When The Good Doctor returns for a fourth season in the fall, the show will look a little different. Two actors are definitely leaving the show, and the Season 3 finale left the door open for a third exit. Nicholas Gonzalez, who has been part of the series since day one, and Jasika Nicole are exiting the series. Will Yun Lee's character hinted at leaving San Jose in Monday's episode as well.
Gonzalez starred as Dr. Neil Melendez, a no-nonsense surgeon who often pushed Freddie Highmore's Dr. Shaun Murphy in the show's early days and fought for him after Shaun gained his respect. In an exit interview with TVLine, Melendez said the decision to leave was purely creative and there was no controversy behind it.
"There's a lot about this job that I loved and was honored to do, and a lot of that came out of the family that we created behind the scenes," he told the site. "But there also comes a time when you feel it's time to move on, and I feel like I'm leaving Good Doctor at a really great place."
Melendez looked like he made it through the earthquake unscathed, but he suddenly vomited and collapsed during an aftershock at the very end of last week's episode. In Monday's episode "I Love You," Dr. Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas) and Dr. Audrey Lim (Christina Chang) discovered he had internal injuries. Although he could have surgery, there was no guarantee his life would be saved. This led to a series of emotional goodbyes.
Although Gonzalez is leaving the show on good terms, he admitted he felt it was a "little early" for his character. In the end, he appreciated all the script, especially as it "honored" Melendez's past relationship with Lim while referencing the doomed romance between Melendez and Claire.
As for Nicole, her departure is no surprise. Shaun broke up with her character, Dr. Carly Lever, weeks ago. At the end of "I Love You," it appeared that Shaun and Lea (Paige Spara) put their differences behind them and will try to have a relationship. That leaves Carly out of the Good Doctor equation for now.
"I would love to have her back here and there," showrunner David Shore told TVLine. "I love Jasika, and would love to see her on the show, but it will not be in the same capacity."
The finale included a storyline for Dr. Alex Park (Lee) as well. While treating a young man stuck in the rubble, he began to realize he needs to spend more time with his ex-wife and their son. He said he was going back, but Lee will still be back in Season 4.
"We're not planning on losing him from the show is the short answer," Shore told TVLine. "But that has been Park's challenge, is his dealing with his commitments to work and his commitments to his personal life — a challenge we all face, but is all the more dramatic when you're saving lives and at the same time your family is a thousand miles away."
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