It can feel good sometimes to look back at simpler times and think of the campaign slogan that inspired a generation; Knope We Can. NBC's Parks and Recreation was an uplifting and inspiring mockumentary that showcased the lives of local government workers in Pawnee, Indiana. From the hopeful and enthusiastic Leslie Knope to the sardonic and serious Ron Swanson, the show was full of gifts. Many gags and jokes from the show have worked their way into pop culture over the years, cementing the show's legacy. Therefore, here are 10 pop culture references that were literally created on Parks and Recreation.
Ben Wyatt is a brilliant auditor, campaign manager, and husband to Leslie Knope. He is also a self-appointed nerd, who is obsessed with Game of Thrones and Star Wars. While in-between jobs, he created a board game titled "The Cones of Dunshire". The game is ridiculously convoluted, with very few people knowing how to properly play. It still manages to become a minor hit in the show, giving Ben enough money through licensing to help pay for his and Leslie's three children.
In the real world, the Cones of Dunshire was played at Gen Con (appropriately held in Indiana) in 2014. All proceeds for people who paid to play the exclusive game went to the Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. Mayfair Games has made a limited run series of the game as well, with rules so complicated that Ben Wyatt would most definitely approve.
If there's one thing that can be said about Tom Haverford, it's that he has a style all his own. Although this often puts him at odds with people like Ron and Ben, Tom is content to do his own thing. To that end, Tom has his own way of referring to things, often abbreviating them to their simplest point. Appetizers and desserts become apps and zerts, entrees are tray-trays, air conditioners are cool blasterz, etc.
In real life, apps and zerts became a quotable way to refer to food, and people were quick to come up with their own Haverford-isms. A round of applause then for Tom, or as he'd refer to it, "clap claps".
Despite being initially signed up as a guest star, Chris Pratt took the role of Andy Dwyer to amazing comedic lengths. A classic Andy moment comes from season three's "Flu Season" episode. Andy attempts to look up Leslie's illness on an unconnected computer, and then informs her that the computer says she has "network connectivity problems".
A good part of Andy's humor comes from the writers. However, it was quickly revealed that this line was improvised by Pratt in the moment. The joke stuck, and has become a quotable Parks and Rec moment and I.T. joke ever since.
Sometimes it's the simplest jokes that last the longest. When Tom gets his work friends to help him move in season two's "Sweetums" episode, we are introduced to his in-home entertainment. Meet DJ Roomba, an mp3 player attached to a roomba.
DJ Roomba makes a few appearances on the show over the years. The concept, while simple, spawned a minor trend of people creating their own DJ Roombas in real life. While it's just a minor sight gag and joke, it managed to oddly endear itself to fans and characters alike. It even showed up at Ben and Leslie's wedding, sporting a black bow tie.
Unless you're Ben Wyatt, it's not hard to see what's so great about Pawnee's Li'l Sebastian. A miniature horse in size, he's an enormous steed in the hearts and minds of Pawnee's citizens. When Li'l Sebastian dies in season two, the entire town comes together for a concert memorial in his honor.
A few things spawned from Li'l Sebastian's brief (but important) time on the show. For one, the tribute song "5,000 Candles In The Wind" that Andy sings to honor him is certainly one of the catchiest songs on television. And the other is that fans of The Good Place (created by Parks and Rec creator Mike Schur) were quick to notice on social media and in the show that Li'l Sebastian has apparently made it to The Good Place in a blink and you miss it cameo.
Even though it's basically rat poison, Snake Juice becomes a classic moment in the show's history. With tensions high between multiple characters in season three's "The Fight", they all decide to blow off steam at the Snakehole Lounge. Thus begins a drunken night of frivolity for the parks and recreation department. From Ron giggling and dancing to April drunkenly rambling in Spanish, the drink brings out the best (and worst) in all of them.
The concept of a potently strong alcoholic drink has existed in TV for decades, but Snake Juice seemed to take it up a notch. The evaluation of Donna proclaiming "It's basically rat poison", in particular, helped clarify how awful the drink must be. Fans have been quick to make their own version of Snake Juice. Given that the drink is defined as "a bunch of alcohol thrown together, some sugar and coffee and some other junk, and it kinda tastes like Kahlua", it's probably best to drink Snake Juice responsibly (i.e. never).
Pawnee City Manager/Indiana State Auditor Chris Traeger (played by Rob Lowe) is literally one of the best things the show did. Brought on at the end of season two (along with Adam Scott), the character brought a fresh new energy to the show. With his upbeat attitude, one of his catchphrases quickly became how literally amazing/exciting/great he found things.
This quickly became co-opted across multiple platforms. The somewhat deliberate pause between "literally" and whatever you're about to say adds a great moment of suspense leading into humor. It's one of those catchphrases that literally won't leave your head no matter how hard you try.
When someone steals the president's rubies, you had best believe Burt Macklin is on the case. Originally created to scare young Greg Pikitis into admitting he vandalized city property, the character took on a life of its own. Dwyer routinely brought the character out whenever a mystery needed "solving". Oftentimes accompanied by April (in her role as Janet Snakehole), the two blundered their way through solving menial crimes and mysteries.
The character is now enormously popular thanks to Pratt's comedic timings and sensibilities. The concept of an over-the-top FBI agent resonated with fans, who have dressed as the character for Halloween and conventions. Even though Macklin is "retired" in the mythos of Parks and Rec, the character lives on and kicks butt through the community that still adores him.
The start of a massive cultural phenomenon, the show is responsible for creating a mini non-official holiday. In season two's "Galentine's Day" episode, Leslie takes the important women in her life on a breakfast date that she calls "Galentine's Day". Held on February 13th, it's meant for the women she knows to love and celebrate one another.
In an act that would certainly make Leslie Knope proud, the holiday has picked up quite a bit of traction since the episode aired. Galentine's Day has become a popular occurrence for women and non-binary individuals to gather their friends and celebrate one another. Featuring gifts, breakfast food, and positive reinforcement, it is a holiday that truly embraces the spirit of the show.
In the season four "Pawnee Rangers" episode, Ben is invited by Tom and Donna to partake in their annual "Treat Yo Self" day. The premise? Be as self-indulgent as possible. They get all the pampering and pleasure they want (including things they don't need), all the while shouting "TREAT YO SELF!". For Ben, this turns out to be wearing and buying a fully decorated Batman costume.
The phrase has become immensely popular in pop culture. Often used as a way to signify "Oh well," or "Eh who cares?", the phrase has almost come to define a generation. The show would become defined by how good and hopeful it made people. It makes sense then that the longest lasting legacy of Parks and Recreation would be "Treat yo self".