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The Best 30 Rock Celebrity Guests

The brainchild of "Saturday Night Live" veteran Tina Fey, "30 Rock" is a unique television series loosely based on the actual behind-the-scenes workings of the legendary live comedy ensemble. An outrageous sitcom revolving around the lives of the cast, staff members, and network execs of NBC, one of the broadcast's oldest and largest networks, it's hyper-meta media at its finest.

As a show about television and its unique personalities, the best episodes of "30 Rock" are filled to the brim with comedy legends and icons of the public eye, not only in the cast itself but also in their myriad of celebrity guests. These appearances range from celebrities playing and making fun of themselves, exaggerating certain characteristics of their public image and reputations, to playing hilarious and completely fictional characters, often very different from the typical roles they get to play. 

There's a never-ending list of these appearances, too many to get into all at once, but here we have the very best 13 celebrity guest spots on "30 Rock."

Carrie Fischer

In the Season 2 episode "Rosemary's Baby," Liz attends a book signing where she meets her girlhood idol and role model, Rosemary Howard, who is played by the iconic Carrie Fischer. Rosemary is a '60s comedy writer who inspired Liz to pursue her career in television. Out of gratefulness — and after some fangirling — Liz invites Rosemary to be a guest writer on "TGS with Tracy Jordan."

If Liz Lemon is a fan, it's safe to say that Rosemary's comedy was probably pretty solid when she was in her hay day. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Rosemary hasn't been in the television game in quite a while and is probably not a great fit for modern programming. When brainstorming skit ideas, she starts pushing for some possibly controversial and cancellable material, "What about race? I mean, I say that is the last taboo." She then pitches several no-hitters to Liz, including a questionable idea for a screenplay about "women in their '50s" who "join the army and get laid by a bunch of grateful 18-year-olds."

After hearing of this, Jack orders Liz to fire Rosemary. Liz refuses and instead goes back with Rosemary to her apartment. However, after seeing the poor conditions under which Rosemary lives, and which Liz will soon need to grow accustomed to if she continues hitching her saddle to this horse, she has no choice but to abandon Rosemary and return to 30 Rockefeller, where Jack smugly welcomes her back.

Jerry Seinfeld

In "SeinfeldVision," the Season 2 premiere, Jerry Seinfeld makes a very meta guest appearance. He arrives at "30 Rock" after learning that NBC is launching a month-long stint of programming all featuring cameo appearances by him. The problem is Seinfeld had no idea this was happening until he saw himself on some of the promos for the upcoming shows. He hadn't been informed about any of this, and he hadn't filmed anything for the network — so naturally, his involvement comes as quite a surprise.

Once Seinfeld arrives at Jack's office, Jack explains that since NBC owns the rights to Seinfeld's voice and likeness, they don't need his permission or any sort of contract to do the special. They can simply digitally insert him into all of the content. Seinfeld is livid, both because he hadn't signed off on this but also because the quality of programming is — questionable, at best. Jack shows him a clip of one of the programs they'll be featuring him in, a reality TV show called "MILF Island." and Seinfeld is displeased, to put it lightly.

Seinfeld and Jack then proceed to get into a heated back-and-forth power struggle over the whole ordeal. Both try to use their money, status, and connection to get the other to back down, and the threats start flying. By the end of the episode, the two men eventually reach a reasonable agreement, and "SeinfeldVision" ends up being a one-night event rather than a month-long special.

David Schwimmer

In Season 2, Jack is challenged by his boss, Don Geiss, to find a way for GE (NBC's parent company) to make money off of America's newest hottest trend — environmentalism. Jack then comes up with an idea for a new eco-friendly NBC mascot named "Greenzo," who will spread the word about environmentalism while simultaneously promoting GE's products.

Portrayed by David Schwimmer, Greenzo is a massive success for Jack, quickly becoming a hit and making appearances on programming like "The Today Show." GE is now the proud brainchild behind "America's first non-judgmental, business-friendly environmental advocate." Given that this title is so self-conflicting, it makes sense that things go south from there.

Unfortunately for GE, Greenzo's reception soon goes to his head, and he starts to take the method acting a little too far. His television appearances start to revolve around narcissistic, holier-than-thou hot takes about the NBC staff and their eco-unfriendly habits, as well as direct attacks on "big companies and their two-faced, fat cat executives." Obviously, Jack can't have this, so he fires Greenzo and tries to hire Al Gore as a replacement, making this a two-for-one special episode for celebrity guests.

Fred Armisen

At the beginning of the Season 2 episode "Somebody to Love," Jack puts Liz on edge by telling her that the maple syrup scent she keeps smelling in her apartment could very likely be a deadly chemical agent called Northrax. Liz is soon put on further high alert when she notices her neighbor Raheem's (Fred Armisen) apartment is full of maps while delivering mail to him. The last straw comes later when she sees Raheem training at the park on a sort of DIY obstacle course.

Already in a state of paranoia, Liz assumes the worst. After seeing one too many "If you see something, say something" posters, she calls Homeland Security to report Raheem as a suspected terrorist. She's feeling pretty good about this until she opens Raheem's mail out of curiosity, expecting to find further confirmation of his unpatriotic deeds.

Rather than finding instructions on how to build a bomb or hijack a plane, she finds an audition tape for "The Amazing Race." Not only does this explain all of his "suspicious" behavior, but Raheem is actually seen repeatedly professing his love for America in the video. It's too late, though. He has already been arrested and is likely facing deportation. Looks like Liz is just going to have to take the L and live with that one.

Oprah Winfrey

In the Season 3 episode "Believe in the Stars," Liz takes a flight to Chicago. While on the plane, she takes some medication to calm her nerves, but she soon finds that her seat buddy is the only calming agent she needs, as she finds herself next to the one and only Oprah Winfrey. Liz adores Oprah, and the two have a wonderful time chatting.

With Liz gone, it's up to Jack to deal with Jenna and Tracy's tantrum of the week. This time, it's a feud over whether it's harder to walk through the world as a woman or a black man, and the situation escalates to the point of Tracy wearing drag and Jenna wearing blackface — a questionable decision that would get this episode of "30 Rock" removed from streaming services years later. When Liz returns, Jack is panicked, but Liz has things under control. She tells him not to worry because she can just call up her new best friend, Oprah. If there's anyone who can help, it's that glorious gift of a woman.

However, the person who shows up at the studio is not, in fact, Oprah, but a 12-year-old girl named Pam. It turns out her interaction with Oprah was mostly just the meds talking. Fortunately, Pam is actually quite skilled at conflict resolution and is able to help Tracy and Jenna come to terms, though Liz is going to have to keep shopping for a new best friend.

Steve Martin

Steve Martin makes a "30 Rock" guest appearance in the Season 3 episode "Gavin Volure," where he plays the titular eccentric billionaire. Liz meets Volure when she accompanies Jack to dinner at Volure's mansion, where he quickly falls for her charms. The two later have a great date together at Volure's house, where he must stay due to his agoraphobia. He explains to Liz that because of this condition, they won't be able to be a typical couple, as they can't go out together and will likely never be physically intimate. While this might be a deal breaker for some, it's music to Liz's ears. It seems like she's finally found the one!

Unfortunately, this puppy love doesn't last long, as it's revealed that Volure is neither rich nor agoraphobic but is actually under house arrest for embezzlement, fraud, racketeering, and arson. Not only is this a bummer for Liz's love life, but it's also a financial hit for Jack, who invested in Volure's fake company, Sunstream. He probably should've seen it coming, given that the Sunstream advertisements never actually say what the company does. There's also the fact that "Volure" is a homonym and anagram of "voleur" the French word for thief. Probably should've seen that one coming, Donaghy!

Jennifer Anniston

Following David Schwimmer as "Greenzo," Jennifer Aniston is the second "Friends" cast member to join the "30 Rock" crew, making a guest appearance in the Season 3 episode "The One with the Cast of Night Court." The title itself is a reference to the "Friends" series, in which most episode titles follow the format "The One Where/When/With" and so on. The episode also features brief appearances by, you guessed it, a few members of the cast of "Night Court."

In this episode, Anniston plays Liz and Jenna's unstable ex-roommate from Chicago, Claire, whom Liz warns Jack not to get involved with, as she's "grab a cop's gun crazy." Jack chooses not to heed Liz's advice, both because Claire is an absolute smoke show and because Jack Donaghy would sooner die than take advice from Liz Lemon.

Unfortunately for Jack, but unsurprisingly for Liz, this winds up being a huge mistake because Claire does end up going full psycho on him. Not only does she show up uninvited at a corporate function to sing Jack a Marilyn Monroe-style "Happy Birthday" serenade, but she also threatens self-harm and, yes, ends up grabbing a cop's gun before blaming it all on Jack. Far from her typical role, this is perhaps the most unhinged you'll ever see Jennifer Anniston, and it's an absolute tour de force.

Peter Dinklage

Peter Dinklage appears as Stewart LaGrange in the Season 3 episode "Señor Macho Solo." In the episode, Liz has gone a little baby crazy as her adoption process is taking longer than expected. When she sees Stewart on the street she mistakes him for a small child rather than the fully grown adult that he is and can't help but go up to him and ruffle his hair. She quickly realizes her error and to save face — as well as to spare Stewart any possible insult — claims she was just trying to get his attention so that she could ask him out.

Unfortunately, the baby fever really has its hooks in Liz, and while they're on the date, she pulls Stewart back from a flame, just as one would with a small child. She has no choice but to come clean and admit that she wasn't actually interested in him when they first met but was just ashamed to admit she mistook his dwarfism for adolescence. She claims that she truly does like him, though, and Stewart agrees to give her a second chance. 

The two plan to meet on the Brooklyn Bridge if they want to give it another go. While both show up at the specified time, Liz accidentally approaches a little boy whom she mistakes for Stewart. He sees this and makes a hard u-turn. It's just not in the cards for those two.

Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek makes several guest appearances as Elisa, Jack's hot-headed love interest, in a stint of Season 3 episodes. First appearing in "Señor Macho Solo" as a nurse for Jack's mom, the two quickly fall for each other and begin a passionate love affair that quickly evolves into a marriage engagement.

The two aren't the most compatible with each other. She's a down-to-earth, family-oriented, good-hearted Catholic girl with a fiery streak, and he's a cold-blooded, take no prisoners corporate exec with little to no moral compass. However, with a little bit of elbow grease, and a lot of chemistry, they're able to work through those issues. There is one thing, however, that they two can't get past, which eventually splits them up in Hayek's last episode, "The Ones."

In this episode, Elisa reveals a dark secret regarding her last engagement — she killed her ex-fiance because she found out he was cheating on her. It's actually an infamous murder, and it earned her the ominous nickname the Black Widow. She promises that as long as Jack never cheats on her, everything will be fine, but Jack simply can't take the risk, so he's forced to break things off. It's a wild twist, but Hayek pulls it off. It's honestly rare to see someone wear murderer so well.

James Franco

James Franco makes a guest appearance as himself in the Season 4 episode "Klaus and Greta," in which he and Jenna enter into a fake celebrity relationship. Jenna gets free publicity out of it, and Franco can use it to disprove rumors that he's in love with a Japanese body pillow.

From the first time the two meet, Franco is prepared. He already has a whole plan in place for how the relationship is going to start "You and I pretend that we met while filming a movie called 'Space Attack' — my title. This movie will never be released because my performance will be deemed too provocative for America." He has also orchestrated some conflict. "One fight a month. And because of a product placement deal with Jamba Juice, the fight will be in a Jamba Juice," Franco explains.

Franco is no phony, however, and he soon realizes that he has nothing to be ashamed of, professing the nature of his true love, "I'm the actor James Franco, d*** it. And I'm in love with, and common law married to, a Japanese body pillow!" He breaks off the relationship with Jenna and starts openly dating Kimiko — the pillow. Everything the actor says in this episode, which is so on brand for him, makes it questionable as to whether he's reading from a script or the writers just had Franco show up on set. Either way, it's iconic.

Kelsey Grammer

Kelsey Grammer makes a guest appearance as himself in a handful of "30 Rock" episodes, though some aspects of his personality are definitely exaggerated for the sake of the plot. He first joins the show in the Season 5  episode "Reaganing" where he helps Jenna and Kenneth to run a scam on a local ice cream store, thus birthing what would be known as the Best Friends Gang.

Grammer returns for the second and third episodes of Season 6 as the criminal mastermind behind another one of the gang's schemes. Instead of a scam or a heist, however, Jenna and Kenneth need help covering up a crime (or at least an assumed one). After the two find Pete lying on the ground in a custodial closet, unconscious, they assume they're at fault for his injury (or possible death), and they bring Grammer in on the job.

Grammer comes up with a brilliant plan to frame Pete for his own death, making it look like Pete was engaging in asphyxiation-related self-stimulation at the time of his accident. To be fair, the accident was actually Pete's fault, as he was just hiding in the closet to drink alone and avoid work. Nevertheless, the con is still fairly impressive and even involves Grammer fabricating an alibi by putting on an improvised one-man show about Abraham Lincoln. While his acting skills are widely known, Grammer's con man double life had remained a well-kept secret until this fabulous debut.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon makes a few sporadic guest appearances in Season 5 as Carol, Liz Lemon's love interest, and his character is definitely a mixed bag. He's got a lot of good qualities — he's a gentleman, charming, funny, and caring, not to mention that he looks great in his pilot uniform. The fact that he's a pilot works really well for Liz since she can hide a lot of her insecurities with him being gone for work so often. She does tell him about her shameful foot secret, so there is some trust there.

However, Carol is also really emotional, often breaking down into tears, which he claims is due to him changing elevation all the time. Whatever it is, Liz is definitely not equipped to handle it. The real issue, though, is that he and Liz are actually too similar — especially with how stubborn they are.

This is what the title of Carol's last episode, "Double-Edged Sword," is referring to, as Liz learns there is such a thing as being too alike. In this particular episode, he and Liz are going on vacation, and Carol is piloting the plane. When the plane is delayed, the two get into a violent standoff that ends with Carol yelling, "I will waste you!" while pointing a gun at Liz, who's using a hostage as a human shield. Talk about a dumpster fire of a relationship.

Weird Al Yankovic

Parody song artist and comedian Weird Al Yankovic makes a "30 Rock" guest appearance as himself in the Season 6 episode "Kidnapped By Danger." In this episode, Jenna releases a song to promote the new feature film she's starring in, "Kidnapped by Danger," based on the true story of Jack's wife Avery, a reporter who's been kidnapped by Kim Jong-il.

Yankovic ends up parodying Jenna's song, which obviously infuriates her. To try and steal back the spotlight from him, Jenna puts out a song called "Fart So Loud" that's impossible to parody, with outrageous lyrics like "I eat ice cream way too fast, burritos always give me gas."

However, Yankovic doesn't give up so easily. He retaliates by turning this ridiculous jingle into an actual song about a boy whose father is serving in the military, titled "Heart So Proud." It's a catchy patriotic ballad that resembles something you might actually hear on the radio. Looks like it's Yankovic two, Jenna zero.