“Parks & Recreation”. We’ve all seen that show, right? The show that looks like it’s ripping off “The Office”, but in reality, is ten times better than “The Office” since they actually were outside offices? 

If you haven’t, it follows the daily goings-on in the City of Pawnee, Indiana. More specifically, the Parks & Recreation Department, headed by Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler). The series aired on NBC for 7 seasons from 2009-2015, and has gained a cult following thanks to its reruns on TV and streaming. 

One character that has stuck out, even to those who have never seen the show, is Ronald Ulysses Swanson (played by Nick Offerman).  He’s Leslie’s superior and a government Ponzi scheme theorist who loves woodwork, hunting, and has his own pyramid of greatness.

But what about Ron makes him so great? Let’s have a look at five episodes where he is at his best and explore that (along with Leslie Knope).

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5) "Women Of The Year" - Season 2, Episode 17

“Look, Leslie, your job, which you’re great at, is making me look good, which you’ve clearly done well because I’m getting an award.”

Proud & noble Leslie is esthetic when she assumes she’s won the annual IOW (Indiana Organization Of Women) Women Of The Year award, only to find out that it was Ron, which he is cheeky about since it pushes her buttons knowing that it was for a project she started. In response, Leslie pushes all her responsibilities onto him, only to find out he passed on the award to her in a very Ron Swanson way.

So, why did Ron win this award? Simple. The head of IOW thought it would be good for “marketing purposes”. In typical fashion, Ron & Leslie plan to ruin the ceremony, which doesn’t turn out like either of them planned.

This is a good episode cause it really shows how much they get under each other’s skin and that is actually rare in this show, as most of the time, Leslie is seen as the optimist and Ron is the “Negative Nancy”. Nice to see both sides!

4) "Pawnee Rangers" - Season 4, Episode 4

“This forum, like all public forums, is a waste of time. Thank you.”

Seen as a sequel to a previous episode you’ll see later on this list, The Pawnee Rangers, led by Ron, and the Pawnee Goddesses, led by Leslie, are off to their annual camping trip in the woods. While Leslie is more of the “fun” head trooper with cabins & crafts, Ron is more of the “traditional” leader with cardboard boxes & canvas sheets.

What at the surface just seems like an episode about gender roles, is really more about Ron being jealous of Leslie, as his troopers rather do activities with the Goddesses than traditional rituals. Seeing this, Leslie sets up something special for him at the end.

This is no different than any other “Ron vs Leslie” episode, but that’s what makes it good, as each one is different. Not to mention that this one mostly takes place in the woods, instead of around Pawnee. Different location shoots can make an episode memorable!

3) "Sweetums" - Season 2, Episode 15

“I think the entire government should be privatized. Chuck E. Cheese could run the parks. Everything operated by tokens. Drop in a token, go on the swing set. Drop in another token, take a walk. Drop in a token, look at a duck.”

The Sweetums food company announces that they are expanding their presence in Pawnee. The Parks Department gets a lot of free products from them, only to find out that there are filled with very high amounts of corn syrup. This drives Leslie & Ann to protest against it, while Ron is all for it.

While it doesn’t focus on Ron very much, aside from him debating with Leslie about the protest, there is one scene here that sticks out.

Ron is a very heavy drinker and drinks a bit too much at the Sweetums launch event, so much to the point that Leslie, following the instructions on a “Don’t Drink & Drive” card (which also includes a handy Blackjack guide), sits on the hood of his car until it’s safe for him to leave. The following day, he comes into work with a new harp he made after drinking 6 glasses of whiskey, along with pictures featuring that day’s newspaper, to prove he wasn’t lying.

What a class act.

2) "Ron & Tammy" - Season 2, Episode 8

“Look, Tammy and I don’t work. We are oil and water. Or oil, and TNT, and C-4, and a detonator, and a butane torch.”

Leslie finds out that the lot she put a bid in has also been reserved by, of all things, the library, which she has a strong disdain for. To make matters worse, the head of the department is Ron’s ex-wife, Tammy 1 (He’s been with 2). After going to speak with her, Tammy tries to explain that she’s blowing this out of proportion and says “government gals” have to stick together. As an act of gratitude, Leslie sets the two up on a date. 

Oddly enough, they argue after getting reacquainted, but then fall for each other and spend the night in a motel. The next day, he is surprisingly happy & chipper with everyone. While Leslie thinks she did a good thing, she then finds out that Ron gave her the final paperwork for the lot that she wanted, both realizing that they were bamboozled by Tammy in different ways.

This just shows how easily persuaded Ron can be, depending on how desperate he is. Plus, it shows how Leslie can be as big of a pain as well as a miracle. 

1) "Hunting Trip" - Season 2, Episode 10

“You know, Leslie, the Super Bowl is in a couple of months. I usually watch it with my brothers. Maybe you could come by at halftime and shoot me in the head.”

The Parks’ Department annual turkey hunting trip is on the horizon (a.k.a. “Trail Survey”), which usually involves Ron and all the male workers. In true Leslie Knope fashion, she recommends that all of the women (as well as Tom) join along, much to Ron’s dismay. While it does go smoothly for the most part, it comes to a halt when Ron gets shot, which Leslie fears she did. 

What follows is some really hilarious events involving Ron blaming Leslie, Leslie getting interviewed by the police, and finding out who the real shooter was. Not going to spoil it here, but it was really funny on who it ended up being. 

Does a lot happen in this one? No, not really. So, why do I consider it the best? I feel like it shows Ron when he is in his element. He is, among other things, a nature lover, and spending time around it with some familiar buddies, is his home away from home. Leslie joining along cramps his style, but he doesn’t fully admit that. It shows that he’s a good sport and does have a good heart, despite his disgruntlements.

Where do you think these episodes land on the “Ron Swanson Pyramid Of Greatness”? Are they more at the top, along with Honor, America, and Buffets, or near the bottom with Capitalism, Security, and Rage? Tell us your thoughts below!

Parks & Recreation is currently ready to stream on Peacock, is available on DVD & Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, and currently airs on Comedy Central & IFC.

Remember this: “Sting like a bee, but do not float like a butterfly. That’s ridiculous”.