Trivia: Parks and Recreation

  • Actor Allusion:
    • 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 standup 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.
    • Chris being shown in "Campaign Ad" to be a Japanophile, much like his role in Thank You For Smoking.
    • A very special trick-or-treater shows up on April and Andy's doorstep on Halloween night, 2023.
  • Actor-Shared Background:
    • Like Aziz Ansari, Tom is an Indian-American from South Carolina.
    • April being of half-Puerto Rican descent. However, in the real-life case of Aubrey Plaza, it's from her father's family, versus April's mother.
    • Donna evidently has relatives in Liberia; so does Retta; Retta (full name Marietta Sirleaf) is related by marriage to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, first female President of Liberia.
  • Banned in China: Sony didn't dare to broadcast the infamous episode "Sister City" (which dealt with a very point-on parody of Venezuelan military government officers) on its Venezuelan feed, and it's very improbable that the series even airs on open networks.
  • Casting Gag: Ron Swanson's crazed bitch of an ex-wife Tammy Two is played by Megan Mullally, who is Happily Married to Nick Offerman.
  • Creator Backlash: It's hard to blame him considering how undercooked a character Mark was, and then later was the odd man out when the series found its identity in season 2, but Paul Schneider has been honest in his bitter feelings about his experience on the show and that it left him with a pretty sour outlook on mainstream acting as a whole (he now selects low-key roles in independent projects and takes a lot of time off in-between jobs). When the creators kept the door open for a return, he expressed an explicit lack of interest in ever reappearing again, which may explain why Mark slid into Un-Person territory from season 3 onward.
  • 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.
    • Andrew Burlinson plays Burly, Andy's bandmate in Mouserat. Late in the series it is revealed Burly is short for Andrew Burlinson.
  • Defictionalization:
    • The Li'l Sebastian plush from "The Trial of Leslie Knope". An ad for it appeared in the bottom row of the original broadcast of the episode.
    • Leslie originally wrote Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America in "Born & Raised". Show writer Nate DiMeo eventually wrote the real thing.
    • Mayfair games is working to make Ben's game Cones of Dunshire (from the episode of the same name) a real product.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Chris Pratt revealed that when he needed to show up naked at Ann's door in "Kaboom", he was failing to elicit a proper reaction from Amy Poehler until he went completely naked without telling her. Her wide-eyed shock is the take they used.
  • Fake Nationality: New Zealander Lucy Lawless as the American Diane Lewis. Lawless may have lived in America a while, but you can tell sometimes.
  • Fan Nickname: "Tammy Zero" for Ron's mother.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: The city's lawyer in "Kaboom" is no other than Sterling Archer, as well as Bob Belcher and Coach McGuirk.
  • In Memoriam: The message at the end of the series finale saying "We Love You, Harris. —The Parks Crew" is dedicated to writer, actor and executive producer Harris Wittels who tragically died on February 19, 2015, five days before it first aired.
  • No Export for You: Finally averted in the UK when BBC Four picked it up in 2013.
  • Post Script Season: Season 7 especially feels like this after Season 6 ending on a Grand Finale and an epilogue taking place after a three-year Time Skip.
  • Real-Life Relative: Will Arnett has a cameo as a creepy guy Leslie dates in "The Set-Up". He was formerly married to Amy Poehler (Leslie) in real life. Also, Nick Offerman (Ron) and Megan Mullally (Tammy 2) are married in real life.
  • Screwed by the Network: The show was brushed aside for mid-season replacement Outsourced, which was hated by critics and did not make it past a first season. The show's fifth season narrowly avoided being cut to 13 episodes as a precursor to cancellation, but the season was officially granted a full 22 episodes.
    • Averted with its renewal for Season 6, although the failures of every other comedy on the network and the ending of The Office forced NBC's hand. The only other comedy to survive was Community.
    • NBC got its final digs at the show by hustling it out the door, holding the final 13 episodes until the back half of the season, airing two-per-week and having it off the air before the end of February.
      • Not only did they blow through the final 13 episodes, they bumped the series finale from the show's usual 8 PM time-slot all the way back to 10 PM to make room for two hours of singing competition show The Voice. Way to Kick Them While They Are Down, NBC.
  • Serendipity Writes the Plot: The London storyline came about as a way to keep Chris Pratt on the show while he was filming Guardians of the Galaxy in the UK — Peter Serafinowicz appeared on the show in that storyline while also being in Guardians with Pratt.
    • There's also a throwaway line in the season premiere about Andy giving up beer in order to explain Pratt's fitter physique.
  • Throw It In: The show makes use of varying degrees of improvisation. The most frequent example are the "addressing the camera" scenes with many jump cuts between jokes; these are usually the result of letting the actors run off-script (especially with Amy Poehler).
    • The show's co-creator also said at a panel discussion that his favorite joke in the entire series — Andy's line "Leslie, I typed your symptoms into the thing up here and it says that you might have...Network Connectivity Problems" — was made up on-the-spot by Chris Pratt.
  • Word of God: Ron's nickname for Marlene Griggs-Knope was not specified in the script, and the nickname is heard in the episode as "the Iron-[bleeped] of Pawnee". According to Aziz Ansari's Twitter page, Nick Offerman improvised "the Iron Cock-Shredder of Pawnee" at the table reading.
  • What Could Have Been: Deleted scenes and DVD audio commentary reveal that several Pawnee townspeople would become more heavily recurring characters in future episodes. These characters included conspiracy-theorist Barry, anti-parks advocate Kate Spivack, and Andy's neighbor Lawrence. When the Pit 48 plotlines were de-emphasized in the next season, the need for these characters diminished. However, Lawrence made several cameo appearances in later episodes. Barry appears very briefly in season two in the episode "Sister City", though he only has lines in a Deleted Scene.
    • Even after the original plan for P+R being a spinoff of The Office was scrapped, there was one idea of creating a connection for the two, where the Dunder-Mifflin copier would break, be fixed and refurbished, and then shipped to the Pawnee Parks and Rec department. It never happened.
    • A minor one: the character that developed into Ron Swanson was originally named "Knope" to match his stance towards government, but then the creators decided to give it to Leslie's character for the irony.
    • Originally the producers wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger to play Pawnee's Mayor Gunderson. Arnold was willing to do so, but couldn't while he was governor, so Gunderson became The Ghost instead. Gunderson did eventually appear near the end of the series, played by Bill Murray.
  • Written By Cast Member: Amy Poehler wrote the episodes "Telethon" and "The Fight".
    • Nick Offerman wrote Season 4's "Lucky".