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The Real Reason That Nicholas Gonzalez Left The Good Doctor

Since its premiere in 2017, fans of "The Good Doctor" have had to say goodbye to some beloved characters, but not always for the same reasons.

Created by David Shore, the ABC medical drama follows a surgeon with autism and Savant syndrome as he makes a name for himself at the San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. Over the years, the series has seen its lead, Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), cross paths with plenty of memorable characters at St. Bonaventure, including Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez). A surgeon charged with monitoring the hospital's residents, it didn't take long for Gonzalez's Neil to make an impression with both Shaun and viewers alike.

Thanks to his compassionate personality and the moving relationships he had with several of the show's characters, Neil quickly emerged as a standout member of the series' ensemble. Unfortunately, his fan-favorite status just made his departure from "The Good Doctor" that much more difficult for the show's viewers, many of whom may be surprised to learn the real reason behind his exit from the beloved ABC drama.

The show's creative team wanted fans to be heartbroken about Neil's death

The Season 3 finale of "The Good Doctor," titled ""I Love You," sees Nicholas Gonzalez's Dr. Neil Melendez die as a result of severe internal bleeding. The character's final scenes in the season not only see him find closure over his previous relationship with Dr. Audrey Lim (Christina Chang), but also acknowledge his feelings for Dr. Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas), who reveals in the same scene that she's also fallen for him. He tragically dies shortly after both conversations, much to the heartbreak and sadness of "Good Doctor" fans everywhere.

In a March 2020 interview with Deadline, "The Good Doctor" creator David Shore commented on Neil's death in the Season 3 finale, saying, "Nick was so great, but you want to go where the stories take you." The writer added that "none of it is personal," noting that Gonzalez "was fantastic." In the end, Shore said the decision to kill Neil came down to the show's writers wanting to "confront mortality" in the series. "We wanted to lose a character that we would feel something about, and feel pain about, and certainly, he's a character that so many of them have been in touch with," Shore revealed. "This is the nature of these sorts of shows, I believe, is you go forward, and people come and go."

Of course, Gonzalez's time on "The Good Doctor" didn't totally come to an end in the show's Season 3 finale. The actor actually reprised his role in two episodes of "The Good Doctor" Season 4 (via IMDb), though, his return appearances certainly didn't lessen the impact of his death in any way.