The Good Place’s 5 Best Guest Stars (& 5 Celebrities The Show Squandered)


When a show takes place in the afterlife, anything goes. On NBC’s hit comedy The Good Place, there was always room for guest stars, recurring friends, and celebrity cameos. In some cases, these celebrities took on well-developed characters who popped in guest spots over the years. In some cases, they played themselves.

Either way, they helped to populate The Good Place in a way that could even make the afterlife feel authentic. Not many celebrities were squandered on The Good Place, but those who were balanced out the ones that excelled across all four seasons of Michael Schur’s brilliant masterpiece.

10 Best: Adam Scott

Adam Scott really does just make everything better. A reliable player who is always game to have fun (even in another Schur sitcom, as Ben Wyatt), Scott made the most of his time on The Good Place.

The idea of “chewing scenery” could definitely apply directly to Scott’s tun as Trevor, a horrible, irredeemable member of the Bad Place. He’s even seen hurtling through the universe in the series finale, proving that the show’s creative team adored Scott, too.

9 Squandered: Stephen Merchant

On paper, it seemed like Stephen Merchant’s role of Neil, the afterlife accounting manager, would be a perfect match for him. After all, Merchant got his mainstream start with a connection to menial office work.

Neil does help set the Soul Squad in motion towards unpacking the larger goal of the series, when he reveals that five centuries have passed since someone was admitted to the Good Place. But ultimately, Merchant exists as a plot device, even when he can do so much more.

8 Best: Maya Rudolph

The Good Place Judge Jen Maya Rudolph

Maya Rudolph seems intrinsically connected to The Good Place, thanks to her guest star role as Judge Gen, the all-knowing, all-seeing power that mediates the Good Place and the Bad Place. However, she doesn’t turn up until nearly halfway through the series.

Judge Gen was influential for the series, even if she occasionally occupied an antagonistic capacity. Yet, what makes her one of the best is the way that Rudolph enunciates every syllable of her dialogue with unforeseen deliveries that illustrate comic brilliance.

7 Squandered: Paul Scheer

The Good Place

When the real Good Place is introduced on the series, a committee of indecisive celestial beings are shown as the ones leading the charge. Leading this group was Paul Scheer, who portrayed the character of Chuck.

Don’t misconstrue anything; Chuck had his fair share of funny moments. But this was Paul Scheer. For the most part, he’s relegated to the background and mumbled ADR jokes. He’s a welcoming presence, but he could’ve been so much more.

6 Best: Michael McKean

The Good Place - Doug Forcett

At the outset of The Good Place, Noah Garfinkel plays Doug Forcett in a portrait in Michael’s office. (Forcett is the man who comes closest to solving the afterlife system when he is a mere mortal on Earth.)

When visiting the aging Doug later in the series, it’s the great Michael McKean who brings him to life. McKean’s turn was not necessarily instrumental for any significant plot developments, but he helped center the thematic core of the show with the question of moral dessert. McKean is always an MVP when he turns up for a guest spot.

5 Squandered: Nicole Byer

The first glimpse of the real Good Place occurs when the Soul Squad stumbles into the mail room. It would take some time for them to earn their keep there in a long-term capacity, but at first Nicole Byer appears as a worker in the mail room.

She’s definitely having a lot of fun in the role, showing almost absurd positivity, even with her knowing cautiousness about the Soul Squad’s presence in the Good Place. However, Byer was squandered because she could have made more appearances than she did. She should have been one of the great recurring figures!

4 Best: Timothy Olyphant

Timothy Olyphant’s cameo, on the other hand, is an example of a celebrity turn that never needed to be recurring. He was a perfect one-episode surprise star and the joke didn’t stretch on too long. It was just right.

Olyphant appears as himself when Janet conjures him as a way to appease Judge Gen’s affinity for the peak television era. Olyphant is clearly delighting in the role; every line he delivers is pure comedy gold.

3 Squandered: Jackie Tohn

Similar to Nicole Byer, Jackie Tohn is an example of a squandered guest star because she was not given as much to do as she should have been. The show only had so much time for its characters to interact, but Tohn definitely could’ve been given more space.

Her turn as a member of the gang of sycophants from the Bad Place is super fun and she thrives in the rudeness that GLOW did not always allow her to flex. Maybe if Tohn had hit it big a little later, The Good Place would have carved out a bigger niche for her than Alexis.

2 Best: Tiya Sircar

Tiya Sircar was the best guest star on The Good Place and it’s not close. Marc Evan Jackson’s Shawn is too close to a series regular to count for the list, so the next best thing is Tiya Sircar, who delivers turns as Fake Eleanor (in the original experiment) and as Vicky (the demon in later seasons).

Sircar has an uncanny ability to make even the most seemingly mundane lines come across as quietly, profoundly funny. Her subsequent drive to become a better thespian makes for one of the series’ best recurring jokes.

1 Squandered: Lisa Kudrow

This might seem like blasphemy, but Lisa Kudrow was assuredly squandered on The Good Place. Yes, each season only had thirteen or so episodes, but it seems slightly misguided to limit Kudrow’s turn as Hypatia to just one installment.

After all, Hypatia is a huge figure in the series’ eventual endgame, elucidating how the series needed to solve the afterlife’s core problem. Even just a second episode with Hypatia that more gradually led to her crumbling mind would have been appreciated. Instead, Kudrow’s appearance almost seems rushed, especially when compared to the next episode, the perfect finale that takes its time across all arcs.

NEXT: The Simpsons’ 5 Best Guest Stars (& 5 Celebrities The Show Squandered)


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About The Author

David Mello
(288 Articles Published)

David Mello is a writer, journalist, and editor from Boston, Massachusetts. He is obsessed with pop culture and sports and loves to expand his cultural knowledge of film, television, music, literature, and more. He currently writes for ScreenRant as a member of the Valnet, Inc. team. David has also written for OneClass, Moms Who Think, Up to Boston, the Boston Herald, and more. He spends just as much time watching classic movies as he does setting his fantasy football lineup.

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