Top 10 Life Lessons & Quotes From Ron Swanson


Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson—the fictional character on the NBC show Parks and Recreation, and possibly the only libertarian you wouldn’t like to punch in the face—has gathered a large cult following on the Internet, due to the comedy gold that often flows from his mouth like a whiskey-scented river of wisdom and steaks. And so today, in honor of the character, we are proud to present the Ron Swanson’s greatest life lessons, guaranteed to put a metaphorical mustache of manliness on the thin upper lip of embarrassing nothingness that is undoubtedly your life.

Editor’s note: You can also see similar quotes of wisdom from Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock.

10. The Only Time To Cry (Season 3, Episode 1)


“Crying – Acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon.” – Ron Swanson

Nowadays, the notion that “boys don’t cry” is little more than a relic of a less-enlightened society with no place in our modern world. On the other hand, there are folks out there who turn on the waterworks like a malfunction at the Three Gorges, whenever the local bakery runs out of gluten-free, organic blueberry muffins, which is just as bad.

This Swanson quote offers a compromise between the two worldviews, advising to keep it in your tear ducts until you actually have something to cry about, crazy as it may sound. A death of someone you care about? Standing in awe at the majesty of something truly beautiful? Weep away. The local supermarket discontinuing your favorite type of macaroni salad? Put the Kleenex down and man up.

9. Two Halves Do Not Equal A Whole (Season 4, Episode 16)


“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” – Ron Swanson

Let’s say you could get two people of your choice into bed at the same time. Sounds great, right? So, no matter what it is you’re doing, always concentrate on one thing and do a good job of it. I believe that’s essentially what Ron was going for here.

8. The True Meaning Of Fishing (Season 3, Episode 8)


“Fishing relaxes me. It’s like yoga, except I still get to kill something.” – Ron Swanson

Fishing is one of the oldest activities in the world, and thus speaks to a more primal part of our nature. After all, what is fishing if not the marine version of Saw? There you sit, rod in hand, ready to hook a fish out of its natural environment and murder it on the spot with either blade or club. The buildup to the deed can be pleasantly relaxing, but the final kill is what helps soothe those completely natural, violently-murderous urges we all have, as my talking dog assured me. And the best part? No pesky bodies for the police to later find.

7. Live It, Don’t Paint It (Season 3, Episode 11)


“I also think it’s pointless for a human to paint scenes of nature when they can go outside and stand in it.” – Ron Swanson

Ron Swanson is not a complicated man. To him, experiencing the quiet splendor of nature through a painting makes about as much sense as learning to ski in your living room. And even though most of us would die of Internet Withdrawal within the first 10 seconds of setting foot in a forest, Ron sort of has a point here. Maybe not with the whole “going outside” thing, because that’s just crazy talk, but “taking the time to properly enjoy life.” Maybe you can finally take that European vacation instead of just dicking around on Google Earth. And perhaps it’s finally time to accept the fact that sending pokes via Facebook is nowhere near having a social life.

6. Keep Religion F——- Private (Season 4, Episode 6)


“What religion am I? Well, I’m a practicing none of your f—-ing business.” – Ron Swanson

How amazing would life be if more people subscribed to this philosophy? Oh, don’t take this as an endorsement of atheism because, well…that would be really, really ironic (also, very stupid.)

Other than a colonoscopy performed by a close relative, faith is probably the most personal thing in the world. It’s not a badge of honor or a weapon – it’s something that helps you get through the night, once the complexity and arbitrariness of the Universe starts being a dick and won’t let you fall asleep. And does it really matter what the guy from across the street, or even across the globe, chooses to believe in to get himself through the night? Of course not, because it’s his own &%#[email protected] business.

5. Child Labor Ain’t So Bad (Season 2, Episode 9)


“I got my first job when I was 9. Worked at a sheet metal factory. In two weeks I was running the floor. Child labor laws are ruining this country.” – Ron Swanson

I want you to help me out with an experiment. Go find a random 13-15 year old and ask them about his or her views on life. For those of you who’ve managed to resist the temptation of strangling the stupid kid on the spot and aren’t in prison now, let me ask you a question: how much better off do you think the world would be if all kids were forced to go do real, hard work, and be at least partially responsible for their own expenses? Personally, I think we would have flying cars and a cure for cancer within, like, 10-15 days.

4. Americans: Free To Eat And Eat And Eat (Season 2, Episode 15)


“The whole point of this country is if you want to eat garbage, balloon up to 600 pounds and die of a heart attack at 43, you can! You are free to do so. To me, that’s beautiful.” – Ron Swanson

Obesity is kind of a tricky subject. On the one hand, it’s extremely easy to prevent, which would help save the taxpayers billions of dollars each year. On the other hand, big size drinking cups are now illegal in NY, which—without a hint of hyperbole—is worse than living in a Stalin gulag in Hell.

So the question remains: do people have the right to attach IV bags of gravy and bacon bits to themselves to eliminate all that unnecessary chewing, because it comes dangerously close to real exercise? Well…yeah, probably. Freedom is great and all but, in essence, it’s like the beautiful prom queen who has slept with every guy in the school, leaving her with a few mutated strains of STDs and an unfortunate C-section scar. Although she may not be as perfect and sweet as people like to think, God help you if you try to change her in any way.

3. If You Gotta Let One Fly, Let It Fly (Season 2, Episode 18)


“Are you going to tell a man that he can’t fart in his own car?” – Ron Swanson

Ignoring the fact that this quote came about when Ron was trying to justify keeping a barrel of toxic waste in his garage, it still raises a valid point: how much freedom is one allowed in his own house or car? What are the limits of one’s personal liberty? Is it when something actually starts posing a problem to another’s freedom, or should those limits be preventative? All that, plus a reference to farting, make this nugget of wisdom one for the ages.

2. No Pain, No Gain (Season 3, Episode 9)


“It’s always a good idea to demonstrate to your coworkers that you are capable of withstanding a tremendous amount of pain.” – Ron Swanson

People often say that the real world is a lot like high school, with tight cliques, bullying, and people just looking for any excuse to make each other’s lives miserable. But that’s not entirely accurate. Life isn’t like high school; it’s more like a gigantic prison yard, and you’d be well advised to show everyone from the get-go that you are not an easy target. And if that requires you to pretend to pull out your own tooth, just like Ron did, then you should totally do it because it might make someone faint, which would be hilarious.

Also, once everyone knows that you’re immune to pain and possibly mentally unstable, maybe then they will stop stealing your lunch from the breakroom fridge.

1. Meat Cannot Be Found In the Ocean (Season 3, Episode 1)


“Fish meat is practically a vegetable.” – Ron Swanson

So, hey, did you know that there is a branch of the green/eco/hippie/health/other-similar-adjectives movement that’s somewhere in between vegetarianism and enjoying food that tastes good? It’s called Pescetarianism and, in a nutshell, it’s a practice of following a vegetarian diet (which probably also contains nutshells,) PLUS the occasional fish. Meaning that, when put into a clumsy metaphor that breaks down the second you actually think about it, fish are the gateway drugs to the hard stuff of the diet world: an all-out, constant veggie assault on your intestines.

Bottom line is, even though they might not technically be vegetables (at least according to the “law” or “logic,”) fish are close enough to vegetables for us to put them into one category, that category being “no, thank you. Can you tell me what steaks you have?” So sayeth Ron F—— Swanson.

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    • Don’t worry, you’re a libertarian. You’ve already effectively punched your self-respect in the face.

  1. If I wanted to bring a large number of deviled eggs but didn’t want to share, can you guarantee fridge space?