Warning: Spoilers for The Good Place abound.
Out of all the praise that’s heaped onto NBC’s The Good Place, one of its most charming aspects is the parade of consistently excellent bow ties sported by Michael (Ted Danson). Maybe it’s the fact he can see in nine dimensions, but for an immortal being with a limited understanding of the human condition, the guy has absolutely impeccable taste in fashion. With the show slated to return tonight for the back-half of the second season, here’s a ranking of Michael’s best bow ties, as well as some insight they shed on his ever-evolving character.
10) Yellow & Blue Zig Zag (S1E2)
On its own, this tie could almost be considered a daring fashion statement if it was paired with the right shirt and jacket combo. However, this suit — a default outfit worn by everyone after the neighborhood experienced its first major glitch — turns the yellow and blue zig-zags into a marvel of bad fashion, straight out of the 1996 NBA Draft.
This was also the first real Easter egg that the main characters were, in fact, living in The Bad Place, since no euphoric afterlife would include a bow tie this tacky.
9) Pastel Plaid On White (S1E4)
This white-and-pastel plaid number first showed up early on in the first season while Michael asked Tahani (Jameela Jamil) with helping him plan a party. It showed up again early in season two, after his initial scheme has blown up in his face and he had to re-welcome the show’s four human characters back into The “Good” Place.
It’s a rather conventional offering, at least compared to what else he has in his closet, and seemed to signal a much more cautious approach to his nefarious plan. But at least the man got a second chance to make a first impression… then hundreds of more chances after that.
8) Bright Blue (S1E9)
Michael doesn’t often shy away from patterns in his bow tie collection, but he did so here to great effect. This bright blue number boasts a bit more versatility than some of his other selections. Worn while he’s pretending to bargain with the delegates sent from The Bad Place for Eleanor’s soul, it was pairing the bowtie with a suit dominated by darker colors which really made the ensemble pop.
7) Blue With Red Polka Dots (S1E3)
Generally speaking, polka dots are a pretty versatile pattern for a bow tie. However, if the polka dots are too big, you run the risk of treading too close to clown attire. This wasn’t the case here, with the small, subtle red dots against the midnight blue fabric. This is the kind of bow tie that could be worn to a formal or casual event.
Or, in Michael’s case, the all-consuming job of an afterlife architect.
6) Purple & Blue Paisley (S1E6)
The fractal, teardrop patterns of paisley are a way to add both color and texture to any outfit. Even here, as it hung around his neck untied while he mopes over his collection of human trinkets, there’s a certain sophistication to this light purple and blue number. It’s also nicely offset with just a hint of light brown, giving the tie an understated complexity. Bravo, you evil-laugh having monster.
5) Mauve & Teal Plaid (S2E3)
As opposed to the previous plaid design, which had wider lines against a white fabric, this one had a much more refined pattern, with not only smaller lines but a more harmonized color palate. It’s also worth noting that Michael’s butterfly knots are usually on point, and the fact it was slightly askew here showed just how weary he’d gotten by his plans getting so consistently foiled.
4) Black, Blue & Purple Floral (S2E6)
As Michael began to learn about the fundamentals of human nature, courtesy of Chidi’s (William Jackson Harper) ethics classes, he brought out one of his boldest bow ties yet. Set against a black fabric, which seemed to underscore his nature as a demon (even though he hates that term), the contrasting blue and purple floral pattern on top indicates he’d started to develop a better understanding of what personhood really is.
3) Blue Paisley On Black (S1E1)
Upon welcoming the new residents to The Good Place, they were treated to a video where Michael broke down the requirements for entry and the numerical point value assigned to their actions. For this on-screen appearance, he wore an electric blue paisley pattern against a jet-black fabric. While the tie itself really draws in your eye, it’s the matching pocket square and teal velvet suit that made the whole ensemble a radiant fashion statement onto itself.
2) Sunset Feather Pattern (S1E11)
There’s not much to be said about this particular bow tie other than it’s simply amazing. A feather-like pattern that seems to burst forth from the center knot, with colors resembling the desert sky just before sundown. Fitting then that Michael would wear it when he learned of Jason’s (Manny Jacinto) marriage to Janet (D’Arcy Carden), which showed that his well-orchestrated plan was breaking down in much grander ways than he could’ve possibly anticipated.
1) The Peacock Plume (S1E1)
After he was first put in charge as the architect of his own neighborhood, (and his daring new experiment), Michael was eager to present himself as a kind and welcoming leader. And there was no better way to do that than with this bow tie patterned after the plume of a peacock. With its rich dark blues and greens and perfectly symmetrical framing, this was a bow tie that screamed confidence, competence, and charisma. While these characteristics tended to wain as his plan slowly falls apart, it was the perfect choice to wear for his first round of introductions.
After all, Michael’s “good place” was the ultimate peacock strut: A brilliant, distracting showpiece.