What began as an "Office"-style comedy about a bunch of weirdos in small town Indiana ended up captivating the hearts of millions.
The cast of "Parks and Recreation" didn't just provide audiences with a few cheap laughs, they made you want to move to the ridiculous town of Pawnee and become best friends with everyone who lived there. Each character, from the town's angriest residents to Leslie Knope herself, were hysterical, complex, and at least marginally lovable.
To honor of the great people of Pawnee, we ranked each of these memorable characters based on their communal impact, their weirdest antics, and of course, their lovability:
Jerry [Garyy/Larry/Terry] Gergich
I mean, what a L-O-S-E-R, amiright?
Despite being the most gentle-hearted, kind and lovable oaf on the planet, all of Pawnee hated Jerry (well, until he served as their mayor for about 1 million terms). It just kind of felt wrong not to have him at the bottom of this list ... but for the record, we totally do love Jerry.
Councilman Bill Dexhart
Inarguably the grossest man in Pawnee, Dexhart was the barely-exaggerated fictional embodiment of Donald Trump. With his smarmy political agenda and scandalous sexual escapades, he was worse than scum floating in the Pawnee River.
Councilman Jeremy Jamm
Despite thwarting Leslie Knope at every turn, Councilman Jamm was somehow the most unworthy adversary in TV history — and also, without a doubt, one of the most irritating, vile characters to every grace the silver screen. From his shitty catch phrase to his deplorable demeanor, Jamm was the unequivocal worst.
By putting him at #71, I'd like to think I effectively "Jammed" him.
Marcia and Marshall Langman
These sanctimonious, self-righteous bible-thumpers on the morality squad were the most hilariously irritating couple in Pawnee. I can't get down with anyone, fictional or not, who lives that hypocritically.
Tammy Swanson (Tammy II)
It pains me deeply to diss a sexually uninhibited man eater like Tammy II, but her hold on and destruction of Ron's life was just too wrong. Ron is an American treasure, and this woman consistently sabotaged his happiness and well being. She also worked for the library, and books are disgusting.
Tammy Swanson (Tammy I)
She was such a monster, even Tammy II feared her wrath. She ruined blondes for Ron, and was also just genuinely creepy as fuck. She birthed, taught, and subsequently bedded the same man, and that always turned my stomach.
The Newport Family
The comical embodiment of corporate greed, this shitty family polluted the water and lived off the people in Pawnee. The Newports produced generation after generation of jerks, so the whole family gets a D- from me.
Perhaps this is the 2016 election's emotionally abusive toll on my life coming through, but I have no time for flagrantly incompetent politicians. Bobby Newport was the perfect representation of the unworthy male opponents smart women often have to defeat, and frankly, I applaud Leslie for never punching his (admittedly) adorable face.
SIDE NOTE: The Trump similarities are too real and prove this show was ahead of its time.
I want to throw frisbees at his head. I equate Leslie dealing with him at town hall meetings to me dealing with internet trolls, so I have virtually no empathy for this character. None.
It was actually a little tough putting her this low on the list — she remains one of the funniest characters I've ever seen. Her cunning and her blunt honesty were side-splitting, but at her character's core, she was a legitimately terrible, selfish human.
Dennis Feinstein/Dante Fiero
If you break Tom Haverford's heart, I break your face.
Though Dante/Dennis was a spot-on douchebag, crushing one of Tom's (many) dreams made him officially soulless. Plus, he suffered from Bored Rich People Syndrome, and generally those people are intolerable.
I'LL GLADLY GIVE YOU MY BOOS, SIR.
Better known as "Sewage Joe," he was generally a huge creeper (remember when poor Anne got those unsolicited dick pics?) and overall disgusting person.
Kim gave all journalists a bad name, but her most egregious error came when she tried to sabotage Knope's jokes by hacking into her emails.
Sir, you are going to have to take several seats.
Not only was Mark awful to Leslie, he was also barely a passable boyfriend to Anne. His frat boy antics carried far too deeply into adulthood, and I for one am still so happy I only have to deal with him for two seasons.
If I never heard this unfunny, irritating, god-awful man speak ever again it'd be way too soon. His introduction to the show after the Eagleton merger was an attempt to fill an office void, but honestly, it failed miserably. Craig never meshed with the Parks and Rec crew, and his attempt to be Donna's new BFF was, at best, a pathetic comparison to what she'd had with Tom.
Crazy Ira and The Douche
These bros get props for the occasional bone they threw at the Parks department, but their overall dude-bro attitudes and creepy treatment of women were too over the top.
However, I will concede that Nick Kroll's unapologetic fart jokes got more than one chuckle out of this forever immature writer.
Though he does get bonus points for fathering two of the funniest characters on TV, Dr. Saperstein once tried to foil Tom's actually successful business during a time when Tom was super down on himself. He did it out of blind loyalty to his shitty kids, but it was still a pretty dick move.
Raul, Eduardo, and Johnny
How dare you insult the glory of Pawnee, Indiana, sirs?! While all of the Venezuelan visitors were totally a pain in Pawnee's collective ass, Raul's "go to jail" monologue will forever be one of my favorites in television history — mostly because of his flawless delivery.
Johnny also almost prevented Andy and April from being a thing, and that would have been legit criminal.
This councilman was able to identify the stages of Leslie's menstrual cycle —a system for the town's male public officials to deal wth their "lesser" counterparts.
Misogyny and racism are never funny, unless we are laughing at a character like Milton.
His creepy obsession with Marlene Knope was too freaking much.
I suppose she gets baton twirling points?
Derek and Ben
April's gay boyfriends were the exact sort of people you need in your life when you're feeling angsty and want wallowing partners. Their witty, mean girl rhetoric was always a treat — until they made fun of Andy, which April (and the audience) couldn't stand for.
Lindsay Carlisle Shay
Eagletonians are the goddamn worst, but I gotta admit, Lindsay's one-liner comebacks to Leslie weren't too shabby.
She loses points for ditching Leslie as her BFF in their youth, though.
Not only did this magician give Ron the haircut of his lifetime, he was also strong enough to survive a union with Craig — and for that, I give him infinite snaps.
Buddy Wood won the "Basic Bitch" award for trying to play Leslie in her big interview, attempting to divert important topics towards her "scandalous" affair with Ben Wyatt.
I have such a soft spot for this Twi-hard. His love and dedication to the book (but really his daughter) made for some of the best lines on the show.
This character was the perfect representation of all that is wrong with dating. His famously awful date with Leslie led to some hysterical scenes, though, made even better by knowing that the actors (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) were married IRL.
George was the maintenance worker whose discretion was bought by a $50 certificate when he caught Ben and Leslie smooching at Li'l Sebastian's fundraiser. He was a simple man.
Who doesn't love a dude with a vast, endless appreciation for accountant jokes and Ben Wyatt?
Though he was forever at the mercy of Andy, he was a loyal soul, and I respect him for that.
His demise — which involved a heart attack, and the groping of poor Leslie's unsuspecting breasts — did end up leading to the hiring of Chris Traeger, so I am grateful for his brief, handsy stint.
Scott's small role on "Parks and Rec" consisted of him admonishing Leslie for apologizing for Andy's hospitalization after falling into the pit — again. Though brief, his cynical, dry delivery was definitely memorable.
With a terrible bedside manner and a wry way of dealing with life, Dr. Harris was the mean-girl BFF you never knew you needed.
Councilman Douglass Howser
Known for catching Leslie at every inopportune moment, we live for the silent shade he threw throughout the series.
Lovable and loud Carl sure was passionate about being a park ranger! Masterfully portrayed by Andy Samberg, his below average IQ and genuine lack of self awareness made Carl an easy Pawnee citizen to love-hate.
The gruff police chief in Pawnee knew exactly how to make
Ben Wyatt squirm, and it is such a joy to watch.
The Eagleton version of Ron Swanson admittedly paled in comparison, but only because he was a vegetarian, and bacon should be revered.
She is still the worst person we have ever met ... and we want to travel the world with her.
Damn you, Pikits, for your impressive and elaborate antics. You might have been a pain in the ass, but I still have a ton of respect for your prank skills.
The three-time winner of Miss Pawnee unsurprisingly wed Nick Newport Senior, and eventually took over Sweetums — thusly becoming Ben’s boss. She acted far dumber than she actually was, and I have a weird amount of respect for her tenacity and weird Southern pet names.
The thing I loved about Brandi was her unapologetic, carefree attitude about her porn career. Brandi, being totally clueless about Leslie’s desire to be disassociated with her, insisted on aligning herself with Leslie — and accidentally helped turn an independent video store into a porn hub.
Excuse me, how do you NOT love the one-legged dog that brought joy to literally everyone who ever pet him?
Though referenced several times throughout the show, we only got to see him once during a showing of the video containing his last will and testament — and of course, it was Bill Murray!
FUN FACT ALERT: At a panel during the show’s early years, Poehler casually said she would love it if, in the last season, the mayor was revealed and it ended up being Murray the entire time. And of course, the comedian came through!
Tamara Swanson (Tammy Zero)
We were only treated to this burly, majestic woman once during the show's history. Which is a shame, but at least we got to watch her down hooch like a tank, and put Ron’s subsequent Tammies to shame.
The Ludgate Family
I question the sanity of the Ludgate family (they completely accepted the last minute marriage of their daughter to a nitwit), but it DID include April’s incredible, morose sister, whom I’d love to clone and keep in my pocket. (What? The Ludgate ladies would be so down for that weirdness.)
The semi-supportive, slightly shady mother of Leslie Knope was a total queen in my eyes when she tried to court Ben (before she knew he was dating Leslie) with total confidence.
Good-guy Justin was definitely my least favorite of Leslie’s boyfriends, being entirely too sweet and slightly pretentious.
Equal parts awkward and adorable, the first steady boyfriend we met of Leslie’s was actually pretty sweet — until he creepily chained Ben to a toilet in hopes of winning Leslie back.
The Human Animal Farm creator was a genius. I wouldn’t change a single thing about him for the world.
Dr. Richard Nygard
Despite never actually meeting him, I was very appreciative of his efforts to help Chris Traeger.
As the proprietor of the finest waffles in Pawnee, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give the provider of Leslie’s favorite food a special shout out.
Living in Pawnee as a Native American descendant was definitely an admirable feat in and of itself. But when he scared all of the white people in Pawnee by claiming there was a curse on his sacred land, I nearly died of laughter.
Harris and Brett
Inept stoners running the animal control department is so perfect, it's almost poetic. Though these two got nothing done, any time they made an appearance it was a hilarious and memorable one.
Shauna got a bad rep for for being Pawnee’s low-key town trollop, but it was a pretty unfair label. Pawnee’s pickings were ridiculously slim, and all this poor journalist wanted to do was find somebody to love. Can you blame her for courting your favorite Indiana bachelors? I think not.
Cynical, crotchety, and witty as hell, Ethel Beavers was everything I want to be when I grow up. Plus, she was there for some of Ben and Leslie’s most romantic moments.
What’s the word? Perd definitely got more than one and a half stars from us. Thanks to his Captain Obvious reporting skills and flawless deadpan delivery, I’ll forever be a Perd-vert.
Consistently intoxicated and mildly obsessed with herself, Joan was the talk show queen of Pawnee. She was a delicious train wreck, and I loved her for it.
Though the members of Pawnee’s hottest band went by myriad names, their legacy will never change.
Admittedly I was pretty intimidated by the oh-so-cool Lucy at first, but as the eventual wife of Tom Haverford, I love her now for being such a nerd at heart. She validated Tom and his feelings, and believed in him just as he was.
As the woman who made Ron truly happy and helped further the Swanson line, Diane will forever be one of my favorites. A loyal and practical wife, Diane was the furthest thing from a Tammy as they come.
Although she was “The Wo0o0orst," her nasally voice and overt sense of privilege caused me to laugh so hard I cried, several times. She was an utterly ridiculous human, and somehow even more delusional than her goofy brother.
Ben Wyatt aside, everyone adored this majestic little horse who was the hero Pawnee needed, but definitely didn't deserve. He was so special he even got a memorial song written for him by Mouse Rat’s lead singer Andy Dwyer. His iconic legacy is worth more than 5,000 candles in the wind, and I am sure everyone in Pawnee would put this little guy at the very top of their list.
We were first introduced to Jean-Ralphio when Tom decided to leave the parks department, and were subsequently treated to one of the funniest characters to ever exist on television. Despite having zero character growth, Jean-Ralphio’s shtick never felt tired or overdone. The weirder he got, the more we loved him.
This beautiful land mermaid was a loving and loyal sidekick to several characters, but she never really sustained her own strong story line. She was the designated straight-man that had none of her shit together, though, which was actually a super lovable trait. Some of Ann’s best years were when she was finding herself and dating every guy she could in Pawnee (with Donna's help), if for no other reason than all of the times she got hammered at the Snakehole Lounge.
Her expressive face, sharp tongue, and exuding confidence made Meagle everything “life-goals” are made of. Her Twitter finesse and taste for finer things made her the best work-wife imaginable to Tom, and the perfect, reactionary counterpart for the office’s crazy antics.
Tom Haverford — or, as I like to call him, Tom-Tommy Have-Have — underwent some of the best character development on the series. A millennial taken to the 29th power can only be pulled off by someone as talented as Aziz Ansari, as every episode that peeled back a layer of Tom’s true self made us fall even more in love with him.
Literally one of the best people in Pawnee. Putting aside his dreamy, ageless face, Chris allowed audiences to laugh with him through his pain, and really let us see how a neurotic control freak could gain control over his issues in a heartwarming way.
Her dark, weird soul and unwavering commitment to live on the fringes of social expectations were reason enough to love her. But one of the best things about April was watching her love for Andy unfurl.
Her central storyline, though weird as fuck, allowed us to see someone flourish in a relationship instead of being hyper codependent or feeding into dangerous habits. She became begrudgingly self aware, evolved, and still never abandoned her personal brand of crazy.
Even if he inexplicably loved calzones, the adorkable, sweet, and utterly selfless Ben Wyatt was one of the most worthy and redeeming TV husbands to ever exist. He was unapologetically himself and utterly selfless — he never, ever stepped on Leslie’s toes, or tried to hold her back from her greater destiny.
Ben’s adoring facial expressions were enough to make fans of the show bawl their eyes out, and the amount of genuine love that exuded from this character was enough to melt even April’s icy heart. Plus, how can you not love the man who invented Cones of Dunshire?
This harsh, loving, wood carving, fiscally savvy American hero was everything you could want from a character. He had flawless comedic timing, and even when he was reluctantly forced out of his comfort zone, he’d rise to the occasion and treat audiences to what sure felt like genuinely tender moments. Ron was such a satisfying character to watch develop, and made us feel so many of his big life changes personally, because they each came from a special place.
We all remember Leslie as the confident, feminist, Wonder Woman of Pawnee.
But when we first met her, she was a bright-eyed, barely capable public official with little confidence, and was even somewhat of a buffoon. Watching her get to a point where she was assertive, secure, and happily receiving both self-love and love from others was one of the most heartwarming journeys to ever watch on television. From Knope, we all learned how to roll with the punches life throws at us ... and I can honestly say that she was one of the most inspiring characters to watch for women everywhere.
Andy brought out the best in every character he came in contact with. His childlike mind made him consistently lovable, while his dog-like loyalty made him irresistible.
Somehow he was able to make Pawnee's most cynical characters lower their guards down, its most practical characters let loose, and overall, he impacted every single person on the show in a unique way. His pure heart and genuine lack of understanding for social constructs made him a vulnerable, fun dude. He was at the heart of many of the show’s most emotionally resonant plot lines, and watching him come into his own was an incredible viewer experience.