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In S1E11 "What's My Motivation", Shawn, the All-Knowing Judge of the Universe arrives to judge the fate of Eleanor and whether she should be sent to The Bad Place.

However, in S1E13 "Michael's Gambit", it's revealed that (Season 1 spoilers):

Shawn is not the All-Knowing Judge, but is a demon, as is Michael. Neighborhood 12358w is not in The Good Place, it's in The Bad Place. Eleanor realises that Shawn and Michael were never going to send any of them to The Bad Place because "We're already here".

So then:

What was the real purpose of Shawn coming at all? It wasn't to determine whether Eleanor was bad: he knew that she was bad, because he was in on the experiment the whole time. And it wasn't to send her to The Bad Place, because as Eleanor correctly guesses, nobody has any intention of doing so. Before Eleanor figured it out, the experiment was running as planned, and the four humans would've been being tortured by Michael and his demons. Were there any stakes at all, or did Shawn just come to mess with them?

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    Because he is in on the con to make her and the others think they are in The Good Place. – sanpaco Jan 4 at 21:24
  • I know that he is, but my question is, what was he actually trying to do there? – Lou Jan 4 at 21:27
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    He was playing along with the con by making them think they were in The Good Place when they should be in The Bad Place. – sanpaco Jan 4 at 21:46
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(Some minor spoilers in to season 2).

A couple episodes prior, Eleanor confessed that she does not actually belong in the Good Place. Michael says later that this was completely unexpected. He thought Eleanor was going to continue pretending she was a good person. He didn't anticipate her growing a conscience and actually becoming better person.

So his facade was starting to break down. Since she confessed, she logically should have been immediately sent to the Bad Place, but he had to keep her in the "Good Place" to continue his experiment. He and the other demons cooked up a new plan with the idea that the four would start arguing about who should go to the Bad Place (which was working until Eleanor figured it all out).

Another reason Shawn came is that he is technically Michael's supervisor. He's also a very uptight demon. He reluctantly agreed to allow Michael to run his experiment, but he didn't really believe in it. When Eleanor confessed, that showed the first flaw in the experiment, so Shawn was obligated to come see for himself. Being a "judge" was a good way to get Shawn to the "Good Place" and closely supervise the experiment without raising any suspicion.

Also, being a demon, he probably liked the irony of playing a judge while judging whether Michael's experiment should continue which was the real reason he was there.

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