The main characters of Parks and Recreation are iconic. But what would the faces of Pawnee look like if the show was was from the 1990s?
The hilarious Parks and Recreation may have ended its run in 2015, but fans still hold the sitcom close to their hearts. Following Pawnee, Indiana’s titular department, the cast was helmed by Saturday Night Live alum Amy Poehler. The supporting cast was just as chaotic as the recurring Pawnee townies and their on-screen chemistry got better over the show’s run.If Parks and Recreation was made in the 1990s, the show’s colorful characters would be played by some familiar TV faces from the decade, including stars from Roseanne, Friends, and Baywatch.
Courteney Cox as Leslie Knope
For most of the series, Leslie Knope is the breakfast-loving, optimistic, and energetic deputy director of Pawnee’s Parks and Recreation Department. A liberal woman of ambition, she spends years trying to build a park and improve the lives of the town’s citizens. Plucky and relentless, Leslie goes on to bigger and better things once her time in the department comes to an end, possibly becoming President of the United States. Courteney Cox became a household name in the 1990s thanks to her role as the uptight clean freak Monica Geller on Friends. Goal-oriented, peppy, and a stickler for the rules, Monica could be the precursor to how well Cox would do in the role of Leslie Knope.
Sam Elliott as Ron Swanson
Ron Swanson is the deadpan, stereotypically masculine director of the Parks and Recreation Department. A staunch libertarian, he actively works to make government less effective and hates public interactions. Some of his most passionate interests include meat, woodworking, hunting, breakfast foods, and nautical literature. Nick Offerman’s mustachioed sour puss is part of Ron’s charm, so his 1990s counterpart needs to have the same iconic facial hair and deadpan delivery. Sam Elliott, known for his gruff voice and great stache, played Ron’s hippie Eagleton counterpart in the series. But in the 1990s, he’d play the Pawnee parks director.
Andrew McCarthy as Ben Wyatt
Ben Wyatt’s role within Parks and Recreation evolves from a state auditor who clashes with Leslie to one of her biggest supporters and husband. As the straight man of the series, the serious and work-oriented Ben slowly stops being fazed by the rest of the department’s hijinx and often finds himself involved with their schemes. Andrew McCarthy is best known for being a member of the Brat Pack, playing the preppy, rich boy in many of his film appearances. As the former teen mayor and Ice Town Clown, McCarthy could explore a nerdier type of character than he was able to in the 1980s.
Lisa Bonet as Ann Perkins
The friendship between Ann Perkins and Leslie Knope is the show’s most important relationship. A level-headed nurse, Ann is a generous, open-minded, and upbeat character throughout her time on the show. However, she tends to be a people pleaser and her early-season dependency on Leslie and others is the main flaw that keeps Ann from being her own person. In the 1990s, Lisa Bonet was one of the coolest women in Hollywood. Much like Rashida Jones, she grew up in the limelight and became a familiar face through her time on popular sitcoms. Her grounded personality would mesh well with the rest of the cast and Bonet would bring an interesting perspective to Ann.
Sarah Gilbert as April Ludgate
April Ludgate starts the series as the apathetic college intern before Ron hires her to be his assistant. Her goth-like interests and deadpan delivery made her one of the show’s biggest stand-outs. Creative and caring to those she is closest to, April sees a lot of growth as she matures and her relationship with Andy becomes one of the show’s most relatable. As Darlene Conner on the hit comedy Roseanne, Sarah Gilbert has experience playing the sarcastic outsider. The two characters might be similar, but they have enough differences that Gilbert would still have new situations to explore in the role of April Ludgate
Brendan Fraser as Andy Dwyer
First introduced as Ann’s unemployed, slacker of a boyfriend, Andy Dwyer pursues many jobs throughout his time in Pawnee. A dim-witted and lovable goof with a powerful imagination, he also has a few different creative pursuit namely his band, Mouse Rat, and the show about his character, Johnny Karate. His sweet and supportive marriage to April is a fan-favorite relationship. Much like the soon-to-be actor star Chris Pratt, Brendan Fraser would be a few years away from his starring role as the adventurous Rick O’Connell in The Mummy when he’d hit television screens as the likable Andy. His roles in comedies like Airheads and George of the Jungle prove he’d be a great addition to this funny cast.
David Hasselhoff as Chris Traeger
Chris Traeger, Pawnee’s acting city manager, is one of the best characters introduced after season 1. He’s the only one who can match Leslie Knope’s extremely positive energy. Incredibly health-conscious, he spends much of his free time exercising to be the first person to reach the age of 150. He becomes Ann’s love interest and their on-again-off-again relationship becomes a big focus of their storylines. By the 1990s, David Hasselhoff was known for his leading roles in Knight Rider and Baywatch. He has the physique to play a convincing exercise enthusiast and isn’t afraid of a little self-parodying, showing he could thrive on the sitcom.
Mo’Nique as Donna Meagle
Confident and lively, Donna Meagle is the diva of Parks and Recreation with enough iconic quotes to create her own merch line. Her love of lavish goods gets bookended by her beloved Mercedes and the “Treat Yo’ Self” tradition she shares with Tom Haverford. Donna has many secrets others discover throughout the seasons, and the off-handed mentions of her adventures always pique interest, though details rarely follow. Donna Meagle was stand-up comedian Retta’s big break, and the comedian’s natural timing helped the hilarious supporting character stand out. In the 1990s, Mo’Nique was known for her stand-up routines and role on The Parkers. With a similar comedy background to Retta, Mo’Nique would be a logical replacement.
Sendhil Ramamurthy as Tom Haverford
Tom Haverford thinks he’s the savviest businessman in Pawnee. A wannabe-womanizer and self-involved underachiever, Tom has a sarcastic sense of humor and often serves as Leslie’s right-hand man. He has expensive taste, and his overspending causes Tom to accrue massive amounts of debt a few times throughout the series. Sendhil Ramamurthy is best known for his role in the sci-fi drama Heroes. He also has experience in the Michael Schur sitcom universe, appearing on The Office as Kelly’s doctor boyfriend, Ravi. But his work on Never Have I Ever allows Ramamurthy to show off the charm and humor he could have brought to the role early in his career.
Stephen Root as Jerry Gergich
Throughout the show’s seven seasons, Jerry Gergich is the parks department’s punching bag. A clumsy and kind man, he is treated poorly by his coworkers who constantly mock and taunt him.Much like Jerry, Stephen Root often plays the target of his friends and acquaintances’ abuse. His roles as Milton Waddams in Office Space and Bill Dauterive in King of the Hill prove Root can be just as tragically overlooked as Jim O’Heir’s Jerry.