‘The Good Place’ Creator Says the ‘Parks and Recreation’ Series Finale Taught Him 1 Essential Thing About Ending a Show

The NBC comedy series The Good Place is coming to an end. As fans look forward to seeing how the universe ends for Eleanor, Chidi, Michael, Tahani, Jason, and Janet, creator and showrunner Michael Schur has commented on how he and the writers are ending the show.

Schur, who created Parks and Recreation and wrote for The Office and Saturday Night Live, recently revealed how he feels about the season 4 ending to The Good Place. Schur also admitted he learned one central truth from working on the series finale for Parks and Recreation.

D'Arcy Carden as Janet, Kristen Bell as Eleanor, William Jackson Harper as Chidi, Ted Danson as Michael, Manny Jacinto as Jason, and Jameela Jamil as Tahani on The Good Place
D’Arcy Carden as Janet, Kristen Bell as Eleanor, William Jackson Harper as Chidi, Ted Danson as Michael, Manny Jacinto as Jason, and Jameela Jamil as Tahani on The Good Place | Colleen Hayes/NBC

‘The Good Place’ creator says this is what he learned about series finales from ‘Parks and Recreation’

Schur was recently a guest on the Daily Beast podcast The Last Laugh, hosted by Matt Wilstein.

The host remarked that Schur has worked on two NBC comedies, The Office and Parks and Recreation, that had many seasons, a ton of fans, and a lot of pressure on their final episode. Wilstein asked Schur whether his time on those programs informed how he approached The Good Place finale.

Schur clarified that while he didn’t directly work on The Office finale, he did learn a lot from Parks and Rec. The show ran for seven seasons on NBC.

Michael Schur
‘The Good Place’ creator Michael Schur | Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

“Every show is different,” Schur said. “Every show has its own sort of, like, set of themes and ideas.”

But he did learn one essential element from working on the Parks and Recreation finale.

“I think the most important I took from that I was: ‘Man, this is hard, and we really gotta think about it,'” Schur said.

The final season of ‘Parks and Recreation’ showed us the characters in the future

Wilstein and Schur went on to discuss the Parks and Rec finale and how it informed The Good Place’s ending. The final Parks episodes featured a time jump. In one particular episode, “One Last Ride: Part 1,” we got a peak into how each of the characters turned out.

However, as Schur discussed on The Last Laugh, some things were not entirely clear. For instance, in a late scene in the episode, Secret Service-type men were following Ben and Leslie, but we never learned why.

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Wilstein also pointed out that we see each character’s future storyline only when Leslie Knope touches them in the episode. This might mean the little looks at their lives could just be what Leslie was imagining for them — not what actually happens.

“We didn’t really explicitly say one or the other,” Schur confirmed. “Some of the stuff that happens is a little ambiguous.” He explained this was on purpose.

Retta, Michael Schur, Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, and Aziz Ansari of Parks and Recreation
Retta, Michael Schur, Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, and Aziz Ansari of Parks and Recreation| JB Lacroix/WireImage

“We left some stuff deliberately ambiguous,” he said.

This begs the question: Will the series finale of The Good Place be ambiguous, too? The show about the afterlife deals with life’s most powerful questions, but that means they’re very hard to answer. So it’s entirely likely The Good Place will end on a bit of a cliffhanger.

‘The Good Place’: Michael Schur hints at what’s in store for the final episode of season 4

“We put a lot of time into thinking about The Good Place finale,” Schur said on the podcast. “It took a lot of hard work.”

It was all the more difficult because of the abstract, deep issues that The Good Place deals with. In contrast to Parks and Recreation, it’s a whole different ball game.

“The themes of this show are very intense,” Schur said. “It’s not like, ‘I wonder whether Leslie Knope becomes the governor.’” The Good Place, he explained, is “after a bigger fish.” However, Schur is happy with the result.

“Endings are hard, emotionally,” Schur told Wilstein. But regarding The Good Place series finale, he said, “I feel good.”

“I think we got it right,” Schur continued. “I hope we did. We’ll find out!”

Michael Schur, D'Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto, and William Jackson Harper pose with the Peabody Award for The Good Place.
Michael Schur, D’Arcy Carden, Manny Jacinto, and William Jackson Harper pose with the Peabody Award for The Good Place. | Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Peabody

Regardless, Schur is grateful for the experience he had on The Good Place.

“We were, in a very rare way, able to execute the show from beginning to end exactly the way we wanted to,” the showrunner said. “So any complaints are entirely my fault.”