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The Real Reason Parks And Recreation Ended

After seven seasons and almost six years on the air, Parks and Recreation closed out its run on NBC in February of 2015, leaving fans teary-eyed as they left Pawnee, Indiana one last time. With Amy Poehler leading the cast as Leslie Knope, a passionate city government worker who sometimes irritated her co-workers with her overwhelming enthusiasm, and showrunner Mike Schur working behind the scenes, Parks and Recreation established itself as one of the sunniest, most positive shows on television. It allowed its characters to grow, evolve, and develop in ways that made sense, and rewarded audiences for watching throughout the years.

With lovable, unforgettable characters like Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), Andy Dwyer (a pre-Marvel Chris Pratt), Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), and Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) — not to mention an irrepressibly upbeat attitude — Parks and Recreation won over viewers for years. Ultimately, though, Schur and his team chose to end the series in 2015. After spending years on the brink of cancellation and existing in a state of uncertainty, Schur decided to close out the series on his own terms, and though it was certainly disappointing to leave Pawnee, Leslie, Ron, Ben, and everyone else behind, it's hard to begrudge him that decision.

Read on to find out the reasons why Parks and Recreation really ended.

Parks and Recreation was the little show that could

It might seem unbelievable now that Parks and Recreation wasn't always super popular, but for years, the series was constantly on the verge of being cancelled. In 2013, when asked if he was hopeful that NBC would renew the series for a sixth season, Schur responded, "We feel fairly confident, I'd say. Cautiously optimistic. But I've come to really enjoy the uncertainty. I think it breeds good ideas. Never taking anything for granted is a good way to make sure you're exploring every possibility for a show" (via HitFix).

With that said, Schur and his team often prepared in advance for cancellation; in a 2015 interview with Yahoo! in advance of the show's final season, Schur admitted that the writing staff had actually penned several series finales. "It's either the fifth or sixth time we've written a series finale, depending on how you count," he said. "We did it at the end of Season 3. We did it at the end of Season 4. We did it midway through Season 5, and then again at the end of Season 5." In fact, the season five episode "Leslie and Ben," which features Leslie and Ben's wedding, could have been a perfect finale — but luckily, Schur got the chance to expand the story a little further. In fact, Schur told Yahoo! that knowing the seventh season would be their last gave them more creative freedom, saying, "It's a move you make when you know you only have one year left. We threw all the spinning plates as high as we could in the air, and we [didn't] have to worry about where they land, really."

Mike Schur was ready to move on from Parks and Recreation

Ultimately, Parks and Recreation ended for the same reason that any other show ends; the showrunner and cast were ready to move on. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2014, Schur explained why the show decided to go out on a high note.

"At the beginning of season 6, Amy [Poehler] and I started talking, like, What's our endgame here?'" he remembered. "We both felt like all we really cared about was that we wanted to be the people who ended the show when we wanted to end it, ideally, if that were possible, and it felt like the time to do that would be at the end of season 7."

Though Schur admitted that the cast was sad to hear the news — "You know, the one thing that can get Nick Offerman's mustache to quiver is the thought of Parks and Rec ending," he said — he also said the cast was ready to make this leap with him: "As far as I can tell, everybody feels exactly the same way. Which is, contemplating the end of this job that we've loved so much and we've poured our hearts and souls into is incredibly sad."

However, he went on to qualify that by saying that the time was right for the show to end. "Everybody is like, 'Yeah, this feels right.' I think if it had ended any sooner, people would have been sad and felt like we didn't quite get what we wanted," he said. "I think everyone feels like, 'We don't want to overstay our welcome. We want to go out on a high note.' We did this big creative leap at the end of last year and now we get to pursue that in a fun way for half the year and then we'll wave goodbye and exit stage left."

Will there ever be a Parks and Recreation reboot?

Ever since the series ended, fans have wondered if Parks and Recreation might return in one way or another, but Schur and his cast have been relatively coy. Though Schur told Variety that he would "never say no," he also announced, during a cast panel at Paleyfest to celebrate the show's tenth anniversary, that they would only return if they felt "there was a story that needed to be told," because they felt that they had wrapped up the show in such a satisfying way. However, the cast still makes it a point to get together as often as possible, making for some pretty heartwarming reunions.

Ultimately, a true Parks reunion feels like it might not be entirely possible, especially considering how in-demand the main cast has become. Between Chris Pratt's ongoing gig as Peter Quill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Amy Poehler's busy producing schedule, and Aziz Ansari's multiple Emmy wins, it might be pretty difficult to bring this busy cast back together. That's to say nothing of Schur, who has created several hit shows since Parks ended, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine (which currently airs on NBC) and the critically beloved afterlife comedy The Good Place (which closed out its four season run on NBC in January of 2020).

With that said, you can revisit Pawnee any time you want. Parks and Recreation is currently streaming on both Netflix and Hulu, although it will eventually move — along with The Office — to NBC's forthcoming streaming service, Peacock.