Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson, has a woodworking hobby as does his counterpart in the show. He has released an instructional DVD in canoe building and runs a fine woodworking business on the side.
Ron Swanson's staunchly anti-government government official was based on a city planner who the show's producers met and interviewed when doing research. The planner was a Libertarian who admitted to them "I don't believe in the mission of my job."
In the episode "London parts 1 & 2" Ben says to Andy "So all you did is stop drinking beer?" and Andy replies "Yea I lost like 50lbs in a month." This is a reference to Chris Pratt's real life weight loss for his role in Guardians of the Galaxy. He actually lost 60lbs.
Jay Jackson, the actor who plays the comically literal Pawnee newscaster Perd Hapley, was for many years an actual print and broadcast journalist and anchor at news outlets in San Diego and Los Angeles. After he retired from journalism in the mid-2000s, through a friend's manager he got a small role as a reporter on a 2007 episode of Dexter. He agreed to allow the manager to send him on other auditions, but only as long as they only were for reporter roles, since that was his professional background, so he ended up also playing reporters on TV shows such as Scandal, Revenge, The Closer, The Mentalist, Body of Proof, and Braindead, as well as in movies such as Battleship and Fast Five.
The character Tom Haverford changed his name from Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani. The actor who plays Tom, Aziz Ansari, chose that as Tom's original name because it is his cousin's name. Ansari also shares with Tom the biographical fact that although his parents were originally from India, he was born and raised in a small town in South Carolina.
Mayfair Games, makers of Settlers of Catan, were contracted to make Ben Wyatt's Cones of Duneshire look like a professional board game. Instead, Mayfair Games made a playable game with a full set of rules. However, it's complex and dense, so it has not been produced for the market. It was played at GenCon 2014 in Indiana, where 33 people paid $100 each for a ticket to play and the Ledgerman position (the scorekeeper who doesn't play) was auctioned off. The event made more than $20,000 for an Indiana food bank.
The series was originally planned as a direct spin-off of The Office (2005). It was later re-designed to be an original workplace story that would keep the "mockumentary" format used for the other series, which P&R executive producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur had both worked on (Daniels as creator, Schur as a writer and producer).
Chris Pratt, who plays Andy, was such a good physical comedian that frequently the writers would just write "Andy does something physical" into the script, trusting he would come up with something in the moment.
In Amy Poehler's book, "Yes Please" (2014), Amy Poehler writes about her cast mates in a way that Aubrey Plaza describes in an interview as something Leslie Knope would do. Poehler sat them down in a meeting to read about her favourite memories with her cast mates when the show was about to wrap up for its final season.
While a guest on "The Diane Rehm Show," Rob Lowe said that when he first interviewed for the role of Chris Traeger, the Parks and Recreation writers told him that they had based their show on Lowe's previous series The West Wing. He said that they told him, "'we're comedy writers. We're going to write a comedy, but what would the comedy version of "The West Wing" look like?' And the answer to them was, it wouldn't be the White House. It would be Parks and Recreation."
Six of the sixteen episodes of season 3 were filmed along with the 24 episodes of the second season because Amy Poehler was pregnant, so when the show was moved to mid season, the network ordered 10 more to have a complete season to air.
In Season 7 Episode 12, one of the children trick or treating at Andy and April's house is wearing a Star Lord costume. Chris Pratt (Andy Dwyer) played the character of Star Lord in Marvel's Guardians of The Galaxy (2014).
The two statues featured in the opening credits are two landmarks on Highway 18 in Montpelier, Indiana, a town located in the East-Central region of the state. The first is the Ice Cream Giant at Tin Lizzy, an ice cream shop just outside the town, and the second is the Muffler Man Indian in the center of town.
Pawnee was founded in 1817, which is likely a reference to the founding of the University of Michigan, located in Ann Arbor, the home town of one of the show's creators Michael Schur. There are also several other references to the city of Ann Arbor throughout the show.
In season 4: episode 19, there's an Easter egg in councilman Pillner's office. To begin the scene, the camera holds on a framed napkin, with "Pillner for Pawnee" written on it. That's a reference to the show the actor of Larry Pillner starred in, The West Wing, in that the president in the series had a napkin framed that read "Bartlet for America."
For a few episodes in Season 2, Leslie Knope dates a lawyer played by Justin Thereaux. In S2E16 "Galentine's Day" costarring Justin, Leslie discusses soul mates in a talking head and says to the camera "Oh Jen[nifer Aniston], I really want you to be happy." Jennifer Aniston and Justin Thereaux were married two years after this episode aired.
The character played by Herny Winkler, the father of Jean-Ralphio and Mona-Lisa Saperstein, is also Ann's ob/gyn. His name (Dr. Saperstein) and profession (obstetrician/gynecologist) are both references to the the doctor (Dr. Sapirstein, played by Ralph Bellamy) in the movie Rosemary's Baby who helps trick Rosemary into giving birth to the devil's child.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Leslie's pregnancy with triplets was foreshadowed in season 2 episode 13, entitled "The Set-Up" when she goes on a date with Will Arnett's character who gives her an MRI scan. He comments on how she has 'a great oven' and said "If you wanted to, you could go triplets right off the bat."
Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones left the show on good terms. The decision was mutual among them and the showrunners as their departure made sense for the characters and allowed the actors to move on to other projects. Jones, in particular, wanted to focus more on writing.
Mouse Rats' previous band names include: A.D. and the D Bags, The Andy Andy Andies, Andy Dwyer Experience, Angelsnack, Crackfinger, Death of a Scam Artist, Department of Homeland Obscurity, Everything Rhymes with Orange, Fiveskin, Flames For Flames, Fleetwood Mac Sexpants, Fourskin, God Hates Figs, Hand Grill Suicide, Jet Black Pope, Just The Tip, Malice In Chains, Mouse Rat, Rat Mouse, Muscle Confusion, Ninjadick, Nothing Rhymes with Blorange, Nothing Rhymes with Orange, Everything Rhymes with Orange, Penis Pendulum, Possum Pendulum, Punch Face Champions, Puppy Pendulum, Rad Wagon, Razordick, Teddy Bear Suicide, Threeskin, Two Doors Down and Scarecrow Boat.
If you watch the Pilot Episode and S4:E20 "The Debate", the camera angle and the way it follows Leslie as she walks out on stage are exactly alike, ingeniously tying together the critically emotional moments of her very first Town Hall meeting and her growth, maturing and confidence as a woman and politician as she gets ready to debate Bobby Newport for her soon-to-be-but-almost-not-but-then-yes-again City Council seat.
In reality, the cast and crew all loved working with Jim O'Heir, who plays Jerry, the office scapegoat. The writers felt so bad about constantly being so mean to his character, and by extension him, that they gave Jerry the picture-perfect home life: three beautiful daughters, a beautiful home, and a happy marriage to his wife Gayle (played by former supermodel Christie Brinkley).
In an interview with the cast, Amy Poehler (Leslie Knope) said she wished Bill Murray would play the mayor of Pawnee. Bill Murray made an appearance as the mayor in episode 11 of season 7 which was titled "Two Funerals".
Originally show creators Greg Daniels and Michael Schur were going to have Leslie date a lot of different men through the course of the show. However, after Leslie and Ben became a couple, they felt so guilty about the prospect of breaking them up that they had them get married instead.
In the episode "Sweetums", Nick Newport Jr. is shown. He is not mentioned again through the remainder of the series. When Nick Newport Sr.'s son runs for city council against Leslie, his name is Bobby Newport. Nick Sr. and his wife also are in the show several times with no mention of Nick Jr.
In season two Leslie goes on a date with Will Arnet and he gives her a MRI and tells her she has a nice uterus and could spit out triplets on her first go. That's what in fact happens when Ben and Leslie finally have children.
Donna and Joe are the only ones to have a traditional wedding. April and Andy have a surprise wedding at their house, Leslie and Ben have a spontaneous wedding at city hall, and Ron and Diane elope when they discover she's pregnant.
In the season 6 finale, Moving Up, Joan Calamezzo shows up at Tom's Bistro for the Unity Concert after party and tells Tom that she would like a "Joan", which consists of "a tumbler of gin with crushed aspirin sprinkled around the rim." Seconds later, she can be seen standing in the restaurant with a glass that has a small, white and rocky substance around the rim, which can only be assumed to be the aspirin she's talking about.
In the season 4 premiere, Leslie is wary of running for city council so Ben gives her a rectangular box containing a "Knope 2012" button telling her to follow her dream. This is the same as in the season 4 finale when Ben is wary of going to Washington and Leslie gives him a rectangular box with the Washington Monument inside telling him to go. This is cleverly tying together their individual times in the spotlight.