NBC’s surreal, philosophical-afterlife comedy The Good Place is known for doling out big twists and show shake-ups at the end of each season. The first season famously ended with, spoiler alert, the revelation that the main characters, Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason, played by Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil and Manny Jacinto, were actually in the Bad Place the whole time — and not the utopian Good Place.
Season two saw demon Michael, played by Ted Danson, “reboot” the characters’ afterlife scenario again and again and again. The whole crew then fled to the Bad Place and, eventually, the judge, a godlike Maya Rudolph, sent all four mortals back to Earth for a do-over. That’s right, the season two finale brought Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason back from the dead. So what twists will the end of season three bring us?
So far, the third season has seemed to take place here on Earth, among the living. And despite interference from various demons, all four main mortals wound up back together — in Australia of all places.
But Michael’s plans to put them all on the path to the Good Place go awry when they figure him out and learn about the afterlife, thus dashing their chances at ever making it into the show’s version of heaven. So the lead characters set off on various quests to save their loved ones, if they can’t save themselves.
But the most recent episode of the season seemed to kill off our four faves yet again, when Janet, the helpful all-knowing being played by D’Arcy Carden, sucked them into her void. We’ll find out what’s next when the season three finale airs on Dec. 6, but until then, here are our best guesses as to what twists the season finale will reveal.
The whole thing was planned by the judge
Assuming there will be a big reveal during the upcoming season finale, it seems increasingly likely that said twist will end up being that the entire story arc on Earth was planned by the judge, who is the closest thing to God that exists in the universe of The Good Place.
Let’s think about it, shall we — how would four mortals, a rogue demon and a Janet be able to outwit the most powerful being in the universe? How would Michael be able to sneak down to Earth without her knowing? It makes a lot more sense if you imagine that everything that’s been happening is part of the judge’s elaborate plan to teach everyone a lesson.
It feels totally plausible that this extended return to Earth was a chance for all of the humans to actually confront the things that got them sent to the Bad Place to begin with, and to make amends with their earthly loved ones. And maybe it was also a chance for Michael, who once enjoyed torturing people, to come to the realization that point-tallying and eternal damnation is perhaps not the best way to run an afterlife, and maybe come up with a vision for a better, fairer (after)world.
This whole season was another simulation
OK, technically, series creator Mike Schur has already debunked this possibility. He told Rolling Stone in an interview published in June that the main characters’ return to Earth is for real. “Normally I don’t like to just flatly state what’s going on, but here I don’t see the benefit of people experiencing ambiguity: The four of them are straight-up back on Earth, in a new timeline where they didn’t die,” Schur said.
But once you’ve introduced the possibility that everything is a simulation and nothing is real, that possibility hangs over every future season. So it’s unlikely, but still possible, that the main characters have been working through another afterlife simulation and not actually back with their real friends and family.
There’s never been a Good Place and a Bad Place
This theory isn’t necessarily incompatible with the first one, but it has a slightly larger impact. What if the big reveal of the end of the third season is that there’s never been a Good Place or a Bad Place, and the afterlife that Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, Jason and Michael are all experiencing is the only one there is, and its a long, long game to teach people (and demons) how to be better?
Throughout the third season, Michael has been inching closer and closer to the realization that the judging system that sorts people into Good and Bad categories is deeply flawed and unjust. And his recent visit with Doug Forcett, a mortal who cracked the code and and is living his life purely for the points in the afterlife, showed just how miserable it is to try and game the system for a perfect score instead of living a valuable, full life. So, either Michael’s recent skepticism about the system is a hint that it isn’t actually what Michael thinks it is, or Michael’s about to somehow give the whole thing a full overhaul — both of which would be great starting places for an upcoming season four.