’30 Rock’: Why Wasn’t Jack Donaghy’s Assistant, Jonathan, in Season 6?

In 2006, NBC debuted 30 Rock, a sitcom created by and starring Tina Fey. The series was a fictional version of her time on Saturday Night Live, replacing the real show with a sketch comedy series called TGS with Tracy Jordan.  Fey played Liz Lemon, who was the head writer and showrunner, and Alec Baldwin played Jack Donaghy, a network executive.

Liz and Jack had very different outlooks on life, and they butted heads often. Through it all, Jack had someone by his side. Jonathan, played by Maulik Pancholy, was Jack’s assistant, and he was devoted to his boss. But in the sixth season, Jonathan was nowhere to be seen. Pancholy had moved on to try his hand at a new opportunity. It wasn’t long before he was back. 

’30 Rock’ was an award-winning success

Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy
Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy | Ali Goldstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

People loved the clever, unique comedy of 30 Rock. It ran for seven seasons, and it was even brought back for a reunion show in 2020. One of the reasons for its success was the talented cast. They were funny, and they worked well together, creating characters that viewers appreciated.

According to 30 Rock Fandom, Jonathan was Jack’s right-hand man. He seemed to be in love with his boss, which caused friction between him and Liz. He was hostile toward her because he felt so protective of Jack and wasn’t interested in sharing him with her.

But when the sixth season rolled around, Jack’s trusted assistant was nowhere to be seen. 

Where was Jonathan during the sixth season?

When the sixth season of 30 Rock started, Jonathan wasn’t among the rest of the cast. According to CBR, his disappearance was explained on the show by saying that he’d gone to take care of his grandmother, who was ill. But the truth was that Pancholy had taken an opportunity on another NBC show. 

He was co-starring in a new series called Whitney. It was about the adventures of a group of people in their 20s who lived in Chicago. Pancholy played Neal, who got engaged to Lily (played by Zoe Lister-Jones). During the season, Neal came out as bisexual on the show, and his engagement to Lily was broken off. 

But after that first season ended, Pancholy left Whitney. The reason given for his departure was “creative differences.” Whitney only stayed on the air for one more season before being canceled.

Back with ’30 Rock’ for the seventh — and final — season

Although it was probably disappointing for Pancholy that Whitney didn’t work out for him, the timing couldn’t have been better. 30 Rock was going into its final season, and he was now free to be a part of it. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pancholy had appeared in 58 episodes of the series as Jonathan, so it made sense for him to return for the final 13. 

Since Jonathan’s absence had been casually explained as a family matter, it wasn’t complicated to bring him back. He simply returned from caring for his grandmother and picked up where he left off. 

The show’s producers were even able to slip in a joke about Pancholy’s absence. At one point, Jack made a comment about a star being “bigger than Maulik Pancholy on Whitney.”

One of the things that made 30 Rock special was its talented ensemble cast. Pancholy took a chance on a larger role, which didn’t work out like he’d hoped. But fans of the show and Jonathan were glad that he was able to come back and finish with the rest of them. 

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