ABC has announced that their hit medical drama “The Good Doctor” will be ending after the currently airing seventh season. The series, which stars Freddie Highmore as Dr. Shaun Murphy, an autistic surgical resident, has been a ratings success for the network since premiering in 2017. However, it seems the show has decided to wrap up while still at the height of its popularity.
Background on ‘The Good Doctor’
“The Good Doctor” is a remake of a South Korean series of the same name created by David Shore. The emotional drama follows Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, as he navigates the challenges of a surgical residency.
Despite his communication challenges and unconventional behavior, Dr. Murphy’s extraordinary medical gifts allow him to save lives and challenge skeptics. The show balances medical storylines with Shaun’s personal relationships and attempts to connect with those around him.
The series has received praise for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of an autistic lead character, with Freddie Highmore’s performance garnering awards and acclaim. It has also enjoyed strong ratings throughout its run.
While viewership has trended downwards in recent seasons, the show remains one of ABC’s highest rated dramas.
Why ‘The Good Doctor’ Is Ending After Season 7
The end of “The Good Doctor” is likely a mutual decision between ABC and series creator David Shore to wrap up the show on their own terms. Many broadcast dramas run for years past their prime before getting canceled unceremoniously. Going into a final season knowing it’s the last chance to give loyal fans closure is a rare gift.
In an official statement, ABC Entertainment President Craig Erwich said:
“In the last five years, David Shore has taken viewers on an emotional journey with the brilliant Dr. Shaun Murphy and all of the incredible characters that populate the world of The Good Doctor…We are so grateful to David, the producers, the cast and the crew for their unmatched work, and look forward to sharing the final chapter of Shaun’s journey with the fans.”
For his part, David Shore explained:
“I am truly indebted to ABC and Sony for supporting The Good Doctor in every conceivable way. Terrence (director Terrence Floyd) and I are excited to bring the show to a close with what we think will be a fitting end to the show.”
So it seems Shore felt he was reaching the natural conclusion of Shaun’s journey as a surgical resident struggling against the odds. Seven seasons is an impressive run for a broadcast drama, and better to wrap up the show on a high note.
There’s also likely a business incentive at play here. As a series ages, production costs increase while viewership normally trends downward. Ending after season 7 allows ABC and producer Sony to maximize profits while the show is still popular globally.
What Will Happen in the Final Season?
The current seventh season of “The Good Doctor” is only halfway through its order, so there are still many storylines left to wrap up before the series finale.
We know that original cast member Chuku Modu will return as Dr. Jared Kalu for the full season after departing early in season 4. Having Jared come back to San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital will allow Shaun’s first mentor/friend to be present for his final days as a resident.
Series regulars Antonia Thomas (Dr. Claire Browne) and Osvaldo Benavides (Dr. Mateo Rendón Osma) left after season 6, so they are unlikely to return. But almost every other prominent character is expected back including:
- Freddie Highmore as Dr. Shaun Murphy
- Hill Harper as Dr. Marcus Andrews
- Richard Schiff as Dr. Aaron Glassman
- Christina Chang as Dr. Audrey Lim
- Fiona Gubelmann as Dr. Morgan Reznick
- Will Yun Lee as Dr. Alex Park
- Paige Spara as Lea Dilallo
- Noah Galvin as Dr. Asher Wolke
Creator David Shore and the writers still have lots of time to give a proper goodbye to beloved characters. And medical procedurals like this have plenty of life-and-death situations to mine for emotional drama leading up to the finale.
We can likely expect some resolution on Shaun’s romantic relationship with Lea after their breakup earlier this season when Shaun could not say “I love you” back to her. Perhaps finally grasping that emotional intimacy in his last days as a struggling resident will show how much Shaun has grown across seven seasons of life lessons.
There will also need to be a satisfying conclusion regarding if Shaun can overcome lingering doubts amongst the hospital board over his autism and skillset. Will he achieve his goal of becoming a full surgical attending after his residency ends? Or will he decide on a different path?
After so many years fighting against discrimination, seeing Shaun accepted completely would show his journey coming full circle. But given the show’s realism, bittersweet would also ring true. However it ends, fans will surely be gratified to spend a final season with Dr. Shaun Murphy before saying goodbye.
Overall, “The Good Doctor” has been a barrier-breaking series that found a rare balance between being uplifting and emotionally powerful. The decision to end on season 7 will allow the creative team to bring Shaun’s journey to an organic, emotional conclusion that hopefully resonates for years to come.
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