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Pyramid of Greatness01:31

Pyramid of Greatness

Ron Swanson explains his Pyramid of Greatness to impressionable youth.

Ron Ulysses Swanson is a fictional character in the NBC comedy-drama Parks and Recreation. He is the former husband of two women by the name of Tammy Swanson and is the current husband of Diane Swanson. He is Leslie Knope's deadpan superior as the head of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department. He is portrayed by Nick Offerman. He quit the Parks department in late 2014 and started Very Good Building and Development Co. As of 2017, he had a mysterious feud with Leslie until the episode "Leslie and Ron"

Early LifeEdit

Ron was born to Tamara Swanson and was delivered by his future wife, also known as Tammy 1, a candy striper at the hospital. He cried for the first time when he was 7, when he was hit by a school bus. When Ron was 9 he began work in a sheet metal factory and "within two weeks, he was running the floor". When he was 11 he was offered a job at the Tannery where he could work with leather, a dream he had always had. He tried to do both as well as finish Middle School but he eventually realized he could only do one thing at a time.

Ron claims to have attended a prom when he was 12 and (while he enjoyed himself) felt it was unnecessary to go to another one.

When college came around, his dad, feeling that college wasn't important, dropped Ron off at a metal factory. However, Ron hitchhiked and went to college anyway, where he said he learned a lot.

He has three brothers, one of whom is in the Air Force and another (or potentially the same) shot him in the foot with a nail gun when they were little. His brothers names are Don, Vaughn, Lon Swanson, Lon being named for his uncle Lon.


Ron Swanson has been Director of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department for six years.[1] Ron believes in the elimination of government waste and has always brought the department in under budget.[1] Ron believes government should be privatized and follow the business model of the Chuck E. Cheese's family entertainment chain.[2] He has closed many unnecessary recreational spaces during his tenure, including the Portola Skate Park, the Grice Dog Run, the Morris-Easton Observatory, the Mohanga Native American Heritage Center, and most public drinking fountains.[1] Ron has two ex-wives, both of whom are named "Tammy," which is also the name of Ron's mother.[3] He is usually non-confrontational and gives Leslie a lot of leeway when running the department. He jokingly keeps a claymore and a sawed off shotgun on his desk, so people who ask for things have to stare down the barrel.[4] He enjoys woodworking, breakfast meats, and the works of Ayn Rand.[1] He is also an avid hunter and fisherman, and secretly moonlights as a jazz saxophonist named "Duke Silver".[5] His direct superior is Paul. Ron has at least one unseen brother, who is an officer in the Air Force. He mentioned having at least one other brother, Don, who worked with him at Very Good Construction, and possibly two other brothers as well.[6] He also mentioned an uncle who "does yoga" when asked if his family had any history of mental illness. He has been seen driving a red Lincoln LS and an older model Ford truck.


Season 1Edit

Ron originally does not want to approve Leslie's bid to fill in a construction pit and turn it into a park because he is so opposed to government interference, he does not believe the parks department should build parks. However, he is convinced to green-light the project when city planner Mark Brendanawicz cashes in an unspecified favor. Ron attempts to leave government employment and take a job offer that was previously offered to him at an Internet flower company web site, but when he finds the business is doing extremely poorly, he sadly realizes he will be in his government job for a long time.[7][8]

Season 2Edit

In "The Stakeout", Ron suffers from a hernia, for which April Ludgate has to take him to the hospital, much to his disdain. Ron discovers his coworker Tom Haverford's green card marriage with Wendy, but agrees to keep it secret, especially after Tom discovers Ron secretly moonlights as a nightclub jazz musician with the name, "Duke Silver".[5] When Pawnee implements a policy requiring public officials to deal more directly to the public, Ron deems it "my hell", and hires parks intern April Ludgate to serve as his personal assistant to protect him from the citizens.[9] Ron almost loses her when she fails to know that, March 31 is in fact a date. He has 93 meetings scheduled on one day and April attempts to quit. When trying to gain back April, he discovers that she knows who Duke Silver is.

Season 3Edit

Jealous over Ron dating Wendy, Tom Haverford briefly dates Tammy to get even, but the plan backfires when Ron and Tammy get drunk, have lots of sex, put Ron's hair in cornrows, and get married again. Once again, under Tammy's control, Ron wants to start a family with Tammy, ignoring his friend's pleas to stop. Tom returns to tell Ron that Tammy mentioned that she was only trying to make Ron miserable, and Tammy begins beating up Tom. Seeing Tom get his ass kicked snaps Ron out of his Tammy-hypnosis.

Weeks later, Tom launches his new drink, Snake Juice, which is 140 proof and contains large amounts of caffeine. Ron is initially hesitant, but after trying the drink, agrees to help sell it, stating "damn if that isn't delicious." Without realizing the drink's content, he drinks a ridiculous amount. His high resistance to alcohol is broken, and Ron gets extremely drunk, dancing frantically to pop music, which he normally hates, and is shown wearing Janet Snakehole's hat (a roleplay character portrayed by April Ludgate). He is, however, able to stave off a hangover which plagues everyone else who was drinking Snake Juice.

Ron is chosen to light the eternal flame at the end of Li'l Sebastian's funeral, which burns his eyebrows off. The season ends with a horrified Ron learning that his first ex-wife, also named Tammy, has come to see him.

Season 4Edit

After learning that his first ex-wife, "Tammy 1", has come to see him, Ron gathers a backpack full of supplies that he had hidden in an air vent in City Hall and bolts out, leaving Leslie in charge of the Parks Department. He lives in his secret cabin in the woods for 3 weeks, during which he survives on animals he has hunted and a stockpile of whiskey. He grows back his previously destroyed eyebrows, as well as a full beard. Leslie comes to live with him when she decides to run away from her problem of choosing between her boyfriend Ben, and running for city council. After seeing Leslie in her exasperated and irrational state, Ron realizes that he has to face his problems head on, and convinces himself and Leslie to return to work. Hours after he returns, Tammy 1 finds Ron in his office and informs Ron that he is being audited by the IRS, Ron's absolute worst nightmare. While going through his audit, Tammy 1 uses her manipulative personality to brainwash Ron into falling in love with her again. Ron, after only one week, becomes a near polar opposite of his former self. He shaves off his mustache and embraces his government job, which confuses and concerns his coworkers. After Ron states that he believes that the government "knows what its doing," Leslie realizes she needs to break Tammy's hold on him. Leslie brings Ron's mother to City Hall to have a drink-off with Tammy 1, winner take Ron. Ron objects to Leslie and April joining the drink-off, as the liquor is extremely potent. After seeing his coworkers in pain from the liquor, Ron ends the drink-off by chugging the entire jug. His strong tolerance to alcohol allows him to finish the jug with only a slight buzz, which seems to break him out of Tammy's hypnosis. Tammy leaves stating that she intends to be by Ron's side the day he dies.

Having led the youth organization, The Pawnee Rangers, Ron encounters an obstacle when his troops begin to defect to Leslie's Pawnee Goddesses, which emphasizes fun over Ron's self-reliance. Having lost his troops, Ron feels depressed that children no longer want to learn to be self-reliant, and that the values he holds dear might be dying. To apologize, and make Ron feel better, Leslie starts a new organization specifically for children interested in self-reliance called The Swansons, with Ron as the troop leader.

When the Pawnee cult called The Reasonabilists predicts the end of the world at sunrise, as they do every few years, Ron jumps at the opportunity to sell them homemade flutes at a very high price. The cult members hold a vigil in a city park and buy the flutes, believing that their money will be useless after the apocalypse. When the end of the world doesn't come, Ron makes off with several hundred dollars.

When Andy decides to take a college course, Ron takes a vested interest, as he values a good education, and supports Andy as the husband of his mentee April. Ron encourages Andy to take an advanced course to broaden his horizons, helping Andy settle on Women's Studies.

When Leslie goes on trial for sleeping with Ben, which is against Chris' rules, Ron is called to testify on Leslie's behalf. He proves ineffective, as he is unable to provide very much information, including his home address.

When Christmas time comes, Ron receives an incredibly thoughtful gift from Leslie: an automatic door-closing mechanism for his office. Wanting to repay Leslie for all of the thoughtful gifts she has given her coworkers over the years, Ron suggests the Parks Department build a scale model of the office. His idea is immediately turned into a gingerbread house, much to Ron's disdain. Ron discovers that he is terrible at building gingerbread houses, and leaves the work to his subordinates. As his own special gift to Leslie, he builds a wooden model of Leslie at her desk as a City Councilwoman, and arranges to have the Park Department take over her City Council campaign.

Season 5Edit

In "How A Bill Becomes A Law", Ron meets Diane Lewis (Lucy Lawless) who has been ignored when asking about filling in a pothole. Ron becomes a friend of hers and, in "Halloween Surprise", he takes her two daughters out trick-or-treating and they begin dating. In "Women in Garbage", while babysitting Diane's daughters, he admits to Ann he loves Diane. Later in the episode, she admits she also loves him. In the fifth season finale "Are You better off?", Andy is talking to Ron about a pregnancy test he found when Diane comes in and says she needs to talk to him, leaving the question if she is pregnant in a cliffhanger.

Season 6Edit

In the sixth season premiere "London", Diane reveals that she is pregnant. Ron proposes, and she accepts on the condition they not have a huge wedding. They immediately get married on the fourth floor. In "The Wall", it is revealed that Diane has had her baby as Ron takes him to work and mends a radiator on the third floor. While trying to organize performers for the Unity Concert, Andy discovers that Ron is Duke Silver and in the two-part season finale "Moving Up", Duke Silver takes to the stage to perform at the Unity Concert, much to the delight of Diane and her daughters.

Season 7Edit

In the seventh season, the show is fast-forwarded to 2017. It is discovered that Ron left the Parks department two years prior to start his own building company. For a seemingly unknown reason, Leslie and Ron have become bitter enemies due to an incident known as "Morning Star". The two are now fighting over a 200-mile estate owned by the Newport Family, as Ron's company has been hired by Gryzzl to build their new headquarters there. In "Leslie & Ron", Ben locks Ron in the Parks department office with Leslie for the night, telling them that they have to stay there and work out their differences. After many hours of either arguing or ignoring each other, it is revealed in a flashback that Morning Star is an apartment complex that Ron's company was building on the lot where Ann's old house was. Ron tells Leslie that the reason he wanted to leave the Parks department was because none of his old colleagues worked with him anymore. He finally left the government for good when he asked Leslie to go to lunch at JJ's so he could ask her for a job in the federal government, but she stood him up after she was asked to go to Washington, D.C. At the end of the episode, the two make up and go to breakfast at JJ's together.

In "GryzzlBox", when Leslie wants to confront Gryzzl about their data mining, Ron says that it's none of his business. However, when Ron's 4 year old son John receives a GryzzlBox, he destroys the robot that delivered it and tells Leslie that he wants to help take down Gryzzl.

In Episode 8, Ron reveals that the Vice President of his company, Very Good Building and Construction Company, is his brother, Don Swanson, who himself never knew that Ron worked at the Parks Dept. Ron's actions imply that two more of his brothers also work at the company, who he later introduces as Vaughn and Lon.

In Episode 12, Leslie offered Ron a job when fast-forwarded to the year 2022. Faced at a personal crossroad, he asks Leslie, one of his close friends whom he calls one of his "work-place proximity associates" to help him find a job where he would feel useful. Leslie finally finds a job for Ron at the nearest National Park near Pawnee, after she convinced the superintendent of that park to transfer to Bryce Canyon, after the last superintendent retired. He now works as the superintendent when Leslie already accepted the job for him. The park's name is not mentioned.


  • Ron always follows the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness
  • His car, seen in several episodes, is a burgundy 1997-2005 Buick Park Avenue. He has stated he has owned the car for 10 years. He also owns a reddish brown 1973-1979 Ford F-series truck, which he damaged when he rammed it into the crib that he built (and later gave to Chris).
  • Swansons have a preternaturally high tolerance for alcohol. His old man used to put Wild Turkey on his Cornflakes.
  • In "Pawnee Zoo", he states that The Bulge, a gay bar, is behind his house
  • One of his favorite breakfast dishes is the Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse from J.J.'s Diner. He also keeps a supply of bacon hidden in the ceiling of his office.
  • Ron has won the Dorothy Everton Smythe Female Empowerment Award, the Indiana Fine Woodworking Association Award for Best Chair, and the City of Pawnee Employee of the Month Award (which he quickly destroyed).
  • Every 3 weeks, Ron has to sand down his toenails, claiming that they are "too strong for clippers".
  • Ron only has 9 toes (or possibly less) stating "I have the toes I have."
  • Ron claimed that he buys all of his food (and most of his stuff) at Food and Stuff.
  • Inspired by Tiger Woods, Ron always wears a red shirt after having sex.
  • He hates birthdays and went to great lengths to keep anyone from finding out his, even having it redacted from all government documents (although he later states that Baskin-Robbins knows when it is).
  • In "Telethon", he says he suffers from a disorder called "sleep fighting".
  • Ron publicly claimed that he has only cried twice in his life, once when Ron was 7 years old he was hit by a school bus and a second time when he learned of Li'l Sebastian's death. However, this is incorrect as Ron is seen crying in the episode "Ron and Tammy" when he realizes that she has all the power in their relationship. He become teary-eyed in "Citizen Knope" in reaction to Leslie's Christmas gift: remote-controlled closing doors for his office. He also seems close to crying on the cliffs in Scotland when reading the Robert Burns poem that Leslie had copied for him.
  • His phone's ringtone is the sound of a shotgun going off.
  • In "Woman of the Year", Leslie points out that Ron attends a "shocking number of Women's National Basketball Association games".
  • In "Tom's Divorce", he says he prefers a "strong, salt of the Earth, self-possessed woman at the top of her field. Your Steffi Grafs, your Sheryl Swoopeses".
  • According to Ron in "Rock Show", he and Tammy 2 were divorced because she cheated on him.
  • On April's 21st birthday, he gave her a .22 Sig Sauer Mosquito.
  • Early in their professional relationship, Ron tried to have Leslie fired several times from the Parks Department, but each time changed his mind.
  • He hates Canada and Europe, especially France.
  • Ron states that has seen three movies in his life: Bridge on the River Kwai, Patton, and Herbie: Fully Loaded, which Diane's kids love. However, a number of other episodes establish additional movies he has seen. In the 4/11 episode "Animal Control" Ron says "last night I watched a movie with Diane and the girls in which an orange fish is separated from its father...", which is Finding Nemo. Yet, in Galentine's Day he does recognize and give a high five to Leslie's impersonation of the Terminator, suggesting he has seen that movie as well. In the season three episode "Eagleton," Leslie arranges for him to watch Bridge on the River Kwai and The Dirty Dozen.
  • Ron is allergic to hazelnuts.
  • Ron secretly likes artichokes and plums, as well as riddles.
  • If given the opportunity, Ron prefers to limit his conversations to 100 words or less.
  • On the small table behind his desk, he has pictures of both a crashed WW1 airplane and an aerial view of a WW2 Spitfire, suggesting he has a fascination with military aviation, this being furthed when in "The Trial of Leslie Knope" he talks about wanting to buy a model of a B-25 Mitchel
  • Ron is extremely protective of his son, John, and cares for him deeply, although in earlier seasons he stated that he didn't wish to have children.
  • When Ron wins the Woman of the Year award for Leslie's camp Athena Project he mistakenly called it "Camp Xena" and then goes on to marry Diane Lewis (Lucy Lawless, who portrayed Xena Warrior Princess) in the 6th season.
  • As shown in "Animal Control" Ron keeps a picture of Diane, Zoey, and Ivy on his desk.


  • Ron owns a wood shop (which is Nick's actual workshop)
  • Ron also owns a cabin at 9301 Cedar Crest Drive, where he hid from Tammy 1. He has owned several other cabins, at least one of which he sold after his marriage to Diane

Names people call Ron SwansonEdit

  • Ron f*****g Swanson - Everyone
  • Ronfire of the Vanities -Tom
  • Swansong -Jean-Ralphio
  • Ron in Sixty Seconds -Tom 
  • Softypants McHuggable -April
  • Lester -April
  • LaRon James -Tom
  • Ron Solo -Tom
  • Ron-Tanamo Bay -Tom
  • Video-Ron-Demand -Tom
  • Rondaleeza Rice -Tom
  • Dwayne "The Rock" Swanson -Tom


This character has a Photo Gallery.

See AlsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3
  2. Lloyd, Robert (2009-04-09). ""Parks and Recreation": The Amy Poehler vehicle "Parks and Recreation" is a charming sapling that just may take root". Los Angeles Times.,0,4925765.story. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  3. "Megan Mullally on Parks and Recreation". Ain't It Cool News. 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Fog, Henning (2009-10-09). ""Parks and Recreation" recap: Dirty little secrets". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  6. Season 2 Episode 10: Hunting Trip, "You know Leslie, the superbowl is in a couple months. I usually watch it with my brothers..." - Ron Swanson
  7. Parks & Recreation: Season One. [Film (DVD)]. Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Event occurs at Deleted Scenes: Canvassing. 
  8. "Parks and Recreation - Canvassing: Ron's Rude Awakening". NBC. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  9. Gonzalez, Sandra (January 15, 2010). ""Parks and Recreation" recap: Will Arnett can see your insides". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 


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