For most of the show's run, she serves as the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Department of the fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana. An over-achiever, Knope believes the government should serve the people.
She is portrayed by Amy Poehler.
Although born in the neighboring rival town of Eagleton, due to the fact that the Pawnee hospital was overrun with raccoons, Leslie is a Pawneean. 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 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 Environmental and Public Affairs, and is a Hoosier athletics fan. Her father, Robert, passed away in 1985 (when Leslie was 10) and was buried 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 photographs 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.
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 is difficult.
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 break up 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 canceled children's concert on an unused lot behind Ann Perkins' house; Ben 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, at The 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 does 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 kills 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 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 councilwoman along with councilmen, Howser, Dexhart, Milton and Jamm. She proposes a soda tax against 64, 128 and 512-ounce soda cups, she teaches sex education to elders who have experienced STDs, 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 of time 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 Ron 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 are absorbed into Pawnee, also taking care of some of their debts. In "Recall Vote" she is recalled from City Council and becomes 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 paid 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. Chris then offered Ben his position as the City Manager of Pawnee as he will be leaving with Ann to Michigan. On Leslie's last day on City Council, Ben called Jennifer Barkley to help give Leslie some counseling and advice on whether or not she should run another City Councillor campaign against Councilman Bill Dexhart. In the end, Leslie decided against on running after Jen told her to dream bigger. As a 'last day on city council' gift, Ben planned a trip to Paris for him and Leslie in hopes to take her mind off things. Leslie returned back to her previous job as the Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Department in "New Beginnings" and Ben started his new job as the new City Manager of Pawnee. Leslie and Ben fought regarding an issue concerning Pawnee's Farmers Market. Their disagreement was resolved and they decided to make things work by respecting each other's position. Leslie broke grounds on the Pawnee Commons as a final goodbye gift for Ann on her last night in Pawnee. She bid farewell to Chris and admitted that although there was no man on Earth good enough for Ann, he is 'pretty damn close'. Finally, Leslie said goodbye to her best friend and went for breakfast with her friends afterwards to help with her sadness. In "Anniversaries", Tom, April, Andy, Craig and his friend Madilyn, came up with an idea to organize a 'Unity Concert' for the Pawnee-Eagleton merger. The concert was to help make people forget about the feud between Pawneeans ad Eagletonians and enjoy a food time together in unity. Later that day, Leslie showed Ben his anniversary present; the Iron Throne, which Ben was extremely happy to have. During "The Wall", Leslie was met with a lot of hate when her attempt to bring down the Pawnee-Eagleton wall ended up with many Eagletonians getting stung by bees hidden inside the wall. The public believed that Leslie had wanted to prank the Eagletonians. Leslie ended up being accidentally punched in the eye by someone who was trying to punch an ill-mouthed Councilman Jamm. Following that incident, Grant Larson met Leslie to offer her a job as the new Regional Director of the National Parks Service of the Midwest Region in a new branch opening in Chicago, Illinois. Leslie was left conflicted whether or not she should take the job offer as she did not want to truly leave Pawnee. She told Grant to give her more time to think about it. In the episode "Galentine's Day", Leslie traveled to Michigan to visit Ann who just gave birth to a baby boy named Oliver. Leslie threw a prom night for the Pawnee High School to take her mind of the new job offer. In "Flu Season 2" Leslie and Andy travel to Indianapolis to convince a famous teenage Indiana country singer, Chipp Mcapp to play for the Unity Concert. Throughout the whole day, Leslie kept barfing and she was sure that she had the flu again. However, at the pharmacy, she realizes that she did not have the flu. Leslie learns that she is pregnant when the reached Chipp's music studio. She tried to tell Ben the great news but Ben was too drunk to talk and accidentally hung up on her. Chipp turned out to be a jerk and refused to play for the Unity Concert. Leslie and Andy left and while at a diner, Andy unintentionally found out that Leslie is pregnant (he had assumed that she was stressed because she and Ben were going to adopt a pet dog). Leslie and Andy then decided to recruit Land Ho for the unity concert instead. After successfully convincing the lead singer to reunite Land Ho for the concert, Andy and Leslie went home and called it a day. Ben returned home later that night, sober. He expressed his desire to start their family. Smiling, Leslie told him that she has some great news for him, making Ben very happy. In next episode, Ben and Leslie realize that they were going to have triplets. This revelation made Ben very worried and stressed because he was afraid that they would not be able to support their children's finances and education. Leslie then showed Ben that everything will be alright as their friends are willing to help even without them asking. In the two-part season finale, "Moving Up," Leslie, Ben and Andy traveled to San Francisco for their respective meetings. Ben managed to convince Leslie to accept the new job after Leslie could not come up with an ultimate decision. Back in Pawnee, Leslie told her friends that she took a new job and would be leaving Pawnee. Everyone was happy for her. The first day of the Unity Concert deemed to be a huge success and the future of the merger was bright. Leslie managed to stay in Pawnee and also accept the new job as Regional Director of the National Parks Service Midwest Branch. She opted to establish the new Midwest office on the third floor of the Pawnee Department instead of moving to Chicago. One month later, she officially leaves the Parks and Recreation Department and moves upstairs to begin her new job. Three years later, Ben and Leslie are parents to a girl (Sonia) and two identical boys (Stephen and Wesley). She now works as the Regional Director of the National Parks Service on the third floor with April and Larry (now known as Terry). She and Ben then head downstairs for an important meeting.
It's 2017, and Leslie is the Regional 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. Gryzzl is planning to build their new headquarters on that land. In the last two years, Leslie and Ron got into a fight and has despised each other ever since. This is due to Ron not only leaving the Parks Department without telling Leslie but also because his company built an apartment complex called 'MorningStar' on the lot where Ann's house was. Leslie has referred their fall out as the 'MorningStar incident'.
When the city council was going to vote on the Newport land, Leslie sneaked around to convince her former city councilor-mate, Councilman Jeremy Jamm, who was the deciding to vote in favor of National Parks Service to establish a national park on the Newport land. However, Leslie instead came to a temporary truce with Ron to help Jamm break up with Tammy 2 (due to the relationship being unhealthy for Jamm). They successfully broke the pair off and Jamm decided to not vote on the Newport land. Leslie and Ron went back to fighting with each other.
Leslie soon found a way to prevent Gryzzl from winning the bidding war; by preserving the historical artifacts and belongings of President William Henry Harrison that was found on that piece of land so that the Newport land will become government-owned by default. However, her plan backfires when Ron recruited a Pawnee's iconic person, Annabel Porter to endorse Gryzzl. Ron sabotaged Leslie's press conference with his own. Despite that, both of their press conferences were mostly flash but no substance at all. Throughout the whole day, Leslie refused to sign Ben's work document on the bid for the Newport land because Ron was signing it too. Ben and their other friend were frustrated with how Ron and Leslie are acting towards each other despite the fact that they once were very close friends. Later that night, Ben approached Leslie and tried to convince Leslie once again to come to a temporary truce with Ron so that he can get the documents signed. Leslie grudgingly agreed and Ben lead her to the old Parks Department in City Hall where Ron was waiting to sign the papers as well.
Upon reaching the Parks Department, Ben quickly locked Leslie inside alone with Ron. It turned out to be Ben and their other friends' plan to force Leslie and Ron to sort out their argument once and for all.
In the episode "Leslie & Ron," Leslie and Ron are locked inside the old Parks Department by Ben all night. After many hours, Ron reveals to Leslie that the main reason he left the Parks Department was that 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.
Soon afterwards, she and Ben decide to move to Washington with April and Andy after she is offered a promotion to work at the Department of the Interior and Ben decides to run for Congress. In the series finale "One Last Ride," Leslie spends her time saying goodbye to all the friends who will soon leave Pawnee. The gang gets together for a picture, as they are unsure when the next time they see each other will be and hope to cherish this moment. Ben asks Leslie if she's ready, to which she responds, "Yes. I'm ready."
Through flash forwards, it is shown that by the year 2025, Leslie will run a successful campaign for Governor of Indiana as a member of the Democratic Party, and will serve two terms in that office. It is hinted that either she or Ben has been elected President of the United States by 2048.
|1.||"Pawnee Zoo"||2.||"The Stakeout"||3.||"Beauty Pageant"|
|4.||"Practice Date"||5.||"Sister City"||6.||"Kaboom"|
|7.||"Greg Pikitis"||8.||"Ron and Tammy"||9.||"The Camel"|
|10.||"Hunting Trip"||11.||"Tom's Divorce"||12.||"Christmas Scandal"|
|13.||"The Set Up"||14.||"Leslie's House"||15.||"Sweetums"|
|16.||"Galentine's Day"||17.||"Woman of the Year"||18.||"The Possum"|
|19.||"Park Safety"||20.||"Summer Catalog"||21.||"94 Meetings"|
|22.||"Telethon"||23.||"The Master Plan"||24.||"Freddy Spaghetti"|
|1.||"Go Big or Go Home"||2.||"Flu Season"||3.||"Time Capsule"|
|4.||"Ron & Tammy: Part 2"||5.||"Media Blitz"||6.||"Indianapolis"|
|7.||"Harvest Festival"||8.||"Camping"||9.||"April and Andy's Fancy Party"|
|13.||"The Fight"||14.||"Road Trip"||15.||"The Bubble"|
|1.||"I'm Leslie Knope"||2.||"Ron and Tammys"||3.||"Born & Raised"|
|4.||"Pawnee Rangers"||5.||"Meet N Greet"||6.||"End of the World"|
|7.||"The Treaty"||8.||"Smallest Park"||9.||"The Trial of Leslie Knope"|
|10.||"Citizen Knope"||11.||"The Comeback Kid"||12.||"Campaign Ad"|
|13.||"Bowling for Votes"||14.||"Operation Ann"||15.||"Dave Returns"|
|16.||"Sweet Sixteen"||17.||"Campaign Shake-Up"||18.||"Lucky"|
|19.||"Live Ammo"||20.||"The Debate"||21.||"Bus Tour"|
|22.||"Win, Lose, or Draw"|
|1.||"Ms. Knope Goes to Washington"||2.||"Soda Tax"||3.||"How a Bill Becomes a Law"|
|4.||"Sex Education"||5.||"Halloween Surprise"||6.||"Ben's Parents"|
|7.||"Leslie vs. April"||8.||"Pawnee Commons"||9.||"Ron and Diane"|
|10.||"Two Parties"||11.||"Women in Garbage"||12.||"Ann's Decision"|
|13.||"Emergency Response"||14.||"Leslie and Ben"||15.||"Correspondents' Lunch"|
|19.||"Article Two"||20.||"Jerry's Retirement"||21.||"Swing Vote"|
|22.||"Are You Better Off?"|
|1/2.||"London"||3.||"The Pawnee-Eagleton Tip Off Classic"||4.||"Doppelgängers"|
|5.||"Gin It Up!"||6.||"Filibuster"||7.||"Recall Vote"|
|8.||"Fluoride"||9.||"The Cones of Dunshire"||10.||"Second Chunce"|
|11.||"New Beginnings"||12.||"Farmers Market"||13.||"Ann and Chris"|
|14.||"Anniversaries"||15.||"The Wall"||16.||"New Slogan"|
|17.||"Galentine's Day"||18.||"Prom"||19.||"Flu Season 2"|
|20.||"One in 8,000"||21/22.||"Moving Up"|
|1.||"2017"||2.||"Ron & Jammy"|
|3.||"William Henry Harrison"||4.||"Leslie & Ron"|
|7.||"Donna & Joe"||8.||"Ms. Ludgate-Dwyer Goes to Washington"|
|9.||"Pie-Mary"||10.||"The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show"|
|11.||"Two Funerals"||12/13.||"One Last Ride"|
- She has majored in potions at Hogwarts.
- 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 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 haircut.
- 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(s) is Belgian waffles from J.J.'s Diner, whipped cream, and sugar.
- She invented a new spice in which she calls "salgur" in which you add to pasta or margaritas.
- 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.
- Joe Biden is #1 on her celebrity sex list, well...he is her celebrity sex list.
- Loves cute things, like hummingbirds, and baby monkeys in diapers. Yet, she finds turtles to be condescending.
- 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).
- In The Set Up, when she has her MRI, 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 had broken with many people 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 "Skywriting 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."
- Leslie is a fan of alternative rock band R.E.M. In the episode End of the World, Leslie is talking with Shauna Malwae-Tweep about a headline for the article she is writing about the cultists and suggests "Its the end of the world as they know it and Pawnee feels fine," in reference to the R.E.M song 'Its The End Of The World As We Know It (And I feel fine)."
- Like Ben Wyatt, Leslie also dressed up as Batman once (mentioned by Tom in "Canvassing").
- She is SCUBA certified, and even tells Ben he should get certified when, in a panic, she suggests moving to Cozumel.