Ron Swanson

Ron Swanson

    Parks and Recreation
Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Character Analysis

(Avoiding Spoilers)

Living… in Pawnee, Ind., a town that to Ron’s delight isn’t even technically on the map. The way he tells it, the town’s early settlers pushed a federal mandate through Congress banning the City of Pawnee’s likeness from all local, state and government maps. Apparently they believed that consulting a “magic scroll” that could let you know exactly where you were at any given moment was too close to witchcraft. Given Ron’s desire to live off the grid, there’s no place he’d rather be. 

Profession… director of the Pawnee City Department of Parks and Recreation, a wing of a bureaucracy he is actively working to limit in size. As he says, “I've been quite open about this around the office: I don't want this Parks Department to build any parks because I don't believe in government. I think that all government is a waste of taxpayer money. My dream is to have the park system privatized and run entirely for profit by corporations, like Chuck E. Cheese. They have an impeccable business model. I would rather work for Chuck E. Cheese.” 

Interests… hunting, maintaining his moustache, and breakfast food. If Ron goes to a strip club, the only thing he cares about is the breakfast buffet. His fridge is stocked with bacon and eggs, or as he calls it, “real food.” His office has a framed picture of bacon and eggs. It’s more than an interest – it’s his life’s calling. 

Relationship Status… twice-divorced – both times to women named Tammy. He has exercised his bitterness enough to devise some practical tips: “The key to burning an ex-wife effigy is to dip it in paraffin wax and then toss the flaming bottle of isopropyl alcohol from a safe distance. Do not stand too close when you light an ex-wife effigy."

Challenge… reconciling his suspicion of government with his job running a government agency. Ron believes that government should basically be dismantled, except for perhaps one man who sits in a small room at a desk and decides who to nuke. Ron has it all figured out: “The man is chosen based on some kind of IQ test, and maybe also a physical tournament, like a decathlon. And women are brought to him, maybe...when he desires them.” 

Personality… the man’s man’s man’s man. A committed libertarian, he originally staffed the Parks and Rec department with as many incompetents as possible so it would barely function, thus enabling it to do what he believes government should – absolutely nothing. Yet deputy director Leslie Knope eventually whipped the department into shape to Ron’s constant grumbling. Much of the grumbling, however, might be for show. As much as Ron likes to say he doesn’t care about the personal lives of his co-workers or, say, emotions, he actually looks out for them repeatedly. Beyond all the he-man bluster, Ron is a big softy.


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