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The Parks And Rec Character You Likely Forgot Is Based On A Real Person

After wringing comedy gold out of the white-collar workplace with "The Office," Michael Schur and Greg Daniels took on an even drier subject matter with the series "Parks and Recreation": the day-to-day lives of mid-level government bureaucrats. In the hands of Schur and Daniels, however, "Parks and Rec" was anything but dry. Despite a rocky first season, the series regularly topped year-end lists and became an awards season regular during its time on the air, earning 14 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, a Golden Globe nomination, and a Golden Globe Award for Amy Poehler's performance as the unflappably sunny Leslie Knope (via IMDb).

There's no "Parks and Rec" without the department's ensemble of characters, not to mention the supporting players like Perd Hapley (Jay Jackson) and Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) who flesh out the endlessly strange, lovable world of Pawnee, Indiana. Certain characters were written with specific actors in mind, like Poehler's Leslie and Aziz Ansari's Tom Haverford. Others, like Jerry and Donna, were developed over the course of the series as the showrunners got to know Jim O'Heir and Retta. In the case of Aubrey Plaza, she was brought in at the behest of the casting directors after the pilot had already been written (via Uproxx). But one "Parks and Rec" character, in particular, was inspired by a real person.

Ron Swanson was inspired by a Burbank government official

A lover of jazz, breakfast foods, and military aviation, Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) remains one of the most beloved characters to emerge from "Parks and Recreation." A stalwart individualist, Ron is a welcome foil to Leslie's unflagging belief in the potential of government services. Ron was purposefully written as an anti-government government employee, a proposition that tickled Michael Schur and Greg Daniels. The duo was pleasantly surprised, then, to find such a person in real life.

In doing research for "Parks and Rec," Schur and Daniels visited various local government offices. In an office in Burbank, California, they tested out their idea on an employee, asking if it would be believable to write a character that doesn't believe in the mission of the department he's overseeing. She replied, "Well, I'm a libertarian, so I don't really believe in the mission of my job ... I'm aware of the irony" (via Los Angeles Times). From there, Schur and Daniels were able to build out Ron's character, adding enduring attributes such as his love of riddles and disdain for Europe. The real crux of Ron, however, was established that fateful day in Burbank.