Fringe Theory In “The Good Place” And “The Orville”


I just caught the latest episodes of The Good Place (a pretty metaphysical show to begin with) and The Orville (less so), and was really struck with the way some “fringe” theory seemed to be reflected in them—specifically, Simulation Theory and Flat Earth Theory. Not saying this was the express intention of the producers of each show, but I was amazed at how much these “crazy” concepts were reflected in the plots.

Spoilers ahead!

First up: The first 3 episodes of the new Good Place season. I’ve written about the “Gnostic” qualities of the show here (major spoilers within), but Season Two of the show really drives those points home. Especially the idea of Simulation Theory, that our reality is not real & is actually some sort of (mostly likely computer) simulation—much akin to a video game.


Though the humans in The Good Place are really dead and in the metaphysical concept of Hell, the metaphor for our daily world is evident. Their world is completely created, manipulated, and scripted by otherwordly highly-advanced creatures. In the third episode of the second season especially, “Dance Dance Reslolution,” you see their world constantly “rebooted,” complete with subtle changes to each new landscape (shades of the Mandela Effect!) as well as a large cast of “simulated” (possibly soulless) citizens and, as Dolores Cannon would call them, “back-drop people.” (I think Cannon would have gotten a really big laugh at how much these guys are like the “back-drop people”)

In the Season One 4th episode of The Orville, “If The Stars Should Appear,” the crew comes across a giant “spaceship world” that contains a simulated Earth-like environment in it. The simple folk who live in this simulated world believe they are actually on a planet…and not ensconced in an adrift giant craft.


Now…you’d think that the central theme of this episode is about living in a theocracy (they are falsely taught through their religion that they are actually on this Earth-like planet)…and maybe you can throw in climate change denial in there too.


As the “truth” of their situation gets more and more revealed, it sounds eerily similar to the Flat Earth theory. If you think about it: what they consider to be a setup most akin to our Earth—living on a “globe”—is the wrong assumption. I’m not even sure their simulation is a full sphere. The theocracy wants them to believe that their world is “round”—with the ruse going so far as to a “fake sky” being put in place (another concept that has echoes of Flat Earth).

If you watch the actual episode and hear the exact terminology and dialogue being spoken about it—and if you are familiar with Flat Earth theory—you’ll know exactly what I mean. And there’s even a Nibiru and Ancient Astronauts angle cameoing in that episode as well.

Anyway…it was just very interesting to see all that in these shows. I’ve really been enjoying The Good Place and The Orville. I think they try to be thought-provoking, entertaining, and balanced. And I know some people really hate Seth McFarlane, but I think he’s doing a great “Star Trek Lite” show (and I have ZERO interest in watching the new Star Trek: Discovery series).

More to read about on Butterfly Language:
The Gnosticism Of The Good Place
VR Is Failing Because The Real Future Is All In Your Mind
One Of The More Obscure Philip K. Dick Movies: “Radio Free Albemuth”