YMMV: Parks and Recreation

  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Tom's South Asian background is the subject of much japery, and even Leslie can't seem to get it through her head that he's a US-born citizen. This would now seem to be Early Installment Weirdness as Leslie developed into a character who wouldn't make insensitive "Michael Scott"-type remarks about race.
    • Christian fundamentalists, as represented by the character of Marcia Langman.
    • Men's Rights Activists have also been subject to a fair amount of lampooning.
    • Fat people in general. The running joke of Pawnee being a fat city is played for laughs, and Jerry's weight is the subject of jokes.
    • Jerry in general is an Acceptable Target to everyone.
    • The librarians.
  • Actor Shipping: Many fans have issues accepting that Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt aren't actually dating.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: The politics in seasons five and six, ultimately culminating in Leslie being recalled from the city council in a landslide is generally regarded as an emotional low point that sets up Leslie to leave the Pawnee city government and go on to brighter and better things. But it's also possible to interpret it as a natural consequence of Leslie repeatedly pushing through legislation the people loudly and clearly didn't want, sometimes resorting to backroom deals to get her proposed legislation through. Ultimately, the aesop could've just as well have been about not forcing people to do what you want them to do, even if you think you're in the right. And let's not forget she won by 21 votes, no not 21000, 21 - a politician who wins in a race that contested would do well not to immediately rock the boat, force through unpopular legislation, or otherwise get involved in scandal.
  • Base Breaker:
    • April Ludgate. Some fans love her for her Snark Knight personality and being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold capable of true acts of kindness. Others hate her and think she's just a Jerk Ass that gets away with being lazy and mean with no repercussions. They also hate Aubrey Plaza's monotone delivery.
    • Jeremy Jamm's reception could sometimes vary in the eyes of fans. Several saw him as so audacious in his unrepentant buffoonery that he was set firmly in Love to Hate territory, while others found him to be a little too sleazy a character who took up way too much time ardently antagonizing Leslie in Seasons 5 and 6.
    • Craig also could come into Love It or Hate It for some fans, given his propensity for shouting and taking his aggressive nature out on others. This made him seem comparatively animated even when taking normal Pawnee residents into account. Some fans liked that (and Billy Eichner's delivery), while others found it grating after a while. Seemed to calm down in Season 7, where Craig was less front and center. It also probably helps that Craig went through therapy in the Time Skip.
  • Critical Research Failure: Andy asking for Power Rangers to be brought back - at the time, the show was brought back from cancellation and was airing on Nickelodeon. In fact, it'd only been off the air for one year before that, and even that was 3 or 4 years earlier. Then again, this does fit nicely with Andy's characterization.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • Pawnee's past history plays out this way. For instance, it's not really funny that Pawnee had the motto during World War II of "Welcome German Soldiers". However, the fact that later mottoes include Welcome Vietnamese Soldiers and Welcome Taliban Soldiers makes it hilarious.
    • Any time one of city hall's murals is shown, or past atrocities committed by Pawneeans against the Wamapoke Indians are brought up, you can pretty much guarantee they're going for this trope.
    • When Ron brings a pig to slaughter for meat. To a public annual BBQ with children and families attending. It becomes funny when he starts asking kids to join in on the slaughter, and even more when he gives the sheriff his "authorized documents" (a piece of paper with only the words "I can do what I want. Ron.")
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Has there ever been a television moment more triumphant than the Harvest Festival montage set to Tom Petty's "American Girl?"
  • Ear Worm:
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Ron and Andy are probably the most popular members of the main cast due to being a Memetic Badass and Chris Pratt's hilarious performance respectively.
    • Amongst the minor characters there's DJ Roomba, Lil' Sebastian, Jean-Ralphio, and Ken Hotate.
    • Perd Hapley is also a popular supporting character that is very popular with the fanbase in regards to supporting characters.
    • Orin (April's strange friend), Harris and Brett (the animal control guys), Mel (the red-faced guy at town hall meetings), and the woman at town hall meetings (who made sun tea out of sprinkler water) are also quite popular.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Many fans just kind of ignore the first season, as its humor is generally considered weaker, and the characters don't act anything like they do later on. Posting "I don't like Parks & Rec" on a message board will almost assuredly be responded by at least one person instructing the complainer to skip season 1 altogether.
    • Rises to Memetic Mutation given its acknowledgement by the cast; during one panel between the cast, Greg Daniels was talking about a moment between April and Andy in "Rock Show", which he mentioned was in season 1, then gave a knowing pause at what he just said, causing everyone in the audience to laugh and Aziz Ansari to yell, "Don't bring up those shitty episodes, man!"
  • Friendly Fandoms: With 30 Rock, definitely helped by the long lasting friendship between the respective leading ladies, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In "Pie-mary", Harris and Brett are trying to squeeze Harris's head, as Harris puts it, enough to make his eyes bulge out a little bit, but not so much that he dies. Harris Wittels died from an overdose nine days after this episode aired.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • The series is generally regarded as having come into its own in season two, when the show stopped trying to just be a The Office clone and started finding its own voice. This is remarkably similar to The Office itself, where it too grew the beard in season 2 by establishing a distinct identity and brand of humor away from its inspiration and found an audience. Fitting enough when the show aired in Germany the entire first season was cut out. By the end of the season, it's pretty much outgrown its Early Installment Weirdness and come into its own identity.
    • It grew the beard further in Season 3 with the introductions of Ben and Chris, adding some more variety and chemistry to the cast after getting rid of the bland and uninteresting Mark at the end of the second season.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • One episode notes Ann's taste for terrible Lifetime movies, and has her describe a stereotypical parody of one. This becomes funnier given that co-star Rob Lowe was cast in a Lifetime movie as Drew Peterson.
    • Thanks to the US federal government shutdown in 2013, the Pawnee shutdown between Season 2 and 3 becomes a lot more realistic.
    • Andy's asking the government to bring back the Power Rangers is now making rounds with the announcement of a third movie for the franchise. Thank You, Star-Lord!
    • Andy, during his wedding, says that he's the luckiest man "in the galaxy". It's a funny choice of words considering Chris Pratt would go on to star in Guardians of the Galaxy.
    • And in "Operation Ann", Andy accidentally breaks a glass case with a raccoon in it.
    • Andy is also present in the room when Patton Oswalt's character goes on a filibuster regarding tying in Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including the Infinity Gems.
    • An alternate take of the date between Leslie and Chris the radiologist shows the former in the MRI room saying on camera: "I'm just trying to think this is an adventure, you know, just get ride back on that horse, even if that horse is crazy and wants to peer inside my body". Oh boy, Will Arnett (then husband of Amy Poehler) plays Chris, and would be starring later in a series with an equine protagonist with many, many issues.
    • In the season 5 episode "Jerry's Retirement", Leslie tells Ben (as they are in a graveyard visiting a previous mayor), "In a few short years, we will be visiting Jerry here and he will have achieved nothing. Is that what you want?" Cue the series finale where we find out Jerry becomes the unopposed mayor of Pawnee for the rest of his life and lives to be 100.
  • Ho Yay: Lampshaded in one episode when Ron makes a rather... suggestive moan when Andy polishes his shoes.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • As much of a narcissistic, lecherous Jerkass as Tom has been, one can't help but sympathize with him as he discovers that he truly loved his ex-wife Wendy.
    • Jeremy Jamm in the second episode of season seven. Even though he spent most of his time being nothing but a jerk to Leslie, seeing him so joyless for life since dating Tammy 2 is utterly heartbreaking.
  • Love to Hate: When he's not being The Scrappy, Jeremy Jamm qualifies due to his actor awesomely embracing the Card-Carrying Villain role.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Greg Pikitis, who manages to not successfully vandalize the park statue every year, makes Leslie look like a lunatic, sneaks into the office and trashes the place using a disguise, breaks Andy into tears without even saying anything, and always gets himself out of trouble by hiring an woman off Craigslist to pretend to be his mom. Andy even relents that the kid is pretty impressive. The only way he gets caught is when Leslie goes the extra mile and vandalizes his house, which leads to her meeting his mom and finding out he really is the spectacularly conniving prankster Leslie suspected. When he does make a reappearance several years later in "Prom" although only appearing for thirty seconds at the end, he manages to successfully destroy Leslie's interest in the girl she hoped to recruit as a new intern (by being her boyfriend) and somehow staple Leslie's dress to the table cloth without anyone noticing until Leslie tried to walk away.
  • Mary Sue: Later seasons see Leslie grow into an increasingly perfect character. There is nothing that she can't do, and her biggest flaw that she cares too much about everything. Even her recall from City Council was largely because she was so much more competent than the average citizen. The series finale sees her go on to become two-term governor of Indiana, with hints that she goes on to become president. In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, she's beloved by fans for it.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Ron Fucking Swanson.
    • Burt Macklin, Andy's fake FBI character.
  • Memetic Mutation: "I'm Ron Fucking Swanson"
    • "[Burt] Macklin, you son of a bitch!"
    • Responding to clips and images of Andy with "I'm glad he's guarding our galaxy".
    • DJ ROOMBA!
    • "Don't bring up those shitty episodes man!"
    • The "codenames" scene is one of the show's most quoted; in the same vein as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, fans seem to love mapping it onto other characters (ie. the gang from The Magic School Bus in one fanfic).
    • The Afraid to Ask Andy: "I don't know X... and at this point I'm afraid to ask."
    • "Treat yo'self!"
  • Moe: Leslie. She's just so happy and sparkly all the time!
  • Replacement Scrappy: Completely inverted with Ben, who played the role of the Only Sane Man of the cast much like Mark did, but Ben had enough quirks to his character to stand out on his own.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Andy, who went from an insufferable Jerk Ass to an adorable but earnest Man Child.
    • To a lesser extent, Chris. He goes from a rather flat, Innocently Insensitive fitness nut to a well rounded fitness nut with a load of personal problems.
  • The Scrappy: Mark. While the other characters always had some semblance of originality to them, Mark was an incredibly bland Jim clone from the start. Thankfully he also became one to the writers, who removed him from the show entirely when it began developing its own style.
    • It's hard to find someone who's actually a genuine fan of Jeremy Jamm. He's an unrepentant asshole who is often annoyingly grating, and often doesn't get his comeuppance... until Season 7 that is.
  • Stoic Woobie: Ron, especially after the Time Skip in season 7.
  • Straw Character: A consistent means of ridiculing political viewpoints throughout the whole run of the show. Some of them are recurring characters. The show rarely delves into the moral ambiguity or multiple conflicting viewpoints in the political issues it discusses,s uch as soda taxes, health mandates, government budgets, the role of government, men's rights, censorship, et cetera.
  • Straw Feminist: First season/early second Leslie is one of the worst offenders in television history. However, once the show hits its stride she becomes a much more realistic and rounded character, though still unabashedly feminist.
  • Strawman Has a Point: In the "soda tax" episode, if the Paunch Burger executives weren't so outlandishly double-speaking they'd probably come off sympathetic. They quite reasonably point out that they're merely selling what the Pawnee market wants to buy, even if it's unhealthy. Seasons earlier, Ron agrees that being allowed to stuff your face with unhealthy crap and die in your 40s if you really want to do so is a facet of American freedom.
  • Tear Jerker: See here.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Parodied in "Bailout" with the movies that the Videodome shows.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Tom in "Jerry's Retirement" - while he spins a very sympathetic story given how mercilessly he mocked Jerry throughout the series it's simply impossible to ignore the hypocrisy of what he is saying.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: The only person who can stand Jean-Ralphio in-universe is Tom (and even he has admitted he could use better friends). Out-of-universe, he's one of the most celebrated recurring characters on the strength of Ben Schwartz's gloriously obnoxious performance.
  • Wangst: April in the first few episodes of season 7, where she basically whines about not being able to act like a creepy, childish weirdo anymore. Played for Laughs of course.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: Inverted and played for laughs with Ron, whose favorite book is Moby-Dick precisely because he believes that it isn't symbolic, being just "a good, simple tale about a man who hates an animal." He later considers the idea that the whale is a metaphor, but rejects it.
  • The Woobie:
    • You can't help but feel sorry for Ben in "The Harvest Festival" when people won't leave him alone about Icetown and then he leaves and tells Leslie that he's probably the source of the Curse and it's all his fault that Li'l Sebastian ran away and the power went out.
    • Leslie in Season 6, who seems to be getting hit with Finagle's Law on anything she tries to do for the town in addition to being recalled from city council.
    • Chris in late season 4 and early season 5. He loses his girlfriend, and rapidly finds his life empty and miserable, tries for Ann again and gets rejected, all of this culminating in his body breaking down in the second episode of season 5 after he realizes he has 'nothing and no one". Even April (who has hated Chris up until that point) feels sorry for him and even starts to become considerably nicer to him during this period.
    • Andy becomes this in season 2 and becomes a bigger woobie as the show goes on. He spends most of season 2 living in a pit and desperately trying to fix things with his ex-girlfriend (which he fails to do) and in general he's such a socially-awkward mess that it's near-impossible to not pity him.
    • Bobby Newport. Yeah he's competing against Leslie, but only because he's desperate to earn his father's approval. And when his dad dies he's utterly devastated.
    • Councilman Jamm, of all people, in "Ron and Jammy." His relationship with Tammy 2 has utterly stripped him of his identity due to her trying to turn him into Ron. It's also taken a severe toll on his health and turned him into a rather broken shell of a man, to the point Leslie feels sorry for him and Ron is willing to temporarily forgo his feud with Leslie, and the easy win for his construction company their relationship would bring, to save him.
    • Jerry/Garry can be seen as this all throughout the show's run, depending on just how much one finds his constant denigration funny. It makes it all the more heartening whenever moments come up where he gets to be happy.
    • Ron in "Leslie and Ron", especially when we learn why he left the Parks Department and why he stopped being friends with Leslie during the Time Skip. Ron reveals that after Leslie left for her new job, eventually taking April, Andy, and Terry with her, and Tom and Donna left to run their businesses, he rapidly began to grow lonely, until one day he didn't recognize anyone in the Parks Department. It eventually gets to the point that Ron is willing to do the unthinkable and ask Leslie for a job in the federal government just to be close to some of his friends again, only to be inadvertently stood up for lunch at J.J's diner the next day by a busy Leslie, the fact that you can hear his voice crack as he reveals this really sells it.