The Trolley Problem Now

Sara Bizarro
5 min readMar 19, 2020
The Good Place, The Trolley Problem.

The Trolley Problem has become a part of popular culture, it is featured in the NBC show The Good Place, there are many comical variations of it in an article from The New Yorker, and there are countless memes on the topic. In this piece, I will address a couple of modern approaches to the Trolley Problem (if you want to know more about the origins of the Trolley Problem, please see another piece I wrote — The Trolley Problem: The Origins). If you don’t know what the Trolley Problem is, watch this video:

The episode about the Trolley Problem in The Good Place is also quite interesting (the image in the beginning of this article is from that episode). The Good Place is, as far as I know, the first TV Show about Ethics ever made (please correct me in the comments if I am wrong). The premise, if you have never seen it, is that people die and if they were good they go to the good place. There are several characters in the show who think they are in there by mistake, including Chidi Anagonye (played by William Jackson Harper) who is a moral philosopher professor and gives ethics lessons to the group who feels like they are there by mistake and want to become better people. There is also a demon called Michael (played by Ted Danson), he does not quite grasp the concept of “being good”. Here is the opening of The Trolley Problem episode:

Later in the same episode, Michael says that the Trolley Problem “is so theoretical”, and he places Chide in the actual situation:

In a real-world scenario our decisions are not made the same way as when we are thinking…

Sara Bizarro

PhD in Philosophy, Professor, Artist, Movie Buff.