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Swanson appeared in the pilot episode of Parks and Recreation, which aired April 9th, 2009. On the show, he served as Leslie Knope's superior and the director of Parks and Recreation for the town of Pawnee, Indiana. In contrast to Amy Poehler's Knope, who had a go-getter attitude and passion for government, Swanson, a conservative libertarian, hated the government and maintained an ornery, masculine demeanor, though he often showed affection for his coworkers in unconventional ways.
Online, Swanson was celebrated for his caricatured masculine wisdom. For example, in Season 3, Episode 1 of the show, he presents his "Pyramid of Greatness," a model he developed to achieve personal success. Some of the items on the pyramid include "Teamwork," which he describes as "very important," and "Selfishness," which he describes as "equally important--take what's yours. The poster was written about online by The Art of Manliness and can be bought from the NBC store.
He has also notably been celebrated online in various blog posts compiling some of his funniest and moments. Buzzfeed has twice published articles compiling Swanson's funniest moments. Paste and Funny or Die have done the same. A parody account on Twitter devoted to posting some of the character's funniest lines has acquired over 54,000 followers.
In addition to his humor, fans celebrate Swanson's wisdom as well. The Nerdist, Flavorwire, and more have published posts compiling Swanson quotes as "words to live by." Popular examples include "Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing," and “You know what makes a good person good? When a good person does something bad, they own up to it. They try to learn something from it and they move on.”
I Have an Uncle Who…
In mid-July of 2017, an exploitable panel from the episode "Christmas Scandal" began trending on Reddit's /r/dankmemes subreddit. In the episode, the character Ann Perkins is attempting to ascertain Swanson's medical history. She asks if his family has a history of mental illness, to which he replies "I have an uncle who does yoga."
On July 19th, 2017, user Oryon- uploaded a variation in which Swanson says his uncle "has a 9GAG account" that gained over 23,000 points (shown below, left), sparking the creation of several more variations in the subreddit.