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The Smartest Character On The Good Place, According To Fans

NBC's The Good Place, which ran for four seasons between 2016 and 2020, was the perfect comedy serial. Its plot, which unveiled itself slowly over its first half or so, was ingenious: its four principal players, all killed in various ridiculous ways, awaken to find themselves in an idyllic "Good Place." Two of them, a loutish Arizona woman named Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) and a silent monk named Jianyu who turns out to actually be an airheaded aspiring DJ from Jacksonville named Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto), immediately realize that they don't belong there. The others, name-dropping socialite Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) and ethics professor Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper) find their Good Place experiences to be, well, less than good — and there's a reason for that, because all is not as it seems.

As it turns out, neither is the architect of their awesome, quaint neighborhood, Michael (Ted Danson). He's actually a demon from the "Bad Place" who has constructed their neighborhood as an experiment. Rather than sending them into the fiery pits for traditional torture, his goal is to see if he can get these four weirdos, with their quirks and clashing personalities, to torture each other for all eternity, without ever being aware of their circumstance. This goes awry, however, when Eleanor figures out his plan — and despite having their memories repeatedly wiped and the plan reenacted hundreds of times, she keeps doing so, over and over.

Eventually, Michael — who has a secret affinity for humans — switches sides, deciding to try to help his four charges get into the real good place, with the help of Chidi, who attempts to teach the other three about ethics. Twists, turns, and hilarious hijinks ensue, and while our four heroes do undergo personal growth, they also remain their quirky selves. 

And while each of them are intelligent in their own ways, there's one character who, some fans believe, is deeply underrated in this regard.

One fan of The Good Place posited that the smartest character isn't the obvious one

These four personalities are easy to pin down. Eleanor is street-smart and intuitive, but struggles to understand (or care about) basic morality and ethics. Chidi, on the other hand, is an expert in ethics, but is absolutely paralyzed by any decision he has to make. Tahani is good-hearted, but obsessed with status, and has family issues. And Jason, while his heart is usually in the right place, appears to have the IQ of a head of lettuce, and is pretty sure there's no problem that can't be solved with a Molotov cocktail.

Most casual fans would agree that of the four protagonists, Chidi is undoubtedly the smartest — he could lecture for hours about ethics and morality, accurately citing sources from memory, and he's painfully aware of how his acute problems with indecision have affected everyone around him. One superfan with the screen name giulesl614, though, made quite a different argument on Reddit

"Okay so hear me out, Jason is extremely smart," they wrote. "Maybe he lacks academic intelligence, but he definitely has logic and common sense, as well as major street smarts due to his poor life in Florida. In the beginning, he knew he wasn't supposed to be in the Good Place so he kept the act up as a monk who's taken a vow of silence. He also very quickly figured out that Eleanor didn't belong there and knew he wasn't alone. Instead of talking to her out in the open about how they both didn't belong, he used his common sense and logic, to discreetly slip her notes until they could speak. He very easily agreed to take Chidi's classes and he did exceptionally well! What do you guys think?"

Fans are split on whether Jason is more wise than he seems

A significant contingent of fans agreed that, at the very least, there's more going on with Jason than it would appear. "I can see what you mean," wrote user babya305, who invoked the series' heart-wrenching ending in which the four characters are allowed to linger in the Good Place for as long as they want before heading through a mystical door to uncertainty. "[Series creator] Mike Schur talked about this on the podcast episode(s) for the series finale. He made Jason be the first to walk through the door because he has the best emotional intelligence of the four of them. He just knows, man!"

User batty3108 agreed, writing, "This is true. Almost every time an ethical dilemma is being discussed, he seems able to whip out a relevant and understandable example from his life, usually when everyone else was doubtful he even knew where they were," they wrote. "The example is always ridiculous, though."

Many fans, though, didn't buy the argument. User LeoMarius invoked Jason's manner of death and his favorite football player, writing, "He locked himself in a safe with an air tube that didn't extend outside. He thinks that Blake Bortles is a real QB. He's not a bright bulb." User FreJQJohnson agreed. "While Jason is my favorite character, he is persistently as dumb as a box of rocks," they wrote. "He died because he thought he could breathe inside a safe by using a snorkel [...] His go-to move in any fraught situation is to hurl a Molotov. I love him, but he dumb."

Finally, user yothan_simmons broke out a time-honored argument to explain Jason's apparent flashes of common sense: "Even a broken clock is right 2 times per day."

Jason was no genius, but he had his moments

Some users also pointed out that many of Jason's supposedly insightful moments ... kind of weren't. For example, the first time around, he didn't deduce Eleanor's situation so much as he simply listened while she drunkenly blabbed it to him at their welcome party. There are certain times, though, when he makes deductive leaps that can't be explained quite so tidily.

For instance, in season 4, Jason has a crucial realization involving Janet, the Good Place AI (whom he is in love with, and even marries during one iteration of Michael's experiment). When a "Bad Janet" from the Bad Place tries to infiltrate the group, her response when Jason says, "Just know that I'm here for you, girl," tips him off: she replies, "Thank you, Jason," (rather than Good Janet's standard response of "Not a girl"). He reports this to the group, who discover that Good Janet — along with Michael — are being held captive in the Bad Place.

Jason even tricks Chidi, ostensibly the smartest of the group, into sticking with Eleanor, with whom he forms a romantic bond. While Chidi initially scoffs at Jason's "opposites attract" mantra, Jason maneuvers Chidi into giving him the exact same advice regarding Janet — and when Jason admits that he did so on purpose, even Chidi has to admire his cleverness.

Perhaps the most mind-blowing example of Jason's smarts bubbling to the surface, though, was during season 2, when the quartet infiltrated the Bad Place in an attempt to reach the all-powerful Judge (Maya Rudolph) and present their cases for entry into the Good Place. When they're discovered at a Bad Place social event by the demons, Jason deploys his favorite solution to any problem — a Molotov cocktail — and it actually works, creating enough of a distraction to allow the four to escape. We're not sure if he actually qualifies as the smartest of the quartet — but if there's ever been a broken clock that somehow manages to be right slightly more often than twice a day, it's got to be Jason Mendoza.