Like many series, Parks and Recreation started out slow, with a lot of awkward comedy, characters that didn't make a lot of sense and wince-worthy jokes that made people wary about the show. After some reinventing and adding new characters, the show perked up into one of the best comedy series in the history of television. The saddest moment of the show was, as Chris Traeger would say, literally when it ended.
Leslie Knope and the gang have brought viewers so much joy and tears over the years, but not every episode was a winner. While most episodes were full of fun, some definitely shined brighter than others--and some didn't mesh well with the series at all.
10 Worst: "Telethon"
When Leslie Knope is in charge, she makes things happen, but sometimes it's not for the better. When she enlists the help of all of her coworkers to run a telethon that very evening, without any advance warning, she demonstrates just what a steamroller--and worse--she can be.
Knope is one of the most thoughtful and kind people in Pawnee--except when she's not. She also pushed Mark to propose to Ann on live TV, which was a terrible thing for a best friend to do. As Ann's closest friend, Leslie should have already known she wasn't even that serious with Mark.
9 Best: "Flu Season"
One of the most hilarious episodes of Parks and Recreation occurred during season three. In "Flu Season," some incredible character development happened between Andy, April and Ann, as well as Ben and Leslie, and Ann and Chris. Half of the town seemed to be overtaken by the flu, but Leslie Knope, of course, wouldn't let "allergies" get her down, even when she barfed up her medicine several times.
It's one of the funniest episodes ever written, between Chris's reaction to being sick under Ann's care and Leslie's inane, feverish comments. When Ben admits that she "Leslie Knoped" her presentation, acing it even while so terribly ill, we know he's smitten with her for good.
8 Worst: "Sister City"
One of the worst episodes of Parks and Recreation was the fifth episode of the second season, "Sister City." It was an ugly one with Venezuela and Pawnee coming to blows when the former disrespected the latter. It painted Leslie as a bit of an idiot who knew nothing about the "Sister City" she'd been so excited to host, and it made their visitors look like stereotypical dictators in the process. Tom was even used as a slave boy, and Donna was appraised as a piece of meat. The show has made huge progressive strides since then.
The only funny thing about this episode was April's complete lack of interest in the Venezuelan intern, which only stirred his passion for her.
7 Best: "Gary Gergich"
One of the biggest contentions that fans have with Parks and Recreation is the willingness of the characters to bash Gary, a nice middle-aged man with a simple life. While it's true that Gary has a lot of health problems, that's no reason to make fun of him. While he is often awkward, forgetful and downright clumsy, he's not that way at home, where he's much more comfortable and respected.
In the final season's episode, "Gary Gergich," Gary not only becomes the mayor of Pawnee, a job that he excels at, but he also gets the royal treatment. Sure, it's all pomp and circumstance set up for a proposal for Lucy that Tom changes at the last minute, but it was nice to see Gary in the limelight for once.
6 Worst: "Bus Tour"
"Bus Tour" had a bit of everything wrong in Parks and Recreation in it, from Andy's light sexism (which is addressed in a later episode where he learns about women's studies) to Leslie's tone deafness when it comes to being a political candidate. She also disregarded Ann in a disrespectful way, as she's done a few times in the past.
One of the worst moments of this episode was when Andy insisted upon using Jerry as a test dummy to "recreate the crime scene" of him getting a pie in the face, which was humiliating for the guy. In the end, it was Sewage Joe hoping to enact revenge on Ben, but poor Jerry had to suffer for it.
5 Best: "Ron And Tammys"
Ron's ex-wives, Tammy 1 and Tammy 2, provided endless enjoyment in every episode they were in. Patricia Clarkson is fierce and formidable as Tammy 1, and Nick Offerman's actual wife, Megan Mullally, is an absolute riot on screen with him. In "Ron and Tammys," we witness Ron's transformation into a completely different person as Tammy 1 sinks her clutches into him.
In order to save Ron's soul, Leslie agrees to join in a prairie drink-off, which results in not only hilarity, but Leslie obviously putting her own comfort--and health--aside in order to help her friend, showing us the side of Leslie we all know and love.
4 Worst: "Pawnee Zoo"
The premiere of the second season of Parks and Recreation was much stronger than the first season's premiere, but it wasn't nearly as strong as it should have been. Leslie Knope provides a public service at the zoo by marrying two penguins without knowing they're gay and deals with the aftermath.
She's one of the worst versions of Leslie here, toeing the line like a career politician who only wants to do what will gain her the most popularity. While she denounces the uppity woman who demands her resignation, she also refuses to truly embrace the "gay icon" status that the Pawnee LGBTQ community has bestowed upon her even after they've been so appreciative for her ceremony.
3 Best: "One Last Ride"
The final episode of Parks and Recreation was one of its best. In a rare moment, viewers actually got a close-to-perfect sendoff for each character, a resolution that both fit their personalities and satisfied despite the fact that the show was over. It's insinuated that Leslie became president after serving as governor of Indiana, Jerry lived a long, happy life as mayor of Pawnee, April had her first kid in full Halloween makeup and Tom started over again on a new business venture with Lucy at his side.
Perhaps the best part of the episode, however, was Leslie finding the perfect job for Ron--even though it was for the federal government. Chris and Ann moved back as well.
2 Worst: "Make My Pit A Park"
The very first episode of Parks and Recreation was such a shaky one that many viewers didn't want to return for more. Leslie Knope was far from the capable, confident public servant she is now. Instead, she was awkward and weird, but not in her loveable way, and the documentary film crew following her around make it feel even worse.
The funniest moment was likely when Leslie chased a man out of the slide with a broom, which was still more cringey than hilarious, and not like what we've come to expect from the show. The citizens of Pawnee get much more awkward than this in such a good way that we're glad we stuck around for more seasons.
1 Best: "The Fight"
Remember back when everyone got so drunk on Tom's Snake Juice at the Snakehole Lounge? It was the episode that pitted Leslie and Ann against one another when Leslie wanted to push Ann into a job she wasn't sure she wanted, as well as the one where April and Andy complete their first adorable and hilarious role play and Ann flat out states that Ben and Leslie like one another.
The episode is one of the funniest in the show's history as it progressively shows most of the cast getting drunker and drunker. A goofy Ben, Spanish-speaking April, drunkenly crooning Andy, and happily dancing Ron are highlights, but they're all terrific in this one.