Only Two Cast Members Knew About The Good Place Season 1's Twist Ending

"The Good Place" is one of the smartest, most original comedies ever to grace our TV screens. Created by Michael Schur, the series aired on NBC from 2016 to 2020. While only four seasons, the show ended on Schur's terms, and he wrapped it up exactly the way he intended. The ending was universally beloved, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss this show.

"The Good Place" follows Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) as she finds herself in a seemingly perfect afterlife, or the Good Place. There's just one problem: She's not the Eleanor Shellstrop who's supposed to be there. In fact, but all accounts, Eleanor probably should've wound up someplace else altogether. How did she find herself in this utopia, and more importantly, how can she make sure she stays? Thankfully, Eleanor's got her soulmate — what would heaven be without one of those — Chidi Anagonye (William Jackson Harper) to give her some ethics lessons. They are joined by another pair, Tahani Al-Jamil (Jameela Jamil) and Jason Mendoza (Manny Jacinto), who are also trying to navigate the Good Place, which is run by the "architect" of this afterlife, Michael (Ted Danson).

"The Good Place" was rightfully praised for its clever writing and stellar performances, but one of the most impressive aspects of the brilliant series is the way it managed to reinvent itself every single season. Nowhere was this more apparent than after the twist ending of season 1. Interestingly, only two cast members knew ahead of time that the shocking development would occur. Which actors did Schur share the surprising secret with?

Holy motherforking shirtballs, what a twist!

If you haven't seen "The Good Place," please stop reading now because it would be soul-crushing to have this particular plot point spoiled for you. Season 1 ended with Eleanor realizing there was a very important reason why the group's time in the Good Place hadn't been especially good: They were actually in the Bad Place all along. Their entire experience had been a hellish experiment engineered by Michael, who was clearly no angel. This completely pulled the rug out from the audience, but also somehow made perfect sense considering everything leading up to that moment. It served as a major paradigm shift for the series.

The only two cast members Michael Schur had told about the season 1 twist were Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. Everyone else found out when it was time to film the finale. Schur told Entertainment Weekly:

"Their performances were going to be exactly what they should be without knowing it, so it didn't seem like there was any actual benefit to telling them outside of, like, friendship. I sort of rolled the dice on the idea that they wouldn't hate me if I didn't tell them until later ... In a show about ethics and morality, I did stop and check in with myself every once in a while, like, 'What is the ethics of this?' and I decided it wasn't really an ethical issue. It was a creative issue and that made me feel better about the decision."


It's understandable that Michael Schur would've wanted to hide this mind-blowing bit of information from the rest of the cast. Obviously the irony of keeping almost everyone in the dark on a show that deals with this subject matter wasn't lost on its creator. Kristen Bell even recorded the reactions of her costars, which also included D'Arcy Carden, who plays Janet, the Good Place's omniscient AI and guide. Bell was hoping it would be her winning submission to "America's Funniest Home Videos." She told EW:

"It was as good as you think it is because they were really stunned. They were having trouble ... It was very paralyzing — they were all like 'Huh?' because it was an alternate reality to what they had been living in. They had been living in something that was completely untrue, just like their characters. I wanted to see everyone's unique ability to digest this betrayal."

As for Ted Danson's feelings on the subject, he explained:

"It was just so satisfying — you could see them process everything and go, 'Wait, is that possible?' and see them play back in their heads everything we had shot and go, 'Oh my goodness. It is possible.' I think it really disturbed them for a minute. It wasn't howling with laughter, I think they felt somewhat similar to the characters, slightly betrayed. [Laughs] They would look at me slightly differently from then on."

According to what both actors told Rolling Stone, Bell was far better at keeping the secret than Danson — though he did manage to hide the truth from the cast and crew. It was a wild twist no one watching the show saw coming. Okay fine, maybe there's a Doug Forcett out there somewhere who guessed correctly, but I was completely blindsided and so was the cast. Perhaps even funnier is that Schur told Bell how the entire series was going to end ahead of time, and she completely forgot!