Parks And Recreation’s Ron Swanson: 11 Backstories About The Character That Big Fans Know
Casual viewers of Parks and Recreation probably know Ron Swanson as an anti-government libertarian with an iconic mustache that rivals Tom Selleck’s. The parks department director of Pawnee loves a good Lagavulin, is often involved in woodwork, and has been married to two different women named Tammy.
However, true fans of the show know there’s a lot more to Ron, played by the incomparable Nick Offerman, than meets the eye. Here’s our list of the best insider secrets about Ron Swanson that’s going to be big parks and rec Fans won’t soon forget it.
It’s VERY private
Ron Swanson is a very private person. Before Leslie found out his birthday, the only people who knew the date were a Baskin Robbins’ employees. He even had the date blacked out from all government documents.
Ron goes to great lengths to destroy evidence of his home, personal life and family. We don’t even learn about his brothers until Season 7!
Ron also smashes a drone delivering a package to his infant son (whose birth remains secret until weeks after his birth).
He’s hiding money… and other things
Ron is probably one of the richest men in Pawnee thanks to the bars of gold he’s buried over the years. When he has to write a will, he tells Ben he only knows his net worth by weight.
But he’s not just hiding money: there’s a stash of bacon hidden in the ceiling above his office. We first hear about this emergency bacon when Leslie bursts into Ron’s office and says, “I just saved your bacon,” and Ron replies, “Impossible. You don’t even know where it is,” before looking up at the ceiling.
He’s a big fan of strong female athletes
Ron loves strong, independent women. That probably explains why he’s such an avid fan of the WNBA, including former basketball player Sheryl Swoopes. Ron also loves pro tennis player Steffi Graf and says she is a “salt of the earth” woman at the top of her field.
However, his love for independent women definitely gets him into trouble. Tammy Two (played by Offerman’s real-life wife, Megan Mullally) is perhaps one of the best supporting characters in parks and recbut every time they meet, she wreaks havoc in Ron’s life.
Ron’s penchant for strong women, however, definitely explains his later relationship with Diane, a middle school assistant principal and certified toughball who isn’t afraid to stand her ground against Tammy Two.
As a kid, he had some tough jobs
Ron mentions throughout the series that he opposes child labor laws – after all, he started working in a tin factory at the age of nine.
Ron stayed at the tin mill until he was 11, when he got a great job offer from the leather tannery (although he eventually had to quit as he’d thinned out a bit in the tin mill and tannery and go to middle school). He shares this lesson with Leslie and reminds her of some sage advice:
Honestly, those are some words to live by.
He plays Moonlights as Duke Silver
All the Pawnee women rave about Duke Silver, a suave smooth-jazz saxophonist. As pretty much everyone knows, Duke Silver is really just Ron Swanson with a hat.
Ron’s secret is safe from most Parks employees, although April reveals to Ron in Season 2 that her mother is a huge fan of Duke Silver and knows his alter ego all along.
Duke Silver makes frequent appearances throughout the series, such as when Ron records a secret saxophone solo for Andy’s song “Catch Your Dream”.
He has only cried twice in his life
Ron Swanson has only cried twice in his life. Once when he was seven and hit by a school bus, and again when he found out Li’l Sebastian had passed.
While pretty much everyone in Pawnee is obsessed with Li’l Sebastian, seeing the little horse makes Ron particularly giddy. At Li’l Sebastian’s funeral, Ron has the task of lighting the eternal flame, and he takes that task very seriously (though he would have preferred to have laid the ceremonial wreath). His eyebrows are burned in the process (thanks to Jerry), but Ron doesn’t seem too upset about it. Or maybe him was annoyed… it’s hard to say without eyebrows.
On certain days he dresses like Tiger Woods
In Season 1, Tom shares that after a night of love, Ron always comes to work dressed like Tiger Woods. It’s a total sign when Ron arrives in a red polo shirt and black khakis – and that’s how Tom finds out his ex-wife is sleeping with Ron.
It goes even further when Ron reunites with Tammy One and shows up for work the next day in a powder blue polo shirt with a shaved mustache.
He shares Leslie’s love of breakfast
Ron is a legend when it comes to putting away lunch meats, with his favorite JJ’s Diner food being the Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse: Twelve Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, Ham, Fried Chicken Steak, Hash Browns and a Stack of Pancakes. Ron even has a photo of a pretty woman holding a breakfast plate hanging in his office.
Breakfast is the cornerstone of Leslie and Ron’s friendship: although they disagree on many things, they always agree that breakfast is superior to all other foods.
He loves puzzles
While he might initially try to hide his excitement, Ron is a sucker for a good riddle. He drops everything to help Ben solve Leslie’s Valentine’s Day riddle and is actually excited to solve the mystery of his missing keys when April loses them at City Hall. He’s also very proud of April for inventing a riddle he couldn’t solve.
And while we know Ron hates celebrating his birthday, he quietly suggests to Leslie that maybe one year she could get him a puzzle-themed birthday surprise.
He has a soft spot for Andy and April
April and Andy are a classic case of “opposites attract.” But have you noticed that Ron has a thing for both of them?
April is one of the few people who understands Ron. They share a hatred of people and government work, and Ron appreciates April’s inefficiency as an employee. While April doesn’t know March 31st is a real date, Ron definitely has a thing for the eccentric young adult and some of the best parks and rec Episodes occur when the two are in cahoots.
Ron, on the other hand, sees Andy as a sort of son figure. He often gives Andy advice and even pays for his enrollment in a gender studies class at the local community college.
Ron even sells his cabin to April and Andy for eight bucks, some loose cough drops, and Jerry’s inhaler, despite receiving offers for the property that far exceed the asking price.
He can’t help it when it comes to manual work
We know Ron can’t help it when it comes to pretty brunettes or breakfast dishes, but there’s another weakness he just can’t steer clear of: handmade.
Ron spends all of April and Andy’s Halloween party fixing up the couple’s house and has built several cabins himself. He also finds himself in Ron Swanson heaven when he takes on the project of renovating the entire third floor of Pawnee City Hall himself.
Have we forgotten one of your favorites? There are many more Ron Swanson Easter Eggs hidden throughout the series, along with inside jokes about all of our favorite members of the parks and rec Gear.
Consequences of Parks and Recreation are available to stream on Peacock (opens in new tab).