By Entertainment Weekly
January 14, 2015

There’s almost too much to love about Parks and Recreation, which kicks off its seventh (and final—sniff!) season tonight on NBC. That’s largely because Parks isn’t just a show about a ragtag group of quirky local government employees. Instead, it’s a series that takes place in a kooky, self-contained comic universe, one filled to bursting with secondary, tertiary, and even quaternary characters—many of whom are comic heavyweights on par with the show’s main cast. (Just call Pawnee, Indiana the live-action Springfield, State TK.)

Which made compiling the following a real challenge. How do you pare down the list to include just 25 characters, let alone pick a number one? After deciding on our criteria (recurring characters who have appeared in three make that two or more episodes only—which means favorites like Parker Posey’s Lindsay Carlisle Shay were unfortunately out) and scientifically averaging the contents of eight separate staffer rankings, here’s what we came up with. Spoiler: The competition was so fierce that Councilman Jamm didn’t even make the finals.

25. Barney Varmn
Played by: John Balma
Money quote: “And that concludes a quick look at QuickBook…s Pro.”

With their mutual love of spreadsheets and accounting puns, Ben and Barney are an accounting dream team. Their partnership never lasts long, but while it does, it’s beautiful. —Kelly Connolly

24. Detlef Schrempf
Played by: Detlef Schrempf
Money quote: “He had two beers. Light beers.”

The real-life former Indiana Pacer is a celebrity around Pawnee. He just wants to promote his charities and maybe share some financial advice, but he always seems to wind up taking care of Tom. Score one for athletes whose onscreen work makes us laugh—intentionally. —Kelly Connolly

23. Chief Ken Hotate
Played by: Jonathan Joss
Money quote: “There are two things I know about white people: They love Matchbox 20, and they are terrified of curses.”

Whether he’s playing up curses or forcing Councilman Jamm to wear a headdress, Wamapoke Chief Ken Hotate “really plays white people like a fiddle.” —Kelly Connolly

22. Dennis Feinstein
Played by: Jason Mantzoukas
Money quote: “Wear whatever you want, as long as it’s not too bright or reflective. You know, I want you blending in to the surroundings. How fast can you run?”

As Tom once said: “His real name is Dante Fiero, but he changed it to Dennis Feinstein, ’cause that’s way more exotic in Pawnee.” The perfume mogul has a Rolexus, which is a Lexus full of Rolexes. (“What’s the point of that?” “To have it. Which he does.”) He’s everything Tom wants to be, aside from the fact that he likes to hunt people. —Kelly Connolly

21. Brandi Maxx
Played by: Mara Marini
Money quote: “Hello everyone, I’m Brandi Maxxxx, star of such films as The Incredible Burt Wonderbone, A Good Guy to Lay Hard, and Argo. I had a small part in Argo.”

Pawnee’s resident porn star keeps busy, and not just by starring in hundreds of films a year. She’s such an active member of the community that she runs for City Council, where she can’t stop comparing herself to Leslie—because, you know, all women in politics are basically interchangeable. —Kelly Connolly

20. Greg Pikitis
Played by: Cody Klop
Money quote: “I like Knope. I screw with her because she gets all riled up, and her face gets all scrunched up.”

Greg Pikitis quickly became the bane of Leslie’s existence when he started pulling elaborate pranks on Halloween night, as revealed in season 2. The troublemaking teen reduced FBI agent Burt Macklin to tears, and managed to make Leslie hold a lifelong grudge against him—but we’d welcome his masterfully plotted antics anytime. —Jonathon Dornbush

19. Tammy 1
Played by: Patricia Clarkson

Money quote: “Sit up straight. You’re not doing your breasts any favors.”
Whereas Tammy 2 brought out Ron’s wild side, the much scarier Tammy 1 kept Ron on a tight leash, treating him more like a son than a husband. It all makes sense once you’ve seen Ron’s actual mother. —Jonathon Dornbush

18. Kyle
Played by: Andy Forrest
Money quote: This one comes from Jerry: “Stop being so pretentious, Kyle.”

Before Andy became a big shot in the Parks department, he was shining shoes in City Hall—and he almost always managed to treat city attorney Kyle poorly. Essentially the Jerry of the shoe shine stand, Kyle couldn’t help but make a mess of things—even if actually, it was usually Andy’s fault. —Jonathon Dornbush

17. Lucy
Played by: Natalie Morales
Money quote: “My father told me that a limp handshake was for weak men and communists. He hated both.”

Lucy was the best thing that ever happened to Tom—someone smart and sensible who was willing to deal with all of his crazy schemes. For Tom’s sake, hopefully their reunion in season 7 lasts longer than a few minutes on the streets of Chicago. —Jonathon Dornbush

16. Bobby Newport
Played by: Paul Rudd
Money quote: “I guess my thoughts on abortion are, you know, let’s all just have a good time.”

Paul Rudd takes his affable, childlike charm to the extreme with Bobby Newport, who’s led such a rich and spoiled life that he decided to run for Pawnee City Council out of boredom. He’s the least threatening opponent Leslie has ever faced, which makes it easy to love him—even though he probably should never be given responsibility over anything. Ever. —Jonathon Dornbush

15. Councilman Dexhart
Played by: Kevin Symons
Money quote: “Furthermore, it was wrong of me to say I was building houses for the underprivileged when I was actually having four-way sex in a cave in Brazil. In my defense, it was my birthday, and I really wanted to do it.”

Councilman Dexhart’s sex scandal ushered in a new word for Webster: text-mexting. We can’t wait to see what trouble he gets into this season. —Megan Daley

14. Diane Lewis
Played by: Lucy Lawless
Money quote: “I’m a middle school vice-principal. I deal with hormonal psychopaths all the time.”

Solid, grounded Diane is the complete opposite of the Tammys, and exactly what Pawnee’s manliest resident needed. Who doesn’t like seeing Ron actually happy? —Megan Daley

13. Crazy Ira and The Douche
Played by: Matt Besser and Nick Kroll
Money quote: Guess which one: “I used my classic pick-up line: ‘If you’re looking for douches, they’re in aisle me.’”

Crazy Ira and the Douche: Two of the biggest fictional tools on television. (We couldn’t help ranking them together; they’re a packaged deal, like Salt n Pepa.) As Leslie once said, “I never knew that objectifying women could be so much fun!” —Megan Daley

12. Derry Murbles
Played by: Dan Castellaneta
Money quote: “Leslie, could one say that a book is nothing more than a painting of words, which are the notes on the tapestry of the greatest film ever sculpted?”

The Thoughts for Your Thoughts host’s voice isn’t the only reason to love him; he was also able to shut down his Eagleton co-host without popping a vein. You’re a warrior, Derry. —Megan Daley

11. Ethel Beavers
Played by: Helen Slayton-Hughes
Money quote: “The official record has now annoyingly been reopened so that Leslie Knope can make a statement.”

The court stenographer/sass machine probably got more action on that show than anyone else, and she didn’t care who knew it. —Megan Daley

10. Mona Lisa Saperstein
Played by: Jenny Slate
Money quote: “I love you too, Daddy. Money, pleeeease!”

If Jean-Ralphio says his twin sister is the worst, you know she must be the worst. It also means she’s great—just not in a way that would be palatable if she were a person in real life. —Esther Zuckerman

9. Orin
Played by: Eric Isenhower
Money quote: [blank stare]

Leave it to April to be friends with Pawnee’s creepiest resident. Leslie may not approve of Orin, and he may be terrifying, but take it from Ludgate: He’s a genius. —Esther Zuckerman

8. Dr. Saperstein
Played by: Henry Winkler
Money quote: “Dear Tom: I win. You suck.” [on the other side of the note] “You still suck.”

To Tom, he’s a business competitor. To Ben, Leslie, Ann, and Chris, he’s an obstetrician. To everyone, he’s entirely too forgiving of his terrible, terrible children, Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa. Also: played by the Fonz, which is an automatic bonus. —Esther Zuckerman

7. Dave Sanderson
Played by: Louis C.K.
Money quote: “I like Miss Knope. I gotta say when I first met her, I didn’t care much for her, because, like 99 percent of the people in any given day of my life, she was very belligerent and disagreeable. Miss Knope was attractive to me as a man. I was attracted to her in her demeanor. I was attracted to her in a sexual manner that was appropriate. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

Yes, Leslie’s soulmate is Ben Wyatt. But her relationship with Dave Sanderson (the always-wonderful C.K., before he had become a household name) was also heartwarming. Dave wasn’t as articulate as Leslie, nor was he necessarily worth leaving Pawnee for—but his deadpan, by-the-books delivery and composure made him a great foil for her. Too bad the show turned him into a creep when he reappeared in “Dave Returns.” —Esther Zuckerman

6. Champion
Played by: A dog named Lucy
Money quote: Andy: “He can do more with three legs than most dogs can do with four.” April: “Except for digging. He’s really bad at digging.”

Though April and Andy’s canine companion may not be as widely beloved as Li’l Sebastian, he’s still an amazing three-legged beast—and he also inspires plenty of great comedy from the humans surrounding him. He is, after all, the “Dog World Champion.” —Esther Zuckerman

5. Joan Callamezzo
Played by: Mo Collins
Money quote: “I’m gonna go powder my nose… amongst other things. If you know what I mean.”

Pawnee’s local muckraker has been stirring things up since she stole her gym teacher’s husband when she was 18 years old—and although making a trip to her show pretty much guarantees seeing your (totally fabricated) dirty laundry get aired, you can’t help but admire her commitment to making even the most mundane story sound like the juciest tabloid scandal. Here’s hoping she gets back on her feet after the time jump. —Hillary Busis

4. Tammy 2
Played by: Megan Mullally
Money quote: “Have you ever messed with a man’s head just to see what you can get him to do for you? We do it all the time, in the library department.”

Question: What’s it like to stare into the eye of Satan’s butthole? Answer: Surprisingly hilarious, thanks mostly to the antics of Ron’s second ex-wife—a bespectacled, psychotic minx played by Nick Offerman’s real-life partner. Nobody can wind up Ron quite like she can… which is probably a good thing. —Hillary Busis

3. Perd Hapley
Played by: Jay Jackson
Money quote: “I’m about to ask you a question right now, and that question… is this.”

I mean. What more is there to say about TV’s most gloriously inept and obtuse local newsman, except that every single thing he says is pure, unadulterated comedy gold? That’s thanks mostly to Jackson’s ace delivery—even though the actor himself insists he’s “not a funny guy at all.” Sure you aren’t, Perd—sure you aren’t. —Hillary Busis

2. Li’l Sebastian
Played by: A beautiful angel who has come to Earth in the body of a miniature horse
Money quote: Remember that time he whinnied?

Ben Wyatt doesn’t “get” him—but everyone else in Pawnee does. The dearly departed quadruped was so much more than just a cute horse—he was the town’s mascot, an icon, a symbol of all that is pure and good and soooo cuuuuuute. He had an honorary degree from Notre Dame, for Pete’s sake! And, of course, he also gets bonus points for inspiring “5000 Candles in the Wind,” the best damn song MouseRat ever unleashed. Sniff. We still miss you, li’l buddy. —Hillary Busis

1. Jean-Ralphio
Played by: Ben Schwartz
Money quote: “Hope you brought a change of clothes, ’cause your eyes are about to piss tears.”

Tom’s best buddy and business partner was designed to be the most irritating man in the universe—but his hair’s so swag, his rhymes are so sick, and his entire persona is so awesomely pathetic (or pathetically awesome?) that we always want more of him (and of course, to dance up on him). He’s number one, even if technically, he’s homeless. —Hillary Busis

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