The ABC hit series The Good Doctor is one of the most popular dramas on TV right now. But which of its relationships are really worth rooting for?
Airing since 2017, the hit ABC medical drama series The Good Doctor has followed the journey of young aspiring surgeon Dr. Shaun Murphy, a talented young medical professional who just so happens to have autism. The series in particular highlights the everyday ableism that Shaun faces on the job, whether from strangers, patients, or his own colleagues.
Buoyed by Freddie Highmore’s outstanding performance in the lead role, and hailing from David Shore, the mind behind acclaimed medical drama House MD, the series also features a well-rounded cast of supporting characters, whether they’re supportive of Shaun’s medical career journey or not. With the series now midway through its third season, it’s time to take a look back at the relationships that have worked so far – and those that absolutely have not worked at all.
Best: Shaun and Claire
Few characters have been on Dr. Shaun Murphy’s side from the beginning of the series. But the kind and compassionate Dr. Claire Browne is one of those very few. From day one, Claire has been comforting and supportive for Shaun, doing whatever it takes to ensure Shaun’s comfort level and trying her hardest to understand his needs.
Claire is a voice of reason and experience for Shaun, as she often provides him with advice and guidance that no one else can offer him, especially when it comes to dealing with complex human – and female – emotions.
Worst: Morgan and Shaun
By contrast, Shaun’s relationship with the arrogant, abrasive Dr. Morgan Reznick has by and large been one of the worst parts of the series. Since she was introduced in the back half of the first season, Morgan has been nothing more than a petulant bully to Shaun, treating him as though he were lesser and inadequate because of his autism.
It’s hard to think of a single moment when these two have gotten along, and not for any lack of trying on Shaun’s part. But time and again, Morgan refuses to treat him like an equal, much less a human, and it remains one of the show’s biggest failings.
Best: Jared and Shaun
In its short three season run so far, The Good Doctor has still managed to be plagued by many mistakes in terms of characters and casting. One of the biggest mistakes the series made so far was the dismissal of the character of Dr. Jared Kalu, one of Shaun’s only friends and supporters.
Though Jared began the series seeming little more than a typical medical drama lothario, he soon became one of the only people willing to go to bat for Shaun, even if it meant risking and losing his job in the process. When Jared was sadly written out of the series at the start of its second season, these two were really starting to become the best of friends. It’s a shame we’ll never know what could have been.
Worst: Morgan and Claire
Shaun isn’t the only one who bears the brunt of Dr. Morgan Reznick’s bullying ways. While working steadfastly at alienating Shaun over the last two seasons, Morgan has also bullied and demeaned fellow female resident, Dr. Claire Browne.
Though in the third season the series has attempted to forge some sort of unlikely friendship between these two, it’s never once felt genuine. Until this point, Morgan has always looked down upon Claire and mocked her for her innate kindness and warmth. It’s an odd couple duo the series would be better off avoiding, because it will never feel right after all the cruelty Morgan has been responsible for.
Best: Shaun and Carly
It took two full seasons for Shaun to get to this point, but at the end of the second season, he finally found the courage to enter into a romantic relationship with someone: the adorable Dr. Carly Lever. The first half of the third season has so far taken its time exploring the beautiful relationship blossoming between these two, as Shaun figures out where his comfort levels are in terms of intimacy.
And though occasionally frustrated by the one step forward, two steps back progress they take together, Carly has been patient, supportive, and kind all throughout. These two have a wonderful, sweet chemistry together. Hopefully, the series allows it to continue developing naturally.
Worst: Melendez and Jessica
Dr. Neil Melendez is a character who has been polarizing at best and downright infuriating at worst. But it’s the latter characterization that’s clearer than ever when it comes to his romantic relationships. In the first season, Melendez was engaged to the hospital’s resident lawyer, Jessica Preston, a beautiful, strong, compassionate woman.
Yet in almost every scene these two shared together, it becomes beyond apparent that they were poorly matched. They shared different dreams for their future, dreams that Melendez repeatedly insisted Jessica compromise upon. And then, once they’d split up, Jessica was written out of the series without a word, and viewers remained stuck with the arrogant Melendez instead.
Best: Shaun and Steve
Dr. Shaun Murphy hasn’t had an easy life, whether it comes to hailing from a deeply abusive family or facing ableism regarding his autism on a daily basis. But by far the worst tragedy the young doctor endured was the tragic death of his brother, Steve, who despite being his younger brother, was his guardian and hero.
Shaun and Steve were as thick as thieves when they were young, running away from the toxic environment of their home to live on their own as runaways. Steve supported Shaun’s medical dreams and defended him against any threat. But tragically, Steve died right before Shaun’s eyes in a freak accident, leaving Shaun untethered and alone, but with his brother’s memory still spurring him on.
Worst: Melendez and Lim
As we’ve already established, Dr. Neil Melendez might just be one of the worst boyfriends on television right now. But despite that fact, he still manages to land women way above his grade in terms of emotional maturity, compassion, and basically everything else that matters. Most recently, that has included Dr. Audrey Lim, a fearless, inspiring woman who became the Chief of Surgery.
Over the course of their brief relationship, Melendez constantly questioned Lim’s abilities and judgment. And though the two professed to love one another, it’s hard to understand why, given Melendez’s frequent frankly sexist questioning of Dr. Lim’s talent.
Best: Shaun and Dr. Glassman
From day one, the most important relationship in the entire series has been the bond between Dr. Shaun Murphy and his father figure, Dr. Aaron Glassman. As Shaun’s protector from a very young age, Dr. Glassman is Shaun’s mentor, and the only character who has really stood up for and believed in Shaun’s talents and abilities from the very beginning.
The series truly began to lose its way at the end of its first season, when these two engaged in a fight seemingly without cause. Since then, their relationship has received less and less focus over time, and to the detriment of the series as a whole. Even in a recent episode, Shaun remarked that he missed the days when it was just the two of them, pancake breakfasts and all. That makes two of us, Shaun.
Worst: Shaun and Lea
The most frustrating relationship on the series, almost from day one, has been the back and forth friendship-romance-whatever-it-is between Shaun and Lea, a girl so petulant and immature it’s hard to believe that we’re supposed to take her or their relationship seriously. Lea never once tries to really understand Shaun; instead, she’s determined to push him outside his comfort zone, whether that means making him play hooky from work or imposing upon him as his roommate.
Lea is constantly manipulative with Shaun, stringing him along for convenience’s sake and never once clearly understanding just how much she hurts him in the process. It’s really hard to believe that we’re meant to hope these two find their way to each other romantically eventually, when Lea happens to be the worst possible option for Shaun of all.