Cheat Sheet: Parks and Recreation’s Final Season

With GIFs and video clips galore

As the final season of NBC’s set-in-Indiana sitcom Parks and Recreation commences, we’re talking all things Pawnee.


Season 1: We meet the Parks and Recreation crew during a rocky first season that centers on the equally rocky pit behind the house of Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones). Not only does the pit’s presence bring non–government worker Ann (she’s a nurse) into the parks department’s fold;  it gives the entire team a goal to work toward during the season.


Season 2: As the show begins to find its footing, the writers prove for the first time that they aren’t afraid to shake things up. In a relationship-heavy season, we see these things: Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) ends his green-card marriage, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) starts dating Tom’s ex, Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) finally gets over ex-girlfriend Ann and starts to develop feelings for April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), and Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider) begins—and wraps—a relationship with Ann. The final relationship shift catalyzes the exit of Brendanawicz. Enter Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), state auditors who end the season by temporarily shutting down the Pawnee government.


Season 3: This season begins with the reinstatement of the Pawnee government as Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) brings back the town’s Harvest Festival to great success. We also witness an introduction to Li’l Sebastian. Chris and Ann date briefly before he and Ben find permanent work in the Pawnee government. April and Andy wed after only a few weeks, Tom briefly dates Tammy Two (Megan Mullally) to get back at Ron for dating his ex-wife, and Leslie and Ben’s relationship starts to blossom in secret. (Workplace-romance policy be damned!) During this season, we are graced with Ron Swanson dancing under the influence of Snake Juice …

… which we learn is “basically rat poison.”

We end the season with Tom quitting city hall to form Entertainment 720 with Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) and Leslie being approached to run for elected office.


Season 4: Leslie runs for city council. She consequently ends her relationship with Ben but hires Andy as her assistant. Tom’s company quickly blows through massive amounts of money and eventually shuts down, catalyzing his return to the parks department. After Ben quits his government role, he and Leslie reunite. Scandalacious! Leslie’s political advisors subsequently abandon her campaign. Ben picks up the torch and runs her campaign against Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd), whose campaign is managed by Jennifer Barkley (Kathryn Hahn). Barkley offers Ben a Washington, D.C., job after he and Leslie win the election. Above all, the most important takeaway from Season 4 is the introduction of “Treat. Yo. Self.”


Season 5: Though this season feels a bit weak, some interesting challenges still befall several core characters. Ben succeeds in D.C. with April at his side as an intern and is offered another role, this time in Florida. He turns that down, instead surprising Leslie in Pawnee and proposing to her—thus providing yet another example of the true heart of this show.

Further complicating relationships, Ann decides she is ready to become a mom and begins looking for sperm donors. Near the end of the season, she decides she wants to ask Chris. Ron meets Diane (Lucy Lawless) and, despite being intimidated that she has children, begins dating her. Andy trains to become a cop but fails the test, and Leslie meets her archnemesis, one Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser). The season ends with Jamm moving to have Leslie recalled from office and Andy on the hunt to find out exactly who in the parks department’s sphere is pregnant.


Season 6: We see a lot of change once again. Ann and Chris announce they are having a baby together and moving to Michigan. They leave the series and spawn an offscreen son. Ben takes over as Pawnee’s city manager upon Chris’s departure. Diane and Ron also announce that they are expecting a child, eventually inviting a little boy of their own into the Hoosierland. Andy takes a temporary job in London, a plot point written in to allow Chris Pratt to film that little indie movie Guardians of The Galaxy. Pawnee’s rival town, Eagleton, goes into bankruptcy, causing a town merger. That eventually gets Leslie recalled, but not before Eagleton’s Craig (Billy Eichner) joins the parks department. Tom opens a bistro that, following a few mishaps, gains success by the end of the season. Leslie and Ben find out they are having triplets before Leslie is offered the role of Regional Director of National Parks in Chicago. In that role, Leslie proposes to bring that office to Pawnee (low overhead!) and hires her entire Parks staff. At Season 6’s end, it quickly jumps three years into the future: Leslie has had her triplets and is running her regional parks office out of Pawnee.


Here we go! Are you as excited about the final season of Parks and Recreation as we are? Stick with us each week as we recap the final episodes set in this beloved would-be Indiana town.


See more on the websites for the show and the (psst, fictional) Town of Pawnee.