Parks and Recreation has come to an end. Out of every show I’ve covered for Den of Geek that is now off the air, and this includes Breaking Bad, Parks and Rec is the show that I struggle saying goodbye to the most. Usually, when a series ends, I can concede and agree that it’s probably for the best–that the show is at the end of its run. But in Parks and Recreation’s case, I’ll never admit that. I could watch Parks and Rec all the way until 2025. The cast of characters, “the team,” as Leslie fondly refers to them, is so rich, diverse, warm, and hilarious that I’d follow them all on their own journeys. Ensembles like that don’t come around too often.
Parks and Recreation is my favorite half hour comedy; it may not be as smart as Arrested Development, or as quick witted as 30 Rock, or as quotable as The Office, but it has the biggest heart and puts time and effort into even the smallest of characters, even the Gary Gergichs of the world.
The format of the episode might have been a little formulaic for my liking, but it was probably the most effective way to wrap up every character. At this point, my love of the show is so intense that I’m not sure I could reasonably critique it. When you have so many cast members that people are passionate about, it can be difficult creating memorable goodbyes for everyone. Since the writers of Parks and Rec decided to go this route, I’ve decided to list the futures of each character in roughly the same way.
**MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD**
Maybe even more aggressive about achieving her own personal goals, Donna becomes a highly successful real estate agent living happily with her husband Joe. The lovely couple travel on exotic vacations yearly, but when Joe expresses his desire to fix the education system, Donna uses her extra wealth and scraps a life of luxurious adventure to start a non-profit organization that helps education. Donna takes a page out of Leslie’s book and uses her own good fortune to selflessly help someone else achieve their dreams.
Craig marries Typhoon, the hairdresser, and Ron is even Typhoon’s best man at the wedding. They live to be very old and stay together, though Craig still has a TON of regrets! The writers sneak in an incredible gay marriage joke during their wedding sequence.
April and Andy
Living a relatively perfect life, April and Andy seem to have the storybook relationship, still dressing up as Burt Macklin and Janet Snakehole on Halloween, but one thing is missing; Andy wants children, and April does not. Sure, April would love the gross physical effects that come with pregnancy, but she’s not so sure on kids. What if they turn out super lame because their parents are super cool, like the reverse of what happened with Ben and Leslie and their kids? After a pep talk from Leslie, April decides to go through with it, giving birth the following Halloween in Exorcist makeup and listening to “The Monster Mash,” the perfect April Ludgate birth. The name of their son was too long to catch for this viewer who doesn’t have DVR, but they settle on Jack for short.
Jean-Ralphio fakes his death for the insurance money so he and his sister, Mona-Lisa, can open a casino. He is promptly caught. At his fake funeral, they play his favorite song, “Bend Over,” and before the flash-forward, Jean-Ralphio confesses to Leslie that he’s always loved her, and Leslie hits him with the Han Solo, “I know.” Ouch.
Tom decides to franchise Tom’s Bistro, expanding to 20 restaurants across the U.S., but the venture is such a failure that he makes his own documentary detailing his loss of wealth and status. But this happens to Tom all the time, and with some support from his wife, he pulls himself back up and becomes a motivational speaker and an author, penning “Failure: An American Success Story.” In the book, he models successful personalities off of the Parks Department, except for Gary, who no reader should ever aspire to be.
I don’t know why aspiring to be Gary should be discouraged, because he gets written-in as the official mayor of Pawnee and then serves over ten consecutive terms. He dies in his sleep at the age of 100, surrounded by his still perplexingly gorgeous wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. His headstone is still misspelled.
After cashing in his gold, opening a distillery, and deciding that the office life doesn’t suit him, Ron Swanson seeks a new adventure, and unlike the last time he felt restless in his professional life, he consults Leslie. Leslie sets Ron up with the perfect job as the superintendent of the Pawnee National Park, the same land that was rescued from Gryzzl. Ron will spend his days outdoors, protecting nature, and still living in Pawnee.
Ben and Leslie
After both being approached about running for the governorship of Indiana at a Joe Biden dinner, Leslie and Ben must decide who will accept the invitation to run. They plan on waiting to make a decision after a scheduled trip to Pawnee, where they are reunited with all of the Parks Department. At this moment, Leslie repeatedly keeps stating that the whole team is there, but “NO! TWO PEOPLE ARE MISSING! WHERE ARE THEY!?” I shout at my television. “WHERE ARE CHRIS AND ANN…” POOF! They magically appear! Leslie freaks. I freak. Everyone has babies and they’re all running around and playing together, and flirting like the end of the Harry Potter books.
It’s all too much. BUT THE FEELS JUST KEEP COMING! After Leslie decides that they should just flip a coin about the governor position, and the two are about to announce that idea, BEN JUST REVEALS THAT LESLIE IS GOING TO RUN! He knows it has been her dream for her entire life and he gives up his opportunity to love and support her. Damn, Parks and Rec, don’t make a grown man cry!
However, Leslie’s final moment is, after two terms as governor, getting a library named after her, so is it really a happy ending? You be the judge.
That’s it, Parks and Rec is through. It hasn’t totally sunk in yet, probably because I’m still watching the cast on Seth Meyers’ show as I type, all together, but now watching everyone go off and do new projects is going to be so bittersweet. I will forever hold Parks and Rec near and dear to my heart, and perpetually revisit it on Netflix whenever I’m looking for a pick me up.