Parks and Recreation is one of my all-time favorite shows. I know virtually every episode by heart (with the exception of season 7, where I’ve only each episode once or twice). It was very difficult to narrow down my favorite episodes, since they are all wonderful in their own ways. I tried to choose my favorite overall episodes instead of episodes containing my favorite moments (which would be all of them if we’re being honest).
Below are my 21 all-time favorite episodes from the series. I’ve tried to get at least one from each season, and I limited some seasons to only a couple, especially seasons 2-5 since those are my favorites!
21. “The Banquet” (S1E5) - “Leslie attends a banquet and discovers what it takes to get what you want in the political arena. Tom and Mark go to a bar and pick up some women.” While season 1 was a bit of a bust, this is my favorite episode from the season, mainly because Leslie and Ann are mistaken for a lesbian couple.
20. “Sex Education” (S5E4) - “Leslie tries her hand at teaching a sex-education class after an STD outbreak. Ron attempts to show Tom how to enjoy life without technology.”
19. “The Cones of Dunshire” (S6E8) - “Leslie and Councilman Jamm clash over a park proposal; Ben gets a hobby, then a job; Tom, April and Donna help Ron sell his cabin.”
18. “Women in Garbage” (S5E11) - “Leslie focuses on women’s equality in government by becoming a garbage collector for a day with Ann. Tom wants to learn how to play basketball.”
17. “Eagleton” (S3E12) - “When the neighboring city of Eagleton puts up a fence around one of their parks, Leslie must convince her former best friend to take it down.”
16. “Pawnee Rangers” (S4E4) - “To fight the inequality of Ron’s boys-only wilderness group, Leslie takes her girls-group, the Pawnee Goddesses, on an adventure weekend.” This episode is also birth to Treat Yo’ Self Day.
14 & 15. “One Last Ride Pt. 1 and 2” (S7E12/13) - “In the last day in Pawnee, Leslie rallies the entire team for one last Parks Project: fixing a swing in a park. A series of flash-forwards show bits of what will happen to the characters over the next years and decades. Typhoon and Craig get married, Andy and April become parents, Donna sets up a non-profit with her husband, Tom becomes a best-selling author, Garry serves as Mayor until his death at age 100, and Ron finds happiness in a job as a park superintendent for the National Park Service. Ben is elected to Congress, and he and Leslie are separately courted to run for governor of Indiana. After considering who should run, Ben decides that Leslie would be a better candidate. The two then visit the Parks department and see all of their friends once more. Ann and Chris reappear and decide to move back to Pawnee. In the future Leslie serves two terms as governor, and hints at a "new, unknown challenge" in a speech; at Garry's funeral (depicted earlier in the episode, but occurring further in the future), she and Ben are accompanied by what appears to be a Secret Service detail, in a scene left intentionally ambiguous.” (taken from Wikipedia).
13. “Ron and Tammys” (S4E2) – “Leslie intervenes when Tammy One begins controlling Ron’s every move. Ben tries to help Tom balance the books, while Ann makes a PSA starring Chris.”
12. “The Debate” (S4E20) - “Leslie faces off with Bobby Newport in a televised debate. Ann, Tom, and Chris work the media spin room, while Ron saves a party for Leslie’s donors.” The best part of this episode is Andy acting out his favorite movies when the cable is shut off during the viewing party of the debate.
11. “Andy & April’s Fancy Party” (S3E9) - “Andy and April host a dinner party for all their friends. Ben asks Leslie for some career advice, while Ann tries her luck at a singles party.”
10. “Jerry’s Painting” (S3E11) - “Jerry’s contribution to Leslie’s community art show causes a stir. Ben moves in with April and Andy and attempts to teach them how to be adults.”
9. “Ron and Tammy” (S2E8) - “Leslie learns that the library department wants to take over her lot. The library is run by Ron’s ex-wife, who still has an emotional hold on him.”
8. “Ron & Tammy II” (S3E4) - “Tom tries to get back at Ron by going out on a date with Ron’s ex-wife, Tammy, while Leslie tries to protect Ron from falling prey to her charms.”
7. “Leslie and Ben” (S5E14) - “Leslie and Ben have two hours to complete a yearlong project. Meanwhile, Ron lands in trouble when his temper gets the better of him.” Leslie and Ben finally get married, that’s all you need to know.
6. “Lil’ Sebastian” (S3E16) - “Leslie and the parks team put together a memorial service for a dearly departed friend. Meanwhile, Tom makes a big life decision.” This episode introduces Andy’s song “5,000 Candles in the Wind,” along with Tom’s new business, Entertainment 720.
5. “Hunting Trip” (S2E10) - “Leslie invites herself on Ron’s annual hunting trip, but things don’t go as planned. Andy and April bond in the office while everyone is away.” Ron gets shot in the back of the head. If that doesn’t make you interested in this episode, nothing will.
4. “Animal Control” (S5E18) - “Leslie takes charge of the stoner-run animal control department. Ron resists medical treatment for Ann. Ben and Andy seek help from Dennis Feinstein.”
3. “The Treaty” (S4E7) - “Leslie enlists Ben, Andy, and April to host a Model U.N. for Pawnee Central High School. Chris asks Ann for advice when a date cancels on him.”
2. “The Stakeout” (S2E2) - “Leslie and Tom discover someone planted marijuana in the new community garden. Hoping to catch those responsible, they pull an all-night stakeout.”
1. “Park Safety” (S2E19) - “After Jerry gets mugged, Leslie meets with the park ranger in hopes of improving park safety. Everyone tries to be nicer to Jerry once he returns.” And who guest stars as the park safety officer? Andy Sandberg!