Leslie Knope

Leslie Knope

    Parks and Recreation
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living... in Pawnee, Ind., where she’s lived all her life. Well, she discovered to her horror that technically she was born in the wealthy neighboring town of Eagleton, Pawnee’s arch-rival, but please don’t spread it around. Pawnee is smack in America’s heartland, and Leslie puts the “heart” in Pawnee.

Profession… deputy director of the Pawnee City Department of Parks and Recreation. Leslie takes her position very seriously and does her best to please the citizens of Pawnee with the few resources she’s been given. (Even though the citizens rarely seem grateful.) Since her boss Ron, a staunch libertarian who believes government should do as little as possible, is all too happy to let the department flounder, Leslie works double-time pick up the slack.

Interests… politics. Leslie’s had a lifelong love affair with government going back to her youthful days in Model United Nations, Debate Club, Mock Trial, Young Democrats, Young Republicans and Young Independents. Nothing like covering your bases. Leslie also loves food, but not food-food. Her tastes are closer to a 5-year-old’s: whipped cream, waffles, and sugar. Don’t even talk to her about salad, though. Salad is a joke – a disgusting, overrated joke.

Relationship Status… right now she’s dating Ben, who’s been called in to audit Pawnee’s books. Before that, she was perpetually unlucky in relationships.We’ll let her tell it: “One time I was dating this guy for a while, and then he got down on one knee and he begged me never to call him again. One guy broke up with me while we were in the shower together. Skywriting isn’t always positive. Another time a guy invited me to a beautiful picnic with wine and flowers, and then when I tried to sit down, he said, ‘Don’t eat anything. Rebecca’s coming.’ And then he broke up with me.”

Challenge… maintaining her faith in her job and belief she can make a difference despite constant disappointment. The dwindling budget and bureaucratic process make it a constant challenge to do her job as well as she desires. All she wants to do is work hard to help the people, but often that’s easier said than done: “The bankrupt government of Pawnee has been shut down all summer so it’s been three months of no work, no meetings, no memos, no late nights, nothing. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”

Personality… cheery, relentless, and undaunted. Leslie is an eternal optimist with a can-do attitude. It’s not that she never gets discouraged, but that she gets off the mat repeatedly and comes back for more. In fact Leslie once cited Hillary Clinton as one of her idols because nobody takes a punch better than Hillary: “She’s the strongest, smartest punching bag in the world.” Leslie might as well have been describing herself.


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