Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) holds up a mimosa to cheers her friends at brunch on Galentine's Day

Twitter Asked for the Best Mid-Series Addition to a Show and There Is Only One Answer

No contest.

Questions pop up on X (formerly known as Twitter) that are sometimes so obvious. Of course, of all the shows I could save that were canceled too soon, it’d be Pushing Daisies. Stop asking! But a new prompt emerged and the answer is obvious to me.

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TV writer James Alexander (@ScriptsByJames) asked a simple question: “Question for anyone who writes or watches TV: What are some examples of GREAT characters who were introduced BEYOND the first season? Could be a new love interest, rival, villain, arch nemesis, suspect, family member. But their arrival CHANGED the entire show for the better.” The responses varied between characters who made a lasting impression and some fan favorites, but there is an important distinction that I think we are missing.

Some of the responses were pretty good and understood the assignment to a degree.

Yes, both those characters came in and changed the show, but they changed a show that was already beloved and made it better. That, to me, is different. That is just making something people were already there for just that much more interesting.

Alexander asked for a characters whose arrival “changed the entire show for the better,” and the answer is so obvious it hurts. It is Ben Wyatt.

Parks and Recreation needed Ben

I am a defender of the first two seasons of Parks and Recreation, but we are few and far between. Many hated what the show was doing and hated Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), but then came Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), and the entire show shifted. The minute those two walked into Pawnee City Hall, there was no going back.

There are many people in this world who say, “Start Parks and Rec from when Ben and Chris join, and if you love it, then eventually go back.” That to me says everything you need to know. You wouldn’t say that about Ben on Lost, and you wouldn’t say that about season 1 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

With Parks and Recreation, it needed someone who wasn’t going to be mean to Leslie and who was her equal in a lot of ways, and it made the perfect man in Benjamin Stephen Wyatt. Yes, he is my favorite character from the show (and the character I named my cat after), but it is because Ben really changed what was happening on Parks and Recreation and made it so much more.

Would I have cried over the finale of the series like I did if Ben Wyatt wasn’t the loving husband that Leslie needed and told her to run for governor of Indiana? Probably not! But luckily I didn’t have to worry about that because Ben came in at the very end of season 2 and made Parks and Recreation the love fest of a show that it is, and so, the answer to the question is so simple. It will always be Ben Wyatt.

(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.