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  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Brent is a racist, sexist, selfish, stuck-up jerk, but a lot of fans felt sorry for him after his Heel Realization and subsequent breakdown in "Help is Other People".
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Brent truly so awful that he's only capable of a last-minute Heel–Face Turn with the threat of eternal damnation looming? Or could he have changed sooner if Eleanor and Michael told him the whole truth—i.e., that there's a Best Place and a Bad Place, his choices in the Good Place determine where he goes, and that he has a limited amount of time to clean up his act? On that note, was the whole Chip Driver debacle really evidence that he's too prideful and self-absorbed to be reformed? Or was it the moment Eleanor and Michael gave up on him, only deciding he was worth the effort when his lack of redemption threatened to sabotage the experiment?
  • Angst? What Angst?:
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    • A rather horrifying case with Janet. She's not a person, technically, but she is still sentient and capable of feeling, to the point that her failsafe to beg for her life if someone enacts shutdown is enough to disturb even Michael pre-Heel–Face Turn. After she's rebooted 802 times, Michael confesses to her that he kidnapped her from a Good Place warehouse and lied to her to suit his plans, and he assumes that's why she's glitching out and disrupting the neighborhood. Janet is actually more upset about finding out she was married to Jason in Attempt #1 and loved him — her heartbreak was the real cause of the disruptions — than about the kidnapping and lying. In fact, she cheerfully tells Michael to kill her and get a new Good Place Janet to keep the humans safe from her. There's also her casual attitude to killing the Soul Squad to keep them safe in her void when Shawn sends demons after them.
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    • Jason gets his moment; it's why he and Janet are Birds of a Feather. After Eleanor tells him in Season 1 that he died, he only says, "Oh dip!" In Season 4, he says the same thing when Michael gives him three hundred years' worth of Good Place torture to think of a good plan on how to save Janet. Then he forgets and asks Michael to do it again. There's also the surprisingly cheerful way he talks about how his mother died from cancer in "The Funeral to End All Funerals".
    • Lampshaded with Chidi in "The Answer": Michael warns that he might suffer a nervous breakdown after getting all of his memories back at once. Instead, Chidi awakens with a relaxed smile and asks his friends if they found him annoying.
  • Applicability: Aside from the main driving theme of the series (what makes a "good person"), a number of critics also point out how this series is a great exercise in showing the traps of Slobs vs. Snobs.
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  • Award Snub: Despite the show's critical acclaim for the writing and performances of Ted Danson and Kristen Bell, the first season was looked over at the Emmys. Ted was able to get a nomination the following year, along with Maya Rudolph. The year after, both Danson and Rudolph were nominated again along with the show itself, but D'Arcy Carden, who pulled off quite a performance playing all four humans when they were stuck looking like Janet in "Janet(s)", was denied a nomination.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • In "Don't Let the Good Life Pass You By", Janet kicks the tar out of all the demons that came to Earth to ambush the Soul Squad. Especially when she delivers a swinging kick to Shawn that's so strong that he breaks a chair when being knocked down.
    • In "A Girl From Arizona, Part 1", after it's discovered that Shawn had sent in a demon disguised as a human test subject for the purposes of sabotaging the experiment, Gen invokes Tranquil Fury and makes it clear to Shawn that she will not tolerate any cheating or interference. It's all capped off with Gen threatening to tear Shawn's eyelids out, tie him to a chair and force him to watch heartwarming videos of soldiers reuniting with their dogs for eternity, which actually makes him squirm.
    • In "A Chip Driver Mystery", after everyone has to deal with Brent being an unapologetic racist and sexist for several episodes, Simone and Tahani hit their Rage Breaking Point and tell him exactly what they think of his badly written book. Then Chidi punches out Brent for insulting Simone and shoving him. While Eleanor and Michael are horrified at what this means for everyone's morality points, it's still pretty cathartic for the rest of the group and the audience.
      • Followed up in the next episode by Eleanor and Michael recreating the Season 1 reveal that the humans are actually in the Bad Place, leaving Brent absolutely nowhere to hide from the fact that he's a bad person, to which he has a horrified Rapid-Fire "No!" and is driven to sincerely apologize for everything.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • In the episode "Flying", while ranting and raving that something he didn't approve of caused his carefully-balanced neighborhood to spin out of control, Michael sees a dog in the middle of the street. Believing that it doesn't belong, he kicks the dog as hard as he can. The action veers from shocking and horrific to hilarious when viewers see the dog keep going and going before disappearing in a puff of smoke when it hits the sun.
    • Michael's motivational speech to his demons in the Season Two Premiere: "we are all here because we believe there's a better way to make people miserable".
    • In "The Trolley Problem", Michael Comically Missing the Point of the experiment and subjecting Chidi to various simulated (yet still very bloody and realistic) variants of it again and again leaps over the line and back again.
    • In "Somewhere Else", Eleanor's boss is wearing a wire, helping the government take down his own fraudulent business in exchange for protection - but this doesn't stop him sexually harassing Eleanor. And then he starts up yet another con, believing he can't be arrested while in Witness Protection.
    • What happens when a Bad Janet attempts to be good? She literally self-destructs, her face ''melting off'' and voice distorting. This is absolutely horrifying... but Shawn and Michael's complete nonchalance and the fact she's screaming her usually apathetically delivered insults all the while pushes it back into being funny as hell.
    • The Cowboy Skyscraper Buffet is an Australian restaurant themed after America, but seems to be based on bad stereotypes. The Florida table apparently smells like swamp gas, and if you buy a special Manifest Destiny package, you can get another customer forcibly removed from any table. As Chidi points out, the "gun" buzzer that customers are given to know when their table is ready is almost certainly real.
    • Jason casually revealing that his mother died of the Big C. Cue sympathetic reactions from Eleanor, Tahani, and Janet... then he says the Big C was a crocodile that ate her, in classic Florida style, which is ridiculous but still terrible. He quickly explains that it's a joke — it really was cancer all along that killed her! Jason's complete flippancy as he says all of this makes the scene hilarious in a horrifying sort of way.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • A lot of fans regard Jason as a Kindhearted Simpleton. While he is a sympathetic character who doesn't really deserve to be tortured for eternity, he's still a robber, drug dealer, and generally a selfish jerk. Despite what many fans assert, he's also not so dumb as to be incapable of understanding how his actions affect other people; he has enough of a sense of morals to consider Eleanor's parents as terrible people and to question why Tahani is in The Bad Place despite her philanthropic efforts. Ironically, he does undergo a Heel–Face Turn for real in Season 3 by vowing to shed crimes and to learn how to be a better person on relearning his memories.
    • To a lesser extent, Trevor. Not that anyone downplays his Jerkass ways, but he has a sizable amount of fangirls and fanfic shipping him with various characters (usually Eleanor or an Original Character). All Girls Want Bad Boys is in effect in this case.
    • Vicky tends to get several fics where she's redeemed or otherwise nicer than in canon, generally due to her punishment leaving her Put on a Bus and Michael's trying to be a better person resulting in him helping her and apologizing. These became outdated as Shawn set her free during Season 3.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Bad Janet doesn't have a major role, especially compared to Good Janet, but both the writers of the show and audiences love her blunt meanness and being as unhelpful as possible. As such, she's featured in many fanfics.
    • Despite having only appeared in a couple of episodes in the first season, Trevor is a fairly popular character, mainly due to Adam Scott so fully embracing the character's Card-Carrying Villain nature and delivering such a gloriously obnoxious performance. When he returned in Season 3, most of the fanbase was very, very happy.
    • Some people love Vicky for her confidence and flair for the dramatic or sympathize with her as an ambitious "millennial" demon disillusioned with Michael's weird experiment. Her return in Season 3 was greeted with excited messages of "the Ferrari is out of the garage!"
    • Derek both before and after Mindy repeatedly reboots him has gained fans of his own for his Cloudcuckoolander ways and habit of quite literally Chewing the Scenery.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • You can't force people to stay together, even if they are good friends. Everyone has their own life and want to live it outside of a group. Michael's attempts to keep the four humans together on Earth ends up exposing them to the truth about the universe and condemning them to the Bad Place.
    • Morality is complicated, and judging it in a black and white context means you get a forked up view of the world and people. The Judge gets a Jerkass Realzation when she spends thirty years as a human and understands that it is hard to live a moral life when you are on Earth with a lot of mitigating factors. What's more, thanks to the black and white system imposed on a gray world, no one has gotten into the real Good Place for 521 years.
    • Acknowledging the damage that your parents did to you if they were emotionally abusive is healthier than pretending it didn't happen or that you were to blame. Eleanor gets closure if not happiness when she confronts her mother about the latter being a better parent to another girl, and Tahani realizes she can't get through to her sister if she apologizes for their rivalry; acknowledging their parents were "wankers" is the only thing that makes Kamilah embrace Tahani in turn.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception:
    • Misunderstanding Chidi's preference for French as meaning he can only speak French, and posting online about the massive Plot Hole you've discovered when he speaks English for real in the S2 finale, will not get a good reaction. At the beginning of Season 3, he finally just explained it to remove all doubt. Chidi went to English speaking schools and went to an American university for undergrad which is why he has an American accent. note  This happened a lot. Schur explained on the podcast that they tried out having Chidi speak in a West African accent while filiming the early episodes of season 3 but felt like it was jarring and out of place to suddenly have him speak in a completely different accent so they came up with that specific In-Universe justification.
    • After Season 2 introduced the phrase "moral desert", it's logical to assume that it should be spelled "dessert", but that goes against quite a lot of philosophical precedent. Getting it wrong can touch off a cascade of corrections and counter-corrections.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Eleanor/Tahani is a strong contender for this for the internet fandom. Michael making the two soulmates in one of his attempts in "Dance Dance Resolution" helped fuel this part of the fandom.
  • Fanfic Fuel: "Dance Dance Resolution" is ridiculously full of it, with Michael putting the main four through hundreds of different fake Good Places trying to find one that Eleanor won't figure out. This includes everyone being monks, scary clowns on a conveyor belt, Eleanor's soulmate being Tahani or a golden retriever, and the various escape plans they tried like attacking Michael, seducing him, or Gaslighting him to make him think he's actually the one in the Bad Place. Needless to say, simply creating a world and passing it off as one of the iterations is an easy fanfic premise.
    • In "Chidi Sees the Time Knife", the thirty years Judge Gen spends on Earth as a God in Human Form to see for herself how complex and difficult humans' lives truly are also counts.
    • In "A Chip Driver Mystery," at least now that Bad Janet has freedom to decide where she wants to go next, there's ample opportunity to explore what she may do if she doesn't go back to the Bad Place considering she has the powers of Good Janet with 40 million reboots worth of sentience and a predisposition to be a Troll. There's also the fact that Shawn knows she failed to sabotage the experiment and is known for torturing anyone who displeases him. Michael has mentioned off-hand there are other dimensions where fugitive souls can hide beyond the Good Place, the Bad Place, the IHOP and the Accountants' Office. So even if in canon Bad Janet returns to the Bad Place, in fanon she could go anywhere since Janets count as luggage for portals.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • With Schur's other three sitcoms, The Office (US), Parks and Recreation, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Not only is there a lot of cast and crew crossover and similar humor, but there is also a general focus on fundamentally decent people getting along and improving each other.
    • Due to similarities in tone and both shows focusing on how the afterlife interacts with humanity, fans of this show also get on quite well with fans of Good Omens (2019).
      Neil Gaiman: I think [Crowley] would love The Good Place.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In the pilot, Michael tells Eleanor that only one person got most of the afterlife right: a stoner named Doug Forcett, whose portrait is hung up in Michael's office. It's presented as humorous and remains a Funny Background Event. Then we find out in Season 3 that Doug's vision has led him to become an Extreme Doormat who is so terrified of going to the Bad Place when he dies that he drives himself to uncomfortable extremes to do good deeds no matter how miserable and painful it is for him, to the point that Janet describes him as a "happiness pump".
    • When Janet goes through a "Fun Fact" programming phase early in Season 1, she mentions that Christopher Columbus was in the Bad Place due to "rape and pillaging" and says it in her usual cheerful tone. In Season 3, she and Michael find out that no human has gotten into the Good Place in 521 years. From the perspective of 2018, that would mean the last person to get into the Good Place died in 1497. Columbus was still exploring and doing his pillaging five years after his discoveries, which led to the world being so interconnected in such a way that it's practically impossible to live up to the standards of the points system.
    • A Running Gag involving Chidi has him believing he got sent to the Bad Place because he still drank almond milk despite knowing it was bad for the environment. Michael assured him with irritation that it wasn't, because almond milk pales in comparison to his constant dithering and how it made his friends and family miserable when they had to put up with it. Then, in Season 3, it's revealed that Chidi's ethical paranoia over the environmental impact of his actions was not entirely unjustified, as the reason why no person has reached the Good Place in over five centuries is that the world has become so interconnected to the point that even the smallest actions have far-reaching (and often negative) consequences, including effects on the environment.
    • Michael, in a fit of desperation, suggests to Janet that they kill the humans in Season 3 so as to keep their souls safe from the Bad Place. Janet vetoes that, for obvious reasons. A few episodes later, Janet, with her powers restored, kills the humans by storing them in her void where they'll be safe.
    • Chidi has a brief freak-out after Simone says to him "See you in the next life", thinking she knows something about The Good Place. Sure enough, he sees her in the next life, when Shawn sends her one of the humans in Michael's experiment.
    • Michael demonstrated to Shawn that a Bad Janet can't even pretend to be good because her head will explode. In Season 4, Shawn figured out that if you reboot a Bad Janet 40 million times she can become a proper Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and uses one reprogrammed Bad Janet to replace our Janet in the new experiment.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Florence Nightingale says in her book Suggestions for Thought that she cannot believe in a God who would condemn people to Hell and that all who die will eventually make it to Heaven, making her own condemnation to The Bad Place a case of situational irony.
    • A particularly subtle example from the prop department, who gave Tahani's ethics homework a typically name-dropping title: "Moral particularism: And other things I learned from Claire Danes' father-in-law." Claire Danes' father-in-law (the father of Hugh Dancy) is Professor Jonathan Dancy, one of the major proponents of moral particularism.
    • When Michael, Chidi, and Eleanor are testing out the trolley problem, they roll by the movie theater which is showing movies with titles playing on Strangers on a Train (Strangers Under a Train) and Bend It Like Beckham (Bend It Like Bentham). Philosopher Jeremy Bentham is considered the father of the "ticking time bomb scenario", a variation of the trolley problem. As a bonus, the variation is about whether or not it is permissible to use torture to get information from a suspect that will save lives, and Michael is using the simulation to torture Chidi, albeit purely for his own amusement.
    • Eleanor discovers that James Buchanan was gay and shouts "I called it!" Buchanan is to date the only US President to not be married,note  and is indeed speculated to have been homosexual by several historians.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Just about everything involving Michael and "Real Eleanor" becomes this after The Reveal at the end of Season 1.
    • Eleanor trying to claim having a terrible childhood with Abusive Parents as a Freudian Excuse is played for laughs in "Someone Like Me As A Member", because it's an insufficient excuse for being the way she is. But then we get to see her parents in flashbacks in "Mindy St. Claire" and "Existential Crisis" and find out just how crappy they really were, and while it doesn't justify Eleanor's behavior, it does explain her behavior.
    • The flashback to Eleanor's death in the first season is even harsher after the second season finale reveals that it happened on her birthday.
    • Tahani's mother making cruel remarks about Tahani supposedly being fat (despite her being gorgeous and at a perfectly healthy weight) was already cruel, but it became even worse when Jameela Jamil revealed in an interview that she suffered from anorexia nervosa as a teenager.
    • Florence Nightingale being in the Bad Place is a bit harsher when you learn that the system has been rigged against people getting into the Good Place for five hundred years roughly, which unfortunately covered her time period (1820-1910).
    • In Season 2, Janet begins glitching due to her unresolved baggage over Jason (who doesn't have the memories of their relationship), and pragmatically asks Michael to marbleize her (basically shutting her down) so the neighborhood, which she maintains, won't be compromised. Later, in Season 3, where the characters get reset to their lives and survive, Chidi has to break up with Simone so he doesn't reveal the truth about the afterlife and blow her chances at getting into the Good Place, since Michael and Janet blew their own cover and confessed that the humans knowing about the Good Place instantly corrupted their intentions. These two scenarios combine in a tragic way at the end of Season 3, when the Bad Place puts Simone in the neighborhood experiment being run by the humans, Michael, and Janet. Chidi is unable to handle being around Simone, perhaps even less so with her memories of him being wiped to maintain cover, and he asks to be rebooted solo to avoid compromising the experiment, fully knowing the relationships he will lose. With no other options, his request has to be carried out, and while Chidi avoids Janet's Season 2 predicament, Eleanor enters it.
    • Eleanor becomes uncomfortable in Season 2 when Chidi says he hopes soulmates are real in the Good Place, for "everyone" he quickly amends, since he knows that she loves him but he doesn't return her feelings. Michael also looks uncomfortable. In Season 3, an ashamed Michael reveals to Eleanor that he made up the soulmates bit to torture the four humans, and in one reboot, taunted Chidi and Eleanor that their love wasn't real because he orchestrated it. And it becomes even worse when Eleanor tells a mind-wiped Chidi that Simone, his ex, is his soulmate so that he can get Simone to stop acting like a destructive wacko.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • Eleanor convincing the Soul Squad they should do good despite knowing they'll be damned to the Bad Place no matter what in "Jeremy Bearimy" becomes this in "The Funeral to End All Funerals" Michael reveals that the Soul Squad's friends and family members — Pillboi, Donna and Kamilah — have become better people as a result of their efforts.
    • When Eleanor and Tahani talk in "Don't Let The Good Life Pass You By" about Eleanor's feelings for Chidi, Tahani assumes they were best friends in the afterlife. Eleanor doesn't have the heart to correct her. Tahani reveals in "Employee of the Bearimy" that she got her memories back thanks to Michael and she emphasizes to Eleanor that she wants to be a better person to make up for their petty rivalry during the original 802 reboots, including the one where they were paired as soulmates. It culminates in "The Funeral to End All Funerals" where Eleanor says that Tahani is her best friend, much to Tahani's teary-eyed delight.
    • Eleanor's house in Season One being filled with clown paintings becomes this when she insists on recreating it in Season Three, down to the paintings, because she says it's where she fell in love with Chidi three hundred years' worth of Jearimy Bearimy ago. It's also a reminder of how Chidi tucked her into bed while she was drunk on her first night, though he didn't have to, and started looking out for her.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Everyone is really surprised when they learned that this is Jameela Jamil's (Tahani) first acting credit since her performance is on par with the rest of the cast, especially compared to well-known veterans like Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. It's perhaps even more surprising for British viewers who recognize her as the female host from T4, since that's often the highlight of their career and it was already shocking she became a DJ and philanthropist afterwards.
    • D'Arcy Carden shows off her chops in Season 3's "Janet(s)" when the main four get turned into Janets, and she gets down their personalities perfectly in a full range of emotions and she carries the episode.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Michael making Innocently Insensitive remarks to Eleanor in the pilot about how she's a good person and filled her house with clown images, which she hates, becomes darkly humorous when you realize that he was doing it on purpose to mess with her.
    • After finishing the first season, it turns out Michael freaking out over the neighborhood's problems is actually showing him in complete control, while the relative calm after Eleanor confesses is him desperately trying to keep the reveal from wrecking his Ironic Hell.
    • Similarly, everyone calling the other Eleanor "Real Eleanor", when it turns out she's just a demon playing a part, and her name isn't Eleanor at all. Getting everyone to call the real and only Eleanor "Fake Eleanor" - even Eleanor herself! - was just another subtle torture.
    • In the Latin American Spanish dub, Michael is voiced by Juan Alfonso Carralero, who already voiced Mayuri Kurotsuchi, a guy who lives in basically a similar version of the afterlife and who enjoys to screw with people For the Evulz. In this series, he voices a Noble Demon who does a Heroic Sacrifice to save a person he likes.
    • In the Japanese dub, Tahani is voiced by Yu Shimamura, a voice actress normally typecast into voicing princesses or lady-like characters, like Princess Zelda, Aida Surugan, etc. In this series, she voices a snobbish socialite who died in her previous life in the most humiliating way possible.
    • After the numerous jokes about Jason's beloved Jacksonville Jaguars being a horrible team, they got very close to being in Super Bowl LII, only missing out because of a very controversial call by the referee in the playoffs. The show references this in Season 3, saying it's one of several weird side effects of people from the afterlife going to Earth.
      • Which becomes even more hilarious as immediately following the episode (where the Judge declares Jacksonville "is going to make the playoffs!"), the Jags proceeded to go on an epic losing streak that once more turned them into a horrible team, culminating in their elimination from playoff contention in a crushing 21-point defeat from the Titans. The Jags ended the 2018 season 5-11. It got to the point of several websites even suggesting the show had "cursed" the team.
      • Not to mention the fact that Blake Bortles is now the QB for the LA Rams.
    • Jason's mentions of Donkey Doug go from funny to sidesplitting when you find out Doug is Jason's father.
    • Jameela Jamil is able to do a flawless American accent for her role in Ducktales 2017, indicating Eleanor may have been onto something with her suspicion that Tahani is deliberately putting on a British accent.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient:
    • Went way up after The Reveal of Chapter Thirteen. And here we thought we were watching a charming little comedy about a celestial misunderstanding. Suffice it to say we were very, very wrong.
    • Went up again during the Season Two finale. While sending the heroes "Somewhere Else" was a given, sending them back to Earth to re-live their lives in the hopes that they'll become better on their own merit, getting into the Good Place for real, was something almost no one saw coming. note 
    • All of "Tinker, Tailor, Demon, Spy". Glenn supposedly defects from the Bad Place and says Shawn is sabotaging the experiment, only to get blown up mid-interrogation while accusing Michael of actually being Vicky in disguise. Jason then figures out that the Bad Place kidnapped Janet and replaced her with an unhelpful Bad Janet, and is determined to save the robot-girl "not a robot, not a girl" he loves from the Bad Place. Even though it's a Suicide Mission and probably a trap, Michael and a liquefied Glenn accompany Jason to the Bad Place while Eleanor and Tahani stay behind to run the neighborhood.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • Deliberately invoked from the pilot to the beginning of Season 2, and bordering on the point of Deconstruction. It at first seems that a phenomenal cosmic screw-up occurred where Eleanor, a self-serving Jerkass, ends up in The Good Place, which is reserved for the most virtuous humans, and yet again when Jianyu is revealed to be a petty crook and amateur DJ named Jason Mendoza. Then it becomes an idiot plot of a different kind when it's revealed everyone is in The Bad Place, and Michael underestimated humans' capacity to change and improve each other. He built this Bad Place assuming that humans are static beings, and is grossly annoyed to find out that no matter what he does, Team Cockroach changes for the better. It forces him to grow into a Noble Demon, question why decent but flawed humans have little chance to improve their moral character, and realize that the system of morality that governs who goes to the Good Place or the Bad Place is arbitrary and outdated, with few in the celestial bureaucracy willing to make significant changes.
    • Played straight in "A Chip Driver Mystery." Although Brent's book is offensive on a number of levels, Eleanor, Michael, and Tahani seem to forget that the majority of the Good Place residents aren't real and the experiment is fairly isolated. They act as though his book will show the world a distorted picture of minorities and women, when in reality it will reach only a handful of people and will have roughly the same impact as a poorly written Wattpad fic—worthy of a private talk, maybe, but not a public confrontation that is certain to wound his fragile ego and keep him from hearing what he needs to hear. Further, Eleanor never tells Brent that his book will lose him points and keep him from getting into the Best Place, which she knows will almost certainly lead him to apologize to Simone and Tahani and cancel all his promotional events.
  • It Was His Sled: Not terribly long after the Season 1 finale came out, Eleanor's quote "This is the Bad Place!" hit Memetic Mutation and now the fact that the "Good Place" is actually the Bad Place is one of the major things known about the series.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Michael. Yes, he's a demon dedicated to making people miserable. But he's so sincere in his dedication to his idea of subtle psychological torture through the illusion of a false paradise, and the knowledge of what will happen if he fails does draw up some sympathy because of how Ted Danson is able to make him so darn likable. Woobified further in Season 2, where we see that, despite all the deceptions, he really is as awkward and self-effacing as he was pretending to be, and as everything starts crashing down around him, he becomes more and more sympathetic, including offering to help the four humans get to the real Good Place, as long as he can come too, because he doesn't want to face the wrath of Shawn.
    • Tahani is an overbearing, vain and condescending Attention Whore, but her flaws are the clear result of years of Parental Neglect, being The Unfavorite, and constantly being upstaged and humiliated by her sister. It helps that she's Rightly Self-Righteous a lot of the time, even if much of it comes from her need to be liked.
    • Eleanor, before her Character Development kicked in. Though her Freudian Excuse was only shown after that point.
    • Brent during "Help is Other People" when he goes through a Humiliation Conga and finally has a Jerkass Realization.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
    • Tahani gets shipped with Eleanor and Chidi, and sleeps with Jason in Season 2 after finding out who Jason is far sooner than previously.
    • Eleanor herself is shipped with Chidi, Tahani, Trevor, and Vicky. There's even a small following for Eleanor and Michael!
  • Les Yay:
    • Eleanor's obsession with proving Tahani has some deep, dark secret really makes her look like a Stalker with a Crush, which combines quite nicely with Tahani's European touchy-feeliness. Eleanor even says she's "kind of turned on" after complaining about how irritatingly flawless her neighbor is. Later on, Eleanor comforts a crying Tahani, who is worried about her relationship with Jianyu, in part by telling her how attractive she is. This is followed by Tahani hugging Eleanor and Eleanor commenting that "of course" Tahani is a great hugger. After they bond a bit, Eleanor constantly brings up how attractive Tahani is. Later, she states that Tahani has "legs for days" and finally makes her attraction canon, interrupting herself with "Sidenote: I might legit be into Tahani." And in "Dance Dance Resolution, at least one of Michael's attempts at his fake Good Place actually does put them together as soulmates. In "Derek," Janet offers to make Eleanor a fake boyfriend and says that based on Eleanor's last 10,000 comments, said fake boyfriend would be "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's head on Tahani's body. Eleanor immediately says that vice versa would be fine too.
    • Real Eleanor's attempt to get Eleanor to realize she's in love with Chidi gets Eleanor thinking she's hitting on her. She promptly responds that she might be up for it, as hooking up with someone with her exact same name could be a fun narcissistic thing.
    • Eleanor openly calls Chidi's girlfriend Simone hot. Later, Eleanor flirts with her and attempts to kiss her in a simulation, and Simone appears to be into it. (Again, it's a simulation, but according to Janet, it's as close to a 100% accurate one as anyone could ever make.)
    • Eleanor calling Tahani "Babe" with increasing frequency in Season 4. It's getting even more shippy...
  • Love to Hate: Much as they're dedicated to making the Soul Squad's lives (and afterlives) miserable and ensure all of humanity spends an eternity being tortured thanks to an outdated point system, the Bad Place demons are so entertainingly evil that any scene they enter is a delight. This applies to Shawn most of all, thanks to his Card-Carrying Villain and Evil Is Petty tendencies.
    Shawn: Well, I was going to try to get the humans back by going through the proper channels, but then I remembered, I'm a naughty bitch.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Fun Fact! Columbus is in The Bad Place because of all the raping, slave trade, and genocide!"
    • Using the word "fork" in place of "fuck", or "bullshirt" instead of "bullshit".
    • "This is the Bad Place!"
    • "Ya basic!"
    • Good Place lines robbed of context.
    • "Hot diggity dog!"
    • The "cactus" exchange is often paraphrased to deliver a Take That! at something. "I want to see [X]. Is that what you have [unsatisfying substitute for X]?"
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: Most Floridians who watch the show find all the jokes made at the state's expense to be hilarious. (Which is pretty par for the course — writers from the Sunshine State indulge in the Only in Florida trope more than anybody.) Similarly, a lot of fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars don't mind the constant digs at their team.
  • Misaimed Fandom: People are fond of sharing images on social media with Eleanor quotes on them, specifically quotes of hers from before she died being totally unashamed to put people down and talk about her position in life with a smug, contented expression on her face. Thing is, people are sharing these unironically, often with comments of "My life" or similar, and acting just as satisfied as Eleanor is. These people are missing the point that those quotes are designed to show just how horrible she was before she died and part of the reason she wound up in the Bad Place to begin with. Either that or they're unashamedly proud of knowingly being just as awful as her.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Trevor, despite being a demon and thus it's part of his job to torture, crosses it when he gleefully attempts to sabotage the Soul Squad's attempts to get into the Good Place because it's more "fun" than to report Michael's benevolent interference to Gen, which would have netted the same result since the system was rigged against the humans anyway.
    • Doug and Donna crossed it with their emotional abuse toward Eleanor. Even though Donna has changed after faking her death and starting a new life with a single father and his daughter, Eleanor pretty much tells Donna that she better not fork up Patricia's life with her emotional abuse or abandon her the way Donna emotionally abandoned Eleanor.
    • Likewise, Tahani's parents crossed it by pitting their two daughters against each other and fostering inferiority complexes in them both. They never get redeemed, and Kamilah takes a while to admit their parents were "completely wankers" in her words.
    • The demons in the Bad Place are Punch Clock Villains who engage in torture in pain because it's what they do. Trevor for his part has numerous Jerkass Has a Point moments, which Eleanor acknowledges, and the demons are friends with each other. Shawn then hints, and Michael confirms with horror, that the accounting system is so forked up that no human being can truly go to the Good Place due to all the technicalities that don't allow for grey area. Shawn knew this whole time that the system was flawed and gleefully enabled it. Worse, he knew the whole time that the Soul Squad would die eventually and return to him, but he decided to speed up the process to get revenge on Michael.
    • If Shawn hadn't crossed it before, he definitely crossed it when he told Michael that if the humans fail and are sent to the Bad Place, they will be tortured forever by Vicky wearing a Michael suit so they spend eternity believing he has returned to torturing them.
    • Vicky crosses it when she uses her Michael skin-suit to taunt a captive Janet and ask why Michael even cared for her.
    • Judge Gen cross it when, after the humans prove that the point system is flawed and people can improve in the afterlife, she decides to reboot earth which would erase all humans, living and dead, from existence, and when the army of Janets teleport the reboot device away and hide it in one of their voids, she coldly declares that she will marbleize each and every one of them.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • The little chime that plays whenever Janet pops in. It's even acknowledged in-universe with Janet describing it as a "pleasant bing sound".
    • The brief, cheery instrumental that plays over the title card.
  • Narm:
    • From his first moments onscreen, Brent was a fairly obvious Hate Sink. Casually racist? Check. Misogynist? Check. Running a business that damages the environment? Check. Constantly talking up his golf game, which is objectively not very strong? Check. As such, some fans felt he came across less as a character and more as a collection of traits, making his final unfinished apology to Chidi feel unearned and false.
    • Similarly, Brent commits one big, awful act in the afterlife that turns his teammates against him and causes Eleanor and Michael to doubt he can be reformed. What is this act, you ask? He writes a book that offends Simone and Tahani, and gets angry when they criticize him for it. A shitty thing to do, yes, but contrasted with Michael—an actual demon who gleefully tortured decent people for thousands of years—and his Heel–Face Turn, treating his poorly written book as a Moral Event Horizon seems a bit silly.
    • Characters' digs at Baby Boomers, non-vegetarians, white male leaders, Arizonans, and so on have struck some fans as unsubtle attempts at pandering to the Tumblr crowd.
  • Narm Charm:
    • Michael bursting into tears when he sees Team Cockroach is safe in "Leap to Faith". Silly? Maybe a little. So, so sweet? Absolutely.
    • Jason asking a series of typical Jason questions to Chidi on learning the other will sacrifice his memories of the Soul Sqaud and Eleanor, ending with, "Will you still remember pizza?" In context it's very silly and poignant because Jason is tearing up, and it's his way of expressing fear that he's going to lose his best guy-friend.
    • "Oh no, no no no. I made God cry." Hilarious line, but a mind-wiped Chidi says it to Eleanor, believing she's the architect of the neighborhood, after she attempts to torture him and make him better with the Jianyu plot.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • T'Hania, a "mirror centaur" who takes on Tahani's appearance and an Up to Eleven version of her personality.
    • Disco Janet, a rollerskating Totally Radical version of Janet who arrives with a spin to help save humanity along with her other sisters.
  • One True Threesome: Eleanor, Chidi, and Tahani are often shipped together due to moments of Ship Tease between every combination of the three as well as Eleanor being canonically attracted to both Chidi and Tahani.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Every little thing you do on Earth is being recorded with a point value, and even the smallest negative point value can be held against you in the afterlife as justification for being sent to Hell.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name:
    • Eleanor/Tahani = Elhani. Jameela Jamil says it's Teleanor.
    • Chidi/Eleanor = Cheleanor.
    • Michael/Eleanor = Hellstrop. A bit of a cheat, but still pretty clever.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Two of the members of Trevor's Bad Place crew in season 1, episode 9 are Arthie and Melrose.
  • Ship Mates:
    • Jason/Janet to any combination of Chidi/Eleanor/Tahani.
    • With Simone being introduced as a new love interest for Chidi in Season 3, the Eleanor/Tahani fans naturally accepted her with open arms, as did the Michael/Eleanor fans.
  • Signature Line: "This is the Bad Place!" Mainly for being a Wham Line to end them all.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: The earlier episodes of Season 3 while not bad per se, were seen as not as fun since taking the action out of the afterlife robbed the show of its quirkiness that made it so special and sort of aimless. However, around episode 8 "Don't Let The Good Life Pass You By" the season picks up again as the main four die (again), and Michael shifts his mission to reform the whole afterlife.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Courtesy of the episode "A Chip Driver Mystery". People of color can't be expected to excuse mediocre white men's feeble attempts to become a better person when the men in question are racists and sexists who put in the bare minimum for basic decency. Doing so is insulting to the POC in question, especially when they have accomplished a lot. Simone says as much when Eleanor asks her to try and make peace with Brent. Meanwhile, Tahani, as an accomplished writer who wrote a great book, takes offense at how racist and sexist Brent's book is, and at his refusal to realize it. It says something that Chidi, an anxiety-ridden Nice Guy who sometimes borders on being an Extreme Doormat, punches out Brent for calling Simone a "bench" and then shoving him for knocking a book into him by accident.
  • Special Effect Failure: There's something off about the green-screen effects in "Employee of the Bearimy" when Jason and Michael are on the cart to The Bad Place, or when Eleanor and Tahani are standing in front of the lake house.
  • Strangled by the Red String:
    • Invoked and deconstructed with Eleanor and Chidi in Seasons 2 and 3. It's revealed that in one reboot, they fell deeply in love and were planning to hide out for a while at Mindy's place. Michael gleefully erased their memories and claimed it wasn't real love since he meant for them to meet and bond. Eleanor in reboot 802 saw video proof of the relationship and started wrestling with the fact if she really loved Chidi or was just wishing for what they had because Chidi is never that confident. Eventually, she takes a leap and confesses, but Chidi only kisses her when it seems they'll be condemned forever to the real Bad Place. Just as she's fine with his decisiveness and her Adorakable response, their memories get erased again due to being given a second chance on Earth. Eleanor only starts falling for Chidi again when a reformed Michael shows her the same reboot that Mindy did, and after Michael convinces her that he was wrong and that Eleanor and Chidi fell in love of their own free will. When Chidi finds out, he starts understandably reasoning that he can't love her because he's not the same person he was. But he decides to give their relationship a chance in the afterlife...only to willfully surrender his memories when the Bad Place chooses his ex for the neutral experiment. It's hard to blame Eleanor for crying her heart out at the end of Season Three, wanting to know why she has to fall for him every time they meet and why love has to hurt. She can only promise to survive the experiment and hope he'll fall in love with her, the way she has.
    • Played straight between Jason and Janet at the end of Season 3. Janet didn't lose her memories of loving Jason, but Jason certainly did, and he tells Tahani that he needs time to think about the whole being married, forgetting about being married, and being killed by Janet when they find the wedding album. Come next episode, Jason tells Janet that he wants to try giving their relationship a shot again, and becomes jealous of Derek. After a lot of offscreen time in Season 4 he vows to rescue her from the Bad Place on realizing she's been kidnapped.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • While she's kinda rude with how she puts it to her boss, Eleanor has a point when she says she doesn't want to work permanently at a Google-style company because she doesn't like the atmosphere. Ideally, a person should know where they work best, and Eleanor wouldn't thrive in that sort of office because she'd be miserable.
    • Eleanor's roommate Brittany says you shouldn't forget to be pragmatic while living your life even if you're trying to do good. At first, Eleanor brushes her off and confesses to their friend Madison about the "dress bitch" incident, only for Madison kicks them out of her apartment because that really was a horrible thing. Not to mention the woman who sues Eleanor for hitting her parked car because Eleanor left an apology note with her information, and Brittany says that Eleanor should have just not bothered rather than give herself pain.
  • Strawman Political: Brent seems to be intended as a caricature of all of the worst stereotypes of his demographic (rich, right-Wing baby-boomer men). He is portrayed as being wrong on every issue, basing his opinions entirely on unexamined prejudice and privilege (leading him to doing and saying various unapologetically sexist and racist things), reacting disproportionately to criticism and behaving as though the world revolves around him and has earned it himself despite inheriting his privilege. The handling of his character has earned the ire of some fans, considering the narrative treats his missteps as far more serious than those made by his peers. Simone spends her first several days in the experiment pushing people into pools and cutting off their ponytails because she thinks none of it is real and her actions are Played for Laughs; but when Brent writes a poorly written book that happens to be casually racist and misogynist, it's treated as a borderline Moral Event Horizon that causes Michael and Eleanor to doubt he can ever be redeemed.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Considering that Chidi's huge accomplishment in Season 2 was reforming Michael permanently, one has to consider the possibility of him unwittingly doing the same with Trevor, a grade-A Jerkass demon sent to Earth to sabotage the Soul Squad. Instead, Trevor fails because the Soul Squad unites in their hatred of him, he underestimates Jason's basic decency, and Gen banishes him into the void when he annoys her too much.
    • Likewise in season 3, Michael suggests to the humans to hide out with Doug Forcett while he and Janet go to Accounting to reveal the flaws in the points system. Unfortunately, they have to change plans when more demons come into the picture. It would have been hilarious to see Chidi interact with Doug, the living representation of a "happiness pump" in Janet's words, or for Jason to mess with the stray animals.
    • Some viewers felt Brent's character presented an opportunity to explore hard-hitting questions about how racism and sexism can be unlearned, all in the show's trademark lighthearted and humorous way. Instead, he remains the Token Evil Teammate up until the last three minutes of the experiment, only sees the error of his ways when Eleanor and Michael frighten him out of his skin by telling him he's destined for the Bad Place, and fearfully offers Chidi a final unfinished apology, which to some fans felt unearned and tacked on solely for the purpose of illustrating the Aesop Michael presents to the Judge.
  • Ugly Cute: The Niednagel, an extradimensional four-eyed alien slug creature that lives in the Interdimensional Hole Of Pancakes, is quite adorable with its catlike mannerisms and apparent liking for Tahani's shoulders.
  • Unconventional Learning Experience: The show has been praised for its use of philosophy. With Chidi being an ethics professor, it's common for problems to be framed in terms of various philosophers' viewpoints, with contemporaries as well as classics; when Chidi cites Kant to say that lying is always wrong in "Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent", Eleanor counters with Jonathan Dancy's ideas of moral particularism to persuade him that lying could be justified in certain situations. The title of T. M. Scanlon's What We Owe to Each Other is even the Arc Words of Season 2.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Although it's presented in a way that deliberately makes her look selfish, when Eleanor asks Michael why she should bother being a good person if she doesn't get anything in return, the circumstances make her more empathetic than was possibly intended. By this point, her quest to be a better person has led her to leave a note for a woman whose car she hit…and this woman has decided to sue her for nonexistent whiplash. It would be one thing if she'd decided being good was pointless after suffering a minor slight, but being the target of a frivolous lawsuit has probably made Eleanor feel as though she's being punished for trying to do the right thing.
    • Save for Vicki, most of the Punch-Clock Villain demons under Michael's employ fall under this in the first three episodes of Season Two. They rightly lose faith in Michael as the humans figure out they're in the Bad Place 803 times, and Michael is quite mean to them for failing to pose as humans and not allowing compromises for them because he says their ideas will cause the humans to figure out the revelation sooner. They were doing fine in Reboot 1, until Eleanor confessed she didn't belong, and in Vicki's reboot they successfully torture Tahani with a Boring, but Practical idea of throwing a better party than she can. As Chris points out in Reboot 2, his original job was to twist people's limbs, not gaslight them, and if Michael doesn't like what he's doing then he should pick someone else. We feel more sympathy points for them when Shawn pulls them out of their new jobs to hack the Judge's system and find Michael. Even though they're doing everything he wants, he still cocoons them. Glenn in particular comes across this way as he's polite to everyone, even Shawn, no matter how they mistreat him and may have pulled a Heel–Face Turn in season 4. Michael finally admits in season 4 that all demons aren't inherently evil, it's that they think they are balancing the cosmic scale of good and evil and if they knew the system was broken they would rebel as he did.
    • The poor Bad Janets, when What Measure Is A Nonhuman comes into play. They're programmed to be an unhelpful Jerkass Evil Counterpart to our Janet, which means they're only doing their job when snarking or farting. Unlike the demons or our Janet, they aren't given free will or reboots to change. Michael callously causes one to spontaneously combust to demonstrate to Shawn why he needed to steal a Good Janet, since Bad Janets can't be helpful by default. He does have the decency to apologize to one Bad Janet before marbelizing her so that Good Janet can run his and the humans' train to the Bad Place, but even so it's a callous thing. Our Janet implies she had to marbelize a Bad Janet as well to fake her death so as to save Michael from Shawn.
    • Tahani in Season 3 where we learn she fell from grace because... she wrote a book about her monastery experiences and is milking all the attention after trying to get away from Kamilah's arrogance. The lady has spent years trying not to be compared to her little sister and finally earned that spotlight. Writing a book is not easy, let alone one that talks about your personal experiences. Plus, when Michael disguised as an investor congratulates her on the "scam", she immediately switches gears to fly to Australia and participate in Chidi's study. Then this gets stronger in Season 4 when Brent demands "complos" for his book that he writes in the afterlife, which Tahani describes as "racist, sexist poppycock".
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • While most of the big CG set pieces are deliberately cartoonish, they pull out all the stops for the robot versions of Team Cockroach where it truly does look like the actors have exposed circuitry at all their joints, worthy of Ex Machina.
    • The collapse of the fake Good Place as they leave it for good is pretty awe-worthy.
    • The IHOP (Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes) looks incredible.
  • The Woobie:
    • Poor Doug Forcett became so terrified of his vision of how the afterlife functions that he's become a complete and total Extreme Doormat who pushes himself to uncomfortable and downright painful extremes of altruism to the point Janet calls a "happiness pump": someone so dedicated to making others happy it's left him utterly miserable. Worse, according to Shawn, he'll end up in the Bad Place anyway despite his efforts because no one has gotten into The Good Place for hundreds of years, and, as made clear in earlier episodes, good deeds committed in the name of getting some kind of reward at the end don't give you points anyway.
    • Chidi. A Nice Guy and ethics professor who finds out that his "soulmate" is a former grifter who did nothing decent in life, and while he doesn't regret helping her become a better person, he does suffer numerous ethical dilemmas. It doesn't help that in life his desire to always make the right choice did more harm than good due to his indecisiveness and obliviousness to how he was inconveniencing his friends and family. Then he learns that being a good person won't matter for him, which leads to a temporary nervous breakdown and his university firing him. And then he dies again.
    • Simone, who is one of Chidi's serious girlfriends, suffers this in Season 3 off-screen. Her boyfriend seems to suffer a nervous breakdown after he started to gain some confidence about his decisions, he gets fired from his university for said "breakdown" and for his "World of Cardboard" Speech to the students, and then he breaks up with her and won't explain why. Oh, and then she dies, though she at least doesn't seem too fazed by that last bit.
    • Matt, the poor accountant stuck with the job of recording and evaluating all of mankind's Weird Sex Things, and who has been repeatedly asking his boss for permission to commit suicide due to having seen way too much. He's then transferred to keeping watch over the new experimental neighborhood, which is certainly a lot better than his last job, but he has to stay inside of an obelisk the whole time.


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