Some TV shows are built to last, but The Good Doctor is not one of them.
The ABC medical drama kicked off in 2017 and delivered compelling cases. That’s the bare minimum required for a medical drama nowadays, but the biggest problem for the series has been its inability to keep its cast.
Long-running shows tend to lose cast members as the years go on, but The Good Doctor has never really been able to bounce back from losses in the early seasons.
One of the most shocking — and horrifically written — exits involved Nicholas Gonzalez’s hunky Dr. Neil Melendez succumbing to injuries he sustained in an earthquake.
It was very Grey’s Anatomy, but unlike that show, The Good Doctor has struggled to find replacements for prominent characters who stand the test of time.
Killing Melendez was one of the most controversial deaths on TV in recent memory because it was so far out of the left field.
There are shocking deaths that forever change the narrative and benefit the show, but then there are those that are for sheer shock value with little care about what comes later.
We’ve lost many faces over the year, including Antonia Thomas, Chuku Modu, Beau Garrett, Tamlyn Tomita, Jasika Nikole, and, more recently, Brandon Larracuente.
Larracuente’s Danny was one of the better characters on The Good Doctor Season 6, but at least the writing was on the wall regarding storylines.
It was recently confirmed that Hill Harper was bowing out as Dr. Marcus Andrews. The actors’ U.S. Senate run foreshadowed his exit.
But it leaves us with just two original series regulars going into The Good Doctor Season 7: Freddie Highmore’s Shaun Murphy and Richard Schiff’s Anthony Glassman.
There have been plenty of long-gone characters staging comebacks after their departures.
After four seasons away, Modu recently returned for a recurring arc as Dr. Jared Kalu. Still, with the way the show struggles to keep the cast it has intact, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to connect with the characters at the helm.
The writing has understandably suffered through all of the cast changes.
It feels like the writers get accustomed to writing certain characters, only for them to be written out before their storylines reach any satisfactory conclusion.
With Harper’s exit, the series is slowly but surely becoming a shell of itself, which is even showing in the medical cases.
At one point, the series pushed the boundaries of what we expected from a medical drama, and it resonated with fans — to the tune of over 15 million viewers for The Good Doctor Season 1 with delayed viewing factored in.
The numbers have steadily declined since that rock-solid first season, with The Good Doctor Season 6 netting an average of 6.2 million viewers with delayed viewing included.
ABC has clearly taken note of the diminished returns by banishing The Good Doctor Season 7 to Tuesdays, marking the first time the series has been moved from its plum Mondays at 10 p.m. time slot.
Another sign that the network is losing faith in the show is that the proposed spinoff featuring Kennedy McMann and Felicity Huffman is not going forward.
Let’s get one thing straight: The Good Lawyer backdoor pilot was one of the show’s best episodes in years, so it’s upsetting that we won’t see that universe expand.
But where can The Good Doctor Season 7 go that the series hasn’t gone before?
Despite attempts to reinvent the wheel, the cases are flatlining, and the remaining characters don’t feel like those we met on The Good Doctor Season 1.
Thinking about the state of the show after The Good Doctor Season 6, it’s hard to imagine things getting better unless there’s a dose of adrenaline in the cards.
It would be wise for the show to stop introducing new people and try utilizing the people who have been there for years.
There’s a rich tapestry of characters, including Alex Park (Will Yun Lee) and Morgan Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann), who have been embroiled in one of the most excruciating relationships to hit the small screen.
They have so much chemistry, but the writers have infused their arc with what can only be described as a rollercoaster of unnecessary drama. We can see they’re made for each other, but the ride continues.
Adding Eden into the mix was a great way to show how they can communicate and work through issues, but I’m not interested in another season of them being put through the wringer for entertainment.
Truthfully, The Good Doctor Season 6 Episode 22 served as a decent endpoint for the series, with Shaun and Lea welcoming Steve into the world.
There was so much — there’s that word again — unnecessary drama throughout their journey to becoming parents for the first time.
What should have been a heartwarming moment was marred by Shaun’s fractured dynamic with Glassman. Seriously, what’s the point in all of this feuding?
All of the casting changes have done a number on the show, but all of the above is a sign that The Good Doctor should think about wrapping up.
The show is stuck in a creative rut and has been for years, and unless the creatives stop swapping out cast members to repair those storytelling problems, the show won’t be able to bounce back.
Over to you, The Good Doctor Fanatics!
What are your thoughts on the exits throughout the years?
Do you think they did irreparable harm to the show?
Hit the comments.
Remember, you can watch The Good Doctor online right here via TV Fanatic.
The Good Doctor returns to ABC on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.