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"Why do bad things always happen to mediocre people who are lying about their identity?"
Eleanor

The Good Place is a 2016 NBC comedy series created by Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation), starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson.

Bell stars as Eleanor Shellstrop, a woman who ends up in a "Good Place" after being killed by an oncoming truck. Told by Danson's Michael that it's her reward for being a good Samaritan in her mortal life, it turns out there was a mix-up — Eleanor is actually not a very nice person, and her spot belongs to someone else.

Surrounded by nice townies who deserve to be there, Eleanor turns to her system-designated soulmate Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper), a neurotic ethics and moral philosophy professor, to help her become a good person who deserves to stay in the Good Place. Also in the mix are her next-door neighbors, the condescending humanitarian socialite Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) and her soulmate, the quiet Buddhist monk Jianyu Li (Manny Jacinto), along with Michael himself, who appears incredibly impressed by Eleanor's supposed goodness. Hijinks ensue as Eleanor is forced to hide the truth of her past, or else she'll be sent to the dreaded "Bad Place" reserved for such people.

The show is also available on Netflix and is labelled as a Netflix Original in other countries.

Despite being a comedy, the show is highly serialized and each episode directly follows from the one before. Therefore, beware of spoilers that may be unmarked.


The Good Place provides examples of the following tropes:

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  • 108: Subverted. Given that it's a series about the afterlife, the hundredth and eighthnote  iteration of the "Groundhog Day" Loop is seen. However, it seems to have been one of the least successful, as Eleanor accidentally overhears Michael recording his thoughts about the experiment while waiting for her orientation meeting in his office. The only iteration we hear about that's shorter apparently happened as the equivalent of a butt-dial.
  • Actor Allusion: Michael's brief appearance as a bartender alludes to Ted Danson's role of Sam in Cheers, complete with plaid shirt and signature bar towel sling.
  • Aesop Amnesia: A rare justified example, since actual memory loss is involved. Every time the experiment gets rebooted, the Main Characters's memories get reset, wiping out any lessons they may have learned in the most recent iteration.
  • Afterlife Express: A variant. In the afterlife, trains are used to travel to and from the Good, Bad, and Medium Places.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: In the eyes of the Bad Place, everyone there merits to be tortured regardless of exactly how minor their transgressions were on Earth, or if they were just jerks instead of actually being evil: Jason was a petty criminal who dealt drugs and would frequently burn things down with Molotov Cocktails to avenge himself against those who "wronged" him, and died trying to rob a restaurant. Eleanor was just unbelievably rude and selfish. Chidi, while a decent fellow, made everyone around him miserable with his dithering. And Tahani did good things, but not for altruistic reasons — it was her way of proving to her parents she was just as good, if not better, than her sister. It's implied that the demons don't really care about a person's actions at all, they just take pleasure in torturing whoever the system sends their way.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Strictly speaking, we know nothing about the gender of any non-human character, other than Janet, who canonically has No Gender.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: In season 2, after many years spent rebootingnote , celestial beings still make reference to pop culture of the late 2010s. It's possible that time works differently in the afterlife.
  • Amnesia Loop: In Season 2, no matter how many times the four humans have their memories erased, somebody (usually Eleanor) always manages to figure out that they are actually in the Bad Place. It takes 802 iterations before Vicky forces Michael to give up. As she threatens to overthrow him he decides to let the the four humans retain their memory in order to work with them for their mutual survival.
  • Arc Words: "What We Owe To Each Other." It's the name of a S01 episode, Eleanor rips out a page from that book to write a note to herself, and in the S02 finale, Michael brings it up to Eleanor when she's seeking motivation to be good after her death was turned into a near-death experience.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • People get an eternity in the Bad Place for murder, arson, sexual harassment... and taking their shoes and socks off on an airplane.
    • One description of the Bad Place includes "flying piranhas, lava monsters, college improv."
    • When Janet is rebooted and falls in love with Jianyu/Jason, she also comes to hate things, such as "genocide and leggings as pants."
    • Among the many terrible things that Eleanor has done to warrant being sent to the Bad Place is... a brief Instagram flirtation with Kid Rock.
    • Tahani when she finds out that "Jianyu" is actually Jason: "You have some nerve asking me for favors when you have spent weeks deceiving me, making a fool out of me, and bringing snack food into my house!"
  • Artifact Title: The end of Season 1 reveals that the humans have actually been in a Bad Place the whole time. Chapter 23 takes this a step further with the destruction of this fake Good Place.
  • Ass Shove: In Season 2, the Bad Place is said to have started testing "Butthole Spiders". They're enormous.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Among the things that go wrong the first time the neighborhood goes haywire is the appearance of giant ladybugs and frogs.
  • Badass Finger Snap: Michael resets the versions of the Good Place by snapping his fingers.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: When Eleanor unintentionally throws the Good Place into chaos, Michael ends up working himself into a frenzy as he tries to figure out what has caused his carefully balanced neighborhood to go off-kilter. It later turns out that Michael was orchestrating this all along, but he's still the Beleaguered Bureaucrat in his dealings with Shawn.
  • Bears Are Bad News: When Eleanor and Chidi are played an audio clip of what is currently going on in the Bad Place, they hear one of the damned screaming about being menaced by a bear with two mouths. Later on, there is a mention of bears with four heads that fly.
  • Being Good Sucks: A central theme. The Good Place may have its perks and it is easy to want to be a good person, but it is difficult to be one, especially considering taking the bad route is often much easier. Even good deeds done in the name of selfish motives don't count for anything.
    • Eleanor often finds herself at odds with Chidi's teachings, considering she's used to being a self-centered loner; Michael also has difficulty adjusting to ethics class, considering his demonic background and all.
    • In "Somewhere Else" Eleanor talks about how being good is difficult because people don't care and she got slapped with additional hardships for trying. Of all people, Michael asks if she's looking for a reward, or a "moral desert".
  • Be Yourself: Deconstructed with Jason and Eleanor, but Reconstructed as the series goes on and Character Development sets in. They both dislike pretending being other people, but, as Eleanor points out, who they really are kind of suck. Eleanor decides to try and change for the better, with Chidi's help, and attempts to learn how to be good. Jason, however, isn't interested in improving himself, even when whether or not he gets tortured for eternity depends on it — at least, not until Eleanor hits him with a well-placed "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Then we find out, none of the main characters were good enough for the Good Place, and they could all use with some improvement. Even Michael starts to try and become better! So it's not so much "just be yourself" or "don't be yourself," but rather, "be the absolute best version of yourself you can be, and push yourself to become better, even if it's hard."
  • The Big Board: Played with. Michael has one but it looks like a small desk-sized map of the neighborhood. However, since he sees in nine dimensions, it's apparently much much bigger and messier to him.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: In Chapter 26, Chidi finally lays one on Eleanor. Since they've hooked up in previous reboots (not that they can remember), they've obviously kissed before, but this is the first one in this reboot and the first time the audience gets to see it.
    Eleanor: Hot diggity dog!
  • Big Fancy House: Tahani and Jianyu live in a humongous, very fancy European-style mansion. It is big enough to house most of the neighborhood during a lockdown crisis and apparently has thirty-six tennis courts. Given that she lives in a far smaller house, Eleanor is rather unsubtle about her jealousy regarding it.
  • Big Red Button: There's a Big Red Button situated in a remote corner of the Good Place that is used as an emergency shut-off switch for Janet. As a measure of last resort, Janet is designed to tearfully beg for her life whenever someone goes to press it.
  • Black and White Insanity: Seems to be the criteria for judging people into the After-life, there is no "grey"; when Michael reads Les Misérables he concludes all the characters are going to the Bad Place. Jean Valjean stealing bread to feed his family? Stealing the bread outweighs the reasons he stole it for. There's also the matter that being French automatically sends you to the Bad Place ... even Victor Hugo is there.
  • Blue and Orange Morality:
    • Occasionally played for comedy in the way the Good Place judges morality. "Staying loyal to the Cleveland Browns" gives you quite a lot of points, but enjoying the California funk-rock band The Red Hot Chili Peppers gives you negative points.
    • How the Good Place itself operates. Swearing is forking impossible, but accessing porn is just fine. Though that appears to be a personal preference of the neighborhood, not a universal rule.
    • Now that we know that the main characters are actually in an experimental version of the Bad Place, who knows what the morality is?
  • Book Ends:
    • Season 1 ends with Michael erasing Eleanor's memories and reintroducing her to his Neighborhood, similarly to how he did in the first episode, with some differences.
    • Season 2 begins with Eleanor being told to "FIND CHIDI" by a note written on a page torn from the philosophical work What We Owe to Each Other. In the Season 2 finale, Michael puts special emphasis on the phrase "what we owe to each other" in order to prompt Eleanor to Google it—and find Chidi.
  • Bottle Episode:
    • Subverted with "Category 55 Emergency Doomsday Crisis", despite Michael enforcing that nobody should leave their homes, it uses several sets, and much of the supporting cast appears.
    • Downplayed in "Michael's Gambit". It takes place almost entirely on Eleanor's living room, with most of the plot being focused alone on the six leads, but it also has Michael's flashbacks and a few supporting cast as well as Shawn being a prominent character.
    • "Team Cockroach" is a fairly straight example. Almost entirely in Eleanor's living room, with a few scenes at the backyard and no relevant action from anyone but the main cast, though there is Tahani's flashback of how she died in a party at Cleveland.
    • "Best Self" is another example, uses mostly the park set (and briefly the train), and nobody but the main six has any appearances or speaking lines.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Janet mentions that she doesn't really eat so for her birthday, she'll just smash cake around where her mouth is. When she and Jason get married, he does just that when cutting their wedding cake.
    • The large clown print on the sliding door to Eleanor's bedroom makes a second appearance at a somber moment in the season 1 finale.
    • In episode 2, Michael is forced to ban flying for 1000 years after a trash-storm unknowingly caused by Eleanor's lies leads to a flyer crashing into a turkey. In episode 11, when Eleanor hosts a focus group to address complaints against her, the first woman to speak up complains about the incident in graphic detail.
  • British Brevity:
    • Unusually for a US network TV show, creator Michael Schur placed a firm 13-episode cap for each season, due to the show's heavily serialized format.
    • Parodied by Deirdre and Margaret, a British sitcom that Tahani enjoys. It ran for 16 years on the BBC and broadcast almost 30 episodes during that time.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Playing a set for a bunch of celebrities is Jason's dream, but it's Acid Cat's Tuesday.
  • Buxom Is Better: Tahani notes that her bosom is large more than once approvingly. Eleanor for her part calls Janet "busty Alexa" and notes her "rockin' bod".
  • Call-Back: In general, the highly serialized nature of the show and the necessary attention to detail required by the premise results in a lot of Callback material.
    • In the 5th episode of Season 1 Jason discusses his breakdancing crew and the way he framed someone for stealing boogie boards as a shockingly correct example of a lesson Chidi was giving on the greater good. In the second episode of Season 2, Jason brings up his breakdancing crew in an effort to calm down Michael who is suffering problems with his people.
    • Janet mentions in one episode that she can't actually eat anything. This becomes relevant in the finale of season 1 when Eleanor, needing a place to store her message for her future self, has Janet put it in her mouth, knowing she can't swallow it.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Michael is actually a part of a giant hierarchy of supernatural beings. When we finally see where Michael used to work before Neighborhood 12358W, he is working in what looks to be a bank with endless rows of desks and a giant vault door leading to the heavens or hells.
  • Central Theme: What does it mean to be a good person?
  • Cessation of Existence: Michael is an immortal who cannot die under normal circumstances, although it's a possible punishment for a sufficiently disastrous screw-up. In one episode, he completely freaks out at the idea he might cease to exist someday, reducing him to a near-catatonia at first and then has the equivalent of a mid-life crisis over it.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early in the first episode, Michael explains that memories of particularly traumatic deaths are erased for the sake of easier transition into the afterlife. Michael's control over the memories of the heroes becomes an enormous obstacle that it takes hundreds of years for them to overcome.
  • Chekhov's Gag: The sexy mailman picture Eleanor wants to hang up to replace one of her clown paintings. Her new "soulmate" is also a sexy mailman, or rather that's who he pretends to be.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Every time Chidi reacts to the realization that he might be in the Bad Place by blaming some incredibly minor "vice" like using almond milk even though he knows it's not the best alternative for the environment. In truth, it's this exact obsession with minutiae, and the indecision arising from that, that led him to the Bad Place to begin with.
    • Tahani's reaction to learning how she died (being crushed by the golden statue of her sister that she was trying to topple). She's more appalled that she died in Cleveland than anything else.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The way that people end up going to the wrong place. It's implied that part of the problem is Michael's inexperience, and that a more veteran architect would have been able to catch the mistakes.
    • "...Someone Like Me As A Member" reveals that the whole plot of the show is based on one: Two people with the exact same name, in the exact same place at the exact same time, both killed when one makes a desperate attempt to save the other's life. What are the odds of that? Michael and Trevor imply that this is the first time this has ever happened. Definitely the first time they've ever seen it, and possibly the first time it has happened in the history of the universe.
    • "What's My Motivation" reveals that Jason got in through a similar coincidence. Jianyu entered a meditative trance so deep that the system thought he died. At that exact moment, Jason (who had the same IQ as Jianyu) died, and the system accidentally took him since Jianyu wasn't available (due to still being alive).
    • The end of Season 1 reveals the coincidences are contrived In-Universe, by Michael; they are stories he made up to trick them into thinking they're in the Good Place. They have actually been in an experimental version of the Bad Place all along, with Michael pulling the strings to ensure they spend eternity driving each other crazy.
  • Costume Porn: A lot of the dresses, jewelry, and accessories the costumers put Tahani in are simply gorgeous, befitting her status as a wealthy socialite.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right:
    • An obscure early moment from episode 4 was the truth all along. Jason says that the "good place" might actually be an alien zoo, or a prank show. Well, as it turns out, he was right. The entire thing, everything that has ever happened in the show, was a giant prank set up by Michael to torture Eleanor, Jason, Tahani, and Chidi for a thousand years by getting them to torture each other. He's also right about the "alien zoo" part, as the Good Place is essentially a zoo for Michael and the Architects. This is even lampshaded by Jason when everything is revealed.
    • Not long after that, the cuckoolander has another idea. He also suggests stealing Michael's phone and using the secrets contained within to blackmail him. There are a few steps missing in his plan, but he's dead right about Michael having some very compromising secrets. And it's VICKI who does this!
  • Continuity Reboot: Played with in-universe: The events of Season 1 still happened in the show's continuity, but Michael has wiped the main characters' memories so many times that for the most part, those events don't really matter and the Character Development that resulted from them is negated. However, there are exceptions: Even after over 800 reboots, Janet still feels the attraction to Jason that she developed in Season 1, which becomes a source of conflict in "Janet and Michael", since Janet's attempts to cover up her jealousy of Jason and Tahani is causing her to glitch out and pose a danger to the neighborhood.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Good Place is very beautiful on the surface and looks like paradise, but it's very easy to mess things up and it has the same drama problems and interpersonal/intrapersonal conflict as Earth, perhaps even moreso. This is revealed at the end of season 1 to be the plan all along as they find they're really in The Bad Place and in a simulation designed to torture them psychologically go through tons of reboots in season 2. However when push comes to shove, the four of them would MUCH rather be in the crapsaccharine fake Good Place, flaws and all, than the real Bad Place.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: Season 1's first episode is titled "Everything is Fine". Season 2's first episode is titled "Everything is Great".
  • Dead to Begin With: Eleanor is dead in the first episode, launching the show's plot, and everyone else in the Good Place aside from Michael and Janet are deceased as well.
  • Designated Driver: Flashbacks show that Eleanor usually conned her way out of being a group's designated driver. When her friends figured it out and forced her to be the evening's designated driver, she hooked up with a good-looking bartender and ditched the group after they were already too drunk to drive home themselves.
  • Doorstopper: Chidi's life's work is a 3,600 page book that tries to encompass the entirety of Ethics. For reference, Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, considered one of the definitive works on the subject, doesn't even clear 200 and the only other books of any genres that are longer are all series with multiple volumes. Michael, who's near omniscient, had given up part way through because it was so convoluted that it made no sense, and Michael's boss, who is omniscient, can't understand it either. It even got a tenured professor at the Sorbonne to simply get up and walk away from his prestigious profession.
  • Double Entendre: Eleanor thinks that when philosophers talk about knowing yourself, they're talking about knowing yourself.
    Chidi: For the last time, none of these philosophers are ever talking about masturbation.
  • Easy Road to Hell: Implied to be the case, since the Good Place only takes the very best. Even Florence Nightingale wasn't good enough to make the cut apparently. It becomes explicit in the season finale when we learn that none of the Main Characters earned a spot in the Good Place. Tahani did extraordinary amounts of good deeds, but her motivations were selfish. Meanwhile, Chidi's motivations were pure, but he caused the people in his life a lot of pain through his inability to make decisions.
  • Eldritch Location: The eponymous Good Place, built by beings with nine-dimensional vision, that sells frozen yogurt in flavors that are literally abstract concepts (as well as regular flavors), and can be seriously warped by people's actions while there.
  • Empathic Environment:
    • Whenever Eleanor does something selfish, it affects the whole neighborhood. Subverted; season 2 confirms Michael staged this to torment her and Chidi.
    • Eleanor's negative reaction towards Tahani causes the plant Tahani gave her as a housewarming gift to suffer. First it wilts and whimpers in pain before spontaneously combusting when Eleanor's actions become too much. It revives and grows bigger when Eleanor begins to genuinely respect her.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The entire show changes after the season 1 finale reveals that everything took place in The Bad Place from the start, and that the main four characters are all just being manipulated by Bad Place staffers who make up every other character we meet, except Janet and Mindy.
  • Enemy Mine: In Season 2 Michael realizes that the situation has gone completely out of his control and the only thing that might save him is to team up with Eleanor and the other humans.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Bad Place doesn't seem to discriminate regarding the ethnicities of its employees (or at least the human forms they present as), as shown by the diversity in Neighborhood 12358W. The demons seen include several people of color and at least one interracial gay couple.
  • Eureka Moment:
    • In the season finale, everyone is arguing as to which two go to the Bad Place. Eleanor sighs out on how this is all torture... and then it hits her that they've been in the Bad Place all along.
    • Michael has one in the flashbacks to him designing the neighborhood. He wants to do something more fun, but his coworker tells him "Don't worry about making it interesting, just do a good job." That gives him the idea to throw out his old design and make a Bad Place neighborhood where the residents think they're in the Good Place.
    • "Dance Dance Resolution" gives us a montage of those as Michael keeps putting Eleanor into different scenarios and yet each time she realizes that she is actually in the Bad Place. Apart from the time it was Jason who figured it out. That one really hurt Michael.
  • Everyone Is a Tomato:
    • Michael: He is the architect, but he works for the Bad Place, and he's been orchestrating all of the "disasters" that have been plaguing the neighborhood.
    • All the residents of Neighborhood 12358W: They're demons acting out the roles of "good people."
    • The main four: They're all "bad people."
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • Trevor and the other representatives of the Bad Place never miss a chance to be unnecessarily unpleasant, and the torments of the Bad Place involve a lot of persistent nagging inconveniences (e.g., the train going there makes a million unnecessary stops and the restaurant car is always closed) along with more traditional forms of Cold-Blooded Torture.
    • After Michael is revealed to be evil, he deliberately knocks over a small potted plant. It is a completely unnecessary action that was done simply to make a bit of a mess.
    • The entire basis of the series is that Michael thought it would be more fun to trick humans into torturing each other by making them think they're in the Good Place.
  • Exact Words:
    • When Eleanor comes clean about her mistaken presence in the Good Place, Michael panics and says that this kind of problem is unprecedented. He's telling the truth...except he's not talking about Eleanor being there—he's talking about Eleanor developing a sense of decency and confessing to the error, which completely derails his plans for the phony Good Place and forces him to hastily throw together solutions that end up with everyone learning what's really going on.
    • This is also how Michael communicates his Leap of Faith plan to everyone else when Sean comes a-calling. That said, he also apparently dropped 11,996 other non-verbal clues.
  • Fantastic Drug: The demons from the Bad Place snort time... in cocaine form. They also consider snorting ground-up unicorn horn.
  • Fate Worse than Death: "Retirement" isn't a pleasant experience for architects.
    Michael: We call it "The Eternal Shriek". My soul will be disintegrated and each molecule will be placed on the surface of a different burning sun. And then my essence will be scooped out of my body with a flaming ladle and poured over hot diamonds.
    Tahani: Oh, but the diamonds sound lovely.
    Michael: They're not! And then what's left of my body will be endlessly beaten with a titanium rod. Like a-
    Tahani: Like a pinata...
    Michael: Yes. Except you have the string around my waist but it will definitely be around my genitals.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The objective moral standard of the universe apparently considers a number of fairly minor obnoxious habits to be sins. Sometimes justified in that sins are weighted, so you have to jaywalk a very large number of times before it becomes as bad as a single murder, but other times it seems to be fully this trope - for instance, if you've ever taking off both your shoes and socks on a public airplane, it is considered very likely that you're an irredeemably bad person, and the simple fact of being from either Florida or France earns you an automatic sentence to the Bad Place.
  • First Installment Wins: In-universe, the demons preferred Attempt #1 to all others. When Vicky takes over, she tells Michael to set everything similar to the original attempt.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Late in the very first episode, Eleanor suggests that maybe her dead parents are being used to torture each other in the Bad Place, saying it would totally work. Then comes The Reveal of the true nature of the "Good Place" the story takes place in, showing that everyone there is effectively meant to do just that to one another.
    • When the Good Place starts going haywire in the second episode, Jianyu Li is seen glancing around nervously. It's later revealed that he, like Eleanor, believes that he's been put into the Good Place by mistake and is causing the breakdown.
    • When we finally do get to see how Eleanor died (struck into the path of a truck by a stack of shopping carts while picking up a bottle of margarita mix as Real Eleanor tried to save her) "Real" Eleanor is nowhere to be seen, indicating that "Real" Eleanor's story might not be true.
    • In "What's My Motivation", Eleanor eventually learns that the morality scoring system takes the reason the deed is done into account, not just the intended and real impact of it — specifically, if you do a good deed because you expect to benefit from it, not because you care about the happiness and well-being of others, it doesn't count. Since Tahani's good deeds were rooted in a need to outdo her sister and earn her parents' approval, she ended up in The Bad Place.
    • The flashback of Michael being told he'll be designing his first neighborhood is shot in muted colors and in a dark bank vault-like place, hinting this is not a heavenly spot.
    • Likewise in Michael's flashback, when he starts re-designing his neighborhood the blueprint is titled "The Good Place" in quotation marks. While sometimes titles are given quotes like that, it makes more sense as sarcasm quotes. Also, you wouldn’t expect his neighborhood to be called The Good Place because he's not constructing, and, as a rookie, wouldn't have the authority to alter, the whole Good Place.
    • One of the first things we see Michael do is the classic act of any villain: Kick The Dog. Literally!
    • When Real Eleanor first comes to Chidi and Eleanor's house, she instantly knows where the button to lower the steps is, despite having never been there before. An early hint that she isn't quite what she seems.
    • After Eleanor protests Michael's nicknames of "Real Eleanor" versus "Fake Eleanor", Bambadjan mentions that he finds the nicknames helpful. It's really just one more way to twist the knife and remind Eleanor that she doesn't belong.
    • In the first episode, every minor character in The Good Place is an absurdly kind Parody Sue, and every detail they bring up about their lives involves a great humanitarian act done for entirely selfless reasons. However, almost every time one of the main characters flashes back to their own lives, it's of something bad they did, something good they could have done but didn't, or something good they did with selfish intentions. Turns out, the main characters are the only humans in The Good Place; everyone else was a demon pretending to be a good person to make them feel worse about themselves.
    • When Jason first speaks to Eleanor, he suggests that they're in an alien zoo or on a prank show. From a certain point of view, he's right on both counts.
    • Despite his apparent interest in humanity being the reason for designing the project, Michael only ever seems to spend time with the main characters and Janet. Not surprising, since he knows the main characters are the only real humans there.
    • In the first episode, Janet knows about one of Eleanor's crushes, hinting that the people who run "The Good Place" know more about who Eleanor really is than they let on.
    • When the various sins and virtues are shown in Michael's video in the Pilot, "Never discuss veganism unprompted" is shown to be worth many more points in the Good column than simply "Eat vegan": If one takes this at face value, then it implies that bragging about doing good things negates much of the impact of doing good things, which turns out to be the whole reason for Tahani being in The Bad Place.
    • In the middle of his Heroic B.S.O.D. over his failures of maintaining the Good Place in "The Eternal Shriek," Michael takes a moment to explain how the logistics of the train in and out of the Good Place works. The fact he'd stop to explain this in the middle of his emotional departure is a sign that he's trying to bait Eleanor into running a Zany Scheme to torture herself and Chidi with.
  • Five-Token Band: The main foursome. Eleanor is a white American, Tahani is British-Pakistani, Chidi is Senegalese, and Jason is Filipino-American.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • The orientation video has a ton of stuff that counts for or against your getting into the Good Place, flashing by so fast that it's impossible to catch it all in one viewing.
    • In "Category 55 Doomsday Crisis", Michael adds a truly improbable number of new ice-cream flavors (full list). They range from the standard (like grape, cherry, and Neapolitan) to the technically-edible but bizarre (such as lobster and ham) to the more esoteric (a mother's love, candlelight, a second kiss after an awkward first kiss).
    • In the flashback at the beginning of "Michael's Gambit", right before Dave drops the "Project No. 12358W" file on Michael's desk, you can just catch the title of the file he was working on beforehand: "Flesh Ripping Lightning", a big sign that he doesn't really work for The Good Place.
    • In "Dance Dance Resolution", all the different resets seem to have different themed signs. In the same episode, there is the poster of all the plans they've tried, including "Stab with large knife," "Find Doug Forcett," and "Try to stuff Michael back into his magic lamp".
  • French Jerk: Apparently, being French is an automatic ticket to the Bad Place.
  • Freudian Excuse: Deconstructed. Eleanor attempts to blame her parents's neglect of her and their divorce for her own terrible behavior, but Real Eleanor had an even worse Trauma Conga Line background and was a better person. Later, a flashback gives the audience a more serious look at the way Eleanor's parents' neglect and dysfunction affected her, but it's used to explain her behavior, not excuse it; she still must take responsibility for her actions.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Discussed by Michael and Eleanor, the latter relating that in preparation to meet all of them he watched the entire run of Friends, while noting how it made no sense that they could afford the apartment, which Eleanor agrees was confusing.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": In a flashback, we see Eleanor's garbage mother showing up drunk to her ex-husband's funeral and hitting on her own daughter's boyfriend.

    G to L 
  • Genre Deconstruction: With the reveal in the Season 1 finale, the show is basically turned into one for hackneyed misunderstanding-based sitcoms. Michael (who has the same name as the show's own creator) is forcing together a chosen few people specifically so they'll constantly get on each other's nerves, all for the amusement of himself and other demons, and occasionally stepping in directly to provide situations that will make them even more uncomfortable. After all, one of the first rules of comedy is that the characters don't find any of it funny.
  • Ghost Amnesia:
    • They erase memories of deaths that were traumatic and/or embarrassing. When Eleanor asks how she died, it turns out she was hit by a line of grocery carts that pushed her into the path of a truck carrying a billboard for male enhancement drugs.
    • Not quite death, but after Janet's kill switch is pressed, she "dies", then resurrects shortly afterwards, but with no memories. Until her memory backup is downloaded in a few days, all she is able to do is say "Hello, I'm Janet".
  • A Glitch in the Matrix:
    • Eleanor's presence causes things to go haywire whenever she does something really selfish. Then it turns out that it was all actually happening by design.
    • Janets have a tendency to cause these effects in their neighborhoods whenever they glitch out. Dealing with heartbreak over Jason and then lying to yourself and everyone else about it would do the trick.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Michael's first attempt at making his own version of a Good Place worked a tad too well. He makes Eleanor feel so guilty that she decides to just confess to everyone.
    • Michael's second attempt ended up applying the lessons from the first failure a little too well. The humans end up being truly miserable right away which quickly makes them suspicious of why the Good Place feels so bad.
    • Eleanor's Batman Gambit from the season one finale works brilliantly and she figures out the true nature of the Good Place within a day of the second iteration. It also means that when she ends up in the situation again, she will lack a crucial advantage. Subverted in the next episode when we find out that she'd have figured it out eventually anyways; the only advantages she really got were speed and the knowledge that they'd already been through it all before.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Played with as Eleanor is convinced the others in the Good Place can't be as great as they seem. It turns out that they are, all dedicating themselves to great deeds in life. However, Eleanor does claim that many of them were doing such deeds for recognition and Tahani herself does come off rather self-absorbed and condescending, intentionally or otherwise.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: It's a forking physical law of the subsection of The Good Place where Eleanor lives - any attempt to swear results in a bowdlerized version being said instead - for example a person might be invited to go fork themselves.
  • Groin Attack: The Bad Place apparently has a device called the Penis Flattener.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The second episode of the second season is involved with this as Michael does various attempts at do-overs with his experiment, each time ending with Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason finding each other, and someone (usually Eleanor, but, at one point, Jason, bewildering even Michael) deducing that they are actually in The Bad Place the whole time.
  • Heaven: The Good Place is effectively this. While the real one still qualifies, the first-season finale reveals that the one the characters have been living in definitely isn't.
  • Heaven Above: Not three minutes into the show, recently deceased Eleanor distinguishes between Heaven and Hell by pointing upwards to indicate Heaven and downwards to indicate Hell.
  • Heel Realization:
    • Eleanor was so self-absorbed that she never realized just how much of a jerk she was and thought of herself as a mildly good person. When she is confronted with her past actions, she finally realizes just how nasty and selfish she was.
    • In episode 13, Tahani realizes that all the good acts she's performed were meaningless, because she only did them for praise and recognition, rather than because they were good deeds. Shortly afterwards, Chidi realizes how much his obsession and indecisiveness over doing the right thing led to him hurting everyone in his life and got him sent to the Bad Place. Tahani has an extended one when she realises that the Bad Place's method of torturing her is through ordeals around event mismanagement, and it's working, which means she's a shallow, frivolous and arrogant person.
  • Hell: The Bad Place, which is apparently full of people screaming in torment. Except the "Good Place" we see is also a part of the Bad Place — a part far more clever in its torments.
  • Here We Go Again!: Invoked in the season finale, with Michael erasing the memories of the main four, rebooting Janet again, and resetting things to day one — with the one tweak that the four of them will be kept separate this time, influencing each other's lives less directly — in the hopes that this time it will work better.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • In a throwaway line, Tahani reveals this is how she died. Subverted, "Team Cockroach" reveals that she didn't die this way, dying instead in an ironic, humiliating fashion.
    • Eleanor has no reservations about returning to face Shaun's judgement if it means Chidi and Tahani are spared. Pity they're all in the Bad Place anyway.
    • Michael of all "people" pulls the first proper legit one in the entire series by giving his portal access pin to Eleanor and pushing her through, ensuring her safety, but dooming himself in the process. He does so without hesitation.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In a flashback, Jason says that he wants to show everyone what a beautiful soul he has, then firebombs Acid Cat's speedboat.
  • Hope Spot:
    • The final ten minutes of the last episode of season 1 have quite a few pop up that could save one or more people from being shipped to the Bad Place to balance things out. They range from "Real" Eleanor stating she would take one of the two spots condemning someone to the bad place, to one lawyer resident who might have found an obscure precedent that could save everyone, to "Real" Eleanor coming back pleading her love to Chidi and for them to remain together. Actually invoked, as each one is a staged moment meant to up the anxiety as the four humans and Janet debate who should be sent to the Bad Place in place of the others.
    • The second season penultimate episode is full of them, as they keep thinking they're going to get into the Good Place, only to have another curve ball thrown at them.
    • The season two finale has a large hope spot where it looks like Eleanor is going to turn her life around, but then things go poorly and she reverts to her old ways... until another push in the right direction steers her back right.
  • Humans Are Bastards: According to Michael, only very few people rack up enough points to make it it to the Good Place, with the great majority of humanity being subject to internal damnation in the Bad Place. It turns out that Michael was exploiting this trope with his vision for a new kind of Bad Place, where humans just make each other miserable for all eternity.
  • Humans Are Special: For all their faults (and there are many), humans can change, improve, and uplift each other. Michael surprisingly comes to believe this over the course of season two after seeing the main four humans do just that, and uses it to argue on their behalf in front of the Judge.
  • Insistent Terminology :
    • It's still a little nebulous what Janet is, but she's quick to correct anyone using the wrong terminology.
      Jason: I don't want to lose you, girl.
      Janet: I'm not a girl.
    • "Fake" Eleanor to distinguish our misanthropic protagonist from "Real" Eleanor, the human rights attorney.
      Eleanor: Um, ahem, could you please just say "Eleanor," and maybe point to whichever one of us you're addressing?
      Bambadjan: Well, actually, the fake/real distinction helps me.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Jason notes that he's actually Filipino, not Taiwanese like the Buddhist monk he's been mistaken for, and says it's racist people assumed that he was.
  • Ironic Hell:
    • The Bad Place seems to be a combination of Fire and Brimstone Hell and this. As beside the torture and attacks by dangerous animals, more "mundane" punishments are mentioned, such as having to organize a baby shower or attend a test you didn't study for.
    • In the ending of season 1, when Michael's neighborhood turns out to be an experimental Bad Place, it is revealed that this is what the show is really about - by tricking several fundamentally selfish pretend good people into thinking they're the sole bad person among good people, they themselves do most of the work, making them utterly miserable from the strain of pretending to be good.
    • "Everything is Great", the first episode of season two, gives us a few examples.
      • Michael has Tahani live the "humble life" she claimed to want, living in a crappy small house with a short "soulmate", dressed in cargo pants and finding out why Crocs have holes. He then butters her up by claiming that this reflects her true spirit before casually mentioning that he'll have plenty of time to handle any requests she might have since everybody else is perfectly satisfied with what they've been given, pressuring her to smile and bear it because she doesn't want to admit that she's selfish, shallow, and ungrateful.
      • Chidi's ironic hell is just as miserable: Since making decisions is torturous for him, he is forced to choose between two women to be his soulmate. Then, when he finally forces himself to make a decision, Michael steps in and decides for him anyway, even though the other choice is obviously supposed to be Chidi's actual soulmate. Chidi must now watch in lovesick agony from afar, struggling against his own paralysis.
  • Irony: Michael reboots the neighborhood over and over again so he can find a way to effectively torture the humans without being found out... but in the end, this ends up being torture for him. When Vicky threatens mutiny, he's forced to team up with the humans just to break out of what would otherwise be an eternal stalemate.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Eleanor is unbelievably selfish, which is her main flaw.
    • One character went to the Bad Place because their good deeds were out of selfish motives rather than genuine compassion and altruism.
    • Another character ended up in the Bad Place thanks to a narrow focus on his own personal morality and a disregard for how his hair-splitting and indecision affected those around him.
    • Jason is also laser-focused on himself.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: Jason and Janet have a kind-of romance toward the end of season one. A surprisingly sweet example, as both parties are so innocent it comes across as a sort of Puppy Love.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The ads for season 2 quite clearly showed Michael scheming about how to make the main cast miserable. Ironically and also subverted as while this spoils Season 1, it doesn't spoil the fact that he promptly teams up with the humans very early into Season 2.
  • Lie Detector: Michael uses a cube which flashes green when someone tells the truth and red when they lie when investigating Eleanor.
  • Long Title: The book Chidi spent his life writing. Its title starts: Who We Are and Who We Are Not: Practical Ethics and Their Application in the Modern World; a Treatise on the..., and then Michael interrupts Chidi before he can finish it.

    M to R 
  • Massive Multiplayer Scam: The entire first season, because they're not actually in The Good Place. Everyone who isn't Eleanor, Tahani, Chidi, or Jason (or Janet) are demons who take far too much pleasure in fooling with the poor humans.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Chidi is an Igbo name that means "God Exists". Eleanor had no real exposure to the concept of a person living life focused on trying to do what was good, with Chidi introducing her to it.
    • Janet is the feminine form of John, meaning "God is Gracious". She literally bestows upon the residents of the Good Place whatever they desire.
    • Jianyu is a Chinese name meaning "Building the Universe" or prison, depending on the tone.
    • Michael is the name of a Biblical archangel and is the Hebrew name meaning "who is like God". Archangel Michael leads the war of the good angels against the bad and is commonly prayed for to "defend us in battle" against fallen angels. Becomes an Ironic Name after the twist.
    • Tahani Al-Jamil is an Arabic name that means "Congratulations Beautiful." Lampshaded by herself (as a beautiful, accomplished socialite). It's also meaningful in another way — said accomplishments were merely self-congratulatory and a way of making herself feel good.
    • Her sister, Kamilah? That's Arabic for "Perfect". It also has implications of completeness, which completely shuns Tahani's existence. It holds this meaning in at least four languages and the Holy Qur'an, too. However, it is mentioned only twice in the Qur'an, the first of which describing how people will be weighted by their sins in death.
    • Even the neighborhood name, 12358W, is loaded: 12358 is a Fibonacci sequence, correlating with the Golden Ratio. In other words, 12358W is code for Perfect World.
  • Mid-Season Twist: Episode 7: After an incident of trying to help Michael by "killing" Janet temporarily and seeing Chidi's guilt over the act, the episode ends with Eleanor confessing in front of everyone that she doesn't belong in The Good Place.
  • Mistaken Identity: Somehow Eleanor's past got mixed up with someone much nicer - Michael got her name right, but not much else.
  • Morton's Fork: Eleanor promised to help Michael find what is disrupting the neighborhood, knowing full well that she herself was the root cause. However, reneging on her promise would cause further disruptions which would likely be traced back to her. She desperately searches for a way to Take a Third Option.
  • Mundane Afterlife:
    • Michael made his section of the Good Place look like pleasant Everytown, America. Other sections are implied to have varying degrees of quirkiness, depending on the tastes of their caretakers and residents.
    • The Medium Place deliberately turns the notion of a mediocre afterlife Up to Eleven (or five and a half, depending on how you look at it).
  • Mushroom Samba: Doug Forcett, a stoner from Canada, once took a handful of hallucinogenic mushrooms and got so high that he managed to make a guess about the afterlife that was 92% accurate.note  The feat was so impressive that the keepers of the Good Place have enshrined him for all eternity. Michael is downright proud just to have a portrait of the guy in his office.
  • Mysterious Note:
    • Jason's note to Eleanor saying that she doesn't belong in The Good Place.
    • In Chapter 13, Eleanor wrote herself a note telling her to find Chidi after Michael erases her memories.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: It's forking impossible for anybody to swear in The Good Place, which Eleanor finds out for herself:
    Eleanor: Somebody royally forked up... Why can't I say fork?
    Chidi: If you're trying to curse, you can't here.
    Eleanor: That's bullshirt.
  • The Needs of the Many: Chidi gives Eleanor a lecture about utilitarianism, and the issues which it faces, such as if torturing one person to death so a hundred more are saved is moral. Jason puts in his own more selfish scenario - framing an innocent person who would otherwise break up a band and cause more (supposed) unhappiness.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The show's sizzle reel made it seem like a quirky comedy where Eleanor gets to enjoy the Good Place with little consequence while trying to keep her secret. The actual show, while quirky and humorous, has Eleanor's mere presence in the Good Place causing far-reaching chaos and sets up a greater mystery to play out over its run. For fork's sake, even the name itself is unreliable after The Reveal. It's accurate only in the sense that that's the name of Michael's pet project.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Acid Cat, an EDM musician/DJ who performs in a helmet-mask shaped like a cat's head, is a pretty blatant reference to deadmau5.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: Played with. The other Eleanor (the one who was supposed to come to The Good Place) really liked clowns, presumably seeing them in a lighthearted and innocent way, and the house is decorated to reflect her tastes. However, both Eleanor and Chidi (as well as a couple other residents) find this element of the decor creepy and disturbing. Given that this is actually the Bad Place, they really were meant to be disturbing.
  • Not So Above It All: By the second episode, Eleanor's neighbor Tahani is clearly (to the viewers, anyway) starting to get frustrated that her soulmate Jianyu is continuing his vow of silence even in the afterlife.
  • Not So Different: Eleanor notes that Michael screwing with Chidi when he's struggling in Chidi's ethics class is exactly the same way she'd react when feeling inadequate. Then she wonders what it says about her that she's Not So Different to an actual Demon.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Michael's effusive praise for Eleanor's noble life on Earth and her generous help in fixing the Good Place's glitches cause Eleanor much grief. And as it turns out, Michael's not actually oblivious at all.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: In Chapter 14 and 15, we basically follow the day of each of the main characters separately, with the times they interact having an out-of-context predicament also going on.
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Averted and a central plot point. The pilot establishes that Eleanor Shellstrop, the protagonist, was mistaken for a different, much nicer Eleanor Shellstrop. The latter appears in "Most Improved Player", having been sent to The Bad Place. And then played straight, as it turns out there never was another Eleanor Shellstrop at all.
    • Averted with several minor characters named Doug: Michael's office has a prominent portrait of Doug Forcett, a stoner who provided the most accurate prediction of the afterlife in human history; Eleanor's Jerkass father was named Doug and several of Jason's crazy stories are about a member of his breakdancing crew named "Donkey Doug". There have also been two one-scene characters named Gloria, two Todds, and two Jessicas.
  • One True Love: Everyone has one, and in the Good Place you get to be with that person forever. In theory.
  • Only Good People May Pass: The main purpose of the season 2: After the revelation that The Good Place is revealed to be the Bad Place the whole time, thanks to a scheme of Michael who planned to have the four Main Characters (Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason) torture each other. The four main characters all tried to be good by performing good deeds to get into the real Good Place.
  • Opposites Attract: Every major relationship and Ship Tease in the series so far falls into this:
    • Eleanor, who's flighty, somewhat impulsive, and (at least in her backstory and at the start of the series) amoral, and Chidi, who's terribly indecisive and gets stomachaches over doing anything wrong.
    • Eleanor also crushes on Tahani, who is substantially more gregarious and altruistic, but also very proud and pompous (whereas Eleanor, if nothing else, is aware of her moral failings and relatively humble).
    • Tahani — who is, again, gregarious, proud, and status-obsessed — and her attraction to/fascination with Jianyu, a simple, silent, and presumably poor-while-alive monk. Subverted when she finds out about who "Jianyu" really is; Tahani, a rich and well-educated woman with significant artistic skill and loads of celebrity connections, shows little to no interest in Jason Mendoza, the less-than-intelligent failed DJ who seems to have burned every bridge he ever crossed. But it's Double Subverted in "Existential Crisis." She knows who Jason really is, but because he consoles her after her failed party, saying that she's an 8 out of 13 (which is actually the highest number) on a scale that measures dance ability, coolness, dopeness, freshness, and "smart-brained", which he used for his 60 person dance crew, she has sex with him.
    • Jason and Janet: (an always-enthusiastic dimbulb gets married to what is essentially a nigh-omniscient magic computer.)
  • Our Demons Are Different: They're a race of skilled actors who torment souls sent to them psychologically for fun, but are otherwise normal office workers.
  • Outside-Context Problem:
    • Eleanor's presence in The Good Place. When she reveals the mistake, Michael panics because there is no system to deal with it - a mistake like this has never happened in the history of the universe. Played with later as while Eleanor is actually in the Bad Place, her selfless act completely threw Michael's machinations for a loop.
    • Mindy St. Claire presented such a unique problem that The Good Place and The Bad Place wrangled over her fate and eventually created The Medium Place just for her.
  • Overly Pre-Prepared Gag: When William Jackson Harper was asked in an interview for hints to what happens in Season 2, his response was "acupuncture and pigs". Both are references to throwaway visual gags that took ages to set up for seconds of screen time.
  • Paranoia Gambit: The entire first season is one for Eleanor and Jason. Both are so afraid of being found out and sent to the Bad Place, they torture themselves by acting counter to their natures. The finale reveals they were already in the Bad Place and that was how they were being tortured.
  • Parody Sue: Everyone else in the Good Place is absurdly kind and selfless, to the point that nearly every detail we hear about them is some selfless, successful humanitarian act.
  • Parental Neglect: Eleanor's parents. They forgot her birthday, her mom blew half her college fund on bailing out her new boyfriend, her father blew the rest trying to frame said boyfriend, and were incredibly self-absorbed jerks who left Eleanor to fend for herself.
  • Plot Twist: Eleanor reveals her secret - that she's not suppose to be there - in order to protect the rest of the crew after a season of trying to be better. Which is all well and good except the actual plot twist is that they're actually in The Bad Place.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Michael lands one on Trevor in Chapter 8.
    • Chidi lays one on Michael in "The Trolley Problem."
  • Production Throwback: In Somewhere Else, the back cover of Celebrity Baby Plastic Surgery Disasters magazine has an ad for a champagne produced by Jean-Ralphio Saperstein from Parks and Recreation. Although Jean-Ralphio's move into champagne took place offscreen, a bottle was seen in Craig and Typhoon's flashforward in the Parks & Rec Grand Finale.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The afterlife works as a sort of Celestial Bureaucracy, with its own Mooks. These include the other residents of the “Good” Place, most of whom don’t share Michael’s new vision of Hell and find it a case of They Changed It, Now It Sucks!.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Mindy St. Claire was a cocaine addict and a pretty nasty person in life. However, she had an epiphany on how she could help people and actually tried to follow up on it by withdrawing all her money in order to form a charity. Right after that, she died in an accident. She then crossed into Death Equals Redemption since her sister found out what Mindy's plan was and was so inspired that she actually founded the charity in Mindy's name and helped millions of people. If she stayed alive, Mindy would have likely failed in her plan and backslid back into being a bad person. By dying when she did, she accidentally accomplished a lot of good.
  • Religion Is Wrong: Michael explains that the major religions only get the afterlife about 5% right. The closest anyone got to getting the whole truth was when a Canadian stoner got high on mushrooms and accidentally got it 92% right. His portrait is in Michael's office; he's quite proud of it.
  • Rerouted from Heaven: Zig-zagged.
    • Initially inverted with Eleanor and Jason, who were meant to go to The Bad Place but were mistakenly taken to The Good Place instead. Because of this, however, the trope is played straight with the other Eleanor Shellstrop, who was sent to The Bad Place.
    • Subverted as the first season finale reveals that this has been the Bad Place all along and except for the four main characters and Janet, everyone else (including "real" Eleanor) have been part of the Bad Place group.
  • Reset Button:
    • Subverted. There's a literal reset button in-universe, but it's not a reset button for the show itself, as each reset actually moves the show on rather than enforcing Status Quo Is God.
    • Not a literal button, but after the season 1 finale twist, and into the first two episodes of the second season, Michael shows that he can reset everyone's afterlife memories with a snap of his fingers.
  • Retcon: A minor one. In chapter 13, Michael tells Shawn he has stolen a Good Place Janet and explains his idea. In "Michael and Janet", it shows that Michael had already shown the Good Place Janet to Shawn and he knew the details of the project, meaning he stole her after the meeting.
  • The Reveal:
    • The first season finale shows that this has been the Bad Place all along, designed solely for Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani as torture. Except for Janet, everyone else in the neighborhood is part of the scheme and Michael is a demon who's been planning this all along.
    • Tahani's cause of death is revealed in 'Team Cockroach' - having been upstaged by her sister yet again, she gatecrashes her sister's induction into the Rock Hall of Fame and tries to tear down the statue of her sister - which does come down, but straight onto Tahani.
  • Running Gag:
    • Eleanor frequently proclaims in the first season that she deserves to be in a Medium Place, until she actually finds it.
    • The clown door to Eleanor's bedroom playing cheery music at inappropriate times.
    • Janet appearing in the opposite direction of whoever's summoning her, usually startling Eleanor.
    • Jason telling stories about his dance crew in Florida, which somehow relate perfectly to the situation at hand.
    • Janet helpfully pointing out that she isn't whatever she was just described as - e.g., she is not a "girl," a "woman" or even a "person," nor is she a "robot" or a "computer." Towards the end of Season 2, she even denies being a "Janet" anymore, saying she's not sure herself what it is that she's become.

    S to Z 
  • Scenery Porn: The Good Place is very pretty, with everyone living in designer houses in a neighborhood that looks like a pleasant American town surrounded by lush nature. Justified, as it's supposed to be paradise.
  • Schizo Tech: Michael and Janet monitor the humans' progress during "Somewhere Else" using a ticker tape recorder, instead of, say, visual monitors or even audio recordings.
  • Secret Test of Character:
    • Chidi speculates Eleanor being sent to the Good Place is one of these, and that she'll be allowed to stay if she admits she shouldn't be here. Eleanor's too afraid of being sent to the Bad Place to try. He was partially right. She was picked just for him... but to torment him for eternity instead.
    • A flashback reveals Chidi's friend Uzo subjected him to one of these before Chidi died. Chidi insisted he could handle the pressure of being Uzo's best man, so Uzo pretended to accept and gave him a date one month earlier than the actual wedding. Sadly, Chidi completely bombed it.
    • The Judge outright says that she will test all of them, but Jason, who had to beat Madden against his favorite team using their bitter rival, still "figures" out that it was a test. Eleanor's test zigzags this, as she goes through a door just to return to the lobby and be told there is no test and she can go straight to the good place. She figures out that she's still really in the test and refuses to leave without the others, in part because Chidi says to forget about ethics for a minute.
  • Secretly Selfish: It's revealed that good actions and deeds can be negated if they're performed for less-than-altruistic reasons. Hence why Tahani is in the Bad Place - she may have raised a lot of money for charity and humanitarian causes, but only because she wanted to one-up her sister and get everyone's attention. Overlaps a bit with Wants a Prize for Basic Decency, as the Judge herself says that being good is meaningless if it's being done with the expectation/desire for a reward at the end.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Michael watched Friends to learn about human friendship. He also references the theme song to The Golden Girls.
    • "Real" Eleanor uses "yadda yadda" several times in conversation and then notes she learned English from watching Seinfeld.
    • At one point, Eleanor describes Jason as "Tragic Mike"
    • When Trevor asks Michael what he is willing to offer in exchange for Eleanor staying in the Good Place, Michael tells him "You get nothing!"
    • Flashbacks to when he was alive showed that Chidi had dinner with his friend Uzo at a restaurant named "Eating Nemo".
    • When trying to convince Jason to let them leave the Medium Place so they can save Tahani and Chidi, Eleanor says "We have to go back."
    • In the season two finale when Michael bartends, he adopts some of the mannerisms of Ted Danson's legendary character from Cheers. Also, the bar he's tending is briefly shown to be named "Sting's Desert Rosé".
    • Jason is a huge fan of Madden NFL, to the point where The Judge uses it as his test of character.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Tahani had this with her sister Kamilah, feeling she was always second best in comparison. Her desire to prove herself came up again when she learned she was second to last ranked in the Good Place neighborhood.
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes: The main cast initially fits into these, but the show plays with them when it's revealed that besides Michael, the main four were specifically picked to clash with each other for eternity.
    • Michael is the Square. While not the protagonist, he's the hapless but sincere boss of The Good Place trying to keep all the antics caused by the other main characters under control. Subverted when it's revealed that it was all an act, and he was just playing the role of the clueless boss while manipulating everyone else.
    • Eleanor is the Wisecracker. Cynical and bitter, she can barely resist cracking a side comment or two at the expense of other characters, and is an actual thorn in the side of the Good Place, as her presence causes it to go haywire.
    • Tahani is a mix of the Bully and the Bigmouth. Although an accomplished philanthropist, it's clear that she thinks very highly of herself, expresses disdain for those that don't meet her standards, and gleefully lords her life experiences over others. She and Eleanor even get off on the wrong foot, although it's subverted when Eleanor realizes that Tahani is a genuinely kind person despite her ego and has self-esteem issues due to her absurdly accomplished sister.
    • Chidi is the Dork. A neurotic, indecisive Hollywood Nerd and the group's loyal and intelligent teacher. His kindness and dithering often makes him the Butt-Monkey. He also has some traits of the Square, as he's often the voice of reason and reacts with shock and disbelief to everyone else's antics.
    • Jason is the Goofball. A childish, stupid man who is nonetheless optimistic and nice.
  • Smug Straight Edge: Being vegan gives you good points. Not bragging about it gives you even more.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Eleanor is this to neighborhood 12358W. Her selfishness causes the Empathic Environment to go haywire - leading Chidi to compare the other residents to a Swiss watch, and Eleanor to a hammer smashing the works. Double subverted. In the season finale, we discover that the chaos was planned by Michael, but there was an actual spanner — Chidi's lessons being more effective than the Bad Place thought they would be, causing Eleanor to confess her identity as the "mistake." That broke Michael's Batman Gambit down and caused him to have to improvise everything afterward.
    • Eleanor's note to herself in the beginning of season 2 totally derailed Michael's second attempt at torturing the group within the first night. Because the note told her to re-find Chidi, Eleanor spent most of the party focused on doing that instead of getting drunk like she was supposed to. Instead, she gave the drinks she was going to have to Tahani, who wound up giving the drunken speech Eleanor was meant to delivernote , creating a huge distraction that Eleanor, Chidi and Jason used to slip away from their demon minders. From there it all spiraled out of control, culminating in Jason "breaking character" early to complain about his soulmate, making it impossible for Michael to continue the ruse and forcing another reset.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Tahani mentions a British "saying" about not letting anyone know when you're sad.
  • Spotting the Thread:
    • In "Someone Like Me as a Member..." Tahani sees how Jianyu knows how to pump a keg and then leaves snack bags all over the house. It makes her suspicious and she breaks into his "meditation room" to finally discover his secret.
    • In "Michael's Gambit", Eleanor realizes that everything that has happened to her, Chidi, Tahini and Jason is a form of psychological torture and that they are actually in the Bad Place.
    • "Dance Dance Resolution" reveals that Eleanor is extremely good at this and she is able figure out the truth in over 800 different scenarios Michael puts her through. This is probably due to her extremely cynical nature and belief that people are always hiding something.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Very subtle, but even before Eleanor starts wrecking things there are hints things aren't as perfect as they seem. Jianyu really seems to find Tahani insufferable, but is too polite to say anything. Given what we later learn, it might have been Jianyu/Jason just trying to avoid giving himself away.
  • Sugar Bowl: Played with. The setting was clearly intended to be one, what with its exaggeratedly pleasant smalltown America vibe filled with ridiculously good people, but it starts to fall apart almost immediately.
  • Take That!: Now with a page.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: In-Universe, everyone else has done so many inhumanly good things before they died that Eleanor gets wasted just to cope.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Michael and the four humans are forced to team up after 802 failed iterations. Michael needs the humans to pretend the experiment is working so Shawn won't find out about the 801 unauthorised attempts and force him into retirement. In return, the humans avoid going to a traditional Bad Place, plus Michael promises to try to get them all into the real Good Place.
  • This Isn't Heaven: The Season 1 finale reveals that the main characters have actually been in the Bad Place the entire time and the whole scenario was designed to get them all to drive each other nuts.
  • Title-Only Opening: No theme song, just the title in unassuming font over a green background.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Jason lives and dies this trope, quite literally. He died attempting to rob a Mexican restaurant by hiding in a safe which didn't have airholes.
    I'm just a dope who died in a safe with a snorkel... who's only now realizing why that didn't work!
  • Token Evil Teammate: Ostensibly Jason and/or Eleanor, given that they're not supposed to be in the Good Place. Except not really since they're all in the Bad Place and, cosmically speaking, they're all technically bad. By season 2, though, it's Michael when he teams up with the humans to avoid retirement.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: The celestial beings seen so far all have rather mundane names like Michael, Trevor, Shawn, and Todd.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Played straight and inverted, especially with Eleanor. Eleanor's old friends on Earth were truly vile. (Seriously, she was the nicest of the lot, even at her worst.) Once she starts hanging around the rest of Team Cockroach, however, she improves exponentially, and she even comments that, if she'd known them all along, she might've gotten into the Good Place for real. It's also shown that Chidi, Jason, Tahani, and even Michael are significantly better people due to hanging out with each other. Tellingly, when the gang is sent back to Earth in Chapter 26, Michael nudges Eleanor towards Chidi in order to help her improve.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Light example, but the NBC website's thumbnail for the season 2 finale "Somewhere Else" shows Michael as the bartender when he goes to Earth to talk to Eleanor.
  • Translation Convention: The Good Place automatically translates the various languages spoken by its inhabitants so that the listener will hear the language they are most comfortable with. For example, Eleanor hears everything in English while Chidi hears everything in French. One side effect is that Chidi has to ask if Eleanor is trying to swear, as it just sounds like nonsense to him. It also works for accents, causing Eleanor to figure that Tahani is deliberately putting on her plummy British accent.
  • Undercover as Lovers: Eleanor and Chidi have to pose not only as a couple but as soulmates to hide the fact that Eleanor is not supposed to be in the Good Place.
  • Undignified Death: If a person's death is particularly humiliating, the celestial beings erase it to make the transition easier.
    • Eleanor's memory of her own death was erased because it was "traumatic and embarrassing". She bent over to pick up a bottle of "Lonely Gal" Margarita Mix for One in a parking lot, and a long column of shopping carts plowed into her. She was carried into the street and struck by a billboard truck advertising an erectile dysfunction pill. Funnily enough, the first EMT to arrive was an ex-boyfriend of hers. However, it's possible her memory was really erased to hide the fact that the "Real" Eleanor (who supposedly was trying to save her) wasn't really there, because she's really a demon from the Bad Place named Vicky, and Eleanor remembering her death could have given that away. And indeed, when she dreams of her death on her way to the Medium Place, we don't see "Real" Eleanor and in fact, barring the initial details, there's little to confirm Michael's version.
    • Chidi was crushed by a falling air conditioner while being distracted by his utter inability to make a single decision about even which bar to go to with his friend.
    • Jason tried to stage an extremely poorly-thought-out robbery that ended with him suffocating to death in a fake safe because neither he nor his accomplice thought to put air holes in it.
    • Tahani tried to pull down a statue of her sister during a party being thrown for the latter by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, only for the statue to come crashing down on Tahani herself. And to make it more embarrassing (for Tahani anyway), she died in Cleveland.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: The concept of the 'moral desert' comes up — one mustn't do good things because they expect a reward for doing them.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 7. Overlapping with Mid-season Twist, at the end of the episode, Eleanor confesses to everyone that she doesn't belong in The Good Place.
    • Chapter 8. Eleanor is almost sent to The Bad Place, but Michael decides to keep her in The Good Place at the last second to try and determine how the system failed. In response, Bad Place architect Trevor reveals that if that's the case, then he gets to keep the good Eleanor Shellstrop.
    • Chapter 11. There's not just the Good Place and the Bad Place. There's also The Medium Place. And Eleanor just stole a train to get there.
    • Chapter 13. We've been in the Bad Place the entire time! Michael is actually a demonic architect who specifically designed his neighborhood to be a never-ending torture chamber for Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason. In fact, the four of them were carefully chosen because they would get on each other's nerves and aside from them, every other resident is actually a member of the evil Celestial Bureaucracy going along with Michael's plan to torture the four Main Characters. And the "good" Eleanor is also a part of Michael's Evil Plan and is actually named Vicky.
    • Chapter 19. Janet begins glitching when she starts acting as Jason and Tahani's therapist. The glitches begin to get worse and worse until the whole neighborhood is danger of collapsing.
    • Chapter 23. Michael reveals that he doesn't have a way of getting into the real Good Place. All seems lost until Tahani comes up with the idea of talking to the judge who settles disputes between the Good Place and the Bad Place. Meaning the humans will have to go to the REAL Bad Place where he operates. Also, the fake Good Place is disintegrated.
    • Chapter 26. Michael and Gen agree to a plan to test the idea that people can change, if given a push. That plan? The main four are brought back to life (or something) where their deaths are narrowly averted. Of course, given that it's a test, they must be mind wiped yet again and since they're not surrounded by friends and a support network, the recovery is much harder.
  • Wham Line:
    • At the end of Chapter 2, somebody slides a note under Eleanor's door saying "You Don't Belong Here", meaning somebody else knows her secret.
    • "I've been waiting for you." A wham line because it's said by Jianyu who follows it up by saying "I'm not supposed to be here, either!"
    • One in the form of an Internal Reveal: "The problem in the neighborhood is me. I was brought to The Good Place by mistake. I'm not supposed to be here."
    • "Most Improved Player" ends with a number of them. Including: "Hi, I'm Eleanor Shellstrop."
    • "Someone Like Me For A Member" ends with Jason entering his "bud hole" only to find Tahani waiting with "So, let's chat, shall we?"
    • "Michael's Gambit" has Eleanor having a revelation and silencing everyone by saying: "This is the Bad Place!"
  • Wham Shot:
    • In Chapter 4, Michael mentioned that the Good Place repairs itself in due time so he's not worried about the Sinkhole Eleanor created. However, at the very end of the episode, Tahani hears a sound coming from where the sinkhole was created. She goes to investigate, only to discover the hole is growing rather than shrinking.
    • In Chapter 13, after being confronted by Eleanor, Michael's normally kind face suddenly splits open into a Slasher Smile as he reveals his true evil self.
    • The neighborhood disintegrating into nothingness as the train pulls away at the end of Chapter 23.
  • White Void Room: The Good Place's storage room for Janets, as revealed in "Michael and Janet". Michael calls it a "neutral pocket dimension beneath a shapeless time void."
  • You Do Not Want To Know: What the Bad Place is like, to the point that people are forbidden to access information about it. Some Bad Placers reveal that there's also various forms of twisting, burning, and butthole spiders. The most a resident of the Good Place can get is live audio of what's going on - which invariably involves wails and screams of terror.
    Bad Place Audio Recording: (harsh metallic screeching) OH GOD, THE BEAR HAS TWO MOUTHS, RUN!

"Holy motherforking shirt balls!"

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