The Definitive 'Good Place' Dictionary, Annotated By The Writers Room
All good things, the saying goes, must come to an end — and if you're a fan of NBC's The Good Place, you're likely already mourning the fact that Sept. 26 marks the beginning of the show's fourth and final season. (And if you've got an overactive mind like Chidi, you're also probably wondering: Do "good" things really have to come to an end? Isn't the point of life to spread goodness around and make it last as long as possible? What does it really mean to be a good person, and will Season 4 give us an answer? What does it even mean for a television show to be "good"? To which we say, Hold on, sweet chili baby.)
In the three years since Mike Schur's existential sitcom premiered on NBC, it's delivered one of the most genuinely shocking season-finale twists in recent TV history, made stars (and tasteful thirst objects) out of its talented and diverse cast, and given a network television audience a practical, humorous, and above all entertaining lesson in moral philosophy and what we owe to each other as human beings. All of that is buttressed by The Good Place's richly drawn, immersive physical world, where pastel colors and punny frozen yogurt shops distract from the unsettling concept that the laws of the afterlife could be governed by a broken points system that deduces humans to simple sums of all their positive and negative actions on Earth.
But this impeccable world-building would be far less impactful were it not for the show's pithy, smart, and unabashedly silly writing. Of course, are there are enough one-liners and asides to support countless rewatches and a prolific Twitter account. But the language of The Good Place has reached its own cult status, coining terms like "holy forking shirtballs," and, most importantly for any non-football fans, re-contextualizing the use of the proper noun "Bortles" as an exclamation.
As such, it's only fitting that we bid goodbye to The Good Place with an official dictionary of some of the show's key terms, with definitions written by The Good Place writers room and creator Mike Schur. Much like their TV creation, which emphasizes the benefit of the group over that of the individual, The Good Place writers preferred to take credit as a monolith for the below definitions and examples — it's what any decent person would do, after all.
So, without further ado, welcome: everything is fine.
An immortal being who designs neighborhoods in the afterlife. Michael, an immortal being, is an architect. When Michael has a nervous breakdown at the end of Season 3, Eleanor Shellstrop must pretend to be an architect. Eleanor Shellstrop is not an immortal being, she is an Arizona Trashbag.
Arizona Trashbag (n.)
A person from Arizona who exhibits peak Arizona qualities, such as Eleanor Shellstrop planning to spend her birthday sitting alone in her house watching wedding fails on YouTube, drinking margaritas through a Twizzler straw, until she passes out on top of her vibrator. Or, moments later, when she drops a bottle of Lonely Gal Margarita Mix For One, then gets smashed by a row of shopping carts into a mobile billboard truck advertising an erectile dysfunction pill named "Engorgulate."
Bad Janet (n.)
Janets are foundational mainframes that contain roughly all knowledge in the universe, and can conjure up any object capable of existing. Bad Janets work in The Bad Place assisting the "demons" who torture humans, but they mostly use their unlimited knowledge and nearly-inconceivable powers to craft sick burns and produce farts.
Bad Place, The (n.)
The realm in the afterlife where humans are sent to be tortured for eternity if they don't have enough "points" when they die. For example, a lead Bad Place architect, Shawn, may torture William Shakespeare by reciting the entire plot of the Entourage movie, and torture Emily Dickinson by forcing her to listen to Joe Rogan's podcast. Humans sent to The Bad Place should not expect their torture to be cleverly tailored to their life; most humans will be poked with hot sticks, forced to endure Butthole Spiders and Bees With Teeth, or twisted in half for eternity.
Bortles (n., exclamation)
1. A quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, beloved by at least one person — Jason Mendoza — who against all logic and reason believes him to be the best QB in NFL history.
2. An announcement that something good is happening soon, often as a result of a successful physical feat.
Example: "Bortles!" (As yelled by Jason Mendoza before he throws a Molotov cocktail to blow up a jet ski.)
1. A tube of flour that often contains beans, meat, cheese and rice. On Earth, occasionally seasoned with hot sauce. In the afterlife, occasionally seasoned with "the concept of envy," which afterlife beings agree has "a little kick to it."
2. After one twist too many in their lives and afterlives, Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani briefly wondered if the The Judge Of All Things In The Universe might be a burrito. This was quickly debunked and made fun of by the actual Judge of All Things In The Universe.
chili baby (n.)
A naive person who is about to be told a truth about the universe that they may have difficulty accepting.
Example: "Here's the thing, my little chili babies... The true meaning of life, the actual ethical system that you should all follow is nihilism. The world is empty. There is no point to anything, and you're just gonna die. So do whatever. And now I'm gonna eat my marshmallow-candy chili in silence, and you all can jump up your own butts." — Chidi Anagonye, during a moment in his life when he had recently learned about his original life, his original death, his second life, and that upon experiencing a second death he would be tortured for eternity no matter what he did, and as a result was just kinda "over it."
The act of Shawn snapping his fingers and magically forming a shell of "firm goo" around anyone he does not like or wants to be rid of. This wet, gooey prison lasts as long as Shawn wants it to. It's gooey in there.
Janet made Derek in Season 2 as a rebound boyfriend when she couldn't be in a relationship with Jason, who in Season 1 had been the "love" of her "life." This proved to be a bad idea because Janet had never made a being with consciousness before, and Derek ended up being a goofball with a broken brain, wind chimes for a penis, but also limitless Janet-like powers — a dangerous combination for someone who tends to replace random words with his own name because that's how dumb he is. When we last saw Derek, he had been living in The Medium Place (see below) with Mindy St. Claire, and rebooted (see below) enough times that he was now suave and debonair with a slightly less broken brain and a nearly-complete penis.
He combined his powers with Janet to help her create over 300 "Janet Babies", who are the additional background residents in the new experimental neighborhood designed to be the ultimate test of whether humans are better than the points system declares. It is unclear at this time if Janet and Derek working together will create beings that can function essentially like people, and whether those beings will have genitals that look like musical decorative objects traditionally hung from porches.
An announcement of shock or surprise, often positive.
Example: "Oh, dip! Donkey Doug!"
Translation: "I am excited to see Donkey Doug because I have not seen Donkey Doug in a long time!"
Donkey Doug (n.)
The name of Jason Mendoza's father. Despite the heroes of the series having learned many dark truths about the universe — including that no human being has gotten into the actual Good Place in over 500 years —the knowledge that a grown man calls his father Donkey Doug remains the saddest thing they have ever learned.
Fake Eleanor (n.)
In Season 1, Eleanor Shellstrop knew she didn't belong in The Good Place because she hadn't done any of the good deeds on Earth for which Michael was giving her credit. Later, Bad Place demons delivered a second "Eleanor Shellstrop," announcing that this Eleanor was the woman who had actually done all of those good deeds. The neighborhood residents started calling this new person "Real Eleanor" and the other one was called "Fake Eleanor."
By the end of Season 1, however, we learned the truth: that "Real Eleanor" was actually a demon named Vicky, and her presence was a form of torture for Eleanor, who hated anyone who thought they were better than her, and also torture for the horrifically indecisive Chidi, because suddenly it felt like this new person should have been his soulmate.
So to sum up: Fake Eleanor was Real Eleanor and Real Eleanor was a fake Eleanor and a fake person entirely and in fact a really a demon named Vicky. Does that help?
An F-bomb in The Good Place, as adjusted by what's known as The Good Place Language Filter, which does not allow actual curse words.
See also: shirt, bench, ash-hole, "soak my deck", etc.
frozen yogurt (n.)
A frozen treat featured heavily in Michael's original Good Place neighborhood. Michael explains he prefers frozen yogurt to ice cream because "There's something so human about taking something great and ruining it a little so you can have more of it." In Michael's neighborhood, the frozen yogurt flavors range from "vanilla" to "full cellphone battery" to "no flavor" and literally every conceivable flavor in between.
Good Place, The (n.)
A realm in the afterlife where humans would conceivably go if they got enough "points" on Earth. In Season 3, Michael learned that no human has gotten into the Good Place in over 500 years. Not much is known about The Good Place itself, however during a brief excursion to a Good Place Correspondence Center, Eleanor and company learned that the air smells like your favorite smell, such as "absolute moral truth" or "warm pretzels".
(Note: Janet explained, using her essentially infinite knowledge, that these two things actual have very similar smells.)
The Good Place appears to be run by The Committee, who are among the most well-meaning beings in the universe. As a result, they spend much of their time giving compliments, but when a problem arises, they can be counted on... to form a sub-committee designed to investigate itself for conflicts of interest for a thousand years before taking any action, ever.
holy forking shirtballs (exclamation)
1. A series of curse words as translated by The Good Place Language filter.
2. Eleanor's reaction upon realizing that what she thought was The Good Place was secretly The Bad Place, or upon learning that very briefly she had sneaked into the actual Good Place's Correspondence Center. These should be considered fairly normal human reactions to these types of discoveries.
Jeremy Bearimy (n.)
How time works in the afterlife. Things in the afterlife don't happen "while" things are happening on Earth, because while Earth-time moves in a straight line — one thing happens, then the next, then the next — time in the afterlife moves in a "Jeremy Bearimy." In the afterlife, time doubles back and loops around and ends up looking something like the name "Jeremy Bearimy" in cursive English, which is why immortal beings call it that.
One may be tempted to wonder how events can happen "before" the ones that happened "before," but this is just the way it works, and you should rest assured this is the easiest way to describe it. If you're curious about the dot over the I, there is a simple explanation for that: it is Tuesdays, and also July, and sometimes it's never; occasionally that moment on the Bearimy timeline is the time-moment when nothing never occurs. We feel confident that clears everything up.
One of the top 10 swamp cities in northeastern Florida, where Jason Mendoza was born, and the home of: Randy Macho Man Savage Non-International Airport, Stupid Nick's Wing Dump, monster truck taxis, Ugly Nick's Meat Trench, and much "more."
Janets are foundational mainframes that contain roughly all knowledge in the universe, and can conjure up any object capable of existing. Good Janets work in The Good Place, but the show mainly follows one Janet who Michael stole from the Janet Warehouse in the Neutral Zone (not to be confused with The Medium Place, see below), and tricked into believing she was in a Good Place neighborhood when in truth she was unwittingly helping Michael torture Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani.
We have learned over the course of the series that there are many types of Janets: Good Janets, Bad Janets, Neutral Janets (who are blank faced and humorless), and there may be more. Please note: Janets are not girls and not robots.
moral philosophy professors (n.)
Professional smart people who spend their days, nights, and weekends exploring and detailing the quandaries of life and the ways existence can be improved for one and all — but who mostly end up tying themselves into endless knots and making everyone around them miserable every time they open their mouths.
Example: "Chidi, why did you have to tell me that self-driving cars may end up coldly deciding who lives and dies before an impending accident, while also putting thousands upon thousands of hard-working drivers out of jobs?! See, this is why everybody hates moral philosophy professors!"
Medium Place, The (n.)
A realm that is neither in The Good Place nor The Bad Place, primarily housing the one person in existence for whom it has been successfully argued was neither all the way good nor all the way bad: Mindy St. Claire. For decades, Mindy was the sole inhabitant of The Medium Place, living out a "medium" existence that included beige carpets and warm beer, and medium movies like Cannonball Run 2 and, presumably, Another Stakeout.
At the end of Season 3, The Medium Place became the home for the new neighborhood, where the Judge will see if Michael, Eleanor, Jason, Tahani, and Janet (plus a rebooted Chidi, see below) can improve four new humans, in an effort to prove that all humans may be better than the points system labels them.
reboot (n.), rebooting (v.)
1. A term for when Michael snaps his fingers and a person, several people, or an entire neighborhood are re-set to a certain previous point, with various specifics altered. In Season 2, Michael rebooted his original neighborhood over 800 times in an attempt to get Eleanor and company to torture each other. He erased everyone's memories, changed restaurants, swapped soulmates, added awfulness (for example, a jazz band), but no matter how much was tweaked in each iteration, someone would always figure out that what was supposed to be The Good Place was actually The Bad Place. At the end of Season 3, Chidi was essentially rebooted when his memory was wiped so he could participate in the new experimental neighborhood, a reboot designed to leave him with no memory of the fact that he loves Eleanor.
2. In Hollywood, rebooting refers to concepts that are brought back from the past with new creative elements intended for commercial gain. This may result in entertainment-style projects such as, but not limited to, a gritty and realistic version of the origin story of a heavyset animated cat called Garfield Begins: The Lasagna Chronicles, Part One: Dark Monday.
Example: "Did you hear they're rebooting The Good Place, but the Ted Danson part is going to be played by Hayden Panettiere? That made me feel so old."
Soul Squad, The (n.)
Group nickname for Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, Tahani, Michael and Janet when, after learning they themselves were completely doomed to be tortured for eternity, the gang forced themselves to stop wallowing in misery and despair (and canned chili), and instead decided to use whatever time they had left in the universe to help whoever they could. Battling back the pain and problems inherent in existence in order to lift up other people is arguably one of the most challenging aspects of the human experience. And yet, as Eleanor Shellstrop said when the Soul Squad was created: it's good to try.