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Series / The Good Doctor

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Welcome to San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.note 

The Good Doctor is a Medical Drama that premiered on ABC in 2017. It is based on the 2013 South Korean drama, Good Doctor. David Shore (House) is the showrunner.

Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) is a young autistic surgeon with savant syndrome, from the mid-size city of Casper, Wyoming, where he had a troubled childhood. He relocates to San Jose, California, to work at the prestigious San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. Alone in the world and unable to personally connect with those around him, but also a quick learner with extraordinary medical skills and intuition, Shaun is strongly supported by his mentor, Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff), who challenges the prejudices of the hospital's board and staff, specially Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez) and Dr. Marcus Andrews (Hill Harper). Shaun quickly finds a friend in surgical resident Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas), starts to gain the trust and respect of his co-workers, and ends up having a very complicated relationship with his neighbor, Lea Dilallo (Paige Spara).

No relation to the 2011 Orlando Bloom film of the same name, or to the Neil Simon play based on Anton Chekhov's stories.

The Good Doctor contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • After being sexually harassed by Dr. Coyle, Claire vowed to ruin his career by tracking down former female colleagues of his. At the end of "Seven Reasons", she meets one who confesses that she was also harassed by Dr. Coyle, and it is implied that the women will work together to expose his behavior. This plot is never mentioned in any subsequent episodes.
    • A couple of Season 1 episodes have subplots featuring Andrews and his wife visiting specialists to overcome fertility issues so they can have a child. The situation is never mentioned again until Season 4, when Andrews mentions that after many IVF cycles, they're still trying, but with no success yet. The arc was completely dropped after Andrews and Isabel divorced off-camera at the end of the season.
    • In the later part of Season 4, Claire and her newly-arrived father, after years of no contact and withheld child support payments, work on improving their broken relationship. Due to Antonia Thomas' decision to leave the show at the end of Season 4, two seasons earlier than her contract, this arc is abruptly dropped after Claire's departure.
    • In the middle of Season 5, Jordan and Lea become business partners and work to invent an ingestible bacteria sensor with smartphone connectivity for real-time monitoring. They bring Glassman on to the project, but he ruffles feathers with the two ladies after he criticizes their business plan, and Lea accuses him of being sexist in his criticisms. After only three episodes, this venture is never mentioned again.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Shaun's alcoholic father physically and emotionally abused him, and also killed his pet rabbit, causing Shaun and his brother to run away from home. His mother was an enabler and never did anything to prevent this abuse.
    • Claire's mother was negligent and emotionally abusive towards her daughter, and possibly physically, too. Claire implies in one episode that her mother tried to drown her.
      Melendez: [Jessica] would be such an amazing mother.
      Claire: I guess she's lucky she realized [she doesn't want children] before it's too late. Some women don't. My mom was definitely one of those.
      Melendez: Sorry. I didn't mean to...
      Claire: No, it's okay. Water under the bridge... that nearly drowned me. It was a long time ago.
    • Morgan does not have a good relationship with her mother, because she comes from a family where everyone is an artist and the fact that her mother is too busy with work to worry about her.
  • The Ace: Doctor Neil Melendez is the hospital's hotshot surgeon, so much so that even the Chief of Surgery himself is pressed into requiring his aid.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In "Growth Opportunities", Park dresses as Wolverine for Halloween. Specifically, his costume is based on the portrayal of the character from the X-Men Film Series and The Wolverine, the latter of which starred Will Yun Lee, albeit not as the title character.
    • In "Aftermath", Glassman asks "No glass elevator?", which is a reference to Freddie Highmore's role of Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  • Alliterative Family: The protagonist and titular character, Shaun, and his younger brother Steve.
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming: In "Boys Don't Cry", the Patient of the Week gives birth to sextuplets. As the babies are sorted for monitoring and treatment in the NICU, they are given the placeholder names "Baby A" through "Baby F". As the babies are given to the couple, each one is given a name starting with the letter they were given based on the order of their birth: Abigail, Byron, Christopher, Derek, Erin Jordan (E.J.), and Francesca.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The Turkish adaptation obviously goes with changing the names of the main characters. Dr. Shaun Murphy is Dr. Ali Vefa, Dr. Neil Melendez is Dr. Ferman Eryiğit, Dr. Claire Browne is Dr. Nazli Gülengül, Dr. Jared Kalu is Dr. Demir Aldirmaz, Jessica Preston is Beliz Boysal, Allegra Aoki is Kıvılcım Boysal, Dr. Marcus Andrews is Dr. Tanju Korman, Dr. Aaron Glassman is Dr. Adil Erinç and Dr. Morgan Reznick is nurse Açelya Dingin. No counterparts of Lea, Dr. Alex Park and Dr. Audrey Lim are present. There is no equivalent of Dr. Jackson Han either.
  • Adaptational Dye-Job: Due to Turkish culture, some of the characters of Mucize Doktor had their physical appearances altered.
    • Jessica had blonde hair, while her Turkish counterpart Beliz is a redhead.
    • Nazli and Tanju have white skin, unlike their American equivalents (Claire and Andrews) who were brown.
    • Allegra had brunette hair. This time, her equivalent Kivilcim was depicted as a blonde.
    • Maddie, in Season 2, had blonde hair. In Mucize Doktor, this time she's a redhead too.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • Claire and Morgan are initially not acquainted with each other and are constantly at odds due to their differing work methods. However, in the Turkish adaptation, their equivalents (Nazli and Acelya) are actually best friends and flatmates from the start of the series. But like Morgan, Acelya initially starts off as a jerkass and bullies Ali because of his autism before having a change of heart.
    • Jessica and Allegra both work in higher positions and never show any ill will towards each other. But in the Turkish adaptation, their equivalents (Beliz and Kıvılcım) completely hate each other because the latter is Beliz's stepmother and have had a very strained relationship for years, especially due to Kıvılcım's Jerkass mean-spirited and egocentric personality when it comes to the hospital's reputation.
  • Adaptational Job Change: The equivalents of Glassman and Jessica have different jobs. Adil is the chief physician, while Beliz (aside from being the in-house attorney) is the president of the Berhayat Hospital. Glassman had the latter job in the American adaptation.
  • Adaptational Romance Downgrade:
    • Melendez and Claire start developing romantic feelings for each other in Season 3, but it takes until the finale to admit them, only for Melendez to sadly pass away. Whereas in the Turkish adaptation, Ferman and Nazli's relationship remains strictly professional, especially since Ferman is in a relationship with Beliz (Jessica, as with Season 1 of the American show) and Nazli is actually the love interest to Ali, the main character.
    • Shaun and Claire don't end up as a couple and their relationship is a brother-sister one. Claire later on develops feelings for Melendez, before he dies in the Season 3 finale, and is eventually Put on a Bus at the end of Season 4. The love interest role is given to Lea instead.
    • The American adaptation features Claire and Jared as a couple, before they break up towards the end of Season 1 and Jared is Put on a Bus at the beginning of Season 2. In the Turkish, however, Nazli and Demir are only friends, although Demir shows initially romantic interest in her, which she doesn't reciprocate.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: The Turkish adaptation changes two same-sex couples to heterosexual couples due to same-sex marriage being illegal in Turkiye. The wedding bus crash patient whose wife died in the crash in "Not Fake" was changed from female to male, and the gastric bypass patient from "Carrots" had his "shallow" spouse changed from male to female.
  • Adapted Out: Lea, Lim and Park are the only characters from The Good Doctor who have no Turkish counterparts of their own.
  • And Starring:
    • Hill Harper and Richard Schiff are credited in this fashion, even in episodes where they don't appear.
    • Chuku Modu is credited this way in "Old Friends" when his character returns after a four-year absense.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Two cases in Season 3:
    • Shaun admits to Lea that he is in love with her. In turn, Lea admits that she loves him too, but is too insecure with their different personalities to start a relationship. Only when the two are pushed to the brink emotionally during an earthquake in the finale (with Shaun almost drowning in a flooding basement) does Lea finally gain the courage to start a relationship with Shaun.
    • After being involved in a platonic relationship with Melendez for a portion of season 3, Claire admits that she loves him, and he reciprocates. Unfortunately, it is too late, as Melendez is dying.
  • Anti-Climax: The first half of Season 5 involves money-grubbing businesswoman Salen Morrison taking over the hospital, and much of the staff trying to bring her down, with several of them quitting or getting fired in the process. "Cheat Day" has Lim working with Glassman, Lea, and the residents on a plan to expose the consequences of Salen's takeover by giving speeches at an upcoming pension fund meeting, despite the huge risk of their careers in doing so. The majority of the episode involved the preparation and apprehension of this event, but none of it ended up happening (nor do we get to hear any part of the speeches), because Andrews (the only main character who was not on board with the plan, as he was dating Salen) quietly drove Salen to surrender the hospital just before the meeting, before any bombshells could be dropped.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • Melendez dies at the end of Season 3, from injuries sustained in an earthquake. Also, in the second episode of the fourth season, nurse Deena Petringa dies from COVID-19.
    • In the middle of Season 7, Asher is murdered by two anti-Semites after he confronts them for vandalizing a synagogue.
    • In the Season 7 finale, Glassman dies from terminal brain cancer, which he had revealed to Shaun before.
  • Artistic License – Geography: In "Autopsy", some scenes show snow on the ground. Generally, it doesn't snow in San Jose, though it certainly does in Vancouver, where the show is filmed.
  • Artistic License – Medicine:
    • During rounds on his first day, Shaun appears to have virtually no bedside manner, telling the patients the cold facts and somewhat scaring them. In reality, medical schools teach prudence and why it's necessary — wanting to be a good doctor, Shaun would have probably taken these lessons to heart.
    • The new residents' labcoats can be seen at some points, with their name followed by "MD, FACS". MD means they have a medical degree, which is accurate. FACS means "Fellow, American College of Surgeons." Surgeons are not eligible for membership until they have completed one year of practice after the end of formal training. (It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with having completed a fellowship. Basically, the ACS is a professional association.)
  • Ascended Extra: Paul, the janitor who Shaun briefly speaks with in "Sacrifice", is the Patient of the Week in "Middle Ground".
  • Asshole Victim: It's really hard to have any sympathy or shed any tears for Shaun's father after how horribly he treated him throughout his entire childhood, even going as far as to kill his pet rabbit and, during their final meeting before he dies of pancreatic cancer, throw venomous words at him just after Shaun forgave him. Shaun also refuses to attend his funeral and stops speaking to his mother, who did nothing to stop the abuse.
  • The Atoner: "Heartfelt" has a former Russian mafia enforcer who wants to make up for the people he killed by becoming an organ donor.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Dr. Han serves at the main antagonist of the first part of Season 2 and is a total Jerkass. He does, however, make himself very useful to his new staff by making the investigation over their very questionable actions in "Quarantine" go away — by essentially blackmailing the review board.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: During a flashback in the pilot episode, we are shown that Shaun's abusive father killed Shaun's pet rabbit by throwing the poor thing against a wall.
  • Batter Up!: Nathalie Beauchemin, in "Heartbreak", does this to a Porsche's headlamps after finding out her boyfriend had a second girlfriend on the side, and it took her quite some time to calm down from the incident. Shaun witnesses this and almost does the same to Lea's car at the end of the episode, but he can't go through with it and throws down the bat.
  • Bedmate Reveal:
    • At the beginning of "Quarantine", Melendez wakes up next to Lim.
    • At the beginning of "Incomplete", Claire wakes up naked in her bed and notices an unfamiliar wristwatch on her dresser. Her one-night stand then enters her room and serves her eggs while telling her he had a great time last night.
  • Berserk Button: Any time Shaun tells Glassman that something may be wrong with him neurologically, the latter immediately becomes hostile and insists he's fine (even if he's not).
  • Beta Couple:
    • In The Good Doctor.
      • Season 1: Jared and Claire (broke up), Melendez and Jessica (broke up), Andrews and Isabel
      • Seasons 2-3: Glassman and Debbie, Lim and Melendez (broke up), Claire and Melendez
      • Season 4: Glassman and Debbie (divorced), Park and Morgan, Andrews and Isabel (divorced), Lim and Mateo
      • Season 5: Park and Morgan, Lim and Mateo (broke up), Andrews and Salen (broke up), Asher and Jerome
      • Season 6: Park and Morgan (broke up), Asher and Jerome, Jordan and Perez (broke up), Andrews and Villanueva (broke up), Lim and Clay (broke up)
      • Season 7: Park and Morgan (rekindled), Asher and Jerome (until Asher's death), Jared and Claire (rekindled), Jordan and Perez (rekindled)
    • In Mucize Doktor.
      • Season 1: Ferman and Beliz, Adil and Selvi, Demir and Açelya, Güneş and Gülin.
      • Season 2: Ferman and Beliz, Adil and Selvi (until Adil's death), Demir and Açelya (broke up), Güneş and Gülin (broke up), Doruk and Harika, Muhsin and Gülin, Tanju and Vuslat.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The equivalents of Andrews and Allegra Aoki (Tanju and Kıvılcım) are the main villains of the Turkish show Mucize Doktor, as they actively scheme against Ali to make sure he'll screw up, exploiting his condition and using it to their advantage as an excuse to prove he's unfit to be a doctor.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Shaun's younger brother, Steve, who protects his older brother from their father and school bullies alike. Rather than see him as a strange person and get annoyed, which you could easily expect, Steve is made out to be one of the most pure-hearted characters by finding ways to get Shaun out of harmful situations and things that make him happy. He ultimately receives a Promotion to Parent when their home life becomes too toxic for Shaun, outfitting an abandoned bus to live in for them.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Shaun and Lea end the finale of Season 3 by giving each other a passionate kiss, after three seasons of Will They or Won't They?, and allow the episode to end of a hopeful note after almost forty minutes of tragedy.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Colleen, the girl in Shaun's childhood flashback who told Shaun about her dad's pornographic magazine. Initially, she seems like an angel, her true colors get shown after she tricks Shaun into pulling his pants down.
  • Bitch Slap:
    • Glassman gets one from Shaun while the latter has a meltdown in "Sacrifice".
    • Claire gets one in front of several colleagues after her patient's wife finds out that she slept with him the night before his accident in "Incomplete".
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The subplot of Season 1 episode "Intangibles" involves Claire treating a patient who may or may not have throat cancer. The hospital misplaces the sample that would determine this, and Claire spends much of the episode trying to find it, to no avail. Without knowing for sure, the patient is forced to undergo a surgery that will completely remove her voice and end her career as a podcast host. Claire finds the sample at the very last moment before the surgery can begin and the patient is confirmed to be cancer-free. Although it seems all is well in the end, Claire and Jessica get hit with a lawsuit for the patient's distress during the situation.
    • The finale of Season 3 would be a full-blown Downer Ending if not for the last five minutes. Morgan is able to save her patient and earn back Andrews respect at the cost of permanent damage to her joints, which will likely end her career as a surgeon. Park's patient is mortally wounded and deliriously believes that Park is his father. Park obliges to comfort him in his final moments, which leaves himself deeply traumatized him and causes him to decide to return to Phoenix and be closer to his own son. Melendez's condition is inoperable and he dies by the end of the episode, but not before Claire reveals that she reciprocates his feelings of romance and the two spend his last moments together. In the aftermath, Claire and Lim comfort each other and decide to go out drinking some time. The only unambiguously happy ending is Shaun and Lea, the latter of whom reciprocates Shaun's feelings after believing he died which ends the episode on a hopeful note as the two kiss.
    • The Season 6 finale ends with Shaun and Lea's son being born with no complications and the support of all their colleagues and friends... except Glassman. After Glassman told Shaun he was hurt by his actions in the previous episode and began distancing himself from him, everyone else, including Lea, told him to let it go at least for that day and be there for Shaun. Ultimately, Glassman arrives outside the room with a gift box, but still refuses to see Shaun, so he hands it off to Nurse Hawks, who gives it to Shaun and Lea on his behalf later. The gift? A baby blanket embroidered with the name Steve, which Glassman somehow knew would be the baby's name. Shaun also had a gift of his own: matching hats for himself, Lea, the baby, and Glassman, with the latter labeled "Grandpa". As Shaun gets out the hats for a photo, he sadly looks at the "Grandpa" hat and sets it aside.
  • Bookends: The finale has at least two nods from the first episode.
    • When he rushes to help the injured boy at the airport, Shaun introduces himself to a nearby doctor and everyone else present at the accident spot as a surgical resident working at St. Bonaventure Hospital. This time, Shaun introduces himself as the Chief of Surgery to the audience (including his colleauges) attending his TED talk about his experience at the hospital.
    • Shaun gives a speech to the hospital's board of directors, including Andrews, (all of whom are skeptical of him due to his condition) about why does he want to be a doctor as Glassman bats for him to get hired. Shaun again says part of his speech to Lea and Glassman, after accepting that his surrogate father's brain cancer cannot be cured, but this time the room is empty and Andrews is not around anymore.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Dr. Lim, possibly. After a female judge abuses her power, Lim says that women in power are often worse than men, despite being a woman in a position of authority herself.
  • Breakout Character:
    • Lea, Shaun's neighbor, would originally appear in just two episodes of Season 1, but the positive reception of the character by fans and the chemistry of Paige Spara with Freddie Highmore made the writers increase the number of appearances of the character. She was promoted to the main cast on Season 2 and became the love interest of Shaun.
    • Carly, one of the hospital's pathologists, had a few brief appearances in Season 1, then her role expanded towards the end of Season 2 when Shaun was (temporarily) moved to her department. In the Season 2 finale, Shaun asks her out on a date, and she accepts, leading to an ongoing story arc between the two in Season 3.
  • Brick Joke:
    • While playing golf in Glassman's house, Shaun prepares to take the next shot, and Aaron tells him to be careful about the nearby vase. The scene cuts away, and when the pair return at the end of the episode, we see that the vase is broken. It is also revealed that it held the ashes of Glassman's grandmother.
    • In "Teeny Blue Eyes", Asher confides in Claire that he is hesitant to eat cheeseburgers because they're not kosher and doing so would further distance himself from his religious family. At the end of the episode, he finally does and enjoys it. In the next episode "Spilled Milk", Asher casually eats a cheeseburger during a brainstorming session with Shaun.
    • In season 5, episode 9. After coming to an agreement over their previous bickering concerning his lack of trust on Lea for deleting his scores, based just on her initial refusal to be on a relationship with him because of his autism (which was two years ago), Shaun suggests getting a cowbell and ring it should this ever happen again. Three episodes later, Lea does bring a cowbell and rings it.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • Shaun's idea of small talk over the operating table is "You're very arrogant... does it hurt you as a person?"
    • Lea is also that, and interestingly, this is the main reason why she and Shaun become best friends. Lea's honesty makes Shaun feel comfortable, while Lea considers Shaun the only man who has never lied to her.
  • Bury Your Gays: In "Not Fake", a female patient who is married to a woman dies.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Shaun's next-door neighbor Lea moves away roughly halfway through Season 1, then moves back to San Jose in the Season 2 premiere. She beomes Shaun's roommate in Season 2, and they become a couple in Season 3.
    • Jessica Preston returns briefly in Season 4 premiere after being absent from Seasons 2 and 3.
    • Claire returns to San Jose for two episodes in Season 5 to attend Shaun and Lea's wedding, although she ends up missing out on the real wedding.
    • Jared returns on a recurring basis in Season 6, after leaving St. Bonaventure in the Season 2 premiere.
  • The Cast Show Off: Antonia Thomas is the daughter of a classical singer and can really sing herself. She notably sang while dropping her ashes into the sea lion den and then again during her season 5 guest shot.
  • Character Development: Melendez and Andrews are initially suspicious of Shaun and even prejudiced against him. Over the course of the series they become much more sympathetic.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Chuck mentioning his daughter's recent graduation, when it's later revealed he has some alcohol in his blood — which being a liver recipient he can't — from having one glass of champagne at her graduation ball.
    • When Claire's alcoholic mother comes to stay with her, Claire gets rid of all the booze in her apartment except a bottle of champagne, which she hides. At the end of the episode, her mother finds and drinks the champagne, then gets into a car crash and dies.
    • In Season 5, businesswoman Salen Morrison and her company Ethicure purchase the hospital and implement a lot of controversial changes, even going as far as to put a poster of Shaun ("Some doctors are different, some hospitals too") to boost its reputation. Shaun, of course, is against it and immediately demands for the poster to be removed, but he eventually relents after a young patient Holly reveals how inspired she was by him. When another patient almost dying on the table on Andrews' watch becomes the last straw for Shaun to quit, Glassman and Lea encourage Shaun to ask Salen to rehire him, so Shaun turns the tables on Salen by bringing up the poster, knowing that dragging him out of the hospital "kicking and screaming" (as Glassman puts it) would result in a PR scandal. It works, leaving Salen with no choice but to allow him back.
  • Chick Magnet: Shaun attracts the interests of his neighbour Lea, his colleague Carly, and one of the nurses. Not bad for an autistic man with No Social Skills - it comes down to his Nice Guy attitude and being really awesome at his job.
  • Childhood Brain Damage: Melendez's little sister was brain-damaged by a tree-climbing accident as a child. The family became poor because of her medical bills, and she now lives in a group home.
  • Christmas Episode: The "Quarantine" two-parter from Season 2.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Andrews' wife, Dr. Isabel Barnes (originally Marsha Thomason), appeared in three episodes of Season 1, then disappeared in Seasons 2 and 3, with Andrews only mentioning her once when inquired by Shaun about his love life. In Season 4, when Andrews quarantines in his garage to protect her from COVID-19, a photo of her is shown, along with a handwritten note from her. Andrews eventually calls to her and goes inside the house, but she is still never seen or heard, and Andrews later reveals that they have divorced after she was caught cheating. Isabel returns in Season 6, now recast (Golden Brooks) and working for a different hospital, as shown by her "Visitor" tag.
    • Hospital attorney Jessica Preston (Beau Garrett) after Season 1. Since then, she had only one brief mention by Glassman, and the character's absence or departure was never explained. It wasn't even known if she was still employed at St. Bonaventure until her brief guest appearance in the Season 4 premiere.
    • St. Bonaventure Chairwoman Allegra Aoki (Tamlyn Tomita) was a main cast member in the first two seasons. In Season 3, she only appeared in the first episode as a guest and was never mentioned since. This is likely because Tomita moved on to a recurring role in Star Trek: Picard.
    • Carly was a recurring character in the first two seasons and a series regular in Season 3 as Shaun's love interest. Her last appearance was in the episode "Autopsy", where Shaun finally admits that he loves Lea and she encourages him to declare himself to Lea. After that, Carly no longer appears in the final four episodes of the season, and eventually the showrunner revealed that her character would not return to the series, without any in-universe explanation for her absence.
    • Although Dr. Mateo Rendón (Osvaldo Benavides) was promoted to a main character shortly after his debut, resulting in him moving to San Jose and getting a job at St. Bonaventure to be closer to Lim, he was quickly written off the show after Benavides left (or was possibly fired) for unknown reasons. When Lim gets one of Mateo's ex-girlfriends as a patient, she learns of how Mateo neglected and ignored her while being away for long periods of time aside from sending occasional gifts and notes, which is exactly what he was now doing to Lim. She breaks up with him via voicemail while he's still away. Mateo ended up only appearing in a total of six episodes (less than Salen Morrison, despite Rachel Bay Jones being credited as a guest in all appearances), and the show has not directly acknowledged what happened to him since; Salen claims Lim fired him due to the failed relationship, but Lim claims he quit on his own.
    • Kellan Park (Ricky He) has not appeared since the two-part Season 4 opener (and even then, only via video calls), but his father still mentions him several times since then.
  • Clueless Aesop: The episode "Influence", season 3 episode 14, tries to cover the issue of consent before for posting photos on social media, with an influencer asking Shaun about it, but doesn't tackle it well, because the genre's limitations prevent it from being explored fully.
  • Company Cross References: Being a series produced by Sony Pictures Television for ABC, there are many references to other properties owned by Sony, ABC, or the latter's parent company, Disney:
    • In "More", Glassman fondly remembers Maddie dressing up like Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
    • In "Stories", Glassman mentions National Geographic, which was in the process of being acquired by Disney at the time the episode first aired in November 2018.
    • The episodes "Quarantine" and "Waiting" both feature breaking news stories playing on hospital TV's tuned to KGO-TV, the real-life ABC station local to the show's setting (one of eight stations owned and operated by the network), complete with its "ABC 7" logo.
    • In "Debts", when the other residents give Shaun relationship advice, Andrews comments, "We've officially turned into an episode of The Bachelor", another popular ABC primetime show. Both shows also aired on Monday nights for several seasons. In "My Way", Jordan mentions watching The Bachelorette.
    • In "Believe", Carly compares Shaun's first time in the pathology lab to one's first trip to Disneyland.
    • In "Moonshot", Carly has a pillow shaped like R2D2 from Star Wars in her living room. In the following episode, "Incomplete", a young woman is admitted to St. Bonaventure after suffering a mini-stroke during a themed engagement photoshoot, where she was dressed as Princess Leia and her fiancé as Han Solo.
    • In "The Family", Lea gives Shaun a Groot plushie to give to his young patient.
    • In "Sex and Death", Shaun visits Carly while dressed in a kilt so the two can binge-watch Outlander, a show produced by Sony Pictures Television.
    • In the Season 4 episode "Decrypt", Glassman disagrees with Lea calling her previous company a "car company" just because she built software for cars. He argues with her logic by saying that it would be like saying Sony is a car company because they make car stereos.
    • In "Venga", Claire's patient's daughter says that she knows a bit about medicine from watching Grey's Anatomy, another medical drama on ABC (which has a bit of a rivalry with The Good Doctor). Claire responds, "Being a surgeon is not much like that."
    • The episode "Potluck" contains several references to the live-action Spider Man movies, which are distributed by Sony Pictures (and part of the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2016). At one point, Lim says, "I haven't seen the new one yet." The episode aired less than four months after its release. The end of the episode shows Andrews and Lim watching a television airing of Spider-Man 2.
    • In "My Way", Shaun and Lea meet a producer who is creating a new reality series for Hulu, a streaming platform owned by Disney that hosts all ABC programs.
    • In "Growth Opportunities", a Halloween Episode, several characters are dressed as Disney-owned characters: Asher as Baby Yoda from The Mandalorian, Perez as Sully from Monsters, Inc., Lea as Ahsoka from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Park as Wolverine, Villanueva as Minnie Mouse, and a young patient as Disney's version of Cinderella. Two background characters are also seen dressed as a Ghostbuster and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man; the Ghostbusters franchise is owned by Sony Pictures.
    • In "39 Differences", Jordan mentions recording Shark Tank on her DVR, a show that shares both Sony Pictures and ABC in common with The Good Doctor.
    • In "Faith", a patient's daughter mentions that he is a fan of 30 for 30, a series of sports documentaries that mostly air on ABC's sister network ESPN, and occasionally air on ABC as well.
  • Curse Cut Short: In "Two-Ply (or Not Two-Ply)", when Shaun texts Lea a picture of how the toilet paper rolls are hung in the hospital restrooms to prove his point that toilet paper should always be hung over the roll and not under, he quickly receives a response that he does not understand:
    Shaun: (reading Lea's reply) "I-D-G-A..." (shows his phone to Claire) I think it's an acronym, or maybe even an anagram.
    Claire: I don't think Lea cares about the toilet paper debate.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Several of the main characters have one.
    • Shaun's father physically and emotionally abused him, and his mother did nothing to help. He ran away with his brother Steve and was homeless for a while. Steve died in an accident later.
    • Claire grew up up poor in a trailer. Her mother emotionally abused her, and blamed her for the situation.
    • Jared's parents neglected him, leaving him to be raised by his nannies and maids. When he got older, they abandoned him entirely.
    • Melendez's sister was crippled in an accident, and his family became very poor from paying her medical bills.
    • Dr. Lim's father caught her with a boy when she was 15. He hit her so hard that it left a scar.
    • Morgan's mother always showed Parental Favoritism towards her brother and sister, due to them all being artistic while Morgan is not.
    • Lea says that her family is a mess and her brother blames her for the failure of the store he inherited from their grandfather. She also constantly says that Shaun is the only man in her life who never lied to her. In Season 4, it is revealed that Lea has been married in the past but is divorced, much to Shaun's astonishment, as she has never mentioned this fact to him in the four years since they met.
  • Dating Catwoman: Downplayed with Villanueva and Andrews in season 6.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • The third episode of Season 3, "Claire", is is focused from start to finish on Dr. Claire Browne, showing not only her personal life but also a day at the hospital from her point of view. Shaun is only secondary in the main plot of the episode.
    • Season 3 episode 13, "Sex and Death", focuses a lot on Morgan's relationship with her family.
    • The sixth episode of Season 4, "Lim", follows the same narrative structure as "Claire", but this time with Lim as the protagonist.
    • The tenth episode of Season 4, "Decrypt", is mainly focused on Lea having to resolve a hacking attack at the hospital.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • In the Turkish adaptation (Mucize Doktor), Dr. Glassman's equivalent does succumb to his cancer.
    • Aoki's equivalent from the Turkish adaptation is killed in a fire explosion.
  • Death of a Child: The Littlest Cancer Patient Shaun bonds with in "Point Three Percent". Shaun looks for an unlikely case of misdiagnosis that might provide the boy with a chance to live, but he turns out to be wrong. The boy is revealed to have figured his terminal state despite being sheltered by his parents and to have accepted it already.
  • Decomposite Character: Dr. Cha's role in the Korean version was divided between Claire (the female co-worker of Shaun) and Lea (the neighbor and love interest of Shaun).
  • Deuteragonist: It can be argued that Claire is this in the first four seasons, since she is the only character besides Shaun who appeared in all the episodes of the show so far, has a lot of screentime and is also one of the few characters who had an A Day in the Limelight episode exclusively focused on her and in which Shaun clearly played a secondary role. However, Claire ends up losing this title because of her departure at the end of Season 4.
  • Disney Death: In "Yippee Ki-Yay", a patient undergoing a risky trachea transplant seemingly dies on the table after bleeding out during the procedure. Andrews tries chest compressions in vain as she flatlines for several seconds, and finally gives up as the surgical team hangs their heads, until the monitor suddenly starts beeping steadily. It turns out the patient survived the bleed thanks to her optimal clotting factors. Despite this, Shaun still considers the surgery a failure since she would have died if not for that, and blames Andrews for taking on the risky surgery just to impress Salen.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Shaun absolutely hates pickles. He will not eat anything that even touches pickles. In "Irresponsible Salad Bar Practices", Lea tries to help Shaun get over a developing crush on a new resident by stalking her in the cafeteria and noticing that she loves pickles, and even uses the wrong salad bar tongs for them. Shaun is instantly disgusted and over her. Also, in "Quarantine", the first thing Shaun says when greeted by a worried Lea and Glassman:
    Lea: You must be exhausted.
    Shaun: And hungry. All the sandwiches they gave us had pickles in them.
    Lea: Oh, that's no good.
  • Double Standard: Jared gets fired for assaulting Dr. Matt Coyle who made unwanted sexual advances to Claire and sues the hospital for racism after finding out that all white doctors have only been given a warning over their behavior. He wins and gets his job back, but Andrews and Melendez lose whatever respect they had for him.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: When a female patient kisses Shaun, Claire tells him he should press charges for assault. She says that if the genders were reversed, everyone would be taking it way more seriously.
  • Down in the Dumps: After Shaun and Steve ran away from home, they lived in an abandoned bus in a junkyard.
  • Dr. Jerk: The initial role of Melendez as the antagonist in Season 1. He's very good, but is full of himself. Not only is he not very friendly, he's also deliberately mean.
    • Andrews initially goes out of his way to push Shaun into a position of responsibility for the sole purpose of making it more noticeable when he messes up and overreacts to Claire following his instructions to be more assertive.
    • Morgan is this initially, but her co-workers and patients start to make her (a little) more gentle.
  • Dropped After the Pilot: The pilot episode, "Burnt Food", had an additional resident on Melendez's team, Dr. Elle McLean (Irene Keng). She was never seen or mentioned again afterwards.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: In "Faces", Glassman tells Shaun about how he and his high school friends used to call each other nicknames based on putting their first initial in front of the first syllable of their last name, and calls Shaun "Smurf" throughout the episode, but notes that "A-Glass" didn't work well for his own name. When they visit one of Glassman's old friends (Findlay Lake or "Flake"), Shaun finds hilarity in learning that Glassman's nickname was actually "Glaaron Assman".
  • Fake Guest Star:
    • Fiona Gubelmann (Morgan) and Will Yun Lee (Park) are credited as guest stars for their Season 1 appearances despite appearing in every episode since their debuts.
    • All of the new residents in Season 4 are credited as guest stars for the remainder of the season despite appearing in almost every episode from then on.
    • Rachel Bay Jones (Salen) is credited as a guest star despite being an integral character to the Story Arc of the first half of Season 5, specifically appearing in the first ten episodes in which it takes place.
    • Brandon Larracuente (Perez) is credited as guest star in Season 6, despite appearing in all but two of the first episodes, and then being promoted to a series regular since the twelfth episode "365 Degrees" and appearing for the rest of the season's run before his departure in the finale.
    • Savannah Welch (Powell) is credited as a guest star in Season 6, despite appearing in all but three of the first episodes, before she is given a sendoff in her last appearance.
    • Chuku Modu (Jared) is credited as a guest star starting from his return in Season 6, despite starting out in the series as a main character (and still being billed as a main cast member in Season 2's "Hello" despite being his only appearance in that season), appearing in all but one episode following his return as a resident, and ultimately once again becoming a series regular in Season 7.
  • Filler: There are some episodes which don't add much to the ongoing Story Arc, and in general, it's an enforced trope due to executive demands.
  • Filler Villain: Although Jackson Han, the new Chief of Surgery isn't a typical villain given the show normally has No Antagonist, he fills this role in Season 2 in the four episodes he appears in. However, this is an Enforced Trope simply to give a major plot conflict with a villain in Season 2 (although the Rotating Arc structure meant there were conflicts anyway).
  • Five-Token Band:
    • The show is lauded for its diverse main cast. In the current main cast, Andrews and Jordan are black, Park and Lim are Asian, Shaun is disabled (and eventually, Lim as well), Perez is Hispanic, and Asher is openly gay. From previous seasons, Claire and Jared are black, Aoki is Asian, and Melendez and Mateo are Hispanic. Carly's race was never discussed, but her actress, Jasika Nicole, is biracial.
    • The six resident applicants in "Newbies" consist of: two white males (one of whom is Asher), two black females, an Asian male, and a Hispanic male. The current residents and Lim have to decide which four of them to hire. Ultimately, the two who do not get hired are the straight white male (whom most of the others disliked from the start) and the Asian, who voluntarily dropped out after finding the residents' behavior around them unprofessional, but would have been hired otherwise. This ultimately results in the onboarding of Enrique, Olivia, Jordan, and Asher. The latter two would be promoted to main characters the following season.
    • The show has occasionally gone brief periods without a Hispanic character, though the void is usually filled soon afterwards. Melendez served as the sole Hispanic main character from Seasons 1-3. Dr. Enrique Guerin (although a recurring character) fills the void shortly into Season 4, but he eventually quits his residency, resulting in no Hispanic characters for the rest of the season. This void was again briefly filled with the addition of Dr. Mateo Rendón (Osvaldo Benavides) in Season 5, but Benavides left the show for undisclosed reasons just a few episodes in. Starting in Season 6, new resident Dr. Daniel Perez (Brandon Larracuente) now covers having a Hispanic character; Larracuente was promoted to main cast shortly into the season.
    • In "Gender Reveal", Shaun and Lea attend a birthing class. Of the seven couples present, only two are white and heterosexual, counting Shaun and Lea. The rest consist of one black couple, three interracial couples (both with a black male and white female and vice-versa), and a lesbian couple.
  • Foreign Remake:
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the Season 3 episode "First Case, Second Base", Glassman uneasily looks at Debbie's gun while she's in the shower and takes out the bullets. When he hears the water turn off, he quickly puts them back and puts the gun away before she comes into the room. In the Season 4 episode "Forgive or Forget", Debbie mistakes Glassman for an intruder and almost shoots him, only to discover that he secretly unloaded her gun in case an incident like this were to happen. This ends up being the final straw in their marriage.
    • In the Season 3 episode "Friends and Family", Glassman and Lea discuss Shaun and his parents. At one point, Glassman asks Lea if she plans to have children one day, and she doesn't answer the question, preferring to remain silent. In Season 4, Lea accidentally becomes pregnant with Shaun.
    • In the Season 4 episode "Newbies", Lea tells Shaun that she needs to constantly protect the hospital from hackers. That will be very important later in Season 4, Episode 10, "Decrypt".
    • In the fifth episode of Season 4, "Fault", Shaun makes a list of the things that Lea likes, one of which is camping. In the eighteenth episode "Forgive or Forget", Shaun decides to take Lea camping in an attempt to distract her from the pain of losing their unborn child.
    • In the Season 4 episode "Gender Reveal", Park asks Asher if he ever dates multiple men at the same time. Asher responds, "By the time food gets involved, I prefer to be exclusive." In the Season 5 episode "Dry Spell", Asher is asked out on a dinner date by Jerome, and the two date exclusively for the remainder of the series.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "SFAD" (pronounced "S-fad") from the eponymous Season 3 episode refers to a ritual of a patient's family: Spontaneous Family Adventure Days.
  • Fun with Subtitles: In the last two episodes of Season 4, the gang travels to Guatemala on a mission, so the episode features several exchanges of dialogue in Spanish (which Shaun knows fluently, as does Freddie Highmore in real life). Although the Spanish dialogue is not subtitled by default, the closed captioning translates all of it to English, even when someone verbally translates it immediately afterwards.
  • Good Doc, Bad Doc: Shaun, Claire, and Glassman certainly fit under the definition of good doc, putting both patients and morals first. Melendez, Andrews, and Jared seem more interested in themselves and making money.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Being a show that airs on Disney-owned network ABC, profanity used on the show doesn't get any worse than "ass" and the occasional "bitch". There have been several times were "hell" and "damn" have been used in contexts where they most definitely would have been F-bombs if not for broadcast television standards. Shaun even considers "hell" and "damn" swear words, and suggests getting a swear jar after Lea says them both in front of Steve.
  • Half-Arc Season: As of Season 3, there are always two arcs running simultaneously; Season 4 was the COVID-19 pandemic and Shaun and Lea's relationship.
  • Halloween Episode: "Growth Opportunities" from Season 6, albeit only up to the first commercial break. The episode originally aired and takes place on October 31, 2022. The opening theme is changed to a "scary" variant for this episode.
  • Hate Sink: Shaun's parents. Shaun's father was an abusive alcoholic who beat and humiliated Shaun to the point of killing his pet rabbit. Shaun's mother was a cowardly woman who never did anything to prevent this abuse and remained at her husband's side even after Steve died and Shaun left them. When Shaun finds out that his father is dying and wants to talk to him, Lea, who knows only the stories about what happened, makes it clear to Shaun that his parents were two monsters and that he owes them nothing. Still, after an initial fight, Shaun decides to forgive his father... only for him to cruelly say before he dies that Shaun is weak and that he is to blame for his brother's death. After that, Shaun is so traumatized that he doesn't even go to his father's funeral and never talks to his mother again.
  • He Had a Name: The Oliver in "Oliver" is the dead patient of the liver to be transplanted.note  This episode also has a preemptive version in Glassman saying "He's called Chuck" to screw the rules and get him a surgery, but he doesn't get it.
  • Hello, Attorney!: In "36 Hours", Lim shouts at a corrupt traffic court judge and spends a few hours in jail. After she is released, she encounters the male court prosecutor on the street. He is noticeably infatuated with her rebellious, competitive personality she showed in the courtroom and in her refusal to tell any of her colleagues about going to court or being locked up, out of fear that it may jeopardize her chances of being promoted to Chief of Surgery. They hook up shortly afterwards, but much to the prosecutor's dismay, Shaun and Morgan page Lim to the O.R. during their foreplay.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Claire states that a young women she's working with isn't the type of girl who does porn in college. Justified in that Claire's worked with sex workers as a volunteer, and while there were many different types, this girl doesn't have the same "armor" as all of them did.
  • Hospital Gurney Scene: When Shaun rushes the little girl to the hospital, she gets delivered from emergent arrivals to the OR on a gurney like this — Shaun on top, keeping her alive.
  • Hospital Hottie:
    • Park has some muscle to show off. In one episode, Morgan "pranks" him by hiding all the scrubs in his size, forcing him to wear smaller, tighter scrubs that show off his muscles.
    • Dr. Coyle, who appears only in Season 1, is a hit with some of the female doctors and nurses. When Claire is assigned to work with him on a case, he goes too far in making advances on her, and eventually gets transferred to a different department as a result.
    • Jerome, a male nurse who asks Asher out after working on a case together. Asher (and likely other staff) had no idea he was gay until this point. Asher himself is admired by many of the show's female and gay male fans as well.
    • Dr. Daniel Perez is admired by many of the female staff, especially Jordan. He even gets a slow-motion Shirtless Scene set to the overture from Romeo & Juliet.
  • Identical Stranger: Shaun's plotline in "Point Three Percent" involves him treating a boy with terminal cancer who looks identical to his brother, Steve. The boy is played by the same actor who plays Steve in flashbacks.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: In Season 1, most of the episode titles are simple words or phrases that have some significance to Shaun, but are not otherwise relevant to the plot (e.g. "Apple" refers to Shaun trying to buy an apple at a store, which ends up being robbed and a patron is shot due to Shaun's abnormal reaction angering the robber). This can be interpreted as a meta aspect of the show that further reveals how he sees the world. In Seasons 2 onward, most of the titles are more direct references to the plot.
  • Idiot Savant: Shaun is an autistic savant, where his Disability Superpower isn't just enhanced perception but the logical extreme of being able to project his medical knowledge visually onto patients so that he can make technically-perfect decisions. He also seems to have a Photographic Memory both from the textbook lens he has and being able to immediately recall complex procedures and their variations for children and people with differing preexisting medical conditions.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Barb, who has both a rare condition and a tumor in her womb, whilst on her fourth pregnancy after three miscarriages. The condition means that surgery could be fatal.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Shaun and Glassman get high on medical marijuana in "Faces".
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Even though Morgan often gives Shaun brutally honest advice that he's not fond of hearing, she is right about it more often than not. In "Xin", Morgan believes Shaun is jealous that Lea has a boyfriend that sometimes spends the night in their apartment, even though Shaun insists he's okay with it. Shaun tells Morgan that he hopes that he can befriend Lea's boyfriend so the three of them can all spend time together. Morgan tells him that even if they do become friends, Lea will still want time just with her boyfriend. Later in the episode, Lea tells him exactly the same thing, and at the end of the next episode, Shaun admits to Glassman that he's not okay with Lea's relationship.
  • Karma Houdini: The girl from Shaun's childhood, Colleen, let's her friends humiliate Shaun after she tricked him to pull his pants down. She does not get any comeuppance for that.
  • Killed Off for Real: Melendez dies in the finale of Season 3.
  • Kirk Summation: Melendez gets one from a nurse he tries to chew out — she shuts him down and makes him think about his treatment of nurses after he snaps at her for not stopping Shaun if she knew he was ordering excessive tests. She replies that in her experience, doctors don't listen to nurses and only talk to them when they want to yell, like now. He then makes her Shaun's supervisor for the day, as some sort of punishment-reward.
  • Last-Name Basis: Drs. Aaron Glassman, Marcus Andrews, Neil Melendez, Audrey Lim, Alex Park, Danica Powell, and Daniel Perez, as well as Chairwoman Allegra Aoki, are all more commonly referred to by their last names, even in casual conversation. They are also identified by their last names in the scripts, and on the closed captions and Audio Description (the latter of which was added in Season 4), while the other characters are identified by their first names. Nurse Dalisay Villanueva is also mostly referred to by her last name, except by Lim. The original draft script for the pilot also referred to Jessica Preston by her last name, though the show proper would use her first name.
    • Inverted with Lea, whose last name wasn't even known until the end of Season 3.
    • Zigzagged with Dr. Jared Kalu. He is mostly referred to by his first name, but is occasionally addressed by his last name even when not preceding it with "Doctor". The audio description refers to him as Jared in Season 6, but as Kalu in Season 7.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Andrews was last seen in the Season 6 finale choosing to quit his position as President of St. Bonaventure Hospital. In July 2023, Hill Harper was announced as a candidate for Senate in Michigan, but his future on the show was uncertain at the time, which led fans to suspect he wouldn't return for Season 7. It wasn't until November of the same year that his departure was officially confirmed by TV Line.
  • Leitmotif: Uplifting violin music plays whenever there is a tender or understanding moment between two people.
  • Lockdown: In Season 2 episode "Quarantine", the ER and its waiting room are quarantined after two patients, travelers returning from Malaysia, die of a viral respiratory disease. Those quarantined include Shaun, Morgan, Lim, and Alex's estranged son Kellan.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • In one episode a woman wants to have dangerous surgery that also concerns her unborn child, but her husband doesn't want it to happen. Whilst a husband has no legal power over his wife's medical treatment while she is conscious and of sound mind, a father does over his child, and being a dual surgery affecting both mother and child he may have the power to stop it on these grounds. Of course, he doesn't want to do it for the benefit of the child, but for his own opinions regarding what's best for the mother, as a fact that the mother and all medical staff could attest to it would get any attempt at him claiming the hospital operated on his child against his wishes thrown out of any reasonable court.
    • In an earlier episode, Melendez makes a nurse Shaun's supervisor for a day. When a little girl needs surgery, the nurse reminds Shaun that they need to confirm it with Melendez, but Mendelez is performing surgery on a different patient, and they don't have time. The nurse tries to remind Shaun she's in charge, but Shaun points out that since it's after midnight, it's technically the next day, clearing Shaun to make the call.
    • In "Dr. Ted", when Lea's pregnancy suffers complications, Shaun unsuccessfully tries to join the case, claiming that it does not break the rule of no family members since he and Lea were not married (at the time).
      Shaun: I reviewed the rules. It is a conflict of interest for doctors to operate on family members. Lea and I are not married, so, mm— is no conflict.
      Claire: Shaun, Lea is carrying your child.
      Shaun: We aren't operating on the child.
      Lim: You're citing technicalities.
      Shaun: I am citing the rules.
      Lim: And why are those rules in place? So that people with emotional conflicts don't get—
      Shaun: Then the rule should have said that. It doesn't.
  • Luxurious Liquor: After characters' expositions introducing Mr. Wannamaker as an important and rich donor to the hospital, the first thing he says when we meet him is about expensive scotch.
  • MacGyvering: In the first episode, Shaun makes a one-way valve out of baggage handling tape and a tube from a vending machine.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: The surgical team spends a lot of time diagnosing issues that other doctors would do before referring the patient to surgery:
    • In "36 Hours", the ER is short-staffed so Shaun and Morgan cover, but there are no other doctors to be seen and the attending is Lim, a surgeon.
    • In "Carrots", when an independent review panel was needed to approve a procedure, it was made up of three main characters, including Melendez, who is part of the surgery.
    • After Carly, a laboratory technician, develops a romantic relationship with Shaun in season 3, him and the surgical team frequently deliver specimens to the lab personally so as to have the opportunity to talk. It is lampshaded on the first occasion when a technician points out delivering samples is a courier's responsibility.
    • In "Boys Don't Cry", a premature birthing of sextuplets is handled entirely by the surgical team, including Glassman, Nurse Jerome, and the two newest residents, Perez and Powell. The team is split up into groups of one or two to monitor each baby until (or if) they are viable to hand off to the parents. Not once are any obstetricians or pediatricians shown to be involved.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The ending of "Claire", twice if you count the "next episode" preview that played during the credits during the episode's initial airing. In the last five minutes, things go from Claire succeeding at her first lead surgery, to her mother dying in a car accident, to Glassman and Debbie preparing to get married.
    • The finale of Season 3, "I Love You": The first 40 minutes of the episode are filled with tragedies: Morgan ends up damaging her hands in surgery, which means that her professional career as a surgeon is over; Park is unable to save a boy, and is so traumatized by the experience that he decides to leave the city and return to his family; and Melendez dies, to Lim and Claire's pain and grief. The episode ends with Shaun and Lea becoming a couple and kissing at sunrise, on a triumphant and hopeful note that ends up being a little strange after all the other characters' plots have ended in a tragic way.
    • The last minute of the Seaosn 5 finale, "Sons": Shaun and Lea finally get married during a small ceremony on the hospital rooftop. Lim goes downstairs to fetch more champagne glasses and finds Villanueva on the floor covered in blood. Still clinging to life, she tries to warn Lim that her abusive ex-boyfriend, whom she filed a restraining order against, snuck his way into the hospital. Just then, he stabs Lim and leaves her also in a pool of blood on the floor of a dark room with nobody else around. The final shot pulls out of the room and pans up to the roof to show all of the other characters dancing and celebrating Shaun and Lea's marriage as The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" plays.
    • The second-to-last episode of the series, "Unconditional", threefold: Park and Morgan get married at the same place where they had their first date with everyone present, including Claire. Jordan and Dom sing on stage as everyone dances, but Jordan's face falls after she sees Jared kissing Claire and resuming their relationship from Season 1. Across the bar, Glassman tells Shaun that his cancer is back as a glioblastoma, and this time, it's terminal. Outside, Jared waits with Claire for an Uber back to her hotel as she suddenly loses consciousness, and orders the driver to hurry to St. Bonaventure.
  • Moral Myopia:
    • In "Risk and Reward", Shaun is reprimanded for "telling" a new mother that her antidepressants may have caused her baby's birth defects. Everyone acts as if Shaun bluntly told her such, much like his many blunt diagnoses that got him in trouble in Season 1, but in this instance, the mother anxiously asked Shaun if the antidepressants were the cause, as her obstetrician told her they would be safe to take, but begins to wonder if that was a lie. Shaun answers her question truthfully despite also mentioning that most birth defects have no known cause. The parents are furious at his response, and this incident a major factor in Dr. Han moving Shaun to pathology, despite Shaun being more conscious of his communication skills than usual, if anything.
    Mother: We spoke to our obstetrician. She said these defects can happen for no reason, right?
    Shaun: That's true. Over 50% have no known cause.
    Mother: I was taking paroxetine for clinical depression.
    Father: And you went off the meds as soon as you found out you were pregnant. She was five, six weeks at most.
    Mother: My OB told me studies show antidepressants are safe to take during pregnancy. But is that true, or is she protecting me?
    Shaun: There was a study that associated paroxetine with these kinds of defects. It is a possibility.
    • The conflict in "45-Degree Angle" stems from Shaun telling a nurse that she was handing a clamp to him "incorrectly", which escalated into an argument and Shaun kicking her out of the OR. Earlier in this episode, said nurse was gaslighting Shaun about his relationship status with Carly, which struck a nerve with him, but that didn't appear to play a role in the situation with the clamp, despite Lim's insistence that Shaun kicked her out because of "personal issues". Indeed, surgeons must be handed their equipment in a proper way, and one of the other nurses did so properly during their "rehearsal surgery". Shaun was in the wrong by failing to sufficiently explain the right way to hand the clamp beyond silently making a vague hand gesture when asked, but Shaun is the one who gets an HR complaint on his record after the nurse was the one who escalated the situation by telling Shaun to "take the damn clamp" and refusing to listen to his explanation of how tools should be handed.
    • In Season 6, Glassman blames Shaun for the surgery he performed on Lim against his orders that caused her paralysis, yet both he and Andrews had no problem ignoring Shaun's suggestion of a bypass machine for Lim and instead using it for Owen, of all people, when he he had just broken into a hospital and almost killed Lim and Villanueva. And Shaun is supposed to be the one judged over their own mistakes?
    Jerome: Wait. Does Lim need bypass, too? (Andrews and Shaun nod) We've only got enough tubing and cannulas to operate one machine. Resupply doesn't come in until 5:00 AM.
    Glassman: Are we pretending that there's a debate? We're not risking Lim's life for this man.
    Andrews: We do have another option. We can repair Lim's heart with an occluder device. She won't need bypass.
    Shaun: No. No. That is a terrible idea. Percutaneous closure is too risky. Open heart surgery is the optimal procedure for traumatic VSD.
    Andrews: I know, but he will die without bypass. Lim's surgery will just be harder without it, but doable. (turns to Glassman) Do you agree?
    Glassman: I agree with Dr. Andrews.
    Shaun: No. This is not fair. Dr. Lim didn't hurt anyone. He did. And now we need to help her. She needs the bypass machine.
    Andrews: I've made my decision.
  • Motor Mouth: Medical student Charlie Lukaitis, who is autistic, is self-aware of her tendency to talk too much when excited. Her fellow student Dom Hubank has to tell her when her talking gets out of hand.
  • Mrs. Robinson: In "Heartfelt", Aoki courts a local entrepreneur much younger than her to speak at the hospital gala. She tells Andrews that she felt a "spark" during their encounter, and then asks him out at the end of the episode.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Downplayed, but it was done in the episode "Heartbreak" with Nathalie Beauchemin, as Meghan Heffern's career was slowly starting to become more prominent.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In "Sex and Death", Morgan's reaction after she taunts her mother by gleefully reading aloud a scathing review of one of her art exhibits, causing her to have a seizure.
  • Next Sunday A.D.:
    • While several episodes are implied to take place around the same time they first air, "Quarantine (Part 1)", which first aired December 3, 2018, takes place on Christmas Eve.
    • Starting with the third episode of Season 4, which began in November 2019 during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, the show's timeline is moved forward to a hopeful post-pandemic future, as noted by a special introduction from Freddie Highmore.
  • Nice Girl: Claire is perpetually friendly and well-mannered to everyone; she is initially rude to Shaun when he shows up, but as a child's life was in danger and she was under stress, it's an understandable exception. Later on, she puts more effort in getting to know and understand him, and stands up for him frequently to Melendez and Kalu.
  • No Antagonist: Zig-zagged. Most of the time there is not a traditional villain in this series - medical bureaucracy or an occasional Jerkass patient are the main things causing the conflict; a Big Bad normally doesn't fit the narrative of mant episodes. The Jerkass patient occasionally realizes they were wrong, and the conflict gets resolved quickly. A lot of the time the conflict comes from Shaun and his misunderstanding of social conventions due to the nature of his disability, or trying to solve a medical problem than an Arc Villain. However, the only real exceptions were:
    • Kenny from Season 1 was more of a Harmless Villain leeching off Shaun when he started living as a room-mate with Lea who was never seen again after a few episodes, but he was more of a antagonist than a true over-arching villain.
    • Dr. Morgan Reznick, a major character introduced in "She", Season 1, Episode 14, about Transgender individuals, although it took the next two seasons for her to gain Character Development, and while never at a Bully Turned Buddy level, she became less hostile towards Shaun and Claire.
    • The only character who could be seen as a true villain would be Jackson Han at the start of Season 2 who is a Jerkass and uses Blackmail in the episode "Quarantine", but he's closer to a Hate Sink than traditional villain in terms of behavior.
    • In Season 5, Salen Morrison is viewed as the antagonist from most characters' perspective, especially after her budget cuts result in the death of a baby who could not be saved only due to an entire supply of the necessary medicine being expired in "Expired". Prior to this, she does have some positive interactions with Shaun and others, and Lea manages to get on her good side by impressing her with her technical expertise.
    • In the Season 6 premiere, Villanueva's abusive ex, Owen, who storms into the hospital and seriously injures both her and Lim when they try to stop him, and later the hospital is under siege because of his violent nature. However, he's truly sorry for what he did and unsuccessfully tries to commit suicide by cop, but he survives and is arrested. But in the process, the severity of Lim's injuries and Shaun's involvement in her surgery leave her paralyzed from the waist down. Throughout the first half of the season, even though Owen was the one to blame, Lim instead angrily blames Shaun for her situation, even going as far as to make their relationship go from mother-son figure to superior-subordinate only and shooting down any attempt of his to strike up a conversation. They eventually patch things up when Shaun comes to Lim's office and, while he's not sorry for the risks he took to save her life, he does apologize for all the pain he caused her, and Shaun's planned surgery cures her paralysis, finally allowing Lim to walk again, albeit with the aid of a cane, which she stops using in Season 7.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Claire is one of the female characters to have a closer relationship with Shaun (probably only surpassed by Lea), but their relationship does not go beyond a simple friendship.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Andrews forbids the doctors from allowing Chuck to have surgery, even though the purpose of the rule wasn't broken: he has had a drink in the last six months, but the rule is in place to make sure alcoholic donor recipients haven't fallen off the wagon and will waste the new liver — Chuck only had one social drink, which if anything actually shows how well he is reformed, as he managed to stop at one.
  • Occam's Razor: Shaun tries testing patients for obscure ailments that their symptoms could suggest and Melendez chastises him that the most common problem is statistically the most likely.
  • Odd Couple: Shaun, the medical genius and extreme introvert, and Lea, a hot-tempered and outgoing party girl and former mechanic.
  • Official Couple:
    • Shaun and Lea in The Good Doctor, Shaun and Carly (season 3, broke up).
    • Ali and Nazli in Mucize Doktor.
  • Once a Season: Someone will say, "Tequila, stat." This is a callback to Shaun's first time trying alcohol while on a road trip with Lea. In Season 6, Lea gifts Shaun a talking button that says these words, much to his delight.
  • Once per Episode: As with David Shore’s previous medical series, House, M.D., The Good Doctor follows a predictable formula in most episodes. At least one of the Patients of the Week will crash at some point, as shown by their monitor flashing red and beeping rapidly, causing everyone in the room to spring into action. Most of the time, the patient is saved, but on some occasions, they're not so lucky.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: Shaun and Steve take their rabbit to be treated by Glassman as children. He says that he's not a vet, and the bunny is dead anyway.
  • Out of Focus:
    • Debbie Wexler (Sheila Kelley) in the second half of Season 3. Since her marriage with Glassman, several episodes of the first half of Season 3 had subplots focusing on the couple, but Debbie would eventually stop appearing in the second half. At the end of Season 4, Debbie was written off the show by having her divorce Glassman after their many fights.
    • Lea suffers from this in the first half of Season 3, absent from 6 of the 20 episodes. This is justified by the fact that Lea is the only character in the main cast who is not a doctor, and also because the season spends much of the first half in Shaun's relationship with Carly. Still, the writers seem to have realized this problem, as in the second half Lea gets a job as an assistant to Glassman, allowing her to interact with the rest of the main cast and appear at the hospital in every episode. As of Season 4, Lea got promoted as head of the I.T. department.
  • Out of Job, into the Plot: In "45-Degree Angle", Debbie gets fired from her job at the hospital cafe after giving out too many free coffees to sad patients and visitors. She tries to convince her newlywed husband Glassman to hire her to work in the hospital clinic that he is now in charge of, which does not go well at first.
  • Pair the Spares: With Perez and Claire having returned in Season 7, they get back together with Jordan and Jared respectively, especially after the former decides to stay friends with him.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The Season 6 episode "The Good Lawyer" is one for a potential spinoff. Very little medicine is involved, most of it takes place outside the hospital, and the only main characters who appear are Shaun, Glassman, Park, and Lea. Most of the episode focuses on a lawyer struggling with OCD and her blunt mentor who doubts her potential. In other words, the basic premise is almost the same, but with law instead of medicine, and female leads. Despite good ratings and positive viewer feedback (having a rating of 9.1 on IMDB, the highest of the series), the spin-off was ultimately not picked up.
  • Pregnancy Makes You Crazy: In episode 4.11, Lea acts in an apparently irrational way for most of the episode, refusing to pay a traffic ticket to retrieve her car and looking for other unconventional ways, in addition to being irritated with Shaun for not defending her. At the end of the episode, when Shaun confronts her about it, Lea reveals that she found out two days ago that she is pregnant. In episode 4.13, the pregnancy makes Lea sick to the toothpaste that Shaun uses.
  • Prejudice Aesop: The show includes this trope in an episode featuring a transgender woman and, while the show is Lighter and Softer than its predecessor House (from the same creator), it went Darker and Edgier and had the protagonist Shaun (The Good Doctor in the title) thinking about when he was the victim of prejudice for being autistic. Unlike some examples on this page, this is more down to being Innocently Insensitive (which is part of his character), rather than a Jerkass, although towards the end of Season 3, he temporarily Took a Level in Jerkass during the Romance Arc.
  • Product Placement:
    • The episode "Intangibles" prominently features Mr. Potato Head.
    • The series contains several references to PlayStation. One episode ends with Shaun and his neighbor Kenny playing Mortal Kombat X on the PS4. The show is produced and distributed by Sony Pictures Television.
    • Season 2 contains a couple of references to Uber. In "Aftermath", Park's ex-wife departs for the airport in a vehicle marked with the Uber logo. In the subplot of "Faces", Glassman, Shaun, and an Uber driver try to track down one of Glassman's old classmates and take an 11½-hour ride to Portland (costing over $1,800 as shown in a deleted scene) to visit her.
    • "Frontline, Part 2" features Glassman playing Uncharted.
    • "Not the Same" features Claire and Lim playing Rocket League.
    • In "39 Differences", Lea holds up a box of Little Debbie Nutty Buddys.
    • In "Decrypt", Lim shows up at Claire's door with a paper bag branded with the logo for Sweet Rose Creamery, an ice cream shop based in Santa Monica (which is nowhere near within reasonable driving distance of San Jose). The logo is clearly added digitally.
  • Product Displacement: In "Heartbreak", Nathalie Beauchemin (portrayed by Meghan Heffern) attacks her cheating boyfriend's car with a baseball bat - it makes sense only if you've seen it, yet the badge isn't shown on-screen, but it's clearly recognizable as a Porsche.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Unlike Morgan and Jared, the Turkish adaptation has Acelya becoming this to Demir.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles:
    • Season 2: Paige Spara (Lea), Christina Chang (Lim), Will Yun Lee (Park), Fiona Gubelmann (Morgan)
    • Season 3: Jasika Nicole (Carly)
    • Season 5: Bria Samoné Henderson (Jordan), Noah Galvin (Asher), Osvaldo Benavides (Mateo; episodes 1-4 only)
    • Season 6: Brandon Larracuente (Perez; promoted mid-season)
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Jessica Preston after the finale of Season 1, though she briefly returns in the premiere of Season 4.
    • At the end of Season 1, Dr. Jared Kalu (Chuku Modu) accepts a residency at Denver Memorial Hospital after burning bridges with Melendez and Andrews. He leaves during the first episode of Season 2, despite Claire's pleas for him to stay.
    • At the end of Season 4, Claire decides to accept a surgical position at a rural hospital in Guatemala.
    • Andrews resigns at the end of Season 6 due to his actor intending to run for U.S. Senate.
  • Redemption Rejection: While dying of pancreatic cancer, Shaun's father apologizes for abusing him, and says that he's proud of the man Shaun has become. Eventually, Shaun tells him that he is forgiven, but he reverts to his abusive ways just hours before he dies.
  • Related in the Adaptation: The Turkish equivalent of Allegra Aoki is the stepmother of Jessica's.
  • Retcon: Claire says that Morgan's parents are doctors. It later turns out that her family members are artists, and she fabricates a new profession for her parents to every person she meets.
  • Right Through the Wall: In "Xin", Shaun struggles with Lea having a boyfriend, especially after unsuccessful attempts at interrupting their intimate moments to try to get all three of them to spend time together. At the end of the episode, Shaun overhears Lea and her boyfriend's sex noises from his bedroom. He tries to drown them out with headphones, but it's not enough, so he goes to Glassman's house.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The first episode of season 4, which premiered in November 2020, is centered on the COVID-19 Pandemic, which began at the end of 2019 and was still ongoing by the time of the episode's premiere.
  • Roadside Surgery: Shaun and Claire remove a clot from a donor liver in the middle of a busy road.
  • Running Gag: Almost every episode of Season 4 has a joke involving the fact that Shaun and Lea have a very active sex life. This turns out to be Foreshadowing when Lea becomes pregnant in the second half of the season.
  • Saying Too Much: Charlie's Motor Mouth causes discourse between a father and daughter in "Skin in the Game". When Charlie catches the daughter in her car doing a striptease over a video call for someone she addresses as "Daddy" (not her father), the latter confesses that she makes thousands as a sex worker, but her father doesn't know. Charlie and Jared (who also witnessed it) assure her that they won't tell her father. When they inform both parties that the father will need lifetime home care, the daughter mentions that she can convert her office, to which Charlie responds, "As long as you have privacy elsewhere for your work." The father gets suspicious after hearing the odd emphasis she put on the word "work" and everyone else tries to brush it off. When the daughter says, "Love you, Daddy", Charlie comments, "So many daddies, so little time", and the truth ends up coming out.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Shaun and his friends have no problem bending the rules to the breaking point to try to save people.
    • The biggest example is with Claire in "Carrots", where she suggests deep brain stimulation surgery to save a patient with a severe eating disorder. Melendez refuses, as her research shows a small sample size with only 50% success and the study was conducted overseas. Claire still decides to present the option to the patient and her family, which they agree to. Although the surgery is a success in the end, Melendez kicks Claire off his team for insubordination.
    • Another big example is with Lim in "Middle Ground". A female minor begs for a vaginal rejuvenation after she was mutilated by her family as a little girl. Park exposes her ID as fake, but Lim purposefully goes along with it. Her parents find out what is going on and are furious with Lim, but Andrews claps back by calling a CPS social worker. Lim strongly recommends the reconstruction, but the girl tearfully opts for her to remove the entire clitoris instead. Lim goes with the reconstruction anyway, insisting to her team that she consented (which she did not). When the girl wakes up, she realizes what was done and quietly thanks Lim.
  • Security Blanket: Shaun's toy scalpel from the medical set his brother gave him helps him cope with things. Shaun accidentally breaks it in the Season 2 episode "Breakdown".
  • Sensory Overload:
    • The cinematic representation of the debilitating nature of this is done very well at times, isolating Shaun in a montage of close-up shots and loud, conflicting noises. In one episode, Claire makes a point to ask him if he's doing okay with the sound of the propellor of the helicopter they are about to ride in.
    • At the end of "Quarantine (Part 1)", Shaun ends up in fetal position due to the chaotic sounds of panicked patients, nurses, and a buzzing ceiling light.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot:
    • In "First Case, Second Base", Carly lets Shaun touch her breasts outside the clothing. Glassman does the same with Debbie at the end of the episode. In both scenes, the camera only shows the couples from the shoulders up as the touching happens just out of view.
    • In "Lim", Shaun presents Lim with "adult toys" asking for her advice on the best one to gift Lea for her birthday. The toys are not visible in the shot.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • In "Potluck", Asher and Park sing and dance on top of a table while shirtless, under the influence of magic mushrooms.
    • In "A Big Sign", Jordan and Asher watch Perez dry off from a shower wearing only a towel as Tchaikovsky's Romeo & Juliet overture plays.
  • Shower Scene:
    • In "The Uncertainty Principle", Lea joins Shaun in the shower for sex. Shaun is uncomfortable with the idea at first, then agrees to it after asking their co-workers' opinions.
    • In "365 Degrees", Lea notices Shaun's bathrobe outside the shower door and decides to surprise him in the shower. She disrobes, opens the door, and finds Glassman.
  • Shown Their Work: Certain aspects of autism are portrayed accurately, with others being Played for Drama. According to articles about the show, autistic children have related to Shaun and his struggles. The show has also been widely praised by the autism community on Tumblr.
  • Siding with the Suffering: Has this as An Aesop that its protagonist Shaun has to learn, but only because his bedside manner was not up to standard expected of a hospital in the early seasons - Seasons 1 to 3. Notable in that the show has No Antagonist other than bureaucracy (other than a One-Shot Character jerkass Plot-Irrelevant Villain Kenny, who disappeared around Season 4).
  • Spared by the Adaptation: At least four examples with the Turkish adaptation Mucize Doktor:
    • Melendez's equivalent lives for the entire series run.
    • In this series' version of the conjoined twins plot from "Islands", the twin who dies is resuscitated by Shaun's equivalent after he hits her chest multiple times seemingly in futility.
    • In this version of the episode "Mutations", the tumor of the female cancer patient is successfully removed and she survives, but her fears of losing memory of her boyfriend come true this time. Shaun's equivalent reassures him that in time she would remember him again.
    • Not only is the equivalent of Maddie (Glassman's daughter) still alive, she also starts working at the hospital, but it doesn't mean that she is not estranged from her father either.
  • Special Edition Title: Season 4 has two episodes with black text in Avantgarde font in a rant about not wearing masks; it's Silent Credits and "the good doctor" text is absent.
  • Spoiler:
    • A week after the Season 1 finale, it was announced that Chuku Modu (Jared) would not be coming back for Season 2. At the same time, actors Paige Spara (Lea), Christina Chang (Audrey), Fiona Gubelmann (Morgan) and Will Yun Lee (Alex) were upgraded to series regulars.
    • The week before Season 2 started airing, Deadline stated that Beau Garrett (Jessica) also would not be returning for said season.
    • The day of the Season 4 finale, several hours before the episode aired, Deadline released an article announcing that Antonia Thomas (Claire) would be leaving the show after that season. That same day, they published another article announcing that Osvaldo Benavides (Mateo), who debuted only one episode prior would be joining the main cast for Season 5.
    • Two weeks before the Season 6 episode Old Friends aired, it was confirmed that Chuku Modu (Jared) would be returning to said season through a recurring capacity. A month prior to the Season 7 release, another announcement stated that he was upgraded once again to a series regular.
    • A few days before the Season 6 finale aired, TV Line announced that Brandon Larracuente (Perez) would be leaving the show, spoiling that his character would either die or leave St. Bonaventure (it ended up being the latter).
  • Sudden Downer Ending:
    • "Smile" ends with Glassman and Debbie on a dinner date that's going very well... until Glassman nonchalantly asks the waitress for "the doorstop" instead of the check. Debbie and the waitress think he's joking around at first, but when Glassman starts crying while struggling to remember the right word, Debbie asks the waitress to call an ambulance.
    • "Claire" ends with the titular character successfully leading her first surgery... then getting a call that her mother died in a drunk driving accident.
    • The next episode, "Take My Hand", ends with Claire finding closure to the above situation with help from Morgan. The last minute of the episode shows the two asleep on a bus, only to show Claire getting off to go to a bar and hooking up with a married man in an alleyway. This begins a phase of self-destructive behavior for the character.
    • "Waiting" ends with both child patients alive, their arguing mothers at peace, and pregnant Lea telling Shaun how lucky she is as they walk out of the hospital. Suddenly, Lea collapses in pain and Shaun yells for help. She ends up losing the baby in the next episode.
    • "Afterparty" seemingly ends happily with every involved party surviving despite several lives being in danger during a hostage. In the last minute of the episode, the doctors check in on Lim who is in high spirits until they realize she cannot move her legs and is now paralyzed following a risky surgery that Shaun performed against Glassman's orders.
    • "365 Degrees" ends with Morgan taking a big step up in her career and Glassman leaving Shaun and Lea's apartment after a (mostly) pleasant stay with them while his house is fumigated for termites. Earlier, Glassman spoke of his refusal to sell the house because of his emotional attachment to it, especially because it was the house his deceased daughter Maddie grew up in. He returns home to his house burning down due to faulty wiring and the exterminators having shut off the smoke alarms.
    • "Old Friends" ends with Jared restarting his residency at St. Bonaventure after his fruitless experience at the Denver Memorial as he revealed to Shaun, who, during their final encounter in "Hello", said that he would be happy some day, which led Shaun to encourage him into doing so after doing a surgery on his wealthy client. Later on, Lea and Glassman buy Shaun a new sports car for the baby's safety despite Lea's initial reluctance to let go of her old car. While Shaun and Lea celebrate alongside Jared, a court official knocks Shaun's door to inform him that he's being sued for malpractice.
  • Sudden Name Change:
    • In the original draft script for the pilot, some characters had different first or last names: Allegra Aoki was originally Allegra Alexis, Dr. Jared Kalu was Jared Unger, Andrews' first name was Horace, and Glassman's first name was Ira.
    • Nurse Petringa's first name is Deena in show press material, but in the episode "Claire", the only time her first name is used on the show, she refers to herself as Donna. The name Deena continued to be used outside the show, including by the show's writers' Twitter account after the character dies in "Frontline Part Two".
  • Surgeons Can Do Autopsies If They Want: In the episode "Autopsy", Shaun adamantly tries to get answers after a woman dies a mysteriously quick death on the operating table. After Melendez, Lim, and the woman's estranged son all deny permission for an autopsy, he begs Carly to help him perform the autopsy in secret.
    • The variety of surgeries the characters perform is unrealistic. Melendez is a cardiothoracic surgeon, but usually performs more general surgery. Cardiothoracic surgeons do need to pass a general surgery residency, but they usually stick to their specialty afterward. Melendez also does a spinal operation in one episode. Spinal operations are performed by neurosurgeons.
      • Dr. Lim is a trauma surgeon, who also does vaginal reguvination surgery, a procedure only performed by plastic surgeons. She also removes a brain tumor at one point.
    • Averted in an episode where a patient has several cysts in his body, including one in his brain. Jared acknowledges that they need a neurosurgeon for that, and asks Glassman.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Shaun gets hit with this in "Point Three Percent": Sometimes, the Patient of the Week doesn't turn out to have a rare, yet drama-friendly disease that allows them to be saved from what would otherwise be a death sentence. Sometimes, the simplest explanation really is the right one, even if it's fatal and there's nothing you can do about it.
    • In "Not Fake", Claire realizes a long while after a bus crash that one of the passengers has not been accounted for, and correctly guesses that she has been missed by paramedics and is still near the crash site. She finds her, takes her to hospital, operates on her... and she still dies. The angst comes from the fact that Claire may have also diminished her already meager chances of survival by forgetting one step of the procedure.
    • Jared pushes and threatens a doctor who sexually harassed Claire. He is then fired for assaulting an employee. He takes full responsibility for the incident and begs for his job back, but Andrews holds firm on his zero-tolerance policy for physical assault, despite commending Jared's integrity. Jared resorts to legal blackmail by suing the hospital with the implication that he was unfairly fired because he's black. Jared clearly knows this wasn't the case (especially since Andrews is also black), but knows that such a case would ruin the hospital's image. Jessica goes to Aoki with past reports of white doctors being reprimanded, but not fired, for similar incidents, and although Aoki insists race was not a factor, she agrees that the hospital has no choice but to settle, before Jared takes this to court and makes the hospital seem racist. Jared ultimately gets his job back, but loses the respect of his superiors and eventually switches to a residency at a different hospital.
    • Claire goes behind Melendez's back to propose an experimental treatment to a patient. Melendez ends up agreeing to the treatment, but he refuses to do any more surgeries with Claire because she ignored his decision.
    • Andrews becomes the president of the hospital in season 2 and, instead of giving the chief of surgery position to one of the attending, keeps it to stroke his own ego. Not only is this a very controversial decision but, after the quarantine, an investigator puts Andrews under a microscope and concludes that his dual role split his focus and possible made things worse during the crisis. Andrews is forced to pay an exuberant fee to hire Doctor Han as the new chief of surgery and fires him at the end of the season in order to save Shaun's job. This myriad of problems eventually led to the board firing him as president and, in order to salvage his career, is forced to become an attending surgeon again under the newly promoted Doctor Lim.
  • Taking the Heat: In "Decrypt", a philanthropist patient admits to the doctors that he lied about being a cancer survivor. Someone exposes him to the media. Lim insists it's Claire and is ready to fire her as soon as she finds proof. After watching them spend much of the episode fighting, Olivia takes the blame and is immediately fired. Andrews, her uncle, later admits it was him and didn't think anyone would be caught or blamed. Olivia took the blame for two reasons: to stop Claire and Lim's fighting before it permanently damaged their friendship (and the dynamics of the surgical team as a whole), and because she never wanted to be a doctor in the first place and felt pressured into a medical career by her family.
  • Tantrum Throwing:
    • In "Heartfelt," a fourteen-year-old is told she'll have to wait four more years for surgery to fix her ectopia cordis. She starts to cry and throws her phone across the room, as she is sick of using social media and video chats to interact with her friends.
    • In "More", Glassman comes to his office to find dozens of books all over the place and Shaun writing notes on his dry-erase board and windows, extremely desperate to find any evidence that his cancer diagnosis may by incorrect. Overwhelmed, Glassman picks up a stack of books on his chair, throws them across the room, and yells at Shaun to stop.
    • In "Rationality," Shaun reaches a breaking point when a patient's father is allowed to discuss procedures for his daughter based on his extensive amount of research, but with no medical experience. Shaun gets angry that the rest of the team is willing to listen to the father's ideas and throws down a book while screaming at him.
    • In "Expired", Shaun throws and smashes several bottles of medicine when noticing that they are all expired, preventing the team from saving a baby.
  • Televisually Transmitted Disease: In the case that Melendez uses to wave around his ego regarding Occam's Razor, Shaun's actually right, and again on the case from which he gets kicked off.
  • Tempting Fate: A woman getting surgery to remove abdominal cysts says that all she's ever wanted is to have children. Unfortunately, due to complications that ensue during the surgery, Claire ultimately decides upon a treatment that will allow her to stay alive...but at the cost of losing her ability to have children.
  • The Spook: Nathalie Beauchemin (portrayed by Meghan Heffern) who was a One-Shot Character in "Heartbreak", Season 3, Episode 18, appears with no backstory and the most we ever learn is that she is loyal to her boyfriend, has a dwarf cheating boyfriend who has no remorse for cheating on her. Other than that, her past, backstory is unknown. Fanon speculates on what her real origins are, or if it's even her real name.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: When characters are approached by an individual who they don't wish to talk to as they are eating in the cafeteria, they will discard their entire meal and walk away.
    • In "Carrots", Dr. Park sits down to eat lunch when a patient's husband comes to talk to him. Seeking to avoid the conversation, Park says he has to go and leaves his tray full of food on a dishwashing cart.
    • In "Quarantine (Part 1)", Shaun throws out an entire sandwich when he finds a pickle in it.
    • In "Spilled Milk", Park buys Morgan a coffee just before Andrews approaches him about an upcoming surgery. Morgan offers the coffee back to him as she falsely accuses him of being sleep-deprived, though Andrews discourages caffeine before surgery. Park again refuses the coffee, and Morgan drops the full cup in a trash can as she walks away.
  • Title Drop: All of the Season 1 episode titles (except for "Heartfelt") appear at some point in the episode's dialogue, usually said by Shaun. This is less common in later seasons.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • After Claire loses her mother in Season 3, she goes through an irritable phase where she sometimes takes out her anger on her patients.
    • Morgan goes back to her brutal, controlling personality in "Hurt" after she successfully begs Andrews to put her in charge of the ER. She even warns the nurses of such and encourages them to call her a "bitch" right away. When one of them does it again later in the episode, Morgan smiles to herself.
    • In Season 4, Lim is diagnosed with PTSD and becomes very ill-tempered towards her employees and sometimes, the patients. She even gave a 14-year-old girl a harsh lecture on "the definition of adulthood" and made her cry.
    • In "Hot and Bothered", when Shaun finds out that Powell convinced Lim to decline Shaun's proposed surgery that could fix her paralysis (and their now-broken friendship), he is immediately triggered and is rude to her for most of the episode, to the point of rapidly listing the things he doesn't like about her, and calling her annoying both to her face and to their patient. He also refuses to listen to her ideas on their case and even kicks her off of it until the patient demands that she be reinstated. He tries to find "common ground" with her, but after a couple of weak attempts, he gives up until Powell angrily calls him out on how, being disabled herself, he should know what it's like to be treated as "the other". Their shared interest in ancient surgical history helps smooth things over between them.
    • Glassman becomes significantly more hostile and rude towards virtually everyone after Season 1. Throughout Season 2, he frequently has a bad attitude towards his oncologist, fellow cancer patients, and even Shaun when he tries to help him with his treatments at home. He also takes out his anxiety about his cancer on innocent staff at a restaurant by screaming at them when his food takes too long. In Season 4, Debbie divorces him after constant fights before and during their marriage, most of which were instigated by Glassman's stubbornness. In Season 5, Glassman decides to run away to Montana during a time where Shaun needs him, causing Lea to chase him down. Throughout Season 6, Glassman shows almost nothing but anger at Shaun, first for diverting from his surgical plan on Dr. Lim and possibly causing her paralysis, then for Shaun's constant concerns that he may have a neurological dysfunction if not resurfaced brain cancer. When Shaun ends up being right about this, he calls out Glassman for forgetting the next step in a procedure, causing him to leave the OR in humiliation and cutting Shaun out of his life, even though Shaun was going to consider him his new son's grandfather. Shaun and Lea have their baby the next day, but Glassman doesn't do anything beyond giving them a half-hearted congratulation. Everyone urges Glassman to let it go and be there for Shaun during an important time in his life (including Lim, who calls out his hypocrisy after he told her that holding a grudge against Shaun for her previous situation was toxic), but he still refuses to see the baby. Although he has a thoughtful gift for them, he asks a nurse to give it to them for him.
  • Tragic Stillbirth: In Season 4, Lea and Shaun lose their unborn daughter due to medical complications.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback:
    • Utilized for Shaun's character development in the first few episodes, mostly of his family life.
    • In "Afterparty", Shaun experiences traumatic flashbacks of Steve's death (recycled from Season 1) when Lim is in danger of dying in the OR. Shaun has dealt with patient deaths before, but with his friend and colleague being on the table this time, it is almost too much for him to handle.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Continuing the recent trend, the series interestingly spins this around by having Dr. Shaun Murphy as the only Caucasian man (and he's also a person with [1]) in a cast consisting of a Hispanic man, a dark-skinned woman (played by a mixed race actress of English/Jamaican ancestry), and a British-Indian man.
  • The Unreveal:
    • In "Faces", Glassman travels all the way to Portland to apologize to an old high school classmate, Robin, for a rude remark he wrote in her yearbook. He does so and all is forgiven. After he leaves, Robin takes out the yearbook and flips to the page with the remark, only for viewers to see that she scribbled over it some time ago. It is still barely readable if one pauses just at the right time, and it appears to read: "Robin, you'll go far with your nose in the air, roaming the world without a care."
    • In "Risk and Reward", Melendez treats a patient with a leg tumor that has only a 5% chance of being malignant, but a complicated surgery to remove it would result in a 20% chance of complications. The patient decides to undergo the surgery. The tumor is successfully removed, but the patient ends up with a permanent limp. Melendez offers to show the patient the biopsy results to see if the tumor was benign or not, but he refuses since it no longer matters ("You can't put the tumor back in."). Melendez agrees it doesn't matter and throws the test results in the trash. Park and Morgan, wondering if the surgery was a waste of their time, rush for the trash can as soon as Melendez leaves the room, but viewers never learn the result.
  • Unusual Euphemism: In "Sex and Death", Morgan advises Shaun not to discuss his sexual relationship with Carly while on the job, so he uses "lunch" as a euphemism for the word "sex". Later, he laments to his fellow residents about how he can't give Carly a "parade" (orgasm).
  • We Used to Be Friends: After Lim becomes paralyzed due to a risky and possibly insubordinate procedure performed by Shaun, she is initially kind and grateful to him, as the procedure did save her life nonetheless. However, she eventually struggles with her new lifestyle to the point of hating him for it, and soon confronts him to tell him that their relationship is now "medicine only". Shaun, who had been refusing to take accountability for the end result, does not take this well. When she politely declines Shaun's idea for another surgery that may fix the problem, he is heartbroken, mainly because his hopes of their friendship being repaired have been shot. Fortunately, her situation improves later in the season, along with their friendship.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In "Heartfelt", Aoki convinces Aiden Coulter, a young local entrepreneur, to speak at the hospital's gala. She has an interest in him, but Andrews tells her not to pursue him because it might look like she is using sex to get donations for the hospital. At the end of the episode, she ultimately ignores Andrews' warning and asks Aiden out on a golf date. Neither Aiden nor their budding relationship is ever mentioned again.
    • Lea's boyfriend Jake is suddenly no longer mentioned three episodes after his Season 2 debut, after an arc in which Shaun struggles with Lea dating someone besides him. It is not until more than halfway through Season 3 that Lea is seen dating again, this time with someone else, and Shaun maliciously tells her she is bad at keeping boyfriends a few episodes later.
    • In late Season 4, Claire's absentee father, Miles Browne, unexpectedly shows up. The next few episodes show Claire trying to improve her relationship with him, with mostly positive results. After Claire decides to move to Guatemala at the end of the season, he is never mentioned again, and the status of their relationship is left unknown.
    • In Season 7's "Faith", Hannah, a teenage drug addict first appears as a patient of Dr. Glassman's. In the next two episodes, despite Hannah's objections, Glassman decides to let her crash at his place while ilegally prescribing her oxycodone, which Shaun finds out but decides not to report Glassman. However, her absence in the series finale is never addressed after Glassman's brain cancer returns. Nor is she even mentioned at all.
  • Will They or Won't They?:
    • After three seasons of Ship Tease, Better as Friends moments, and many fights, Shaun and Lea finally become a couple.
    • Park and Morgan getting back together after their breakup in early Season 6. There is clearly still chemistry between them, to the point where even one of their patients notices. At one point, they agree to be friends and support each other during their respective parental struggles. In the season finale, they officially get back together after Morgan adopts a baby girl and has trouble caring for it on her own.
    • Jordan and Perez in Season 6. They both are clearly interested in each other, and come within an inch of a kiss at one point, but Perez refuses to pursue a formal relationship to focus on his sobriety and career. After Asher tells Jordan that Perez is "bread crumbing" her, she tells him that she's lost her patience with him and is moving on. Only then does he kiss her, and she initially doesn't react to it, but later agrees to start working on a relationship. They plan a date at Perez's house, and when Jordan arrives, she finds him unconscious from an apparent heroin overdose, having relapsed. Perez survives and returns to work under probation while being supervised by Jordan on his first day back. He tells her that he is once again avoiding a relationship to focus on sobriety (although he insists Jordan had nothing to do with his relapse) and wishes to no longer be supervised by her. Though understanding, Jordan is clearly hurt by this. They later try to work towards a relationship, especially after Jordan almost kisses Jared in front of Perez and sparks jealousy. Ultimately, Jordan is forced to give Perez opioids to save his life when he is hospitalized, despite his demands to not use them on him out of fear of relapsing. Although Perez forgives her, he decides that he needs the help of his family back in Texas to stay sober and will be quitting his residency, but not before a dinner date with Jordan from his hospital bed. Towards the end of Season 7, they are revealed to have reconnected, as Jared points out that Jordan and Perez have been texting each other a lot since Asher's death. As of the finale, not only are they finally back together, but also get married.
    • A minor example with Jordan and Jared, who also happen to like each other. Jordan struggles having feelings for both him and Perez. After Perez is Put on a Bus, they spend some quality of time together in Season 7. However, they decide to remain friends after her and Perez start texting each other since Asher's death, thus allowing Jared to be with Claire when she returns.
  • Wham Line:
    • In "Trampoline", after having a conversation with Shaun about his brother Steve and being forced to choose whether to keep him in the hospital, even though he knows it will cost him his job, Andrews says:
    Andrews: Steve was right.
    • In "Autopsy", when Shaun finally takes the courage to reveal his feelings to Lea:
    Shaun: I love you, Lea. I want to be your boyfriend.
    Lea: (Beat) I love you too, Shaun. (Beat) But...
    • In "Fixation", when Shaun again pursues Lea and this time pushes her over the edge:
    Shaun: I have... I have a plan. I can fix it! I-I will fix it!
    Lea: Shaun, you're autistic. You can't fix that.
    • In "Decrypt", Andrews revealing himself as the whistleblower to Olivia, who falsely took the blame after Lim unfairly accused Claire.
    • In "Venga":
    Lea: Will you marry me, Shaun?
    • The very last line of "Afterparty":
    Shaun: (to Lim) You're paralyzed.
    • In "Change of Perspective", when Lim breaks down over her paralysis:
    Lim: ...And I hate Shaun Murphy. This is all his fault.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The series finale reveals the fates of the characters through a 10-year time jump.
    • Glassman succumbs to his inoperable brain cancer and dies, though not before spending his final days with Shaun, including riding a carousel he and Maddie used to frequent.
    • Claire is cured from her acinetobacter infection by Glassman so Shaun won't have to risk losing his medical license after the FDA refused to approve an experimental bacteriophage treatment that saved her life, albeit costing her an arm. Later, her and Jared get married and have a daughter together.
    • Shaun becomes Chief of Surgery at St. Bonaventure and gives a TED talk about his experience as the first autistic doctor to ever be hired, opening up about the challenges he's faced in his journey as well as his accomplishments. He also opens the Dr. Aaron Glassman Foundation for Neurodiversity in Medicine, which he is running along with Claire. He and Lea have a daughter together.
    • Morgan and Park are happily married and officially adopt Eden.
    • Lim resigns from St. Bonaventure and moves to Ukraine to help with medical treatment there.
    • Jordan and Danny reconnect and are back together, eventually getting married.
    • Jerome is shown to have finally moved on from Asher's death and is now dating someone else.
    • Charlie becomes an attending surgeon at St. Bonaventure.
    • Dom opens his own clinic and overcomes his fear of blood.
  • White Male Lead: Shaun, as the main character, is the Token White amongst the Monochrome Casting of dark-skinned surgeons.
  • With Due Respect: Lampshaded in "Mount Rushmore": Dr. Kalu starts to say "With all due respect", but Dr. Melendez cuts him off, noting that "Comments that start out that way rarely come across that way."
  • Woman Scorned: Nathalie Beauchemin, a One-Shot Character, becomes this after finding out about her cheating boyfriend, which later devolves into him almost damaging his car with a baseball bat.
  • Xanatos Gambit: By supporting Shaun, Dr. Andrews has two potential outcomes: 1. Shaun succeeds, in which case he backed a successful young surgeon with a disability. 2. Shaun fails, meaning Dr. Glassman has to resign as a part of the deal he made to accept Shaun, and Dr. Andrews ends up as the president.
  • Younger Mentor, Older Disciple: Dr. Park, the final resident to join Dr. Melendez's team, is older than him. This is because Park was a police officer for 15 years before becoming a doctor.