Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt and Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation

Fall in Love With These Ben and Leslie Episodes of ‘Parks and Recreation’

There is no love quite like that of Ben Wyatt and Leslie Knope. The couple from Parks and Recreation captured hearts with their slow appreciation and deep love for each other, cementing them as one of the best TV couples ever.

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Leslie (Amy Poehler) was a government employee who struggled in her love life until Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) arrived at the end of season 2. At first, Leslie hated him because he was trying to cut the budget in Pawnee. But these two nerds quickly bonded over their love of history and public service, and watching that love grow is one of my favorite things in this world.

Have you watched Parks and Recreation and just not gotten it? Or specifically, glazed over Ben and Leslie? Or maybe you’ve never seen the show at all! Well, I am here to give you a crash course of episodes to watch that highlight the love story between Ben Wyatt and Leslie Knope!

“Road Trip” Season 3, Episode 14

ben, leslie, and chris all in a car together in parks and rec
(NBC)

The lead-up to “Road Trip” sees Ben and Leslie in a real “will they, won’t they” moment. But Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) has a policy about relationships between his employees, and Ben and Leslie care about their jobs almost as much as they care for each other. When they’re forced to drive to Indianapolis together, the two have an honest conversation about the town’s hair (Ben is talking about Leslie, obviously). Meanwhile, Leslie keeps trying to tone down the romance with a podcast about the history of ladders.

The kiss at the end of this episode is still one of my all-time favorite TV kisses.

“Smallest Park” Season 4, Episode 8

ben and leslie kissing by a bench
(NBC)

Ben wants to be done working with Leslie on projects because it is too hard to work together after their break-up. Leslie doesn’t want to lose their connection and thus a battle over the smallest park ensues.

Did I cut out all the Ben and Leslie fighting episodes on this list? Obviously. But their brief break-up leads to “Smallest Park” and a brilliant moment between them. I would recommend watching “The Treaty” just to hear Leslie scream “What are you gonna do without tides, Peru?” but “Smallest Park” is still an episode that hits.

“Bowling for Votes” Season 4, Episode 13

ben and leslie looking shocked while standing in a bowling alley
(NBC)

Is there anything hotter than your very sweet and often shy boyfriend punching a man in the face for disrespecting you? Leslie Knope was campaigning for a seat on city council and was confronted by a jerk who just plain didn’t like her. So of course, she planned a bowling event to prove him wrong.

Ben was the good boyfriend who told her multiple times to let it go, but when the man disrespected her, all bets were off. And Leslie made out with him for punching that guy in the face.

“Win, Lose, or Draw” Season 4, Episode 22

ben and leslie with their foreheads touching
(NBC)

One of Ben and Leslie’s best qualities as a couple is their ability to let the other one shine. Ben was Leslie’s campaign manager, but when Jennifer Barkley (Kathryn Hahn) offers Ben a job in Washington D.C., Leslie realizes they will both succeed despite going long distance. Those little moments of selflessness that they share make their love something you yearn for.

Leslie wins her election, and Ben decides to go to D.C., but the two are there for each other no matter what.

“Halloween Surprise” Season 5, Episode 5

ben wyatt proposing to leslie knope in an empty house
(NBC)

If you’re not proposing to me when you’re not even supposed to be in the same state as me AND in the living room of our new home, what are you doing? Ben was up for another campaign job which would keep him away from Pawnee. But my baby boy is a romantic at heart and changed his mind.

Leslie sees him in their new home, and says “What are you doing?” and then starts sobbing as he gets down on one knee. She also asks him to stop so that she can commit the moment to memory. This tear-jerking proposal is definitely one of the best television proposals ever.

“Leslie and Ben” Season 5, Episode 14

ben and leslie getting married in front of all of their friends on parks and recreation
(NBC)

There’s no “Best of Ben and Leslie” list without the wedding episode. Ben is sick of waiting to plan their perfect wedding, and the couple decide to marry on the spot during a fundraising gala. When Jeremy Jamm ruins their plans, the duo decide to get married in the Parks and Rec offices instead.

Through the love of their friends and everyone working together (I especially love Anne’s memo dress), Ben and Leslie have that perfect wedding. Their vows included the most important thing they have ever said to each other: “I love you and I like you.” FUN FACT: TMS Editor Chelsea used those same vows at her wedding!

“Partridge” Season 5, Episode 17

Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt crying over the Price is Right
(NBC)

Is this on the list because it is one of my all-time favorite Parks and Recreation episodes? Yes, it is. Ben returns to his hometown, Partridge, to accept the key to the city after he thinks they’ve forgiven him for Ice Town. The trip ends up being a mess because he gets kidney stones and it turns out that the new mayor just wanted to make fun of him. Luckily, Leslie is there to defend Ben and protect him.

These two are always each other’s biggest supporters and this episode is no different. Pretty amazing.

“Second Chunce” Season 6, Episode 10

ben and leslie at the lock bridge in paris
(NBC)

This episode sees Ben trying to support Leslie after she loses the recall vote. But it’s the final moments of “Second Chunce” that make this such a special episode. It is, after all, where my Parks and Recreation tattoo comes from. Ben takes Leslie to Paris to help distract her from losing her seat on the City Council. The love and support she gets from her friends brings some well-earned happiness and a reminder that there’s a big world outside of Pawnee.

Leslie ends the episode in voice-over, saying “It times of stress or moments of transition, sometimes it can feel like the whole world is closing in on you. When that happens, you should close your eyes, take a deep breath, listen to the people who love you when they give you advice, and remember what really matters. And if you have the ability to go to Paris, by all means, go to Paris.”

“One in 8,000” Season 6, Episode 20

ben with his head in his hands and leslie looking excited in a hospital
(NBC)

Ben and Leslie as parents are my dream! When it was revealed that Leslie was pregnant, I was so happy to see the series reference season 2, episode 13, “The Set Up,” where Leslie goes on a blind date with an MRI technician (played by Poehler’s then-husband Will Arnett) who quips that Leslie’s hips are built for birthing multiples. That mention comes into play here, when it’s revealed that Leslie is pregnant with triplets! This episode is less about their joy of being parents and more about Leslie recognizing what Ben needs from her and vice versa.

A stressed-out Ben screaming about money and Leslie laughing at him is ingrained in my mind because it proves how well these two know each other. I just really love this episode.

“One Last Ride” Season 7, Episode 12-13

ben and leslie walking arm in arm down the hallway in parks and recreation
(NBC)

Ben Wyatt did the most romantic thing he could ever do in “One Last Ride” when he told all their friends that Leslie was the one running for governor. I remember watching the finale of Parks and Recreation for the first time and thinking, “Oh, I’m not crying. This is weird.” I immediately became a wreck when it got to Ben and Leslie’s story.

Watching Ben realize that Leslie would give up her dream for him and turning around to give her the shot is the perfect note to end the series.

(featured image: NBC)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.