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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.

Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), a young autistic surgeon who has savant syndrome, joins the surgical residency program at the prestigious San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. Hijinks ensue. His move from stability in the country to working a fast paced job is prompted and strongly supported by his mentor, Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff). He may find it hard to connect with people, but is a quick learner and fits right in with his extraordinary medical skills and intuition, starting his medical career by saving lives and challenging the skepticism of his colleagues. He quickly finds a friend in surgical resident Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas), whilst becoming the target of talented surgeon Melendez's (Nicholas Gonzalez) dislike.

No relation to the 2013 Orlando Bloom film of the same name.


This show contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Shaun's father physically and emotionally abused him, causing Shaun and his brother to run away from home.
  • 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. Jenny dies.
    • 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. Quite the delivery day.
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    • 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.
  • Alliterative Family: Shaun and Steve (their parents are Ethan and Marnie).
  • 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.
    • Giving an infection patient steroids will make them worse, but antibiotics won't make a patient with inflammation worse.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Paul, the janitor who Shaun briefly speaks with in "Sacrifice", is the Patient of the Week in "Middle Ground".
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. This initially makes Shaun uncomfortable, as he fears she will move away again.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Subverted with Morgan, who tells Claire that her mother died when she was very young and her father immediately got remarried to a woman who hated children. These turns out to be Blatant Lies.
  • 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.
  • Double Standard: 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.
  • Foreign Remake: This show is based on a drama that originally aired in 2013 on KBS in South Korea.
  • 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 maybe Jared seem more interested in themselves and making money.
  • He Had a Name: The Oliver in "Oliver" is the dead patient of the liver to be transplanted. 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.
  • Hollywood Autism: Averted slightly. There are some things that it gets right and some things that aren't presented quite as well but, 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.
  • Identical Stranger: Shaun's plotline in "Point Three Percent" involves him treating a boy who looks identical to his brother, Steve.
  • 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.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted with the Littlest Cancer Patient Shaun bonds with in "Point Three Percent". The plotline has Shaun looking for an unlikely case of misdiagnosis that might result in the boy actually having a chance to live, but he turns out to be wrong. The boy is revealed to have both figured his terminal state despite being sheltered by his parents and to have accepted it already, so the scene manages to be touching but not depressing.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Shaun and Glassman get high on medical marijuana in "Faces".
  • 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.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Melendez is never seen without his lab coat, and when Shaun is on scut work he wears his pretty frequently, too.
  • Lockdown: Happens in "Quarantine" when an airborne disease breaks out in the emergency room.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: While not as bad as its spiritual predecessor House, The Good Doctor does stray into this. 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.
  • 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, moves in (platonically) with Lea, a hot-tempered and outgoing party girl and former mechanic.
  • 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.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles:
    • Season 2: Paige Spara (Lea), Christina Chang (Lim), Will Yun Lee (Park), Fiona Gubelmann (Morgan)
    • Season 3: Jasika Nicole (Carly)
  • The Rain Man: 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 (and apparently any given page of Gray's Anatomy) 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.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • 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 and attending surgeon again under the recently promoted Doctor Lim.
  • Roadside Surgery:
    • Shaun's introduction is opening a chest in an airport.
    • Shaun and Claire later remove a clot from a donor liver in the middle of a busy road.
  • 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.
  • Security Blanket: Shaun's toy scalpel from the medical set his brother gave him helps him cope with things.
  • 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 loud helicopter sounds.
  • Spiritual Successor: It's from the creators of House, and it may be seen as that show's family-friendly counterpart.
  • 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.
  • Surgeons Can Do Autopsies If They Want: 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. A trauma surgeon who also does vaginal reguvination surgery, something only done 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.
  • 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. Three guesses to what happens to her at the end of the episode.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich:
    • In "Carrots", Dr. Park sit 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 dish-washing cart.
    • In "Quarantine, Part 1", Shaun throws out an entire sandwich when he find a pickle in it.
  • Title Drop: All of the episode titles are from a line that has some significance to Shaun, with the specific part focused on being what concerns him, this can be interpreted as a meta aspect of the show that further reveals how he sees the world.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Utilized for Shaun's character development in the first few episodes, mostly of his family life.
  • Wham Line: In "Trampoline"
    Andrews: Steve was right.
  • 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."
  • 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 then him. This is because Park was a police officer for 15 years before becoming a doctor.


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