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The Real Reason The Good Place Is Ending After Season 4

It might feel like we're all in The Bad Place, but like it or not, The Good Place is coming to an end in early 2020 after its fourth season ends.

In June of 2019, showrunner and series creator Michael Schur revealed on Twitter that the critically acclaimed, beloved sitcom, which has aired on NBC since 2016, would take its final bow with its fourth season. In his Twitter statement, Schur addressed his fans to tell them that, after The Good Place was renewed for its second season, he and his team sat down to map out the entire show's complicated trajectory, and in the end, they decided the show should only run for about fifty episodes. 

"At times over the past few years we've been tempted to go beyond four seasons... mostly because making this show is a rare, creatively fulfilling joy," said Schur. "At the end of the day we don't want to tread water just because the water is so warm and pleasant. As such, the upcoming fourth season will be our last."

With fourteen episodes in that final season — ten of which have already aired, and two of which comprise the show's expected hour-long series finale — the tally hits 51 episodes, fulfilling Schur's goal for the show. Please be advised that spoilers for the entire series follow.

What's happened on The Good Place so far?

The Good Place, which follows in the cheerful, often optimistic tracks laid by Schur's previous shows Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, debuted in 2016 and introduced audiences to Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who is greeted by Michael (Ted Danson) with a mixed bag of information. On the downside, she's dead — and her manner of death, which involves a bottle of "Lonely Girl Margarita Mix For One" and a line of shopping carts, is particularly embarrassing. However, the good news from Michael is that Eleanor has made it into the "Good Place" rather than the "Bad Place," beating all human odds to live among the best of the best.

However, Eleanor knows right off the bat that something is up, and she clues the audience in pretty quickly; after meeting her assigned "soulmate," Chidi (William Jackson Harper), she confesses that none of the memories from her human life that Michael showed her are actually hers, and that she's obviously in the Good Place by mistake. As the two try to conceal Eleanor's accidental inclusion in the neighborhood, they form bonds with Janet (D'Arcy Carden), a sort of human-shaped Alexa database, Jianyu (Manny Jacinto), a silent Buddhist monk, and his "soulmate," Tahani (Jameela Jamil), a highbrow British socialite with a penchant for name-dropping.

Of course, that's not the only twist in The Good Place's first season. Not only is Jianyu actually Jason, a skeevy Florida DJ who's also in the Good Place by mistake, but Eleanor eventually figures out that the entire thing is a sham. As it turns out, the four humans and Janet have been in the Bad Place the whole time, in a ruse engineered by Michael — a high-ranking Bad Place demon — to torture them with each other for all of eternity.

Michael simply wipes the minds of the foursome as the first season ends, but after the humans repeatedly figure out the demon's machinations, he realizes he has to give up on the experiment and teams up with them instead. As a unit over three seasons, Michael and the humans eventually discover that nobody has made it into the real Good Place in countless years, partly thanks to interference from the Bad Place, and partly because being a human is just so complicated — even if you buy flowers for your grandmother, you run the risk of those flowers being farmed and picked by underpaid workers, and so on.

As the fourth season draws to a close, Eleanor, Michael, Jason, and Tahani close out an experiment with three new humans — as well as Chidi, who volunteered to wipe his memory and start fresh at the end of the third season — to see if they can help each other grow into better people. But when they win their case, the all-knowing Judge (Maya Rudolph) declares that Earth is "canceled," and all of the humans will cease to exist as the universe will simply start over. As they try to hold the Judge off, the team restores the memories of Chidi, who may very well be the last hope for humanity.

What Schur's decision means for The Good Place

As The Good Place has come to this point, which could go in any number of directions, it's clear why Schur wanted to end the show after this season. Schur's smart, incisive show has woven a consistently clever and complicated narrative throughout the course of its run, using a small cast and brilliant concept to make big statements about human nature, and allowing it to keep going with no end in sight wouldn't do the show — or its fans — any favors.

To that end, with Chidi reunited with his loved ones and seemingly ready to reinvent the universe, it's not that Schur's endgame is immediately clear — it's anyone's guess as to what might happen in The Good Place's final four episodes — but what is apparent is that Schur mapped the show out right down to each second, not wasting any time or spinning any wheels as his highly ambitious story draws to a close.

Sure, it'll be sad to lose The Good Place — without a doubt one of the best TV series of the last decade — from the television landscape. Fans can rest easy, though, knowing that Schur, his amazing cast, and his brilliant creative team have accomplished their vision without compromise or stretching their story into something unrecognizable.

The final four episodes of The Good Place begin airing on NBC on January 9, 2020, and its two-part final episode will air on January 30, 2020.