Jump to: Spoilers (15)
Chris Pratt (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.
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Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) has a woodworking hobby, as does his character on this show. Offerman has released an instructional DVD in canoe building, and runs a fine woodworking business on the side.
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Andy was only supposed to appear as a guest in the first season but everybody liked Chris Pratt so much that he was promoted to series regular for season two.
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In reality, the cast and crew all loved working with Jim O'Heir (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 house, and a happy marriage to his wife Gayle (played by former supermodel Christie Brinkley) as well as being well endowed and having various talents e.g. painting.
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Ron Swanson's staunchly anti-government government official was based on a real city planner whom the show's producers interviewed when doing research. The planner was a Libertarian who admitted to them, "I don't believe in the mission of my job."
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Ron's second ex-wife (Tammy Two) was played by Megan Mullally who in real life is married to Nick Offerman (Ron).
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The Ann Perkins character was added to show when Amy Poehler said she wanted the program to show a true female friendship, which she thought many TV programs lacked.
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Amy Poehler, afraid they were going to turn Leslie Knope into a "female Michael Scott" requested that starting in season 2, they show her character to be talented and successful at her job, with the humor coming from her quirky behavior and eager enthusiasm. The writers listened and went that route starting in season 2.
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Adam Scott and Rob Lowe were both supposed to be temporary characters, but both were added to the show permanently due to their positive reception.
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Chris Pratt admitted that after a few unsatisfactory takes during an early season episode where his character shows up to Ann's house nude as a surprise, Pratt decided to go for a genuine reaction and stripped naked right before the cue. Despite that take being the one used, Pratt was formally reprimanded by the production company, telling him to take the warning seriously; he framed it and hung it on his wall.
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Mayfair Games, makers of Settlers of Catan, were contracted to make Ben Wyatt's Cones of Dunshire 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 Gen Con 2014 in Indiana, where thirty-three people paid one hundred dollars each for a ticket to play, and the Ledgerman position (the scorekeeper who doesn't play) was auctioned off. The event made more than twenty thousand dollars for an Indiana food bank.
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Some long-distance maps of Pawnee in the series and one aerial photograph seem to be based on Muncie, Indiana, flipped upside down and/or around. More detailed maps are taken from Christchurch, New Zealand. The rivers, roads, and most importantly parks on the Pawnee Parks Map and other street maps match almost exactly with Christchurch between Hagley (Ramsett) Park and Madras (Collins) St, though there are more parks in Christchurch. Most street names have been changed, but some remain (e.g. Bealey Ave, Kilmore St, Durham St North, Chester St West, Bedford Row, Harper Ave, Carlton Mill Road) and others have been changed slightly (e.g. Colombo/Columbus St, Victoria/Victory St, Moorhouse/Michigan Ave, Worcester/Waverly Blvd, Selwyn/Selma St). The hospital is in the same place, and the elite private boys' high school Christ's College has been replaced with Pawnee Community College.
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Nick Offerman originally auditioned for the role of Mark Brendanawicz before being cast as Ron Swanson.
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In season 6 episode 1 ("London Parts 1 & 2") Ben (Adam Scott) asks Andy (Chris Pratt) "So all you did is stop drinking beer?" with Andy replying "Yeah, I lost like fifty pounds in a month." This is a reference to Pratt's real-life weight loss for his role in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). He lost sixty pounds (27.2 kilograms) albeit not in one month.
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Jay Jackson (Perd Hapley) was for many years an actual print and broadcast journalist and anchor at news outlets in San Diego, California and Los Angeles, California. 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 (2006). He agreed to be sent on other auditions, but only as long as they were for reporter roles, since that was his professional background. He ended up playing reporters on television shows such as Scandal (2012), Revenge (2011), The Closer (2005), The Mentalist (2008), Body of Proof (2011), and BrainDead (2016) and the movies Battleship (2012) and Fast Five (2011)
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The character of April had a younger sister named Natalie. This is the name of Aubrey Plaza's real-life younger sister, whom she used as a source of inspiration when playing April.
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In an interview with the cast, Amy Poehler (Leslie Knope) said she wished Bill Murray would play the mayor of Pawnee. Murray made an uncredited appearance as the mayor in season 7 episode 11, "Parks and Recreation: Two Funerals (2015)".
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Jim O'Heir (Jerry Gergich) originally auditioned for the role of Ron Swanson. The producers liked him so much, that they kept him on the show just "to see how it would play out."
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After shooting each scene a few times verbatim, the cast members then shot a few more when they improvised to make the scene funnier if possible.
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The character Tom Haverford changed his name from Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani. 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.
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The show was poorly received in season one by critics and viewers. In fact, the producers were almost certain that the show wouldn't be renewed due to low ratings that they allowed and encouraged the actors to audition for other pilots. NBC saved it at the 11th hour, with the caveat that the show be significantly retooled for the second season.
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Chris Pratt modelled Andy's singing voice after Eddie Vedder, frontman of the band Pearl Jam, of whom Andy Dwyer is a huge fan.
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Paul Schneider claims that his character changed a lot from season one to season two, so he wasn't surprised when Mark was written out at the end of season two.
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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 this show's executive producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur had worked on (Daniels as creator, Schur as a writer and producer).
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Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) is repeatedly shown to be a fan of alternative rock band R.E.M. Adam Scott's first ever acting role was as an audience member in the video for the R.E.M. song "Drive" in 1992.
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Six of the sixteen episodes of season three were filmed along with the twenty-four episodes of season two, because Amy Poehler was pregnant, so when the show was moved to mid season, the network ordered ten more to have a complete season to air.
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Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) was almost one of Leslie's (Amy Poehler) love interests, but the producers felt he was too young.
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Amy Poehler stayed on Saturday Night Live (1975) during the first season, unsure if the show was going to be renewed. She commuted back and forth from New York to Los Angeles during this season. Once it was renewed for a second season, she left SNL and relocated to L.A.
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In Amy Poehler's book, "Yes Please" (2014), Amy Poehler writes about her castmates 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 favorite memories with her castmates when the show was about to wrap up for its final season.
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The gag reels on the DVDs contain fake commercials, including ones for Tom's Bistro, Rent-a-Swag, Jamm's Orthodontics, and classic Perd episodes.
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The show correctly predicted the winner of the 2016 World Series. In season seven, episode two, "Ron & Jammy", taking place in early 2017, Lucy tells Tom and Andy that everyone in Chicago is in a good mood because the Cubs won the World Series. This episode aired in January 2015 22 months before the Cubs actually won the World Series as the 2016 World Series ended on November 2nd.
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The exterior shots of City Hall is Pasadena City Hall, California.
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Ron Swanson has three brothers, named Don, Lon, and Vaughan Swanson.
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The network gave the show an original order of thirteen episodes, but Amy Poehler was pregnant, so only six episodes were finally produced.
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The idea for this program originally came from the Parks and Recreation staff in El Segundo, CA and the name "Ron Swanson" comes from the actual director of the Parks and Recreation department.
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While a guest on "The Diane Rehm Show", Rob Lowe said that when he first interviewed for the role of Chris Traeger, this show's writers told him that they had based their show on Lowe's previous series, The West Wing (1999). 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."
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Paul Schneider said Mark Brendanawicz was rewritten in season 2 due to his unpopularity with fans in Season 1, in particular his sleazy, womanizing behaviour. He said the writers didn't know what to do with the character, which is why it was dropped after season 2.
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Adam Scott loved the show and wanted to be on it so much that he left his starring role on the Starz series Party Down (2009) to join the program.
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The rusty "sculpture" in Ron Swanson's office is actually a "Czech Hedgehog", a World War II anti-tank obstacle.
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Series producer Alan Yang can be seen in several episodes as Mouse Rat's bouncing bassist.
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The exterior shot of J.J.'s Diner is Landmark Diner on Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Octavia Spencer auditioned for the role of Donna Meagle.
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In season 2 episode fifteen 15 "Sweetums", Nick Newport Jr. is shown. He is not mentioned again throughout 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.
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Jerry (Jim O'Heir) gets a trip to his favourite city, Muncie, Indiana. Some of the Pawnee maps are just a flipped map of Muncie.
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Ben Schwartz originally auditioned for the role of Dave Sanderson before being later cast in the different role of Jean-Ralphio Saperstein.
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One of the show's creators, Michael Schur, often appears in the background as an extra.
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Amy Poehler has been pregnant twice during the series run.
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Amy Poehler and Chris Pratt were named Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Club's Woman and Man of the Year in 2015.
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For a few episodes in season 2, Leslie Knope dates a lawyer played by Justin Theroux. In episode 16 "Parks and Recreation: Galentine's Day (2010)", co-starring Justin, Leslie discusses soul mates in a talking head and says to the camera "Oh Jen, I really want you to be happy." Jennifer Aniston and Theroux were married five years after this episode aired. Sadly they divorced 2 years later, leaving Leslie's remark to still apply.
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Entertainment 720 was allegedly inspired by the real-life talent agency Management 360.
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The green rectangular object on Ron Swanson's desk is a U.S. Military M18A1 "Claymore" anti-personnel mine. It is notable for having the words FRONT TOWARDS ENEMY stamped on the front.
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Ron Swanson's office has a football, baseball and basketball in it. He is holding one of them at least once almost every episode.
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The two statues featured in the opening credits are two landmarks on State 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.
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Ellie Kemper auditioned for the role of Ann Perkins.
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In Season Two, Episode Eight, "Parks and Recreation: Ron and Tammy (2009)", Tammy has a bookcase with nonfiction books, two of which are "Sperm Suicide" and "World War III".
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Two out of the three The Lonely Island members have had guest appearances in the show: Andy Samberg as a Park Ranger in season 2 and Jorma Taccone as a Gryzzle employee in season 7. Jorma has also directed multiple episodes of the show.
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On this show and its predecessor The Office (2005), the main characters date someone played by their real-life spouses. On The Office (2005), the woman Michael Scott (Steve Carell) dates (played by his wife Nancy Carell) breaks up with him because she thinks he is creepy. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) dated a man (played by her husband at the time, Will Arnett) that she thinks is creepy and breaks up with him.
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Dr. Saperstein (Henry 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 references to Dr. Sapirstein (played by Ralph Bellamy) in Rosemary's Baby (1968), who helped trick Rosemary into giving birth to the devil's child.
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Chris Pratt (Andy Dwyer) and Peter Serafinowicz (Lord Edgar Covington) both appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) as Peter Quill and Denarian Saal, respectively.
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One of the recurring story arcs in Season 1 involves Leslie Knope's Mom, Marlene Griggs-Knope (played by Pamela Reed), a power player in Pawnee politics who helped Leslie get her political career started and frequently criticizes her for her mistakes. When Amy Poehler requested Leslie Knope to be more confident and competent during the retooling for Season 2, this story arc was phased out.
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Despite being based in Indiana, the whole show was filmed in different parts of California and some exterior shots from other states.
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Thomas Lennon auditioned for the role of Ron Swanson.
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While not having a main outfit, April's clothing updates greatly as the show progresses; during her time as the Parks department intern as well as being Ron's assistant, she wears civilian clothing. (mainly a loose shirt, skinny jeans and sneakers.) which correspond with her early cynical demeanor. After becoming Ben's assistant during his temporary Job as a campaign manager in D.C and later during her work with the Parks Department and the National Park Service, she starts wearing nicer and more serious clothes, mainly a dress or a blouse and skirt with heels or flats; she continues to wear this throughout the rest of the show as a sign of her growing up and caring for others.
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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 series creator Michael Schur. There are also several other references to Ann Arbor throughout the show.
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In season 5 episode 8, Leslie says that they don't have any plans for the park and if they don't get any then they won't get the park. However, in the last episode of season two, Mark Brendanawicz gave her plans to build the park.
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In season 4 episode 19"Parks and Recreation: Live Ammo (2012)" there's an Easter Egg in the office of Councilman Pillner (Bradley Whitford). To begin the scene, the camera holds on a framed napkin with "Pillner for Pawnee" written on it. It is a reference to The West Wing (1999) which starred Whitford. One of the recurring props on the show was a framed napkin that read "Bartlet for America".
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Throughout the series, Ron can be seen sitting at his desk completing crossword puzzles.
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The outside footage of Eagleton's City Hall in Season Six, Episode Three, "Parks and Recreation: The Pawnee-Eagleton Tip Off Classic (2013)", was footage of Las Vegas' City Hall.
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In January 2016, actress Anna Faris interviewed Aubrey Plaza on her podcast "Anna Farris is Unqualified." During the interview she jokingly asked Plaza, who played Faris' then husband Chris Pratt's wife on Parks and Recreation and filmed sex scenes, "Have you seen my husband's balls? You would remember because they are some sexy balls." Plaza's immediately answered "NO!"
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Eight fellow Saturday Night Live (1975) cast members appeared alongside Amy Poehler at some point in the show: Andy Samberg as park ranger Carl Lorthner, Jenny Slate as Mona-Lisa Saperstein, Rachel Dratch as Roz Pinwheel, Fred Armisen as Raul, Will Forte as Kelly Larson, the Twilight enthusiast, Bill Murray as Mayor Gunderson, Kyle Mooney as a Parks job applicant, and Horatio Sanz as himself.
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Adam Scott (Ben Wyatt), Kathryn Hahn (Jennifer), Paul Rudd (Bobby Newport), and Rashida Jones (Ann Perkins) appeared in Our Idiot Brother (2011).
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Kulap Vilaysack auditioned for the role of April Ludgate and guest starred as Ulani.
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Matt Walsh and Mike O'Malley auditioned for the role of Ron Swanson. Walsh guest starred as Leonard Tchulm, and O'Malley guest starred as Bill Butler.
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Although Andy's (Chris Pratt) character is 8 years older than his on screen wife April (Aubrey Plaza), he's actually only 5 years older than her in real life.
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The chairs that Ann (Rashida Jones) and Leslie (Amy Poehler) sit on in Leslie's office at the end of Season Six, Episode Four, "Parks and Recreation: Doppelgängers (2013)", appeared in the opening credits of every episode.
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In the season six 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.
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All three hosts of the podcast "How Did This Get Made?" have appeared in different episodes. Paul Scheer plays Kaboom founder Keef Slertner, Jason Mantzoukas plays obnoxious cologne creator Dennis Feinstein, and June Diane Raphael plays Eagleton employee Tynnyfer.
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Adam Scott and Kathryn Hahn appeared in Step Brothers (2008) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013).
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Aubrey Plaza (April) is self-proclaimed as being "50% Puerto Rican".
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Ben was supposed to be one year older than Leslie, when in real life, Amy Poehler is two years older than Adam Scott.
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Season two, episode sixteen and season six, episode seventeen are titled "Galentine's Day".
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In 2010, the show was nominated for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music at the Emmys. However, the nomination was revoked, as this was the show's second season, and the nominated theme was the same as the one used in season one. Emmy rules dictate that a show's main title theme is only eligible for its first season unless it changes (such is the case of Monk (2002), which won this award twice for season one, and then again for season two, but only because the theme changed). The producers submitted the song for season one when the show got zero nominations and decided to try again the following year and succeeded. Once it was brought to the Academy by a user of awards site GoldDerby, they revoked the nomination and replaced it with Legend of the Seeker (2008).
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Marc Evan Jackson (Trevor Nelsson), Jason Mantzoukas (Dennis Feinstein) and Adam Scott (Ben Wyatt) also worked together on The Good Place (2016) as Shawn, Derek & Trevor respectively. Both shows were created by Michael Schur.
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In Season 5, Episode 10 "Parks and Recreation: Two Parties (2013)", when the guys go out for their bachelor parties, they end up in a restaurant called "St. Elmo's". Chris (Rob Lowe) starred in St. Elmo's Fire (1985).
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Andy's two main outfits throughout the show include his second outfit, which is a shirt and tie, (which he would start wearing during the fourth season after becoming Leslie's assistant) and his main outfit is a flannel shirt, cargo pants and his trademark Gray sneakers, which he wears in his downtime; the latter outfit corresponds with his early ambition to be a full time rock singer, as flannel shirts are greatly worn and favored by many rock singers. He wears his trademark Gray sneakers in the show with the only exception being the season two finale. (in which he wears brown steel toed boots) He even wears his Gray sneakers at formal events, as revealed many times in the show.
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Chris Pratt and Aziz Ansari both appeared in the popular animation series Ben 10, where Chris played the role of Cooper in Ben 10 Ultimate Alien and Aziz the role of Billy in Ben 10 Omniverse.
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Andrew Burlinson (Burly) and Chris Pratt (Andy Dwyer) are the only members of Mouse Rat, Andy's rock band, who are not involved in the show's production. Alan Yang (Chang, the hopping Bassist) is one of the show's producers. Mark Rivers, (Rivers, the Drummer) Is the show's composer.
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Tatiana Maslany, who plays the doctor Tom fakes an English accent to impress, is Canadian and stars on Orphan Black (2013), in which she speaks with an English accent.
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In season 6 episode 12, Rob Lowe's character puts on a JFK mask and recites a JFK quote, Lowe portrayed John F. Kennedy in the TV movie Killing Kennedy (2013).
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Many times throughout the series and in multiple episodes it can be seen that April loves to sit on Andy's lap.
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Will McLaughlin (Officer Killnose) and Adam Scott (Ben Wyatt) also worked together on The Good Place (2016) episode, The Good Place: What's My Motivation (2017), as Officer Prawnmandler & Trevor respectively. Both shows were created by Michael Schur.
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Andy mentions his love of Pearl Jam throughout the entire series. Two members of the band, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard, were a part of a band called Mother Love Bone before Pearl Jam in the last 80s. Their front man was also named Andy. After Andy passed away in 1990, Jeff and Stone teamed up with Mike McCready to form what would become Pearl Jam.
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Jenny Slate and Rashida Jones also appeared together in the Sofia Coppola film On The Rocks.
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The writers didn't know Nick Offerman could already play the saxophone when they made his character, Ron Swanson, a secret saxophone player.
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Leslie's (Amy Poehler) pregnancy with triplets was foreshadowed in season two, episode thirteen, titled "The Set Up", when she goes on a date with the M.R.I. Technician (Will Arnett). He comments on how she has "a great oven" and said "If you wanted to, you could go triplets right off the bat."
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After Mark Brendanawicz leaves at the end of season two, he is never mentioned again. He is also the only ex-series regular not to return for the series finale. The writers had always intended to bring Mark back, but couldn't find an organic way to fit it into the story.
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Originally, series 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.
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Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones left the show on good terms. The decision was mutual amongst them and the showrunners, as their departure made sense for the characters, and allowed them to move on to other projects. Jones, in particular, wanted to focus more on writing.
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In season two, episode twenty-three, the show inadvertently foreshadows the final relationships of four main characters: April (Aubrey Plaza) decides to tell Andy (Chris Pratt) how she feels at her twenty-first birthday party, Tom (Aziz Ansari) meets Lucy (Natalie Morales) when he settles his bar tab and asks her out after they hit it off, and the episode introduces Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), who each share moments with Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ann (Rashida Jones), respectively, that eventually lead to their marriages.
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In the two part series finale, "Parks and Recreation: One Last Ride (2015)", during the flash-forward scene with Andy and April; when Andy answers the door for the trick-or-treaters, the child on Andy's left is dressed as Marvel's Star-Lord, a character Chris Pratt plays in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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None of the main female characters fully took their husband's last name when they got married. But April had her name legally hyphenated to Ludgate-Dwyer after their wedding. In turn, all of their children had hyphenated names.
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In a season two episode, Tom (Aziz Ansari) expressed a desire to open a business called "Tom's Bistro". At the end of season six, Tom opened a restaurant called "Tom's Bistro".
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If you watch the Pilot episode and season four, episode twenty, "Parks and Recreation: The Debate (2012)", 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 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.
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At the end of season 6 episode 3, Dopplegangers, Leslie and Ann sit down on a double lawn chair in her office to have "the talk" about Ann leaving Pawnee. This chair is the same one from The Pit next to Ann's house that brought them together. It can be clearly seen at the end of Season 1 episode 6 while Leslie and Mark Brendanawicz sit and talk about building a park...before he falls in The Pit.
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In the Season Four opener, "Parks and Recreation: I'm Leslie Knope (2011)", 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 Four finale, "Parks and Recreation: Win, Lose or Draw (2012)", when Ben is wary of going to Washington, D.C. and Leslie gives him a rectangular box with the Washington Monument inside telling him to go. This is tying together their individual times in the spotlight.
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In Season Two, Episode Seventeen, "Parks and Recreation: Woman of the Year (2010)", Ron is made "Woman of the Year" by a women's equality publication, giving him credit for Leslie Knope's success with the "Athena Project". Ron mistakenly calls the project the "Xena Project". In season five, episode three, "How a Bill Becomes a Law", Ron meets a Pawnee resident, Diane, while fixing a pothole in front of her house. They will date and eventually marry. Diane is played by Lucy Lawless, famous for her role as Xena: Warrior Princess (1995).
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When Leslie and Ron went to break up with Tammy II at the library, she has the book "The Male Brain" on a shelf in the background.
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