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The Ending Of The Good Place Explained

After four seasons and roughly 50 hours, NBC's groundbreaking, afterlife-centric sitcom The Good Place has closed out its run for good, providing a well-earned and satisfying ending to this small yet epic series. Throughout the show's run, its core cast — Eleanor (Kristen Bell), Chidi (William Jackson Harper), Tahani (Jameela Jamil), Jason (Manny Jacinto), converted demon Michael (Ted Danson), and Janet (D'Arcy Carden), an all-knowing being who is definitely "not a girl" — anchored the show with heartfelt and excellent performances, directed by showrunner Michael Schur and his team. 

However, all good things must come to an end, and with a show this complex and convoluted, there's a lot of explanation necessary after the series finale. From "Jeremy Bearimy" to an entirely new afterlife and each character's touching ending, we're here to explain the final episode of The Good Place. This should go without saying, but massive spoilers for The Good Place to follow!

The Bad Place has gamed the system

In order to explain the end of The Good Place, there's a little backtracking required, starting with the fact that the Bad Place ended up creating a system that worked entirely in their favor. Without actively rigging the system, the Bad Place sat back, complacent, as the "points" system worked against humans — simply because every decision in our modern world is so fraught — and once all those humans ended up in the Bad Place for garden variety torture, the demons were satisfied. Meanwhile, the real Good Place didn't have any new residents for hundreds of years.

Driven by this troubling information, Michael and his team of humans (and Janet) set out to prove to the afterlife's all-knowing Judge (Maya Rudolph) that the system is skewed and broken. Ultimately, they succeed, winning their cast against the smuggest Bad Place demon around, Shawn (Marc Evan Jackson). However, this ruling comes with an unexpected price.

Earth might disappear forever

Once the Judge realizes that humans can change, the points system is utterly broken, and the Bad Place has been taking advantage of an evolving world, she makes an unexpected decision: "Earth is canceled," and she'll simply click a button and start the entire experiment over. Suddenly, the "Soul Squad" is faced with a totally unprecedented circumstance, and they have to work quickly to save Earth from being wiped out while the Judge searches for the Earth cancellation clicker in her purse amidst Justified DVDs and "the button that ends all wars."

As the humans scramble to save humanity, they turn to Chidi, the wisest and yet most indecisive member of the group, while Janet hides the cancel-clicker from the Judge for as long as possible. Eventually, they're able to propose a new system to Shawn and the Judge, and hope that it's good enough to save everyone and everything that ever existed on Earth.

New system

Thankfully for humanity, the Soul Squad, inspired by the original torture project tested on them by Michael during the beginning of the series, realizes something: when they work together under pressure, people get better. With that in mind, they come up with a layered and innovative new system.

Humans take a series of personally designed moral tests throughout the afterlife, constantly getting rebooted (and having their memory wiped), ultimately learning more as they go along. Only the truly awful will be stuck in the Bad Place, and most humans — meaning, those capable of basic growth — will eventually make their way to the Good Place, after having their very specific psychological flaws and weaknesses tested repeatedly without them knowing. Is it difficult for the Bad Place demons to let go of their favorite torture tactics like chainsaw bears and genital flattening? Sure, but ultimately, they warm to the gang's new way of doing things.

The Good Place isn't great

After saving humanity, the gang is granted the incredible privilege of finally ascending to the real Good Place, but once they get there, they start to realize that something is seriously rotten. The first sign comes when Chidi meets one of his philosophical idols, Hypatia of Alexandria (Lisa Kudrow), who goes by Patty, constantly and obsessively drinks milkshakes, and has little to no brain function after years of being bored in paradise. It's only then that the Soul Squad understands the unsettling truth: the Good Place seems great in practice, but unfortunately, it's a lot like a vacation that never ends, and everyone there is a glorified zombie.

In the end, the gang has to work together — alongside Michael, who is now the head of the entire Good Place system — to figure out some way to remedy this problem. In the nick of time, they come up with a somber yet effective solution.

A new place to go

The Soul Squad is no stranger to innovative solutions, and once again, they spring into action to help figure out how the Good Place can provide some closure to its residents while still making sure their experience is as blissful as possible. Ultimately, they come up with the perfect option.

Thanks to the Soul Squad, the Good Place now features a doorway where residents can go once they've finished living out their own personal version of paradise. Those who gain entry to the Good Place can stay there as long as they like and even wait for their friends and family on Earth to join them, but when they feel ready, they can walk through the doorway. What happens after that is anybody's guess — even Janet, who knows every single secret of the universe, has no idea what lies beyond — but the guarantee for each resident is that the doorway will bring them peace and allow them to pass on. Even the mere presence of the doorway can improve everyone's experience in the Good Place to begin with; just by knowing the option is there, the residents of the Good Place can actually appreciate their time there.

Jason's ending

As the finale begins, we know the gang will likely eventually move on, and the first to do so is Jason, The Good Place's resident lovable Florida dirtbag/EDM DJ. After finally snagging a perfect Madden score with his dad, Donkey Doug (for Jason, a perfect score means that the Jacksonville Jaguars reign supreme and the number 69 is involved in the final tally), Jason experiences a true moment of clarity, returning to his home (an eternally open Stupid Nick's Wing Dump franchise) to tell his not-girlfriend Janet about his decision.

All of Jason's loved ones are saddened by his decision — and he can tell, because as he puts it, their faces look like his teacher's faces in school when he raised his hand — but he's confident in his choice, bidding his goodbyes to everyone at a powerhouse party before heading to the doorway with Janet. However, after losing the necklace he planned to give Janet so she wouldn't forget him, he waits by the doorway and hangs around until she returns, bounding up with his signature energy and presenting Janet with her gift before he opens the doorway and enters the great beyond.

Tahani's ending

Initially the most self-absorbed member of the Soul Squad, Tahani Al-Jamil had one of the biggest evolutions of any Good Place character, and though she kept name-dropping right until the very end (somehow, Big Ben is her godfather), Tahani truly proved that she was a selfless, kind, and generous person who wanted to give back to humanity.

Tahani spends much of her time in the Good Place mastering a long list of skills (which includes a perfect cameo from Nick Offerman), and after Tahani and her sister/former adversary Kamilah finally make peace in the afterlife, everything seems complete — that is, until their parents arrive. After going through all the tests required to gain entry into the Good Place, the Al-Jamils have changed their ways, pledging their eternal love to their daughters in equal measure and apologizing with movie nights, croquet games, and endless deliveries of teddy bears and flowers. Eventually, Tahani realizes she doesn't want to stay in the Good Place, but she also doesn't want to leave — and because Frank Gehry is somehow Tahani's other godfather, she volunteers herself as the first-ever human Architect in afterlife history. After a life of helping others for selfish reasons, Tahani finally achieves her ultimate goal: to truly help humanity for the rest of time.

Chidi's ending

The Good Place's resident philosopher, Chidi, spent his life on Earth as a moral philosophy professor — experience that came in handy in the afterlife, where he spent countless hours teaching Eleanor how to be a better person. Chidi's indecisive nature was always an issue during his lifetime and beyond, but by the time the series came to a close, Chidi evolved into a much calmer, more confident person.

Despite the fact that Chidi and Eleanor, who fell in love multiple times throughout the series' twisting and turning Jeremy Bearimy timeline, spent much of their time in the Good Place enjoying a perfect life together, Chidi eventually started to feel like it was time to move on. Desperate to keep him in the Good Place, Eleanor tried changing his mind, but ultimately realized she was being selfish and needed to let him go. Ready to move on and move through the door, Chidi said an emotional goodbye to Eleanor, explaining that walking through the door would be in line with the Buddhist belief that death is simply a wave returning to the ocean. In the end, when it really mattered, Chidi was the only member of the Soul Squad not to hesitate before crossing over.

Eleanor's ending

Eleanor Shellstrop was the first person to appear onscreen in The Good Place, and as such, her goodbye to the series was always going to be the hardest. Ultimately, it proved nearly impossible for Eleanor as well; content to stay in the Good Place for all eternity, she panicked when her soulmate, Chidi, started preparing to cross over. With Janet's help, Eleanor took Chidi to Athens and Paris — but in Paris, she came to an important realization after finishing one of the show's central texts, T.M. Scanlon's What We Owe to Each Other.

As much as Eleanor loved Chidi, she knew she needed to let him go, and she set off to achieve two more goals before passing over herself. First, she returned to the show's oft-visited Medium Place to check in on Mindy St. Claire (Maribeth Monroe), whose Eleanor-ish drive to be alone was only hurting her. After convincing Mindy to take the test and get placed just like everybody else, Eleanor had one mission left: to help Michael achieve his dream of becoming human. Once she sent him on his way, she could enjoy one last margarita with Janet and pass on.

Janet's ending

As a not-girl and not-robot, Janet, played to utter perfection by D'Arcy Carden, had one of the most complex evolutions of any character in the show. Over the course of her journey, she fell in love (with Jason), made friends, and became almost human, which was on full display in this finale.

Janet grows more visibly emotional with each human's real passing, but two people bring out her emotional side in a big way: Michael and Eleanor. First, before she sends Michael to the human realm, she reminds him to make a doctor's appointment right away, that rental car insurance is a scam, and that he needs to keep his blood pressure down because he "has blood" now, tearing up as Michael assures her that they'll meet again. After that, when Eleanor decides to pass through the door, Janet sits with her for a margarita, waiting by the doorway until Eleanor moves through it.

With that said, Janet still has her memories, which is saying a lot; because Janet lives in all moments of time at once, she reminds Jason that remembering him is exactly like being with him, meaning she is the only member of the Soul Squad who can truly spend eternity with her friends.

Michael's ending

Ted Danson delivered one of the best performances of his career as Michael, a demon turned good thanks to four plucky humans, and thankfully, his ending did justice to this incredible character. Left without purpose and struggling to learn guitar as the Good Place finally revamps itself, Michael is a bit lost until Eleanor figures out his destiny: he can finally live out part of his life as a human, changing from a "fire squid" in a human suit to a bona-fide "silver fox."

On Earth, Michael gets the full human experience — he has good days and bad days, he gets a dog (an enormous Great Dane named "Jason"), and he learns lessons the hard way, much to his great delight. He even finally learns guitar (from his real-life wife Mary Steenburgen, in a delightful cameo). In the series' final moments, a beam of light, which contains the essence of the Good Place residents that passed through the doorway, inspires one of Michael's neighbors to bring him a lost piece of mail. Thanks to this small act of kindness, Michael is granted the last line of the series and finally gets to live out one of the human dreams he hoped to accomplish in previous seasons, telling his neighbor to "take it sleazy" before the screen fades to black.