“I Am Just a Flesh Vessel”: Every Hint and Reference to Kenneth’s Immortality on ’30 Rock’
30 Rock’s Kenneth Parcell is a weirdo, but there’s something more going on there. His encyclopedic knowledge of television history is just uncanny enough to make you wonder if he hasn’t lived it himself. The show hinted all along that Kenneth was immortal, and the final moment of the series finale confirmed it. I went ahead and compiled a list of every reference to Kenneth’s immortality, from his questionable age to the strange details of his personal life. Read up on NBC’s immortal page, but remember, “immortal characters” are on Kenneth’s TV No-No Words list.
Season 1, Episode 13: “Up All Night”
Cerie: That’s why I like you, Kenneth. You’re an old soul.
Kenneth: Thank you. My mamma thinks so too. In fact she’s pretty sure I’m the reincarnated soul of Adrian Twyfer. He was our town minister who died in an organ fire.
Season 2, Episode 6: “Somebody to Love”
Frank: You know that old lady in accounting who thinks you’re her husband that died in the war?
Kenneth: What about her?
Season 2, Episode 7: “Cougars”
Jack: Kenneth, show him the drawing of the new field.
Kenneth holds up picture of Godzilla attacking a building.
Kenneth: Oh, sorry, that’s my dream journal. They’ve all come true so far.
Season 2, Episode 12: “Subway Hero”
Jack: Jonathan. Who is this?
Jonathan: Oh, it’s Bucky Bright, sir. He was a major TV star in the ’40s, ’50s and the fall of 1972, and he’s your Republican celebrity for the McCain dinner.
Kenneth: Mr. Donaghy, this was delivered to — son of a married couple, Bucky Bright!
Jack: You know who this is?
Kenneth: Who doesn’t?
Jack: Most people.
Season 3, Episode 3: “The One with the Cast of Night Court”
Tracy and Kenneth discuss the new page uniform.
Tracy: What’s wrong, Ken? You got wife eyes.
Kenneth: I’m just sad, sir. I’ve been wearing this old jacket since 19… *mumbles* and now they’re just throwing it away.
Season 3, Episode 17: “Cutbacks”
Kenneth: It is not enough that you killed the bird I’ve had for almost 60 years, but the fact that you didn’t trust me is unforgivable.
Season 3, Episode 19: “The Ones”
Kenneth: Sure, I was legally dead for five minutes…
Kenneth: Oh, I’m fine. But I think I brought something back with me.
Kenneth shivers and exhales a cloud of smoke.
Season 3, Episode 21: “Mamma Mia”
Liz and Pete are trying to figure out how old Tracy is.
Liz: Hey, Tracy, you’re 39, right?
Tracy: Of course. Why would I lie about my age? I’m in the entertainment industry.
Pete: Right. Well, you know, Liz and I were just talking about that old Rob Base song “It Takes Two.”
Liz: Yeah, everybody our age knows that song, right? (sings) Ladies love me, girls adore me. I mean, even the ones who never saw me. (Liz and Pete together) Like the way that I rhyme at a show. The reason why, man, I don’t know. So let’s go ‘cause.
Kenneth (sings): It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two to make it out of sight.
Tracy: Not familiar. But what about this song? (sings) Gee it’s great, after being out late, walkin’ my baby back–
Liz: How old are you?
Tracy: Hey, remember this song? (sings) If e’re a fair maiden a knight chanced to see…
Kenneth (sings): Astride his fair steed to spy.
Season 4, Episode 2: “Into the Crevasse”
Kenneth is dancing in the “Do the Microwave” flashback from post-World War II.
Season 4, Episode 4: “Audition Day”
Kenneth (to Jenna): Vampyr!
(An old pronunciation of vampire.)
Jack: Et tu, Kenneth?
Kenneth (in Latin): You speak Latin? Then you understand. The safety of the people is the highest law.
Season 4, Episode 5: “The Problem Solvers”
Tracy: Ken, you don’t want to be a page forever.
Kenneth: Who said I’ve been alive forever?
Tracy: What? No, I mean, what’s your dream job? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Kenneth: Well, you know how much I love television, sir. So I guess my dream would be to one day run the network. Just kidding: there won’t be a network. But whatever people are watching, I want to be in charge of it.
Tracy: So… someday, you could be my boss?
Kenneth: Well, guess so.
Season 4, Episode 10: “Black Light Attack!”
Frank: I also have this low-frequency tone that can only be heard by people over 40.
Jenna (loudly): Have you started playing it yet?
Jack (loudly): Lemon, can I speak to you for a moment?
Kenneth (loudly): What is happening to me?
Season 4, Episode 12: “Verna”
Kenneth: Did you know The Today Show used to have a monkey on it? Hasn’t been good since.
Kenneth refers to J. Fred Muggs, the chimpanzee mascot for The Today Show from 1953-1957.
Season 4, Episode 14: “Future Husband”
Jenna: These are the building blocks of the craft of acting, something I have dedicated my life to ever since my very first job as baby stuck in well in a commercial for Well Guards. Well Guards: guard your well well.
Kenneth: I remember that commercial. You were a fat baby.
Season 4, Episode 15: “Don Geiss, America and Hope”
Kenneth (to Jack): A friend of mine has been worried that they’ll be bringing in new page rules like age limits and age verification.
Season 5, Episode 2: “When It Rains, It Pours”
Kenneth puts a signed personalized Fred Allen photo in a box that says NBC memories 1945-1967.
Kenneth: So many memories.
Season 5, Episode 6: “Gentleman’s Intermission”
Kenneth (when he thinks Tracy is dead): No, no it can’t be! I’m not done with him, Jacob! He stays on this side!
This is a reference to Jacob, the supernatural being who guards the island in Lost, but it also means Kenneth can talk to supernatural beings.
Season 5, Episode 8: “College”
Subtitle: Kenneth Parcell briefly died on Jack’s balcony. He came back with a message form God that he has forgotten.
Season 5, Episode 12: “Operation Righteous Cowboy Lightning”
Liz: Kenneth, what are you wearing?
Kenneth: My NBC page dress blues.
Kenneth is outfitted with a sword that looks like it’s from the 19th century.
Kenneth: I hope I photograph okay, because every time I look into a mirror, there’s just a white haze.
Kenneth: I can talk to animals. Well, not talk to them. I can take commands from them.
Season 5, Episode 13: “¡Qué Sorpresa!”
Kenneth: So much of television is really not fit for children, or Christians, or the elderly (gestures to himself), so what if there was a black bar on the lower half of your TV screen that kept you from seeing bad things like nudity or soccer.
Season 5, Episode 16: “TGS Hates Women”
Kenneth: When I first started working here, an 8-year-old Shirley Temple taught me how to roll a cigarette.
Season 5, Episode 17: Queen of Jordan
Kenneth’s Queen of Jordan lower third says “Kenneth, Elderly Page.”
Season 5, Episode 21: 100 Part 2
Kenneth: Today does make me wonder where we’ll all be five years from now.
Kenneth’s grave says May 27, 1791 – March 31, 2016.
Season 5, Episode 23: “Respawn”
Jack: I’ll just be alone in a house full of memories.
Kenneth: My house is full of white cockroaches (gestures to self).
Kenneth: You see all the good that is in them? How much capacity for love? Yes, I know. I just need more time with them, Jacob. Give me more time, Jacob, I beg of you!
Season 6, Episode 1: “Dance Like Nobody’s Watching”
Pete reads Kenneth’s dream chore list and one of the items is “fix that humming noise only I can hear.” This is a reference to the app that Frank used to play a signal only people over 40 can hear in season 4, episode 10.
Season 6, Episode 5: “Today You Are a Man”
Suze Orman: How old are you?
Kenneth: Don’t worry about it.
Season 6, Episode 9: “Leap Day”
Jack: Now take off that bald cap, Kenneth, we have a lot of work to do.
Kenneth: Of course, take off my bald cap. Not put on my wig.
Season 6, Episode 11: “Standards and Practices”
Liz: Do you have a second, Kenneth?
Kenneth: No, there’s only one of me. What? What are you asking?
Season 6, Episode 14: “Kidnapped by Danger”
Liz: Hey Kenneth, nice tux.
Kenneth: My father wore this to his high school prom. The theme was “enchantment under the Jim Crow laws.”
Season 6, Episode 16: “Nothing Left to Lose”
After Tracy gets his sense of smell back.
Tracy: Funny, Kenneth, you don’t have any smell at all.
Kenneth: Don’t worry about it.
Jenna: Kenneth, be honest, am I the worst person you know?
Kenneth: Oh, Ms. Maroney, judging is for God and his angels, so yes, you are.
Season 6, Episode 17: “Meet the Woggles!”
Kenneth: I listened to rock and roll music once, but I turned it off before I started worshipping the devil. The song went: Mr. Sandma — then I shut it off.
Mr. Sandman came out in 1954.
Season 6, Episode 19: “Live from Studio 6H”
Kenneth appears in a flashback to NBC news.
Season 6, Episode 22: “What Will Happen to the Gang Next Year?”
Kenneth (to Hazel): You really don’t have a place to live? But where will you sit patiently in the dark while you wait for the next day to start… I mean, sleep?
Season 7, Episode 2: “Governor Dunston”
Pearline: Oh, he’s always been a special boy. I remember the day he was born. He looked up at me and he said “Mama, I am not a person. My body’s just a flesh vessel for an immortal being whose name if you heard it would make you lose your mind.”
Season 7, Episode 8: “My Whole Life is Thunder”
Kenneth: Why are you doing this to me, Jacob?
Season 7, Episode 12: “Hogcock!”
Kenneth’s list of TV no-no words includes “immortal characters.”
Season 7, Episode 13: “Last Lunch”
Kenneth: So the whole show just takes place here at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, is that right, Ms. Lemon?
Liz’s Great-granddaughter: Yes, sir. It’s based on stories my great-grandmother told me.
Kenneth: I know, and I love it.
There are flying cars in the background.
Madeline Raynor is a New York City-based writer. She writes for BUST Magazine and has written for Death and Taxes, Mashable, Indiewire, and Time Out New York. She loves all things Tina Fey. Word to the wise: her first name is pronounced with a long “i,” like the red-haired girl from France. Follow her on Twitter @madelineraynor_.