The Good Doctor has quickly won a huge fanbase thanks to its portrayal of Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young autistic surgeon who also lives with savant syndrome. The show centres around his life at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital, and features a fascinating ensemble cast containing plenty of doctors – including Claire Browne and Neil Melendez – plus Murphy’s neighbour and love interest, Lea Dilallo.
Now in its second series, The Good Doctor has won fans around the world thanks to its gripping portrayal of autism and savant syndrome. Scroll down the article below to find out 21 amazing facts about this fascinating US medical drama.
Enjoy! And remember you’re in the safe hands of Dr. Shaun Murphy and co…
21. It’s actually based on a South Korean TV series
The premise of The Good Doctor sounds like an entirely original plot for a TV show.
But the US version is actually a remake of a South Korean programme simply entitled Good Doctor.
Although the South Korean version won many awards, it only lasted for 20 episodes, airing from August to October 2013.
It was still a big enough hit that American network executives picked up the idea and quickly set about writing a pilot script.
20. Antonia Thomas was cast before Freddie Highmore
You’d think that producers would have wanted to pin down talented actor Freddie Highmore as quickly as possible.
But interestingly, casting directors actually awarded Antonia Thomas the part of Dr. Claire Browne before Highmore had even been discussed.
What makes this all the more strange is the fact that the series has come under criticism for not giving Dr. Browne enough to do in the first season.
Fingers crossed her storylines become a lot more interesting in future episodes!
19. A lot of research went into correctly portraying Shaun’s autism
If you’re going to try and portray an autistic doctor with savant syndrome then you definitely want to make sure you’ve done your research.
And that’s exactly what the production team working on The Good Doctor made sure to do.
David Shore is the show’s creator and he revealed that part of their preparation involved watching “a lot of documentaries. We consulted with people.
“We have people on the spectrum who we’re working with. Savant syndrome is rare, even within the community of people with autism. I think it’s a legitimate question, and we want to make sure that we don’t represent him as being representative in any way.”
18. Freddie Highmore initially turned down the role of Dr. Shaun Murphy
Highmore has won a lot of praise for his portrayal of Dr. Shaun Murphy.
But interestingly, he actually turned down The Good Doctor the first time he was approached by producers. His reason?
Highmore had just spent five seasons working on Bates Motel and was reluctant to dive straight into another show.
We can’t really blame him for that one after all the time he spent on Bates Motel!
Highmore explained to Adweek: “When you’ve just finished a show that had been on for five seasons, you’re aware of the necessary commitment that is behind it.” Thankfully for everyone, the actor changed his mind!
17. Lea Dilallo was only supposed to appear in two episodes
Lea Dilallo is now a fan favourite, but things could have been so much different for her character.
Lea starts off as Shaun’s neighbour who needs some spare batteries for her Playstation, but the pair develop an interesting relationship over the course of season one.
However, actress Paige Spara signed on to the programme thinking that she’d only be appearing in two episodes!
Her character was quickly developed into a recurring role after Lea provided some much needed fun away from all of the hospital drama.
Are you a fan of Lea?
16. Many of the actors who appear on the show have autism themselves
The Good Doctor came under fire from some quarters for not hiring an autistic person to play the lead role.
However, fans might be interested to note that many of the actors who make cameos or guest appearances on the show are on the spectrum themselves.
Furthermore, in one storyline, we see actress Vered Blonstein appear in an episode of The Good Doctor as Lana Moore, a patient who suffers from autism.
Blonstein is so far the only female actress to portray a character with autism on the show.
15. Dr. Glassman’s love interest is played by Richard Schiff’s real-life wife
At one point in season one, we see Dr. Glassman enjoy a budding relationship with a woman named Debbi.
Viewers saw them move from nervous cute couple to two lovers with excellent chemistry. So fans might be surprised to learn that in real life, actors Richard Schiff and Sheila Kelley have been married since 1987! Awwwwwww…
These two aren’t the only real-life couple on the show. Dr. Alex Park (played by Will Yun Lee) and his wife Mia Wuellner (Jennifer Birmingham Lee) are also together away from the cameras.
You can check out the cute couple walking the red carpet together below:
14. It’s more popular among viewers than critics
While The Good Doctor has quickly built up a loyal fanbase, critics aren’t so sure about the series.
The first season has only earned a 60% rating amongst TV critics on Rotten Tomatoes, while its audience score is 87%.
The website says: “The Good Doctor’s heavy-handed bedside manner undermines a solid lead performance, but under all the emotionally manipulative gimmickry, there’s still plenty of room to improve.”
The show also performs poorly on Metacritic amongst critics, compared to regular viewers. Strange!
13. Freddie Highmore only had 3 days off between Bates Motel and The Good Doctor
We’ve already mentioned that Highmore was reticent about taking on The Good Doctor straight after appearing in the final season of Bates Motel.
And we can’t really blame him, especially when you take into consideration the fact that he only got three days of rest before beginning work on The Good Doctor.
Wow! That’s not a lot of time to learn your lines. Luckily for Highmore, he quickly grew into the role of Dr. Murphy, so it doesn’t look as though he needed too much rest between projects.
Still, we’re guessing once The Good Doctor is finished, Highmore will be taking an extended vacation.
12. CBS passed on the show
CBS executives might just be regretting this one now.
CBS actually began developing The Good Doctor back in 2014 and even went so far as to make plans for airing the show in 2015.
However, something went wrong and in the end they let the show drift over to their rival ABC instead, who snapped up the series in a heartbeat.
And now ABC are laughing all the way to the bank!
It’s now one of the most-watched new shows on television.
11. All of the surgical residents are played by British actors
For a series that is firmly set in America, there are an awful lot of British actors in the show!
And most of them are in lead roles too. Of course there’s Freddie Highmore, who is originally from Camden Town, London. He puts on an American accent for his role…
…as does Antonia Thomas, who plays Dr. Browne. Thomas is also from London and like Highmore, she uses an American accent to portray her character.
Finally, there’s one other surgical resident who is played by a Brit. Chuku Modu is also from London, but his character is portrayed as British too so he doesn’t have to use a different voice!
10. Everyone in Nicholas Gonzalez’ family works in medicine!
Nicholas Gonzalez plays the hunky Dr. Mendelez.
And he probably didn’t have to spend a lot of time getting into character, considering the fact that nearly everyone in his family either works as a doctor or works in a hospital!
Gonzalez comes from a family with a huge medical family. Both his father and brother are surgeons, while his mother works as a bookkeeper at South Texas Radiology in San Antonio.
In fact, Gonzalez’ brother actually acted as an uncredited medical consultant on the set of The Good Doctor.
9. Will Yun Lee and Daniel Dae Kim were both on Hawai’i Five-O
Strangely enough, The Good Doctor has a lot of connections to Hawai’i Five-O.
Both Will Yun Lee (who plays Dr. Alex Park) and Daniel Dae Kim (aka Dr. Jackson Han) both worked on the police procedural drama Hawai’i Five-O.
Kim was in a lead role as Chin Ho Kelly, and starred in the series for over season seasons. Meanwhile, Lee bagged himself the recurring character Sang Min.
Two actors from The Good Doctor also appeared on Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2011). Beau Garrett (Jessica Preston) was one of the stars of the show, while Richard Schiff (Dr. Glassman) was a regular guest star.
8. Freddie Highmore wrote the script for the first episode of season 2
Freddie Highmore is a very talented guy by all accounts.
As well as working as a producer on the show, Highmore has even pitched in to do a bit of writing. The actor explained that he did this because the show was so “all-consuming” for him that he wanted to contribute to it beyond simply acting.
This helps to explain why he was “involved as a producer from the very beginning.” It’s also why he acted as a writer on the season 2 premiere – and also directed an episode of the show too.
Discussing his new roles behind the camera, Highmore stated: “I see it as my role to be as honest as I can as an actor, a writer, and a director on the show.”
7. Dr Melendez’ elk tattoo is 100% fake
It’s hard not to notice that bizarre tattoo inked onto Dr Melendez’ chest.
The tattoo shows an elk staring out at whoever happens to be in bed with Melendez at the time. Ever since it first appeared on camera, fans have been dying to know what the tattoo means.
One thing we do know about the tattoo is that its actually fake – Gonzalez has to spend longer in make-up before any topless scenes so that the tattoo can be applied.
You can check out this buff photo of Gonzalez just as extra proof that the tattoo is fake…
6. The series has already lost two major characters
The Good Doctor is almost as dramatic as Game of Thrones with some of its major characters leaving after season one!
The show has actually managed to navigate two very high-profile departures so far – actors Chuku Modu and Beau Garrett have already left the set of the medical drama.
Fans will remember that Dr. Jared Kalu’s departure from the show was extremely emotional but also very well-handled. The same can’t be said for Jessica Preston.
Preston was the hospital lawyer who disappeared from the series without any fanfare whatsoever.
5. David Shore has already produced a number of TV hits
If you’re a TV addict then you’ve probably already heard David Shore’s name before.
Shore is a hit producer responsible for creating several different shows, including Traders, Law & Order and the famous medical drama House, M.D. Nice!
Thanks to the success of The Good Doctor, Shore is now rising to the same level of fame as the Shonda Rhimes and Aaron Spellings of the world. But he doesn’t think his current project could have been made 10 years ago.
Shore explained to Indiewire: “This is a character that networks might have been afraid of putting on TV, afraid that he might not be relatable, 10 years ago. I think the world is getting better despite some evidence to the contrary. We are watching a character that we’re not used to seeing on TV and we are relating to him.”
4. Nicholas Gonzalez is deliberately keeping the elk tattoo meaning a secret
We all want to know what that elk tattoo means…
…but it looks as though fans of the show will be waiting a while to find out just yet! Actor Nicholas Gonzalez has deliberately made sure that this secret has been kept out of the script in the past.
Why? The actor doesn’t want to reveal too much about the character all at once. He explained to Paste Magazine that “there was a draft where there was an explanation for it” but the actor was against the scene.
He also told Shine on Media: “I nixed it a little bit. To me, I feel like there is a lot more to go and so I don’t want to give some quick little thing to satisfy people.”
3. It was Freddie Highmore’s idea to keep each season to 18 episodes
It’s clear that Freddie Highmore has had a lot of influence on The Good Doctor by now.
As a producer on the show, Highmore has made sure to exert his powers, and even put in a special request that each season only last 18 episodes, compared to some of its contemporaries which usually run for up to 23 episodes at a time.
This is because Highmore is very passionate about the fact that churning out too many episodes can really detract from a show’s quality – so much so that he managed to convince producers to go with his idea.
Highmore explained to Adweek: “It’s the idea of making the show as good as it can possibly be… You’d never want to just be doing more for the sake of it, and so it seems like a wise idea to start with that and see how things go.”
2. Highmore studied Spanish and Arabic at the University of Cambridge
Highmore isn’t just a talented actor, he’s also a hugely talented linguist too.
He managed to earn himself a place at the prestigious University of Cambridge, after taking a few years out from acting to further his studies. His chosen degree? Spanish and Arabic.
Highmore became fairly advanced in both languages but now admits that he hasn’t practiced either of them much lately – which is a real shame! He was once asked about his degree by none other than Jimmy Kimmel.
Kimmel pointed out that many Cambridge graduates who study Arabic often go on to work for MI5…leaving Highmore to explain that he wasn’t really working as a spy undercover.
1. It was one of the most successful pilots in 2017 and has been killing it in the ratings for a while now
Nobody could have quite predicted how successful The Good Doctor would be.
It’s now the most-watched drama on television in the US, beating out the likes of This Is Us in the process. Even its pilot episode managed to trounce most other dramas out there in the ratings.
Now millions of Americans enjoy watching The Good Doctor on television – in fact, ABC just renewed the series for a third season. Nice!