"30 Rock" had plenty of ups and downs during its seven-year run. But with Thursday's finale, it stuck the landing.
The hour-long episode was full of the ingredients that made NBC's irreverent comedy work so well -- meta humor, social satire, insider jokes, physical gags, Tina Fey. It even threw in a bonus existential crisis, along with lots of references to reward loyal fans of this TV show about a TV show.
Here are the finale's top 10 moments:
'You're the dad'
After getting into a heated exchange online with SAHMs (stay at home moms) and WPs (working parents), Liz shows up at a park to smack down a SMB (smug mommy blogger), who turns out to be her husband, Criss.
"It's OK to want to work," Criss tells Liz. "One of us has to. We just got it backwards. You're the dad."
Liz agrees: "I do like ignoring your questions while I try to watch TV."
One of the things I love most about "30 Rock" is how it deftly tackled gender roles and what it means to be a feminist. I'll miss this giant piñata stick, repeatedly poking fun at the notion that women can have it all.
Jack Donaghy's velvet-covered-gravel voice has delivered some great soliloquies over the years. His ode to Liz Lemon ranks up there with the best of them.
"I'm going to use this word to describe how I feel about you in the way our Anglo-Saxon forefathers would have used it in reference to, say, a hot bowl of bear meat," Jack says to Liz from the deck of his yacht.
"I love you too, Jack," Liz shouts down from a bridge.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the best platonic TV couple since Mary Richards and Lou Grant.
For seven seasons, "30 Rock" has delighted in mocking the TV business, especially broadcast. Kenneth's list of TV no-no words -- quality, complex, high concept, edgy -- is a parting swipe at the industry as a whole, NBC in particular. The peacock net has made no secret of its plan to move away from insidery, niche shows like "30 Rock" in favor of broad comedies designed for mass appeal. Note the laugh track, lame jokes and animal humor at work in that clip from the toe-cringing multi-camera sitcom of the future, "Grizz & Herz," at the end of the finale.
Cue Liz Lemon's Yoda voice, "Dark times are these."
Revenge is a dish best served by Blimpie's
It was disrespected Lutz's turn to pick the last lunch for the writers' room, which meant one thing: payback in the form of Blimpie's subs.
"I want you to feel what I have felt for the last seven years: anger and disappointment and regret," he tells his horrified co-workers. "When that sandwich slides out of you after a week, look at it. Because that is Lutz's revenge!"
Strip club reunion
"30 Rock" came full circle when Liz tracked down Tracy Jordan at a strip club -- the same place she and Tracy went in the pilot when Liz begrudgingly hired the unpredictable comic for her live TV show.
"Working with you is hard Tracy," Liz told him during a poignant moment among the poles. "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 going to miss you."
Liz, notorious for holding a grudge, ignored ex-boyfriend Conan O'Brien in the elevator.
"You can't pretend I don't exist," Big Red protested to Liz, although he just as easily could have been talking to the net that broke up with him for Jay Leno. "We dated for a year! We were going to lose our virginity to each other. Now I'll never lose it."
A vanilla-caramel sex swirl
I would have preferred dapper Jon Hamm to pop in for a final farewell, wondering where the free appetizers are. But at least we got to check in with a couple of Jack's old flames. The Kabletown CEO fulfilled the "sex and relationships" slice of his Six Sigma Wheel of Happiness Domination -- classic "30 Rock" corporate humor -- by having a rendezvous in a Puerto Rican prison with Latina sex pot Elisa (Salma Hayek) and Boston Nancy (Julianne Moore).
"And I got rid of their accents," Jack bragged.
Jenna sings "Rural Juror"
In a nod to "30 Rock's" first season when Jenna starred in the hard-to-pronounce film "Rural Juror," Ms. Maroney belts out an emotional -- and largely garbled -- song from the movie's musical adaptation.
"I will never forget you, rural juror," Jenna crooned to shots of Liz, Kenneth, Jack and Tracy during happier times. Before it got too sentimental, a teary Jenna ended her musical tribute singing "these were the best days of my ... flurm."
Busted by a minivan
Poor, downtrodden, henpecked Pete. He finally escaped his domestic prison only to get busted by wife Paula and his children while out for a jog, enjoying his new life. It's a humorous harkening back to the pilot when Pete thought he was fired. The then-family man told Liz he didn't mind because it would allow him to spend more time with his kids.
Kenneth and the snow globe
Holy head-trip of an ending. Kenneth clutched a snow globe in a clever reference to the 1988 finale of "St. Elsewhere," in which viewers were left to believe the entire medical drama had taken place in the mind of a blonde autistic boy. Meanwhile, a bespectacled descendant of Liz Lemon pitched Kenneth a TV show based on her great-grandmother's stories at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Jetsons-like spaceships travel in the background but Kenneth didn't look a day older, lending credence to his frequently referenced immortality.
"I love it," Kenneth said, flashing a toothy grin to future Ms. Lemon.
I want to go to there.