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Why Eleanor's Redemption Has The Good Place Fans So Divided

Television creator Michael Schur had success with shows like "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and "Parks and Recreation" in the past, but his crowning achievement was arguably his more recent endeavor "The Good Place" (via Entertainment Weekly). The series is not only hilarious and unique, but tells a touching tale about the nature of humanity. Starring Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop, the series starts after the main character's death. Eleanor wakes up to find that she is in the titular Good Place, and that all she has to worry about now is spending eternity with her soulmate. Of course as this is a television show, it is not without its complications.

In the clever Season 1 twist, Eleanor learns that she is not there by accident. She is actually in the Bad Place, a specific hell created by the demon Michael (Ted Danson) where humans torture each other. For four seasons, Eleanor and her friends struggle to escape the Bad Place, and even try to fix humanity a time or two. Through this struggle, Eleanor learns about her past misdeeds and how to become a better person. And though no character arc is satisfying without change, many fans could not agree on how they felt about Eleanor's redemption arc.

Not everyone feels that Eleanor's redemption was earned

Since its airing, the series finale of "The Good Place" inspired much discourse from fans online. The series culminates with Eleanor finally obtaining happiness. At the beginning of the show, Eleanor is selfish and immoral, only out for herself. It is through her relationship with Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and fighting for happiness that she finds redemption. However, many fans on Reddit found issues with this arc.

"​​One of my favorite things about ['The Good Place'] is how each character really develops throughout the show. Eleanor's is such a radical one that it's hard to believe sometimes," posted u/CoyoteLaughs42. In addition to her change happening too quickly, some fans noted that it just didn't make sense. "She knows whats good and whats bad. Its self control, and breaking bad habits [that's] important, practicing good habits. Not studying [philosophers]. I always found that to be a weak part of the story," stated u/Raphael_Stormer.

Eleanor insists that she can earn her spot in the Good Place by following Chidi's example. He teaches her ethics through studying philosophers, which she then attempts to put into practice. Fans find that this is an easy answer for someone who has lived their entire adult life as a bad person. There is a reason that she is in the Bad Place, and the only way to change that is through concrete actions. However, many fans argue that Eleanor spends the entirety of the show doing just that.

Some fans felt that Eleanor ultimately became a better person

The entire concept of "The Good Place" is that characters are capable of change. After Eleanor initially learns that she is in the Bad Place, her consciousness is constantly rebooted to make her forget. And yet, she continues to persevere to not only to discover the truth, but find love with Chidi over and over. Fans on Reddit acknowledged this, and pointed out that she eventually comes to terms with herself, and becomes a better person through hard work.

"Eleanor's biggest challenge was selfishness, and the 'me vs world ' mindset," commented u/dylbuns. "She finally walked through the portal once she had proved to herself that she'd overcome that, by helping everyone in her afterlife that she could possibly help." Chidi is the first to become ready enough to move on from the afterlife. Eleanor knows that she isn't ready to cross that threshold yet, and instead she goes on to help many people, including assisting Michael in becoming human. She doesn't accomplish this act because it benefits her, but does it because it's right — even if it means being separated from Chidi. "And we see her little spark inspire altruism in a stranger back on earth," u/dylbuns noted.

"The Good Place" poses many questions about what it means to be human and how to live a full life. Eleanor accomplishes all of this and pays it forward, even if it takes her hundreds of years to do it.