Everything We Learned About the Final Season of Parks and Recreation at the TCA Panel


It’s been a big week for Parks and Recreation fans: Star Amy Poehler co-hosted the Golden Globes Sunday, the show’s final batch of episodes began airing Tuesday, and on Friday, most of the show’s cast joined co-creator and executive producer Mike Schur for a farewell news conference at the winter TCA Press Tour. While there weren’t a lot of spoilers about how things in Pawnee will end, we did get a few hints about the finale — and plenty of fond memories. 

All of the key characters will be present at the end.
While Schur hasn’t edited the show’s final episode yet, he said, "The last moments of the show are everybody in the same place at the same time." Poehler added that "some ancillary characters" will get their own send-offs. "We do say good-bye to some of the people in the town," she said. "We get to say good-bye in different ways, by leaving — or dying." (We think she’s kidding about the "dying" part.)

The final episodes contain some subtle treats for die-hard fans.
Viewers who’ve been making like Ben Wyatt and geeking out over the particulars of Pawnee these last seven seasons will be rewarded for their observational skills. "There [are] certain things that are going to happen this season that are going to be a lot more enjoyable for people who have been close watchers of the series," Schur promised. "There’s a couple, like, real nostalgia story lines where for various reasons a lot of people in the town of Pawnee will come back at once for some kind of event or something like that, and you get a kind of like, 'There’s that guy. There’s that guy. There’s that guy.'" Still, don’t expect the episodes to be overwhelmed by nostalgia. Schur said he tried  "to keep those things in the margins a little bit and make them more Easter eggy and like little hidden treats [rather] than moving them to the center of the show … The goal is always to have the story stand on its own regardless of whether you’ve seen the show before, and hopefully we achieved that."

Andy Dwyer was once seen as a future mayor of Pawnee.
While we know now Andy is a successful children’s show host (well, on cable access anyway), there was a time Schur and the writers imagined bigger things for the character. After living in a pit during season one, Andy graduated to shoe-shine guy by the second season. "He was going to be this real Horatio Alger kind of guy — pulling himself up from like a Charles Dickens character or something," Schur explained. "And at one time early on in season two, we were like, 'The end of the show is Andy is the mayor.' He was going to shine people’s shoes, and everyone was going to love him, and he was going to get to know everyone … [and] be the mayor someday."

Chris Pratt is just as awesome in real life as he is in the Lego universe.
When one reporter asked the actor if he had considered leaving the show after his movie success, Pratt replied it "never once occurred to me" to even entertain the notion of an early exit. "I would never fucking ever leave this show," he said. "I’ve been doing this business for 15 years, and I’m realizing the things that really matter about what you’re doing, for me at least, [are] just the relationships you have while you’re doing it. And for me, I hope that I could have the good fortune of finding another group of people like this, but I don’t expect I ever will. I don’t care how much money someone would offer me or what I could be offered, I wouldn’t abandon ship. There’s no fucking way. This team was awesome."

When prompted, Pratt also had a few words of advice for future sitcom actors. "Faster is funnier. Don’t be afraid to be sentimental. [And] don’t read the fucking comments and what everyone thinks," he said. "It doesn’t fucking matter. If you change your vision to try to fit what some jackass online thinks, you’re going to lose your vision. So screw everybody who writes comments. Don’t read them. If you have time to read comments, you should be rewriting your jokes."

Schur and Poehler wanted this to be the final season, even before NBC did.
Why, for the love of Ron Swanson, is the show ending now? Schur says that prior to NBC deciding it was time to move on, he and Poehler talked and decided the show had neared its end point. "We just sort of came to the same conclusion, as we were heading toward the second half of season six —  it’s one more year [and] it’s a short year," he says. "That’s just what we felt in our guts was the right move, purely creatively."

Jim O’Heir loved the torture visited up Jerry/Larry/Gary/Barry.
The actor who plays Pawnee’s most beloved putz never felt producers punished his alter egos too much. "Some of the other characters have gotten more protective of Jerry than I have," O’Heir says. "I remember an instance where Chris Pratt was like, 'This might be too much' for his character to do to me. I’m like, "No. It’s awesome." Anytime they could shit on me, I was all onboard."

Poehler is not a fan of Cones of Dunshire.
While Schur insists the Dungeons and Dragons–like game he and the producers concocted for Adam Scott’s character is "very, very important" to him, Poehler, on the other hand, is super annoyed by it. "I hate Cones of Dunshire," she deadpanned during the panel. "So confusing. It gives me a headache. It’s really cool that people are raising money for it [via Kickstarter], but I mean, it’s just that it’s so many rules."

Parks has been a boon for actual parks and rec workers.
Retta says she regularly hears from local government staffers who’ve had their self-esteem boosted by the show. "I’ll get tweets like, 'Hey, girl, you know I work in parks and rec of such and such,' and I’m like, All right … People who work in the parks departments and local government, they [now] think they are fucking cool as shit."

Your new favorite cocktail just might be the Joan.
It turns out there’s an adult beverage named for Pawnee’s favorite talk-show host Joan Callamezzo. What is a Joan? Gin with crushed aspirin on the rim of the glass.