Work Com about small-town government, centering on the employees of the Parks and Recreation Department of the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. Created by the same people as the U.S. version of The Office and filmed in the same Mockumentary style, it essentially does for the public sector what its sister show does for the private.The main character is Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler, a PollyannaishWorkaholic who works as Deputy Director of the Parks Department. See here for further information on the characters. The very short first season focused almost entirely on Leslie's efforts to cut through the red tape to turn Lot 48, a giant pit created as part of an abandoned construction project, into a park. This storyline was continued in subsequent seasons, but diminished in importance as the show explored other facets of the characters' lives, both professional and personal.Parks and Rec was actually originally conceived as a Spin-Off of the U.S. Office, but in the end its only tie to that show is the format and the presence of Rashida Jones in the cast (as a different character).
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Aborted Arc: The original story arc was Leslie's struggle to turn the pit in Lot 48 into a park. After the Re Tool going into season two, the pit was filled in, but the idea to build a park was dropped almost completely by season three as the show picked up other storylines. During the camping episode, Leslie says that they couldn't continue turning the lot into a park because Chris wanted the next project to bring in revenues. The lot remains unmentioned for two years afterwards, until April suggests making it into a dog park in season five's "Leslie vs. April".
April going to veterenary school in Season 6, which seemed like it was going to be an important part of her character arc. When she goes to orientation, she suddenly backs out and decides to not go, claiming that she "just had a feeling". The writers probably realized that they couldn't have both Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt (Andy) absent from the main cast at the same time. Plus, with Rashida Jones (Ann) and Rob Lowe (Chris) leaving the show around the middle of the same season, it probably would not have been practical.
Absurdly-Long Limousine: When Tom Haverford started his media company, he bought such a limo, with a hot tub in the back. It was this sort of business decision that caused his company to go belly-up quickly.
Ron calls Ann "Jenny" after she finally manages to engage both him and April in small talk by describing a gross medical story. Ron and April's talking head:
Ron: Ann was getting a little chummy. When people get too chummy with me I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don't really care about them. April: That's a genius move. Ron: Thank you. April: You're welcome... Lester. (Ron smiles at the camera like a proud father)
Turns out that Jerry's name is actually Gary. The old Parks director accidentally called him "Jerry" on his first day and he's never had the backbone to correct anyone.
When Jerry returns from retirement he insists his coworkers start calling him by his real name. They start calling him "Larry."
In one episode, Tom goes out with Tammy II to make Ron jealous, and she exclusively calls Tom "Glenn".
The Ace: Justin, who seems to be an ace lawyer and a globe-trotter who impressed everyone around him (except for Andy and Mark, who are mostly threatened by Ann's admiration of him). However, Ron later deconstructs Justin's personality at the end of "Galentine's Day" and points out that despite all of his apparent perfections, at his core Justin was a "tourist", a selfish person who was more concerned about the stories he formed rather than the people he was helping, which leads to Leslie breaking it off for him.
Jennifer Barkley, the Washington political consultant brought in to run Bobby Newport's campaign.
A picture of Madam Secretary on Leslie's wall. Similarly, when Leslie meets Joe Biden in the fifth season, she thinks he's going to ask her to replace "Madam Secretary".
Tom's angry insistence on a high thread-count in his bedsheets is a reference to Aziz Ansari's stand-up bit about buying Luxury Linens brand sheets, only to find out the package lied about the thread count.
Tom tells Ann that he couldn't afford to get toppings on two pizzas, because he's not Zuckerberg.
Nick Offerman is a real life carpenter, and his character Ron makes several references to projects he's actually performed.
One episode has Donna live-tweeting a movie, which is based on Retta's real life live-tweets of shows.
Activist Fundamentalist Antics: Marcia Langman, the humorless right-wing Christian spokeswoman for the Society for Family Stability Foundation. In "Pawnee Zoo", she tries to get Leslie to annul a fake gay penguin wedding since "when gays marry, it ruins marriage for the rest of us." Later in "Time Capsule", she denounces the Twilight books as "anti-Christian" and "pro-quivering". In "Jerry's Painting", Marcia shows up again to protest Jerry's painting of Leslie as a nude centaur. Marcia was gung-ho to burn the painting (simply removing it from the public eye would not satisfy her), to Leslie's chagrin, but Leslie managed to salvage it in the end.
Comes up a lot in the episode "Park Safety", as after Leslie finds out that Jerry had been mugged, she feels bad about how cruel everyone treats him, and tells the others to be nicer to him. However, when they make cracks about Jerry, she can't help but laugh. It doesn't help that he's a magnet for embarrassing things happening.
Chris: If your team keeps this up, I think we can hold off on filling the Leslie void. Donna: I think Ben's already filling the Leslie void. (high-fives Ann) Chris: ...I'll give it up for that.
Allegory: Several episodes have used Pawnee as a metaphor for the United States, usually replicating a national political issue on a smaller scale and playing it for laughs. For example, the Wall Street bailout was satirized with an episode where Leslie wants the government to save a failing video store.
In season 5, Ben mentions an offscreen Sweetums molasses flood. This actually happened in Boston in 1919, but was significantly more serious.
KaBOOM! is a real non-profit organization that helps communities build playgrounds for children.
It's mentioned that Councilman Milton was first elected in 1948 as a member of the segregationist Dixiecrat Party. This is presented in a way which makes it sound like a joke, but that was a real short-lived political party. It ran Strom Thurmond as a presidential candidate in 1948, the only year of its existence.
Always a Bigger Fish: Ron's Tammys get progressively more ferocious the further back you go. Tammy Two flees in fear when Tammy One arrives. Tammy One works at the IRS, after all, and also threw acid on Tammy Two's foot. Tammy Zero, his mother, is a terrifying mountain woman who drinks a homemade moonshine that is basically turpentine.
Ambiguously Brown: Ann's ancestry is never revealed in the show, though Rashida Jones is herself half African-American and half Ashkenazi Jew.
In "Win, Lose, or Draw" Leslie tells Ann that Ann's "ambiguous ethnic blend perfectly represents the dream of the American melting pot."
Leslie compares herself to George Clooney going to the Oscars and Ann to the type of "exotic" woman he would break as a date.
Della Rosa: And anyone who even rubs their hands on a leather jacket should be tried for murder.
Apocalypse Cult: Played for Laughs with the "Reasonablists", who don't make any effort in ushering in their Destroyer God, Zorp. They just often make rather incorrect predictions on when the world will end and hold "End Of The World" gatherings.
The Artifact: The fundraising thermometer for the pit project sits quietly in the background of the office, seemingly never going up a single inch, while that plotline was put on the back-burner for season two and barely acknowledged since.
Artistic License University Admissions: In season five, April has decided to go to vet school without any references from actual vets, any practical experience that we know of, or possibly even the mandatory prereq classes (biology, chemistry, math, and so on).
Former NBA player Detlef Schrempf shows up as a special guest in "Telethon." Tom sidetracks him into bringing him to the Snakehole Lounge. Hilarity Ensues. He returns in "Li'l Sebastian," having been hired by Tom and Jean-Ralphio to hang out and shoot baskets at the headquarters of their new entertainment company.
in "Ron and the Tammys" Indianapolis Pacer Roy Hibbert is hired by Tom and Jean Ralphio to just play one-on-one with Detlef in the e720 headquarters. Tom tells an amazed Ben:
"The NBA's on strike so we got him for like only 75 percent of his original NBA salary!"
"Two Parties" has Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, wide receiver Reggie Wayne and quarterback Andrew Luck at Lucas Oil Stadium, and Newt Gingrich at St. Elmo's, a famous Indy steakhouse.
In the episode "Campaign Ad", the protagonists toy with airing an attack ad in Leslie's election for city council. Leslie desperately wants to stay positive, even though Ben's attack ad is effective and accurate regarding her Upper-Class Twit opponent.
An attack ad against Leslie airs in "Campaign Shake-Up"—it's just a Gag Dub of Leslie's successful ad from "Campaign Ad".
Bachelor Auction: In "Halloween Surprise", Leslie conducts an impromptu one during an auction of items for charity, and auctions off a date with Ann (with Ann's partial consent).
Back from the Dead: Andy's alter ego FBI agent Bert Macklin who "died" from a bad hangover after drinking 'Snakehole juice' in the third season. In the fourth season he's "resurrected" to serve as Leslie's bodyguard during her promotion of her book about Pawnee.
''You thought I was dead? So did the President's... enemies."
Backhanded Compliment: Thrown around like confetti by Lindsay Carlisle Shay, a former Pawnee Parks and Rec worker who moved on to Eagleton's department. Not that she's above open-handed insults.
Badass Family: The Swansons drink their own liquor, which only legal use is to strip varnish off of speedboats.
Ron: Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into Swansons.
The Bear: Alluded to in "Operation Ann", wherein Ron has to go into The Bulge and receives a lot of favorable looks.
Ben and Leslie start out as adversaries over the Parks Department budget.
Beneath the Mask: In "Ann's Decision", it is revealed that The Douche, aka Howard Tuttleman, actually graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in semiotics and wrote a thesis. The Douche is just his radio persona that bled over into his actual personality.
Don't even speak in a remotely hostile manner about the late Li'l Sebastian around Ron.
Don't insult Leslie around Ben.
Beta Couple: Mark/Ann and Andy/April with the complication that Andy is oblivious to April and still likes Ann. This changes over the course of Season 2, and in Season 3 Andy actively switches to pursuing April. And then they got married. Because why not?
Leslie seems to be keeping the local waffle house afloat, and has a penchant for whipped cream.
Ron loves meat, and breakfast foods in general:
At a restaurant, Ron goes through three porterhouse steaks, then suggests going somewhere for an after-dinner omelette.
When Leslie tries to persuade him to come to a dinner party, he haggles her up to five courses and insists on bringing a plate of devilled eggs nobody else is allowed to touch.
At one deli, he decides to order the "Number 8" which is a tray of sliced meat meant for up to a dozen people. It is brought to him on a massive serving platter. Leslie tells the waiter to stick around to watch him eat it in 4 minutes.
Ron:Just give me all of the bacon and eggs you have. Wait, wait, I worry what you just heard was, “Give me a lot of bacon and eggs.” What I said was, “Give me ALL the bacon and eggs you have.” Do you understand?
Biggus Dickus: According to a doctor who gave him a physical, Jerry has one of these. The biggest he's ever seen, in fact.
Book Ends: Done masterfully between the season finale of the first and second season. Andy gets his casts off his broken legs and ends up getting a cast on his broken arm. Leslie and Mark sit at Lot 48 at night originally a pit, and now the site of a successful children's concert. Mark is originally pessimistic, but now presents Leslie with the blueprints for a new park.
Bowling For Ratings: "Bowling for Votes". Ron actually posts a 300 game by using Tom's childish and embarrassing double handed split legged style, but refuses to acknowledge the acclaim.
A marijuana plant is found in a community garden in "The Stakeout." In "Summer Catalog," one of the former heads of the department admits to planting marijuana plants in community gardens across town.
Ron Swanson's second life as jazz saxophonist Duke Silver is occasionally brought back up in later episodes, such as "Eagleton" (in which his birthday party is being booked):
April: [on the phone] Hi, I have a question about your inflatable saxophones, do they come in different sizes? I'm gonna need about forty dozen of those. Also, what about your neon gangster fedora hats?
In "Dave Returns", Andy brings the gang to a music studio to record Leslie's campaign jingle. Ron is horrified to realize that it's the same studio where he records as Duke Silver, and spends his time there frantically hiding all the Duke Silver posters and coffee mugs scattered around.
In "94 Meetings", Andy handles a meeting with a woman from Pawnee's ultimate frisbee league. After learning that the town has its own league, he insists upon joining her team, and specifically asks if the team's name is "The Lightning". Later, in "Go Big Or Go Home", Ron and Andy become the coaches of the town's two boys' basketball teams. It can be assumed they each named their respective teams, as the scoreboard reads "Swansons" and "Lightning".
In Season 4, Leslie openly mocks the proprietor of "Sue's Salads," noting that Pawnee hates healthy foods and won't tolerate it. In Season 5, she notes that Sue's Salads has been run out of town.
The long-suffering Jerry, who is a loser at everything and mocked by everyone in the office, even the nice people. It's often contrasted by the great many things he has going for him: he's talented, cultured, enormously endowed, and has three beautiful daughters.
Kyle (Andy's frequent shoeshine customer) is even lower on the food chain. Tellingly, even Jerry rudely puts him down.
California Doubling: Played straight. Most exterior town scenes are shot in Pasadena. The outside of Pawnee City Hall is actually Pasadena City Hall. Lampshaded in "Pawnee Commons" wherein Ben questions the large number of palm trees found in Eagleton, which an Eagletonian explains/the show handwaves as being the result of Eagleton's unique geologic placement.
Call Back: Season 5 finale "Are You Better Off?" is a big Call Back, as everyone Leslie has fought during her year on the city council comes back as part of a campaign to recall her.
The Cameo: Senators Barbara Boxer, Olympia Snowe, and John McCain appear in the episode "Ms. Knope Goes To Washington", which was filmed on-location in Washington, DC. Vice president Joe Biden appears in "Leslie vs. April".
Captain Obvious: Perd Hapley is some sort of superevolved mutant form of this trope.
Casanova Wannabe: Tom, first and foremost, but then there's his friend Jean-Ralphio who's even worse. The Douche, Sewage Joe and Councilman Jamm fit into a more sleazy/repellent version of this.
Ben at first just saw Pawnee as simply another town that needed fixing, but eventually fell in love with it.
Andy at first was kind of a jerk who exploited poor Ann, but he became a lovable ditz.
Chekhov's Gag: The fact that Tom is married but still flirts with every woman in sight. It's gradually revealed that it's a sexless Citizenship Marriage in which he's (secretly) in love with her, but she's just in it for the green card.
Church of Happyology: Reasonablism, in which folders play a significant part. Lampshaded in Pawnee: The Greatest Town In America, when one of the last followers of Zorp denies Reasonablism's cult status by comparing it to Happyology.
Citizenship Marriage: Tom and Wendy. The subversion of this trope is a significant plot twist, since it is actually the white, Canadian Wendy who is the immigrant.
Tom: Maybe Ron shot himself. Leslie: Hmm...he has seemed really depressed lately. Mark: He was shot in the back of the head! Leslie: You're right—he loves the back of his head. He would never shoot himself there.
In "Harvest Festival":
Ron: Ground mission failed. We need a bird's eye view. (motions toward the Ferris wheel) Andy: You want me to climb on top of the Ferris wheel?
In "Smallest Park", Ron concurs with Andy's Women's Studies teacher when she calls marriage a form of slavery.
Comic Role Play: In "The Fight" Andy and April do this in the Snakehole lounge. Andy pretends to be his FBI agent alias "Burt Macklin" and April is "Janet Snakehole" a rich widow with a cigarette holder who talks like Katherine Hepburn.
Leslie: As a candidate I appreciate your strategic mind, but as a woman, all I care about is your slight but powerful body. Ben:(Aside Glance)
Conspicuous Consumption: This is all Tom and Jean-Ralphio did at their company "Entertainment 720". Spending an exorbitant amount on expensive furniture, and paying pro basketball players and beautiful women to just hang around. An alarmed Ben: "My guess is they'll be bankrupt by the end of this.. sentence!"
In "Go Big or Go Home", we find Chris, Ann, Leslie and Ben at The Bulge, a gay bar where Leslie is a heroine for accidentally marrying two gay penguins in the episode "Pawnee Zoo".
Whenever Andy needs to coerce someone into something, he always uses the alias of FBI agent Bert Macklin.
On two occasions April claims to be "Janet Snakehole," the daughter of the owner of The Snakehole Lounge, "Mr. Snakehole, all the while playing like a femme fatale from a Film Noir.
As its title would imply, "The Trial of Leslie Knope" involves a hearing regarding Leslie and Ben's relationship, and naturally the witness testimony involves a lot of continuity nods.
In "Park Safety," Jerry reveals that he has two years until he retires with full benefits and pension, a fact he brings up a few more times throughout the show. He later retires in the fifth season episode "Jerry's Retirement."
Costume Test Montage: In "Lucky", Leslie tries on various outfits for her upcoming interview with an Indianapolis talk show host, including a pair of pants that has the word "Nympho" written on the butt.
Tom: "Nympho" means you're addicted to sex and since it's on the butt, there are other implications as well. [beat] So those are a maybe.
A Running Gag has Ben completely breaking down in high-pressure social situations, usually when his disastrous past as a teen mayor gets brought up. It's amplified in "Dave Returns" thanks to his crippling fear of cops.
Ann not realizing that Chris had broken up with her due to his ulta-positivity, and then for the same reason, mistakenly thinking he wished to get back together. After that happens, she kind of breaks.
"The Comeback Kid" has Leslie's entire comeback rally. The venue, a multipurpose sports arena, is set up as a hockey rink instead of a basketball court. Tom couldn't afford enough red carpet to get all the way from the rink entrance to the stage, forcing everyone to gingerly shuffle across the ice. Ron didn't have enough wood to build stairs to the stage platform, meaning he has to attempt to boost Leslie up onto the stage. Leslie's speech notecards shuffle out of order, causing her to say, "We can defeat obese children". And when local basketball legend Pistol Pete actually shows up and is willing to do his slam-dunk, he obviously slips when he tries to jump and breaks his arm. And the whole time a ten-second clip of "Get on Your Feet" by Gloria Estefan keeps repeating.
Ben's entire bachelor party, at least until they leave the house to go to a bar.
The CSI Effect: invoked In "Greg Pikitis", Leslie keeps talking about how they can test evidence for Greg's DNA only for Dave to repeatedly shoot her down by meekly pointing out that they don't actually have a lab and so forth.
Culture Equals Costume: Minor examples at the Model UN in "The Treaty", where, for example, the French delegate wears a silk scarf and beret.
Even April (but not Ron) isn't immune when a puppy shows up in "Telethon".
No one (especially not Ron) is immune to Li'l Sebastian the miniature horse, except for Ben, who just doesn't get it.
Everyone loves Champion, the three legged dog.
Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: In "Soda Tax", April creatively threatens one of Ben's staffers who had been slacking off/disrespecting him: “If you don’t do it I am going to murder you in your sleep... And I will take a melon-baller and scoop your eyes out and your Congressman uncle will have to buy you a dog to drive you around."
Cutting the Knot: Leslie gives Ben a cryptex containing a clue to where to meet her for their date on Valentine's Day. Ben can't figure out the five digit combination and asks Ron if he could solve it. Ron just takes out a hammer and smashes it to pieces to get the clue.
Damned by Faint Praise: When asked to say something positive about Jerry in "Sweet Sixteen", Ron remarks that Jerry's work is often adequate. Jerry lights up at this unusual amount of praise.
The Dandy: Tom, who turned a spare room of his old house into a huge walk-in closet.
The Danza: Ann's friend Justin Anderson is played by Justin Theroux.
In Operation: Ann, one of Ann's potential suitors is a Phish fanatic named Harris, played by show writer Harris Wittels.
Dartboard of Hate: They're not that malicious about it, but Ron and Leslie tape a photo of all four living Parks Directors to a dartboard and go to town on it in "Summer Catalog"'s tag.
The Li'l Sebastian plush from "The Trail of Leslie Knope". An ad for it appeared in the bottom row of the original broadcast of the episode.
Pawnee: The Greatest Town In America.
Defrosting Ice Queen: Associating with Andy seems to be making April slowly drop her barrier. By the third season credits, she actually smiles shyly at the camera.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: invoked Present in-story with the office murals, which proudly depict various sordid events in the town's history that are shocking by today's standards. Leslie shows them off with some embarrassment.
"She was one of the first feminist leaders in Pawnee! She was the first to dare wearing pants on a Sunday, she spent 30 years in prison for that."
"In 1867, the progressive Reverend Turnbill officiated a wedding between a white woman and a Wamapoke Indian chief. The secret ceremony was beautiful and romantic. But then word got out and the reception was a bloodbath. Fortunately, there were two survivors. Unfortunately, they were both horses."
Distracted by the Sexy: Or rather, Ron being distracted by Tammy's naughty bits being flashed just as he was accepting his award in "Ron and Diane". He goes from coherent to gibberish.
Doctor Jerk: Dr. Harris, a doctor visited by various characters has a Deadpan Snarker attitude and is insulting toward Chris and April/Andy in response to stupid questions they ask during their visit. Oddly, he is nice to Jerry (including but not limited to being astonished by the size of his penis).
Of course, he enjoys having Ron as a patient and wishes the others didn't 'ask so many questions'.
Don't Explain the Joke: In one episode, Tom makes a joke to Dave, then has to explain it to him. He still doesn't get it:
Tom: Hey, John McClane! Dave: Who's that? Tom: Die Hard. Dave: The battery?
Doppelgänger: In an episode appropriately titled "Doppelgangers", the gang at Pawnee City Hall meet their counterparts after Pawnee annexes a broke Eagleton and everyone from the Eagleton government comes over. Hilariously, Ron's doppelganger is a sandal-wearing vegan.
Dramatic Drop: Leslie does one in episode two after finding Mark and April playing Rock Band with Andy, rather than doing their jobs.
The Dreaded: The appearance of Tammy One is enough to make Tammy Two scream "Oh, shit!" and vanish and enough to make Ron disappear into the wilderness for three weeks. Back in the small town Ron and the Tammys grew up in, she was regarded with terror.
Dresses the Same: In a season 2 episode where there was a Halloween party at Ann's house, one of April's gay boyfriends asserted that he was dressed up as a straight person. Immediately afterward, Mark walks in wearing the same outfit. A few episodes previously, Leslie comments on Tom's pink shirt being effeminate, and to prove her point, holds up a shirt she was given by the local gay bar, which is the exact same shade/color.
Drinking Contest: A three-way one in "Ron & Tammys" between Tammy One (to stay with Ron), Ron's mother (to take him back to the farm forever), and Leslie (to keep Ron at the department).
Drop-In Character: Originally Ann before she got a job at City Hall. In season 4, it's Tom.
Dumbass DJ: Crazy Ira and the Douche. Ben mugs about it the whole time and the soundboard operator appears to loathe himself.
Early-Installment Weirdness: In the first season, the characterizations were still in their early stages of development. Leslie is much less self-confident and less competent, and it's implied that she only got her job through nepotism. Tom is more of a jerk, and his only defining trait is being a Casanova Wannabe. His obsession with style and luxury is only introduced in the first episode of the second season. April is also shown smiling more often. Donna and Jerry are only background characters with almost no lines and no characterization. The opening credits sequence is also longer, with an extra stanza of the theme music.
Earpiece Conversation: Discussed and Defied; Leslie assumes this is Ann's idea for coaching her through her first date with Dave (telling her it might seem like a good idea, but "it never works")... but Ann was really going to suggest a mock date.
'80s Hair: Perd Hapley had a pretty spectacular fade back in 1989.
Andy: Not to be inappropriate or anything, because you’re my boss and my friend, but I would totally hit that. April: So would I.
Even the Guys Want Him: Justin, Leslie's boyfriend for three episodes in Season 2. Tom gets a mancrush on him.
Everyone Owns A Mac: Averted. Everyone uses a Windows machine. The various Windows 8 PCs in the latest episodes might interfere with the realism, as it's been ill-received in Real Life. Also, everyone is using a Nokia Windows Phone (except Ron, who intentionally only carries a dated flip phone because his new wife insists he be reachable).
Face Doodling: Ann narrates the talking heads segment at the end of of "Telethon", and announces that Leslie has been asleep on her couch for 22 hours (after staying awake for a few days). She closes the episode by announcing that "I love her so much... but I think I'm gonna draw a mustache on her face."
During an interview for an article about the prospective park, Andy reveals that he was drunk when he fell into the pit, and Ann calls him out on it, which prompts him to call her out on...using birth control. Ann is mortified that he had the audacity to bring this up in front of a reporter clutching a tape recorder, and her birth control use is mentioned in the resulting article.
"The fact that Yahtzee is not in the rec center is a tragedy on par with human trafficking. ...Slight exaggeration."
Tom's complaints about Ann include things like her not caring about bed sheet threadcount and and still using an iPad 1.
Fidelity Test: Ann's friends pull a few lame ones on Mark at Ann's Halloween party in season 2.
Fish out of Water: Ben, especially in his early episodes, is constantly befuddled by the foibles of Pawnee, such as everyone loving Li'l Sebastian, hating calzones, and using Alta Vista.
555: Phone numbers on Pawnee taxicabs as evidenced in "Ben's Parents".
Ron and Leslie have shades of this, mostly in the first season, as well as Worthy Opponent. They have diametrically opposing viewpoints on what to do with the Parks and Recreation department, but over the course of the show they become close friends.
Jennifer Barkley, Bobby Newport's campaign manager, and Leslie. Outside of the race, she is friendly to Leslie and even gives her advice on her own campaign. In the race she is completely ruthless and does whatever she can to win. She justifies this to Leslie as being her job to win the race and it's Nothing Personal.
Ron and April also share these, as their respective approaches to their work (fierce anti-government libertarianism and utter apathetic misanthropy) often lead one of them to handle things in a way the other appreciates.
The moment Ann and Ben join forces to buy Leslie a waffle maker, is the moment Leslie declares the pair have became best friends.
Frivolous Lawsuit: There is a recurring female extra who only shows up to complain to the Parks department and threaten to sue. Some examples:
"My dog went to one of your parks and ate another dog's feces and I'm going to sue you for that!"
"There's a sign at Ramsett Park that says 'do not drink the sprinkler water.' So I made sun tea with it, and now I have an infection."
"London", the season-six premiere, reveals that her name is Gretel.
Full-Name Basis: Chris calls everyone by their full name at almost all times.
Fun with Acronyms: "Citizen Knope" features Leslie forming a citizen action committee named the Parks Committee of Pawnee. Just like the drug, they are so powerful and fast-acting they should be illegal. Later, she tells Chris she's starting a new organization: Leslie's Sorry Division.
In "Doppelgangers" Tom's job is threatened by the implementation of a computer program, E.R.I.C.(Eagleton Reservation Information Center) Tom replaces him with T.O.M. (Town Organizational Matrix)
Gilded Cage: The Eagleton jail. The officers are extremely polite and they serve scones for breakfast.
Gilligan Cut: Ron promises a horrified Leslie that he's just going to go outside and have a reasonable chat with his psychotic ex-wife Tammy Two. Cut to them the next morning making out through the bars of their holding cells, her in a wedding dress and him in a kimono and cornrows.
Girl on Girl Is Hot: In the episode where Leslie is set up with Tom by a dating service, the only detail about her life that interests him is her comment that she had kissed a girl in college. Also, in "The Fight", both Tom and Ben are clearly interested by The Douche's speculation about Leslie and Ann being lesbians.
The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: April and her sister Natalie, who is exactly like her. Natalie's toast at April and Andy's wedding actually moves April to tears: "My sister is lame, but Andy is sort of cool. Guess I kind of see why he'd marry her. Also if anyone finds my grey hoodie, I lost it. Thanks."
Andy rattles off a Long List that his band formerly used in "Rock Show."
In one episode Ann compares Andy to a baby in a straitjacket and wonders if she should suggest that to him as a band name.
In "Harvest Festival", Leslie compares Joan to an eagle-eyed tiger, prompting Andy to say "Eagle-Eyed Tiger, new band name, I called it!"
In season 5, Andy discovers his bandmates have been playing gigs without him. When he confronts them, he says they should change their name to "Burly and the Backstabbers." After he leaves, Burly and the other musicians note that this sounds pretty sweet and admit that Andy has a real talent for (re)naming the band. (They eventually reconcile and continue playing as Mouserat, though.)
In the same vein, April likes being Janet Snakehole. Originally just the daughter of the owner of the Snakehole Lounge (so she could score free drinks), the next time we see her she's a fabulously wealthy widow with a Mysterious Past.
Government Procedural: Although it shifts in how strongly government-focused it is from episode to episode. Typically, the episodes dealing with major arcs have more political/government stuff in them.
Growing Up Sucks: April and Andy's new roommate Ben makes them buy important items for their house, but they pick out frivolous stuff instead. Andy realizes they need the stuff on Ben's list but April is hesitant to because she doesn't want to become adults because they're "boring". Andy assures her that they'll still do fun and childish stuff while still being grownups.
Tom and Wendy. Because it's a green-card marriage.
April and Andy now.
In another example of Jerry's home life being just as good as his work life is bad, he's been happily married for 28 years to his beloved Gayle. He's the only member of the office in a relationship of any notable length.
Leslie and Ben
Happy Ending Massage: In "The Camel", Ron really likes getting his shoes shined and ends up having this reaction when Andy shines his shoes, enormously squicking out Andy and embarrassing Ron. The two agree to never speak of it again.
Halfway Plot Switch: Appropriately occurs in "Halloween Surprise". The first half of the episode involves an office Halloween party, but then as a result of Leslie and Ann scaring him, Jerry has a heart attack, and the rest of the episode involves Leslie holding a charity auction to raise money for Jerry and his family.
He-Man Woman Hater: Presumably applies to a group of men at a town hall meeting in "Soda Tax" who want to tax vaginas.
Heroic Blue Screen of Death: When Ron and Leslie go to Indianapolis to receive an award, Ron only cares about visiting his favorite steakhouse. When he discovers the steakhouse has been shut down for health code violations, he does not take it well.
Hide Your Pregnancy: When Poehler became pregnant for the second time, the producers decided to just write and film as many episodes as possible before she had to go on maternity leave, rather than taking a hiatus between the second and third seasons. This resulted in increasing amounts of bump-camouflaging ruffled blouses and creative clipboard and desk placement during the first six episodes of season three. Unfortunately, NBC decided to push back the season premiere to January of 2011, rather than the expected September of 2010 premiere date, rendering the creative team's efforts unnecessary.
In "Canvassing", Leslie talks endlessly about this history of Pawnee to run out the clock at her ill-fated public forum. This degenerates into Leslie reading aloud from The Phantom Tollbooth.
In "Article Two", Leslie is trying to get some laws from the Pawnee charter abolished, but a citizen named Garth (Patton Oswalt), who is against changing the laws, holds a filibuster and he immediately starts talking about his suggestions for the new J. J. Abrams directed Star Wars movie, saying that it should be a Cross Over between Star Wars and the Marvel universe. It's worth noting that this was entirely ad-libbed by Patton Oswalt, and there is a total of 8 minutes, most of which was cut, but can be seen in its entirety here.
Guess what the plot of "Filibuster" is? This time Leslie is trying to stop a city council motion that will prevent residents of the former Eagleton from voting in the Pawnee recall election.
Horsemen of the Apocalypse: A local restaurant, JJ's Diner, serves a breakfast meal called the Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse.
Leslie has fun TPing a house on Halloween in season 2, but doesn't condone it.
In "94 Meetings":
Jessica Wicks: You were a stick in the mud when we judged that pageant and you're being a stick in the mud now. Leslie: I am not a stick in the mud. I just want to stop a party from happening.
Ron Swanson: "One thing I promised myself when I buried gold in my backyard was that I wouldn't be a hoarder or a miser about it."
In "Ron and Diane," Tom complains that Jerry didn't invite them to his Christmas party - which they only discovered when Donna had an attack of conscience about their annual "Jerry Dinner" where they make fun of him behind his back.
Liberty or Die Party member: These government handouts are deplorable. You're just handing out blank checks! I was on food stamps, I was on welfare, and nobody ever helped me!
Sadly, this is what someone in real life once said on Fox News.
I Ate WHAT?: "Go throw up." (Andy and the spray-painted M&Ms.)
I Lied: In "Two Parties" Councilman Jamm admits that he reneged on a promise to Leslie then says "Here's the deal: I don't care."
I Never Said It Was Poison: Andy, having brought back his "Bert Macklin, FBI" persona in order to deduce which woman in the office is pregnant, tries to pull this on Donna, to trick her into revealing that she is pregnant without ever actually mentioning pregnancy (he asks her whether he's speaking to one person or "one and one-ninth" people). As expected, it doesn't work too well.
Leslie successfully pulls one off in "Christmas Scandal." Leslie goes on a live talk show in order to clear her name from false accusations of an affair with a sleazy councilman. The talk show hosts surprises Leslie by having the councilman show up to repudiate her claim. Leslie quickly gets him to try to prove it by lying about seeing a mole on her butt. Leslie then drops her pants on live TV to prove there is no mole, thus clearing her name.
Joan Callamazzo: Councilman, do you have a comment about No-Molegate? Councilman(caught off-guard): Well, I did not expect her to be willing to take off her pants on television.
In "Leslie's House" Leslie, in order to keep her dinner party interesting for her date Justin, invites several recreation center teachers needing her favor to her house and entertain her guests through the various subjects they teach: belly dancing, fencing, cartooning, accounting software, etc.
Leslie's closing statement in "The Debate".
I Need a Freaking Drink: Leslie, in "Dave Returns", says she will "endorse ten beers into [her] mouth" because of how stressful the day has been.
In "Women In Charge," Ron assents to looking after Diane's kids one more day, saying, "I'd be delighted." Smash Cut to him at his desk chugging a glass of Scotch.
Informed Attractiveness: Very common. The winning beauty contest contestant is stated by everyone to be the most attractive. People constantly describe Ann as beautiful. Tom's ex-wife and Jerry's daughter are also stated to be surprisingly hot.
Informed Flaw: It's mentioned in numerous episodes that Pawnee is the fourth most obese city in the entire United States, but this isn't reflected in the cast (sans Jerry and Donna) or the extras who appear as locals.
Insistent Terminology: Ben is forced to "resign in disgrace" after he is found guilty of bribery to cover up his and Leslie's relationship.
In "Bowling for Votes", a guy in Leslie's focus group comments that she seems uptight, not the sort of person you'd go bowling with. She gets really uptight about trying to seem laidback and good at bowling.
In "Operation Ann", Ron states that he hates riddles before solving the current clue in a heartbeat and enthusiastically coming up with a game plan to find the rest.
Ironic Nickname: Old Gus, the shoeshiner before Andy took the job. It's fitting enough when he's a crotchety old man, but apparently they called him "Old Gus" back when he got the job in his 20s, too.
April, particularly in the early seasons, has a sour attitude about everything and is unafraid to show it.
Ben's father. His mother is at least a Stepford Smiler. Ben's dad is just a humorless asshole from the get-go.
Councilman Jamm to the extreme. Basically starts out by using Leslie's private bathroom at City Hall without permission, through undermining her attempts to get a dog park on the lot near Ann's house so he can build a "Paunch Burger" on it culminating in him getting drunk at Leslie's makeshift wedding at the park fundraiser and throwing two stink bombs. He gets a well deserved punch from Ron.
He later tries to sue Ron for 22 million dollars.
Dennis Feinstein, Pawnee's wealthy cologne manufacturer, who is so obnoxious and repugnant, he even causes good natured Andy to yell "Your a dick!" at him.
Jump Cut: The use of this sort of editing has become almost a trademark of many of the show's "talking head" interviews.
Donna is quite the man-eater. In the sister cities episode, she is chosen much more often than Leslie, April, and lovely Ann.
Subverted by Tom. He mentions that he's married, but everyone is surprised to discover that she's quite beautiful. It's eventually revealed to be a Citizenship Marriage. He's got a huge crush on her, but she's not interested.
Kubrick Stare: April does this to camera as she and Andy talk about their upcoming Halloween party.
April briefly dates a Venezuelan Eduardo at the beginning of season 3.
Tom invokes this with Lucy when he mentions that she's Cuban.
Law of Inverse Fertility: Zig-zagged in the Season 5 finale. Andy is trying to figure out which of the women in the office is pregnant. The first one he rules out is Ann, who ends up helping him "investigate" the other women. The trope plays out this way for each suspect:
Played straight for Ann, who has been wanting a baby all season, and actively trying to get pregnant with Chris, but hasn't succeeded yet.
Subverted for Donna, who by her own admission Really Gets Around, but does so responsibly.
Subverted for the recently married Leslie, though this doesn't stop Andy from asking her about it at the worst possible time.
Subverted for Tom's extremely immature and obnoxious girlfriend Mona Lisa, who lies at first and leads him (and the audience) to believe the trope is being played straight before revealing that she's just messing with him.
Subverted for April, who Andy rules out right at the beginning of the investigation, because he assumes she would have told him. April gets an ominous phone call at the beginning of the episode which leads the audience to suspect she's being informed of her pregnancy by a doctor, but which turns out to be a Red Herring - the surprise was that she got into veterinary school.
Ultimately played straight when the show takes a sixth option and reveals in the final seconds of the episode that the pregnancy test belonged to Ron's girlfriend, Diane.
Like Brother and Sister: The early episodes tease Leslie and Ron as a possible future couple given the number of times Leslie awkwardly admits that she had a single sexual dream about him. Word of God, however, states that they are just very good friends and there will never be any romantic tension between them.
When Leslie is set up with Tom by a dating service, she balks at the idea, stating that he's like a little sister to her.
Andy lists all of Mouse Rat's previous names in "Rock Show".
Pawnee has gone through so many town slogans that even April is impressed that Leslie manages to compile a complete list of them in "Time Capsule". The list takes up its own binder.
Loony Fan: Kelly Larson (played by Poehler's old SNL castmate Will Forte) is a Twilight loon who chains himself to a pipe in Leslie's office in "Time Capsule." Except that he isn't actually a Twilight fan, he's just trying to reconnect with his daughter.
Lots of Luggage: Tom brings a ridiculous amount of state-of-the-art electronics to the department camping trip. Hooking them all up to the van drains the battery, leaving them all stranded.
Love Triangle: In season 2, Mark/Ann/Andy, Ann/Andy/April, Tom/Wendy/Ron. A bit subverted with April, her boyfriend, and his boyfriend, as April is only along because she feels above traditional relationships. All of the above are completely done away with by season 3, with Mark and Wendy Put On A Bus, and April and Andy Happily Married.
Leslie was into Mark who dated Ann who is still a little a hung up on her ex Andy who has Will They or Won't They? with April. Tom is dating Lucy who seemed to eye Ron who is sleeping with Tom's ex-wife Wendy.
Completely done away with in favor of focusing on just two person couples. Andy and April are married, Ben and Leslie are in love but forced to stay apart, and Chris and Ann have Unresolved Sexual Tension.
A legitimate triangle seems to have presented itself in season 4 with Chris/Ann/Tom.
The Maiden Name Debate: Parodied among Tammy Two and her friends. When she and Ron get married again, one of the other librarians gives her a gag gift of a library card reading "Tammy Swanson-Swanson".
Bobby Newport, Leslie's opponent in the City Council election, has the mental capacity and personality of a child. At first he seems like an entitled jerk, but it becomes increasingly clear that he's too stupid to be mean.
Andy behaves like a teenager even though he's about 30. The characterization was flanderized starting in the second season to make him more sympathetic.
Manipulative Bitch: Tammy One, to truly terrifying degrees. Her mere word is enough to make Leslie scramble to do anything she says, and a week of living with Ron turns him into a brightly dressed, personable, clean-shaven, pro-government dork. In a deleted scene, Ron describes Tammy Two as (among other things) "the manipulative bitch by which all other manipulative bitches should be judged."
The Match Maker: April is the one who pairs up Tom and Ann, much to her regret as they annoy her later with their relationship problems. She also tries to set up Chris, still sad from breaking up with Jerry's daughter, with Andy's female studies professor. Wendy ends up sleeping with Ron instead.
In "Rock Show", Leslie's mother set her up on a date with a 62-year-old man. ("And this is my youngest. He's about your age.")
Andy is 29, April just turned 21. This creeps Andy out at first.
Tammy One was a candy striper when Ron was born...and helped deliver him.
Meta Guy: Ben became one when he commented on Tom and Jean-Ralphio's office for Entertainment 720, which, while stylish, is very absurd.
Ben: Literally, there’s someone reading a magazine and someone applying nail polish. What is she doing? She’s just playing with an iPad. Tom told me that chair was $27,000, that chair that has a roof. There’s someone over there in a deep sleep, she’s probably being paid upwards of $100,000 a year. There’s just video of a boat. Look at that thing, what is that? What are you supposed to do with that thing?
Misplaced Accent: In "Pawnee Commons", April plays "Judy Hitler" with an accent that sounds more Russian than German ("Fine! I vill tell you vhere it is, dammit!")
Missing Steps Plan: Tom and Jean-Ralphio's Entertainmnet 720 company. The two created an extremely elaborated office, filled with personal who had no other purpose than to enterain them and (potential) business partners and begann to hand out expensive gifts and merchandise in high quantities. Their idea apperently being that a successfull company should have all such things and that having such things would result in a successfull company. The fact they didn't even spend a single second on what their company should actualy DO never crossed their mind. Needless to say everyone but them quickly realised their company was doomed.
Mistaken for Cheating: Ann worries Chris is cheating on her, so Leslie looks for and finds evidence of cheating in his house. It turns out though, that the items all have perfectly reasonable explanations. Also, Chris couldn't have cheated on her anyway, as he had dumped her a week earlier.
In episode five where Leslie dresses up in a suit and ties her hair back, looking like a very butch lesbian and takes Ann as her date. A former councilman comes up to them and says that he thinks what they are doing is so brave. Ann even says that she is Leslie's trophy wife.
The entire episode of "The Practice Date".
In episode 12 the news anchors call Leslie and Ann lesbians for being close to each other in a photograph and later on the news anchor says to Leslie "It's nice to see you brought your girlfriend for support".
The Douche comments to Crazy Ira about how long Ann and Leslie were in the bathroom during "The Fight".
Mockumentary: The show is presented in documentary format, exactly as The Office. Perhaps learning from that long-running show, Parks and Recreation makes fewer direct references to the idea that they're actually being filmed for a documentary. We're just supposed to accept the idea that the events are unfolding in front of cameras that the characters can see and talk to.
Moment Killer: Ethel during Leslie and Ben's spectacular kiss at the end of "The Trial of Leslie Knope".
Mundane Made Awesome: The entire department (save outsider Ben) goes totally ape over Li'l Sebastian, a miniature horse who is famous for... being a miniature horse back in the '80s. Even Ron Fucking Swanson turns into a giddy child around him, and the hostile Pawnee Today host is nearly turned around by Li'l Sebastian's presence. Ben just doesn't get it.
Tom: Friends, former lovers, acquaintances, Jerry.
One of Leslie's jokes in "Correspondents' Lunch": "There are so many wonderful, talented journalists here. Also here are some reporters from the Pawnee Sun."
Mythology Gag: A slant gag on The Office. For Phyllis' bachelor party, Jim is tasked with finding a stripper but he instead hires a Ben Franklin impersonator (Karen and Pam engage him in sexy talk anyway). For Leslie's bachelor party, Ann hires an Abraham Lincoln impersonator stripper.
Negative Continuity: In the episode "Rock Show" (from season 1), Leslie unwillingly enters a date with a government worker from Eagleton. Her season 3-and-up personality would have abandoned the date immediately.
Never a Self-Made Woman: Subverted. In the episode "Soda Tax", Leslie said that her position as councilwoman wouldn't be possible without Ron, because he hired and supported her as Deputy Director. Ron then reveals that he's tried to fire Leslie four times, but changed his mind because he was so impressed by her conviction.
Never Live It Down: In-universe. Ben bankrupted his town as an 18 year old mayor with his Icetown project. Random passers-by that recognize him are quick to bring it up.
It can be considered as a case of Disproportionate Retribution. Additionally, nobody seems to notice or point out that the electors who voted for a 18 years old high school boy are at least as guilty as he is. Not even Leslie when she try to defend him in his home town. This troper doesn't really know what trope this is.
Nice Hat: Tom borrows Ron's coonskin hat and hangs out in the hallway, hoping that it will be a conversation starter with women. It fails, even after he resorts to shouting, "I'm wearing a crazy hat! I'm interesting!" at them as they pass. The moment Ron puts it on, he gets complimented.
Nipple and Dimed: The Double Standard of this trope even existing is discussed in "Jerry's Painting", where a topless female centaur painting is considered offensive, so Leslie has it repainted as a topless male and gloats that no one would find it offensive now.
No Accounting for Taste: Ann is a nurse, and therefore predisposed toward wanting to take care of people. Andy is a helpless idiot bordering on Too Dumb to Live. As soon as he's back in the hospital and their old dynamic is re-established, she immediately becomes attracted to him again.
No Bisexuals: April claims to have a "gay boyfriend," Derek, who has his own boyfriend, showing her pronounced sense of ironic detachment. She claims that he's straight for her, but he only makes out with her when he's drunk. In one episode, the gay guys give her a rather platonic peck on the cheek in greeting, and she later breaks up with them in an apparent desire to have a real relationship. The trope is averted in another episode when Leslie gets the numbers of two bisexual guys.
One-shot character Carl Lorthner, played by Andy Samberg. He was made a park ranger specifically because he was insufferable in an office job.
Jean-Ralphio has a habit of yelling when he gets excited, which is lampshaded by Tom in "Li'l Sebastian".
Non Sequitur Distraction: In one episode, the gang is auditioning mural ideas. Jerry starts to give a touching speech about how his idea was influenced by his mother, but he accidentally calls the mural a "murinal." Seeing as how he's the Butt Monkey, nobody lets him live it down.
No Party Given: The main characters all seem to be in non-partisan career civil service positions, so the lack of explicit party identification isn't surprising. Although Leslie Knope comes across strongly as a Democrat, she expresses admiration for headstrong female politicians regardless of their politics. The parties of local politicians are also never given, though Indiana politicians are required by law to divulge the information. The trope is averted by Ron, who is emphatically a Libertarian and identifies himself as such.
Noodle Incident: "That was the second most awkward way someone has grabbed my breast."
In one episode, the owner of J.J.'s refers to Leslie as being his best customer. She initially thinks he's flattering her, but then he notes she is literally his best customer, spending over $1000 on waffles each year.
A distraught Ron goes to a diner and tells the waitress to bring him all their eggs and bacon. He immediately calls her back to explain that he doesn't mean, "Bring me a lot of eggs and bacon." He literally wants all of the eggs and bacon contained in the restaurant.
Chris' catchphrase is misusing the term "literally", using it hyberbolically in situations where something is not literally true. So, it stands out in one instance where he tells Ann that her inbox is literally filled with [pictures of] penises" that for once he's using literally correctly and it is Not Hyperbole.
This trope comes up with Ron's description of Tammy Two in her introductory episode. Normally, when a character (especially a macho one like Ron) refers to an ex-wife as evil, a bitch, etc., they are exaggerating. The audience (and Leslie) finds out that he's not.
Not-So-Innocent Whistle: In "Bowling for Votes", Milicent shows up to break up with Chris and Andy starts whistling the moment he sees her.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: Inverted with Leslie, who tries to help everyone as much as she can. Her foil is Ron, who doesn't believe that government should do anything, and tries to make it so. He hires April specifically so she can block any attempts to get him to do something. Ben is also forced into this role due to his job slashing budgets.
At the end of season 3, Ron's first wife, Tammy One, shows up. The news causes the Tammy Two to shout "Oh, shit!" and flee in terror. Also an example of The Worf Effect, as it's demonstrated how bad Tammy One is by showing that even Tammy Two is scared of her.
In "Operation Ann", Leslie has sent Ben on a scavenger hunt for clues about their date. Upon the discovery that there's a third clue, Ron asks, "Just how many clues are there?" Ben shoots a wide-eyed Aside Glance.
One-Hour Work Week: Despite being a time intensive job in reality, Ann's nursing profession is this on the show, bordering on The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, as she hangs out in the Parks and Recreation department just as frequently as the people who actually work there/are supposed to work there. The cast discussed this in an interview, with Rashida Jones commenting that Ann doesn't work at all, and Aziz Ansari joking that there would be an episode revealing that Ann wasn't actually a nurse and had just picked up a pair of scrubs. The show eventually justifies Ann's constant presence at City Hall by having her take a job in the health department.
Ron has two ex-wives named Tammy. We see Tammy Two in a couple episodes, and Tammy One shows up as The Ghost at the end of "Li'l Sebastian". Ron's mother is named 'Tamara', though she goes by 'Tammy'.
There have been at least two Bens and two Chrises.
Operation Blank: In "Ron and the Tammys" Leslie goes through a variety of code names for her plans to save Ron from Tammy One, "Operation: Rescue Ron", "Operation: Golden Dove", "Operation: Soaring Falcon"
April tries to pull this on Andy a few times. When Ann starts drunkenly flirting with him, April counters by flirting with Jean-Ralphio. When Ann kisses Andy, she shacks up with a new Venezuelan boyfriend, Eduardo. Both attempts backfire on her.
When she's first trying to get Andy's attention, she persuades him that her giving him a bunch of hickies will make Ann jealous. "What's weird about one friend sucking on another friend's neck?"
Who'd have thought that a liberal feminist vegetarian community college professor would be hot for the libertarian man's-man carnivore Ron Swanson?
Could be a case of All Girls Want Bad Boys, since Ron could be a bad guy in her point of view. Having the woman's studies professor goes for the Macho Man could also a way to show she's not a straw feminist or to the contrary to imply feminists can be hypocritical on this. (Or perhaps not — despite his traditionally-masculine interests and sensibility, he is a self-proclaimed feminist and gets along best with strong, self-possessed women who treat him as equal (or inferior).)
April is dour, cynical and doesn't want to do anything. Andy is chipper, naive and full of energy.
Even though April has two very loving, affectionate parents, she feels a kinship to Ron and vice versa because of a shared stoicism and aversion to interacting socially with other people. They even have what is basically a father-daughter dance at her wedding. She also admires Ron's first wife Tammy One, a stern woman who intimidates everyone around her.
April: She's the cold, distant mother I never had. I love her.
Ron and Andy also have a bit of a father-son relationship.
Invoked. After Anne tells Chris that she wants him to be her sperm-donor, he is worried that he won't be a good father. So he decides to father Tom for a while.
Pass the Popcorn: Ron takes great glee in watching the government stall to the extent of uselessness and loves to "grab a few donuts and enjoy the show".
Perfectly Cromulent Word: When Leslie is informed of her potential to be elected mayor in the third season finale, she gets so excited that she blurts out "Absotutely!"
Person As Verb: In "Ron and Tammy: Part II", Leslie refers to (what she perceives as) an embarrassing mistake by Ben as "being a Jerry".
Pet the Dog : April loves animals. She thinks they should be rewarded for not being people.
Chris: April! You are too valuable to just be Ron's assistant, so from now on, you are a multitasking executive aide—assisting the entire office. April: Is this a nightmare? (smacks herself in the forehead with her pen) April, wake up. (slaps herself on the cheek)
Politician Guest Star: Season 5 premiere “Ms. Knope Goes To Washington” features Senators Olympia Snowe, Barbara Boxer, and John McCain. "Leslie vs. April" beats that by having Vice President of the United States Joe Biden. Leslie runs into Newt Gingrich at a restaurant in "Two Parties".
When April is hospitalized with the flu, she spends an entire day abusing Ann in revenge for kissing Andy. Ann, being a good nurse, endures April's behavior ... until: "3, 2, 1 ... my shift is over. What the fuck is wrong with you?!"
Fuck you, Ann! from Leslie Knope, of all people, in "Soulmates," when Ann sticks her with a needle for a blood test.
Stricken with a severe hernia, Ron enlists April to get him into the hospital. When she asks him if he's ready to go, he makes this statement, sitting motionless in his office chair, in absolute pain: "I was born ready. I'm Ron fucking Swanson."
Pun: In "Soulmates", Leslie uses a presumably Indiana-specific online dating service called Hoosier Match.
Punch Clock Villain: Jennifer Barkley, Bobby Newport's campaign manager, is genuinely friendly toward Leslie and Ben. Being a campaign manager is just her job, so she sees no reason why she can't share a social breakfast with her political opponents. This throws Leslie and Ben for a loop, who take the campaign much more personally and have difficulty separating Jennifer's ruthless political tactics with her off-the-clock behavior.
Jennifer: I don't care about any of this; I'm just trying to win. Look, it's not personal—I like you! But my job is to beat you. So have a seat. I'll get you some of those waffles that you love. Leslie: How do you know all th— Jennifer: It's my job to know.
Punny Name: Ron's last name was going to be "Knope" to go with his obstructive personality. After Amy Poehler was cast it was made Leslie's last name as an ironic counterpoint to her positive personality.
Mark left the show at the end of the second season to pursue a private sector job, and hasn't returned since.
Sewage Joe was put on a bus after Ben fired him for texting pictures of his penis. The Bus Came Back (appropriately) in "Bus Tour" where he turns out to be the mysterious assailant who through a pie that almost his Leslie- he was aiming at Ben to get revenge, and succeeds at the end of the episode.
Putting the Band Back Together: In the opening of the season 3 premiere, the Parks and Rec dept. reopens after being closed down for the summer and Leslie goes to each of her old co-workers who either have new jobs or relaxing and gets them back to work with her.
Quietly Performing Sister Show: The show's similarities to The Office are no coincidence; it shares the same executive producers and some writers, and was originally pitched as a spinoff. While The Office gets much more attention and higher ratings, Parks has quietly built up a loyal following and has become a critical darling, with most critics considering it equal to, and in some cases better than, The Office.
"Born Raised" has the citizens of Pawnee overly concerned with whether Leslie was actually born in Pawnee and demanding her birth certificate, aping the whole Birther farce.
"End of the World" reveals that every few years since the '70s, a local cult claims that the end of the world is coming, likely a reference to the antics of Harold Camping and Family Radio. However, the group in Pawnee are Lovecraftian rather than Christian.
The "Filibuster" that Leslie finds herself forced into doing, and especially the "three strikes" strict rules (no sitting down, no one allowed to help) was inspired by the Wendy Davis filibuster in the Texas legislature on June 25, 2013. So saysWord of God.
In the second season, Dexhart invented a sex scandal with Leslie in order to divert attention from the far more embarrassing sex scandal which he was actually involved in. Eventually, Leslie challenges him to provide proof of their affair on TV and he claims she has a mole in her buttocks. After a very fed-up Leslie shows her butt to Joan Callamezzo, she terms it "no mole-gate."
Spoofed in "Gin It Up!", when Perd Hapley decides to refer to a Twitter scandal as "Twitter Watergate", "until we can come up with a snappier name for it".
Series Continuity Error: At the end of Season 2, in his last scene, Mark Brendanawicz gives Leslie the blueprints for her park on Lot 48. In "Pawnee Commons" Leslie is desperate because she doesn't have a decent plan for the proposed park.
Series Fauxnale: According to co-creator Mike Schur,the show has done this several times, due to the its shaky ratings. The writers were worried that, since Parks was a midseason replacement in season 3, that it would be cancelled soon after. So they wrote the season 3 finale, "Lil Sebastian", as a possible series finale. This happened again with the season 4 finale, "Win, Lose or Draw". The season 5 episode "Leslie and Ben" was also written as a series finale because it was the last episode of the front 13 produced.
Averted with the final season of Series 5 as the writers were confident the show would be renewed.
Sexy Secretary: The brunette receptionist at Tom and Jean-Ralphio's company e720. She's not even sure she's the receptionist there but she's hot. Ben asks her how much she's getting paid and she says: "A hundred thousand dollars a year with full medical!"
Ship Tease: April/Andy, Chris/Ann, and Leslie/Ben are all teased and taken to completion. Chris and Ann break up, but as of season 4 "Operation Ann" it seems that Chris has begun to think about Ann again despite Ann and Tom apparently hitting it off.
Shoe Shine, Mister?: Andy gets the job of shoeshine boy at Pawnee City Hall after a season and a half of being essentially homeless and unemployed.
Ann and Andy's names. If it wasn't enough that they were introduced as a couple, Ann actually dresses up like Raggedy Ann for Halloween.
Tom's pitch for the cover photo in "Summer Catalog" is a big Shout-Out to Mad Men, with Tom in the role of Don Draper. Tom fails; the advertising techniques needed to sell things are rather different from what's needed for a parks department.
Ron throwing a chair across the court at the basketball game in "Go Big Or Go Home" references the incident where Bob Knight did the same thing at a 1985 game against Purdue. Ron's team even had the same colors (red and white) as Knight's Indiana Hoosiers. Possibly an in-universe shout-out, as Ron in Season 1 had a poster of Bobby Knight up in his office.
Leslie tries to recruit Tammy Two in the fight against Tammy One by comparing One to Godzilla, and Two to Mothra.
After Leslie discovers she was born in hated Eagleton: "I wonder who else was born in Eagleton? Voldemort, probably!"
When Ben's upset, Donna asks him if Game of Thrones was canceled. He launches into a rant about why that wouldn't make any sense.
There's a Call Back in season 5 where Donna chides Ann over failing to recognize the name "Tyrion Lannister." Donna's interest in the show is likely a bit different from Ben's, though:
Donna: Them Dothraki dudes can get it. Everybody on that show can get it.
Tom wearing Ryan Gosling's satin scorpion jacket from Drive in "Bowling for Votes".
In the Harvest Festival episode, Tom is watching Li'l Sebastian for Jerry and lets him escape. Ron has two or three lines in which he yells at Tom and Jerry, including one where he says, 'Tom and Jerry, just get along!'
When Bradley Whitford guest-starred as Councilman Pillner, he had a framed "Pillner for Pawnee" napkin in his office that was identical to the "Bartlet for America" napkin from another show in which Whitford appeared.
In the election episode Ben says he wrote "Two speeches. A speech if you win, a speech if you lose." echoing a line delivered on that same show to Rob Lowe's character.
Leslie describes Ann's brief man-eater phase as "Ann Vs. Wild".
Tom re-does the Parks and Recreation logo using the "handguns as R's" font from The Sopranos.
Shrine to Self: Pawnee Today host Joan Callamazzo's house is full of paintings of herself, some of them nude.
Sick Episode: "Flu Season" when April, Chris and Leslie get the flu and are admitted in the hospital. Leslie sneaks out to speak at an important town meeting even while feverish and delirious.
Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: There is an extremely bitter rivalry between the parks department and the library department. Pawnee as a whole is bitter enemies with the neighboring (and much richer) town Eagleton. On a personal level, Leslie forms a rivalry with fellow Councilman Jamm in season 5.
Sitcom Character Archetypes: Most of the cast fits into at least one of them. Oddly, Leslie isn't really a clear example of any single one of these, but is probably closest to a (paradoxical) combination of The Square and The Goofball.
So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Applies to Ann, who is so pretty that she's never been dumped. After Chris breaks up with her, she pretty much goes off the deep end. Specifically invoked in "Hunting Trip:"
Leslie: Oh, Ann. I always forget that because you're so pretty, you're not used to rejection.
This is shown as a character trait of Ann's who is So Beautiful, It's a Curse. It plays out in her efforts to win the friendship of Ron and April, who don't like her. April and Ann come to something of an understanding late in season 5.
In "Bowling for Votes", Leslie becomes obsessed with winning the friendship and vote of one focus group participant who stated that he didn't like her.
Man: If I may. What if, based on empirical evidence, I truly believed there was a grave and immediate medical emergency? Were that the case, could I then show you my dong?
Spin-Off: When the show was announced it was merely titled "Untitled Office Spin Off" and then "Untitled Greg Daniels Project". After it was announced that Rashida Jones would be in the cast, some thought that the then-untitled project would involve Karen Filippelli, her character from The Office. Later on, it was confirmed that the show has no relationship with The Office, but it's still entirely possible that the shows take place in the same fictional universe. Of course, the fact that Ann Perkins and Karen Filippelli look exactly alike would have to be resolved somehow.
In a blink and you'll miss it moment in one of the early episodes, the distinctive Dunder Mifflin logo can be seen on a box of paper on a background shelf.
April and Andy practice the trope to kill time in "Hunting Trip." Andy is completely unable to come up with a line that could induce a spit-take.
Ron does this when Wendy suggests he move to Canada with her.
Stalker Shrine: Early in the second season, Andy set up one of these to Ann in his shoe shine station.
Stealth Pun: The show has never explicitly made a comment on a pairing of Ben and Jerry (as in the ice cream company) or Tom and Jerry, although it does get close to the latter when it's commented that the two should try to get along.
In the episode where Tammy I shows up, she tells April to stop slouching because it doesn't do her breasts any favors, and April complies. Shortly afterward, Andy walks in and compliments April on her breasts.
In "Operation Ann", both Ron and Andy guess that the answer to a clue about what Ben and Leslie did on a date is "fuck". Or rather, "fucks," because the cryptex requires a five letter word.
In "Ben's Parents", Ben suggests they have Twizzlers instead of Red Vines at their party. Leslie tells him that, "We're a Red Vines family. You're going to have to get used to that." Later, at the party, Leslie offers Red Vines to Ben's dad. He earnestly replies, "We're a Twizzlers family."
Strawman News Media: Pawnee Today checks off a lot of the boxes for this, being vapid and with ridiculous attempts at "balance" that play out as bias against Leslie.
Straw Misogynist: Clarence, the oldest of the former Parks Directors Leslie brings together for a photoshoot. He believes, for example, that women shouldn't be in leadership positions because their "lady-parts" divert blood from the brain.
In the episode "Soda Tax," Leslie holds a town hall meeting about the eponymous tax she's proposing. One of Pawnee's nutcase citizens is in favor of taxing soda along with all other evil things. The examples he gives are "cancer" and "women's vaginas."
Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Jean-Ralphio's raps about the various Parks Department employees sort of play with this trope—instead of out-and-out subverting the rhyme, he just goes one word too far. Tom keeps calling him out on this.
Jean-Ralphio: "R to the O to the N-N-N "I said, Swanson's got swagger the size of Big Ben...clock.""
Leslie: I'm gonna go see a man about some porcelain. You know what I mean? I'm not buying cocaine, I'm going to the bathroom. Whiz palace, as I like to call it, and I'm not calling Ann. So. (leaves unceremoniously)
To NPR in "Born & Raised". The Wamapoke Public Radio station that Leslie is interviewed on has her introduce the next song, by a lesbian Afro-Norwegian funk duo, called "Nefertiti's Fjord". The song is actually a remixed version of Norway's national anthem, "Ja, Vi Elsker".
We see the station again in "Pawnee Commons". This time, the song is two jazz records played on top of each other: "Research shows that our listeners love jazz."
Chris cries at Li'l Sebastian's funeral, mostly because he's overreacting about his own mortality.
Ron Swanson has only ever cried twice: at 7 years old, when a bus ran into him, and when he found out that Li'l Sebastian had died. There was also that time when he visited the Scottish highlands and his favorite whiskey distillery, but there were no witnesses. . .
I bought this Mackerel at the Supermarket. I've been standing in the water with the fish on my hook for 30 minutes. I saw it on an episode of I Love Lucy. Pathetic? Maybe, but it feels pretty good to have a bunch of little boys be super into me. That Came Out Wrong.
Leslie in "Smallest Park":
"The current title [for world's smallest park] is held by Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Terryville. Well, you know what? Terryville sucks old car tires and so does Martin Luth... oh wait. No. No, he does not suck old car tires. He was one of the greatest men in history. Sorry. Sometimes I get competitive.”
Leslie in "The Comeback Kid":
It's true. I no longer have highly trained, professional campaign managers. So what? Are most murders committed by highly trained, professional assassins? No, they're committed by friends and coworkers!... That analogy was way better in my head.
The Cake Is a Lie: When April and Andy ask their guests to bring something to their dinner party Chris is asked to bring a cake. Instead he brings a vegetable loaf because "it's healthier".
Ron: So, not only does this thing exist but you have also deprived everyone of cake!
They Just Don't Get It: In "Harvest Festival", Ben fails to see what's so great about Li'l Sebastian, the tiny horse that everyone in Pawnee loves so much. Inverted, due to the fact that the audience probably fails to see it as well.
Too Dumb to Live: Pawnee has some pretty dumb citizens, and they will thrust the blame for it on the local government. A woman who appears in "The Bubble" brewed tea with sprinkler water from a park knowing full well that the water was unsanitary and actually comes to the Parks Department to complain about it.
Leslie loves waffles from J.J.'s, especially with whipped cream, as well as anything sweet in general.
Ron loves meat in general and also shares Leslie's love of breakfast food (geared toward breakfast meats in his case)
Ben really loves calzones. Initially this seemed like a one-off joke, as the people of Pawnee have an irrational hatred of them, and Ben stating that he likes them marks him as a Fish out of Water. However, in a later episode, Ben has a calzone when he and Leslie order Italian, and in another episode, a depressed Ben becomes obsessed with learning to make calzones and opening up a fast food calzone restaurant.
Trash of the Titans: When Ben comes into move in with April and Andy he is appalled by how filled with trash their house is. He teaches them how to clean up.
Andy: 'Cause your music is sad, and depressing, and weird, and art...is supposed to happy, and fun, and everyone knows that.
True Art Is Incomprehensible: April's submission for the "mural" includes a flat screen TV looping film of knee surgery and a fat man trapped in a giant mouse wheel. When told it will make someone vomit, she considers it a compliment. invoked Mark also plays it from the opposite direction, painting a pleasant picture of a suburban park and saying that it's just the kind of banal garbage that people with no taste enjoy.
Also several episodes have implied that not only did Ann enjoy his sense of humor at first but that part of why Andy is such a jerk to her is that she accidentally encourages it. Case in point: Andy injures himself learning self defense and Ann immediately starts coddling him, even offering to make him pancakes. April and the others meanwhile get him to shake it off and he's back to normal and more eager to learn then ever.
No one understands how schlumpy Jerry landed his super-hot wife Gayle (played by super-hot Christie Brinkley).
And then she looked down at her car, and realized, despite it being her private property, she had to take it in for a STATE INSPECTION!
What's He Got That I Ain't Got?!: When Ann leaves Andy and starts dating Mark, Andy asks her this. Keep in mind that Andy was jobless and homeless at the time. Ann's reply was a devastatingly accurate "everything."
What the Hell, Hero?: When a little girl comes to the Park department looking for an interviewee for her report on why government matters, Ron takes the chance to indoctrinate her on libertarian values. This lecture includes him eating her lunch (a metaphor on taxes) and giving her a Claymore landmine to protect her property. Her mother shows up the next day to chew him out on it.
Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: In "Pawnee Zoo", Leslie accidentally weds two male penguins in a playful ceremony and is honored with a night of drinking and dancing at a popular Pawnee gay bar: "The Bulge".
Wild Card: In "Swing Vote", Councilman Jamm says that he could go either way on this one and then Leslie and Ron try to get his vote.
Jamm: "Hm. On one hand, I love cutting government programs. On the other hand, mini golf rules. And on the third hard, I hate both [Leslie] and Ron Swanson. This one could go either way. I'm kind of a bad ass wild card."
The headline of the Pawnee Journal in "The Reporter" is "Spring arrives!" Below it is a sub-headline reading, "Most residents welcome the new season."
A 24-hour news cycle and lack of any actual news are the main reasons for the blowing up of Leslie's nonexistent sex scandal in "Christmas Scandal". As she explains the situation in a talking head segment, Leslie refers to the Pawnee media reporting for an entire year on a local child going to the Olympics—not competing, just going to watch the Olympics.
Wretched Hive: The fourth floor of Pawnee City Hall as seen in the episodes "Tom's Divorce" and "The Bubble".
Tom: "I hate the 4th floor! Last time I was up there I saw someone buy crystal meth from a vending machine! It's a bad place!"
The fourth floor has a room where they keep the knives confiscated from people who go to the fourth floor to stab someone.
Ron: David Meyers, the Jewish guy who works at City Hall, once told me something. A schlemiel is the guy who spills soup at a fancy party. A schlemazel is the guy he spills it on. [smiling] Jerry is both the schlemiel and schlemazel of our office.
Tom is once shown going to a sauna with some rich old men (he's their Indian Best Friend) and refers to going for a shitz (he means shvitz)
You Have to Have Jews: Dennis Feinstein was born Dante Fiero, but changed his name because Dennis Feinstein is (as Tom puts it) "way more exotic in Pawnee".