The Real Reason Rob Lowe Left ‘Parks and Recreation’

Parks and Recreation was one of the most-loved comedies of its time during its seven-year run. The show starred plenty of familiar faces, including Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, and Rob Lowe. Ultimately, though, neither Lowe nor Jones made it to the show’s final season. But why was Lowe’s character removed from the show?

Amy Poehler, Rob Lowe, and Rashida Jones at the show's 100th episode celebration in 2013
Amy Poehler, Rob Lowe, and Rashida Jones at the show’s 100th episode celebration in 2013 | Jason Kempin/Getty Images

‘Parks and Recreation’ won several awards during it’s run 

The sitcom starring Amy Poehler first launched back in April 2009. The first season actually wasn’t well-received, but its creators, who had received similar criticism after the first season of The Office, were determined to make it work. The show came back refreshed for season 2, and from there, the accolades started pouring in.

Over the years, Parks and Rec earned several award nominations. The show received more than a dozen Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, as well as nominations for the Television Critics Association Awards. In 2014, Poehler won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy TV Series, though the show never took home an Emmy despite plenty of nominations. Time also named the show its top television show of the year in 2012.

The 'Parks and Recreation' cast
The ‘Parks and Recreation’ cast | Colleen Hayes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Rob Lowe left the show before its final season

Rob Lowe, who played Chris Traeger, left the show about halfway through its sixth season. On set, he was married to Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), and the two exited the show at the same time. Their storyline had them moving to Michigan after starting a family, but in reality, Lowe wanted to explore other opportunities.

“We had the idea creatively to sort of move in that direction and it totally dovetailed and aligned with what the two actors envisioned for themselves in their careers,” executive producer Mike Schur said in 2013, according to HuffPost. There were rumors that Lowe left the show because producers wanted to cut costs, but Schur made it clear that it wasn’t about the money. “The more we talked about it, the more it felt like, maybe this was the way that [Lowe and Jones] get moved off in the next phase of their lives.”

Jones parted ways with the show at the same time as Lowe, but both cast members left on great terms.

Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger and Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on 'Parks and Recreation'
Rob Lowe as Chris Traeger and Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope on ‘Parks and Recreation’ | Colleen Hayes/NBC

Rob Lowe Has No Regrets About Rejecting a Major Role Thanks to ‘Parks and Recreation’

Both Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones were present for the ‘Parks and Recreation’ 2020 reunion

Despite that Parks and Rec ended back in 2015, the cast has remained close. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, the show’s producers decided to host a virtual reunion special, where the fictional characters were living through the pandemic as well.

Lowe was present for the show’s reunion special, as was Jones, and they were video-calling in from Ann arbor, Michigan, where the fictional characters moved during season 6. It’s clear that the two still remain important members of the cast despite that they were not there for the show’s seventh and final season.