After only being on the air for two seasons Parks and Recreation had made a well-known name for itself among television audiences and quickly became a staple-show for NBC.
Despite having an amazing sophomore season, the 3rd season of Parks and Rec was shortened to only 16 episodes instead of the usual 24 and it seemed as though the series could be on thin ice… but luckily the show delivered a phenomenal 3rd season and produced the series’ first two episodes to receive a rating higher than 9 on IMDb.
10 Eagleton, Episode 12 (8.3)
Audiences were introduced to Pawnee’s neighbor-city, Eagleton, during this episode when it’s revealed that Eagleton is a preppier, nicer version of Pawnee and it’s residents all look down on Pawneeans as trash – so it was no surprise when the Eagleton parks and recreation department erected a fence between the two towns.
After a series of petty insults and failed attempts to bring the wall down, Leslie makes the best of a bad situation and decides to use the fence as a home-run wall for a new wiffleball field.
9 Ron & Tammy: Part 2, Episode 4 (8.6)
This one got out of hand fast. Fans had already been introduced to the Ron’s psychotic ex-wife Tammy in season 2 so they were prepared for the sex-crazy she-demon… but apparently Ron wasn’t. Ron had been dating Tom’s ex-wife, Wendy, for a few episodes so Tom decided to try and date Tammy to make Ron jealous.
Unfortunately, what ended up happening was Ron and Tammy got so horny for one another that they decided to get married (again) and consummated their relationship right in the courthouse where the ceremony occurred, prompting them to be appropriately arrested. Luckily, Tom eventually apologizes to Ron and helps to rid him of Tammy once and for all.
8 Soulmates, Episode 10 (8.6)
During this episode, Leslie decides to try online dating since she hasn’t had much luck in the world of regular dating. Tragically, her first experience is horrific as she immediately gets matched with Tom with 98% compatibility.
Fortunately, it’s revealed that Tom has 26 different dating profiles and they all have different interests appealing to different kinds of women and that his match with Leslie was a complete fluke. Meanwhile, Ron and Chris have a hamburger cook-off where Chris tries to convince Ron that his turkey burgers are better than his beef burgers… only to be humiliated when Ron wins the contest effortlessly.
7 Road Trip, Episode 14 (8.6)
Ben and Leslie had been fighting their feelings for one another throughout the entire season and it all accumulated during this episode when Chris sends the two of them on a trip to Indianapolis together for a meeting. Not only do the two of them get several hours alone together, but they make a great team during their meeting which only makes them that more attracted to each other.
Leslie finally decides that she doesn’t care about the possible work ramifications and is going to kiss Ben… only to be interrupted by Chris. Leslie and Ben make it back home without having their relationship progress any further – that is, until Ben ends the episode on a cliffhanger by kissing Leslie.
6 Jerry’s Painting, Episode 11 (8.7)
When the government hosts and art gala promoting paintings that will later be hung in government buildings, the entire parks department is perplexed when Jerry makes a painting for the exhibit… and it turns out that said painting features Leslie in the depiction of a topless centaur warrior, Diaphena.
Because of the obscenity, recurring character Marcia Langman steps in and says the painting has to be destroyed, but due to the fact that Leslie feels empowered every time she looks at it, she ends up tricking Marcia by having Jerry make a completely new painting that doesn’t feature any nudity (whilst keeping the original in secret for herself).
5 Harvest Festival, Episode 7 (8.8)
When Ben and Chris were brought in at the end of season 2, it was because they were assigned to help Pawnee fix their budget problem. The solution – Harvest Festival.
This episode was the product of all of the parks department hard work at making sure Pawnee would became financially stable as the festival had rides, games, shows, and all sorts of entertainment options to help bring income into the city. Unfortunately, the gang hits a riff when the festival’s start attraction, Li’l Sebastian, goes missing. But luckily the parks department is able to find the beloved mini-horse, salvage the event and save Pawnee.
4 The Fight, Episode 13 (8.9)
Friends fight – it’s just a fact of life. That fact was presented during this episode when Leslie and Ann, the two best friends in the world, got into their first major on-screen fight when Leslie wanted Ann to take a job at city-hall that Ann was uncertain about. Since the beginning of the series, Ann was always the odd-woman-out since in the cast since she didn’t work for the parks department.
So, the writers tried to incorporate her character a little more by opening up a position in city-hall that Ann would be perfect for with her medical background… sadly, Leslie tries to push Ann too hard into taking the job and the two wind-up butting-heads. Thankfully, the two friends make up in the end and come up with a compromise that allows Ann to take the job at city hall as well as keep her job as a nurse. Win-win.
3 Li’l Sebastian, Episode 16 (8.9)
He was gone as quickly as he came. The mini horse Li’l Sebastian quickly made an impression among fans when he was introduced during the Harvest Festival episodes, and they were devastated when he was killed off just nine episodes later during the season 3 finale.
The episode revolves around the parks department orchestrating a memorial service for the dignified pony, where Andy sings his classic song “5000 Candles in the Wind”. At the end of the episode, the season ends on a massive cliffhanger as Leslie is approached by a team of campaign managers who want Leslie to run for city council.
2 Flu Season, Episode 2 (9.0)
Pawnee was already in trouble due to their budget deficit at the beginning of season 3 and they weren’t helped at all when the flu started taking over the parks department in just the second episode, rendering April, Chris, and (most importantly) Leslie useless. Not only that, but Leslie has an important meeting during the episode where she has to get at least 80 business’ to agree to the Harvest Festival… otherwise, it won’t happen.
Miraculously, flu-ridden and feverish, Leslie attends the meeting and gives an impassioned speech that prompts over 110 business’ to agree to support the Harvest Festival. Leslie for the win.
1 April & Andy’s Fancy Party, Episode 9 (9.1)
The top-rated episode of season 3 arguably had the biggest plot-twist in the entire series. April and Andy had been on the fence about dating for nearly an entire season when they finally got together in episode 5 of season 3… which is why it was such a shock to fans when the writers decided to have the young-lovers get spontaneously married just four episodes later.
Disguised as a dinner party, the ceremony takes place right at their house and Leslie spends the entire episode trying to convince either Andy or April to change their minds. While she doesn’t manage to succeed, the ceremony is lovely and April and Andy begin their fairy-tale romance together.
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