Season 1 takes on an entirely different light after the revelations of Chapter 13 ("Michael's Gambit"), with various apparent inconsistencies within the plot and Neighborhood 12358W actually turning out to be carefully planted clues that lead to the discovery that we've been in the Bad Place the entire time.
Chidi explains how to use Janet to Eleanor. Sure, its a tidy use of exposition but it also makes complete sense knowing that Eleanor hates people who are better than [her] that Michael would have made sure her soulmate was more knowledgeable than her.
The first time Eleanor is shown doing something completely selfless for Chidi—leaving him alone to enjoy some down time on the lake—she's wearing a white shirt with scalloped, lacy sleeves...which almost look like a small pair of stylized wings. Angel imagery, anyone?
Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason are the only residents of Neighborhood 12358W who have had flashbacks to their life on Earth. This makes sense considering they're the only humans in the Neighborhood.
The (invoked) Purity Sue nature of the Neighborhood's inhabitants makes more sense when you realize that they're actually Bad Place people parodying good people. Likewise, them calling out Eleanor for making their afterlives miserable and changing the Purity Sue act hints that Michael's personal hell is unraveling.
A Rewatch Bonus that clears up a lot of what appears to be flanderization about Eleanor's life on earth. The idea of a Freudian Excuse is parodied in Season 1 when Eleanor says she's only such a jerk because "her parents got divorced". Later, when we see it in flashbacks, this is in fact a massive understatement. Her parents were so incompetent and hateful to each other that she emancipated herself while still a child herself to escape from them. However, this makes total sense because Eleanor is tortured by the knowledge that she isn't good enough in comparison to the saintly, suffering Fake Eleanor. Eleanor underplaying her trauma is a huge part of that.
Michael seems to invest so much time in Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason compared to the other residents of Neighborhood 12358W. One might chalk it up to him being omnipresent, but it's more likely due to the fact that all the other residents are fake.
Chidi is someone who has hurt people despite his tremendously good intentions, while Tahani is someone who has helped so many people, but with impure intentions. The fact that both end up in The Bad Place illustrates that the afterlife's selection system takes account both intentions and consequences.
Similarly, in episode two, Chidi openly wonders whether Eleanor can truly become a good person when her intentions are so self-serving. Again, this is precisely why Tahani is in The Bad Place.
Michael tells Chidi early on his life's work on moral philosophy is completely unreadable even to a higher being capable of reading all of human literature in 20 minutes. It's one of the first hints that Michael is a demon because he can't comprehend moral philosophy until Chidi teaches him in season 2.
Only after seeing the season one finale, think about the 'fridge horror' on Jianyu: It's funny when Eleanor outlines everyone's tortures and Jason chimes in about no one getting to see his man-cave, but think of it. The gregarious, outgoing party animal was forced into the role of a silent monk, which he had to keep up 24/7. Being forced to play Jianyu forever is indeed a perfect hell for someone like him - and since Michael made up everything as a Bad Place engineer, there is no real Jianyu to have to imitate. It is indeed his sentence, his hell. Maybe Michael even threw that in because he'd otherwise suffer less than the others.
Related to the above, the Interchangeable Asian Cultures mistake makes a lot more sense once we learn it was deliberate and not a mistake. As we see with a lot of Trevor's behavior (i.e. telling women to smile more and taking off his shoes in public), Bad Police staff like to engage in the same kind of behavior which would get someone sent to the Bad Place, and confusing ethnicity, especially in a way that buys into stereotypes sounds like the kind of behavior that would lead to Bad Place points.
Even before that, the supposed mistake in how Jason wound up there would actually explain why a celestial being in the Good Place would have that mix-up. Michael claimed the system mixed him up with an actual Taiwanese monk, in which case he'd have no reason to ask (or think he could be from anywhere other than Taiwan).
In hindsight, Michael's willingness to literally Kick the Dog was an early sign of his villainous nature.
From that same scene, Michael panics about how if even "one blade of grass" in his neighborhood is off-kilter, then he is going to be punished. Quite severely. This doesn't really seem to make a whole lot of sense for The Good Place. But then again, it makes perfect sense: If they were actually in the Good Place, no doubt Michael's boss would be forgiving/understanding of mistakes. But since he's an architect from the Bad Place, Michael's boss might be a lot less forgiving...
Then again, considering how few people seem to end up in the real Good Place, whoever runs it may not be all that forgiving. Keep in mind that Tahani never harmed anyone and still ended up in the Bad Place because of her motivations.
Janet's inability to talk about people's search history. It will inevitably become useful after The Reveal that they're really in the bad place as it will prevent Michael from simply asking Janet about the four. And as a legitimate Good Place being, she has powers that will likely prove useful as well as, thanks to Jason, an intrinsic motivation to help them as it's unlikely she'll want to continue helping Michael once she discovers the truth.
As of Season 2, it is likely also to be a roadblock for the main four. It's suggested that Janet is aware of everything being rebooted, but until the main four are able to ask the right questions, she is unlikely to be able to answer any questions in a helpful manner.
Another important rule for Janet - she's not allowed to answer any questions about the Bad Place. At first, it seems like a minor quirk designed to stop residents worrying too much about the other side of their peaceful afterlife; in retrospect, it's a necessary bit of reprogramming by Michael to stop anyone accidentally stumbling across the truth.
Michael's talk about his retirement. Assuming he was telling the truth, it makes LOADS more sense why he would be tortured for all eternity as opposed to being forgiven.
Mid-episode brilliance with Mindy and her welcome video. There's a reason the Good Place spokesperson isn't Michael. Similarly, Michael saying that he'll have to murder Janet which, in hindsight, something out of character for a Good Place person. And the seemingly offhanded remark from Michael's coworker about why anyone would ever flavor anti-matter with French vanilla.
At least one of those things was already full explained and is not changed by the reveal: There's no reason to expect Michael to be the Good Place spokesperson in the welcome video. He's not the only architect, of course, and he just got promoted to the position himself.
Meta-one. All the Headscratchers? Yeah, they actually get addressed. The reason they're such headscratchers is... they're really in the Bad Place which is exactly why such detailed inspection reveals some holes.
In a somewhat humorous example, a lot of reviewers/commentators (i.e. on the AV Club) joked about the prominence of frozen yogurt in the Good Place, since as Michael himself notes, it's something that is more popular than actually liked. This detail seemed emblematic of the Good Place having a lot of Hell of a Heaven qualities. However, all of the frozen yogurt makes even more sense as the kind of thing you would find in a Hell "pretending" to be Heaven- it's the same kind of idea as that old Got Milk commercial where Hell has delicious chocolate cookies but no milk.
Consider the disasters that we were told happened as a result of Eleanor's selfish behavior: She stole shrimp, so shrimp fell from the sky. She cracked a joke about Ariana Grande, so Ariana Grande started playing in the neighborhoods. She shirked garbage duty and garbage fell from the sky. She smashed up cake, so a sinkhole opened. Notice: The Last of These Is Not Like the Others. The first three results were all obviously linked to some action that Eleanor took, but it's hard to see how destroying cake relates to a sinkhole opening. The Reveal that Michael was really orchestrating the disasters clears up the seeming inconsistency: He was just doing whatever would cause the most problems for the main four. By establishing the pattern, Michael just made Eleanor believe she was behind it.
The cake/hole connection can be justified in that Eleanor punched a hole down the middle of the cake, so a hole opened up in the middle of the restaurant to ruin the party.
In retrospect, all of Michael's behaviour towards the 'real' humans was just taunting them in the guise of not fully understanding humanity. Aside from the behaviour explicitly called out in the finale, he does things like encouraging Chidi to take up hobbies that will directly trigger his anxieties around being alone, lost and working to deadlines; he ruins Tahani's parties (and even her 'Bad Place' summit meeting) by doing things like allowing demons to trash her home; he publically insults Tahani and blames her for causing Janet's death through her awful retirement party; he asks 'Jianyu' complicated multi-part questions despite his supposed vow of silence; he mocks all things human while pretending to be delighted by a new human form that we see, in flashbacks, he's had since long before this neighbourhood was created ("Suspenders! They're so ridiculous! So much stupider than belts!"). Basically, everything that seemed like sitcom-based 'wacky non-human accidentally says something inappropriate' jokes were actually him cruelly needling the others.
Doug Forcett. A dumb stoner who get most of the afterlife right. After The Reveal, look back at when we first met Jason. He's a dumb... something or other and indeed outlines some of the basic truths of the show. He thinks the place is a prank, etc.
Michael doesn't seem to know that Janet regenerates after she "dies". This could be just him pretending not to know to make the others feel more guilty, but it also makes sense if you realize bad!Janet probably wouldn't have a kill switch, since it's only there in case good!Janet goes bad. Therefore, Michael, a bad place architect, probably never learned about what would happen if Janet were to die, like an actual good place architect likely would've.
After Janet reboots and has to re-download all the knowledge of the universe, she starts to summon cacti when asked to create anything. It might seem like just a random joke, but consider an earlier scene, in which Chidi asks Janet to recite the alphabet, and she responds, "A, B, Janet." This could imply she has only downloaded information up to B, but by the later scene, she's up to C for cactus instead. She can't summon anything from later in the alphabet, like water or file.
The "Good Place" that we see is a lot like how actual mortal "prisons" work — with a more superficially pleasant veneer. You have your basic necessities provided, along with forms of recreation. But there are rigid rules (the no cursing, for example). And you literally can't leave. Also, what do most people fear most about prison? The *other* prisoners — they're the ones who you need protection from so you aren't assaulted or beaten. With rare exceptions, the wardens are just there to enforce the rules. They aren't actively "torturing" you, as we are led to believe occurs in the "bad place." Even in our world, hell literally is other people.
We're shown Eleanor's memories in the first episode of her supposedly working at an orphanage, and a Caucasian hand is shown. However the real Eleanor Shellstrop, Vicky the demon, is not. It's an inconsistency that Michael didn't realize.
Looking back on Season 1 as a whole, it makes perfect sense that it would be Eleanor, of all people, who realizes the truth. For all her supposed moral inferiority, she has the most self-awareness of any of the main four. Chidi and Tahani are absolutely convinced that they are good people who deserve to be in paradise, while Jianyu a.k.a Jason Mendoza doesn't really understand the difference between right and wrong (he knows he doesn't belong in The Good Place, but that's about it). Throughout the season, it's really only Eleanor who thinks to truly question their reality, calling out how everyone else can't be as good as they seem and pointing out that the standards for getting into The Good Place are ridiculously unfair. Of course she'd be the one to figure out that "The Good Place" is really The Bad Place. She never fully bought into it in the first place.
At first glance, it appears that Eleanor is the Spanner in the Works for The Good Place coming apart. But in reality, she's only the spanner in that her confession that she doesn't belong there screws up Michael's Ironic Hell. In actuality, Chidi is the spanner in that he was the one who gave Eleanor ethics lessons which made her moral enough to confess. Furthermore, this explains why Eleanor's message to her post-memory wipe self is simply "Find Chidi". She knows he'll help her again.
You'd expect that a soulmate would accept you for who you are, but Tahani is very unwilling to accept Jianyu's vow of silence, and repeatedly attempts to convince or even trick him into talking. It's not just a clue that they're actually in the Bad Place. It also hints at Tahani's inherently selfish nature; she doesn't care about his apparent wishes, she wants him to talk so that she can be happy.
From the moment Everything is Great starts up Michael's plan starts going wrong due to Character Development lasting from season 1.
Eleanor realizes her "soulmate" is incredibly shallow, giving her much less motive to stay in the fake Good Place to begin with, and shows far less impulsiveness, only deciding to take a few drinks after she's sure she can't find Chidi and from there actually changes her mind once she realizes he's a nearby person.
Even after the note is gone, Eleanor has matured enough for her to decide, a day after her "sins" cause everyone a bunch of problems, she needs to clean up her act before she causes any more major disasters or blowing her cover. Each iteration then on, she ends up asking Janet to find an actual ethics professor to help-finding Chidi without any prompting at all, and swallowing her annoyance with him even without being forced to as soulmates.
Also Eleanor will ALWAYS be drawn to Chidi. As soon as she knows she's not meant to be there and will need help, she asks Janet. Janet can't lie, and given that the only other people who aren't actually evil demons are Tahani, Jason and Chidi, Chidi is literally the only person she can direct Eleanor to for help.
Chidi after hemming and hawing a bit, actually makes a decision and forces Michael to provoke But Thou Must! on the boring "soulmate", which is what provokes the conversation that draws Eleanor to him, then later decides off the cuff to confront what's bothering him after Tahani's drunk speech.
Tahani has learned to swallow her pride and actually apologize once she realizes she made a fool of herself, reintroducing herself to Eleanor in the process, at the worst possible time for Michael and realizing she may not be the best person in the neighborhood.
Even Jason has some; he's much less scared and more willing to be proactive, from dodging his soulmate repeatedly to eventually just admitting the truth. Of course, it hardly helped that Michael put him in an impossible situation this time without any outlet like he had in the first loop.
The montage of all of Michael's failures to keep the nature of the "Good Place" a secret is full of Fridge Brilliance.
As the montage continues, we see that the events that lead up to Eleanor's realization are far different and more crazy than in Season one. The obelisks, the clowns, bees, monks, it's all more insane and nonsensical. This makes the illusion more impossible to cover up because what heaven would involve such insanity.
The new soulmates that Michael gives Eleanor also ruins the secret. They're all either too bland for Eleanor to actually care enough about to involve in her secret, don't really talk to or act like they care about her, and constantly make excuses.
The attempt with Tahani being Eleanor's soulmate especially doesn't work as, knowing Eleanor's hatred of her in the first few episodes of the first season, Tahani's self-absorbedness and lack of humility would only push Eleanor away and push her towards Chidi. That said, it does make sense - pre-Revelation Tahani is always concerned about appearances and so Eleanor's secret would be something she'd be more inclined to hide and ignore rather than help.
It actually works beautifully. Like with Chris, Eleanor would be delighted at first to have such an attractive soulmate. However, she hates people who think they're better than her, and the only one who fits that bill better than the ethics professor is the philanthropist who never stops bragging about her life. And Tahani, who wants everything to look and be perfect, has a defective soulmate whose entire being she disdains, but she has to pretend that Eleanor's the perfect person for her.
Related to the soulmates Michael setting Eleanor up with a golden retriever couldve also blown up in his face the moment he revealed the animal to be Eleanors soulmate. Eleanor would definitely realize that shes in the bad place if a dog was her soulmate. But Michael already went through a bunch of soulmates before this and probably threw up his arms and gave up trying to pick out a soulmate for Eleanor.
The one attempt where JASON of all people figures out that theyre in the Bad Place makes sense when you rewatch the first season and realize he never believed they were actually in the Good Place to begin with. He just didnt have any way of proving that the Good Place was a prank.
The other residents. Michael has unintentionally made them suffer through their own Bad Place by forcing them to act like good people. No wonder they eventually mutiny. It may even mean that, ironies of ironies, the Bad Placers are their own Spanner in the Works.
Small one from Everything's Great. Michael has to tell Chidi that all the great philosophers went to the Bad Place. Otherwise, Chidi would simply ask to meet one eventually and that would be (probably) impossible. And even if Eleanor hadn't figured it out that iteration so fast, Chidi probably would have eventually started to really question why every philosopher went to the Bad Place.
With the reveal that no one's gone to the Good Place in centuries, it's probable that this was actually true. However, this in itself is Fridge Brilliance again because Chidi, who lacks Eleanor's self-awareness, never stops to ask himself why every single philosopher went to the Bad Place except for him.
Vicky spent weeks 'perfecting' an Australian accent. Rather than this just being a random theatrical choice, it's likely so that she could bond further with Chidi, who lived and worked in Australia for a long period, in order for the two of them to have a deeper relationship, all the better for her to emotionally torture him.
The way Jason is tortured(he's given the ultimate man cave but can't share it with anyone) is subtly reminiscent of the joke of the priest who skips Sunday service to play golf and plays the best game of his life. (St Peter asks God why he doesn't do anything to stop him and God replies "Who's he going to tell?")
The way that Michael's immediate superior appears to be hardly more of a child in the flashback, while Michael as always appears middle-aged, just seems like another way to highlight Michael's Butt-Monkey status (making it look like his career is going so slow that he's taking orders from someone who's young enough to be his grandchild) while not making much sense given that they're both immortal beings. "Team Cockroach" has Michael mention that beings like him are assigned a "random" human body so that they can understand humans better — thus, the age they appear is presumably randomly determined as well.
A recurring question from fans was why Michael felt the need to steal a Good Place Janet rather than just have a Bad Place Janet pose in the role. Chapter 20 reveals the logical reason: Michael did try but then shows his superiors that a Bad Janet literally cannot act good. Her every attempt to sound nice lasts just moments before she literally melts away.
Also an example of the demons' inability to think outside the box. After all, the four humans are either expecting nothing or expecting a more traditional religious afterlife (Michael explains that each religion got about 5% right). A Janet-figure isn't part of any major religion's afterlife. But both Michael and Shawn take it for granted that a fake Good Place needs a fake good Janet to be convincing. Michael's plan would have been much easier without Janet, since Janet falling in love with Jason after being rebooted contributes to the unraveling of Michael's scheme.
Except Janets are the mainframe necessary to run neighborhoods. Having a Janet is unavoidable, but Michael could have set her up to not interact with residents.
Another possibility would have been rebooting a Bad Place Janet enough times for her to be sophisticated enough for the ruse before starting the experiment, as Shawn did when replacing the Janet we mainly follow with a Bad Place Janet, though that took several million reboots.
The flashbacks also explain why Janet is offbeat so much: Michael openly lied to her about working for the Good Place and made her go along with his ideas of a twisted Heaven. So from the start, Janet's entire programming has been off and thus why she has her "glitches" as she's been forced to play the role of being bad without her knowledge.
The glitches started when she started lying about being happy to help Jason and Tahani with their relationship. If helping Michael was a problem, she would have been glitching from the beginning, as she pointed out.
A bit of fridge humor but Chidi speaks French. After learning that anything French or related to France automatically earns you Bad Place points, the fact that Chidi speaks their language probably influenced his afterlife destination quite a bit.
Granted, in "What We Owe to Each Other", he said to Tahani that he doesn't like France due to its having colonized Senegal, so that may have actually won him points.
Tahani: And do you like France as much as I do?
Chidi: Well, they enslaved my country for 300 years, so no. But they have great museums.
Michael claims that humans are like cockroaches to him, meaning that they're disgusting and beneath him. However, cockroaches are also notoriously hard to kill, and capable of driving humans crazy by their sheer stubborn ability to shrug off the best efforts of creatures that are so far beyond them as to seem almost godlike. Kind of like how a certain immortal superbeing has spent literal centuries trying to find a way to control a group of people who have no way of outsmarting or overpowering him but whose sheer spiritual resilience nonetheless defeats him every time. No wonder Eleanor adopts the "Team Cockroach" title at the end of the episode!
Chidi's indecisiveness and anxiety might seem like Flanderization at first, since there isn't much evidence of it in the first few episodes. However, it makes sense that he'd start out calmer since he thought he was in actual heaven. Once time goes by and the mistakes and secrets begin to pile up, his vices get worse and worse until he can't even decide between dry erase or paper and pencil. Almost like this world was specifically designed to slowly increase his anxiety over time...
There's an interesting plot hole that only makes sense after The Reveal, and is interesting to watch it over a rewatch and realize it was always there. Chidi shouldn't be in The Good Place. It's clear that that place is, from Michael's description, for outstanding philanthropists. Even the flashbacks show that Chidi hasn't actually done any real good to the world, which is mentioned very early in the plot: He dedicated his entire life to write a book on ethics that was never finished and that was too confusing to add anything to anyone who would read it. If his life's work is useless, why would he be in the Good Place together with great social activists? He didn't, he went to the Bad Place.
But we know from the second season that Micheal can't understand any philosophy, so Chidi's life's work might not be unreadable. Even if it was unfinished (which, given how indecisive he is, could mean anything), it could have been published posthumously, and inspired other people to acts of philanthropy. That should count for his score, if "set up a charitable foundation that your sister was going to do" works. And even if that's a stretch, all that really matters is that Chidi believes it.
Eleanor's Character Development. All of her life, she was surrounded by - through her own actions or others - pretty miserable people. But as the toothbrush incident shows, she still longed for a sense of family and closeness with others on some level. And this is why she's tried so hard now - the rest of the gang honestly want to help and honestly care for each other (even Janet) with no strings attached. They're candid with each other, share thoughts and feelings. In short, they're the kind of emotional connection she's been looking for all her life and so she's basically fighting to keep her family together.
When Real Eleanor is first introduced, she seems a ridiculous cliche. She was an orphan adopted by wealthy people that died when she was a small child, making her an orphan all over again. Her entire life was supposedly spent doing good works (worked for NGOs in third world countries, campaigned against the death penalty, volunteered at a homeless shelter etc.) After her death, she doesn't seem to mind that she ended up in the Bad Place by mistake and actually apologizes to Eleanor for having failed to save her life (getting killed herself in the process). Of course, all of this starts to make sense when it turns out that it was all a fabrication to make her look like the perfect opposite of Eleanor, who is utterly selfish.
Why Tahani is seemingly one of the few, if only, non-Americans in the neighborhood. It's a very subtle way of pushing at her 'outsider' status in her family. She would have to constantly explain herself or adjust her behavior to fit in rather than be the person she really is.
Chidi is from Senegal not the U.S. He just sounds American for some reason. He even states that he's actually speaking French.
Which only makes sense when they are in the afterlife. During season 3, they are back on Earth, which then makes no sense that Chidi still sounds like he is speaking American English while teaching a class in Australia and hailing from Senegal.
The way soulmates are introduced seems okay at first, but really — think about it. You're in an entirely new place, and you just found out you're dead a couple hours ago. Then, you're introduced to an utter stranger, who you know nothing about, and are told that they're your One True Love, the only person for you. While the idea of a soulmate is great, and it'd be nice to have a person to navigate the afterlife with right from the word "go," being outright told you're soulmates can take the parts of a new relationship that are awkward, difficult, or unpleasant, and turn them Up to Eleven. Since this person is your soulmate, chosen by the universe, you're likely to feel like you should click right away, and that you two should immediately have the perfect relationship, and when that doesn't happen (come on — even the most well-matched couples don't work like that), you'll likely start having some doubts. Are they really your soulmate? Why are you having these problems? Is this your fault? Even if you do grow to love the person, even the smallest of imperfections in your relationship could trigger a whole new wave of self-doubts and anxiety. (They're your soulmate, so everything should be perfect, right?) It's like what Tahani says in the third episode; you're in paradise, and yet something just doesn't feel right. Talk about pressure! Then comes The Reveal, and you realize this was probably the intent. And, as a nice bonus, all the demons surrounding you are playing the part of a perfect, happy couple who never fights to the hilt! How fun!
In episode one, Michael says most artists are in The Bad Place. He names Mozart specifically. What's the music playing when Eleanor attends Tahani's first party? It's Papageno's first aria, from Mozart's The Magic Flute. They could have picked a million classical music bits, but I think they picked this one to serve as subtle Foreshadowing.
In The Burrito, Tahanis test involves her passing a series of doors, behind which are many people discussing how they really feel about her. Her sister, Kamilah, isnt show to be in any of them, even the final room containing Tahani and Kamilahs parents. Kamilah wasnt in one of the rooms because she would never talk about Tahani in the first place, even in a mystical afterlife test.
Throughout the first two seasons, the closest we come to seeing an angel is in a short recorded message, and the only people we see who might be headed for the Good Place have brief roles in flashbacks and nothing more. For the most parts, everyone we see on screen is a demon or a confirmed bad person - the closest thing we come to a good person is a bad person trying to redeem themself. In one sense, this is because the show takes place mainly in Hell, where goodness would reasonably be in short supply, but it also serves an important thematic purpose: it means that the exact nature of "good" is always kept vague, meaning that just like people in real life, the characters who aspire to goodness have to doubt and question and second-guess themselves, without the benefit of having a definite answer provided for them.
The Bad Place crew has Michael turn off the Good Place's hangover filter, since they actually like hangovers. Makes sense, given how unpleasant they are, but that begs the question, why didn't they have him turn off the swearing filter, too? Surely people as rude and crass as them would want to curse up a storm. But this isn't the Good Place. It's the Bad Place, and the whole purpose is to make the humans miserable. Giving them the ability to swear again would be the opposite of torture.
Why did the air conditioner just happen to fall on Chidi and kill him at that moment? Because he had punched it earlier when he was sweating and freaking out, asking if it was even on. Chidi caused his own death not just by standing around too long being indecisive, but by hitting the air conditioner in the first place, which caused it to become loose.
A subtle detail from the pilot. When things first go haywire, everyone is in yellow and blue pajamas... except for Eleanor, who's in pajama pants and a t-shirt for University of Michigan that Chidi found at her house. Eleanor didn't actually go there, but the shirt being in her house implies that "Real Eleanor" did. And what are the colors for University of Michigan again? That's right... blue and yellow.
Confirmed in Season 4. When they try to run a chaos sequence on Princeton graduate Brett, the pajamas are in black and orange, Princeton colours.
In Chapter 12, the flashback to the events immediately preceding Eleanor's death ends immediately before she is struck by the column of shopping carts, without showing her being run over by a truck. What makes this brilliant is we can't see that there never was a "Good" Eleanor who tried to save her and died in the same accident.
Vicki requests a larger part than what she gets in all versions of Michael's experiment after #1. Technically, before she even becomes the de facto boss, Tiya Sircar was already having more scenes and lines than in season 1!
Anyone who's read Dante's The Divine Comedy might watch season 1 and think it's strange that "the Good Place" is so similar to Dante's first circle of Hell, where "sinners" (e.g. unbaptized children and Virtuous Pagans) are given food and shelter rather than being tortured. It's a benign afterlife where nobody wants for anything other than, say, entertainment. "The Good Place" is essentially the First Circle but where the inhabitants who clash are put near each other.
The Doorman guards the portal between the afterlife and the mortal plane. In short, Jeff is the inspiration for mythological figures like Cerberus with the 'bridge' behind him being like the River Styx while the paperwork that Michael uses is akin to the coin given to the Greek dead.
In "Jeremy Bearimy," Tahani, upon learning the truth about the afterlife, decides to give away most (if not all) of her wealth — first to an opera company, then to random people on the street, and then to Jason. While giving money to those in need is a general act of charity that all would agree should earn some Good Place points, it could also be a reference to the famous New Testament story in which Jesus told a rich man that, if he wanted to get into Heaven, he'd have to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor.
I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
In Chapter 31, Chidi, spiritually broken by learning the true nature of existence, recites the famous Nietzsche quote, "God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him... Who will wipe this blood off us? ...What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?" What he doesn't mention, however, is how that quote continues:
Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us—for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.
This reflects the decision the characters make at the end of the episode: they've lost their last chance to get into the Good Place, so instead they'll try to help others in spite of the knowledge that they won't be rewarded for doing so.
In Chapter 31, Eleanor returns a wallet to a father containing a picture drawn by his daughter. Eleanor breaks down crying when he reveals that. On one level, it can be a sign of her empathy, but on the other, it's probably also a reminder of her family (or lack there of more accurately) - remember the time she cried over a toothbrush holder?
The premise that the good version of the afterlife for people who are specifically philanthropists is to be stuck with a small group of people, with the knowledge that most people they ever helped probably end up being condemned to the Bad Place doesn't seem like a very uplifting thing. The people who go to the Good Place would certainly be upset about that, possibly devastated - to say nothing about not being around their friends, families and loved ones from life. Even if the Universe works like this for some reason, it seems that bluntly telling everyone that's how afterlife is arranged seems cruel. Well, it turns out the cruelty is deliberate. Hearing about how exclusive a club the good afterlife is causes three out of the four main characters to be very upset (although for different reasons).
While the first season's big reveal answers a lot of questions, a gigantic one remains: The idea that someone like Eleanor could improve herself after death blows an enormous hole in the Good Place/Bad Place judgment system. It makes the condemnation of practically anyone to the Bad Place inherently unjust. Rather than being ignored, this point becomes crucial to Michael's growth in the second season. By the third season, he explicitly references it as his motivation for fleeing to Earth with the humans. Even when it seems that redeeming his friends is impossible, he perseveres in documenting their experiences in the hope that they might contribute to some sort of reform in the future.
We learn in Season 3 that Doug is alive and lived his entire life based on his famous mushroom-trip epiphany. Yet we also get the implication he's going to the Bad Place anyway for how his revelation turned him into an Extreme Doormat in the name of getting into the Good Place. Although he got more about the Afterlife correct than anyone else in human history, he didn't get it all right. There are still some things he might have missed and that could have included how doing good deeds for selfish reasons doesn't count to your score. Or it may have to do with no human being able to accrue enough points to hit the Good Place.
Let's think about Michael's line in Season 2, Épisode 9: "The real Bad Place was the friends we made along the way." It's not only a funny line, but also a great rephrasing of the famous line from Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit: "Hell is other people"!
An offhand comment tells us there are thirty billion people in the Bad Place. Depending on how you count early humanity as human, there has lived at least a hundred billion people in the world. So either we're looking at Artistic Licence History or a sneaky bit of foreshadowing.
Turns out to be the latter as the Bad Place rigged the system over five hundred years ago!
Out of all the characters, Eleanor was the only one whose flaws didn't cause her death and become a literal Fatal Flaw; as Michael recounts, she was just bending down to grab a margarita mixer and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Everyone else — Jason with the safe, Tahani with her sister's statue, Chidi with Uzo's air conditioner — died because of respective lack of empathy and thinking, envy and family trauma, and indecisiveness. It's why Eleanor is the fastest to undergo Character Development compared to the rest of Team Cockroach; her flaws aren't her baggage. It's also why she's the only one who passed the Judge's test, because her flaws weren't weighing her down.
Eleanor's mindset before she died is that people were all bad and self-serving, and that she can't stand anyone who takes the moral high ground, even if they are kind to her. She got this from her parents, who used her as a meal ticket to exploit. We saw this cynicism with Sam, who only gently asked Eleanor if they should try to avoid bad things. What changed her was Chidi deciding to help her at a personal cost, when it wouldn't benefit him and robbed him of his soulmate. Chidi had no dress that she could "borrow" and rip, no selfish reason to move into her house and give up his own, and no drinks night that she could exploit. Chidi also has the courage to stand up to Eleanor when she's wrong and actually put her in place because again, he's not trying to prove himself morally superior but try to help her.
It's revealed that the last person to enter the Good place did so 521 years ago. What happened in the 1490s? The Age of Exploration, and colonization. Lots of people justified their actions as "good" through colonization, which caused harm despite the intentions and destroyed entire worlds..
In the fifth episode of season one, Tahani's face becomes warped by standing too close to the sinkhole as Michael warns her that humans can suffer dangerous effects from being too close to it, but Glenn isn't altered in any way despite falling right into the sinkhole...which is an early sign that Glenn, like the other Neighborhood 12358W residents, isn't actually human.
The French vanilla flavoured antimatter in the Bad Place, since "The Trolley Problem" reveals that the Bad Place hates anything remotely French. But then, in "Everything is Bonzer!" it turns out demons find awful and terrible things inspirational. So the antimatter is intentionally made that way to make them work harder.
When Mindy St. Clair shows Eleanor the tape labelled Cannonball Run 2, Eleanor at first refuses then asks how the first one ends so she can keep up. Mindy never answers because it's actually a tape of Eleanor in bed with Chidi, but not answering would have been appropriate for Cannonball Run 2 as well since the ending to the first film has no bearing on the plot of the second (other than The Sheik losing the race).
After Season 3, Michael having such an easy time stealing a Good Janet makes a lot of sense. Not only are the Good Place staff so naive about everyone else having good intentions that they wouldn't bother with security, but with no new good people in over 500 years, there's been no need for new Janets and so the Janet warehouse is pretty much abandoned.
Mindy St. Claire is deemed as the only person described as a medium person despite only doing one good deed in her entire life of doing hard drugs. It's likely that many people have genuinely started charities to help others but they still ended up in the Bad Place, so why was Mindy the exception? It is likely because she died before her charity went off the ground. It's mentioned that good actions are negated by smaller actions you've done, therefore it's likely that the reason why she was able to make it to a Medium Place is because she was gaining good points from her charity her death made sure she couldn't negate it.
In Season 4, Janet is shown to have difficulties with fulfilling her purpose. She complains about how stressful it is keeping the Neighborhood existing in-spite of all the chaos that has been happening, finds Brent's relentless (and thankless) requests annoying despite the fact that answering questions and fulfilling desires is literally what she was made for, but it makes a lot of sense for this Janet. Having developed a personality, her sense of self is far more developed than other Janets, with wants and needs all her own. Other Janets don't feel things that could potentially hinder their purpose like "frustration", so now that she can feel frustration, it must be incredibly frustrating for her to work so hard constantly. To wait on hand and foot for other people constantly must be grating for any sentient being, including a Janet who has since gained sentience. Not only that, but Good Place Janets are designed to serve good people. To serve people she knows for a fact are bad people who are not working to improve themselves (yet) goes against her purpose, so having to put up with selfish people who treat her like nothing but a servant like Brent must be maddening.
At least, that's the plausible explanation for us audience members after the first episode of Season 4. The real fridge comes when Jason exposes her as Bad Janet and handcuffs her. Bad Janets have a tougher time pretending to be good than Good Janet does pretending to be bad, and having to be generous towards a "ding dong" like Brent must be really grating on her since she has to actually do good things while sabotaging the neighborhood.
Bad Janet's HeelFace Turn in The Funeral to End All Funerals is in a way the ultimate expression of the point that Michael was trying to make. The conclusion he got from Team Cockroach is that, anyone can improve themselves if given a chance to. Bad Janet, a being designed to be used as a torture device, was shown mercy by Michael and ultimately chose to help stop the reboot of the universe.
In a way Michael himself is a similar example to Bad Janet. When he began working with the humans in season 2 it was to save his own skin, by the start of season 3 he was actively trying to save them because he cared about them, by the end of season 3 he was trying to reform the whole points system because he had realized it wasn't fair. Over the course of 2 seasons he went from being a demon who delighted in the torment of the human characters, to trying to save everyone from the unjust torment they were doomed to endure.
It's honestly not so surprising the answer was already there from the beginning. The whole show goes on to show how people can change and season 1 shows just how effective Micheal's neighbourhood was at torturing souls. Of course the answer to how to fix the afterlife system is to just continue doing what they started.
All the Friends references Michael uses in "What We Owe Each Other" might be Take Thats instead of Shout Outs... Considering a demon studied the show in an attempt to learn how humans can make each other miserable.
For the first season, Michael seems to have a Significant Name in that, in the Bible, Michael is an archangel whose name means "Who Is Like God?". After "Michael's Gambit", it becomes ironic. Either way, it fits with other non-humans (good or evil alike) having common names like Janet or Trevor.
Neighborhood 12358W is specially tailored to suit (read: torment) its residents as perfectly as possible.
Eleanor is an arch-cynic who believes that no one does anything without a hidden/self-serving agenda and, while living, only looked out for herself at the expense of others. Within the neighborhood, she is surrounded by people who are apparently completely altruistic and is forced to try and pretend to be a Purity Sue, even though it goes against her very nature, in order to try and stay in the neighborhood. Michael then preyed on her discomfort by teasing her with hints about the Bad Place while asking her to help him hunt herself.
Chidi is so concerned about being as morally and ethically upright as possible that he works himself into a frenzy over the tiniest of decisions, afraid of doing something that might offend someone. Finding himself having to help Eleanor and Jason he is practically locked in an ethical feedback loop as he internally debates between keeping their secret or reporting them to Michael.
Tahani is an extremely insecure person who only does things in the hopes of receiving validation from others. Every grand gesture she tries to make in the neighborhood, however, ends up a disaster and she "accidentally" learns that she has the second-lowest score among the residents, causing her to try even harder and fail even more, and locking her into an endless cycle of failures, thus exacerbating her considerable anxiety.
Jianyu is not a Taiwanese monk but a Filipino-American wannabe DJ named Jason Mendoza. He is an extremely sociable person who loves hanging out with others. In the neighborhood, however, he is given the ultimate man cave but is forced to keep it a secret and stay silent in order to prevent others from learning that he doesn't belong.
How do you think Chidi's best friend felt, knowing that the last thing he ever said to Chidi was that it's impossible to be his friend because of his inability to make a decision? Chidi 100% deserved to be called out, but it's pretty heartbreaking to think about how his friend must've felt when Chidi died thirty seconds later, and the last conversation they ever had was an argument. It's fortunately rectified when Michael changes the timeline, but it happened once.
When Michael and Janet, as well as the viewers finally meet Doug Forcett, we're told that, from the day of his grand revelation (barring the day after to come down off of the mushrooms) every lifestyle has been devoted to getting into The Good Place; to the point of being paralyzed with fear at the idea of changing up his routine in the slightest. While that would be bad enough, what was the most important thing Tahani learned about why she was in The Bad Place? Good actions taken for anything other than the sake of purely doing good don't count towards one's point total. This means that every action Doug has taken in the last 40 years hasn't contributed towards his points in the slightest. Even before Shawn brings up the fact that Doug is headed to The Bad Place at the end of the episode, the viewer could figure it out on their own.
Tahani and Chidi were never intentionally cruel or harmful to anyone. Yes, Tahani is self-centered and self-righteous, and yes, Chidi is a ditherer to the extreme, but neither of them ever set out to hurt anybody — and yet, these flaws were enough to land them in the Bad Place. You know who else tend to be Innocently Insensitive, unintentionally harmful, and sometimes thoughtlessly cruel? Children. When you see a kid say or do something mean, or behave poorly, your instinct is probably to reprimand them and possibly punish them — but also forgive them because, well, they're a kid and they're still learning. Kids Are Cruel, but they're also innocent. But given Gen's Lack of Empathy towards the humans, and how utterly forked-up the system is, you really have to wonder... Let's pray the system has some sort of exception built into it for people under a certain age, because otherwise the already horrific Bad Place just got a lot scarier.
Season 3 confirms that the last person to get into the Good Place did so 521 years ago. How many children do you think have died since 1497?
It's actually a good thing that Eleanor showed up and reminded an incognito Donna of the rampant child abuse that Eleanor suffered; while Donna has truly changed, she never had to face the consequences of her actions, and running away seemed to be her constant solution. It isn't just about whether or not Donna would get into the Good Place; Donna as an abusive parent could have easily fallen back into the cycle and started the emotional abuse toward her husband and Patricia due to evading the consequences. Eleanor just saved another child from suffering her fate, and could easily destroy Donna's new life by telling Patricia the truth.
The fact that the real Good Place hasn't had any newcomers in a very, very long time is already nightmarish. But surely some of the Good Place architects should've noticed something wasn't right at some point, right? But remember what Michael said back when he stole Janet: The Good Place architects are Good Is Dumb taken to its extreme - they're so trusting in the goodness of others they don't think anyone would steal from them, and make no effort to guard against it, which means they also completely trust the accounting system, and the Bad Place workers, and make no effort to check either.
The Good Place's committee are ridiculously overscrupulous in their efforts to do the right thing - just like Chidi. As a result of this, they estimate it will take them over a thousand years even to start looking into the question of why everyone goes to the Bad Place; their moral scruples will lead to people suffering - just like Chidi. And yet despite these similarities, the system sent Chidi to be tortured forever, while the Good Place inhabitants don't face even any appropriate consequences, let alone something as horrific as the Bad Place. The fact that such a double standard exists and that even angels don't seem to think anything's wrong with it is horrifying.
The Medium Place. Mindy St Claire isn't suffering as badly as the humans in the Bad Place, but think about how it's described - the Good Place provided things she'd like, and the Bad Place ruined them. She's in a world where everything could have been good, but something's fundamentally wrong with it all - kind of like a more obvious version of Michael's neighbourhood. And to make matters worse, she was expected to be on her own there for eternity. The Medium Place may not technically be part of the Bad Place, but it's still torture.
Mindy also has a prime opportunity to enjoy the new fake neighborhood since it's in her backyard, and Janet and Derek are now available to help her out with the cocaine. She turns down the offer to get involved because the Medium Place is all that she knows. This is someone who saw the equivalent of paradise and said "no"! Though she is gracious to host an imprisoned Bad Janet after Jason busts her.
When the head accountant saw Doug's score he was pretty shocked at the low score. If he was aware Doug's score was "nowhere near high enough" for his age, the more likely situation going on is the Accountants are actually aware of the flaw Michael discovered and have been for a while since they come up with the points values and have computers that record every single action. So the Accounting department likely knows the domino-like negative consequences are ramping up. But they are such Obstructive Bureaucrats that they likely don't see it as a problem!
In the Season 3 finale, one of the new residents is Simone, who last we saw was alive. How and when did she die?
The new four humans are those whose point levels are similar to those of the Soul Squad. John seems to be on the same level of Eleanor, but he's much worse; he targets a vulnerable woman of color who's been successful, because it makes him money. People have received death threats in real life from that sort of harassment. Eleanor for all her flaws wasn't a profiteering racist. Then there's Simone, a Nice Girl. Is she on the same level as Chidi or Tahani, who are decent people but whose flaws cancelled out their good intentions or deeds?