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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 a 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 2013 Orlando Bloom film of the same name.

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 in later seasons and Andrews has made no mention of having any children since then, suggesting that either they were unsuccessful or that their plans for having children were put on hold once Andrews was promoted to President of the hospital.
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  • Absentee Actor: Freddie Highmore and Antonia Thomas are the only actors of the main cast who appear in all the episodes of the series so far. With the departure of Antonia Thomas at the end of Season 4, Highmore will now be the only actor to appear in every episode.
  • 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 his 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.
  • Adult Fear:
    • In "Mount Rushmore", the patient, a young girl, begins suffering from bradycardia while asleep in her home. If Shaun hadn't arrived when he did, she would have died while her parent were asleep in the same house.
    • In "Islands Part Two" both twins have life-threatening conditions. Jenny is still in heart failure, and Katie is in a seemingly permanent coma. The only thing that can save Jenny is a heart transplant from Katie, so there is no way both of them can survive.
    • In "Quarantine", one of the patients trapped in the ER is a pregnant woman. Her husband and clearly very afraid, but there is nothing he can do to help her. To make matters worse, she begins going into labor. There is a complication and she has to have a C-section outside of an OR by Shaun, who had never done a surgery by himself. She nearly bleeds out, and the baby is born not breathing.
    • In "Risk and Reward", a baby is born with severe birth defects of the heart and bowel (which may have been caused by the mother's use of antidepressants). The team comes up with a good solution for the heart, but their idea for the bowel will most likely fail. The parents then have a choice, shut off the life support machines and let her die quickly, or give her the surgery, probably resulting in her slowly starving to death.
  • All There in the Manual: The last name of Lea ("Dilallo") has never been given on the show and was only revealed in a tweet by actress Paige Spara.
  • Alliterative Family: The protagonist and titular character, Shaun, and his younger brother Steve.
  • 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 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.
  • Anyone Can Die: Melendez dies at the end of season 3, from injuries sustained in an earthquake.
  • 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.
  • Ascended Extra: Paul, the janitor who Shaun briefly speaks with in "Sacrifice", is the Patient of the Week in "Middle Ground".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Beta Couple: Season 1 had Jared and Claire as well as Melendez and Jessica. Both couples would eventually break up near the end of the season. Afterwards, Glassman and Debbie began serving as this trope for the first half of Season 3.
  • 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 finale of Season 3 probably 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 becames 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 of Seasons 2 and 3.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • 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.
    • Allegra Aoki (Tamlyn Tomita) never appears again after the first episode of Season 3.
  • 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:
    • The episodes "Quarantine" and "Waiting" both feature breaking news stories playing on hospital TV's TV tuned to KGO-TV, the real-life ABC affiliate local to the show's setting, complete with its "ABC 7" logo.
    • In "Believe", Carly compares Shaun's first time in the pathology lab to one's first trip to Disneyland. Disney is the parent company of the show's network, ABC.
    • 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 air on Monday nights.
    • In "Moonshot", Carly has an R2D2 pillow in her living room. The Star Wars franchise is owned by Disney.
    • Another Star Wars reference occurs in the following episode "Incomplete", where 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 "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, which also produces The Good Doctor.
    • Throughout the first three seasons, Lea is shown to work for an unnamed affluent, high-tech company, complete with perks such as private chefs and indoor go-kart racing. In the Season 4 episode "Decrypt", Glassman mentions in passing that this company was Sony.
    • 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."
  • 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.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: At one point, Shaun makes an assertion about the plot viability of recent porn; Jared acts surprised at him watching it, but Claire politely intervenes that he's a human male. Shown in a flashback is Shaun and Steve looking at a dirty magazine a friend stole from her dad. The episode ('Pipes') was pretty paramount in exploring the fact that autism does not preclude a sex drive.
  • 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 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.
  • 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: 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.
  • 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".
  • 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 six resident applicants in "Newbies" consist of: two white males (one of whom is openly gay), 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. The new hires result in this trope applying to all the Season 4 residents: Shaun and Asher are white; Claire, Olivia, and Jordan are black; Park is Asian; Enrique is Hispanic. Shaun also checks off having a character with a disability, and Asher covers having an LGBTQ+ character.
    • Prior to Season 4, Melendez served as the sole Hispanic main cast member, and Aoki served as the only Asian character until the debut of Park in late Season 1. In the middle of Season 4, Enrique drops out, resulting in no Hispanic characters currently.
    • 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 Season 3 episode "Friends and Family", Glassman and Lea discuss about 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 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.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "SFAD" (pronounced "S-fad") from the eponymous Season 3 episode refers to a ritual of the patient's family: Spontaneous Family Adventure Days.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hollywood Autism: 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.
  • 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: 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.
  • Identical Stranger: Shaun's plotline in "Point Three Percent" involves him treating a boy with terminal cancer who looks identical to his brother, Steve.
  • 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: Lim's PTSD causes her to be a complete and total bitch to everyone in "Lim".
  • 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, and Alex Park, 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 one episode, 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nice Hat:
    • Glassman almost-always wears a fedora when not working at the hospital. He rotates between several, and hardly ever goes outside without one. In "Stories", immediately after denying any signs of memory loss to his oncologist, he sheepishly re-enters her office to retrieve a hat that he left behind. In "Faces", Shaun puts on one of his hats while high on medicinal marijuana.
    • When in surgery, Andrews often wears a special surgical cap with African-style patterns.
    • In the Season 3 episode "First Case, Second Base", Glassman gives Shaun a bright orange surgical cap from his own residency for good luck. Shaun wears it in the OR during this episode and in a few subsequent episodes.
  • 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 does not fit the narrative of this show. A lot of the time the conflict comes from Shaun and his misunderstanding of social conventions. However:
    • Kenny from Season 1 was more of a Harmless Villain leeching off Shaun who was never seen again, but he was more of an antagonist than a true villain.
    • The only character who could be seen as a 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • 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 and was never even mentioned for the rest of the season. This is likely because Tomita is now starring in Star Trek: Picard.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • Out of Job, Into the Plot: In "45-Degree Angle", Debbie gets fired from her job at the hospital caf&eacute 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles:
    • Season 2: Paige Spara (Lea), Christina Chang (Lim), Will Yun Lee (Park), Fiona Gubelmann (Morgan)
    • Season 3: Jasika Nicole (Carly)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 ignores 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.
  • 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: The show is from the creators of House, and uses the same structure of the Patient of the Week. The Good Doctor may be seen as that show's family-friendly counterpart, with an infinitely more friendly protagonist (although like Gregory House, Shaun Murphy also has his share of emotional baggage that interferes with his coexistence with patients and co-workers).
  • Spoiler: 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.
  • Sudden Downer Ending:
    • "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.
  • Sudden Name Change: 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 gets his job back through legal blackmail, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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" is a quasi-example, as she's presented with no backstory other than a cheating boyfriend (whose car gets broken by her after finding out he has a second girlfriend).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • At the start of the series, Dr. Glassman was an endearing mentor and advocate for Shaun, though uncontrollably overbearing at times. After Season 1, especially while undergoing his cancer treatments, Glassman frequently has a bad attitude towards Shaun and virtually anybody else who tries to talk to him. He even yells at Shaun when he tries to help him with his treatments at home. He also causes a scene at a restaurant when his food takes too long. Lea has no problem calling him out for being a "grouch".
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, an Ambiguously Brown woman (played by a mixed race actress of English/Jamaican ancestry), and a British-Indian man.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 "Venga":
    Lea: Will you marry me, Shaun?
  • White Male Lead: Shaun, as the main character, is the Token White amongst the Monochrome Casting of Ambiguously Brown 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 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.


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