This article contains spoilers for the Parks and Recreation show. Continue at your own risk.
|Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into Swansons.|
|— Ron Swanson in "Go Big or Go Home"|
Ronald Ulysses "Ron" Swanson is a fictional character portrayed by Nick Offerman 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 was Leslie Knope's deadpan superior as the head of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department until she left the department to become a city councilor, and then again when she rejoined the department after she was recalled. In late 2014, he quit the Parks department and started Very Good Building and Development Co.
For approximately two years he had a feud with Leslie until it was finally resolved in the episode "Leslie & Ron."
Ron enjoys being alone. Ron presents himself with a steely demeanor in the office, however he secretly plays the saxophone as Duke Silver. He also enjoys artichokes, plums, and intense riddles or scavenger hunts. (Only Leslie Knope knows this.)
Ron was born to Tamara Swanson and was delivered by his future wife, also known as Tammy 1, a candy striper at the hospital. Ron's birthday has long been a secret kept between him and the people at Baskin-Robbins, although Leslie Knope managed to figure it out.
He cried for the first time when he was seven when he was hit by a school bus. When Ron was nine he began work in a sheet metal factory and within two weeks, he was running the floor. When he was eleven he was offered a job at the Tannery where he could work with leather, a dream he 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 attended a prom when he was 12 and while he enjoyed himself, he felt it was unnecessary to go to another one, as he'd felt he was too old for it.
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 learned a lot about life.
He has four 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 brother's names are Don, Bob, Vaughn, and Lon Swanson, Lon being named after his uncle Lon.
Ron Swanson was Director of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department for six years. Ron believes in the elimination of government waste, and during his tenure always brought the department under budget. Ron believes the government should be privatized and follow the business model of Chuck E. Cheese's family entertainment chain.
While at the department, he closed many unnecessary recreational spaces, including the Portola Skate Park, the Grice Dog Run, the Morris-Easton Observatory, the Mohanga Native American Heritage Center, and most public drinking fountains. He is usually non-confrontational and gives Leslie a lot of leeway to run the department. He keeps the shell of a claymore mine (secretly filled with party supplies, he doesn't know this until the episode: Leslie & Ron) and a sawed-off shotgun on his desk, so people who ask for things have to stare down the barrel.
He also enjoys woodworking, breakfast meats, and the works of Ayn Rand. He is also an avid hunter and fisherman and secretly moonlights as a jazz saxophonist named "Duke Silver". His direct superior is the City Manager, initially Paul, then Chris, and finally Ben. Ron has at least one unseen brother, who is an officer in the Air Force. He is shown to have at least three other brothers, Don, Lon, and Vaughn, all of whom worked with him at Very Good Construction and whom he likes to keep private. He also mentioned an uncle who "does yoga" when asked if his family had any history of mental illness. Ron owns a burgundy 1997-2002 Buick Park Avenue Ultra (See Ron's Buick) and what appears to be a 1978-1979 Ford F-100.
Ron starting from an early age loves building things and woodwork, even winning an award for his chairs he makes. He also hates lying to the point he was willing to let Jeremy Jamm win a lawsuit against him if it meant having his witnesses April and Tom tell the truth. The only thing he hates more than lying is skim milk, which he says is water lying about being milk.
Ron also is shown to love unhealthy fatty high cholesterol foods like red meat. Ron will rarely eat ethnic foods but will if it contains "meat" in its name. He despises fish and states it only should be used for sport as it is practically the vegetable of meats. One exception to this is shrimp, which he has described as his “number three favourite food”. Ron openly despises vegetables and vegetarians/vegans alike calling the plants "food that my food eats."
He also says that Vegans are made of glass and had no problem writing his address down when writing a letter to one, as he considers them too weak to be a threat. Ron goes into shock when he does not regularly consume meat in a certain period of time shown when visiting Chris' house where his home was void of red meat, as seen in the episode: Indianapolis. Due to his high consumption of meat and oils, Ron and other Swansons have a very high tolerance for alcohol; therefore, as revealed on Pawnee Today, Ron has never had a hangover, not even after drinking an entire jug of Swanson Liquor in one swig, which is shown to be very strong. He is also revealed to consume one shelf of alcohol a week and usually likes his drinks neat (without ice).
Ron is very patriotic and mocks every other country that is not America. For example, when he was in London, he mocked Big Ben, sarcastically stating that the USA definitely doesn't have any clocks of their own, and refused to use British currency, stating that American Dollars are the most beautiful paper in the world. He also is shown to laugh in disgrace when the country "Canada" is mentioned to him and once tries to pen an angry letter to the country itself, as seen in the episode: Anniversaries.
Ron knows various self-defense techniques and is a very private person. He does not trust technology or give out information about himself, even blacking out his records on Government documents and discarding photos of himself. He even trashed his computer at one point after learning about online cookies and Google Earth and switched to a burner phone so he would not be tracked. In this way, he is very old fashioned.
When Ron has sex, Tom reveals he dresses like Tiger Woods the next day, wearing a red polo and black khaki pants. However, when with Tammy 1, Ron is forced wear a striped lighter blue polo and white khakis with a shaved mustache, showing that Tammy One can neuter Ron into a wimp. Contrarily, Tammy 2 turns Ron into a crazed sex demon as stated by Leslie.
Ron does not trust banks and instead invested and saved his money into a form of gold. He has stashed his gold in multiple locations in which Tammy One tried to acquire, but failed, finding only Ron's decoy gold. While it is never revealed how much Ron has acquired in gold, when writing a will, 5% of Ron's gold managed to shock a lawyer and Ben into disbelief on how great the amount was, even doubting and wondering if he was joking. Ron himself does not know how much money he has, only how many pounds. Additionally, when writing his will, Ron stated that he does not want to spoil his daughters, so he does not want to give them all of his gold; he'd rather have them be hard workers. After a lot of convincing, Ben gets him to write a will. Ron's former will was very short, consisting of some symbols and text stating that his full wealth will be given to the man or beast that kills him. The symbols were not readable by Ben or the lawyer, but Ron said that only the person who kills him will know how to read it.
While at first hiding his interest, Ron openly admits to loving riddles and puzzles, showing talent and giddy excitement when helping Ben and Andy solve Leslie's Valentine's Day Puzzle. Ron even requested Leslie do a riddle and puzzle-themed birthday for him in the future. He also congratulated April at one point on coming up with a riddle that even he could not solve.
Ron has shown that he is extremely capable of handling pain. He once got shot in the back of the head with a shotgun by Tom and still managed to be angry and conscious, recovering the same day and being able to stand and complain to Tom and Leslie. He also had a giant fireball consume his face when lighting the Lil Sebastian memorial in which he was only slightly irritated.
Ron has cried twice, once when he was hit by a bus and once at Li'l Sebastian's memorial. He thinks it is a good idea to demonstrate that he is capable of withstanding pain to his coworkers, pretending to pull out his own tooth with pliers in front of the office, even though the dentist already pulled the tooth out the previous day. This was also because he likes to see Tom faint.
Ron has super senses when Tammy Two is around, being able to smell her "sulfur coming off of her cloven hooves."
He also has a tendency to get somewhat emotional when presented with a gift he deeply loves, as seen in the episode: Citizen Knope.
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 website, but when he finds the business is doing extremely poorly, he sadly realizes he will be in his government job for a long time.
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."
Ron gets shot in the head in "Hunting Trip," when mocking Leslie, he mentions his brothers, who don't show up until Season 7. 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. 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.
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, puts 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.
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 it's 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 takes 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.
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.
In the sixth season premiere "London", Diane reveals that she is pregnant. Ron proposes, and she accepts on the condition they do 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.
In the seventh season, the show is fast-forwarded to 2017. It is discovered that Ron left the Parks department two years prior to starting 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 that 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, whom he later introduces as Vaughn and Lon. His brothers are only mentioned in one other Episode, "Hunting Trip."
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 Pawnee National Park, 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.
- Ron has an alter-ego, Duke Silver; talented jazz saxophonist who plays at Cozy's Bar, in Eagleton.
- The character is believed to have been largely based on Nick Offerman himself as well as "Simpsons" writer, John Swartzwelder, who creator Greg Daniels had worked with and who is also a staunch small-government libertarian.
- In the season two episode "Practice Date," actor Nick Offerman's tattoos can be seen on each of his biceps underneath his shirt sleeves. They appear again in season three episode "Ron & Tammy: Part 2" when Tammy pulls his shirt off.
- There have only been three times when Ron has not had his full mustache.
- First, part of it rubbed off “from friction” during his second marriage to Tammy Two.
- Second, he shaves the entire thing off under the direction of Tammy One after her arrival in Pawnee.
- Third, when he lights Lil Sebastian’s memorial flame and it burns off most of his facial hair.
- Ron always follows the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness.
- Ron believes that people should get gun/hunting licenses as not doing so is reckless endangerment as he stated to Tom and also offered April to get a gun licence when he re-gifted her a .22 pistol.
- Even though Ron can eat a lot, it is shown that he sometimes starves himself during the day if it meant going to a restaurant he likes to have more room for the food.
- Ron is shown to despise hugs openly scoffing when being embraced by people like Andy and Chris. He also doesn't like talking about feelings and other people's affairs and claimed to once know a guy for years and still never knew his name.
- Although he hates lying, he has made some exceptions like to "assholes" like the van rental salesman being a false witness to a rear end collision, and that his shop was up to code when Mark asked if he fixed the violations with a slight hesitation before answering showing he was uncomfortable, or joking about wanting the Woman of the Year Award just to mess with Leslie although he later states that "joking" is a cousin of lying.
- The only thing he hates more than lying is skim milk, which is water lying to be milk as he states.
- His car, seen in several episodes, is a burgundy 1997-2002 Buick Park Avenue Ultra. He has stated he has owned the car for 10 years. He also owns a reddish brown 1978-1979 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. Ron also never had a hang over before and once chugged an entire jug of Swanson liquor in one swig.
- 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 fewer) 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".
- His phone's ringtone is the sound of a shotgun going off.
- Ron's Halloween costume is a Pirate.
- 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. In Season 3 Episode 9 titled "Andy and April's Fancy Party" Tom mentions Julia Roberts having a surprise wedding to which Ron responds "is that the toothy girl from Mystic Pizza?" suggesting he has seen the film.
- Ron is allergic to hazelnuts.
- Ron's sulfur and cloven hooves metaphor he uses to describe Tammy two makes reference to demons.
- 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 furthered when in "The Trial of Leslie Knope" he talks about wanting to buy a model of a B-25 Mitchell.
- 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 dislikes eating bananas.
- In "A Parks and Recreation Special" Ron states that he has been practicing social distancing since he was four years old.
- 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 to April after his marriage to Diane.
Names people call Ron Swanson
- Ron f*****g Swanson - Everyone
- Ronfire of the Vanities -Tom
- Swansong -Jean-Ralphio
- Ron in Sixty Seconds -Tom
- Softypants McHuggable -April
- Lester -April
- Ron Corleone - Tom
- LaRon James -Tom
- Ron Solo -Tom
- Ron-Tanamo Bay -Tom
- Video-Ron-Demand -Tom
- Rondaleeza Rice -Tom
- Dwayne "The Rock" Swanson -Tom
- Ron Swansuck -Jeremy Jamm
- Ronald -Tammy 1
This character has a Photo Gallery.
- 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. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-parks-and-recreation9-2009apr09,0,4925765.story. Retrieved 2009-04-11.
- Fog, Henning (2009-10-09). ""Parks and Recreation" recap: Dirty little secrets". Entertainment Weekly. http://popwatch.ew.com/2009/10/09/parks-and-recreation-recap-dirty-little-secrets/. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
- 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
- Parks & Recreation: Season One. [Film (DVD)]. Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Event occurs at Deleted Scenes: Canvassing.
- "Parks and Recreation - Canvassing: Ron's Rude Awakening". NBC. http://www.nbc.com/parks-and-recreation/video/clips/canvassing-rons-rude-awakening/1088063/. Retrieved 2009 -04-22.
- Gonzalez, Sandra (January 15, 2010). ""Parks and Recreation" recap: Will Arnett can see your insides". Entertainment Weekly. http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/01/15/parks-and-recreation-recap-will-arnett-can-see-your-insides/. Retrieved January 15, 2010.