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What’s the Worst Thing About the Bad Place?

As ‘The Good Place’ comes to an end, here is a taxonomy of demons, butthole spiders, Kars4Kids jingles, and penis flatteners

NBC/Ringer illustration

Welcome! Everything is terrible. Because we’re talking about the Bad Place, you fat dinks. One of the best things about The Good Place as a television show is, perhaps counterintuitively, the Bad Place, largely because the details we get about it are often gloriously specific and funny. Sometimes they’re just silly, and sometimes they seem perfectly calibrated in their awfulness to how horrible humans can be.

As The Good Place comes to an end, it’s worth taking stock of all we learned about the Bad Place in four seasons and one web series. The Bad Place contains a whole lot of bad stuff, ranging from physically painful to terribly mundane, from incredibly gross to mentally/spiritually trying. Looking at it all, I can’t help but wonder … what’s the worst thing about the Bad Place? To attempt to answer this question, it feels right to employ what is probably a demon’s preferred form of internet content: the ranked listicle.

A few parameters that I’ve arbitrarily set: (1) Everything that happens (all torture) during the episodes in which Eleanor, Chidi, Jason, and Tahani think they’re in the Good Place but are actually in the Bad Place counts as one “thing” about the Bad Place, which is that it was masquerading as the Good Place; (2) In considering what was worse, the demons themselves or the plethora of tortures they inflicted, I factored in that most of the demons at least end up on board with the new Good Place evaluation plan (according to the episodes that have aired as of this writing) which means that maybe demons can change for the better. Michael did; (3) The Bad Place’s modifications to Mindy’s Medium Place don’t count, because they exist in the Medium Place; (4) Humans who are in the Bad Place don’t get specific entries on this list because, as discovered in Season 3, all humans for the past 500 or so years have landed in the Bad Place; (5) Fears are subjective, so there are bound to be qualms with this ranking.

So … what’s the worst thing about the Bad Place? Here’s everything, ranked from least-worst to worst-worst. In the spirit of the Bad Place: [insert Bad Janet fart here].


113. The threat of watching extremely cute red panda videos: This is how Shawn threatens his demon employees. Doesn’t sound so bad to me.

112. Employee of the Bearimy hall of photos: History is important.

111. The Eternal Shriek: Retirement for demons involves flaming ladles down the throat, for one; seems like just desserts for all the torture.

110. Shawn’s hand buzzer for handshakes

109. Shawn’s prank call capabilities

108. All Bad Place trains are delayed by three hours, every day

107. Playing “Right Here Waiting” as the “deeply terrible” music to inspire the demon hackers: I don’t totally hate this song. Am I a Bad Place demon?

106. The train to the Bad Place: It gets one degree hotter every time you think about how hot it is.

105. Delayed tweet reading

104. Stack of endless New Yorker issues: To paraphrase Michael, you know you’re never going to read them.

103. Ice-cold yoga: The point of this class may be pulling “so many muscles,” but it seems to be for demons only—not human torture.

102. Evil Zumba class: Ditto above.

101. Teeth flatteners (yet to be invented, just an idea)

100. Bees with penises (yet to be invented, just an idea)

99. Jacksonville Jaguars games are constantly playing: Is this real or just part of Michael’s Jason roast? We may never know.

98. “I was living in what I assume was Eleanor’s worst nightmare: Every day was basically one endless baby shower for a woman I didn’t know, but also somehow I had to organize it and if I didn’t remember everyone’s name I got a very strong electric shock. And then at night it was pretty classic torture: flying piranhas, lava monsters, college improv. And there was always jazz music playing.” This is Vicky, as “Real Eleanor,” lying about the torture she faced in the Bad Place, but some of the stuff she references is real.

97. Food that turns to spiders in your mouth: This was Vicky as “Real Eleanor” again, so who knows if this is real, but it’s horrifying to imagine.

96. Beer pong played with Jason’s testicles: Offered as a suggestion, but is probably also real.

95. Shawn’s plan to choke Michael for eternity: Shawn can do better than this.

94. Stuffing a globe up one’s butt: Specifically, Christopher Columbus’s butt.

93. Shawn’s goo cocoon

92. Hangovers: The demons like them.

91. The old Bad Place rallying cry of, “Dead eyes, eat hearts, can’t lose!” What would Coach Taylor think?

90. Goose turds: Cigars for demons.

89. The box of Dunkin’ Spiders that Todd brings to a meeting

88. Humans pulling out each other’s teeth: Apparently, it didn’t work very well because humans are hesitant to torture each other.

87. Bad Janet: Bad Janet may be annoying, rude, a terrible DJ, and largely unhelpful, but she really comes through in the end after reading Michael and Good Janet’s human manifesto. She’s still rude while switching sides, but she switched when it mattered.

86. That demon who offers to bring back a dump from the bathroom for Tahani

85. All the unnamed demons who populate the Bad Place and participate in Michael’s original experiment and Shawn’s schemes

84. Vicky: In the end, Vicky just wanted to find her actorly purpose in (after)life.

83. Glenn: Glenn, a.k.a. “Snakes Pour Forth From His Anus,” turned away from reinflating flattened penises (to then be reflattened) to try to warn the humans about Shawn’s plan—he just had the details slightly wrong.

82. Todd: The lava monster who actually seemed kind of OK (can’t blame the guy if his human suit was itchy).

81. Lance: The maybe-fire-squid?

80. Rufus: Shawn’s bodyguard.

79. Phil: It seems like Phil was going far in the Performative Wokeness Department.

78. Trevor’s crew of party demons

77. Chris: Chris isn’t the sharpest demon in the demon box (but all those “trips to the gym” are paying off for his skin suit).

76. Gayle: She’s just looking for someone to split a baby with … to eat.

75. Bambadjan: In the (meant to be complimentary) words of Shawn: “such an unbelievable dingus.”

74. Val: In the (meant to be complimentary) words of Shawn: “Who’s a bigger skid mark than Val?”

73. Chet: The sack-tapping demon in the Toxic Masculinity Department, played by Dax Shepard.

72. Ads for triple-stabby pitchforks

71. Mirrors in toilets

70. Magnet jail for Good Janet

69. The command to “Axe up”: Featuring a new Axe scent: Transformers.

68. The Museum of Human Misery (specifically the Hall of Low-Grade Crappiness)

67. Shawn’s illegal door to Earth

66. Bad Janet’s farts: The smell lasts 10 million years.

65. The Performative Wokeness Department

64. “Describing the plot to the Entourage movie”: This is torture specifically engineered for William Shakespeare.

63. Joe Rogan’s podcast: Shawn made Emily Dickinson listen to it.

62. How philosophers get tortured in the Bad Place: They go to school naked every day, then take a test in a class they’ve never been to, and then they get smashed with hammers.

61. The Children’s Dance Recital Department

60. Holiday Weekend Ikea Department

59. Welcome farts

58. Four-headed flying bears

57. Chainsaw bears

56. The phases of demon growth: Larva, slug monster, spooky little girl, teenage boy, giant ball of tongues, social media CEO, demon.

55. Lava monsters: I mean, they pour lava down human’s throats.

54. Acid snakes: Vicky’s true demon form.

53. Fire squids: Michael’s true demon form.

52. Ten-headed dog spider(s)

51. Pirates of the Caribbean 6: The Haunted Crow’s Nest or Something, Who Gives a Crap?: Now playing everywhere forever.

50. The comedy roast: Invented by the Bad Place.

49. Bad Place karaoke: Singer’s choice: a Mussolini speech, a Mel Gibson rant, or the Nixon tapes.

48. Being locked in an unmarked room for eternity

47. Bad Janet’s Void: Includes: a Pirates of the Caribbean 12 billboard, a monster truck, music that gets louder when you say “music off,” trash, tire, and dumpster fires, beer pong, a cannon, toilets, half-empty pizza boxes, the messed up pony Chidi drew during magic Pictionary, a Porta Potty, and a rude computer.

46. A branding iron shaped like Mike Tyson’s face tattoo to use on people’s butts

45. Blood fountains: Are they for drinking? Making wishes? Either way, not great.

44. Poking sticks

43. Poking

42. Tearing

41. Slicing

40. The Toxic Masculinity Department

39. Snake pit

38. Acid pit

37. Butthole flies: Best attracted with oozing pus.

36. Nostril wasps

35. Mouth fleas

34. Nine hot dog torture departments: Including “making people into” and “stuffing people with.”

33. The Twisting Department: In the words of Chris, “People came in, and I twisted them until they snapped in half, and I moved on to the next one.”

32. The Disembowelment Department

31. The Spastic Dentistry Department

30. Turning humans inside out: Step 1: reach through throat. Step 2: grab butt from inside. Step 3: profit?

29. The Partial Decapitation Department

28. Turning humans into soup

27. A volcano full of scorpions

26. Bees with teeth: The inventor’s picture is in the Bad Place Hall of Fame.

25. “Your brains will be removed, studied, and batted about a stadium like beach balls, your arms will be peeled like bananas—that part’s just for fun—and then you will be tortured for, you know, ever.”

24. Scorpion diapers

23. “Literally, they will boil us.”

22. Squiggly eyeball corkscrews

21. Butthole spiders: I shudder to think.

20. Impaling

19. DemonCon: “100 straight days of seminars, lectures, and other crap you’ll hate.” This is where all torture innovation is born.

18. Pulling out fingernails

17. The endless screams of the perpetually tortured

16. The Kars4Kids jingle: The official song of the Bad Place. It’s stuck in your head already, isn’t it?

15. The food offerings in the actual Bad Place, even though the demons don’t technically need to eat: Soul food from Maine; bagels from Arkansas; egg salad from a hospital vending machine in Azerbaijan; Hawaiian pizza; a baby; gunk from a Sonicare; expired, way-too-hot New England clam chowder; shoe sludge; dandruff; a can of mixed teeth; sun-dried mayo; burrito full of hair; and seven-layer dip (barf, garbage, glass, condom confit, repeat). It’s impossible not to gag.

14. Burning people with fire: A classic hell move.

13. Penis flatteners

12. Hot spike pits with lava and bees and lightning that tears off human flesh

11. Busting humans open like a piñata: “The goo that comes out doesn’t taste as good as candy,” says Michael.

10. Shawn: Shawn is rude, sexist, in charge, and he loves cheating and psyching Michael out. He comes around to the new afterlife plan in the end, but who knows if change will last for someone so evil?

9. Trevor: Michael says, “Trevor is a diabolical, sadistic agent of evil. He might just be the single most dangerous creature in the universe.” I say Trevor SUCKS.

8. Michael suit/personalized skin suits to torture humans with: At DemonCon, Shawn calls the personalized skin suit the dawn of a new era in torture. It is extra cruel for the demons to torture a human while wearing a skin suit that looks like a loved one or nemesis.

7. “Rip a cat in half, it’s a party, Vicky, come on!”

6. The puppy cannon

5. All the rampant sexism and sexual harassment training: In the Bad Place, this is training on how to sexually harass, not how NOT to.

4. Endless memory erasure

3. “The Good Place” neighborhood 12358W, Michael’s original 15 million point torture plan: The Season 1 reveal that the four humans had been in the Bad Place masquerading as the Good Place all along was a great and cruel twist. This line item includes all the torture the core four faced during this first experiment: Chidi’s forever stomachache, Eleanor’s clown art, Jason having to stay quiet and his diarrhea from all the Froyo, Tahani thinking her point total was low, all the incidental torturing the humans inflicted on each other, and … basically everything that happened in Season 1 goes here.

2. All of the other Fake Good Place reboots and everything within them: This includes all the torture the humans faced in the 801 reboots after that first Fake Good Place, such as Eleanor’s pooping lizard, Tahani’s mean centaur, Tahania, Chidi being trapped in a purple space bubble, Jason’s silent monk soulmate, and more. This is worse because it went on for 300 years, give or take. That’s 800-plus memory reboots and countless torture that we never even saw.

1. That all of the bad things about the Bad Place literally last for eternity: A constant refrain throughout the show’s run is that the Bad Place’s inhabitants will be tortured for eternity. Even if the afterlife system is changing now, the worst thing about the Bad Place as it was is undeniably that all the terrible things within it were never-ending, forever. That’s way scarier than butthole spiders.

Jessica MacLeish is a pop culture writer and freelance book editor based in Brooklyn (but also on the World Wide Web, tweeting sporadically @jessmacleish).