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Shaun's 6 Best And 6 Worst Moments In The Good Doctor

Starring Freddie Highmore as the series' titular surgeon, "The Good Doctor" is a rare optimistic medical procedural in a world arguably oversaturated with gritty doctor dramas. The series follows the professional and personal life of young surgical resident Dr. Shaun Murphy, an autistic doctor with diagnostic gifts to rival those of Gregory House. Working against unconscious and outright ableism as he learns to adapt to a neurotypical world, Shaun finds himself surrounded by a team of capable colleagues who become a chosen family that add meaning to his time at St. Bonaventure Memorial Hospital. 

Whether Shaun is learning to hone in on the most subtle of social cues, redecorating Park's office, or falling in love over a karaoke machine, "The Good Doctor" is a reminder that while neurological diversity makes the world a richer place. Grab a plate of Shaun's favorite chocolate chip pancakes and let's dig into Shaun's six best and six worst moments in "The Good Doctor."

Worst: Shaun's quarantine meltdown

More than a year ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, "The Good Doctor" forced its doctors to deal with a quick-spreading pathogen in the Season 2 fall finale episode "Quarantine," which found St. Bonaventure's ER on lockdown as a virus laid siege to the hospital. The drama takes place as things are already ramping up amid holiday madness, and the pressure is already heightened for Shaun, who finds the sensory assault of Christmas lights and holiday chaos chipping away at his composure.

To make matters worse, patients start dying, emergency surgeries are needed, Park's son has a severe asthma attack, and some of the doctors are among those taking ill. Amid all of the frenzy, Shaun begins to hyperfocus on a buzzing overhead light that continues to break his concentration –- a sign that he is beginning to experience sensory overload. Things reach a fever pitch when Lim collapses while walking Morgan through surgery as Park screams for someone to help his son. 

Shaun finally hits his breaking point, covering his ears and curling up in a fetal position right in the middle of the emergency room walkway as alarmed staff and patients look on. Although it's a scary moment for Shaun and the nursing staff, Morgan's quick thinking saves the day when she realizes that getting him to focus on the surgery is just the thing to help him calm down.

Best: When Shaun walks out of surgery

As a neurologically atypical individual, Shaun sometimes struggles to communicate information with the same ease as his neurotypical colleagues. That's alright, however, because Shaun's other workplace gifts far exceed the communication challenges he encounters from time to time. Beyond that, he is part of a team that understands each other better than most, as Park demonstrates when he helps Shaun through a difficult moment mid-surgery.

When Dr. Lim assigns Shaun his first surgery in "First Case, Second Base," Shaun feels confident even though his number one detractor, Dr. Andrews, has doubts about whether Murphy is up to the challenge. Although start auspiciously, Shaun suddenly walks out of the operating room halfway through the surgery and begins pacing in the hallway while struggling to articulate what he's thinking as a baffled Park, Andrews, and Lim look on. 

Just as Andrews and Lim are concluding Shaun is suffering a meltdown that demonstrates how unfit he is for the job, a light bulb goes off over Park's head as he realizes Shaun is trying to tell them something. After calming down, Shaun explains that the patient, who would have been left with a feeding tube as a result of the planned surgery, could receive a more advanced operation –- but it would mean Shaun has to forfeit his case. The moment demonstrates how capable Shaun is of synergy with his colleagues, his ability to overcome his own challenges, and his willingness to put patients first.

Worst: When Shaun unloads on Lea

From the moment Lea knocked on Shaun's apartment door, it was clear they had chemistry. Still, the path to true love isn't always easy, and both Shaun and Lea had to do a lot of growing up to do before they were ready to start a relationship. Things between the pair get rocky after Carly breaks things off with Shaun, encouraging him to tell Lea how he feels about her. Following Carly's advice, Shaun confesses his feelings for Lea, who is quick to reciprocate them but tearfully says they can't be together, remaining silent when he asks if it's because of his autism in the Season 3 episode "Autopsy."

Shaun spends the next few episodes in a dark hole and lashes out at everyone around him in anger. Things come to a head after Shaun sees a patient's lover vandalizing a car and thinks this approach might make him feel better as well. Although Shaun shows up at Lea's place to smash up her "Starsky & Hutch" Gran Torino, telling her, "I want to hurt you the way you hurt me," he can't bring himself to do it in "Heartbreak." 

Instead, he delivers a brutal takedown, telling Lea she doesn't respect him, no one likes her, and she deserves to end up alone because she's a "superficial, selfish, and prejudiced person." The interaction is distressing and cruel, even if Lea badly needs a wake-up call to confront her ableism and selfishness.

Best: When Lea realizes she loves Shaun

One of the things that made the early difficulties between Shaun and Lea so painful is that Lea wasn't just rejecting him outright. She really does love him but genuinely worries that a relationship between two high-maintenance people would be far too difficult. However, as time apart gives her time to think things over, her feelings for Shaun only continue to grow, and she is finally forced to face them when she fears she might lose him for good. The revelation comes in Season 3's penultimate episode, "Hurt," which puts Shaun on the rescue team in the aftermath of an earthquake that leaves some of St. Bonaventure's people -– including Lea –- trapped in a brewery.

Shaun sets out to rescue her but ends up helping a woman named Vera instead. Before he can bring her to safety, an aftershock traps them both, flooding the sub-basement as a horrified Lea listens in over the radio — unbeknownst to Shawn. As a terrified Lea fears for his safety, Shaun pours out his heart to Vera, telling his patient that Lea makes him "more." After Vera tells Shaun to move on, telling him he can do better, he promises to do so, finally coming to terms with the situation. 

However, when he finally emerges from the building, a waiting Lea greets him with a kiss, telling him that he makes her more, having finally realized how much better their lives are together.

Worst: When Shaun visits his dying father

It's established early in "The Good Doctor" that Shaun's parents failed him badly. Shaun's alcoholic father was horribly abusive to Shaun and his brother Steve. He berated Shaun for his autism and even killed the young boy's pet rabbit, as seen in "Burnt Food." Things got so bad that Shaun and Steve decided to run away together, taking up residence in an abandoned school bus until Steve's accidental death. After losing Steve, Shaun is put into foster care to bounce around from home to home until aging out of the system. Suffice to say, Shaun still harbors plenty of resentment well into his adult years.

With such a tragic backstory, it's little wonder Shaun balks when his mother pleads for him to see his estranged father (Michael Trucco) as he is dying from pancreatic cancer in "Incomplete." Although his father, Ethan Murphy, initially apologizes to Shaun, he does so by playing the victim, blaming his actions on his inability to help his autistic son in "Friends and Family.". His words are triggering, causing Shaun to unleash his anger, telling his father he isn't a good person and was responsible for Steve's death. 

After sleeping on his anger, Shaun returns to forgive his father, which Ethan responds to with more abuse, telling Shaun that he is weak and it's his fault his brother died. It's a dark moment in Shaun's life that reminds Shaun the Murphys were never his family — except by blood.

Best: When Shaun tells Glassy he loves him

Although he never takes legal custody of Shaun, Dr. Aaron Glassman forms an important relationship with him soon after they meet while Shaun is still an adolescent. They first encounter one another after a teenage Shaun's dad kills his rabbit and his protective brother Steve helps him find the nearest doctor, who happens to be Glassman. Unfortunately, he can do nothing for them as he's not a vet and the rabbit is solidly dead by the time they arrive. 

When Glassman hears the boys say they aren't going home, he gives them his phone number in case they need anything, which leads to Shaun calling him after Steve's accident. Although Shaun is eventually placed in foster care, he remains in touch with Glassman, who serves as a surrogate father and helps him get hired at St. Bonaventure after medical school.

Through the ensuing years, their relationship faces various trials and strains, but they remain close despite everything. On Shaun's wedding day, Glassman gives Shaun two rings passed down through his family that he had intended to give his late daughter. As Glassman attempts to tie Shaun's bowtie for him, Shaun tells him, "My father is a very good father," following with, "I love you, Dr. Glassman." A touched Glassman reciprocates the sentiment, emphasizing how important their relationship has been to the two men's lives.

Worst: When Lim blames Shaun for her disability

Although Shaun faces many challenges building relationships at St. Bonaventure, over time, he forms a strong workplace friendship with Audrey Lim. Lim comes to respect Shaun completely, even standing up for him to Chief of Surgery Dr. Han in "Risk and Reward." However, their relationship sours after Shaun's split-second surgical decision leaves Lim partially paralyzed, even if that decision most likely saves her liver.

The trouble arises after Nurse Dalisay Villanueva's ex attacks her during Shaun's wedding, leaving her bleeding out on the break room floor in Season 5's finale, "Sons." As Lim is calling for help, the attacker gets to her, too, forcing Shaun and Glassman to perform emergency surgery with the hospital still under lockdown in the Season 6 opener "Afterparty." While operating on Lim, Shaun goes against Glassman's order, performing a slightly riskier procedure. Although the operation is successful, Lim is left partially paralyzed. 

As she struggles to accept her new reality, Lim targets her anger on Shaun, believing his recklessness cost her the ability to walk –- a position that's unfortunately reinforced by Glassman's own feelings about Shaun's decision. When Shaun doesn't seem to understand how resentful Lim is, she brutally spells it out for him, telling Dr. Murphy that she no longer wants to be friends in "A Big Sign." Fortunately for all involved, Shaun is nothing if not persistent, and he continues to work on ways to get her mobility back despite Lim's anger. 

Best: When Shaun makes things right with Lim

Although Glassman and Lim struggle to get past their feelings about Shaun's role in Lim's paralysis, Glassman eventually comes to terms with everything, realizing that Shaun truly believed he was making the right decision. While Lim continues to harbor resentment toward Shaun, she eventually begins to embrace her new way of living with help from Danni, who underwent a leg amputation years prior, as seen in "Growth Opportunities." 

Despite the strain on their relationship, Shaun's commitment to repairing Lim's nerve damage pays off when he finds a way to get her walking again. However, Shaun has to make things right with Lim first, which he does in "Sorry, Not Sorry." Although he tells her he does not owe her an apology, emphasizing, "The medical choice was clear," Shaun says he is sorry the decision caused her harm. He further opens up, telling Lim "a medicine-only relationship" is not what he wants.

Lim reveals she's working through her anger, but she's finally in a good place and misses Shaun's friendship, too. It's good to see Lim and Shaun make up, but more importantly, the moment shows Shaun's growth as a surgeon. Sometimes, surgeons have to make difficult, career-risking decisions to save lives. Shaun's revelation that he isn't remorseful or guilty while still expressing empathy for Lim shows his humanity without compromising his confidence in his ability to make the hard calls he'll need to keep making going forward.

Worst: When expired meds cost a life

The tug-of-war between profit and compassionate medical care is a very relevant topic affecting the American healthcare system. Shaun and the other St. Bonaventure doctors find themselves confronted with this reality when the hospital comes under the ownership of the overbearing Salen, who saves it from financial ruin. Unfortunately, Salen shifts everything to a heavily profit-driven system under the Ethicure umbrella while implementing sweeping changes across the board from cheaper soap to a doctor rating system. Unfortunately, Salen's interference isn't limited to requisition forms and policymaking as she makes a habit of meddling in medical decision-making, prioritizing profit over human lives.

At first, Shaun weathers the changes surprisingly well. While he tends to resist change, he can understand the logic behind many of Salen's decisions. However, as the micromanagement stacks up, Shaun's resilience is gradually eroded. When Salen's corner-cutting with expired medications costs a baby her life, triggering feelings about his own recent infant loss, Shaun's rage boils over. 

He makes his way to the hospital pharmacy, where he smashes bottles of expired medications and lashes out at everyone around him in "Expired." Feeling he can't trust anyone, Shaun tells Glassman he's an "awful best man" and Lea that he can't marry her because she broke his trust by fudging his physician ratings. While it's a dark moment that leaves a serious rift in Shaun's relationship with Lea, the meltdown marks a turning point that leads to the staff's active rebellion against Salen.

Best: When Shaun saves Lea and the baby

One of the more heartbreaking storylines in "The Good Doctor" is Shaun and Lea's painful journey to parenthood. When Lea unexpectedly becomes pregnant, the couple initially considers termination but instead decides to embrace the surprise, as we learn in "We're All Crazy Sometimes" and "Teeny Blue Eyes." As Lea's pregnancy progresses, they learn they're having a baby girl and get excited about their new family member. However, their happiness falls apart when Lea experiences a brutal late pregnancy loss in "Dr. Ted."

Over time, the couple begins to move on past their grief, eventually getting married and looking forward to starting a family once they get the medical okay. But Shaun and Lea are met with even more bad news when they learn Lea has Asherman's syndrome, a condition that will likely affect Lea's fertility and ability to carry the baby to term in "Boys Don't Cry." 

Although they want to be parents, the pair is understandably terrified when Lea gets pregnant again in "Broken or Not," fears that are confirmed when they learn her uterus is thinning and has a high probability of rupturing. Shaun devises a surgical plan to increase their odds, but while recovering in the hospital, Lea experiences a bleed from her scar tissue. After the second surgery, Glassman tells Shaun that Lea and the baby will survive only because they were already in the hospital for Shaun's procedure in "Quiet and Loud."

Worst: When Dr. Han is in charge

Among the many difficult figures Shaun encounters while working at St. Bonaventure, few are more divisive than Dr. Jackson Han, played by Daniel Dae Kim, whose arrogance as a surgeon is unrivaled among the staff. After Marcus Andrews ascends to hospital president, his position is filled by Dr. Han, who finds Shaun's interactions with other staffers and patients inappropriate for a position in surgery. 

After Shaun upsets a mother with an inconvenient truth about her infant, Han confronts him only to be dumbfounded at Shaun's lack of social awareness about his own interaction with the young resident in "Risk and Reward." Despite Shaun's colleagues' insistence that he is working on social cues and the clear diagnostic gifts that lead him to save the baby, Han feels Murphy isn't fit for the role of surgeon. After telling Shaun he is a remarkable diagnostician, Han moves him into the pathology department, believing it's a better fit for Shaun's social skills.

For Shaun, who has dreamed of becoming a surgeon since his youth, the move is a bitter pill to swallow. After Shaun is brought in to consult on a later surgery at Melendez's request, he confronts Han about getting his job back but ends up having a meltdown and getting fired in "Breakdown." Han's handling of the Shaun situation widens the rift between himself and Andrews, who ends up firing Han and getting Shaun his old job back in "Trampoline."

Best: Shaun and Lea get married

With all Shaun and Lea go through together, it's nice to see them finally get their happy ending. However, because it's "The Good Doctor" and Shaun and Lea, even their wedding turns out to be a tricky affair. 

After struggling to heal from their tragic pregnancy loss, "Vamos" sees Shaun and Lea get engaged while on a medical mission in Guatemala. By the time of their engagement party, everyone is looking forward to the upcoming felicitations, but the stress of wedding planning already has Lea struggling in "New Beginnings." If that wasn't enough pressure, they agree to be part of a streaming reality series culminating in an onscreen wedding. However, when the big day comes, they hate everything about it and decide to cancel their wedding moments before showtime.

Just when it starts to seem like they'll never tie the knot, Shaun and Lea decide to get hitched in a courthouse wedding. Before they can, Dr. Glassman and Jordan throw together a surprise rooftop wedding with all of their friends present. It's a perfect moment for an unconventional couple, even if their fairy tale ending is cut short when the hospital goes on lockdown.