Although born in the neighboring rival town of Eagleton as a child, due to the raccoon infestation in Pawnee (or her mother's sins, as she likes to say) Leslie found a loving, diverse, active family in the many community programs offered by the wonderful city government of Pawnee. She vowed early on to give back to this vibrant and fascinating town by living a life of public service. Leslie graduated in the top 5% of her class at Pawnee North High School, where she was Co-Vice President of the Student Body and a member of Model United Nations, Key Club, Debate Club, Mock Trial, Young Republicans, Young Democrats, Young Independents (founding member), Drama Club, Historical Society, Orchestra, Color Guard, and junior varsity field hockey. She attended Indiana University, graduated summa cum laude from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and is a Hoosier athletics fan. Her father, Robert, passed away when she was 10 years old and resides in a cemetery in Florida.
Leslie is a mid-level bureaucrat in the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana who hopes to advance her career and improve her town, while working towards her goal of becoming the first female President. She and Mark Brendanawicz, a coworker of hers and reputable womanizer, hooked up leaving Leslie with romantic feelings towards him, although it meant nothing to Mark. Knope is a fan of Hillary Clinton (whom Amy Poehler spoofed during her tenure on Saturday Night Live), prominently displaying her official portrait as Secretary of State on the wall next to her door. In addition, she displays the photograph of Madeline Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Janet Reno, and Nancy Pelosi. Leslie is a proud member of numerous action committees in and around City Hall, including, but not limited to: the Equal Opportunity Committee, the Fun in the Sun Committee, the Clean Restroom Task Force, the Increased Access to Restrooms Task Force, the Handicapped Restroom Task Force, the Committee for Repainting Handicapped Parking Spaces Task Force, and the Task Force to Reduce the Number of Public Restrooms. Leslie had triplets.
Initially, Leslie is shown to carry romantic feelings for her co-worker Mark due to her romantic altercation with him several years before. She is also desperate to impress her mother Marlene, who is a well-known politician in the Pawnee government. At a public forum she meets Ann Perkins, who informs her about a pit near her house that her boyfriend, Andy Dwyer, fell into. Leslie takes on the project, hoping to build a park there, and quickly becomes friends with Ann. However, she learns that overcoming the red tape of government and budget deficits isn't easy.
Leslie seems to move on from her romantic interest in Mark and begins dating police officer Dave Sanderson. She also begins taking charge and gains a lot of confidence. Also, more of her relationships with her co-workers is shown. Towards the end of the season, Dave, who was enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve, was called into active duty in San Diego, where he will be doing custodial work. Dave asks Leslie to move with him to San Diego, and although she considered it, she ultimately declined and they parted ways amicably. After Ann sets her up with Justin in "The Set Up," Ron later shows Leslie that he is just selfish and they breakup in "Galentine's Day". In "The Master Plan", Leslie meets Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger, who are state auditors who have come to Pawnee because the city is broke. At first, Leslie doesn't get along with Ben, saying later she thought he was a "fascist hard ass". When he asks her out to have a beer, they begin to respect each other more. Chris reveals that the town has virtually no funds left and the government will be shut down (which includes the parks of Pawnee) until further notice. He and Chris set up a budget task force with several employees of Pawnee's government, including Ron Swanson. Ron accidentally reveals that Leslie is secretly planning to put the cancelled children's concert on a unused lot behind Ann Perkins' house, he tries to stop her. When Ben sees how much effort she put into it, he lets her have the concert and even pays Freddy Spaghetti to come back after he agreed to perform at a library in Eagleton, which gets him back on Leslie's good side.
Leslie decides to bring back the defunct Pawnee Harvest Festival, the success or failure of which will determine the financial future of the Parks Department. After weeks of planning, the Harvest Festival is a success. After the success of the Festival, however, she feels stressed to come up with another great idea for the Parks Department. Ron forces her to get a good night's sleep, and she shows up at the office the next morning, brimming with new ideas.
Leslie is shown to have feelings for Ben Wyatt in this season. She wants to take another step in their relationship but isn't allowed to because of Chris Traeger's inter-office dating rules. Ben struggles with choosing between a job offer in Indianapolis and one in Pawnee. Not wanting to show that she likes him, Leslie tells him it's a "tough call" and tells him to make a pros and cons list. He ultimately decides he likes Pawnee and wants to stay there because he's moved around so much. In "Soulmates", Leslie is upset because Ben rejects her when she asks him out. Ann convinces her to sign up for an online dating service, but the service matches her with Tom. Determined to find out why they're a match, Leslie takes him out to lunch, which proves to be disastrous. Tom teases Leslie and reveals he has multiple accounts at the site with the hopes of attracting all types of women. Leslie is later relieved to learn Ben only turned her down because Chris has a strict policy against office relationships. Feeling frustrated and powerless because of her situation with Ben, Leslie finds strength in a painting Jerry Gergich contributes to a community art show, which depicts her as a powerful and bare-chested Greek goddess.
In "The Fight", Leslie tells Ann about a job opening as the Public Relations Director of the Health Department. She's excited about the possibility of them working in the same building, but is disappointed when Ann doesn't seem as excited as she expected. That night, atThe Snakehole Lounge, Leslie is surprised and annoyed to find Ann partying on the dance floor instead of preparing for the job interview the next day. She insults Ann's dating lifestyle, which has been shown to include numerous one-night stands. This prompts Ann to insult Leslie for moving too slow with Ben, whom Leslie is attracted to. The fight escalates throughout the night, and Leslie ultimately claims she always has to keep Ann motivated or she would not go anywhere. Both declare it best that Ann not work with Leslie after all and they storm off. The next morning, Leslie deeply regrets how she treated Ann. Ben visits Ann at her home and asks her to forgive Leslie. Ann, who also regrets the fight, is touched by Ben's gesture and reveals that Leslie likes him. Ann decides to attend the job interview, during which she and Leslie apologize to each other.
In "Road Trip", Leslie and Ben appear on the verge of getting together, but Chris surprises them by showing up to celebrate their success of getting Pawnee chosen to host the Indiana Baseball Tournament. Although Chris' constant interruptions spoil the mood, Leslie and Ben secretly kiss each other after getting back to Pawnee.
Leslie and Ben revel in "the bubble", the beginning stage of a relationship when everything is simple and fun. Their bubble is threatened, however, when Leslie's notoriously tough mother Marlene Griggs-Knope, a Pawnee politician, meets with Ben to discuss a business request. Leslie initially makes Ben nervous for the meeting and Marlene believes him to be weak. When Leslie tries to prepare him for a follow-up meeting, Ben is so confident that Marlene ends up becoming attracted to him herself. Fed up, Ben admits he is secretly dating Leslie, much to Marlene's amusement.
In "Li'l Sebastian", Pawnee's favorite mini horse, Li'l Sebastian, dies, and the Parks Department organizes a memorial service. Leslie and Ben have trouble keeping their relationship secret, and their efforts to do so causes problems with Li'l Sebastian's eternal flame that nearly kill Ron with a fireball. Leslie is approached about possibly running for city council by political scouts Elizabeth and William Barnes, which has been a life-long dream of hers. However, when asked about potential scandals in her life, she neglects to mention her secret relationship with Ben.
After some encouragement from Ben, Leslie decides to run for City Council. She writes a book detailing her love for the city of Pawnee entitled Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America. She also finds out that she was actually born in Eagleton, Indiana because, according to her mother, the Pawnee Hospital was overrun by raccoons at the time. Leslie soon comes to realize that while she is running, her relationship with Ben cannot continue, and they regretfully break up. Leslie then announces her city council candidacy to the public. She decides to hire Andy Dwyer as her assistant. After both Ben and Leslie find they cannot get over one another, they get back together. Chris, regretfully, launches a full-scale investigation into their relationship and arranges an ethics hearing for each of them. Ben sacrifices his job to save Leslie from losing hers and she's suspended for two weeks with pay. The scandal of their relationship and her plummeting poll numbers causes her campaign staff, Elizabeth and William, to abandon her, and the Parks Department, including Ron, Donna, Andy, April, Ann, and Jerry, volunteers to be her new campaign staff. Originally Ann is her campaign manager, as Leslie says Ben is "poison to my campaign", but ultimately she asks him to be her campaign manager. Her ex-boyfriend Dave Sanderson shows back up in Pawnee to interview for police chief after the end of his active duty in San Diego and, during an awkward dinner with her and Ben, unsuccessfully attempts to win her back. There are various hurdles Leslie and her campaign staff have to overcome against her opponent Bobby Newport, heir to the Sweetums fortune, and his hotshot Washington campaign manager Jennifer Barkley from Washington, D.C. In the Season 4 finale, Bobby Newport is announced as the winner of the city council election by 21 votes. After demanding a recount, Ann tells Leslie that she has won the election. Ben decides to accept the job offer from Jennifer to run a congressional campaign for Congressman Murray (with some encouragement from Leslie to do so) but the couple worries how they will cope with Ben moving to Washington, D.C. for six months.
Leslie begins her first years as a city council along with councilmen, Howser, Dexhart, Milton and Jamm. She proposes a soda tax against 64, 128 and 512 ounce soda cups, she teaches elders sexual education who have experienced STD's, she gets the lot for the Pawnee commons, and in "Halloween Surprise" Ben comes back from Washington D.C and proposes to her, and she accepts. While the wedding was planned to be in May, they get married a few months ahead in a surprising gala ceremony to fundraise for the Pawnee commons. Leslie gets more female workers into the government, specifically sanitation. In "Jerry's retirement" Leslie stated she wants a family life like Jerry's. In "Are You Better Off" the citizens of Pawnee, who do not like the changes that councilwoman Knope made, are going to recall her, but she stays strong to better her image.
Leslie Knope wins an award that takes her to London and Kathryn Pinewood tells Perd Hapley that she is trying to help Pawnee while Leslie is "gallivanting in Europe," and when Leslie accepts the awards she complains how her city treats her (she later finds out the speech has been webcast in City Hall). Ron reminds her she needs to be the adult in this scenario, since she chose a thankless job. Leslie was also the maid of honor in he and Diane's quick wedding on the fourth floor. In "The Pawnee-Eagleton Classic Tip Off," Eagleton is in massive debt and Leslie moves that they be absorbed into Pawnee, also taking care of some of their debts. In "Halloween Night" she is recalled from City Council and very depressed, getting drunk with Ben and almost receiving a tattoo of his name. After a pep talk from Ann, she tries to get as much done as possible before her term is up. One of her projects is adding fluoride to the drinking water of Pawnee from the Eagleton Reservoir, branding it as "#TDAZZLE" and later "H-2-Flow" with Tom. This angers Councilman Jamm, who is a dentist and hates fluoride because it prevents cavities that he can be payed to fill. Later, after a heated discussion between Jamm, Leslie, and Chris, they get the lot for the Pawnee Commons, completing Leslie's quest to get it built. In "Flu Season 2" Leslie learns that she is pregnant, and Andy finds out before Ben does, though when Ben does find out, he is happy. In the two-part season finale, "Moving Up", she rejects the offer to work in Chicago, opting to establish the new Midwest office on the third floor of the Pawnee Department. A time jump of three years shows that she and Ben are now parents of two boys and a girl.
It's 2017, and Leslie is the Deputy Director of the Midwest National Parks Service on the third floor. She is in a bidding war for a multi-million dollar estate owned by the Newport family which she wants to turn into a national park. She is bidding against Ron, whose new building company is working for Gryzzl and plans to build Gryzzl's new headquarters there. Leslie and Ron now despise each other due to Ron not only leaving the Parks Department, but also for building an apartment complex on the lot where Ann's house was.
In "Leslie & Ron", Leslie is stuck in the old Parks Department in City Hall with Ron after Ben locks the two inside all night to work out their issues. After many hours, Ron reveals to Leslie that the main reason he left the Parks Department was because Leslie stood him up to a lunch where Ron was going to ask her for a job in the federal government. The two make up and spend the rest of the night getting drunk and putting back the old furniture into the office.
- In the introductory film that Tom produces for Leslie in Meet N Greet, it is revealed that her middle name is Barbara.
- She has been a dues paying member of the Indiana Organization of Women since she was 9
- In high school they used to call her Angela Lansbury, but that was because of her hair cut
- She revealed in "Christmas Scandal" that she took surfing lessons as a kid
- She started Camp Athena, a camp for troubled girls, for which Ron Swanson gets the credit for when he wins the Dorothy Everton Smyth Female Empowerment Award
- In "Camping", she reveals she usually only gets 3.5 hours of sleep per night
- In "Soulmates", she reveals to Tom that she kissed a girl in college
- Her favorite food is whipped cream, as seen multiple times throughout the series and in the episode "Operation Ann" where Ben is made to find a clue in the food she finds "no finer." His immediate thought is whipped cream (though he hesitates for a moment and reaffirms that her favorite food is whipped cream).
- She finds turtles to be condescending
- Loves Belgian waffles from J.J.'s Diner, whipped cream, and sugar
- She puts sugar on pasta
- Leslie is a hoarder, as referenced in season 5, and her cluttered house is shown in an earlier season.
- Does not like salad (or other disgusting things)
- She's an excellent bowler (ask Ron)
- She loves Harry Potter, and has forced Ann to watch all eight films with her
- She is a big fan of Joe Biden and women in politics
- Loves cute things, like hummingbirds and baby monkeys in diapers
- Her office has a large number of owls decorating it.
- She has had some really weird dates: setting herself on fire, Ambien overdose, a date sticking his hand in her mouth as she slept, and a free MRI (which she later had to pay $2,000 for).
- She has triplets
- She is best friends with Ann Perkins
- In The Set Up , when she has her sonogram, Chris says that she could have triplets right off the bat. Which is foreshadowing to when she does with Ben.
- It is revealed on the way back from Indianapolis with Ann that she has been broken up with in many rude ways including: an ex taking her to a picnic and asking her to not eat anything because "Rebecca was coming," also someone's mom called her to break up with her for him, even stating that "Sky writing isn't always positive."
- She thoroughly enjoys scrapbooking, and takes extreme offense when Ron is arguing with her and states "you're not that good at scrapbooking."
- In the series finale, it is hinted that Leslie (or Ben) becomes President
This character has a Photo Gallery.