10 Wild Parks and Recreation Fan Theories

Greg Gayne, NBCUniversal Media, LLC
Greg Gayne, NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Parks and Recreation might be a sunny, silly sitcom, but it’s surprisingly good fodder for fan theories. Pawnee, Indiana’s small town quirks, from the Zorp-worshipping cult to the horrifying art in city hall, lend themselves perfectly to crackpot ideas. Is Jerry a sleeper agent? Did Ron leave behind a treasure map? Anything’s fair game, but we know at least one thing to be true: Jean-Ralphio is definitely the son of Stranger Things's Steve Harrington. Here are 10 other wild ideas.

1. LESLIE KNOPE IS FILTHY RICH.

Working in the public sector of Pawnee, Indiana, doesn’t seem like a lucrative gig, yet Leslie (Amy Poehler) always seems to have money for extravagant gifts. She gives Ben (Adam Scott) a painstakingly replicated Iron Throne, all her girlfriends get custom art for Galentine’s Day, and she gives Ann (Rashida Jones) presents on each of her made-up holidays—including, but not limited to, “Breakfast Day.” Reddit speculates that Leslie inherited a large sum of money when her father died or is living off a trust fund. Because how else could she pay for Ron’s (Nick Offerman) fantasy trip to Scotland?

2. MARK BRENDANAWICZ IS DEAD.

Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider) was a key player in the first two seasons of Parks and Recreation, serving as a love interest for Leslie and then Ann. But at the end of season two, he quits his job as city planner and is never seen or heard from again. No one even mentions him. This is pretty strange, considering how frequently the show revisits side characters like Tammy II (Megan Mullally) or Greg Pikitis (Cody Klop). Tumblr has a simple, bleak explanation: he died. This theory suggests Mark ended his life, which is why no one talks about it, or that “it was the Illuminati.”

3. JERRY GERGICH WAS A CULT LEADER.

Ben Cohen, NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Remember the Reasonablists? They’re Pawnee’s resident doomsday cult. The Reasonablists believe Zorp is coming to destroy the world, although they’ve been wrong about that many, many times. It’s safe to say this cult is error-prone. You know who else is error-prone? Jerry Gergich (Jim O'Heir). One wild fan theory claims that Jerry was the original leader of the Reasonablists, back when they materialized in the 1970s. He’s the right age for it and, more importantly, he’s very good at winning people over. Despite all their insults, Leslie and her team still love and support Jerry. He also managed to get Christie Brinkley ("Gayle") to marry him! Jerry eventually becomes an incredibly popular mayor, as we see in the flash-forwards. Did his old cult turn out the vote in his favor? We may never know.

4. RON SWANSON'S WILL IS ACTUALLY A TREASURE MAP.

In his original “will,” Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) left all his possessions to “the man or animal who has killed me.” It was handwritten on a scrap of paper, with a bunch of random symbols above the signature. (Here’s a close-up.) Reddit thinks those symbols aren’t so random; they’re clues pointing to Ron’s buried gold. The whole thing is pretty complicated, but basically, the loot is in an old pioneer grave and Ron expected his killer to bury him on Deadman’s Island.

5. PAWNEE IS CURSED.

As we’ve learned from the gruesome paintings hanging in Pawnee City Hall, the area has a dark history. The Wamapoke Tribe members were slaughtered indiscriminately by the first Pawnee settlers, leaving behind just a few descendants, like Chief Ken Hotate (Jonathan Joss). But Ken is doing pretty well—and so are the rest of the Wamapoke. They have a prosperous casino and great government connections. Meanwhile, the rest of Pawnee is struggling, as the frequent budget cuts and flailing city officials make clear. Some fans believe the Wamapoke cursed Pawnee, ensuring wealth for their people and doom for their oppressors.

6. ANDY DWYER IS ANDY FROM TOY STORY.

Colleen Hayes, NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The evidence here is pretty damning: Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) and Andy from Toy Story share the same first name. They have a mutual enthusiasm for guitars. They’re both playful and childish (in Toy Story Andy’s case, because he’s literally a child). Could Andy Dwyer be the grown-up version of Buzz and Woody’s best friend? It sure sounds like it, especially when you consider his dream of becoming a cop. Maybe because his favorite toys growing up were a space ranger and sheriff?!

7. ANN PERKINS IS IN THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM.

This theory has to do with Rashida Jones’s pre-Parks gig as Karen Filippelli on The Office. The story goes that Karen ended up being a star witness in the Scranton Strangler trial. Due to the case’s high profile, she entered the witness protection program. They sent her to the tiny town of Pawnee, Indiana, with a new alias: Ann Perkins.

8. BEN WYATT BUILT ICE TOWN BECAUSE OF A KINK.

Ice Town is a pretty dumb idea, even for a teen mayor. But teens do dumb things when their hormones kick in, and we know from his roller rink birthday party that Ben has a thing for women on skates. Did he bankrupt his hometown just to see a bunch of ladies on skates? It’s not not possible.

9. JERRY IS A SLEEPER AGENT.

If Jerry isn’t a cult leader, he’s definitely a sleeper agent. Think about it: He’s got tons of skills, from piano playing to painting. He has a beautiful, unbelievably perfect family. He managed to snag a government job, where he has access to all sorts of sensitive information, even though he’s supposedly incompetent. And he gets very anxious when his coworkers decide to dig up dirt on each other. Fans think the entire Gergich family is in on the act, making their Christmas parties all the more sinister.

10. JEAN-RALPHIO’S REAL DAD IS STEVE FROM STRANGER THINGS.

Just look at them! The family resemblance is uncanny, but people have put serious thought into this hilarious theory. Stranger Things, like Parks and Rec, takes place in Indiana. If Steve and Nancy got unexpectedly pregnant soon after the events of the show, their kid would be Jean-Ralphio’s age. They probably wouldn’t be equipped to parent, considering all the trauma they’ve been through. So what if Steve’s older brother came back from medical school and took the baby in? Enter Dr. Saperstein, who’s suddenly a tragic figure. No wonder he spoils Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) rotten: He knows his real dad is in the psych ward.

Amazon's Best Black Friday Deals: Tech, Video Games, Kitchen Appliances, Clothing, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Black Friday is finally here, and Amazon is offering great deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40)

- Keurig K-Cafe Special Edition; $190 (save $30)

- Ninja OS301 Foodi 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer; $125 (save $75)

- Nespresso Vertuo Next Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville; $120 (save $60)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75)

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $80 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10)

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $16 (save $11)

- HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

- Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31)

- TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

- Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

- Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30)

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening; $40 (save $20)

- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity; $50 (save $10)

- Marvel's Avengers; $25 (save $33)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

- BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

- The Sims 4; $24 (save $20)

- God of Warfor PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

- Days Gonefor PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

- Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250)

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $335 (save $64)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $120 (save $79)

- Seneo Wireless Charger, 3 in 1 Wireless Charging Station; $16 (save $10)

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

- DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

Headphones and speakers

Beats/Amazon

- Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones; $120 (Save $80)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $169 (save $50)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones; $175 (save $75)

- JBL Boombox; $280 (save $120)

Movies and TV

HBO/Amazon

- Game of Thrones: The Complete Series; $115 (save $89)

- Jurassic World 5-Movie Set; $23 (save $37)

- Deadwood: The Complete Series; $42 (save $28)

- Back to the Future Trilogy; $15 (save $21)

Toys and Games

Amazon

- Awkward Family Photos Greatest Hits; $15 (save $10)

- Exploding Kittens Card Game; $10 (save $10)

- Cards Against Humanity: Hidden Gems Bundle; $14 (save $5)

- LOL Surprise OMG Remix Pop B.B. Fashion Doll; $29 (save $6)

- LEGO Ideas Ship in a Bottle 92177 Expert Building Kit; $56 (save $14)

Furniture

Casper/Amazon

- Casper Sleep Element Queen Mattress; $476 (save $119)

- ZINUS Alexis Deluxe Wood Platform Bed Frame; $135 (save $24)

- ROMOON Dresser Organizer with 5 Drawers; $59 (save $11) 

- AmazonBasics Room Darkening Blackout Window Curtains; $26 (save $5)

- Writing Desk by Caffoz; $119 (save $21)

- SPACE Seating Office Support Managers Chair; $112 (save $116)

- Rivet Globe Stick Table Lamp; $53 (save $17)

- Christopher Knight Home Merel Mid-Century Modern Club Chair; $188 (save $10)

- Walker Edison Furniture Industrial Rectangular Coffee Table; $121 (save $48)

Beauty

Haus/Amazon

- MySmile Teeth Whitening Kit with LED Light; $21 (save $12) 

- Cliganic USDA Organic Lip Balms Set of Six; $6 (save $4)

- HAUS LABORATORIES By Lady Gaga: LE RIOT LIP GLOSS; $7 (save $11)

- Native Deodorant for Men and Women Set of Three; $25 (save $11) 

- BAIMEI Rose Quartz Jade Roller & Gua Sha; $14 (save $3)

- Honest Beauty Clearing Night Serum with Pure Retinol and Salicylic Acid; $20 (save $8)

- WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo and Hair Conditioner Set; $30 (save $5) 

- La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser; $15 (save $5)

- wet n wild Bretman Rock Shadow Palette; $9 (save $6)

- EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Face Sunscreen Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid; $25 (save $6)

Clothes

Ganni/Amazon

- Ganni Women's Crispy Jacquard Dress; $200 (save $86) 

- The Drop Women's Maya Silky Slip Skirt; $36 (save $9)

- Steve Madden Women's Editor Boot; $80 (save $30)

- adidas Women's Roguera Cross Trainer; $40 (save $25)

- Line & Dot Women's Elizabeth Sweater; $74 (save $18)

- Levi's Men's Sherpa Trucker Jacket; $57 (save $41)

- Adidas Men's Essentials 3-Stripes Tapered Training Joggers Sweatpants; $28 (save $12)

- Timex Men's Weekender XL 43mm Watch; $32 (save $20)

- Ray-Ban Unisex-Adult Hexagonal Flat Lenses Sunglasses; $108 (save $46) 

- Reebok Men's Flashfilm Train Cross Trainer; $64 (save $16)

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The World’s Favorite Christmas Movies, Mapped

Will Ferrell in Elf (2003).
Will Ferrell in Elf (2003).
Warner Bros.

The start of the holiday season means it’s time to recommence the annual debate over which Christmas movies are the best. If you’re discussing the matter with a friend from France or Brazil, they might be arguing hard for Gremlins, the 1984 cult classic that may or may not actually be a Christmas movie. India, on the other hand, is home to many fans of 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Those trends come from a new study by broadband experts at UK-based online comparison site money.co.uk. Basically, they analyzed Google search data for 30 Christmas movies across 18 countries to see how holiday viewership differs from nation to nation. All the films included in the study are relatively mainstream, so you won’t find Rankin/Bass’s Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977) anywhere on the map.

What you will find is Elf, the 2003 comedy starring Will Ferrell as an overlarge Santa’s helper navigating Manhattan. Considering that the film is the apparent favorite of viewers in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, and South Africa, it seems that Ferrell’s absurdist humor isn’t just funny to U.S. residents. Love Actually (2003) also ranked first in five countries, including England, Spain, and Norway. But neither Love Actually nor Elf clinched the top spot in the U.S. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) did, with an average monthly search volume of nearly 3.7 million.

The search data used in the study is from October through December of last year, which might explain why Last Christmas landed in first place in Germany. The romantic comedy, starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, premiered in 2019 to generally poor reviews, so it’s possible that Germans won’t be Googling it quite so often this year.

See the map below, and learn more about the survey here.

money.co.uk