The Good Place
|The Good Place|
|Created by||Michael Schur|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||48 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Picture format||HDTV 1080i|
|Audio format||5.1 Dolby Digital with DVS on SAP|
|Original release||September 19, 2016 –|
The series focuses on Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who wakes up in the afterlife and is introduced by Michael (Ted Danson) to "the Good Place", a highly selective Heaven-like utopia he designed, as a reward for her righteous life. However, she realizes that she was sent there by mistake and must hide her morally imperfect behavior while trying to become a better and more ethical person. William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, and Manny Jacinto co-star as other residents of "the Good Place", together with D'Arcy Carden as Janet, an artificial being who knows all the information in the universe and can produce any item out of thin air, abilities which she uses to help the inhabitants.
The Good Place has received critical acclaim, particularly for its writing, acting, originality, setting, and tone. In addition, the first season's twist ending and the show's exploration and creative use of ethics and philosophy have been positively received. The recognition also earned the series a Peabody Award in 2019. The series has also won two Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form for the episodes "The Trolley Problem" and "Janet(s)".
After her death, Eleanor Shellstrop is welcomed to her afterlife in "the Good Place" by Michael, an immortal architect who has built a specifically designed afterlife community that strives to accommodate everyone's specific tastes. Michael introduces Eleanor to Janet, an artificial intelligence that serves as a guide, and her soulmate, a university ethics professor named Chidi Anagonye. Eleanor, who led a dissolute and amoral life, tells Chidi that she must have been sent to the Good Place by accident, and he agrees to teach Eleanor to become a better person to earn her place for real. Eleanor's neighbor is Tahani Al-Jamil, a wealthy socialite, whose soulmate is introduced as a silent Buddhist monk named Jianyu Li; but Jianyu reveals that he is actually a dimwitted DJ from Florida named Jason Mendoza, who also believes he has been sent to the Good Place by mistake. As Chidi continues to teach Eleanor and then Jason ethics lessons, chaotic events occur in the neighborhood, apparently due to Eleanor's unauthorized presence. Eleanor reveals to the entire neighborhood that she's not supposed to be in the Good Place, but Michael offers to try to find a way for both Eleanor and Jason to remain. When those efforts prove fruitless, an authority figure named Shawn rules that Eleanor and Jason must be sent to the Bad Place. In the season finale's twist ending, Eleanor deduces that she, Chidi, Tahani and Jason have actually been in the Bad Place all along. Michael reveals his demonic plot to have the four of them torture each other emotionally and psychologically for eternity. He then announces his intent to wipe their memories and separate the four to try again.
Michael repeatedly attempts the experiment in human torture again with variations of the neighborhood, but the group figures out the truth each time. After 802 fruitless attempts, the other demons stage a coup against Michael and threaten to inform Shawn about his repeated failures if he doesn't implement their ideas instead. Michael decides to team up with the four humans and promises to get them all into the real Good Place; they agree after Michael agrees to begin learning about ethics himself. They escape with Michael's help through the Bad Place, and they attempt to get to the Good Place by appealing to the Judge. The Judge gives each a test to see if the four humans have improved enough to enter the Good Place, which everyone except Eleanor fails (although she tells the others she failed as well). Michael appeals, and the Judge agrees to send them all back to Earth with no memories of the afterlife and with Michael intervening to prevent their deaths, to give them a chance to show true moral development in ignorance of the potential consequences. After a false start, Michael intervenes again and points Eleanor in the direction of Chidi, reigniting her passion for ethics.
Realizing that the group has been falling back into their old patterns, Michael repeatedly interferes without the Judge's knowledge to manipulate them to find each other. They all end up in Sydney and become participants in a research study run by Chidi and his colleague Simone about near-death experiences and ethical decision making. After a year of monitoring and interfering in the lives of the group, Michael and Janet are discovered and forced to admit the truth about the group's experiences in the afterlife. This renders them incapable of earning admission to the Good Place; instead, Eleanor persuades the others to spend the remainder of their time left on Earth helping other people to get into the Good Place. Michael and Janet track down Doug Forcett, the only human to have ever come close to figuring the truth about the afterlife; they find that his obsession with trying to live in such a way as to gain admission to the Good Place is making his existence miserable. Shawn travels to Earth to apprehend Michael, and taunts him that no one, including Forcett, will make it to the Good Place. His demons force the group to escape back into the afterlife. When Michael and Janet learn that it has been 521 years since anyone has entered the real Good Place, Janet convinces Michael that it is up to him to fix the flawed system. An appeal to the real Good Place's governing committee fails due to bureaucratic red tape. Michael then tries to convince the Judge that because good deeds have more and more unintended bad consequences, it's impossible to earn enough points to get into the Good Place. To test Chidi's theory that humans can improve if external factors are removed, a new simulated Good Place neighborhood is built which will be populated with four new deceased human test subjects. When Shawn threatens Michael with consequences if the experiment fails, Michael has a nervous breakdown and asks Eleanor to pose as the architect. As two of the subjects arrive, the group realizes Shawn has deliberately selected people who will be difficult for them to work with, in an effort to compromise the integrity of the experiment, essentially ensuring its failure. With Simone being one of the new subjects, Chidi is concerned that he will not be able to prevent his memories of his relationship with her from interfering with the experiment; so he asks Michael to erase his memory to the moment of his death in the original timeline.
The experiment on self-improvement in the afterlife begins. Shawn repeatedly tries to sabotage the experiment, first by sending a demon to impersonate one of the test subjects, and then by having a Bad Janet impersonate Janet. Once these deceptions have been uncovered, the four human test subjects are Chidi himself, Simone, gossip columnist John, and entitled chauvinist Brent. Eleanor and the rest of the team encourage the four to become friends, study ethics together, and improve as people. By the conclusion of the year-long experiment, all but Brent have shown moral improvement, and even Brent shows potential for change at the last minute. The Judge decides that the afterlife system is indeed flawed—but to mend it, all of humanity must be erased from existence.
In September 2019, prior to the release of fourth season of The Good Place, NBC released a six-episode web series on their website, app, and their YouTube channel. The series, titled The Selection, follows Michael's former demon boss, Shawn, as he and his underlings decide which four people to pick for Michael's new incarnation of "the Good Place".
Cast and characters
- Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop, a deceased selfish saleswoman from Phoenix, Arizona, who winds up in the Good Place by mistake. In order to earn her spot, she recruits Chidi to teach her the fundamentals of becoming a better person.
- William Jackson Harper as Chidi Anagonye, a deceased professor of ethics and moral philosophy from Senegal. Assigned as Eleanor's soulmate in Michael's first Good Place experiment, he gives her ethics lessons in an attempt to make her a better person.
- Jameela Jamil as Tahani Al-Jamil, a deceased wealthy British philanthropist who believes she belongs in the Good Place. She forms an unlikely friendship with Eleanor, who initially dislikes her positive attitude, condescending way of speaking, and tendency to name drop.
- D'Arcy Carden as Janet, a programmed guide and knowledge bank who acts as the Good Place's main source of information and can provide its residents with whatever they desire. Later, Janet gains a more humanlike disposition, and begins to act differently than the way she was designed.
- Carden also portrays multiple Janet iterations throughout the series. Among them are "Bad Janet", a Bad Place counterpart specifically designed by the demons to respond to residents in an inappropriate and impolite manner; "Neutral Janet", an impartial, robotic version of Janet that works in the Accountant's Office;, "Disco Janet" who is "fun but a lot" and, for one episode, Janet-versions of Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason.
- Manny Jacinto as Jason Mendoza, a deceased amateur DJ and drug dealer from Jacksonville, Florida, who winds up in the Good Place by mistake. He is introduced as Jianyu Li, a Taiwanese monk who took a vow of silence. Later, Jason proves to be an immature and unintelligent, but kindhearted Jacksonville Jaguars and Blake Bortles fan.
- Ted Danson as Michael, a Bad Place architect who runs the Good Place neighborhood in which Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason reside. Michael has a deep affinity for the mundane aspects of human life, like playing with paper clips or searching for one's car keys. In the first-season finale, it is revealed that he has been tricking the four humans all along, and is actually a demon torturing them, though he later teams up with and befriends them. "Michael" is a Hebrew name meaning "who is like God?"
- Tiya Sircar as Vicky Sengupta, a Bad Place demon who is introduced as the "real Eleanor Shellstrop" in the first attempt of Michael's torture plan. When Michael's plans repeatedly fail, she forces him to give her control over the neighborhood in exchange for not telling Shawn about the repeated failures. She is later blown up during a convention while posing as Michael.
- Adam Scott as Trevor, a cruel Bad Place demon who bullies the main group. He makes a return in the third season, posing as an overenthusiastic member of Chidi's academic study on Earth, only to be later exiled by the Judge upon being discovered.
- Marc Evan Jackson as Shawn, Michael's wicked boss. Shawn gives Michael two chances to pull off the torture experiment, and later turns against him when he finds out about Michael's betrayal.
- Luke Guldan as Chris Baker, a muscular Bad Place demon assigned as Eleanor's soulmate in the second attempt. Chris was sent to the experimental Good Place disguised as "Linda". His mission was to distract Eleanor and the others, so the Bad Place could kidnap Good Janet and replace her with a Bad Janet.
- Jama Williamson as Val, a demon and Shawn's secretary.
- Amy Okuda as Gayle, a Bad Place demon pretending to be a Good Place resident by the name of Jessica. She shows a lack of interest in the humans, despite Shawn's obsession.
- Steve Berg as Chuck, a Bad Place demon pretending to be a Good Place resident by the name of Gunnar. His preferred form of punishment is chewing.
- Bambadjan Bamba as Bambadjan, a Bad Place demon pretending to be a lawyer in the Good Place. He is among the more cunning of Shawn's demons.
- Josh Siegal as Glenn, a Bad Place demon pretending to be a cheerfully dopey Good Place resident. He is among the few demons to show actual concern for another being. He blows up in "Tinker, Tailor, Demon, Spy".
- Joe Mande as the voice of Toddrick Hemple, a lava monster who refuses to wear a human suit.
- Maribeth Monroe as Mindy St. Claire, a deceased corporate lawyer and addict whose cocaine-infused plans for a charity generated enough good points after her death that her point total fell right in the middle of the Good Place and the Bad Place. As a compromise, the Judge ruled that she would receive her own private Medium Place where everything is mediocre.
- Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Simone Garnett, an Australian neuroscientist and, briefly, Chidi's girlfriend. She is also the second test subject to be sent to the experimental Good Place.
- Eugene Cordero as Steven "Pillboi" Peleaz, Jason's best friend and partner in crime.
- Ben Lawson as Larry Hemsworth, Tahani's former boyfriend and the fictional fourth Hemsworth brother. Despite being very attractive and successful, he constantly beats himself up.
- Rebecca Hazlewood as Kamilah Al-Jamil, Tahani's massively successful and competitive younger sister.
- Ajay Mehta as Waqas Al-Jamil, Tahani's father.
- Anna Khaja as Manisha Al-Jamil, Tahani's mother.
- Leslie Grossman as Donna Shellstrop, Eleanor's cruel, self-centered, negligent mother. In the third season, it is revealed that she has found peace as a PTA mom in a Nevada suburb.
- Angela Trimbur as Madison, Eleanor's roommate.
- Meryl Hathaway as Brittany, Eleanor's roommate.
- Mitch Narito as Donkey Doug, Jason's dopey father.
- Brandon Scott Jones as John Wheaton, the first test subject sent to the experimental Good Place. In life, he was a gossip columnist, and especially published trashy articles about Tahani.
- Ben Koldyke as Brent Norwalk, the fourth test subject sent to the experimental Good Place, a privileged and arrogant chauvinist racist.
Other celestial beings
- Jason Mantzoukas as Derek, a malfunctioning artificial rebound boyfriend created by Janet.
- Maya Rudolph as "Gen" (short for hydrogen), the judge who rules on interdimensional matters between the Good Place and the Bad Place.
- Mike O'Malley as the Doorman, the gatekeeper of the doorway between the afterlife and Earth. He has an affinity for frogs.
- Brad Morris as Matt, a suicidal accountant who works in a neutral office between the Good Place and the Bad Place. He is assigned as the accountant for Eleanor and Michael's experiment. Formerly assigned to evaluating "Weird Sex Things" in Accounting.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||September 19, 2016||January 19, 2017|
|2||13||September 20, 2017||February 1, 2018|
|3||13||September 27, 2018||January 24, 2019|
|4||14||September 26, 2019||January 30, 2020|
NBC issued a press release on August 13, 2015, announcing it had given the then-untitled show a 13-episode order based purely on a pitch by Michael Schur. On January 12, 2016, it was announced that Kristen Bell and Ted Danson had been cast in the lead roles for the series. The first synopsis of the show was also released, stating that the show was set to revolve around Eleanor designing her own self-improvement course with Michael acting as her guide – although the afterlife element had always been a part of the series, as Kristen Bell has stated she was aware of the first-season finale twist when she signed onto the show.
William Jackson Harper was cast as Chris on February 11, 2016, though the character was renamed Chidi. Jameela Jamil was cast as Tessa on February 25, 2016, and her character was renamed Tahani. On March 3, 2016, Manny Jacinto was revealed to have been cast as a "sweet and good-natured Jason" whose "dream is to make a living as a DJ in Southern Florida". On March 14, 2016, D'Arcy Carden was cast in a series regular role that was announced as "Janet Della-Denunzio, a violin salesperson with a checkered past" – although writer Megan Amram later admitted that this was an intentional hoax.
The final premise for the show, including the afterlife element, was ultimately announced on May 15, 2016, when NBC announced its schedule for the 2016–17 TV season.
According to Schur, the premise and idea was to include religious elements into the series after doing research on various faiths and groups, but he decided to scrap the plans, instead going for a concept that included all faiths that was diverse and free of religious views. "I stopped doing research because I realized it's about versions of ethical behavior, not religious salvation," he says. "The show isn't taking a side, the people who are there are from every country and religion." Schur also points out that the setting (shot in San Marino, California's Huntington Gardens) already had the feeling of a pastiche of different cultures, stating that the neighborhoods will feature people who are part of nondenominational and interdenominational backgrounds that interact with each other regardless of religion.
The series' setting and premises, as well as the serialized cliffhangers, were modeled on Lost, a favorite of Schur's. One of the first people he called when he developed the series was Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. "I took him to lunch and said, 'We're going to play a game [of] 'Is this anything?'" He then added "I imagine this going in the Lost way, with cliffhangers and future storylines."
The first season's surprise twist, that the Good Place was the Bad Place, and Chidi, Eleanor, Jason and Tahani were the four souls chosen because they were best suited to torture each other indefinitely, is very similar in premise to philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre's stage play No Exit, in which three strangers die, are escorted to a single room by a friendly bellhop where they are informed they must co-exist together, but ultimately determine they are entirely incompatible and thus come to the conclusion that "hell is other people". The only actors who knew the truth from the start were Danson and Bell.
Critics have also suggested resemblances to 1960s surreal TV show The Prisoner in its isolated, rule-bound setting.
Broadcast and release
The series premiered on September 19, 2016. On January 30, 2017, NBC renewed the series for a second season of 13 episodes, which premiered on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, with an hour-long premiere before moving to its normal time slot on Thursday at 8:30 pm, beginning September 28, 2017. On November 21, 2017, NBC renewed the series for a 13-episode third season, which premiered on September 27, 2018. On December 4, 2018, NBC renewed the series for a fourth season. On June 7, 2019, it was announced that the fourth season will be the last. Season 4 premiered on September 26, 2019.
In several international territories, the show is distributed on Netflix, and the first season was released on September 21, 2017, while episodes of subsequent seasons became available within 24 hours of its U.S. broadcast.
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||TV season||Rank||Avg. viewers|
|1||Monday 10:00 pm (premiere)|
Thursday 8:30 pm
|13||September 19, 2016||8.04||January 19, 2017||3.93||2016–17||77||5.72|
|2||Wednesday 10:00 pm (premiere)|
Thursday 8:30 pm
|13||September 20, 2017||5.28||February 1, 2018||3.19||2017–18||77||5.78|
|3||Thursday 8:00 pm (premiere)|
Thursday 8:30 pm (2018)
Thursday 9:30 pm (2019)
|13||September 27, 2018||3.13||January 24, 2019||2.39||2018–19||99||4.57|
|4||Thursday 9:00 pm||14||September 26, 2019||2.42||January 30, 2020||TBD||2019–20||TBD||TBD|
|1||92% (71 reviews)||78 (32 reviews)|
|2||100% (58 reviews)||87 (10 reviews)|
|3||98% (47 reviews)||96 (5 reviews)|
|4||100% (21 reviews)||N/A|
On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has a rating of 92%, based on 71 reviews, with an average rating of 7.74/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Kristen Bell and Ted Danson knock it out of the park with supremely entertaining, charming performances in this absurd, clever and whimsical portrayal of the afterlife." On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 78 out of 100, based on reviews from 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The editors of TV Guide placed The Good Place second among the top ten picks for the most anticipated new shows of the 2016–17 season. In its review from writer Liam Matthews, "NBC's new comedy has an impressive pedigree" (referring to Mike Schur and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, the latter cited as "arguably the greatest sitcom actor of all time"). Matthews concludes, "The hope is that their combined star power can restore NBC's tarnished comedy brand to its former glory. It won't be the next Friends, but it's something even better: a network comedy that feels different than anything that's come before."
On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season has a rating of 100%, based on 58 reviews, with an average rating of 8.95/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "By voluntarily blowing up its premise, The Good Place sets up a second season that proves even funnier than its first." On Metacritic, the second season has a score of 87 out of 100, based on reviews from 10 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
On Rotten Tomatoes, the third season has a rating of 98%, based on 47 reviews, with an average rating of 8.35/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Charming and curious as ever, The Good Place remains a delightfully insightful bright spot on the television landscape." On Metacritic, the third season has a score of 96 out of 100, based on reviews from five critics, indicating "universal acclaim."
On Rotten Tomatoes, the fourth season has a rating of 100%, based on 21 reviews, with an average rating of 8.33/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A wild philosophical ride to the very end, The Good Place brings it home with a forking good final season."
Several critics have commended the show for its exploration and creative use of ethics and philosophy. Featured topics include the trolley problem thought experiment (originally devised by Philippa Foot), the categorical imperative (first formulated by Immanuel Kant), T. M. Scanlon's What We Owe to Each Other, and the works of Aristotle and Søren Kierkegaard. Andrew P. Street of The Guardian wrote that "moral philosophy is the beating heart of the program" and that the show "made philosophy seem cool." Elizabeth Yuko of The Atlantic noted that "The Good Place stands out for dramatizing actual ethics classes onscreen, without watering down the concepts being described, and while still managing to be entertaining." For their part, several philosophers have celebrated the show's largely accurate popularization of their line of work while noting some minor inaccuracies.
Several critics have noted that The Good Place is notable for its eschewing of antiheroes and cynical themes in favor of likable characters and a positive message. James Poniewozik of The New York Times explained that "the most refreshing thing about The Good Place, in an era of artistic bleakness, is its optimism about human nature. It's made humane and sidesplittingly entertaining television out of the notion that people – and even the occasional immortal demon – are redeemable." Jenna Scherer of Rolling Stone wrote that The Good Place proves that "slapstick and banter can coexist alongside tragedy and hardship – that a show doesn't need to be self-serious to be serious-minded." Erik Adams of The A.V. Club praised the show as portraying an "uncommonly decent TV world". Stuart Heritage of The Guardian called The Good Place "relentlessly optimistic", a quality which Stephanie Palumbo of Vulture called "a salve for despair in the Trump era".
Critics' top-ten lists
- ^ Tied with Patria O Muerte: Cuba, Fatherland or Death
- ^ Appears as No. 1 on Erik Adams' and William Hughes' lists. Also listed on 13 of 17 other The A.V. Club Top Ten Lists.
- ^ Tied with Brooklyn Nine-Nine
- ^ Appears as No. 1 on Dennis Perkins' list. Also listed on 10 of 16 other The A.V. Club Top Ten Lists.
|2016||Critics' Choice Television Awards||Most Exciting New Series||The Good Place||Won|
|IGN Awards||Best TV Comedy Series||The Good Place||Nominated|
|2017||American Film Institute Awards||Top 10 TV Programs of the Year||The Good Place||Won|
|Gold Derby Awards||Comedy Lead Actor||Ted Danson||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite New Comedy Series||The Good Place||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||The Good Place||Nominated|
|TCA Awards||Individual Achievement in Comedy||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Comedy||The Good Place||Nominated|
|Outstanding New Program||The Good Place||Nominated|
|2018||Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Actor in a Comedy Series||Ted Danson||Won|
|Best Actress in a Comedy Series||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|Hugo Award||Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form||"Michael's Gambit", written and directed by Michael Schur||Nominated|
|"The Trolley Problem", written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan and directed by Dean Holland||Won|
|People's Choice Awards||Best Comedy Show||The Good Place||Nominated|
|Comedy TV Star||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series||Maya Rudolph||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Ted Danson||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||The Good Place||Nominated|
|TCA Awards||Individual Achievement in Comedy||Ted Danson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Comedy||The Good Place||Won|
|Program of the Year||The Good Place||Nominated|
|2019||Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series||William Jackson Harper||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy||Kristen Bell||Nominated|
|Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy||The Good Place||Nominated|
|Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form||"Janet(s)", written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan, directed by Morgan Sackett||Won|
|"Jeremy Bearimy", written by Megan Amram, directed by Trent O'Donnell||Nominated|
|Peabody Awards||Entertainment honoree||The Good Place||Won|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Comedy Series||The Good Place||Nominated|
|Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series||Maya Rudolph||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series||Ted Danson||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series||Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan (for "Janet(s)")||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series||Ted Danson||Nominated|
|Best Musical or Comedy Series||The Good Place||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Television Series||The Good Place||Nominated|
|TCA Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Comedy||The Good Place||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Television: Comedy Series||The Good Place||Nominated|
|2020||Satellite Awards||Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series||Ted Danson||Nominated|
|Best Musical or Comedy Series||The Good Place||Nominated|
|ADG Excellence in Production Design Award||Excellence in Production Design for a Half-Hour Single-Camera Series||Ian Phillips (for "Employee of the Bearimy", "Help Is Other People")||Pending|
The Good Place makes use of many different theories of moral philosophy and ethics through the character of Chidi Anagonye, the moral philosophy professor. Within the show, there is reference to John Locke, Tim Scanlon, Peter Singer, and Derek Parfit and "the show has covered everything from Jonathan Dancy's theory of moral particularism, to Aristotelian virtue ethics, to Kantian deontology, to moral nihilism."
The beginning of The Good Place takes its inspiration from Jean-Paul Sartre's idiom "Hell is other people" from his play No Exit. In No Exit three people are trapped in one room, which acts as Hell, and they psychologically torture one another while reflecting upon the sins that got them there. The concept "Hell is other people" is an often-misunderstood philosophical idiom meant to reflect that ″Hell is other people because you are, in some sense, forever trapped within them, subject to their apprehension of you.″
The play No Exit acts as a direct inspiration for The Good Place's first season where it is revealed that the human-loving Good Place architect, Michael, is a demon sent from Hell to run an experiment on the idea that humans are their own best torturers. He selectively chooses a group of four people who he decides are perfectly offset to torture one another and, in the beginning, it appears to work. Chidi tortures Eleanor with his indecisiveness, inflexibility, and scholarly disposition, likewise Eleanor tortures Chidi by constantly putting him in situations where he must make decisions or go against the very moral tenets he espouses. Tahani tortures Eleanor by continuously reinforcing her superiority, Jason tortures Tahani by being unable to return her incessant need for validation (as he is initially the silent Buddhist monk Jianyu), and for Jason the mere fact he is forced to pretend he is someone other than himself is torture in itself. Each character is designed to bring out what they hate most about each other and themselves, resulting in the new form of torture Michael is experimenting with.
The second philosophical inspiration of The Good Place is the question of whether studying moral philosophy can have a direct effect on how moral one can be. In season two Chidi becomes a teacher to Eleanor, Jason, Tahani and the demon, Michael. The show doesn't definitively answer this question, as Eleanor often struggles to decide which moral philosophy is best to abide by in her situations, but the lessons do encourage the process of self-reflection. By encouraging Eleanor to reflect on the moral implications of an act her challenges encourage moral her to develop her capacity to see her choices as moral ones. We also see morality created in Michael not through Chidi's lessons, which Michael uses as a means of torture, but rather through the relationships he develops with the characters.
The final major philosophical tenet of the show is named in one of the series' episodes, "What We Owe to Each Other", which is a philosophy book written by Tim Scanlon. According to the show's head writer Michael Schur, this "book forms the spine of the entire show". The book presents the idea of Contractualism, the idea is that "to act morally is to abide by principles that no one could reasonably reject". The show and the relationships between the characters act as an investigation into contractualism with the four main humans, Michael, and Janet forming their own society whereby they must act in ways that no one could reasonably reject even when that goes against the rules and tenets of higher powers. The overarching thesis of the show, greatly influenced by the contractualist theory is "the point of morality... isn't to accumulate goodness points, as in the elaborate point system the organizers of The Good Place and its corresponding Bad Place employ to determine who goes to which upon death. It's to live up to our duties to each other."
- Wansbrough, Aleksandr Andreas (November 8, 2017). "Kantian comedy: the philosophy of The Good Place". The Conversation. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- Lombrozo, Tania (October 23, 2017). "The Good Psychology In 'The Good Place'". NPR. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- Brogan, Jacob (October 27, 2017). "On The Good Place, Thinking Too Much About How to Be Good Can Send You Straight to Hell". Slate. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- Moore, Trent (January 31, 2017). "NBC renews acclaimed fantasy sitcom The Good Place for Season 2". Syfy. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- Menta, Anna (October 19, 2017). "How Mike Schur's 'The Good Place' Is Revolutionizing the Sitcom". Newsweek. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
- Nussbaum, Emily (February 6, 2017). "Dystopia in The Good Place". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
- Misra, Sulagna (October 24, 2016). "The Dystopia of Black Mirror, the Utopia of The Good Place". GQ. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
- Ausiello, Michael (June 7, 2019). "The Good Place to End With Season 4". TVLine. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
- Pederson, Erik (June 17, 2019). "NBC Fall Premiere Dates: 'The Voice', 'This Is Us', New 'Bluff City Law' & 'Sunnyside', More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
- Haring, Bruce (September 13, 2019). "'The Good Place' Preps Viewers For Its Final Season With 'The Selection' Digital Series". Deadline. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
- NBC press release (January 12, 2016). "Ted Danson and Kristen Bell Join Cast of Michael Schur's New NBC Comedy "Good Place"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
- Pearce, Tilly (September 29, 2018). "The Good Place's Eleanor is 'super bisexual' and a romance with Tahani is not off the table". Metro. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
- Andreeva, Nellie (February 11, 2016). "'Good Place' NBC Comedy Series Casts William Jackson Harper". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
- Andreeva, Nellie (February 25, 2016). "'Good Place': British Presenter Jameela Jamil Cast in Mike Schur NBC Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
- Andreeva, Nellie (March 14, 2016). "'Good Place': UCB Performer D'Arcy Carden Cast in Mike Schur NBC Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
- Perkins, Dennis (November 15, 2018). "D'Arcy Carden dazzles as The Good Place drops yet another few narrative bombshells". The A.V. Club. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
- Romain, Lindsey (January 4, 2019). "Visit Janet's Void from THE GOOD PLACE Thanks to This Live Stream". Nerdist. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
- Petski, Denise (March 3, 2016). "'Good Place' NBC Comedy Series Casts Manny Jacinto; Julie Goldman Joins ABC's Weeks/Mackay Project". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
- Marilla Thomas, Leah (September 29, 2016). "The Character Names On 'The Good Place' Could Provide Important Clues". Bustle. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
- Blevins, Joe (October 21, 2016). "Adam Scott is ascending into The Good Place for multiple episodes". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 26, 2017.
- Rogers, Adam (July 27, 2018). "The Good Place's Podcasters Are Smart Motherforkers". Wired. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- "'The Good Place' Season 2 Finale Teased By Newcomer Luke Guldan". International Business Times. September 28, 2017.
- Nemetz, Dave (June 12, 2019). "The Good Place Boss Explains Why He's Ending the Show, Drops a Few Forkin' Big Hints About the Final Season". TVLine. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
- Petski, Denise (November 8, 2019). "The Good Place Will Say Goodbye With 90-Minute Series Finale & Post-Show Special Hosted By Seth Meyers". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
- "Michael Schur Returns to NBC with Series Order for Untitled Comedy". The Futon Critic. August 13, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
- "Kristen Bell on Twitter". Twitter. January 19, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
- Marc Evan Jackson (July 13, 2018). "The Good Place: The Podcast - Chapter Seven: D'Arcy Carden and Megan Amram". Art19 (Podcast). NBC. Event occurs at 6:16. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
- "NBC Augments Its Stable Schedule with Ambitious New Dramas, High-Concept Comedies and Unpredictable Unscripted Series". The Futon Critic. May 15, 2016. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
- Ostrow, Joanne (September 15, 2016). "How Will NBC's 'The Good Place' Tackle Religion?". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Birnbaum, Debra (August 16, 2016). "'The Good Place' Boss Mike Schur: The Model in My Head is 'Lost'". Variety. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Spendlove, Jacqueline. "With a twist: 'The Good Place' returns after last season's surprise ending". TV Media. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
- Squires, Bethy (October 25, 2016). "The Refreshing Artifice of 'The Good Place'". Splitsider. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
- Adams, Eric (September 16, 2016). "Kristen Bell and Ted Danson find a great home in a Good Place". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
- Jensen, Jeff (January 20, 2017). "The Good Place season 1 finale: EW review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
- O'Connell, Michael (June 15, 2016). "NBC Sets Fall Premiere Dates, Gives 'Good Place' a Choice Preview Slot". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Ausiello, Michael (July 31, 2017). "NBC Tweaks Fall Rollout: Good Place Gets Early Talent-Boosted Premiere, The Blacklist Return Moved Up". TVLine. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
- Sandberg, Bryn Elise (November 21, 2017). "'The Good Place' Renewed for Season 3 at NBC (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
- Mitovich, Matt Webb (June 19, 2018). "NBC Fall Premiere Dates: This Is Us, #OneChicago, XL Good Place and More". TVLine. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
- Nemetz, Dave (December 4, 2018). "The Good Place Renewed for Season 4". TVLine. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
- Munn, Patrick (August 23, 2017). "Netflix Picks Up UK Rights To NBC's Comedy Series 'The Good Place', Sets September Premiere". TV Wise. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
- Spencer, Samuel (September 26, 2019). "'The Good Place' Season 4 Release Date, Cast, Trailer, Plot: When is the NBC Show Back?". Newsweek. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
- Lambert, David (September 12, 2017). "The Good Place - Official Studio Press Release for 'The Complete 1st Season'". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Prange, Stephanie (June 5, 2018). "Season 2 of 'The Good Place' Due on DVD July 17". Media Player News. Retrieved July 15, 2018.
- Latchem, John (July 24, 2019). "'The Good Place' Season 3 on DVD July 30". Media Player News. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
- Porter, Rick (September 20, 2016). "Monday final ratings: 'Big Bang Theory' and 'Gotham' adjust up, 'Kevin' and 'Good Place' hold". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
- Porter, Rick (January 23, 2017). "'The Big Bang Theory' ajdusts up, 'My Kitchen Rules' adjusts down: Thursday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- de Moraes, Lisa (May 26, 2017). "Final 2016-17 TV Rankings: 'Sunday Night Football' Winning Streak Continues". Deadline.com. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- Porter, Rick (September 21, 2017). "America's Got Talent,' 'Big Brother,' 'Masterchef' ajdust up, 'The Good Place' and 'Salvation' adjust down: Wednesday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
- Porter, Rick (February 2, 2018). "'Big Bang Theory,' 'The Four' adjust up, 'Mom' and 'AP Bio' adjust down: Thursday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
- de Moraes, Lisa (May 22, 2018). "2017-18 TV Series Ratings Rankings: NFL Football, 'Big Bang' Top Charts". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
- Welch, Alex (September 28, 2018). "'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Big Bang Theory,' and 'Thursday Night Football' adjust up: Thursday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 28, 2018.
- Welch, Alex (January 28, 2019). "'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' and 'The Good Place' adjust down: Thursday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
- "2018-19 TV Season Ratings: CBS Wraps 11th Season At No. 1 In Total Viewers, NBC Tops Demo; 'Big Bang Theory' Most Watched Series". Deadline.com. May 21, 2019. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- Rejent, Joseph (September 27, 2019). "'Young Sheldon' adjusts up, 'A Million Little Things' and 'Evil' adjust down: Thursday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
- "The Good Place: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "The Good Place - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- Zalben, Alexander (September 16, 2016). "Our 10 Most Anticipated New TV Shows of Fall 2016". TV Guide. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- "The Good Place: Season 2". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "The Good Place - Season 2 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
- "The Good Place: Season 3". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
- "The Good Place - Season 3 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
- "The Good Place: Season 4". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
- McFarland, Melanie (December 9, 2017). "How-to-be-good TV: "The Good Place"". Salon. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- Trendacosta, Katharine (November 5, 2016). "The Complicated Morality of The Good Place". io9. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- Poniewozik, James (January 31, 2018). "How 'The Good Place' Became an Antihero Antidote". The New York Times. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
- Yuko, Elizabeth (October 21, 2017). "How 'The Good Place' Goes Beyond 'The Trolley Problem'". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- Street, Andrew P. (January 29, 2018). "The Good Place: How a sitcom made philosophy seem cool". The Guardian. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- Palumbo, Stephanie (January 25, 2017). "'The Good Place's Optimism Is a Salve for Despair in the Trump Era". Vulture. Archived from the original on July 28, 2018.
- Herman, Alison (November 2, 2017). "Talking to a Philosopher About 'The Good Place'". The Ringer. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
- Scherer, Jenna (February 2, 2018). "How 'The Good Place' Turned Into the Smartest, Funniest Sitcom on TV". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 28, 2018.
- Adams, Erik (September 21, 2017). "The good places: The uncommonly decent TV worlds of Michael Schur". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on July 28, 2018.
- Heritage, Stuart (December 8, 2017). "The 50 best TV shows of 2017: No 8 The Good Place". The Guardian. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
- "The 100 best TV shows of the 21st century". The Guardian. September 13, 2019. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
- Dietz, Jason (December 6, 2016). "Best of 2016: Television Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- Dietz, Jason (December 4, 2017). "Best of 2017: Television Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- Dietz, Jason (December 4, 2018). "Best of 2018: Television Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- Prudom, Laura (September 7, 2016). "Critics' Choice Awards Reveal Most Exciting New Series Honorees". Variety. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- "Best Comedy Series - Best of 2016 Awards". IGN. 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Lewis, Hilary (December 7, 2017). "AFI Names Top Movies, TV Shows for 2017". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
- Beachum, Chris; Montgomery, Daniel; James Dixon, Marcus (July 26, 2017). "2017 Gold Derby TV Awards nominations: 'This is Us,' 'Veep,' 'The Leftovers,' 'Stranger Things' among top contenders". Gold Derby. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Naoreen, Nuzhat (January 18, 2017). "People's Choice Awards 2017: Full List Of Winners". People's Choice. Archived from the original on February 11, 2018. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- McNary, Dave (March 2, 2017). "Saturn Awards Nominations 2017: 'Rogue One,' 'Walking Dead' Lead". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- Otterson, Joe (June 19, 2017). "'Atlanta,' 'This Is Us,' 'Handmaid's Tale' Lead TCA Awards Nominations". Variety. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- Swift, Andy (January 11, 2018). "Critics' Choice Awards: Big Little Lies, Sterling K. Brown and More TV Winners". TVLine. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
- Liptak, Andrew (August 20, 2018). "Here are the winners of the 2018 Hugo Awards". The Verge. Retrieved August 20, 2018.
- Macke, Johnni (September 5, 2018). "2018 People's Choice Awards: Complete List of Nominations". E! News. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
- "Emmys: Netflix Beats HBO With Most Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. July 12, 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
- McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- "TCA Awards: The Americans, Killing Eve, The Good Place Among 2018 Winners". TVLine. August 4, 2018. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
- Tapley, Kristopher (January 13, 2019). "'Roma,' 'The Americans' and 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Win Top Critics' Choice Honors". Variety. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- Mitovich, Matt Webb (December 6, 2018). "Golden Globe Nominations: Versace, Mrs. Maisel, Sharp Objects, Barry and The Americans Lead TV Pack". TVLine. Retrieved December 8, 2018.
- "2019 Hugo Awards Announced". The Hugo Awards. August 19, 2019. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
- "2019 Hugo Award & 1944 Retro Hugo Award Finalists". The Hugo Awards. April 2, 2019. Retrieved August 18, 2019.
- Hipes, Patrick (April 18, 2019). "Peabody Awards: 'Barry', 'Killing Eve', Hannah Gadsby, 'Pose' Among Entertainment Winners". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
- Mitovich, Matt Webb (September 22, 2019). "Emmys 2019: Game of Thrones Ties Record and Leads TV Pack; Fleabag, Chernobyl and Mrs. Maisel Win Big". TVLine. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
- Peterson, Karen M. (November 29, 2018). "International Press Academy Announces Nominees for 23rd Annual Satellite Awards". Awards Circuit. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
- St. Clair, Matt (January 4, 2019). "'A Star Is Born,' 'Roma,' and 'Beale Street' Win Big at the Satellite Awards". Awards Circuit. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
- Mancuso, Vinnie (July 16, 2019). "'Avengers: Endgame', 'Game of Thrones' Lead the 2019 Saturn Awards Nominations". Collider. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
- Goldberg, Lesley (June 19, 2019). "'Pose,' 'Russian Doll,' HBO Lead 2019 TV Critic Awards Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
- Hipes, Patrick (December 6, 2018). "WGA Awards TV Nominations: 'The Handmaid's Tale', 'Barry', 'SNL' Make List". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
- Peterson, Karen M. (December 3, 2019). "24th Satellite Awards Announce Nominations, 'Ford v Ferrari' Leads the Way". Awards Circuit. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
- Tangcay, Jazz (December 9, 2019). "'The Irishman,' 'Once Upon a Time,' 'The Mandalorian' Among Art Directors Guild Nominations". Variety. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
- Matthews, Dylan (September 26, 2019). "How The Good Place taught moral philosophy to its characters — and its creators". Vox. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
- Ambrosino, Brandon (November 17, 2014). "Hell is other people … misquoting philosophers". Vox. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
- Mellor, Louisa (August 4, 2018). "The 1944 Existentialist Play That Inspired The Good Place". Den of Geek. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
- Fienberg, Daniel (August 4, 2018). "Critic's Notebook: Twisty 'Good Place' Finale Sets Up a Second Season That NBC Needs to Order". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
- Pickard, Claire (September 22, 2018). The Philosophy of The Good Place – Wisecrack Edition. YouTube. Wisecrack. Retrieved December 1, 2019.