Tonight, NBC will air the 100th episode of Parks and Recreation, so to celebrate we made a list of the best (or at least our favorite) episodes highlighting each character. Some of our favorite episodes (the bachelor/bachelorette party episode of season 5, for instance) got left on the sidelines so we could highlight episodes that we thought showed off the most perfect iteration of a particular character. (And, we decided to focus only on current regulars, sorry Brendanawicz.)
Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler)
"The Debate" (Season 4) It makes sense that "The Debate" would be such a good episode for Leslie: it was both written and directed by Amy Poehler. In a way, it's really just Leslie at her best. Going up against Paul Rudd's himbo Bobby Newport, Leslie is fierce and smart, and just a tiny bit crazy.
April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza)
"Hunting Trip" (Season 2) "Hunting Trip" is superb for a number of reasons, but while Ron is getting shot in the head, April is falling for Andy. Aubrey Plaza is so good at being sullen, but when she lets her guard down it's perfectly delightful.
Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott)
"The Comeback Kid" (Season 4) Bless this episode for giving us Ben's Letters to Cleo t-shirt and an exploration into his love of calzones and his attempts at claymation. Ben at his saddest—he left his job to be with Leslie—is also Ben at his nerdiest.
Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones)
"The Fight" Unfortunately, it's a sad fact of Parks that good Ann episodes are few and far between. "The Fight" is a stellar episode for everyone in the cast—we get Burt Macklin and Janet Snakehole—but it's also one of the best episode to document Ann and Leslie's friendship. Leslie's pushes Ann to apply for a City Hall job. Ann goes out drinking instead of preparing. They get into a big messy, sloppy fight. Ann dances with the Douche (Nick Kroll). It's the best Ann's ever been.
Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari)
"Soulmates" (Season 3) Tom's had some fairly strange relationships over the course of the show—I'm still choosing to ignore the Tom-dates-Ann plot—but the concept of Leslie being matched up with Tom on an only dating site yields pure Haverford idiocy. Mainly though, we're choosing this as the Tom episode because it includes his great monologue about what he calls foods.
Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt)
"Greg Pikitis" (Season 2) There are definitely sweeter Andy episodes out there, but this one is all of Andy's bravado and pratfalls as he tries to catch evil kid Greg Pikitis in a lie to help Leslie. Bravado and pratfalls Andy is the best Andy.
Donna Meagle (Retta)
"Pawnee Rangers" (Season 4) This is the "treat yo self" episode, and the "treat yo self" episode is perfect Donna.
Jerry Gergich (Jim O'Heir)
"Sweet Sixteen" (Season 4) Of course Jerry gets left behind for his own birthday party. And of course he's found taking a bubble bath with a glass of red wine.
Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman)
"Ron and Tammys" (Season 4) Ron is at his best when he's resisting weakness. Sometimes that's in the form of sickness. Often its in the case of his ex-wives, the Tammys. Some may prefer the wild sex-crazed Ron brought about by Tammy Two, but the neutered Ron brought about by Tammy One, is perhaps even better. Also, Patricia Clarkson.
Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe)
"Flu Season" (Season 3) This episode came early on in Chris' time in Pawnee, but it was proof of just what a great addition Rob Lowe would be to the show. The episode, in which members of the parks team are stricken with the flu, has all of the Traeger hallmarks—the hyperactivity, the pointing—but also, hilariously, shows him when his defenses are down. That "stop pooping" line is pure joy.