Eleanor Shellstrop wakes up to find herself in a waiting room, with the words "Welcome! Everything Is Fine." written on the wall. She then enters a room where a man named Michael awaits her. He informs her that she is dead, killed after a line of shopping carts in the parking lot of a supermarket pushed her into the oncoming path of a truck, and the space they are in is a Heaven-like utopia called "The Good Place."
Michael gives her a tour throughout the Good Place neighborhood she'll be residing in before getting her to meet with newcomers and watch an informational video. In the video, Michael explains that every action humans make in their life gives them either positive or negative points depending on their choices. After a person dies, their total points are tallied and only people with very high points are allowed into the Good Place. Eleanor earned her spot for her humanitarian work as a lawyer that defended innocent people on death row. Also, every person in the Good Place has a soulmate, a person with which to spend their eternal life together.
After presenting Eleanor with a house designed specifically for her preferences, Michael introduces her to her soulmate, Chidi Anagonye, a Senegalese ethics professor. When Michael leaves, Eleanor reveals to Chidi that everything Michael said about her life is wrong and she's not the person he says she is. Eleanor made a living by knowingly selling fake medicine to the sick and elderly and was crass and selfish, not recalling any good action she's ever done. Michael then introduces Eleanor and Chidi to Tahani Al-Jamil and her soulmate Jianyu Li, their neighbors. Tahani is a wealthy philanthropist while Jianyu is a Buddhist monk who has decided to keep his vow of silence. Eleanor is also introduced to Janet, an AI construct and repository of all information in the universe who runs the neighborhood and can grant the wishes of anything a resident desires.
While at a party hosted by Tahani and Jianyu at their mansion, Chidi begins to question whether to help Eleanor or not. The next morning, Eleanor wakes up to discover that many things that represent her crass comments about her life and her insults to Tahani at the party have taken physical forms and are wreaking havoc on the Good Place. Chidi tells her that remaining in the Good Place is cause for the incident and her actions are affecting it. Eleanor then begs Chidi to help her become a better person just as Michael knocks on the door to inform them of an emergency meeting.
This episode provides examples of:
- Bears Are Bad News: The brief audio clip from the Bad Place reveals that the inhabitants are being chased by bears with two mouths.
- Berserk Button: While she doesn't lash out at Chidi, her reaction to being told "you don't belong here" clearly touches several nerves with Eleanor, prompting a rant on how the Good and Bad Places' system is bullshirt.
- Big Fancy House: Eleanor envies Tahani for her huge mansion.
- Brick Joke: Among the chaos is Ariana Grande music playing, flying shrimp, bottles of NasalPro rolling everywhere, and forks dropping on everything.
- Dead to Begin With: The episode opens with Eleanor's introduction into the afterlife and continues from there.
- Empathic Environment: The episode ends with the neighborhood in chaos reflecting various things Eleanor had said or done the night before.
- Flashback Cut: Beginning with Chidi asking Eleanor what she did on Earth, namely selling fake medicine. Then, asking her to recall what she did the day before she died. Cut to Eleanor being a jerkass to an environmentalist, then back to Eleanor claiming she can't remember anything specific.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The orientation video provides many examples of points that various actions are worth, and here are just a few of them:Hug sad friend: +4.98
Use "Facebook" as a verb: -5.55
Be commissioner of professional football league (American): -824.55
Remain loyal to Cleveland Browns: +53.83
Fix broken tricycle for child who loves tricycles: +6.60
Fix broken tricycle for child who is indifferent to tricycles: +0.04
Gave out full-size candy bars at Halloween: +633.59
Poison a river: -3999.45+
Disturb coral reef with flipper -65.09
Harassment (Sexual) -731.26
- A God I Am Not: Eleanor asks Michael if he's God, to which Michael replies that he's not that high up on the ladder.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: The afterlife enforces this, preventing people from cursing by changing the words they say. For example, "fuck" is replaced with "fork". Subverted when Eleanor says "butthead", and it turns out she actually was saying butthead.
- Happy Circus Music: Eleanor's house is decorated with clown posters, because real Eleanor likes clowns and Eleanor doesn't dare take them down because of The Masquerade. The coup de grace is the bedroom doors, which slide together to the sound of circus music ending in a cheer, revealing an extra-huge clown painted on them. Played for Laughs in that Chidi isn't so pleased by the whole thing.Chidi: Well, that's terrifying.
- Higher Understanding Through Drugs: A stoner from Canada named Doug Forcett was the one person to most closely accurately guess the true nature of the afterlife while high on magic mushrooms.
- Innocently Insensitive: Some of the first things Tahani says to Eleanor are meant to be compliments, but are also slightly insulting.
- Mistaken Identity: Michael got Eleanor's name right, but none of the other details he brings up are from her life.
- Monster Clown: Eleanor's apartment is covered in alarming clown paintings. The door to her bedroom has a particularly creepy one, which Chidi comments upon after seeing it.
- Mundane Afterlife: Dialogue suggests this may vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, but the one we are introduced to is essentially a somewhat quirky, but pleasant, small town.
- No Sense of Personal Space: Tahani "boops" Eleanor on the nose. Eleanor doesn't like it.
- Not Helping Your Case:
- Chidi asks Eleanor to describe a good deed she did in life. Eleanor can't think of any, so Chidi asks her to think of an average, non-terrible thing she did. Eleanor can't think of anything there either.
- When Chidi realizes that Eleanor's job in life was to sell fraudulent medicine to gullible seniors, he naturally expresses horror. Eleanor, trying to defend herself, says she was the top salesperson for five years running, which Chidi rightfully points out is worse."I mean, you... you do get how that's worse, right?"
- Pet the Dog: After having gotten completely drunk off her face, Eleanor laments her death, but tells Chidi somebody probably cares that he died, because he's been so nice to her. Admittedly, she then completely fails to pronounce his name, but it's an early sign Eleanor is not a complete ashhole.
- Playful Otter: Michael includes a shot of two cute otters holding paws together in his introductory slideshow, describing every day in the Good Place as feeling like that.
- Rage Against the Heavens: Eleanor goes off on an angry rant about how ridiculous and unfair it is that only the absolute best of the best people are allowed into the Good Place while everyone else is condemned to eternal hellish torture in the Bad Place, especially since, sure, she wasn't perfect but she wasn't utterly horrible either (like a murderer or a rapist or anything like that), plus the deck wasn't exactly stacked well in her favor for becoming an objectively "good" person, what with her cruddy childhood and all.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Good Place is brought to you by otters holding hands. Michael assures the residents that every day will feel like that.
- Spanner in the Works: When the Chaos sequence occurs and Chidi realizes that Eleanor's actions the previous night caused it, Chidi describes the neighborhood as a "perfectly made swiss-watch" and her merely being there is a "wrench in the gears."Chidi: Actually, you're a hammer, just smashing the gears into dust.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Chidi catches on to one of Eleanor's bad deeds by her being too detailed in her denial of it.Eleanor: I never found a wallet outside of an IHOP and thought about returning it but saw the owner lived out of state so just took the cash and dropped the wallet back on the ground.Chidi: Okay, that's really specific, and that makes me think that you definitely did do that.
- Take That!: Eleanor says everyone who was medium ought to spend their afterlives in Cincinnati.
- Translator Microbes: The neighborhood automatically translates everything into a language the listener can understand. Chidi is actually speaking French, but Eleanor (and the audience) hears it as English.
- This leads to a slight Plot Hole in Season 3, when the gang is sent back to Earth with their memories wiped, and Chidi continues to speak English with the exact same precision and accent.
- Undignified Death: Eleanor's death. She'd been buying stuff at a grocery store and then dropped a bottle of margarita mix in the parking lot and as she bent down to pick it up, she got hit by a runaway column of shopping carts, which swept her into the path of a truck advertising a performance enhancement drug, killing her stone dead. And just to add insult to death, the first EMT on the scene was apparently an ex-boyfriend of hers.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: At the party, Eleanor stashes a bunch of shrimp down her dress.
- You Can Panic Now: During the Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever, Michael gives Tahani permission to run.