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What Happened To The Real Li'l Sebastian After Parks And Recreation?

NBC's other mockumentary-style workplace sitcom "Parks and Recreation" ended seven years ago, but the show's exciting characters and hilarious jokes continue to live on. One unique element of the series was a rarely seen but often-mentioned character. Though he only appeared in the flesh in one episode (two, if you count the tribute video at his memorial), his many pictures and references throughout "Parks and Recreation" have made him a character that fans won't forget. Of course, we're talking about the miniature horse affectionately named Li'l Sebastian.

Li'l Sebastian was a local celebrity in Pawnee, Indiana, celebrated for being a mini-horse and doing it "better than anyone," as April Ludgate so succinctly puts it. Adorable as he was, Li'l Sebastian became so loved by fans primarily because of Pawnee's exaggerated and seemingly unjustified reverence for a mini-horse that didn't do anything special. Unfortunately, in the season 3 finale, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) announces that Li'l Sebastian has died, much to the dismay of the entire Parks and Rec department. The episode culminates in an extravagant memorial service and a special tribute song, "5,000 Candles in the Wind (Bye-bye Li'l Sebastian)." 

So what became of the beloved mini-horse following his brief but memorable stint on "Parks and Recreation?"

In 2015, just before the "Parks and Recreation" series finale aired, Esquire caught up with A-List Animals trainer Morgan Bateman to talk about Gideon — the miniature horse that played Li'l Sebastian. Bateman relayed that Gideon was living happily on a 150-acre ranch in Piru, California, with his many girlfriends. According to Bateman, when Gideon isn't working he's living his life, unencumbered by riders or advertising for the Snakehole Lounge, on a large pasture with many full-sized horses.

The mini-horse who played Li'l Sebastian is alive and well

Since this interview took place several years ago, Looper reached out to Bateman directly to see how our favorite mini-horse is currently doing. Though Gideon is getting up in age, somewhere in his late teens, he is still doing well and occasionally takes roles from time to time.

In 2018, while "The Good Place" was airing its third season, a blond mini-horse appeared in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in the background of a shot. This was notable to eagle-eyed fans of both because "The Good Place" and "Parks and Rec" share one vital component: their creator. "The Good Place" writer and producer Mike Schur previously co-created "Parks and Rec" with Greg Daniels. 

With little nods and references to "Parks and Rec" throughout "The Good Place," viewers were confident that the mini-horse was supposed to be Li'l Sebastian. "The Good Place" later uploaded a photo to Instagram showing D'Arcy Corden, who plays Janet on "The Good Place," posing next to a familiar-looking animal. The snapshot was also posted to a few social media accounts with captions related to candles. Though it was never fully confirmed if it was meant to be Li'l Sebastian, the photo was taken by fans as evidence that Li'l Sebastian had returned. 

But was that actually Gideon that played the blond mini-horse in the background? While speaking with Bateman, she provided disappointing news. "No, it was not Gideon," Bateman confirmed. "They called and asked for Gideon. We gave them some numbers, but they never called back." 

While the mini-horse in "The Good Place" may not have been played by the original Li'l Sebastian actor, fans are still free to interpret it as a sign that Li'l Sebastian did indeed make it to horsey heaven.