Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, disabling millions worldwide. Despite the imperative PD poses, at present, there is no cure or means of slowing progression. This gap is attributable to our incomplete understanding of the factors driving pathogenesis. Research over the past several decades suggests that both cell-autonomous and non-cell autonomous processes contribute to the neuronal dysfunction underlying PD symptoms. The thesis of this review is that an intersection of these processes governs the pattern of pathology in PD. Studies of substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) dopaminergic neurons, whose loss is responsible for the core motor symptoms of PD, suggest that they have a combination of traits—a long, highly branched axon, autonomous activity, and elevated mitochondrial oxidant stress—that predispose them to non-cell autonomous drivers of pathogenesis, like misfolded forms of alpha-synuclein (α-SYN) and inflammation. The literature surrounding these issues will be briefly summarized, and the translational implications of an intersectional hypothesis of PD pathogenesis discussed.