‘The Good Place’ Creator Michael Schur Explains Why the Show Is Ending

A smart philosophy developed in TV production more than 50 years ago when many classic sitcoms decided to end before they became stale. One of the first to do this was The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1966, despite fans wanting it to continue. We’ve seen this process endure for decades, right up to NBC’s The Good Place.

Yes, TGP is one of those brilliant sitcom ideas we all wish could last forever. TV writers still know what their limitations are. It’s never a good idea to stay too long at the sitcom fair, because many examples exist where they have.

Producer Michael Schur has explained why TGP is ending after only four seasons. With the rich writing, however, it’ll likely be watched in reruns forever.

Michael Schur
Michael Schur | Evans Vestal Ward/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank

The argument that The Good Place’ couldn’t have sustained past five seasons

Even yours truly admits that when The Good Place began, it took me a year to warm up to the idea. At first glance, it seemed overly niche in a satirical vein. It also took a little bit to warm up to the characters since it’s one of the rare sitcom examples where no one is completely likable.

As with other shows with similar characters, most of us have grown to like all the caricatures, no matter if some or most are despicable. After getting to know their histories and what their intentions are, it’s become one of the most astute comedy character studies on mainstream TV. Plus, how many sitcoms can you say will ever use deep philosophical ideas again?

According to the producers of the show, they’ve been consulting with philosophy experts all along to tackle the complicated life/reality ideas the show explored in a comedic way. The trolley experiment alone is worth your careful viewing time.

With complex comedic writing like this, there was also potential to get into a bit of trouble. For a writing team not fully educated in philosophy, you can see why they maybe didn’t want to continue on such a strenuous creative path.

Mike Schur says he had the show mapped out to four seasons anyway

Even with the above thought in mind about ending the show, it appears they knew it could only be stretched so far. The creator of TGP, Mike Schur, has been explaining to numerous media outlets that he planned the show from the beginning to end at 50 episodes.

During a different era of TV, 50 episodes might have looked puny. Nowadays, we’re used to having quality jammed into a smaller episode order. At approximately 14 episodes per season, it was another primer on how to create television for today’s audiences.

Cable already ran with this concept a while ago, and the mainstream networks have only recently caught up. What still might perplex some TGP fans is what kind of money the show will make in reruns since five years is the normal rule in syndication. 

Is the argument still there the show should have continued just one more year?

‘The Good Place’ is already popular on Netflix

NBC has already capitalized on the popularity of TGP by allowing the first two seasons to stream on Netflix. At one time, a show had to go five years to qualify for syndication, but those rules have been reinvented in the streaming universe.

We may never see TGP in syndication as a result. When you think about it, streaming is the best place to watch the entire series, because it’s completely bingeable. First-time watchers wouldn’t have the patience to watch one episode in a cable rerun and have to wait until the next night to see the next episode.

Thanks to its hilarious and ingenious philosophical setups, a lot of people will be watching The Good Place several decades from now. Perhaps the only thing not keeping it relevant would be if we somehow acquire definitive proof of what happens when everyone dies.

Regardless, watch it anyway for the writing.