Open Channel: What Was The Best Arc of The Good Place?

Eleanor and Chidi.
Eleanor and Chidi.
Image: NBC

I can’t believe that The Good Place is ending. After four stunning seasons, Michael Schur’s grand sitcom experiment is coming to an end next week, with an extra-long finale that will see our heroes find one conclusion or another.

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It’s been a personal show for me, one I’ve watched faithfully with my wife and discussed with my friends. It’s brought me a lot of joy and has felt like, more than most things I’ve watched, an actual presence in my world, enriching it, making it a bit bigger. These characters, this world, and the fundamental question of what we owe one another is going to stick with me.

But it’s hard to deny that some moments of the show have been better than others. I like to think of it in terms of arcs—the many small groups of episodes that work through one moment or problem in the series, whether it’s being in the first Neighborhood in Season One or all of the other moments that came after. As fast and changeable as The Good Place was, some of these arcs lasted for several episodes, while some lasted for only one or two. But which was best?

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I’d love to hear your thoughts. For my money, the show is at its best when it’s at its most desperate. So in Season Two and the early parts of Season Three, when the Cockroach Gang really seems like they might fail, that eternal existential horror might really be waiting for them and they’re always just one ugly step ahead—that’s the best of it, for me. The jokes and sweet moments land harder when the show’s in that space, and it’s the feeling I’ll remember most fondly.

Well, that feeling, and this:

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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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DISCUSSION

I love...pretty much everything about The Good Place, but the first thing that comes to mind for me as far as favorite arc is Michael’s journey throughout season 2. The ways in which his exposure to the humans makes him better, how they keep trying to help him be better even when he semi-actively resists it - it’s so funny and human and pays off tremendously in the moment where he “solves” the trolley problem (after torturing Chidi with it earlier in the season). Plus, the moments when his evolution takes him off the board as a leader - e.g. during his existential crisis - force the others, especially Eleanor, to step up. Similarly, you see how his relationship with Janet becomes this singular, trusting partnership without either of them really noticing until “the reason is friends.” It’s just such a rewarding character arc, and Ted Danson is absolutely perfect in it.