Parks & Rec Creator Reveals How The Show Was Originally Supposed to End

Parks and Recreation creator Michael Schur discloses how the series was originally supposed to end. Parks and Recreation is a mockumentary comedy series that follows the ever optimistic Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), the deputy director of a local parks department. The series premiered on NBC in 2009 and ran for seven seasons. Parks and Recreation gained popularity due to its witty political satire and cast of endearing characters fans quickly fell in love with.


Parks and Recreation manages to distinguish itself from The Office by leaning into sincerity and optimism. Its series finale is often considered one of the very best, as it made an effort to properly close out every character's story. In its final installment, Parks and Recreation gives the central cast one last parks department job before fast-forwarding into the future to show where each character ends up. The episode received positive reviews all around and seems to include just about every moment a longtime viewer could hope for. However, Schur initially envisioned the Parks and Recreation season 7 finale as containing one pivotal moment that was later bumped up.

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In an interview with Austin Film Festival's On Story, Schur reveals the initial plans for Parks and Recreation's final episode. It involves the infamous Lot 48, which is first introduced as a pit that Leslie valiantly hopes to fill someday. Schur aimed at having Lot 48 remain un-filled for a lot longer than it actually did, as he explains:

"The original pitch of the show was in the pilot you were going to find out that there was a giant hole in the ground. However long the show lasted, the last episode would be the ribbon cutting for the park. The process of doing literally anything in city government takes five, six, seven, eight years. So we thought this will be the metaphor for the difficulties that people like Leslie face. We ended up not doing that, in part because we felt like we got off to such a rocky start in the writing that if we didn't signal to the audience that progress was going to be made that they wouldn't go along with us for the ride... so we filled it in, in the sixth episode of season 2."

Schur appears to be referring to Parks and Recreation season 1 and the negative critical reception it faced. During the early episodes of the series, viewers did not like the character of Leslie Knope seeing her as unintelligent and ditzy rather than the affable overachiever that character grew to be. Here, Schur acknowledges that in order for fans to come around on the character, he needed to give audiences a reason to root for her. By filling in the pit earlier in the series, Leslie comes across as a character who is smart, dedicated, and capable of accomplishing her goals. It signals her character growth and serves as a win for both her and the Parks and Recreation viewers who have been following her journey.

Part of the success of Parks and Recreation comes from the show's upbeat positivity. It actually suits the series more to have Leslie accomplish in her Lot 48 goals earlier on; this was a task that could've realistically taken years, but she persevered and saw it through much sooner. This also pushed Leslie's character growth forward at a quicker pace, thus allowing Parks and Recreation to really push the boundaries of who each character could be. Though Schur didn't get to see his exact vision through, it's clear he is more pleased with how the series panned out in reality.

Source: On Story