The 25 best episodes of 'Parks and Recreation'

At a time like this, we could really use a feel-good show like “Parks and Recreation.” Well, in truth, there is never a bad time for a trip to Pawnee to spend time with Leslie, Ron and, of course, Barney the accountant. If you want to revisit “Parks and Recreation,” we have 25 great episodes for you to check out. Here are the best episodes of “Parks and Rec” ranked. Enjoy!

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25. “Filibuster”


Chris Pratt makes a brief return in this episode — it came during a stretch when Andy was in London while Pratt was filming “Guardians of the Galaxy" — which is nice. However, this episode is mostly fun because of the ‘90s-themed birthday party Leslie throws for Ben, which ends up with Leslie having to rush to filibuster a vote while still in her costume, roller skates and all.

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24. “The Comeback Kid”

“The Comeback Kid”

Leslie is planning a return to politics, but things hit a snag when her big announcement goes about as bad as possible. The crux of the episode is a scene where Leslie and her team have to slowly shuffle across a hockey rink to get to her podium while “Get On Your Feet” by Gloria Estefan plays over and over. It’s maybe the most “Parks and Recreation” ever felt like “The Office.”

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23. "Harvest Festival"

"Harvest Festival"

The Harvest Festival is a huge event in Pawnee, and everything needs to go right for Leslie, professionally speaking. Then the worst thing possible happens: Lil’ Sebastian disappears! The town’s favorite miniature horse, a true living legend, is gone! Fortunately, everybody comes together to save the day, much to the disappointment of Joan Callamezzo.

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22. "Two Parties"

"Two Parties"

With Ben and Leslie getting married in the near future, a bachelor and bachelorette party are thrown for them. The Ben storyline is mostly the show flexing its muscles. The party ends up in Indianapolis where Andrew Luck throws a pass to Andy Dwyer. On the Leslie side, there is an abundance of blurred-out....well, you'll just have to tune in to see.

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21. "End of the World"

"End of the World"

Spoiler alert: The world didn’t end during the third season of “Parks and Recreation.” In fact, the show would last for a few more years. Don’t tell that to the Zorpies, though, a doomsday cult in Pawnee that has an end-of-the-world vigil every year. However, despite knowing the world isn’t going to end, Andy and April check a bunch of fun things off their bucket lists and Tom and Jean-Ralphio throw the ultimate party.

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20. "Galentine's Day"

"Galentine's Day"

Galentine’s Day, a day for lady friendship, is something that has jumped from “Parks and Recreation” into the real world. This episode introduced the concept, and it also featured a pretty hectic and bedraggled Valentine’s party. John Larroquette is excellent in a memorable guest spot as an unhinged ex-lover of Leslie’s mom.

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19. "Born & Raised"

"Born & Raised"

The dynamic news duo of Joan Callamezzo and Perd Hapley are always a delight in small doses. This is one of the biggest Joan episodes, though, and Mo Collins knocks it out of the park. When Tom tries to seduce her, it’s all kinds of awkward and hilarious. Oh, and Leslie learns some horrible truth in this episode: She was actually born in Eagleton!

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18. “The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show”

“The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show”

“Parks and Recreation” is shot like a mockumentary, even though, unlike “The Office,” it isn’t actually purported to be a documentary in the world of the show. This episode is a whole different bit of clever storytelling. In the world of Pawnee, Andy Dwyer has a TV show for kids as his alter ego, Johnny Karate. This “Parks and Recreation” is a full episode of Andy’s show, which has the same name as this episode title. It’s completely bonkers and feels super fresh.

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17. "Time Capsule"

"Time Capsule"

Time capsules aren’t something that you see as much these days, but Leslie Knope and the folks of Pawnee thought one was a great idea. However, Leslie has problems with a local man — played by Will Forte — who wants to put the “Twilight” books into the capsule. Now, that fact makes this episode feel like a time capsule in its own right.

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16. "Ron and Diane"

"Ron and Diane"

Ron doesn’t have a great history with women until he meets Diane, who he ends up marrying. The primary woman from his life in the show before her is his deranged ex-wife, Tammy 2, played by Nick Offerman’s real wife, Megan Mullally. Mullally is excellent in this episode, but even at her most unhinged she can’t scare Diane.

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15. "Pawnee Zoo"

"Pawnee Zoo"

The first season of “Parks and Recreation” is a little spotty, which is why you won’t find any episodes on this list for that year. “Pawnee Zoo” is the first episode of the second season, and it’s a huge step forward for the show, especially in the way it characterized Leslie Knope and also Amy Poehler’s performance.

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14. "Ron and Tammy: Part Two"

"Ron and Tammy: Part Two"

Speaking of Tammy 2, without Diane in his life Ron is rife to fall for her wiles in this episode. It ends up with Ron in prison in a robe and with cornrows. That is the dangerous power of Tammy 2, and only Leslie has the ability to save him from her clutches.

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13. "Christmas Scandal"

"Christmas Scandal"

There’s a great episode of “The Simpsons” about sensationalized media and the craven desire for sex scandals. Fittingly enough, “Parks and Recreation” co-creator Greg Daniels wrote for “The Simpsons.” “Christmas Scandal” is this show’s take on overblown, under-researched sex scandals that the news media loves. There’s a little satire mixed in with a lot of simply silly jokes.

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12. "Tom's Divorce"

"Tom's Divorce"

There are many moments that help define Ron Swanson, one of TV’s iconic characters. One of them is when he goes to the Glitter Factory, Pawnee’s strip club,. He’s not interested in the women but is transfixed by the complimentary breakfast buffet. The women of the Glitter Factory may not be his type, but any and all breakfast food certainly is.

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11. "Greg Pikitis"

"Greg Pikitis"

Leslie Knope has a nemesis, and he’s a teenage boy who is practically a hormonal Professor Moriarty. Lucky for Leslie, she has Andy’s alter ego, Burt Macklin, by her side. Actually, Macklin isn’t able to help much, but what else is new? Will Leslie get one over on the wily Greg Pikitis?

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10. "London"


This is an hour-long, but it still counts as one episode. The “Parks and Rec” gang head to London, so you know it’s a huge event. Fortunately, it lives up to the pomp and circumstance. It’s a delightful episode for Andy, and the show really ended up in London because of Pratt’s movie shoot, but also for Ron, who learns travel (and Europe) aren’t all bad.

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9. "Ann and Chris"

"Ann and Chris"

Ann Perkins is Leslie’s best friend. Chris Traeger joined the show late in the second season, but he became a vital part of the ensemble. How could he not, considered that he’s played by Rob Lowe? Before the show ended, though, Ann and Chris are written off the show, but they get a big, huge send-off. It’s a momentous episode — almost like a test run for the series finale. So much emotion.

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8. "The Trial Of Leslie Knope"

"The Trial Of Leslie Knope"

Leslie is a dedicated government official who only wants to do good and make Pawnee a better place to live. Alas, that doesn’t stop her from being put on trial for possible violations stemming from her secret relationship with Ben Wyatt. The stakes are high, and the entire ensemble gets involved. For a sitcom, this makes for an unusual tense and chaotic episode.

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7. "Two Funerals"

"Two Funerals"

In the penultimate episode, which like the entire final season takes place in the future, the mayor of Pawnee dies. Also, he’s played by Bill Murray, which rules. That’s one of the two funerals. The other is for Ron’s barber, a man he has been seeing for decade. Things are changing in the world of Pawnee, as the pieces are put into place for the series finale.

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6. "Telethon"


Leslie is so dedicated to the town’s telethon that she’s willing to host from 2 a.m. until 6 a.m.. That’s despite the fact she hasn’t been sleeping at all. Amy Poehler plays delirious great, but lots of other folks from the town get fun showcases during the telethon, including Ron. There’s also a guest appearance from former NBA star Detlef Schrempf.

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5. "Andy and April's Fancy Party"

"Andy and April's Fancy Party"

In a twist, Andy and April’s fancy party is not merely a party. The young lovebirds are getting married! Andy is a buffoon. April is the most sarcastic, apathetic person on the show (save for maybe her friend Orin). Is marriage a great idea for them? They don’t care, and neither do we, because it’s just so much fun to watch. Oh, and in the end it does work out. Take that, naysayers.

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4. "Win, Lose, or Draw"

"Win, Lose, or Draw"

The second half of the fourth season is all about Leslie running for a seat on the city council. Unfortunately, she’s up against the well-funded Bobby Newport, played by Paul Rudd in a great guest role. Of course, “Parks and Recreation” is a pretty positive and optimistic show, so you can guess how this episode, the season finale, ends.

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3. "One Last Ride"

"One Last Ride"

“Win, Lose, or Draw” ends the fourth series. “One Last Ride” ends the series. The final season takes place in the future, but in this episode we see several characters in different stages of their lives further and further into the future. It’s a massive undertaking, but the show nailed the landing perfectly. It’s funny, tender, bold, emotional and everything you want from a series finale.

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2. "The Fight"

"The Fight"

“The Fight” is just good, dumb fun. Everybody gets super drunk on Snake Juice and all act like doofuses. Even Ron, normally a stoic drunk, puts on a little hat and dances like a goofball. Yes, there’s some serious stuff in here, including Leslie and Ann having their first fight. But mostly it’s just a ton of laughs piled on top of each other.

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1. "Flu Season"

"Flu Season"

We end with this, the funniest episode of the show’s run. It features the best performance Amy Poehler ever gave on the show. The flu strikes the Pawnee government, and everything grinds to a halt. Leslie, though, refuses to stop working, even when she is completely out of her mind. If you just want great, hilarious sitcom writing and actors firing on all cylinders, “Flu Season” gives you all you could want.

Chris Morgan is a sports and pop culture writer and the author of the books The Comic Galaxy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and The Ash Heap of History. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisXMorgan.

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