How Working On 30 Rock Saved Tracy Morgan

tracy morgan as tracy jordan 30 rock nbc

Accomplished actor and comedian Tracy Morgan has had a lot of ups and downs in his career and personal life over the years. His struggles with alcoholism made his life difficult for quite a while, and his health suffered. Not all stars are able to recover their careers after going through significant personal difficulties like those that affected Morgan even before the terrible car crash that left him in a coma. Morgan credits his work on NBC's 30 Rock with Tina Fey as having saved him, saying this:

Being on that show kept me busy. I was sober then. I was able to do Tracy Jordan without having to have a drink. Tina Fey saw me partying at the after-parties of Saturday Night Live, so she [drew from] that. I didn't have to be in the picture -- I could paint the picture. I got crazy without actually having to drink. And that saved me.

Tracy Morgan played a character by the name of Tracy Jordan, who was based on Morgan himself in earlier days. Obviously Tracy Jordan's wackier characteristics were exaggerated from what Morgan got up to in real life, but Tina Fey and the others at 30 Rock were evidently inspired by what Morgan got up to in his days before joining the show. Fey herself would have had a window into his life, as she was a writer for Saturday Night Live during Tracy Morgan's time on the cast. According to Morgan's comments to EW, she didn't need to see him partying in the present to write Tracy Jordan, and so 30 Rock was a way for Morgan to keep busy and act out his previous crazy life without getting too wild for real.

30 Rock almost certainly wouldn't have lasted as long as it did without Tracy Morgan on board, and he clearly gave the writers the freedom to draw on even some of his most personal issues for the sake of the show. Tracy Jordan struggled with diabetes on the show, as Morgan has struggled with diabetes in real life, although Jordan's refusal to take his diabetes seriously on 30 Rock was played for laughs at first.

Unfortunately, Tracy Morgan was out of the comedy game for a while after a horrific limo accident left him comatose. He managed to make an incredible recovery and return to comedy (including a return to Saturday Night Live), and he'll star in a brand new sitcom called The Last O.G. on TBS. Morgan credits The Last O.G. with helping him return to TV acting in the wake of his acting, and it should be enjoyable to see him back on the small screen again.

If you're now in the mood to rewatch some 30 Rock, you can find the full series streaming on Hulu. For when you can watch The Last O.G. and other great shows, swing by our midseason TV premiere schedule and our summer TV premiere guide. If you're not up on all the shows that have had their fates' already decided on the major networks, check out our rundown of TV renewals and cancellations.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).