Why The Good Place is ending after season 4

The Good Place has been, quite literally, a good place on network television ever since its 2016 premiere. For a half hour a week, this Emmy-nominated comedy has given us the chance to visit a whimsical afterlife, where swear words are replaced with terms like "fork" and "shirt," and a helpful Janet (D'Arcy Carden) is always available to provide assistance.

From creator Mike Schur, this critically-acclaimed series begins with Kristen Bell's Eleanor waking up in the so-called Good Place following her untimely death. The twist? She wasn't necessarily good during her time on Earth and thinks architect Michael (Ted Danson) has made a huge mistake. With assigned soulmate Chidi (William Jackson Harper) teaching her how to be a better person in order to earn her place, neighbors Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and Jason (Manny Jacinto) test Eleanor's patience and attempted good will. 

Lots of turns and philosophy lessons occur over the next three seasons, which take the show to surprising and new, uh, places. With the final season of The Good Place set to premiere on Sept. 26, 2019 on NBC, this article will contain spoilers from previous seasons. But before you tune in to say goodbye and find out how "Team Cockroach" fares on its ongoing quest to get into the actual Good Place, let's talk about why The Good Place is ending after season four.

The Good Place's creator decided to end things after season four

With credits like The OfficeParks and Recreation, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine to his name, Mike Schur is basically sitcom royalty. So, when he was the one who decided to end the The Good Place following a four-season run, there was pretty much no reason to protest its cancellation in the Twittersphere and hope another network would pick the show up B99 stylez. Welcome to the Bad Place, all, because Schur is not going to change his mind.

While announcing the news on Twitter in June 2019, the creator stated in part, "The upcoming fourth season will be our last. I will be forever grateful to NBC and Universal TV for letting us make The Good Place, and for letting us end it on our own schedule." While discussing the matter at a For Your Consideration panel for potential Emmy voters, Schur said of the final season: "It's a bullet train. It doesn't slow down for anything" (via Variety).

We wouldn't want The Good Place to overstay its welcome, but at least when Lost ended, it was six seasons long with over 100 hour-long episodes. But when the boss says it's over, it's over. 

Even the stars of The Good Place agreed

Even though it'd ultimately cost them their jobs, the stars of The Good Place publicly supported Mike Schur's decision to end the show. While attending that same Emmy FYC panel in June 2019, Cheers alum Ted Danson gave Schur "much respect" for pulling the plug, according to Variety. He explained, "I know we do fart jokes but this is a serious show. Any padding or over-telling a really great story would be a shame."

If we were in the Good Place, we would've asked Janet to help us deal with the news. However, actress D'Arcy Carden herself processed it like an actual human. "My reaction was, 'Cool, ok, yeah.' And 24 hours later it was, 'I think I'm depressed!'" she revealed, but added, "I have always been a fan of shows that go out on their own terms." 

For her part, Kristen Bell later told fans at San Diego Comic-Con, "[Schur] waited for the story to tell him when it ended. He didn't want anyone to get fatigued about this journey" (via ComicBook.com). Similarly, in an interview with Collider, William Jackson Harper said, "It's definitely bittersweet, but I'm happy that we're ending on our own terms rather than just continuing in zombie mode until no one likes the show anymore."

The Good Place writers mapped out a season 4 ending early on

While the announcement to end The Good Place after season four felt like sudden news, Mike Schur actually had it planned out for a long time. "After The Good Place was picked up for season two, the writing staff and I began to map out, as best we could, the trajectory of the show," he explained on Twitter. "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 second season picks up right after Eleanor and the gang realize they're actually in the Bad Place as a part of actual-demon Michael's new torturous experiment. He spends much of this season swiping their minds and re-trying the same exercise, but the humans always figure it out. It was this season's conclusion that clued Schur in on the show's end point.

"When we figured out that the big move at the end of Season 2 was that they were going to be sent back to Earth ... then it became even more evident," he told TVLine in June 2019. "It was like, 'Alright, if that's Season 2, and Season 3 starts on Earth ... and that suggests what Season 4 will be ...' It just became clear that that was the end."

Schur and co. can't reinvent The Good Place forever

Every season of The Good Place has been different. It starts out as a comedy about the afterlife, but quickly moves on to various storylines proposing the idea that rather than simply being good or bad, humans are capable of learning, improving, and making better decisions. While speaking with TVLine, Mike Schur discussed how this purposeful style of storytelling, used to try and create a better outcome for the characters, led to the series' natural season four ending.

"The show has always operated on this M.O. that you blow everything up before it gets boring," he explained. "The original premise of Eleanor hiding in the Good Place, we blew that up in the seventh episode of the first season. The entire premise of the show was suddenly gone!" Schur continued, "We came back to that as the guiding principle, as the sort of North Star for the way we break stories. And it always led us to determine that it was better to cut something off before it runs out of juice. That always kept us on this pace to end everything after Season 4."

We suppose if any two seasons were alike, then it really wouldn't be The Good Place anymore anyway.

The Good Place will never have a bad season

There's no denying that some shows simply last far too long. While The X-Files appeared to run out of stories around the time David Duchovny temporarily left during its original run, How I Met Your Mother delayed meeting the titular mother for so long that fans famously got angry over that controversial series finale. Basically, by ending The Good Place before the writers run out of ideas, Mike Schur and co. guaranteed it would go out on top.

"The show just moves too fast and at a certain point, there aren't that many more moves we can make that are interesting," Schur told The Hollywood Reporter in June 2019. "And we'd be repeating ourselves and we didn't want to run in place." However, that's not to say he never considered keeping the show going. But ultimately, Schur stopped himself from turning The Good Place into, well, The Bad Place

"At times over the past few years we've been tempted to go beyond four seasons, but mostly because making this show is a rare, creatively fulfilling joy," Schur's initial Twitter statement read in part. "And at the end of the day, we don't want to tread water just because the water is so warm and pleasant."

Fans of The Good Place deserve to see a 'beautiful end'

Filming the final episodes of The Good Place had to have been bittersweet for its beloved cast, but Mike Schur's finale creation ultimately softened the blow. "[We'll] give the fans the ending they deserve," Jameela Jamil said at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019 (via Digital Spy). "It's a really dignified and beautiful end to this season. I think it was done at the right time in the right way."

Meanwhile, Kristen Bell teased how the end of The Good Place would stick to the types of philosophical questions the show has always asked. "'Why is philosophy important?' 'How are we supposed to share earth?'" she said at the event, according to ComicBook.com. "They were important enough to him that he felt like this journey deserved to have a little bit of an end, and he wrote something that I think is so beautiful and powerful."

Basically, with Schur at the helm, The Good Place's ending is in good hands. "I would say on the spectrum of endings from The Sopranos to Breaking Bad, it tends more toward the Breaking Bad type," Schur said at Comic-Con, per Cinema Blend, confirming the finale would be definitive rather than ambiguous or confusing. "You will have a pretty clear idea of what happened. With almost every character, I would say."

We'll get an extra hour of Good Place goodness in season four

While speaking with TVLine in June 2019, Mike Schur revealed that The Good Place's final and fourth season would not only be 14 episodes long instead of its typical 13, but that the series finale would be a full hour long. With commercials, that means roughly 42 extra minutes of The Good Place goodness to go around. 

Okay, we admit that maybe clinging to an extra interrupted hour of the comedy series isn't a whole lot for fans to hold onto, but at least we can be rest assured that this final episode will use its additional screen time wisely. "We're conceiving of it as an hour-long episode," Schur told the media outlet. "It is a full, series-ending, wrap-up kind of a thing. So it will have one gigantic story that will serve as the end of the series for everybody." In our opinion, a big, one-hour-long, grand finale is rarely a bad thing.

The Good Place finale will boast the ultimate guest star

It's no secret The Good Place has seen some incredible guest stars: Maya Rudolph as the Judge, Adam Scott as the Bad Place's own Trevor, Michael McKean as afterlife predictor Doug Forcett, and really, need we say more? As for the season four finale, Jameela Jamil revealed it will feature such a huge cameo that the show would simply never be able to top whomever it might be if they were to do a fifth season.

"Every season, another one of my all-time heroes comes on our show and we end this show with the ultimate mic drop of a guest star," Jamil said at San Diego Comic-Con, according to Digital Spy. "So you are welcome. I felt so lucky. I can't believe this job. The guest stars are un-forking-believable."

Some other things fans can look forward to in this final season? Kristen Bell will make her directorial debut"Having a director who was decisive was my favorite thing," the actress-turned-director said at the show's Comic-Con panel (via The Hollywood Reporter). "I had so much fun directing all of you. I already feel like I'm bossy around you guys, but I had fun wearing the actual hat, where instead of ignoring me, you had to listen."

NBC supported ending The Good Place after season four

While most networks would want their hit shows to run as long as possible, NBC actually supported Mike Schur's call to wrap up The Good Place in four short seasons. In June 2019, the network's Co-Presidents of Scripted Programming, Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, told Variety"Since day one, The Good Place has been a seminal show for us and one that hits all the NBC touch points — incredibly smart, funny, inventive and emotional. We know the audience will love what Mike Schur and his writers have in store for the final season."

Perhaps it helped that Schur also gave NBC the likes of The Office and Parks and Recreation, but not every show has to run for a decade to make money. "The white whale for every studio and network is The Big Bang Theory and a show that goes for 12 years and 300 episodes," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's also not the only way to make money anymore." With newer monetizing streaming options through the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and NBC.com, Schur explained, "They were bummed because they like the show, but also I didn't get any pushback at all. They were completely creatively supportive and understood 100 percent."

The Good Place actors have kept super busy

It sounds like The Good Place cast would have continued making the show as long as Mike Schur wanted to, but as soon as he told them he was going to end it, they booked new jobs. So, it luckily won't be long until we see these actors in action once again.

At the time of this writing, the fourth season of Veronica Mars , starring Kristen Bell, has just aired on Hulu. While gearing up to reprise the role Anna in Frozen II in November 2019, the actress will also co-star in the movie Queenpins alongside Saturday Night Live's Leslie Jones. For his part, Ted Danson will stick with NBC, having signed on to star as the Mayor of Los Angeles in an upcoming and as-of-yet untitled show from 30 Rock's Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.

As for the supporting cast, Manny Jacinto has nabbed the role of a pilot in Top Gun: Maverick, which is set to hit theaters in July 2020, while Midsommar's William Jackson Harper will next appear on the big screen in the Todd Haynes drama Dry Run. While lending her voice to Ducktales, Jameela Jamil has already filmed her part in the comedy How to Build a Girl and is attached to the animated series Mira, Royal Detective. As for D'Arcy Carden, the Barry star is also sure to be in high demand after The Good Place ends.

Mike Schur and his post-Good Place plans

As the world prepares to say goodbye to The Good Place ahead of its season four finale, one potential upside in the matter is the chance to say hello to whatever show Mike Schur creates next. Having scored a multi-million dollar five-year deal to continue working with NBC in March 2019, this TV vet has been given plenty of time to come up with his next big comedy hit. In the meantime, however, he plans on using his showbiz clout to help other creators get their own shows made.

"There are a bunch of projects I'm either exec producing or co-creating/shepherding in various stage of development," Schur told The Hollywood Reporter in June 2019. "What interests me the most is there's a bunch of people that I've worked with at various shows who are now champing at the bit to have their own shows and to be captains of their own ships." He continued, "It's very exciting to me to think about trying to help them. Either by co-creating or exec producing or advising, because there are a lot of voices that are worth hearing and being on TV. So, my focus is helping other people right now."

Talk about a very Good Place way to give back.