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Series / New Amsterdam (2018)

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Break the Rules. Heal the System.

"You know, we all feel like the too big to change, but guess what? We are the system, and we need to change. So just tell me what you need, what your patients need, and I don't care if it's not covered, I don't care if the board said no, let's get into some trouble. Let's be...doctors again."'
Max Goodwin in his Establishing Character Moment

New Amsterdam is an NBC Medical Drama that premiered in 2018. It is based on the book Twelve Patients - Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Eric Manheimer.

Dr. Max Goodwin is the new medical director of New Amsterdam Medical Center, a major public hospital that provides care to the general public, prison inmates, and even UN diplomats. From the moment he arrives, Goodwin has grand ideas to make sure New Amsterdam can provide proper medical treatment to every patient who comes through its doors, regardless of cost, and makes clear he doesn't care who he has to steamroll to make this happen. This is met with a mixture of excitement, curiosity, and derision by the staff.

In January of 2020, NBC announced that the show was renewed for three additional seasons. In March 2022, it was announced that the show would end with Season 5, which premiered on September 20, 2022. The series finale aired on January 17, 2023.

Not to be confused with New Amsterdam (2008), a police procedural about an immortal detective searching for his true love.

How can these tropes help?

  • Alcoholic Parent: Dr. Bloom's mother was a severe alcoholic, and as a child, she was often forced to deal with the consequences of her mother's drinking. When she was old enough to go to college, she fled all the way to Washington to get away.
  • Arc Words: Goodwin's Catchphrase: "How can I help?"
  • Black and Nerdy: Dr. Reynolds used his intelligence to raise himself from poverty to a full academic scholarship to Yale eventually to building a brand new cardio-thoracic surgery department at New Amsterdam. He completely geeks out over medical equipment and happily recalls how his mother used to buy him all the books he wanted each birthday.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The fourth season ends Fuentes finally leaving New Amsterdam and Floyd reconnecting with his father. However, he is still separated from his unborn child, who is in another state. Meanwhile, Lauren breaks up with Leyla in order to preserve her sobriety and Iggy ends his marriage to Martin after realizing that he can't be with him if he is going to really deal with his issues. Finally, Max is back in New York, but Helen is still in London, and calls him on the phone in tears while he is at the altar to tell him that she can't return to New York to marry him. Also, there is still no new medical director.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: After the successful birth of Luna in the season 1 finale, the ambulance carrying Goodwin, Georgia, Sharpe, and Bloom collides with another ambulance, causing a massive car wreck. While Goodwin's condition is confirmed afterward, it's left unclear what happened to the three women. The season 2 opening episode reveals that while Sharpe and Bloom survived the crash, Georgia did not.
  • Book Ends: The series started and ended with a Dr. Goodwin having their first day as medical director of New Amsterdam, asking "How can I help?". In the start it was Max, in the finale it was his daughter Luna, now all grown up.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Other characters borrow Goodwin's "How can I help?"
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Dr. Vijay Kapoor appears absent-minded and overly cautious, but he's actually a top-notch diagnostician.
  • Casting Gag: This is not the first time Freema Agyeman has played someone with medical training.
  • Catchphrase: Goodwin's: "How can I help?", which are also Arc Words.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Iggy Frome. He can't let any injustices go, a behavior heightened by Goodwin's arrival. He'll go all the way to help his patients, with various consequences.
    • The episodes Preventable and This Is Not The End feature Iggy being charged with a formal complaint and investigation for violating doctor-patient boundaries by being too personal with his patients.
    • In Season 2, Iggy suggests adopting another child, a choice that exasperates and frustrates his husband, Martin.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Reynolds performs a pacemaker procedure at a pacemaker manufacturer's production facility in Mexico. Everything is state-of-the-art and everyone is highly trained, but they're only equipped to deal with cardiac emergencies, leading to a patient almost dying on the table when she developed other complications.
  • Disappeared Dad: Rohan becomes this when he leaves New York after getting Ella pregnant, though he does ask his father Dr. Kapoor to watch over her and the kid.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Georgia is revealed to have died of her injuries after the Season 1 finale's Cliffhanger.
  • Enfant Terrible: In "The Karman Line," Iggy has to deal with a little girl who turns out to be a sociopath who is incapable of showing any remorse. It was revealed that she tried to strangle her little brother to death just because he wouldn't let her play with his phone.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Max realizes that hospitals are unceremoniously dumping terminal patients in woefully inadequate hospices and care homes. So, he sets up a palliative care ward (after shaming a wealthy donor into providing the necessary cash) where patients will be able to live out their final days in a safe and comfortable environment.
  • Fictional Counterpart: New Amsterdam Medical Center is based on Bellevue Hospital, and uses Bellevue's exterior for establishing shots.
  • Flanderization: Max begins the series as a smart and dedicated doctor with a strong sense of right and wrong and an impulsive streak - he is determined to build a hospital that prioritizes care above all else and has no fear of getting into trouble or making waves if it means helping people. His catchphrase "how can I help" sums up his personal ethos: he'll first find out what people need from him, and then find a way to get it done. As the series progresses, his impulsive streak expands to nearly the entirety of his personality, as he starts running off to do things without ever thinking about consequences for a second or even asking what people need first. The overall impression is of a character getting much dumber.
  • Foil: Dr. Kapoor is this to Dr. Goodwin. While Goodwin wants to immediately start treating patients for the symptoms they exhibit, Kapoor advocates a more methodical approach to diagnose the root cause of the symptoms, pointing out that quick treatments can oftentimes only serve to mask the underlying cause and result in death.
  • Foreshadowing: At the beginning of “Your Turn”, Georgia asks Max to calm down their daughter and he replies that he always does. At the end of the episode, a flashback reveals she died in surgery, making Max’s statement true.
  • Happily Adopted: Dr. Frome and his husband have adopted multiple children from Bangladesh and they all live happily in their cozy New York apartment with two dogs. Iggy even makes plans to adopt another child in the second episode of season 2!
  • Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight: A variation. Helen Sharpe begins the series as a media star who loves going on TV and traveling to conferences around the world to talk about medicine. She'd grown to dislike actually treating patients because it's so emotionally taxing and avoids it as much as possible. Max has to strong arm her into practicing medicine again.
  • Heroic RRoD: Throughout the first season Max becomes more and more frail as his throat cancer and treatment regimen take a toll on his body.
  • Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: Georgia has to do this to Max when he passes out on a dock beside a lake. Sharpe tells her what to do over the phone.
  • Leitmotif: A jazz drum solo plays whenever Goodwin does something to change the way things work at New Amsterdam. Later on, the drum solo also plays when other characters start following Goodwin's example.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Invoked in Season 4 when COVID-related staffing shortages force Max, Helen, Lauren, and Floyd to take over the ICU despite none of them being intensive-care specialists.
  • Meaningful Name: How can you name a good samaritan of a doctor who stops at nothing to help his patients and manages one way or another to achieve success at the end of the day? "Max-Good-Win"!
  • My God, You Are Serious!:
    • When Max does his big opening speech of changing things, the staff just look bored as they've clearly heard this before and expect things to be the same. It's when Max fires every cardiac surgeon for charging too much money that it hits them he's really intent on changing things.
    • Sharpe at first laughs off Max's demands that she has to stop doing non-stop media appearances and actually work regular surgical hours. She changes her tune when she hears of the mass firings and Max docking her pay.
    • Dean Fulton lampshades that the board assumed Max's talk of "changing everything" was just to get the job, they never expected him to actually do any of it.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The fourth season has Dr. Veronica Fuentes, who is replacing Max as medical director as he prepares to leave for London with Helen, states that the medical board is not happy that everything he has done to shake things up has resulted in the loss of millions of dollars. She also states that his quest to tackle social issues, like climate change and racism, has driven away white, wealthy donors who don't want to see murals, poems and slogans about said topics in the lobby when they enter the hospital.
  • Not What It Looks Like: During a papal visit to New York, Dr. Kapoor cheerfully admits to going into the hospital room set aside as a contingency for the Pope and sprinkling flower petals, which happen to be toxic, on and around the bed as a sign of welcome. The Secret Service views the incident as an assassination attempt and locks Kapoor down for the day.
  • Obsolete Occupation: One episode sees Max searching through the hospital's staff to locate employees whose jobs have become outdated, promising to reassign anyone who comes forward.
  • Odd Friendship: When Reynolds falls for Lyn Malvo, he gets to know her husband Dr. Baptiste (it's an open marriage). Although there's obvious tension, the two men form a mutual respect over the unique circumstances.
  • Office Romance: Bloom used to have a relationship with Reynolds, who later proposed to Evie, a lawyer working for the hospital.
    • Season 2, Episode 2, The Big Picture, featured the reveal of Bloom having sex with her physical therapist to distract her from the leg wound she received in the ambulance accident.
  • One of Our Own:
    • Max Goodwin in Six Or Seven Minutes.
    • The Goodwin family, Bloom, and Sharpe in Your Turn. Lampshaded by Casey Acosta in the same episode.
  • Only Sane Man: Dr. Iggy Frome considers himself to be this in regards to the foster system. All the system wants him to do is to get troubled children calm enough so they can be placed with a foster family while he knows that there's a good chance that the children will be abused and sent back to him in worse shape.
  • Oppressive Immigration Enforcement: In the episode "In a Strange Land", the New Amsterdam hospital is swamped by the arrival of a huge number of sick and injured illegal immigrants to the emergency room. Max and the rest of the hospital staff try to help them, and their efforts are stymied by the arrival of an Immigration team who would rather prefer to arrest them all and process them for deportation with no care about the possibility of them dying in the processing center.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Reynolds' mother finds Evie to be nice but doesn't think she's the right woman for her son. Reynolds decides that, in this one case, his mother is wrong.
  • Patient of the Week: This is a medical drama, after all, so this trope is self-explanatory.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In the first episode, Dr. Kapoor's patient was misdiagnosed with Parkinson's and put on medication for that. The side-effects created new health problems, and so she was put on medication for those, and then ended up on another medication for the side-effects from that medication, which eventually resulted in her brain being tricked into thinking that she was dead, which brought her to Dr. Kapoor's attention. Dr. Kapoor discovers that her real problem was a form of cancer which has by now metastasized, leaving her with just two years to live.
  • Prison Episode: Season 2, Episode 9, "The Island", features Goodwin, Sharpe, Frome, and a handful of other doctors and nurses going to Rikers Prison to run a one-day clinic for the female inmates.
  • Put on a Bus: Dora, Max's assistant, is said to have taken another job in Season 2 due to the stress of trying to implement Max's grand ideas.
  • Raised by the Community: Luna. With Georgia dead, Goodwin has to bring his daughter to work every day, carrying her around before dropping her off at the hospital's daycare. The Season 2 opening episode shows him running around the hospital solving problems while all the main staff members coo at Luna. It's very clear that they have fallen in love with her.
  • Riddle for the Ages: In the episode Things Fall Apart, it's never explained what a massive tank of highly toxic and corrosive chemicals is doing sitting abandoned in an unused wing of the hospital.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Goodwin, as medical director, comes in and completely shakes up the status quo at New Amsterdam, so much so that he fires all but one cardiac surgeon and many more senior staff immediately walk out because of the changes he makes.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: As the series progresses, New Amsterdam's staff starts taking Goodwin's methods to heart and begin shaking things up around the hospital on their own accord.
    • In the first episode, Dr. Frome puts a psychiatric hold on one of his patients, Jemma, in an attempt to stop her from going back into the foster care system. This ends up backfiring as Jemma bristles at the strict rules in the psych ward, so Frome breaks another rule, tracking down the estranged daughter of one of the few foster parents that Jemma actually liked, and guilt-tripping her into meeting Jemma to discuss adoption.
    • One episode sees Reynolds posing as his predecessor in order to get a patient admitted to New Amsterdam's sister hospital. The same episode sees Bloom locking Sharpe out of an examination room in order to stop her from administering the wrong treatment to a patient.
    • Deconstructed when Dr. Sharpe gets caught with her heroin-addicted patient at a safe injection site in Season 2. Sharpe is stripped of her titles as Co-Chair of the Oncology department and Deputy Medical Director.
  • Servile Snarker:
    • Dora, Goodwin's assistant, copes with the stress her boss puts her through with heaping doses of snark.
    • In Season 2, Dora is replaced by Todd, who gives Max plenty of stoic snark.
  • Straight Gay: Dr. Frome has a husband at home.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: While he means well and is often morally right, Max's moves can end up costing the hospital money and goodwill.
    • In the opening scene, Max fires the entire cardiovascular surgical wing for their high mortality rate. Cue a score of angry calls to lawyers and the loss of all that billing.
    • Often, even the doctors who agree with Max think he goes too far. When he tries to fight climate change by limiting people to one pair of gloves per day while in a pandemic, it leads to a staff revolt.
    • Season 4 brings it up as Max is point blank told his actions are driving away wealthy donors and that trying to solve the ills of the world won't matter if the hospital goes under.
    • In an act of rebellion against Fuentes, all of the doctors start doing surgeries in the morgue behind her back that the hospital isn't allowed to do for monetary reasons. When Dr. Reynolds lets it slip out during a regular surgery he is doing, one of the nurses warns him that those kinds of surgery are actually dangerous and someone could die. This leads Reynolds to sell out everyone to Fuentes, who shuts down the whole thing.
  • Take a Third Option: A frequent element of the show is characters are faced with either doing something or nothing and deciding to do something else.
    • In "Anima Sola", Iggy reports an elderly surgeon whose hands have gotten shakey. Max is reluctant to keep the surgeon at work for fear that he will botch a surgery, but doesn't want to fire someone with so much experience, so he appoints the surgeon as the new head of telesurgery, allowing him to direct surgeries from afar rather than performing them himself.
    • In "The Blues", Max goes looking for employees whose jobs have become obsolete and finds a large number of them. On the one hand, many of them can't be moved up to their job of choice within the hospital, as the positions are already filled. On the other hand, he doesn't want to fire any of them because he fears it will discourage people from reporting obsolescence. Finally, he takes a third option, setting up a new clinic in Sheepshead Bay and moving the obsolete employees to the nearest equivalent promotions there.
    • After a violent incident in the ED, Bloom finds money to bring in cops to provide security. However, most of the staff react negatively and want them removed. Faced with either having no security and seeing more staff get hurt or having cops who intimidate people, Bloom happens upon the idea of hiring nightclub bouncers who rely on looking intimidating and deescalation techniques to keep people in line.
  • Those Two Guys: Drs. Frome and Kapoor often get paired together both because their specialties (psychiatry and neurology, respectively) are related and because their diametrically opposed personalities mean they play well off of one another.
  • Trans Tribulations: One episode sees Dr. Frome dealing with a trans boy who is seeking to get top surgery.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Despite completely upending the entire hospital on his first day and causing major disturbances in the system ranging from a boycott on a pharmaceutical company to outright socialism, Dr. Goodwin still manages to keep his job as medical director of New Amsterdam. Lampshaded by Goodwin when Dean Fulton attempted to fire him for firing the entire cardio-surgical department.
  • Unequal Pairing: Bloom and Leyla. Leyla is homeless when they meet, and Bloom lets her live rent free in her apartment, and uses her influence to get her residency at New Amsterdam. This dynamic finally bites Bloom in the ass when she bribes Leyla's way forward for fear of their hours keeping them apart. Leyla is furious that Bloom would think of her affections as something to be bought and breaks up with her.
  • Vomit Chain Reaction: Season 2, Episode 3, 'Replacement', features one of these when an entire unit of children all begin suffering the same odd symptoms
  • Written-In Absence: Bloom spends several episodes away in rehab to accommodate Janet Montgomery's maternity leave.