I know it forking sucks, but the current season of The Good Place, which premiered at the end of September on NBC, is also the last. It seemed like a sudden decision, given the fact that the show has been universally acclaimed and has pulled in respectable ratings for a network comedy. Usually, when a comedy has a fan base as sizable and loyal as this, a network would want to keep it going as long as possible, not throw in the towel with just over 50 episodes.
So, then why is The Good Place ending?
Turns out, it wasn't NBC but creator Mike Schur who decided when it was time to bring the story to an end. When the show's renewal was announced in June, Schur released a statement explaining it would be the last, and what led to that decision. "After The Good Place was picked up for Season 2, the writing staff and I began to map out, as best we could, the trajectory of the show,' he wrote.
"Given the ideas we wanted to explore, and the pace at which we wanted to present those ideas, I began to feel like four seasons – just over 50 episodes – was the right lifespan."
The choice to keep the series about the afterlife short but sweet was not always easy, but ultimately the creative brains behind the show determined they wouldn't "want to treat water just because the water is so warm and pleasant." Rather than stretch the storyline out to make room for more seasons, they decided to stay the course and wrap things up with Season 4.
As shocked and saddened as fans were, the writing should have been on the wall when "Pandemonium" aired in January. The Season 3 finale really sets up the beginning of the end. The Soul Squad — Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason, along with Michael and Janet — have literally been to hell and back, and even got to be four Oreos from heaven for a while.
Along the way, they discovered it had been centuries since anyone got into The Good Place, then figured out why, and managed to convince The Judge to reboot Michael's Good Place simulation. The aim is to prove their hypothesis — that life on Earth has grown too complicated for people to accrue enough points to get into the Good Place — and ultimately convince The Judge that they (and countless others) don't belong in the Bad Place.
Unfortunately, The Bad Place got to have a say in the matter, too, namely in who the new subjects would be. When one of them turns out to be Chidi's old flame, Simone, it becomes clear the only way to avoid him jeopardizing the experiment is to wipe Chidi's memory of everything before he died — including falling in love with Eleanor.
These are pretty clear set-ups for a final act in a story arc, and Mike Schur expressed gratitude to NBC and Universal TV for trusting him both to make The Good Place in the first place, and "for letting us end it on our own schedule." It probably helped that TV syndication deals aren't quite as married to the 100-episode benchmark that was common in a pre-streaming world. Shorter shows can still find a second life on TV or on a digital platform regardless of length.
Fans should take solace in the knowledge that this quirky little show won't ever jump the shark like so many shows that overstayed their welcome.
For now, at least, The Good Place airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.