The Good Doctor has become a massive hit, but only true fans of the series know about these behind-the-scenes details that made that possible.
One of the most recent examples of a medical drama that has found a devoted following, The Good Doctor seems to have the potential to follow in the footsteps of shows like ER or Grey’s Anatomy. Able to stand out due to the focus on a young autistic surgical resident, Freddie Highmore’s performance as Dr. Shaun Murphy is so impressive that we can’t get enough of it. With all of that in mind, it seems entirely possible that The Good Doctor could remain on the air for many years to come.
As is the case with most shows that have managed to capture lightning in a bottle and become a hit, The Good Doctor easily could have failed if different decisions were made behind the scenes. Of course, only the biggest fans of the series are likely to find out about how the show, as its viewers know it, came to be. For those reasons, it is time to look at this list of details only true fans know about The Good Doctor.
In order for a piece of information to be considered for possible inclusion in this list, it must, first and foremost, relate to The Good Doctor in one way or another. On top of that, something about it needs to be astonishing enough to hold the interest of the series’ fans. Of course, it should be noted that every person’s knowledge base is different, so huge fans may be aware of some things to come.
Here are 20 Things Only True Fans Know About The Good Doctor.
A Lot of Research Went into the Portrayal of Shaun’s Autism
One of many medical dramas currently on TV the major thing that makes The Good Doctor stand out is that its main character is an autistic surgical resident. With that in mind, everyone who had a hand in bringing Dr. Shaun Murphy to life needed to make sure that they got the portrayal of the way someone with autism’s mind works right.
Speaking about the attempts to do just that, the man who developed The Good Doctor, David Shore, revealed they “saw a lot of documentaries. We consulted with people. We have people on the spectrum who we’re working with.” Shore also said “Savant syndrome is rare, even within the community of people with autism. I think it’s a legitimate question, and we want to make sure that we don’t represent him as being representative in any way.”
It’s Based on a Short-Lived South Korean Series
If anyone thought that it was an original idea to focus a medical drama on an autistic surgical intern, then you are not alone. However, all of those who thought that turned out to be wrong, as this series is a US version of a hit show from South Korea with the same concept.
As for the original version of this show, Good Doctor won a long list of awards and was nominated for many more. On top of that, clearly, it was a big enough success to catch the eye of a US network and a group of producers. Despite all of that, South Korea’s Good Doctor only lasted 20 episodes, and aired from August to October in 2013.
Claire was Cast Before Shaun
One of the biggest problems with the first season of The Good Doctor was the fact that the talented actor Antonia Thomas wasn’t given enough interesting things to do. It was great to see Dr. Claire Brown connecting with patients and dealing with the emotional trauma that can cause but she deserved so much more.
Based on the often skin-deep way her character was portrayed when this show began, it was surprising to learn that Antonio Thomas was the first actor hired to play one of The Good Doctor’s main characters. Hopefully, that means that Claire will be given consistently compelling storylines to take part in before too long.
Freddie Highmore Wrote the Script for the Season 2 Premiere
When Freddie Highmore began working on The Good Doctor it became “all-consuming” for him. Speaking about how deeply he cares about his work with Deadline, Highmore revealed he talked to David Shore about contributing to the show “beyond acting.” That is why he was “involved as a producer from the very beginning.”
Beyond that, he not only wrote season 2’s premiere episode, but also sat in the director’s chair for another one. Speaking about his two new The Good Doctor jobs, Highmore said: “I see it as my role to be as honest as I can as an actor, a writer, and a director on the show.”
Dr. Melendez’s Tattoo is Fake
When Dr. Neil Melendez first appeared on The Good Doctor, it seemed like he was going to be another example of a one-dimensional, highly competitive surgeon character. Thankfully, as the show has progressed and viewers have gotten to see more of him, Melendez has quickly become one of the most fascinating characters this show has to offer. Though highly ambitious, he cares deeply enough about saving his patients that he has done several things that could have left his career in ashes.
When viewers first caught sight of a tattoo peeking out of his scrubs, it seemed so out of character that we wanted to know more. In regards to his elk tattoo, one thing we know for sure is that it is fake and applied to the actor’s body prior to filming.
Hawaii Five-0 and Lost star Daniel Dae Kim is Executive Producer
A talented actor who was born in South Korea, when Daniel Dae Kim was only a year old his family moved to America and he grew up in New York City and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Becoming a highly successful actor as an adult, he went on to take on a slew of supporting roles in a wide variety of films and TV shows. Of course, Kim is most famous for starring in two long-lasting and popular shows, Lost and Hawaii Five-0.
If all of that wasn’t enough to make the masses realize that Kim has had an impressive career, Kim also executive produces The Good Doctor and was instrumental in the show from South Korea getting adapted for a US audience.
Freddie Highmore Initially Turned Down his Starring Role
An incredibly talented actor who has been turning heads and winning critical acclaim since he was a child, Freddie Highmore is the kind of star that most shows would love to recruit. As a result, when it came time to cast The Good Doctor’s main character, he was the person that the show’s producers wanted in the role. Incredibly enough, however, he actually turned down the starring role in a David Shore series for one reason: he had spent several years starring in another show, Bates Motel.
Speaking with Adweek, Highmore said: “When you’ve just finished a show that had been on for five seasons, you’re aware of the necessary commitment that is behind it.” Thankfully for The Good Doctor fans, Highmore and Shore spoke, and the actor was convinced to star in the show.
Lea was only supposed to be in two episodes
During the first season of The Good Doctor, the vast majority of the scenes took place in St. Bonaventure Hospital. However, viewers regularly got to see flashbacks to Dr. Shaun Murphy’s past as well as scenes that took place in and around his apartment. One storyline that took place in Shaun’s homestead was his growing relationship with his neighbor, Lea Dilallo, which added some fun to the series.
If you thought Lea wasn’t destined to stick around for long, then you are far from the only one. Even though the actor who plays her, Paige Spara, has seen her role upgraded to a starring one, she originally was hired to appear in only 2 episodes.
Daniel Dae Kim has a Recurring Role in Season 2
As we touched on earlier in this list, Daniel Dae Kim serves as an executive producer of The Good Doctor. Fortunately for fans of his stellar acting, Kim has also agreed to play a recurring and important The Good Doctor character. As fans of this medical drama should already know, Hill Harper’s character, Dr. Marcus Andrews, was promoted to the position of President of St. Bonaventure Hospital. Arguably the most interesting side effect of that change is that Andrews used to be the Chief of Surgery and that position has yet to be filled.
If you were hoping for a current character like Dr. Audrey Lim or Dr. Neil Melendez to receive that job, then we have some bad news for you, as Daniel Dae Kim’s The Good Doctor character will be the new Chief.
There are multiple Actors Who Actual Have Autism to Appear on the Show
Many people feel that it is a wonderful thing that The Good Doctor is focused on a character that is on the spectrum. That by no way means that everything to do with the series has been received positively, however. In fact, many others who care deeply about people on the spectrum being represented in the media are upset that this show’s main character is not played by an autistic person.
While it in no way makes up for that perfectly valid complaint, it is interesting to note that there are a couple of actors on the autism spectrum who have appeared on the show.
Freddie Highmore and Antonia Thomas Are Actually From England
It is an awful lot of fun when we tune into an interview with an actor whose work we’ve enjoyed, only to find out that their natural accent is not at all what we expected. If you enjoy that as much as we do, then being a fan of The Good Doctor could pay off in a big way.
reddie Highmore, Chuku Modu, and Antonia Thomas were all born in England, and in two of those cases you’d never know that while watching the show. To their immense credit, if you have only heard Highmore and Thomas speak in their fake accents, it may shock and delight you to listen to their everyday voices.
The Show Has Already Lost Two Main Cast Members
This has become a time-honored tradition in the world of television medical dramas, and many of these shows continue for years after their initial stars leave. While it currently seems impossible to imagine The Good Doctor pulling off the same feat if Freddie Highmore ever quit, it has already survived two high profile departures.
The first original star announced to be leaving was Chuku Modu, who played Dr. Jared Kalu. While it was sad to see his character go, the storyline that led to that was very well handled. On the other end of that spectrum, the second to go was Beau Garrett, who played the hospital lawyer Jessica Preston. She just disappeared from the series without any fanfare.
Dr. Glassman’s love Interest Is Played by the actor’s real Wife
Throughout the majority of The Good Doctor’s first season, Dr. Glassman was chiefly defined by his medical career and mentorship of Dr. Murphy. However, once Glassman left his role as a hospital president and was diagnosed with cancer, that changed in a big way. One of the interesting side effects of his medical ailment is that it seems to have totally destroyed his budding romantic relationship.
This fledgling couple seemed to have all the potential in the world. Dr. Glassman and Debbi’s early nervousness quickly gave way to chemistry and ease together. As it turns out, that makes all the sense in the world, since the actors who portrayed these characters, Richard Schiff and Sheila Kelley, have been married since 1987.
The Premiere Episode Was a Monster Hit
No matter how optimistic the people who work on The Good Doctor were prior to its initial airing, nobody truly knows how many people will tune in to give watch a TV pilot. However, if anyone involved with the series was overly worried about the show’s chances, then they must have been overjoyed to learn just how well its premiere episode fared.
In fact, The Good Doctor’s series premiere was such a huge hit that only one other show’s pilot did better in the ratings, and it trounced every other freshman drama. On top of that, The Good Doctor also was a huge DVR hit, because 7.9 million more people used that method to watch its pilot in the 3 days after it aired live.
Critics don’t love it as much as audiences
Even though The Good Doctor was beloved by many TV viewers from the very start, the critical consensus about the series has been far less rosy at times. For instance, the show’s first season has earned a 60% rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but its audience score is a far more impressive 87%. In another example of the disparity between how critics and viewers perceive this show, on Metacritic, The Good Doctor’s first season has a 53 score from critics, but users awarded it 7.7 out of 10.
Summarizing the critical take on the show, Rotten Tomatoes says, “The Good Doctor’s heavy-handed bedside manner undermines a solid lead performance, but under all the emotionally manipulative gimmickry, there’s still plenty of room to improve.”
The House M.D. connection
Despite the fact that TV producers have a huge influence over the content that the masses tune into on a weekly basis, most of these professionals operate in relative anonymity. However, an extremely small group of them have helped to shepherd so many successful series onto the air that people begin to know their names, including the likes of Aaron Spelling and Shonda Rhimes.
An example of a TV producer who might rise to that level soon, David Shore has worked on several shows including Traders, Law & Order, and House, M.D. Thankfully, all of the skills he learned working on those series helped him to develop The Good Doctor and he has a lot to do with the show’s stellar production as well.
Dr. Melendez’s Tattoo Was Addressed in a Script
As we touched on earlier in this list, many fans of The Good Doctor badly want to know what the story behind Dr. Melendez’s elk tattoo is. If you feel the same way, then we regret to inform you that apparently, the actor who portrays Melendez is the reason we have yet to learn the meaning behind his tattoo.
While speaking with Paste Magazine, actor Nicholas Gonzalez said of his character’s distinctive ink, “there was a draft where there was an explanation for it.” However, he later told a Shine on Media interviewer “I nixed it a little bit. To me, I feel like there is a lot more to go and so I don’t want to give some quick little thing to satisfy people.”
Freddie Highmore only had 3 days off between Bates Motel and The Good Doctor
As we touched on earlier in this list, when Freddie Highmore was approached about starring in The Good Doctor ,he was busy starring in Bates Motel. As any fan of that show should be able to tell you, Highmore’s Bates Motel role seemed like it was a highly demanding part that required a lot of emotional effort. That is why it is so impressive that Highmore began his work starring in The Good Doctor only 3 days after he left the set of Bates Motel for the final time.
Speaking about that experience, Highmore said the final season of Bates Motel “took so much from everyone involved” so he “was excited” about the possibility of “not being part of a television show.” Fortunately, he seems to be very happy he took his current gig these days.
Highmore Insisted on 18-Episode Seasons
One of the benefits of the current era of television is that show have a lot more flexibility in terms of how many episodes a season is comprised of. Evidently passionate about the fact that the standard 22 – 24 episode season can take away from a show’s quality, Highmore convinced producers to keep The Good Doctor’s seasons to 18 episodes.
Speaking to Adweek, Highmore said: “It’s the idea of making the show as good as it can possibly be… You’d never want to just be doing more for the sake of it, and so it seems like a wise idea to start with that and see how things go.”
CBS Passed on the Show
It may seem like being a network head would be fantastic, since they obviously make a lot of money and get to greenlight the shows they are interested in. However, the idea of losing sleep at night because of worrying about passing on a show that would go on to be a hit seems like a real downside. Someone at CBS must be losing a lot of sleep over The Good Doctor.
CBS network began developing The Good Doctor in 2014 and even planned to air the show starting in 2015, but then opted to not pick the series up. All too happy to take advantage of CBS letting this show slip away, ABC stepped in and now has a huge hit on its hands.