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Ron Swanson's Best Parks And Recreation Episodes Ranked By Masculinity

As far as comfort shows go, "Parks and Recreation" is one of the most celebrated, and with good reason. The fictional, somewhat-backwards town of Pawnee, Indiana is full of colorful characters and the entire main cast is stacked with comedic genius — even the antagonists are loveable. Arguably one of the most beloved characters, though, is Nick Offerman's Ron Swanson, who may have made a career out of heading the Parks and Rec department, but who also despises the government with passion that could give the most adamant anarchist a run for their money.

Between his love for all things outdoors, animal proteins, and woodcraft, Ron Swanson is basically a caricature of everything it means to be a man, stereotypically speaking. This and his animosity toward civic responsibility makes him the perfect foil of "Parks and Recreation" protagonist Leslie Knope, and we absolutely love him for it. Their relationship hits every note of the frenemy scale with artful excellence and, in honor of Ron's mustached machismo, we've compiled a list of the very best "Parks and Recreation" episodes that display just how manly his proclivities are.

13. The Fight

It's fair to say that every man has at least a touch of chaos inside him, and that they may get more than just a little buzz from unleashing it on the world. The opening scene of Season 3, Episode 13 of "Parks and Recreation" is a great example of how Ron Swanson enjoys lighting a fire and watching the world burn around him. He gathers the department around their ancient coffee machine demanding who broke it. Leslie immediately lays the blame on herself to avoid confrontation, a lie which Ron dismisses before she even gets the words out fully. Fingers are pointed throughout the group for many reasons, but everyone else denies having anything to do with the broken coffee machine.

In an aside to the cameras, Ron admits that it was he who broke the coffee machine, punching it after it burned his hand. With a smile full of joy, he looks back at the group of government employees getting more and more aggressive with their various coffee-related arguments and says that he predicts a full on war will soon break out, ending in "Lord of the Flies" fashion with at least one pig head on a stick. 

He certainly takes delight in causing a little dissonance in the group. Despite that, though, this moment brought to us by Ron Swanson is referenced by Reddit users as a great reflection of how well the cast of characters works together comedically.

12. Sweetums

While there is certainly something to love about a man's man, the stereotypes and expectations behind manhood as we know it can be a bit problematic, and Ron Swanson is nowhere near exempt. An example of this is the influence of alcohol and the almost encouraged addictive behavior societal standards impress on men. The National Library of Medicine states that binge drinking and heavy drinking is more prevalent in men, with societal importance being put on men being able to "handle" their alcohol.

In Episode 15 of Season 2, Ron proves he doesn't inebriate easily. He and Leslie are drinking at a Sweetums event when Leslie forces Ron to wait an hour to drive after calculating how long it should take for the alcohol to leave his body. To prove to her that he would have been absolutely fine to operate a motor vehicle, Ron drinks six glasses of whiskey when he gets home and builds a beautiful, in-tune harp with dangerous hand tools, a feat he certainly would have had to have been feeling decently sober and competent for. While certainly impressive and very much an exaggerated societal standard of manliness, it's important to realize that such a feat should never be attempted by anyone other than a fictional character.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

11. Eagleton

As people get older, some tend to cling to the trappings of youth and reject any reminders of their diminishing time on this Earth, which makes birthdays in particular kind of a downer. While Ron Swanson certainly hates his birthday and tries his hardest to hide the day it falls on from the people in his life, age isn't the reason behind the distaste for the anniversary. He simply doesn't like the attention, which seems in line with a lot of other men — so much so that Mr Porter created a guide of how men should tackle the big event.

Ron Swanson could have used such a guide once Leslie Knope entered his life, because in Episode 12 of Season 3, Ron becomes hyper-aware that Leslie is planning something for his birthday. He becomes so paranoid about it that he sleeps in his office the week before. His paranoia is heightened by Andy mentioning he is on the "kidnapping" squad.

It's not only that Ron doesn't want a fuss on his birthday that gets "Eagleton" on this list, but what Leslie actually does for Ron as well. She takes him to a quiet room, sits him in a leather chair before a table full of bacon, his favorite whiskey, and a huge steak from his favorite restaurant. It makes for a perfect birthday for Ron Swanson, and a lot of men would agree.

10. Indianapolis

Speaking of Ron Swanson's favorite restaurant, he makes a trip there in Episode 6 of Season 3 to find that it's permanently closed. Charles Mulligan's Steakhouse has been the home of what Ron considers to be the most simple, perfect steak for years, evidenced by his scrapbook containing all his past trips there over the years. Ron, who doesn't fanboy over very many things in the first place, is understandably upset by the news, and he quells both his hunger and devastation by going to a nearby diner.

It is here that he utters one of his most iconic one-liners, "bring me all the bacon and eggs you have." He basically drowns his sorrows at the loss of a Charles Mulligan steak in a sea of bacon and eggs — not a bad way to go as far as the breakfast enthusiast is concerned. The line has been plastered on many custom manly products, from grilling aprons to dad mugs, and have probably been gifted via Etsy for many a Father's Day and man-centric holiday.

9. One Last Ride

Ron Swanson has some massive character development throughout the seven seasons of "Parks and Recreation." He starts out a grumpy loner who, despite his love for food, would rather avoid his colleagues than sit down for a meal with them and ends up a married family man full of love and pride for not only his formal family, but his found one as well. In the series finale of the show, Ron comes to Leslie saying he isn't sure where the next stage of his life should lead him, having been successful in all his post-Parks and Rec ventures, but wanting something new to occupy his time.

This leads Leslie to give him one of the most Ron Swanson gifts ever, which is to run a national park. He would be able to spend his days walking around the outdoors in solitude, which many a Ron Swanson-esque man would call living the dream. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Nick Offerman predicts that Ron would have taken that kicked-back dream job and created one of the best national parks in the country.

8. Leslie & Ron

Episode 4 of Season 7 is another example of how developing as a person is one of the most manly things you can do. "Leslie & Ron" sees the two characters, who had been locked in a semi-vicious feud, get stuck in the Parks and Rec department overnight together, forcing them to come clean with what really happened to break their long-standing friendship apart.

Ron confesses that when Leslie left the department she took everyone with her, his voice audibly cracking with emotion when mentioning the loss of April. He then explains that Leslie accidentally stood him up at JJ's Diner, where they had agreed to meet to catch up and where Ron had planned to ask her for a job so that he could reunite with his friends again.

This episode really shows what each member of the Parks and Recreation department came to mean to Ron, and him getting choked up about their loss is a major sign that he has come to understand the value of his found family. What is even more, Ron swallows his pride when he attempts to come to Leslie to ask for another job in government — he is willing to go to lengths he never really has before to keep the relationships he has formed.

7. Ms. Knope Goes to Washington

Some of his greatest moments are the shortest, another manly trait of Ron Swanson being his blunt and straightforward best. In Episode 1 of Season 5, Ron takes over the planning of the annual employee appreciation barbeque, an event that typically gets the Leslie Knope treatment every year. He is planning on doing the exact opposite of Leslie, and having a very simple get-together where he both slaughters and grills a pig.

Of course, you can't really slaughter a pig in a public park ... or can you? Ron is stopped by a ranger, who can't believe what Ron is intending to do. Ron responds by presenting his "permit," which is just a paper that says, "I can do what I want." This actually has some merit considering that Ron is the head of the Parks and Rec department, but it doesn't end up working out for him in the long run. Still, this simple but hilarious scene has made its way into Comedy Bites' ranking of Ron Swanson's greatest moments and remains a fan favorite.

6. Citizen Knope

Despite some glaring differences, Nick Offerman and Ron Swanson have become kind of synonymous for one another, and with good reason. In an interview with GQ, Offerman reveals that part of his own personality was written into the character, most notably his love for woodworking and building things with his hands — possibly one of the manliest pastimes there is. In fact, Ron's woodshop in "Parks and Recreation" is Offerman's own in real life.

Episode 10 of Season 4 is a great example of how much pride Ron takes in creating things with his hands. The group of colleagues and friends are building a replica of the Parks department as a present for Leslie and despite Ron's wishes to build it out of wood, they go with a gingerbread version to honor her love of candy. Ron gets frustrated when he can't seem to build with gingerbread, and instead abandons the task to the others and opts to make Leslie a wooden replica of her desk if she were to be elected to City Council.

When presenting their gifts, the team also reveal that they will help her in her campaign to run for City Council, each member of the group offering up their skills. Ron ends by saying he will help her with "any other damn thing you might need." This proves Ron as both dependable and pretty much a jack of all trades — minus the art of gingerbread.

5. Go Big or Go Home

It should come as no surprise that on a list of things that help make a character manly, a sports-related episode places relatively high. In the very first episode of Season 3, Ron and Andy sign up to coach opposing teams for the newly reinstated youth basketball league in Pawnee. As you would expect, Ron coaches with strict guidelines that are rooted in being a man. He even creates his "Swanson Pyramid of Greatness" that he bases his teachings on, which quickly took off as a fan-favorite graphic that can (probably) be found plastered all over dorm rooms and cubicles across the continental U.S. In fact, many a Reddit user has confirmed that it has graced a wall or two of their lives.

The pyramid is compiled of a number of knowledge gems that would be useful to anyone trying to mold themselves in the manly image of Ron Swanson himself. A tip on avoiding skim milk can be found twice on the graphic, expressing how important that particular guideline is, as well as advice on teamwork, discipline, and, interestingly enough, rage. Almost an entire line is set aside for different animal proteins, and honor takes the very topmost spot, stating that "if you need it defined, you don't have it."

4. The Stakeout

If a man stubs his toe in the woods and there's no doctor around to see it, did he even get hurt? It's a proven fact that men go to the doctor less frequently than women, and according to Heathline, one reason for this is that some men may hate the vulnerability that comes with admitting that they are not at 100%. It's for this reason that, in Episode 2 of Season 2, Ron Swanson works through his pain in the most ridiculous way possible in hopes that he can avoid going to get a medical professional's help with his hernia.

Ron sits at his desk with the most awkward, stiff posture possible in "The Stakeout" because he can't move his neck or torso without being in debilitating pain. It becomes so bad that he is unable to leave his desk chair, and consequently stays after hours at the Parks department where he is found by a suspicious April who came back to check on him, thinking something was up. She asks if he is living in his office and throws a highlighter at his face, which results in Ron admitting he needs to go to the hospital.

The sequence of scenes between Ron and April are both hilarious and heartwarming, and one of the first times Ron is shown warming up to the young intern. The episode also shows how Ron's hardheadedness is starting to be eased up on in company of what would become his found family.

3. How a Bill Becomes a Law

Like many alpha men, Ron Swanson loves strong women. While his past relationships with various Tammys have ended in chaotic ruin, he finds peace with Diane, who happens to be played by "Xena: Warrior Princess" star Lucy Lawless — a match made in TV heaven. Ron first meets Diane in Episode 3 of Season 5 when she comes into City Hall to get a pothole fixed in front of her home. Ron volunteers to fix the pothole himself, which Diane all but scoffs at. When he actually shows up to fulfill his promise, she is shocked that someone from the government is helping her and aptly apologizes for her shortness with him.

If his actions matching his words weren't enough to get "How a Bill Becomes a Law" on one of the top spots of this list, his willingness to make Diane's kids happy does. After fixing the pothole he sits down to have a tea party with her two girls, which results in him being covered in costume makeup and sparkles. This is a look we never expected to see on Ron –- though it's one that, according to his interview with The Connecticut Forum, Nick Offerman would probably be down with –- and it does oddly increase his manly rating.

2. Pawnee Rangers

Ron Swanson holds above all else that nature is both devastatingly beautiful and something to be protected at all costs. He loves being out on the land, living off it and protecting it — something shared by many men, as Nature is one of The Art of Manliness' 5 Switches of Manliness. That's why being the scout leader of The Pawnee Rangers is something that he takes great pride in. In Episode 4 of Season 4, his boys-only troop is set against Leslie's newly formed girls-only troop The Pawnee Goddesses. The two scout leaders have two opposite ways of guiding their groups, which inspires Ron's group to slowly turn to Leslie's less strict and more comfortable, fun-filled group.

Ron is devastated by this, as the Pawnee Rangers signifies everything he loves about nature and what being a man is about. After Leslie feels bad about the rivalry and the troop she took from Ron, she puts out an ad for a new troop, one that is tough and gritty and would be led by Ron. He is met with a small group of kids consisting of both girls and boys who are more than on board with the activities he had planned for his original troop, leaving him open to continue his manly teachings for the next generation.

1. Practice Date

The single most manly thing about Ron Swanson is his alter ego Duke Silver. The secret identity only comes out occasionally, but the man can play a mean saxophone, has a velvety smooth voice, and wears the heck out of a fedora. He first shows up in Episode 4 of Season 2 when Tom is trying to get dirt on Ron, and ends up uncovering that he performs under the alias in Eagleton and has a relatively successful musical career and following, mostly consisting of middle-aged women like April's mom.

There's something about Duke's saxophone that just oozes testosterone and sex appeal. According to The Baltimore Sun, the saxophone is one sexy instrument and is typically regarded as one of the more seductive instruments due to the moan and growl-like noises a musician can bring out of it as well as the type of moving musical genres that implement the saxophone, like blues and jazz. No matter what the reason, though, Duke Silver can pull the ladies.