Where Does the 'Parks and Rec' Finale Rank Among These 9 Other Time-Jumping Series?
Parks & Rec's sixth season finale was filled with surprises, but none bigger than the episode's final 60 seconds. The Unity Concert went off without a hitch, Leslie made her decision about the National Parks Service job and even found a way to bring it to Pawnee. It seemed like the perfect way to end one season and begin setting up another. Then Parks flashed forward three years, leaving the future completely up in the air.
What was Ben's "big night" that required him to wear a tuxedo? Why is Leslie's office on a media lockdown? Who's meeting them downstairs? How are those triplets all so freaking cute? Thanks to that time jump, Parks fans have never been so eager for a new season, hoping to get a glimpse at what Leslie's new life is like, and what everyone else has been up to.
Of course Parks isn't the first series to use a time jump to shake things up, or even the first to do it so well. Here are some other series that made good use of a time jump—at least for a while.
After using a brief time jump to start the fourth season a few months into the future, The OC really went ahead in its series finale. After wrapping up all of the present-day plots, the series flashed forward about five years, showing where each of our favorite characters ended up. The highlights: Seth and Summer get married and Ryan helps a troubled kid the same way Sandy helped him in the show’s first episode.
Like Parks, Desperate Housewives introduced a time jump in a season finale, and picked up that new timeline in the following season. Desperate Housewives went five years ahead beginning with its fifth season finale, and stayed there for the rest of its run. But all this particular time jump did was change what insane mysteries the residents of Wisteria Lane had to solve and bring the same drama to new relationships.
Lost had a unique relationship with time. There were flash backs, forwards, and sideways, and often too many timelines to keep track of. One of the more significant time jumps, however, was the the fourth season’s three-year jump that showed what happened to the Oceanic Six after they left the island.
'One Tree Hill'
Jumping four years between the fourth and fifth seasons allowed One Tree Hill to skip its character’s time in college and bring them back to Tree Hill as adults. It was a good idea, but the series got a little too confident and then jumped ahead again, this time for a year and a half at the start of the seventh season. Maybe they should’ve left it at the first one.
Image: The CW
After skipping a few months in Season 5 to speed-up Nancy’s pregnancy, Weeds moved forward a full three years to move past her time in jail and bring other characters from Copenhagen to New York. Because why show the boring storylines when you can just time-jump right over them?
'The Walking Dead'
After Herschel’s overrun farm in the second season finale, The Walking Dead goes forward a few months in the third season, marked by Lori’s advanced pregnancy. Since Rick’s group finds the prison pretty quickly, all the jump really did was make them even more desperate for a safe place to live after months of travel and scavenging.
Did the five year time-jump between Seasons 3 and 4 work? It depends who you ask, since everyone seems to have a strong opinion about the revived Arrested Development. It does stand out, however, for spending most of the fourth season filling in what exactly happened during those five years.
At the very least, Fringe should be recognized for attempting the largest time-jump, moving from 2015 to 2036 at the beginning of its fifth and final season. But by then, a giant flash-forward wasn’t even the show’s most shocking twist. No that honor would have to go to one of the many parallel universe-related surprises.
Ryan Murphy recently revealed that Glee’s sixth and final season, premiering later this year, will have a time-jump. We don’t know exactly how long it will be, considering that moving ahead just six months at the beginning of the fifth season caused problems for the show, fans should be weary.