The Good Place is ending after Season 4, and while the decision could've been influenced by low ratings, all signs so far indicate this shortened run was the main plan all along. Creator Michael Schur recently re-iterated (despite past evidence that suggested otherwise) that it has been his goal for a while to end the Kristen Bell-led afterlife comedy all along, and that he came to the decision to pull out o The Good Place much sooner than Season 3's end. In Schur's words:
Yeah, we finished Season 1 and got picked up, and we’d already worked a little on Season 2 during Season 1. 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, which was pretty early in Season 2’s discussion, then it became even more evident. 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.
As Michael Schur laid it out above, part of the magic of The Good Place is how often it has managed to upend its carefully concocted plot in order to throw its characters into an entirely new scenario. Now, going into Season 4, Schur and the rest of the writing team seem to have decided that there aren't any more big-enough twists at their disposal that might prevent audiences from getting bored or complaining that the series has gotten stale.
The smartest television writers know it's always best to go out on top, especially in an era where DVD sales, syndication and streaming can continue raking in revenue long after series finales. Stale late-game seasons and poorly received finales tend to tarnish an audience's views of acclaimed shows, so perhaps the plan that Michael Schur revealed to TVLine is for the best.
With that being said, there even seemed to be times where Michael Schur doubted his own endgame musings, as he revealed certain narrative ideas arose during the writing process that really tempted him into pushing for The Good Place to continue into Season 5. Schur explained how the NBC series typically operated on short multi-episodic arcs, and how as Season 4 came together, there were concepts that left them wondering if there truly wasn't more to explore.
It was things like that, where we would take the scenarios we were exploring and say, 'Ooh, maybe there’s more life there.' And we could extend those a little longer. But the show has always operated on this M.O. that you blow everything up before it gets boring. 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! Every time that we thought we should maybe extend something, 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.
So with that, The Good Place will end in Season 4 with 14 episodes that include a one-hour finale. Right now, the plot will revolve around Eleanor recreating the conditions of the Good Place with new humans, while Michael panics under the pressure of potentially letting down his friends and damning them for all eternity. Chidi also had his memory erased to prevent corrupting the experiment, which means he once again has no recollection of Eleanor, or their romance.
Will that be the arc that carries The Good Place to the finish line, or will Michael Schur and crew flip the script yet again not too far into the season? We'll find out this fall when NBC brings the series back on Thursdays at 9:00 p.m. ET.