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10 Outrageous 30 Rock Fan Theories

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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.

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Comics
10 Things You Might Not Know About Hägar the Horrible
King Features Syndicate
King Features Syndicate

For 45 years, the anachronistic adventures of a Scandinavian Viking named Hägar have populated the funny papers. Created by cartoonist Dik Browne, Hagar the Horrible is less about raiding and pillaging and more about Hägar’s domestic squabbles with wife Helga. If you’re a fan of this red-bearded savage with a surprisingly gentle demeanor, check out some facts about the strip’s history, Hägar’s status as a soda pitchman, and his stint as a college football mascot.

1. HÄGAR IS NAMED AFTER HIS CREATOR.

Richard Arthur “Dik” Browne got his start drawing courtroom sketches for New York newspapers; he debuted a military strip, Ginny Jeep, for servicemen after entering the Army in 1942. Following an advertising stint where he created the Chiquita Banana logo, he was asked to tackle art duties on the 1954 Beetle Bailey spinoff strip Hi and Lois. When he felt an urge to create his own strip in 1973, Browne thought back to how his children called him “Hägar the Horrible” when he would playfully chase them around the house. “Immediately, I thought Viking,” he told People in 1978. Hägar was soon the fastest-growing strip in history, appearing over 1000 papers.

2. HE COULD HAVE BEEN BULBAR THE BARBARIAN.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

Working on Hi and Lois with cartoonist Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey) gave Browne an opportunity to solicit advice on Hägar from his more experienced colleague. As Walker recalled, he thought “Hägar” would be too hard for people to pronounce or spell and suggested Browne go with “Bulbar the Barbarian” instead. Browne brushed off the suggestion, preferring his own alliterative title.

3. A HEART ATTACK COULD HAVE CHANGED HÄGAR’S FATE.

When Browne came up with Hägar, he sent it along to a syndicate editor he knew from his work on Hi and Lois. According to Chris Browne, Dik’s son and the eventual artist for Hägar after his father passed away in 1989, the man originally promised to look at it after he got back from his vacation. He changed his mind at the last minute, reviewing and accepting the strip before leaving. Just days later, while on his ski vacation, the editor had a heart attack and died. If he hadn’t approved the strip prior to his passing, Browne said, Hägar may never have seen print.

4. THE STRIP HELPED BROWNE AVOID VANDALS.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

Chris Browne recalled that Halloween in his Connecticut neighborhood was a time for kids to show their appreciation for his father’s work. While trick-or-treaters were busy covering nearby houses in toilet paper or spray paint, they spared the Browne residence. The only evidence of their vandalism was a spray-painted sign that read, “Mr. Browne, We Love Hägar.”

5. BROWNE’S DAUGHTER TALKED HIM OUT OF KIDNAPPING PLOTS.

Vikings were not known for being advocates for human rights. Hägar, despite his relatively genteel persona, still exhibited some barbaric traits, such as running off with “maidens” after a plundering session. Speaking with the Associated Press in 1983, Browne admitted he toned down the more lecherous side of Hägar after getting complaints from his daughter. “Running off with a maiden isn’t funny,” she told him. “It’s a crime.”

6. HÄGAR ENDORSED SODA.

A soda can featuring Hägar the Horrible
Amazon

Despite his preference for alcohol, Hägar apparently had a bit of a sweet tooth as well. In the 1970s, King Features licensed out a line of soda cans featuring some of their most popular comic strip characters, including Popeye, Blondie, and Hägar. The Viking also shilled for Mug Root Beer in the 1990s.

7. HE WAS A COLLEGE MASCOT.

In 1965, Cleveland State University students voted in the name “Vikings” for their collegiate basketball team. After using a mascot dubbed Viktorious Vike, the school adopted Hägar in the 1980s. Both Hägar and wife Helga appeared at several of the school’s sporting events before being replaced by an original character named Vike.

8. HE EVENTUALLY SOBERED UP.

A Hägar the Horrible comic strip
King Features Syndicate

When Dik Browne was working on Hägar, the Viking was prone to bouts of excessive drinking. When Chris Browne took over the strip, he made a deliberate decision to minimize Hägar’s imbibing. "When my father was doing the strip, he did an awful lot of gags about Hägar falling down drunk and coming home in a wheelbarrow, and as times go on that doesn't strike me as that funny anymore,” Brown told the Chicago Tribune in 1993. “Just about everybody I know has had somebody hurt by alcoholism or substance abuse.”

9. HE HAD HIS OWN HANNA-BARBERA CARTOON.

It took some time, but Hägar was finally honored with the animated special treatment in 1989. Cartoon powerhouse Hanna-Barbera created the 30-minute special, Hägar the Horrible: Hägar Knows Best, and cast the Viking as being out of his element after returning home for the first time in years. The voice of Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen, performed the title character. It was later released on DVD as part of a comic strip cartoon collection.

10. HE SAILED INTO THE WIZARD OF ID.

A Wizard of Id comic strip
King Features Syndicate

In 2014, Hägar made an appearance in the late Johnny Hart’s Wizard of Id comic strip, with the two characters looking confused at the idea they’ve run into one another at sea. Hägar also made a cameo in Blondie to celebrate that character’s 75th birthday in 2005.

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13 Great Jack Nicholson Quotes
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

Jack Nicholson turns 81 today. Let's celebrate with some of the actor's wit and wisdom.

1. ON ADVICE

"I hate advice unless I'm giving it. I hate giving advice, because people won't take it."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

2. ON REGRETS

"Not that I can think of. I’m sure there are some, but my mind doesn’t go there. When you look at life retrospectively you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do."

From an interview with The Talks

3. ON DEATH

"I'm Irish. I think about death all the time. Back in the days when I thought of myself as a serious academic writer, I used to think that the only real theme was a fear of death, and that all the other themes were just that same fear, translated into fear of closeness, fear of loneliness, fear of dissolving values. Then I heard old John Huston talking about death. Somebody was quizzing him about the subject, you know, and here he is with the open-heart surgery a few years ago, and the emphysema, but he's bounced back fit as a fiddle, and he's talking about theories of death, and the other fella says, 'Well, great, John, that's great ... but how am I supposed to feel about it when you pass on?' And John says, 'Just treat it as your own.' As for me, I like that line I wrote that, we used in The Border, where I said, 'I just want to do something good before I die.' Isn't that what we all want?"

From an interview with Roger Ebert

4. ON NERVES

''There's a period of time just before you start a movie when you start thinking, I don't know what in the world I'm going to do. It's free-floating anxiety. In my case, though, this is over by lunch the first day of shooting.''

From an interview with The New York Times

5. ON ACTING

"Almost anyone can give a good representative performance when you're unknown. It's just easier. The real pro game of acting is after you're known—to 'un-Jack' that character, in my case, and get the audience to reinvest in a new and specific, fictional person."

From an interview with The Age

6. ON MARRIAGE

"I never had a policy about marriage. I got married very young in life and I always think in all relationships, I've always thought that it's counterproductive to have a theory on that. It's hard enough to get to know yourself and as most of you have probably found, once you get to know two people in tandem it's even more difficult. If it's going to be successful, it's going to have to be very specific and real and immediate so the more ideas you have about it before you start, it seems to me the less likely you are to be successful."

From an interview with About.com

7. ON LYING

“You only lie to two people in your life: your girlfriend and the police. Everybody else you tell the truth to.”

From a 1994 interview with Vanity Fair

8. ON HIS SUNGLASSES

"They're prescription. That's why I wear them. A long time ago, the Middle American in me may have thought it was a bit affected maybe. But the light is very strong in southern California. And once you've experienced negative territory in public life, you begin to accept the notion of shields. I am a person who is trained to look other people in the eye. But I can't look into the eyes of everyone who wants to look into mine; I can't emotionally cope with that kind of volume. Sunglasses are part of my armor."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

9. ON MISCONCEPTIONS

"I think people think I'm more physical than I am, I suppose. I'm not really confrontational. Of course, I have a temper, but that's sort of blown out of proportion."

From an interview with ESPN

10. ON DIRECTING

"I'm a different person when suddenly it's my responsibility. I'm not very inhibited in that way. I would show up [on the set of The Two Jakes] one day, and we'd scouted an orange grove and it had been cut down. You're out in the middle of nowhere and they forget to cast an actor. These are the sort of things I kind of like about directing. Of course, at the time you blow your stack a little bit. ... I'm a Roger Corman baby. Just keep rolling, baby. You've got to get something on there. Maybe it's right. Maybe it's wrong. Maybe you can fix it later. Maybe you can't. You can't imagine the things that come up when you're making a movie where you've got to adjust on the spot."

From an interview with MTV

11. ON ROGER CORMAN

"There's nobody in there, that he didn't, in the most important way support. He was my life blood to whatever I thought I was going to be as a person. And I hope he knows that this is not all hot air. I'm going to cry now."

From the documentary Corman's World

12. ON PLAYING THE JOKER

"This would be the character, whose core—while totally determinate of the part—was the least limiting of any I would ever encounter. This is a more literary way of approaching than I might have had as a kid reading the comics, but you have to get specific. ... He's not wired up the same way. This guy has survived nuclear waste immersion here. Even in my own life, people have said, 'There's nothing sacred to you in the area of humor, Jack. Sometimes, Jack, relax with the humor.' This does not apply to the Joker, in fact, just the opposite. Things even the wildest comics might be afraid to find funny: burning somebody's face into oblivion, destroying a masterpiece in a museum—a subject as an art person even made me a little scared. Not this character. And I love that."

From The Making of Batman

13. ON BASKETBALL

"I've always thought basketball was the best sport, although it wasn't the sport I was best at. It was just the most fun to watch. ... Even as a kid it appealed to me. The basketball players were out at night. They had great overcoats. There was this certain nighttime juvenile-delinquent thing about it that got your blood going."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

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