Chris Pratt Thought ‘Parks and Recreation’ Would Get Canceled as Soon as It Premiered — Here’s Why

It’s been over 10 years since Chris Pratt debuted on Parks and Recreation. Since the show began in 2009, Pratt has become a movie action hero, Marvel superhero, and leading man. Looking back, Pratt thought his show would not make it to season 2. Fortunately, he was wrong. 

Chris Pratt wearing a tan jacket in front of a blue background at the 'Tomorrow War' premiere
Chris Pratt | Frazer Harrison/FilmMagic

Pratt was a guest star on the Parks and Recollection podcast on Oct. 18 to discuss the episode “Rock Show” with co-star Rob Lowe and writer Alan Yang. Here’s why Pratt worried cancelation was imminent and how Parks and Recreation recovered. 

‘Parks and Recreation’ Season 1 did not include Chris Pratt in the main cast

Season 1 of Parks and Recreation was only six episodes. Back then, they weren’t sure Andy Dwyer (Pratt) would continue much beyond. He was the guy who fell in the pit and broke his leg. Fortunately, they found a lot more for Pratt to do later.

“I watched ‘Rock Show’ in preparation for this podcast just to refresh my memory on it,” Pratt said. “It was jarring that during the title sequence, it shows everybody and then it says ‘and special guest star Chris Pratt.’ Yeah, he’s here but don’t get too attached because he’s just a guest star.”

Chris Pratt heard rumblings of cancelation after ‘Parks and Recreation’ aired 

Like many shows, Parks and Recreation took some time to find its footing. The pilot did not impress audiences or critics; Pratt braced himself to look for work again should cancelation happen. 

RELATED: ‘Parks and Recreation’ Followed 1 Rule from ‘The Office’ to Make Its Cast Unforgettable

“That first season, Alan, there was, like, some turmoil, right?” Pratt asked Yang. “It came out, the pilot came out. People were comparing it to The Office. Weirdly, we were instantly on the bubble. The pilot came out, and people were like, ‘Well, we’re going to get canceled tomorrow.’ It hadn’t caught its audience yet, and it hadn’t really found its rhythm yet as a show.”

How ‘Parks and Recreation’ saved itself 

“Rock Show” may have been a turning point. It certainly showed the Parks and Recreation cast and creators turning things around. 

“I remember halfway through the first season, we took a big hiatus,” Pratt said. “Something happened. You guys went and reimagined maybe the show and when we came back, felt like there were some shifts and changes. Then I was like, wait, I’m going to be in a rock concert in the final episode? This is great. Surrounded by amazing people, but I think there’s always an adjustment period any time a show is settling in and you’re finding characters. Of course, this being a Greg Daniels/Mike Schur thing, people were inevitably going to be comparing it to the American version of The Office. It’s just a different show. It has a different lead.”

Andy became a fan favorite and secured Pratt’s position in the cast moving forward. Pratt said Parks and Recreation gave him a lot of freedom to make Andy his own. 

“I think everyone was sinking into what was working,” Pratt said. “The character of Andy was working probably because I was allowed to literally do whatever I want. So it was like ‘tailor this role to fit yourself because it’s kind of a non-role. You have a little bit of time to do whatever you want to be funny.’ Everyone else was sort of adhering to the structure that was created for these characters before they were cast. Sometimes when you’re cast in a role that’s written, you’re trying to conform to fit that role. With Andy, I always had the benefit of conforming the role to fit myself.”

Source: Parks and Recollection podcast