Parks And Recreation’s Pawnee, Indiana is one of the most fleshed-out TV settings in recent memory, a small-town menagerie of oddballs, weirdos, and rampant Perds Hapley. But while we end up seeing almost every strange side character named on the show at some point over its tenure—except Mark Brandanowicz post-second season, hey-o!—there is one frequently named Pawnee resident who never appears on camera: Dr. Richard Nygard.
Introduced as the frequently—like, 15 times a week frequently—visited therapist of Rob Lowe’s hyperactive Chris Traeger in the show’s fifth season, Dr. Richard Nygard quickly builds up his own mythology, including a small circle of “Nygardians” who partake of his services. His unseen nature leads to a couple of jokes across the run of the series—most notably a bit from season 6's “Galentine’s Day” in which Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope notes that she always assumed the good doctor was just Chris talking to himself in a mirror.
Which may, apparently, have actually been the writers’ original intent, per a Reddit AMA this weekend from series co-creator Mike Schur. Schur—who was promoting the vinyl release of the Mouse Rat album, itself a loving deep dive into the series’ mythology—was asked whether an actual appearance by Dr. Richard Nygard (you have to say the whole thing, it’s the rules) was ever planned. Schur responded:
Yes, there were. The running joke on the show was that Chris Traeger had lost his mind, and Dr. Richard Nygard was just himself, in the mirror, Fight Club-style. Aziz even made up fake business cards for Dr. Richard Nygard with a picture of Rob on them. I still have one somewhere.
As a few different people in the AMA comments noted, there are other Pawnee residents, including Shauna Malwae-Tweep and Billy Eichner’s Craig, who are reportedly clients of Dr. Richard. (Nygard.) And yet, the idea is such a perfect idea that it’s hard to get out of our heads—especially since Chris already gives one of the show’s most powerful motivational speeches while talking to himself in the mirror: