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The Willie Nelson Detail You Likely Missed On Parks And Recreation

One of the defining voices of country music, Willie Nelson is nothing short of a cultural icon over a half-century after his career took off. He's released countless classic songs and albums, become a political and social activist, authored books, and even popped up in several feature films and television shows — including one with Gary Busey. Though he never appeared on it physically, one such project he left an indelible mark on is "Parks and Recreation," which ran on NBC from 2009 to 2015. More specifically, the fourth episode of Season 7, titled "Leslie and Ron."

For those who don't recall, "Leslie and Ron" is one of the most emotional episodes of the series as the two title characters attempt to work out their differences. Their friends lock them in the office for the duration of the day, forcing them to communicate. Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) goes overboard trying to figure out why their friendship fell apart, while Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman, who also wrote an episode) is apprehensive to share his feelings. Eventually, they break down and open a line of communication, resolving their conflict in the process.

During their chat, Leslie digs out and plays a mix tape she made years prior that includes one song from everyone in the Pawnee, Indiana Parks and Recreation Department. Ron's track of choice was Willie Nelson's "Buddy" — a song that would reappear on the show in a tear-jerking manner.

Parks and Rec calls back to Willie Nelson's Buddy in the series finale

As pointed out by Reddit user u/ra_corleone, Willie Nelson's "Buddy" popped up later on during "Parks and Recreation" Season 7. The episode "One Last Ride" — the final installment in the series' initial run — includes a few time jumps that reveal what became of the Pawnee crew. In the midst of it all, Leslie tells to Ron that she's putting him in charge of Pawnee National Park, which he accepts on the spot. Upon grabbing his oar and canoe, he wades out into a nearby body of water wearing an ear-to-ear grin. All the while, "Buddy" plays over the scene, cementing its importance to Ron and Leslie's friendship.

This moment didn't close out the episode, but it's arguably one of the most emotionally resonant ones "Parks and Rec" ever put together. After all, the series has been over for years, yet fans continue to talk about it and add "Buddy" to their playlists. When the sitcom came to an end, Amy Poehler voiced her hope that it would live on as a comedy yet a production that made audiences feel something (via the "Parks and Recreation" YouTube channel). Considering how beloved it remains so long after it first graced the airwaves, it's fair to say it managed to do so and then some.

Despite never making a single appearance on "Parks and Recreation," Willie Nelson, as well as the song "Buddy," have more than earned their place as part of its lasting legacy.