The Good Place is over, and we now know how at least a group of Hollywood television writers envision the afterlife should play out for the rest of us humans. But in another universe, the show could have ended very differently. Vulture had a sitdown with The Good Place showrunner Mike Schur which covered a number of different topics, including how the writers put together the pieces necessary to stick the landing after four very philosophical seasons.
One fun thing that (spoilers incoming) came up was that Schur and the staff had known for a while the line they wanted the show to end with — Michael saying “keep it sleazy,” something he always wanted to say since he heard Eleanor say it in the show’s first season. But getting the rest of the details worked out didn’t happen until much later in the show’s timeline.
The writers always knew that the main cast of the show was going to experience the true afterlife for a while and then move on. But what happened to Michael, however, was something they debated and actually changed a bit. As Schur explained, the “keep it sleazy” moment that ended the show was something they reworked a number of times.
In the original conception, it was slightly different. I think he was buying a cup of coffee and the barista misspelled his name on the coffee cup, and that made him really happy. The barista misinterpreted that as making fun of him, there was a brief argument, and then the barista apologized and Michael said, “Don’t worry about it. Mistakes happen. It’s part of being human.” And then on his way out, he said, “Hey, take it sleazy,” and the barista laughed.
Schur said when writing the ending the staff had known for “at least a year” what Michael was going to say, but the context he got to say it in changed quite a bit. It was certainly an ending that resonated with fans, though, and Schur described it as a “ridiculous and silly and lighthearted” way to finish things off. There’s a lot of good stuff in the interview, but picturing the writer’s room riffing on ways to have Ted Danson say “keep it sleazy” is certainly a highlight.