction of a cameo as the redheaded corpse tucked away in the upright bass of the ghastly Halloween Town band.

18. BURTON CALLED ON OTHER PAST COLLABORATORS TO BE HEARD.

Aside from Jack's singing voice, Elfman also lent his pipes to mischievous Barrel as well as the menacing clown with the tear-away face. Filling out the trio of trick 'r treaters was Pee-Wee's Big Adventure star Paul Reubens as Lock, and Beetlejuice's Catherine O'Hara as Shock. O'Hara also voiced the stitched up and besotted Sally, while her former co-star Glenn Shadix played the two-faced mayor of Halloween Town.

19. DELETED SCENES INCLUDED BEHEMOTH'S SOLO AND AN ALTERNATE OOGIE BOOGIE REVEAL.

On the DVD, storyboard presentations reveal deleted scenes that never made it to production. One of these has Behemoth belting beautifully about "pretty" presents during "Making Christmas." Another shows an abandoned concept of Oogie Boogie boogeying with the bugs that fill his stitched up form, and a third clip displays a very different finale. Instead of Boogie being torn up and reduced to bugs, he's unmasked to be evil scientist Dr. Finkelstein in disguise! In this version, his whole scheme was revenge-fueled because Sally loved Jack, even though Finkelstein made her to be his mate.

20. THE SET WAS BUILT WITH SECRET PASSAGES FOR ANIMATORS.

Reminiscent of the cut-out pathways used by Muppeteers, the animators behind and beneath The Nightmare Before Christmas had special trapdoors cut into the 19 sound stages worth of 230 model sets so they could more easily reach in and manipulate their peculiar puppets. From these vantage points, they can move the armatures hidden within the creatures or swap their faces out for one of hundreds made to allow for a wide range of emotion. Jack Skellington alone had more than 400 heads.

21. BURTON REJECTED A CGI SEQUEL.

Though Disney has found success pumping out straight-to-DVD sequels of their animated hits, Burton has no interest in making The Nightmare Before Christmas 2. He told MTV, “I was always very protective of [Nightmare Before Christmas], not to do sequels or things of that kind. You know, ‘Jack visits Thanksgiving world’ or other kinds of things, just because I felt the movie had a purity to it and the people that like it. Because it’s not a mass-market kind of thing, it was important to kind of keep that purity of it. I try to respect people and keep the purity of the project as much as possible.”

Star Wars: Episode IX Leak Claims Rey Will Have a 'Family Reunion'

Lucasfilm Ltd.
Lucasfilm Ltd.

Fans have been itching to find out everything possible about ​Star Wars: Episode IX, and a recent alleged leak suggests that in the final installment of the Skywalker saga, Daisy Ridley's Rey will have a (biological) family reunion.

A quick recap: In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rey experienced a major revelation about her parents, though it wasn't really relevant to the rest of the film. However, ​according to We Got This Covered, The Daily Express claims to have learned about a scene being filmed for Episode IX involving a young boy who believed to be either Rey's son or brother.

The Express reports:

"A description dubbed ‘Family Reunion’ has Rey in a black vest white tunic and grey pants. Next to her is a young adult male that has a striking resemblance to Rey. He has longish brown hair similar to Obi-Wan’s from Attack of the Clones ... He wears a beige robe with brown gloves. The pants are coloured white with a black belt and dark brown cape. Rey’s hand rests on his shoulder.

"Behind then is an older man with a ponytail and to the left of Rey is a woman with dirty blonde hair and a white outfit. In front of them all is a young boy with black hair. They all stand on a cliff with a sunset background."

We recommend taking this alleged leak with a grain of salt, because we don't know whether there's any real truth behind it or not. One thing is for sure, though: we'll learn all of the secrets of ​Star Wars: Episode IX when it premieres in December 2019.

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