Freddie Highmore as Dr. Shaun Murphy in The Good Doctor
(ABC)

Why Was ‘The Good Doctor’ Really Canceled After Seven Seasons?

The Good Doctor recently came to an end on ABC after a seven-season run. Given its longevity and popularity, fans may be wondering why it ultimately ended.

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The medical drama is an American remake of the South Korean TV series of the same name. It follows Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), a brilliant young man with autism who is following his dream of becoming a surgeon at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. Although his mentor and father figure, Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff), secures him a position at the prestigious hospital, Dr. Murphy often struggles with his past trauma, as well as discrimination from his colleagues and patients, some of whom seek to end his career because of their beliefs that someone with autism cannot work in the medical profession.

The Good Doctor has received mixed responses over the quality of its autism representation, especially since the lead star, Highmore, is not neurodivergent in real life. Some have praised the show for advocating for the rights of those on the spectrum and for depicting how these individuals can lead very fulfilling lives. Others, though, have criticized the show for only representing one end of the autism spectrum and subsequently largely only promoting acceptance of neurodivergent individuals who are exceptional and among the roughly 10% who have savant abilities. Still, The Good Doctor was quite different from most shows on air and built up a substantial fanbase over the years, making its cancelation perplexing.

Why was The Good Doctor canceled?

The Good Doctor showrunner David Shore has revealed that multiple factors played into the show’s conclusion. Ultimately, the decision to end the show came from ABC, with Shore confirming he received a call about The Good Doctor‘s impending end. At the same time, he wasn’t blindsided by the call and had long envisioned the official end of the series. Since the show knew it was ending going into season 7, it received a natural and satisfactory series finale.

As such, there have been some suggestions that the show was already starting to wind down naturally after seven seasons. However, it doesn’t seem as if the cast and crew would’ve specifically chosen season 7 to end on. Reports suggested lead star Highmore was open to continuing his stint on the show, while executive producer Liz Friedman confirmed she would’ve liked to have kept up the series.

What The Good Doctor‘s ending largely came down to was budget. 2024 has been a rough year for network shows, as studios were already enacting budget cuts before the double labor strikes hit the industry last summer. To cope with the labor strikes, many studios and networks began trimming their number of scripted series. ABC canceled The Good Doctor and Station 19 after seven seasons, while CBS canceled Blue Bloods and Young Sheldon. The CW canceled almost all of its scripted series and even significantly cut the cast and episode count of one of its last remaining series, Superman & Lois.

While The Good Doctor was permitted to run for a final seventh season, the industry’s struggles were evident as it received a shortened 10-episode season instead of its typical 18 – 20 episode count. Given that shows like Riverdale, Young Sheldon, and Station 19 were also cut at the seven-season mark, perhaps a seven-season limit is becoming the new standard for network shows. As networks attempt to deal with the lingering impact of the labor strikes and the rise of streaming, it may no longer be as profitable or sustainable to allow certain network shows to boast such extensive runs.

Ultimately, The Good Doctor‘s end was brought about by budget cuts, changes in the TV industry, and the fact that the show was already getting close to concluding its narrative naturally.


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.