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Parks And Rec Character Endings Ranked Worst To Best

After seven seasons as the sunniest sitcom on television, NBC's Parks and Recreation closed out its triumphant, critically acclaimed run in 2015. And to nobody's surprise, pretty much every character got a perfectly tailored happy ending. 

Created by Michael Schur, who went on to craft similarly heartfelt shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place, this mockumentary series tells the story of a small government department in the humble town of Pawnee, Indiana, spearheaded by Deputy Director Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). With the help of her loyal colleagues, Leslie does her very best every single day to make life in Pawnee better, but more often than not, her absurd, stubborn constituents fight her at every turn. Despite that, Leslie and her friends nearly always succeed, but thanks to Schur's careful hand, the show never feels saccharine. Instead, Parks and Recreation serves as a perfect reminder of what you can accomplish with drive, hard work, and a positive attitude. 

With that in mind, it makes sense that Schur guaranteed every important character got an ending that perfectly suited their journey. Throughout the series finale, as Leslie interacts with each one of her closest friends, audiences get a glimpse of everybody's future, wrapping up their character arcs in the most satisfying way possible. Here's every major Parks and Rec character ending, ranked worst to best. Spoilers for Parks and Recreation ahead!

Craig Middlebrooks has a perfect life, but he's still unsatisfied

As one of the latest series regulars to join Parks and Rec's main cast, Craig Middlebrooks (Billy Eichner) could've fallen through the cracks. But thanks to Eichner's high-octane performance, Craig — who complains about nearly everything at the loudest possible volume — quickly evolved into a beloved character in his own right. 

Craig first appears during season six, as a former Eagleton government employee who joins Pawnee's Parks and Recreation department when the two towns merge. Soon after, he becomes an important part of the office and even becomes the director of the department when Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) quits to open his own construction company. Ultimately, Craig marries Pawnee hairstylist Typhoon (Rodney To), and the two are pictured on a super-futuristic jet after a happy lifetime together. When Typhoon asks his husband if he has any regrets, Craig says he has plenty, including the trout he just ate. Despite apparently leading an incredible life with his loving husband, Craig, who is perpetually unhappy, still finds plenty of reasons to complain non-stop.

Jean-Ralphio almost pulls off his biggest scam ever

Though not every Parks and Recreation character is completely essential to the overall story, plenty of fan favorites emerged throughout the series, but few were as beloved by the show's ending as Jean-Ralphio Saperstein (Ben Schwartz). An erratic, deranged friend of Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), Jean-Ralphio is bombastic, unreliable, and probably mentally unstable, and whether he's singing about getting run over by a Lexus or creeping out any of the women in the Parks department, he's a delight.

Even far in the future, Jean-Ralphio hasn't changed. Though the camera pans over his tombstone at the beginning of his flash-forward, the audience quickly learns that Jean-Ralphio and his sister, Mona Lisa (Jenny Slate), are hiding behind a tree nearby. He's not dead at all, but instead, he's faked his death so the two siblings can pull off an insurance scam and score enough money to open a casino in Tajikistan. Unsurprisingly, Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa are spotted, and their plan fails, but in any case, it's a perfect ending for this perfectly bizarre character.

Chris and Ann find domestic bliss

In the very first episode, Leslie meets her eventual best friend, Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), when the Pawnee nurse complains to the Parks department about the dismal and ugly lot right behind her house. Thanks to "Lot 48," Leslie and Ann form an incredibly close bond, looking out for each other at every turn and sticking with each other no matter what.

Ann has several different love interests throughout the series, but ultimately, she always comes back to Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe), who joins the Parks crew at the end of the second season. A budget specialist sent by the Indiana state government to supervise Pawnee's budget, Chris ends up staying in Pawnee and making a life there, and after an on-again, off-again relationship, Ann and Chris eventually get married and start a family, though they move to Michigan in the sixth season (when Lowe and Jones both left the show). In the series finale, they return for a brief scene, along with their two children, to visit their old friends, remaining a part of Leslie's chosen family.

Donna is successful, happy, and thriving

At first, Donna Meagle (Retta), the office manager at the Parks and Recreation department, is a minor player in the happenings of Pawnee, but as her character grows and viewers learn more about her, they realize there's much more to Donna than met the eye. From her voracious appetite for handsome men and her secret condo in Seattle to her beloved Mercedes Benz and the fact that her cousin is "Pony" singer Ginuwine, there's a lot to unpack about Donna, who, as it turns out, is the most interesting person in the Parks department by a long shot. 

Eventually, Donna, who seemingly can't be tamed, settles down and marries her boyfriend, Joe (Keegan-Michael Key), a sweet-tempered schoolteacher who dotes on her. After leaving the Parks department, Donna starts a successful career in real estate and travels the world with her husband and her friends, but when she finds out that Joe's school is slashing its budget left and right and struggling as a result, she realizes that there's more she can do. In the end, she uses her personal "treat yourself" fund to help support important after-school programs in Joe's district, putting her well-earned fortune to excellent use.

April and Andy become real adults

Out of everyone in the Parks department, April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) are definitely the most childish, but they're also the most confident. After dating for just one month, the two lovebirds get married on a whim during Parks' third season, and they stay together for good. By the time the show ends, however, they're ready to leave Pawnee behind. Though Andy stars on a successful children's TV show in the city, the two ultimately leave Indiana for Washington, D.C., when April gets a job as a career placement counselor, and they live right near Leslie and her husband, Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott).

April and Andy are the perfect couple, except for one thing — Andy wants a family, and April is on the fence about having kids. Despite her hesitation, April changes her tune after some serious thought — and a pep talk from Leslie — and the two have their first son, Jack. (True to form, Jack is born on Halloween, while April is in full zombie makeup, with "Monster Mash" playing in the background.) When the Parks department comes back together at their old office for a reunion, April reveals that she's pregnant with their second child. Through it all, April and Andy never lose their sense of fun and whimsy, developing a sense of responsibility while still remaining themselves no matter what. In the end, the Parks department's most immature employees become adults, with children of their own.

Tom uses his failures to build a career

Right from the beginning, it's clear that Tom Haverford is the most ambitious member of the Parks department, though his ambitions clearly don't lie in local government. An aspiring entrepreneur, Tom has a ton of crazy business ideas, most of which don't pan out. For example, a "cell phone that smells good" and a nightclub called Eclipse that's only open for one hour two days a year and boasts a $5000 cover charge don't really seem feasible. But at the end of the series, he finally opens his dream restaurant, Tom's Bistro, in Pawnee.

Once Tom's Bistro is officially thriving, Tom decides to branch out into a national chain, but the business fails, leaving him bankrupt. However, Tom never lets a setback of any kind keep him down, and he eventually writes a book about turning failures into success, using his friends from the Parks department as examples of different types of successful people — except for Jerry (Jim O'Heir), since nobody wants to be like Jerry. Even if Tom seems to value his newfound friendship with Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar more than his Pawnee friends, he still turns to their example to learn from his own mistakes, and he becomes a successful businessman after all, with his wife Lucy (Natalie Morales) by his side through it all.

Ben and Leslie conquer the government together

At the start of the series, Leslie is pretty unlucky when it comes to love, but that all changes when she meets Ben Wyatt, who comes to Pawnee to balance the city's budget but ends up falling in love with the town, as well as the deputy director of its Parks department. After getting married in Pawnee and building a life there, the ambitious couple end up splitting their time between Pawnee and D.C. when Ben wins a seat in Congress representing Indiana. After heading up the National Parks Service's Midwest division and then working in the Department of the Interior, Leslie is thriving in the federal government (and is even close friends with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill), but she and Ben are still both shocked when they're separately presented with the opportunity to run for governor of Indiana.

Ben steps aside so that Leslie can run, and she eventually wins and serves two terms, but that's not all. When the couple is shown several decades in the future, it's heavily implied that one of them is the president of the United States, thanks to a well-placed flag lapel pin on Ben's suit and the Secret Service members flanking the power couple. We may never know which one of them became president — showrunner Michael Schur has been notoriously tight-lipped about who won — but either way, it's a satisfying ending for both of them.

Ron finds solitude in nature

As the Parks department's resident curmudgeon, Ron Swanson, a staunch libertarian who hates government despite running one of its branches, seems pretty out of place in Indiana's local government. Despite his negative attitude and utter disdain for his actual job, Ron cares deeply about his colleagues, especially Leslie, who he considers his closest friend. After he's left alone at the Parks department — and has trouble maintaining his friendship with Leslie — Ron, who's happily married to Diane Lewis (Lucy Lawless), leaves the government behind and starts a construction company, Very Good Building and Development Company.

Ron and Leslie eventually overcome their rift and rekindle their friendship, and in the end, Leslie gets Ron the job of his dreams. After Ron leaves Very Good Building behind — and buys a majority stake in the Lagavulin scotch distillery in Scotland — he asks Leslie for life advice. True to form, she figures out the perfect future for her friend. With Leslie's help, Ron becomes the superintendent of a new national park in Pawnee, and as Leslie puts it, he gets to "work outside" and "talk to bears," fulfilling all of Ron's life goals.

Jerry gets the happiest ending in Parks and Recreation

Throughout Parks and Recreation, nobody takes more abuse than Jerry Gergich, right down to the fact that his real name is "Gary," and everyone has been calling him the wrong name for years without caring. Jerry might be a bumbling buffoon at times, but he's also a happily married family man who's a talented painter and musician. Even so, his colleagues overlook and demean him constantly, and thanks to his unfailingly positive attitude, he endures the everyday mockery with a smile.

Ultimately, the joke is on everyone else when Jerry gets the best ending of any character in Parks and Recreation. When Pawnee needs a mayor after their previous mayor suddenly passes away, Jerry handily wins the seat, and astonishingly, he continues to win the position for the remainder of his life. In the end, Jerry triumphantly dies at the ripe old age of 100 years old, with his gorgeous daughters and his stunning wife, Gayle (Christie Brinkley), by his side. (As an amazing sight gag, Gayle hasn't aged a day at her husband's funeral.) Jerry might be the least-loved member of the Parks department, but he arguably lives the best life out of any of them.