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The Ending Of The Good Doctor Season 4 Explained

ABC drama "The Good Doctor" stars Freddie Highmore ("Bates Motel," "Finding Neverland") as Shaun Murphy, an autistic savant-turned-surgical resident at a hospital in San Jose. Shaun's memory and eye for detail make him a superb surgeon, but he's met with resistance at first by skeptical colleagues unsure of his abilities. The titular good doctor must prove his skills to the other residents at the hospital while struggling with the everyday challenges of having a disability. 

Over the course of four seasons so far, Shaun has fallen in love, struggled with grief, and saved the lives of multiple patients. The newest season saw Shaun and his girlfriend Lea deal with an unexpected pregnancy — and then miscarriage — while the surgical team struggled to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After the first part of the finale, it seemed as if the couple were about to split up in the wake of the loss. Instead, the pair took a big step forward. Meanwhile, a major cast member left the series for good, and new relationships were formed. This is how the season finale of "The Good Doctor" left things for Shaun, Lea, and the rest of the cast.

Claire officially left the series for good

At the end of the two-part finale, "Vamos," set in Guatemala, Dr. Claire Brown (Antonia Thomas) departed San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital in order to stay in Guatemala and work as a surgeon. The show is bidding farewell to Thomas as well, who's leaving to work on other projects. In an interview with TV Line, executive producer David Shore said he didn't want Thomas to go: "I went into this season hoping she would change her mind. [Laughs] That didn't happen, which wasn't overly surprising. She's been very appreciative, and I know she had a great time on the show." 

Claire had long been a fan favorite for her compassion and insight compared to the other characters. Nevertheless, she often grappled with her past, including an abusive mother, as well as the overwhelming struggle to save lives. 

These emotional conflicts led Claire to doubt at first whether she was ready to work abroad, but Dr. Lim convinces her that Guatemala is where her kindness and open heart are truly needed. Shore said in the same TV Line interview that he wanted Claire to be happy in her new job: "I wanted her to be running towards something, not away from something. We wanted to find a place for her to go that felt like a great fit for her." And in her last scene, Claire does seem happy working, finally at peace after so much hardship and loss.

Lea proposed to Shaun

Earlier in the finale, Lea tells Shaun that after they return home, she plans to move back to her hometown in Pennsylvania for a bit so she can recover from the profound grief over the loss of the baby. It appears that the couple is separating for now, but that changes when Lea has to help a mother with her baby girl's respiratory illness, one which ironically resembles the lung problems that led to the death of Shaun and Lea's unborn daughter.  Guided patiently and gently by Shaun, Lea is able to save the infant girl's life and, perhaps because she was able to aid another sick child, finds some kind of closure over her loss.

Lea later sits down with Shaun and explains that she's not going back to Pennsylvania — instead, she wants to spend the rest of her life with him. Lea then asks Shaun to marry him, to which he replies: "Of course, I love you!" Showrunner David Shore explained why it was important that Lea propose to Shaun: "Part of the reason she proposed to him was because of what she saw from him in this episode, and how supportive he is. ... And he waits for [Lea] to be ready [to move forward in their relationship]" (via TV Line).

So wedding bells are now in the air for the couple, though fans will presumably have to wait to see Shaun and Lea's ceremony until next season. 

Two relationships blossom when the characters become vulnerable

Dr. Lim (Christina Chang) bonded with Mexican doctor Mateo Osma (Osvaldo Benavides) to the extent that they ended up sleeping together, and the pair opened up to one another about their troubled pasts: Dr. Lim acknowledged her PTSD, while Dr. Osma told her he was wanted in the States for assault. By the end of the episode, Osma told Lim that he planned to straighten things out and visit her in San Jose — and with Benavides joining the cast next season, that's all but certain (via Deadline). Their budding relationship may be threatened by Dr. Osma's legal issues, however, as Shore suggested in his interview

Meanwhile, Dr. Morgan Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann) and Dr. Alex Park (Will Yun Lee) acknowledged long-dormant feelings for each other after years of verbal sparring. After the usually tough Morgan expresses fear about her surgical career being over, Park comforts her, and the pair finally get together on the bus back to the airport. Morgan's vulnerability will be a factor next season as well, according to Shore: "She will probably let her guard down a little bit more, especially with Park — and that may turn out to be a challenge in that relationship."

After a year of trial and tribulation for the hospital, it looks like things are looking up for the residents and doctors — but fans will have to wait until fall 2021 to know for sure, when "The Good Doctor" returns for Season 5 on ABC.