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Best Good Place Episodes Ranked

In 2015, after nearly 20 years of success with the network, NBC offered "Parks and Recreation" and "Brooklyn 99" co-creator Michael Schur total creative control over his next project, ordering it to series based on the pitch alone. The result was "The Good Place," a high-concept supernatural comedy that somehow managed to explore deeply philosophical topics like death and morality while remaining consistently, startlingly hilarious. Its four seasons were a success with audiences and critics alike — it won several awards, including multiple Hugos, and holds a 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating. As we approach the five-year anniversary of its debut, we have a philosophical question of our own: What are the best "Good Place" episodes?

The show's characters would probably have something to say about the very concept of "best," and like a flawed experiment, any ranking runs the risk of being fatally subjective, so we're taking our lead from IMDb's star ratings. We are also about to spoil the entirety of a show with more twists and turns than Jeremy Bearimy, so this is your last chance to turn back!

16. The Funeral to End All Funerals

Unlike most shows, "The Good Place" begins upon the deaths of its protagonists, so it's fitting that our first entry involves three of the four main human characters — Eleanor Shellstrop, Tahani Al-Jamil, Jason Mendoza, and a temporarily comatose Chidi Anagonye — throwing themselves a funeral. 

Of course, this occurs near the end of Season 4; while reformed demon Michael is pleading his case before Gen, the judge of the universe, his human friends take some time to express the love and appreciation they've developed for one another in the form of eulogies. It's a typically tender and humanistic moment from Schur, slowing things down for a minute to just appreciate the relationships between these characters. 

Meanwhile, Michael definitively proves that no human is beyond redemption and that the system by which they are judged is fundamentally flawed, Gen decides to reset the Earth entirely and start from scratch, and the universe's collective Janets — including Disco Janet — arrive to stop her.

15. Most Improved Player

While the first season of "The Good Place" received critical acclaim, the show didn't truly find its footing until Season 2. Despite the strength of the initial premise — a woman accidentally finds herself in heaven despite knowing she doesn't belong there — there aren't many episodes from that first season on this list. 

One exception is "Most Improved Player," which takes place immediately after Eleanor publicly reveals that she was brought to the Good Place by mistake. This episode has everything that makes "The Good Place" great, from the "dress bitch" story (possibly the worst thing Eleanor has ever done) to Chidi's impassioned defense of her capacity to change and grow. It also introduces Adam Scott as Trevor, the cringiest demon in history, and Tiya Sircar as "Real Eleanor," aka Vicky, and it's a fascinating episode to re-watch with the knowledge that "the Good Place" isn't real and the humans are actually being tortured. 

Oh, and Janet is malfunctioning and keeps summoning cactuses, which never stops being funny.

14. Leap to Faith

The fact that this episode doesn't even sniff the top ten is a testament to just how incredible the second season of "The Good Place" really is. 

"Leap to Faith" hinges on one of the season's central questions: Has Michael actually reformed, or is he still a demon at heart? The beginning of Season 2 saw Ten Danson's fiendish character join forces with the humans he had been torturing, but their alliance was based on mutual need, and Michael's trustworthiness was extremely suspect. 

When head demon Shawn (Mark Evan Jackson, having way too much fun) arrives unexpectedly to give Michael a promotion and send the humans to the real Bad Place, Michael seemingly turns on his "friends," delivering a brutal comedy roast. Eleanor, however, believes in his capacity for redemption, and figures out that the roast contained hidden clues to help them escape. 

It's a marvelously constructed episode, and the final reveal — that Michael has, in fact, come around to the humans' side completely — changes Danson's character forever.

13. Best Self

"Leap to Faith" kicks off the best multi-episode stretch of "The Good Place" – everything between it and the Season 2 finale appears on this list, including its immediate follow-up, "Best Self." 

Having eluded the demons, the humans turn to Michael to fulfill his part in their original deal: getting them to the real Good Place. Michael produces a magical hot air balloon that will only allow someone on if they are the best version of themselves, but the balloon turns out to be merely a stall tactic — he actually has no idea how to get to the Good Place. This results not only in one the show's single best lines of dialogue ("You humans have so many emotions! You only need two: anger and confusion!") but in the humans resigning themselves to their inevitable re-capture, getting hammered, and drunkenly deciding to risk everything by traveling through the Bad Place to take their case before the judge. 

Bonus points for Michael's "human starter kit," which includes car keys, a stress ball, and a Dr. Oz book.

12. Patty

It would take four full seasons before the protagonists were finally taken away on an actual balloon and delivered to the actual Good Place. While a lesser show might have ended on the image of the four humans, Michael, and Janet rising into the sky, leaving the true nature of the Good Place unknown, Schur sticks with them as they enter paradise to discover it isn't quite as amazing as it seems. 

As revealed by Patty, aka the philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria (a cameo by the great Lisa Kudrow), heaven has a problem: It eventually gets boring. With death off the table and nothing to counteract the effects of eternal pleasure, humans slowly become "happiness zombies." The always ineffectual Good Place Committee has been coming up with solutions (including "wait until Beyonce gets here, ask her to fix it") but Eleanor realizes that death is what gives life meaning, and proposes a door that Good Place residents can walk through whenever they're ready to leave. 

What lies beyond the door remains a mystery — which, of course, is the point.

11. Pandemonium

Like the first season, Season 3 has low representation on this list. "Pandemonium" is also the only season finale that doesn't appear in the top ten — though that's our decision, not IMDb's. 

After Judge Gen allows the humans to set up a new version of Michael's original Good Place facsimile, designed to test whether humans can improve after they die, we meet the experiment's first subject, John Wheaton. John, a stereotypically queer gossip columnist, is one of the weaker characters in "The Good Place" — he gets a little better in Season 4, but "Pandemonium" earns no points for introducing him. 

The real problem, though, is the episode's horrifically effective tearjerker ending, in which Chidi is forced to lose his memories to counter the Bad Place's attempts to sabotage the experiment, erasing his newfound relationship with Eleanor in the process. If you're able to keep it together in any way during the "Some Memories You May Have Forgotten" montage, you have tremendous emotional fortitude.

10. Everything is Great!

We've reached the top ten, so strap in for a whole lot of Season 2. The brilliance of that season isn't limited to the last five episodes — it starts as strong as it ends, with the double-sized season premiere setting the perfect tone for the story to come. 

Following Eleanor's realization that she and the other humans are actually in the Bad Place, "Everything is Great!" sees Michael erase the humans' memories and try again, tweaking the scenario considerably. The strength of this episode lies in its structure — "Everything is Great!" follows each character in turn over the same period of time, with each respective flashback advancing the plot a little bit further forward by the next commercial break, until finally culminating with the main characters all together and Eleanor once again figuring out the truth. 

It's masterfully done, and being in on the secret allows us to spend more time with the delightful cast of demons as they bumble their way through Michael's intricate, inept schemes.

9. Dance Dance Resolution

Season 2's first episode deals with Michael's second attempt to use his fake Good Place to torture his human victims. Its second episode deals with the ensuing 800 attempts. 

From the meticulously layered structure of "Everything is Great!" we move to the rapid-fire "Dance Dance Resolution," which chews through centuries of time in the afterlife as Michael reboots the humans' memories over and over again in an effort to finally prevent Eleanor (or, in one case, Jason) from discovering what's really going on. After the tremendous montage of Eleanor proclaiming, "This is the Bad Place!" in increasingly ridiculous situations (her soulmate surprising her with a "three-hour spoken word jazz opera" is a dead giveaway) the other demons go on strike, Vicky takes control, and a haggard and worn-down Michael is forced to rethink his plans. 

The episode also features one of several phenomenal appearances from Maribeth Monroe as Mindy St. Clair, the sole resident of the Medium Place, and the beginnings of what will become the primary series romance between Eleanor and Chidi.

8. The Trolley Problem

Several episodes of "The Good Place" center themselves around a specific concept or theory of moral philosophy, with the most notable being Season 2's "The Trolley Problem," a reference to the hypothetical dilemma that asks whether it's morally acceptable to kill one person in order to save five. 

When Chidi struggles in his efforts to teach the trolley problem to Michael, who has grudgingly agreed to learn about ethics alongside the other humans, Michael uses his powers to make the trolley problem real — ostensibly so that he, Chidi, and Eleanor can experience the dilemma first-hand, but actually because he just can't stop himself from torturing Chidi with philosophy. Michael's eventual apology is one of many Season 2 turning points in his character, while elsewhere in the episode, Janet's taking on the role of relationship counselor for Tahani and Jason sets an entirely new sequence of events in motion.

"The Trolley Problem" was the first "Good Place" episode to win the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, and it remains a worthy choice.

7. The Answer

Another Hugo winner is "The Answer," the Season 4 episode that sees Michael, in an effort to solve the problem of the afterlife before Judge Gen restarts everything, restore the entirety of Chidi's memories all at once. 

The majority of "The Answer" takes place within the single second it takes Michael to snap his fingers, sending Chidi's mind, and the viewer, through a series of flashbacks that finally give us the story of Chidi's childhood and how he became the quagmire of indecision that he is. We also glimpse a conversation he had with Michael just before having his memory erased in "Pandemonium," in which he finally understands that his search for the answer to every question he encounters is futile, but that the ultimate answer lies in his love for Eleanor. 

As a massive bonus, we get the sole appearance of Esmerelda, one of Chidi's fake soulmates in Michael's series of reboots, whose knives, disdain for game night, and sexually-charged relationship with her ravens made her an instant legend.

6. Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent

Back in Season 2, "Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent" refers to the aliases adopted by the four humans as they attempt to infiltrate the Bad Place and find the portal that leads to the judge. 

Tahani puts on an American accent and calls herself Rhonda Mumps ("Pass the NASCAR ketchup") Eleanor uses her mom's preferred fake name, Diana Tremaine (an identity we later find her mom using permanently) and Jason takes the name Jake Jortles, idiotically inspired by his favorite football player, Blake Bortles. Chidi, who hates lying, refuses to conceal his identity on principle, but is accidentally identified as "Trent" by a demon (memorably portrayed by Dax Shepard, real life husband of "Good Place" star Kristen Bell) and forced to play along. 

It's a relentlessly funny episode that includes, among other gags, a tour of the Museum of Human Misery (specifically the Hall of Low-Grade Crappiness) and also contains one of the show's most powerful moments, as Michael reaffirms his newfound humanity by sacrificing his freedom to save his friends.

5. The Burrito

There's a lot to love about "The Burrito," the episode where the four humans lay their case before the judge of all the universe. The individual tests each character is put through to prove their improvement are delightful, particularly the late reveal that Chidi's test is just to choose between two hats, at which he fails spectacularly. 

Ironically, the only person who does pass their test is Eleanor, and any questions about how far she's come as a person are laid to rest when she pretends she also failed so her friends don't feel bad about themselves. Back in the Bad Place, Michael appears doomed to spend eternity in a tiny cell with a constantly growing stack of Reader's Digest magazines, only to be rescued by Janet. 

But the reason this episode is in the top five is the introduction of Maya Rudolph as Judge Gen, a casting choice that couldn't have been more perfect if the judge herself made it after one of her frequent human television binge-watches.

4. Somewhere Else

The Season 2 finale is, without hyperbole, one of the most unique and profound episodes of television ever conceived. 

After an opening scene in the judge's chambers (during which Chidi kisses Eleanor for the first time), Eleanor is abruptly returned to Earth in the seconds just before she died. This time, however, she's saved at the last minute due to Michael's intervention, and the experience motivates her to change her life and become a better person. 

For a while, it works — she starts treating her friends better, trades in her job scamming old people for a job canvassing for environmental causes, and even goes vegetarian. Unfortunately, the unrelenting grind of day-to-day life on Earth and the behavior of other people who haven't decided to live moral lives wears her down until she eventually relapses into her old habits. 

It's a staggeringly effective portrait of how difficult it can be to be good in a world that consistently fails to reward morality, a theme that lies at the very heart of "The Good Place."

3. Janet(s)

The combination of hilarity and philosophy that powers "The Good place" simply doesn't get much better than the Season 3 episode "Janet(s)," which concerns itself directly with the philosophical question of identity. 

While Michael and Janet learn more about the morality points system by visiting the afterlife's accounting department (shown around by an unreasonably cheerful Stephen Merchant) the four humans are inside Janet herself, and as an unintended consequence, they all look like Janet while they're there. The result is a tour de force from actress D'Arcy Carden, who expertly, hilariously imitates each of her cast members in their roles, and a lesson on identity from Chidi, who is struggling to reconcile the hundreds of previous versions of himself that have been erased from his memory. 

Of course, the lecture is really just a way to avoid talking to Eleanor about their feelings for each other, which leads to the fracturing of her own identity, until Chidi finally kisses her again, restoring her sense of self. It's exactly the kind of episode that only "The Good Place" could pull off.

2. Michael's Gambit

It's the stuff of sitcom legend, the episode that put "The Good Place" on the map, the mind-melting twist that flipped everything we thought we knew on its head. 

The Season 1 finale reveal that Michael is secretly an evil demon and the humans are actually in the Bad Place was so massive that Kristen Bell and Ted Danson were the only actors who knew about it ahead of time – Jameela Jamil, William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto, and D'Arcy Carden had shot the entire season under the impression that the initial premise was on the level, and the video of the four of them being told what's really going on has been rightfully celebrated online. 

For all the brilliance of the twist itself, though, the real MVPs of the episode are a pair of choices from the actors involved: Bell's original delivery of "This is the Bad Place," which instantly became an iconic GIF, and Danson's slow change in expression, followed by what might be the single best evil laugh in TV history.

1. Whenever You're Ready

It's rare for a show's final episode to also be its best, particularly for network sitcoms. "The Good Place" defies this tradition, partially thanks to the fact that it didn't overstay its welcome — the story ended after Season 4 because that was where Schur decided to end it, not because it had gone stale. 

The main reason, though, is that the finale is both achingly sad and shockingly beautiful. "The Good Place" was always a show about death, and while our heroes have made it to heaven, Schur refuses to simply cut away, to fade out on smiling faces and leave the fates of his characters to our imagination. Their stories have to end, and the final episode is devoted to when and how each of them decides to move on. It's a strangely bittersweet chord to finish on, but "The Good Place" is also a show about life, and life is bittersweet for the very reason that it's finite. 

To conclude in any other way would be a disservice to everything Schur's series represents, and while each of the humans must eventually walk through that last door, the final scene provides a reminder that existence, while short, is inherently worthwhile, as Michael finally completes his journey and becomes human.