Oh, the glorious town of Pawnee. Full of parks, waffle houses, a plethora of council meetings, and a lot of famous faces. The beloved ‘Parks and Recreation’ series spanned over seven hilarious seasons and included guest stars over the course of each one.
From high-profile politicians (we see you, Joe Biden!) to comedy legends and popular actors, many of these cameos highlight some of the best moments of the show.
Without further ado, here are the 24 Most Iconic ‘Parks and Rec’ Guest Stars that we’ll never forget:
1. Michelle Obama
Appeared In Season 6, Episode 21
Let’s face it. We were fangirling almost as hard as Leslie Knope during the cameo of First Lady Michelle Obama. Perhaps one of the most notable guest stars in ‘Parks and Rec’ history comes about at the National Parks Conference where Michelle Obama imparts words of wisdom to a flabbergasted Leslie. Also, they share a high five. No big deal.
2. Josh Groban
Appeared In Season 7, Episode 6
During ‘Treat Yo Self’ 2017 (cue us singing “Treat yo self in Beverly Hills!” in the back of a limousine), Tom and Donna treat themselves to first-class dining at the hottest restaurant in LA, where “all the sushi is made from fish previously owned by celebrities.” Of course, it wouldn’t be LA without a celebrity sighting, so the pair gets the treat of seeing Josh Groban order his own celeb sushi dish.
3. Bill Murray
Appeared In Season 7, Episode 11
Legend has it that the creators of ‘Parks and Rec’ were originally going to cast Arnold Schwarzenegger for the role of Pawnee’s Mayor Gunderson. Instead, the comedy gods blessed us, and we got Bill Murray. Though the town’s mayor was mentioned throughout the series, we only see him during Bill Murray’s cameo… as a corpse.
4. Joe Biden
Appeared In Season 5, Episode 7 & Season 7, Episode 13
While in Washington D.C., Ben and Leslie stop by their “future house” (hint: it’s white) where Ben has pulled a few strings for a surprise meet-and-greet with Vice President Joe Biden. The politician returns for a flash-forward in the season finale, in which Leslie and Ben attend a dinner party at the Biden’s, and Leslie challenges her idol to a round of charades.
5. Keegan-Michael Key
Appeared In Season 6, Episode 20 & Season 7, Episode 6, 7, 12
Donna Meagle deserves everything, including a second chance at love with adorable music teacher Joe. Keegan-Michael Key guest stars as Donna’s ex-boyfriend-turned-boyfriend-turned husband who also helps inspire the creation of “Teach Yo Self,” a non-profit education organization.
6. Kristen Bell
Appeared In Season 6, Episode 3, 6, 10
We may not like Eagletonians, but we are a fan of the fact Kristin Bell totally channeled her inner gossip girl into portraying Ingrid De Forest. An annoyingly privileged Eagleton councilwoman who becomes a short-lived arch-nemesis of Leslie Knope.
7. Dax Shepard
Appeared In Season 7, Episode 5
Speaking of Kristen Bell… her hubby, Dax Shepard, appeared in an episode of ‘Parks and Rec’ as Hank Muntak, a chief executive of Pawnee’s local Channel 4 station.
8. Newt Gingrich
Appeared In Season 5, Episode 10
It’s not a bachelor party without a hearty steak dinner and… Newt Gingrich? While visiting a steakhouse during Ron’s bachelor party, Jerry finds himself seated at the wrong table. Instead of a reservation under “Gergich,” he has accidentally taken over the table belonging to the “Gingrich” clan!
9. John McCain
Appeared In Season 5, Episode 1
To add to Leslie Knope’s track record for awkward run-ins with famous politicians, during season five, she stumbles into John McCain in a coat closet, and divulges all of her problems to him, naturally.
10. Andy Samberg
Appeared In Season 2, Episode 19
Enter Carl Lorthner, the loud-mouthed park ranger, head of outdoor security (because he was kicked out of his indoor job), and self-proclaimed ladies-man. He’s truly one of the most annoying characters, and we love it.
11. Patricia Clarkson
Appeared In Season 4, Episode 1 & Season 4, Episode 2
When it comes to crazy ex-wives, Patricia Clarkson’s Tammy I takes the cake. Clarkson portrays Ron’s controlling first wife (and one-third of the strange Tammy Swanson trifecta).
12. Megan Mullally
Appeared In Select Episodes Of Season 2 – 7
Portrayed by Nick Offerman’s real-life wife, comedian, and actress Megan Mullally, Tammy II is literally double the crazy of Tammy I!
13. Heidi Klum
Appeared In Season 6, Episode 1
When Leslie Knope laments that the town of Pawnee wants her out of office, she runs into a councilwoman from Denmark with the opposite problem. Heidi Klum’s character boasts that her town has erected a statue of her made out of goat cheese… And they plan to eat it with crackers.
14. John Hamm
Appeared In Season 6, Episode 21 & Season 7, Episode 1
Don Draper no more, John Hamm pops into Pawnee as the incompetent Ed who comes to work for the department. Between never quite finding the right file folder and being accused of having less sense than Terry/Jerry/Gary… John Hamm is only here to wreak havoc and mad(men)ness.
15. Paul Rudd
Appeared In Season 4, Episode 12, 20-22 & Season 7, Episode 11, 12
Nowadays he’s called Ant Man, but ‘Parks and Rec’ stans know him as the infamous Bobby Newport, heir to the Sweetums family fortune and undedicated rival to Leslie Knope during her city council campaign.
16. JK Simmons
Appeared In Season 5, Episode 17
The renowned actor makes an appearance in the show’s fifth season as Mayor Stice, the slightly antagonistic mayor of Ben Wyatt’s hometown, Partridge.
17. John Cena
Appeared In Season 7, Episode 10
Remember when wrestling legend John Cena appeared on Andy’s TV show, “The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show”? Not only did this guest star on “Johnny Karate,” but he found himself subjected to the wrath of April Ludgate… dunk-tank style.
Appeared In Season 6, Episode 22 & Season 7, Episode 7
In case you were wondering if Donna Meagle could get any more fabulous, SHE CAN! She low-key reveals that she has a famous cousin, the singer Ginuwine, who she recruits to perform at the Pawnee/Eagleton Unity Concert.
19. Christie Brinkley
Appeared In Season 5, Episode 9, 20 & Season 7, Episode 7, 12
Actress and model Christie Brinkley’s appearance as Jerry Gergich’s wife, Gayle Gergich, is definitely one for the books. While Jerry maybe the guy in the office, everybody picks on, at home he’s a husband to bombshell Christie Brinkley and three beautiful daughters. No wonder he’s always in a good mood!
20. Sam Elliott
Appeared In Season 6, Episode 4 & Season 7, Episode 11
There was no one more perfect for the role of Ron Dunn, the Eagleton doppelgänger of Ron Swanson. Both Rons are pretty much the same person…with one minor exception: Ron Dunn is vegan!
21. Rachel Dratch
Appeared In Season 7, Episode 7
We love seeing SNL stars appear on ‘Parks and Rec’! Rachel Dratch made a brief appearance during the show’s finale episode, playing the nanny to Ben and Leslie’s three children. Adorable!
22. Parker Posey
Appeared In Season 3, Episode 12
We come across a number of irritating Eagletonians over the years, including Lindsay Carlisle Shay, played by Parker Posey. Lindsay is the Leslie Knope of Eagleton (and Leslie’s ex-bestie), a former Pawnee resident, and the actual worst.
23. Will Arnett
Appeared In Season 2, Episode 13
Arnett plays Chris, an MRI technologist, who goes on a blind-date with Leslie. Things go south pretty quickly after he finds out that his date is not the director of an amusement park and also attended a rival college. In an effort to save the experience and kindle some sparks, Chris takes Leslie to go get her first MRI… romantic.
24. Henry Winkler
Appeared In Select Episodes of Season 6 & Season 7, Episode 11, 12
Winkler may have garnered a few Golden Globes and an Emmy in real life, but we’re going to say it’s his performance as Dr. Saperstein that is, as Jean-Ralphio would sing, THE BEEEEEEEEST! While Dr. Saperstein has the misfortune of being Jean-Ralphio and Mona-Lisa’s father, any episode with the Saperstein’s is pure live-giving gold.
Who are your favorite ‘Parks and Rec’ guest stars? Share it with us in the comments below!