All good things must come to an end. That seems to be the generally bittersweet consensus on the upcoming fourth and final season of Mike Schur's existential comedy The Good Place, which returns to NBC on Thursday. Since its debut in 2016, the series, about a group of humans, a demon, and an all-knowing artificial intelligence trying to prove that everyone is capable of great and positive change, has been celebrated for its signature twists and ability to deliver sincere explorations of humanity's deepest questions regarding what makes someone a good person, all without losing its comedic edge.
It's been a treat watching this expertly executed balancing act play out, providing a source of optimistic comfort to viewers at a time of increasing social and political unrest. And as the show prepares to say goodbye, this is precisely what star Jameela Jamil, who plays former socialite Tahani al Jamil, told TV Guide she hopes the show is most well remembered for. "That we made people more empathic and we made people laugh during the hardest and most divisive political era in a long time," Jamil said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in August.
For William Jackson Harper, who plays the paralyzingly indecisive Chidi Anagonye, his wish for the show's legacy is that it doesn't just help viewers get through the present, but that The Good Place continues to inspire them even long after its aired its series finale. "I do hope that in the moment that we're connecting with people, we are opening up some kind of impulse to be better and to put good into the world in some way," Harper explained in the video above. "And if anyone watches this later on, many years down the line, I hope that it maintains that kernel of the mission."
"Yeah, that it starts a conversation, an impulse," added Kristen Bell, who plays the Arizona dirtbag and series protagonist Eleanor Shellstrop. "The Emmy nominations are fine and great and wonderful, and it's so cool to be acknowledged by your peers. But the reality of the satisfaction comes from [the fact that] we're trying to connect with people and we're trying to start this conversation about why it's important to try."
This sentiment was echoed by Ted Danson, who plays the Neighborhood's architect Michael. "I hope each new batch of 12-year-olds coming up every five years will re-find on Netflix or someplace The Good Place because that's what, I think for most of us, the pride of doing something that's funny and meaningful [lies in]," Danson said, noting how The Good Place is a show multiple generations of a family can enjoy together.
Bell isn't just content with that, though, and has her sights set on more of a lofty (but very desirable) goal for the show's ultimate legacy. "I personally hope that when the aliens find us they see the show and go, 'That is the show that started fixing the world. That was the catalyst. That's why everybody got so happy and stopped hurting each other,'" said Bell.
The Good Place's final season begins on Thursday at 9/8c on NBC.