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Parks & Recreation: The Best Government Employees, Ranked From Worst To Best

Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, and Rashida Jones in Parks & Recreation

Most people wouldn’t think menial government work is a great source of comedy, but Parks and Recreation proved the subject provided plenty of laughs. For seven seasons, the show continued to milk the ridiculousness of this world to great effect, thanks in no small part to a crazy cast of characters who helped run the Pawnee government.

The show had fun with the notion that the people responsible for our government are not always our best and brightest. But while there were plenty of hopeless employees, there were also a few characters who exemplified the best of public service. Have a look at the Parks and Recreations government employees are ranked, from worst to best.

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10 Jerry Gergich

It’s easy to determine the worst government employee in Pawnee as it has to be the one person who cannot do anything right. Jerry’s an easy target and earns his reputation as a screw-up. He may be kind and loveable but he’s also absolutely hopeless.

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Despite the best of intentions with his work, Jerry just can’t help but making a fool of himself, even to the point where he gets blamed for things he didn’t do. In the finale’s flash-forward, it's revealed that he eventually became mayor of Pawnee and held the position for years. But, to be honest, that was probably just a mistake.

9 Andy Dwyer

Chris Pratt Andy Dwyer

Andy held a number of jobs over the course of the show, but for a time, he served as Leslie Knope’s assistant, making him a government employee. However, it’s entirely possible that Andy wasn’t aware of what his job actually was.

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Like Jerry, Andy means well but his head is always in the clouds. When he’s forced to focus he can sometimes provide some help, but that hardly ever happens. He’s got a lot of heart, but not much in the brains department. Clearly, his true calling was shoeshine/rockstar/secret agent.

8 Ron Swanson

Ron Swanson

If you were to tell Ron Swanson he was a terrible government employee, he’d likely take it as a massive compliment. Ron certainly has the ability to be a great government employee, but that would go against just about everything he believes in.

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While gruff, Ron is a good friend and that will occasionally motivate him to help out with government work, but he’ll be unhappy about it. Really, he would rather see the whole thing come crumbling down. After all, this is the same man who giggled with joy during the government shutdown.

7 Mark Brendanawicz

Paul Schneider as Mark Brendanawicz on Parks and Recreation

Mark Brendanawicz served as Pawnee’s city planner. He started his career with optimism which quickly faded away when he was exposed to the realities of government work. Though talented in the position, he is unmotivated and seems to have a genuine dislike of government.

He can sometimes find a project that helps him regain some of that passion, but it quickly fades again. It’s no surprise he didn’t last too long in Pawnee. Although it is a bit strange that after he left he was never spoken of or referred to again.

6 Donna Meagle

Donna Meagle serves as the parks and rec department’s office manager, but it’s clear she has a whole lot more going on. We don’t know much about Donna’s personal life, but there are hints that she is financially well-off and has men eating out of the palm of her hand.

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Given that she clearly doesn’t need this job, there must be something about the work she likes. She’s not all that motivated or passionate, but she gets the work done. Donna seems like she could get anything accomplished if she wanted — she just always seems interested in pretty much anything else.

5 Tom Haverford

It’s a wonder how a guy like Tom Haverford found himself working for the government. He is someone with an endless amount of ambition, even if it can often be misguided. But his passion for being Pawnee’s greatest hustler has proven he can be an effective member of the parks department.

His creative mind and smooth talking have made Tom an expert at closing deals and getting people on his side of an issue. He is a stellar employee whenever he puts his mind to it. Though getting him to do something for anyone but himself can be difficult.

4 April Ludgate

April started the series as a parks department intern but eventually was hired as Ron’s assistant. She is dark, cynical, and gives the impression that she doesn’t care about anything. Despite all her best efforts, April cannot hide that she has a lot of potential.

Throughout the series, April has been taken under the wing and mentored by just about every other character in the series. People recognize her intelligence and passion no matter how much she tries to hide it. Her passion for animals eventually led her to a job at Animal Control which she takes immense pride in.

3 Chris Traeger

Chris Traeger is enthusiastic about literally everything. He is the most high-energy, positive, and driven person alive. Such qualities are not always seen in government, but Chris makes it work.

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Chris is always dedicated to getting the job done, no matter what it may be. He is friends with everyone, he doesn’t let those relationships influence his professional work. Although he can be suddenly sidelined by things like failed romances and existential crisis', he always tends to bounce back in good form. It does seem that he would be equally impressive in just about any career, however.

2 Ben Wyatt

Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt in Parks and Recreation

When we first met Ben Wyatt as a state auditor. He was professional and very smart, but he just did the work and kept his head down. It wasn’t until Ben became closer to Leslie that she helped him rekindle his love with government work.

His past as a young mayor who bankrupted his town does knock him down a few points, but there’s no denying he is brilliant at his job. His talent sometimes led him for other careers, but he was always destined to serve in office. The calzone business will have to wait.

1 Leslie Knope

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope Amy Poehler in Parks and Rec

Leslie Knope is unlike any government employee you’ve ever seen. In a career that can be so negative and cynical, Knope remains utterly in love with the work and a genuine believer that the government can do good.

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Her optimism can annoy some people and her dedication sometimes borders on the unhealthy, but she takes the work as serious as anything in her life. She is ambitious without being selfish and her ego is only the result of knowing she is the best person for the job. The people of Pawnee—and the world—are lucky to have her working for them.

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