Casual watchers of Parks and Recreation probably know Ron Swanson as an anti-government Libertarian with an iconic mustache that rivals Tom Selleck’s. The director of the Pawnee Parks Department loves a good Lagavulin, frequently partakes in woodworking, and has been married to two different women named Tammy.
However, true fans of the show know that when it comes to Ron, played by the incomparable Nick Offerman, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Here’s our list of the top insider secrets about Ron Swanson that big Parks and Rec fans won't soon forget.
He’s VERY Private
Ron Swanson is a very private person. In fact, prior to Leslie figuring out his birthday, the only people who knew the date were the employees of a Baskin Robbins. He even had the date redacted from all government documents.
Ron goes to great lengths to destroy evidence of his home, personal life, and family. We don’t even find out about his brothers until Season 7!
Ron also smashes a drone that delivers a package to his infant son (whose birth stays a secret until weeks after he’s born).
He Hides Money… And Other Things
Ron is probably one of the wealthiest men in Pawnee, thanks to the gold bars he’s buried over the years. In fact, when he needs to set up a will, he tells Ben he only knows his net worth by weight.
But he doesn’t just hide money: there’s a stash of bacon hidden in the ceiling above his office. We first hear about this emergency bacon when Leslie barges into Ron’s office, saying “I just saved your bacon,” and Ron replies, “Impossible. You don’t even know where it is,” before glancing 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, saying she’s a “salt of the earth woman” at the top of her field.
His love of independent women definitely gets him into some trouble, though. Tammy Two (played by Offerman's real-life wife Megan Mullally) may be one of the best side-characters in Parks and Rec, but she wreaks havoc on Ron's life every time they meet.
However, Ron’s taste for strong women definitely explains his later relationship with Diane, a middle-school vice principal and certified tough cookie who isn't afraid to stand up to Tammy Two.
He Had Some Hard Jobs As A Child
Ron mentions throughout the series that he’s anti-child labor laws—after all, he started working in a sheet metal factory at the age of nine.
Ron stayed at the sheet metal factory until he was 11, at which point he got a great job offer from the leather tannery (although he ultimately had to quit as he was spread a little thin working at the sheet metal factory and the tannery and going to middle school). He shares this lesson with Leslie, reminding her of some sage advice:
Honestly, those are some words to live by.
He Moonlights as Duke Silver
All the women of Pawnee swoon over Duke Silver, a suave, smooth-jazz saxophone player. Unbeknownst to pretty much everybody, Duke Silver is really just Ron Swanson in a hat.
Ron’s secret is safe from most of the Parks employees, although April reveals to Ron in Season 2 that her mother is a huge Duke Silver fan and she’s known his alter ego all along.
Duke Silver makes many appearances throughout the series, like when Ron records a secret saxophone solo for Andy’s song “Catch Your Dream.”
He’s Only Cried Twice In His Life
Ron Swanson has only cried twice in his life. Once when he was seven and got 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, Ron gets especially giddy when he sees the little horse. At Li’l Sebastian’s memorial service, Ron is tasked with lighting the eternal flame, and it’s a job he takes very seriously (although he would have preferred to lay the ceremonial wreath). His eyebrows are burned off in the process (thanks to Jerry), but Ron doesn’t seem too upset about it. Or maybe he was upset… it’s hard to tell without eyebrows.
On Certain Days, He Dresses Like Tiger Woods
In Season 1, Tom shares that after a night of love making, Ron always shows up to work dressed like Tiger Woods. It’s a dead giveaway whenever Ron arrives wearing a red polo shirt and black khakis—and it’s how Tom learns his ex-wife is sleeping with Ron.
It’s taken even further when Ron reunites with Tammy One, showing up to work the next day in a powder-blue polo with his mustache shaved off.
He Shares Leslie’s Love Of Breakfast Foods
Ron is a legend when it comes to putting away breakfast meats, with his favorite meal from JJ’s Diner being the Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse: twelves eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, chicken-fried steak, hash browns, and a stack of pancakes. Ron even has a stock photo of a pretty woman holding a breakfast platter hanging in his office.
Breakfast food is the cornerstone of Leslie and Ron’s friendship: while they disagree on a lot, they can always agree that breakfast food is superior to all other types of food.
He Loves Riddles
While he might try to hide his excitement at first, Ron is a sucker for a good riddle. He drops everything to help Ben solve Leslie’s Valentine’s Day puzzle, and is actually excited to solve the riddle of his missing keys when April loses them at City Hall. He’s also very proud of April for creating a riddle he couldn’t solve.
And while we know Ron hates celebrating his birthday, he quietly suggests to Leslie that perhaps one year she could make 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 soft spot for both of them?
April is one of the only people who understands Ron. They share a hatred of people and of government work, and Ron appreciates April’s inefficiency as an employee. Even though April doesn’t know that March 31st is a real date, Ron has a definite soft spot for the eccentric young adult, and some of the best Parks and Rec episodes occur when the two are in cahoots.
Ron sees Andy, on the other hand, as a sort of son figure. He often gives Andy advice, and even pays for him to enroll in a gender studies course at the local community college.
Ron even sells his cabin to April and Andy for eight dollars, a bunch of loose cough drops, and Jerry’s inhaler, despite receiving offers for the property way over asking price.
He Can’t Help Himself When It Comes To Handiwork
We know Ron can’t help himself when it comes to pretty brunettes or breakfast food, but there’s one more weakness he just can’t stay away from: handiwork.
Ron spends the entirety of April and Andy’s Halloween party repairing the couple’s home 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 by himself.
Did we miss any of your favorites? There are many more Ron Swanson Easter eggs hidden throughout the series, along with inside jokes about all our favorite members of the Parks and Rec gang.
Episodes of Parks and Recreation are available to stream on Peacock (opens in new tab).
She/her. Lover of female-led comedies, Saturday Night Live, and THAT scene in Fleabag. Will probably get up halfway through the movie to add more butter to the popcorn.
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