The Good Place is one of the best shows on television. It's funny and thought-provoking in equal measure. There are few shows on television who are equally concerned with inspiring philosophical debate and making audiences cackle over food puns. Throughout the show's run, it's also been one of the best at sneaking hidden jokes and references into its episodes. On this show, it's a safe bet to assume everything means something.
There are sight gags, bits of dialogue, and even the show's credits. These references could be to obscure figures in the history of philosophy, or to singer Lenny Kravitz. The Good Place is great at mixing its points of reference so that it pulls from all corners of the pop culture sphere and because of that, sometimes the refs go right above our heads!
Jason's dance crew seemed like a great way to get him out of his life of crime. His group's name, Dance Dance Resolution, is itself a reference to the classic video game of the same name. Because it's The Good Place, so that isn't the only reference hidden in the crew. Their yellow and black jumpsuits are actually a reference to Bruce Lee's jumpsuit in "Game of Death."
This is a great example of the show choosing to reference something many fans might miss. Not every reference has to be to something obvious. For the fans that caught it, it becomes all the more meaningful.
This one is super specific, but it's one of many great good puns scattered throughout The Good Place. All of the restaurants in the various versions of the afterlife had great names. Back on earth, the show's writers had to be a little more careful about where they placed those references.
They couldn't resist the pun with Chidi's favorite university coffee cart, which is called We Crumb From a Land Down Under. That neatly references "We Come From a Land Down Under" by Men at Work.
Tahani's biggest sin has always been her vanity. She has a habit of name-dropping celebrities that she's friendly with, which she does throughout the show's first three seasons. This joke reaches its climax when we get a look at Tahani's phone on earth and see that it is filled with celebrities.
Among them are The Rock, Taylor Swift and Tom Brady. Tahani knows pretty much everyone. She even has a private number for U2 guitar player The Edge that even the band's lead singer Bono doesn't know. Part of Tahani's struggle is to let go of these famous connections to lead a more meaningful life.
If The Good Place is to be believed, Australians don't have particularly high opinions of Americans. That's clear if you look at the American-themed restaurant that the group eats in the show's third season.
In that restaurant, the heads on Mt. Rushmore are David Hasselhoff, Judge Judy, Hulk Hogan, and Paris Hilton. At the restaurant's Montana table, where the group sits, there are references to Dana Carvey's SNL character the Church Lady and the unabomber.
The show has a history of putting whacky names in its credits for eagle-eyed viewers. It does this pretty much every week, so keep your eyes peeled. In "Jeremy Bearimy," the fifth episode of the third season, all of the names in the credits are altered versions of Australian celebrities. There's Gel Mibson, Nicole Mankid, Waomi Natts, and several others
The show's move to Australia for the beginning of its third season was just the latest in a long line of reboots. This time, they decided they'd highlight celebrities who came out of the country. That's just one example of how the show continuously plays with its credits.
Mike Schur is not just the creator of The Good Place. He's also behind many of the classic comedies that have debuted over the past decade. One of those shows, Parks and Recreation, is referenced constantly on The Good Place.
In Donkey Doug's apartment, there are signs for the Department of Recreation and Parks and another that says "DANGER: OPEN PIT." There's also an ad for Jean-Ralphio's champagne in a magazine that Eleanor is reading. These references are so prevalent that some fans think The Good Place and Parks and Rec take place in the same universe. If that's the case, Leslie's definitely getting into the good place.
In all of Pixar's filmography, only one film features major action in Australia. Since so much of the third season of The Good Place also takes place there, the show decided to pay tribute to Finding Nemo. In "The Ballad of Donkey Doug," a cafe named French Pressing Nemo is prominently featured. In "Jeremy Bearimy," the episode before that, Eleanor gets drunk at a bar called Drinking Nemo.
Both of these references apparently exist because, in the show's version of Australia, Australians are incredibly proud of that film.
In "The Worst Possible Use of Free Will," Michael and Eleanor visit an Arizona library. It's a great opportunity for the show to poke fun at Arizona, and what its libraries might contain. One book that Michael picks is called Roses are Red...and So Is My Neck by Jeff Foxworthy.
Foxworthy is a famous low-brow comedian who is most famous for his "You might be a redneck if..." jokes. The back of the book also contains the phrase, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's Daytona 500?" Clearly, this is a fake romance advice book from Foxworthy and one that's well worth looking into.
This is a blink or you'll miss it moment, but also a great joke. In "The Worst Possible Use of Free Will" during season three, we get a brief overview of all of Eleanor's flaws, courtesy of Michael. If you look closely, you'll see that Neil Degrasse Tyson sees Eleanor as an enemy.
What's even more curious is the fact that this hatred is one-sided. Tyson hates Eleanor, but she doesn't hate him. What could Eleanor have possibly done to bring that outcome about? This is an answer we'll probably never get, but it's also one of the many reasons that The Good Place rules.
The Good Place is a great TV comedy, but the shows it's most indebted to weren't always so funny. A chief example of this is Lost, the mysterious drama about survivors of a plane crash. In the show's season two finale, when the Judge sends all of the humans back to earth, she's essentially pulling a reverse Lost.
On Lost, many of the show's main characters are sent to the afterlife at the end of season five. Lost's depiction of that afterlife clearly made its mark on The Good Place. It's unlikely that the show would exist in its current form if Lost hadn't paved the way.
If we're honest, most shows and movies reference The Wizard of Oz in some way. In the season two episode "Best Self," though, the show really outdid itself.
In this episode, Bad Janet is trapped inside a glass ball, much in the same way that Glinda travels. This episode also featured a hot air balloon like the one that carried the wizard. Jason also tells a long story that turns out to been a dream. You know what else is a dream? The Wizard of Oz. With this many references, many fans began to wonder whether the show was trying to signal something. If they were, it's still unclear what it was.
It's a throwaway line, but in the season three episode titled, "The Ballad of Donkey Doug," Eleanor mentions that there's a Lenny Kravitz concert she'd really like to be in the front row for. Although Eleanor isn't specific about which concert, it's safe to assume she's referring to the one where Kravitz's pants split open, exposing his penis to the crowd. This was also when many of us learned that Lenny Kravitz had a pierced penis.
This is classic Eleanor, and it makes sense that she'd to be at this concert. A front row seat would give her a pretty nice view.
Good Place creator Mike Schur owes quite a bit to Damon Lindelof. Damon's shows Lost and The Leftovers were a big influence for Mike in the development of The Good Place. Lost references are scattered throughout the show, but there's also a reference to The Leftovers on the show's very first episode.
If you look carefully, you'll see that Doug Forcett was born on October 14. Doug is the man who most accurately guessed how the afterlife works. His birthday also happens to be the day that 2% of the world's population disappeared on The Leftovers. That's the kind of subtle reference that only a show like The Good Place can pull off.
Ted Danson has had a long, successful career on television. His work as Michael is consistently brilliant, and he deserves all the praise he gets there. Before he was Michael, though, he was Sam Malone on Cheers, an incredibly successful 1980s sitcom. Sam was a bartender and a pretty good one at that.
So, at the end of season two of The Good Place when Michael shows up behind the bar to help Eleanor, the show was actually calling back to his work on the iconic '80s series. Sam helped plenty of people behind the bar, and as Michael, Danson got to fill that role again.