Why Did Melendez Leave The Good Doctor? The conclusion of The Good Doctor’s third season left the audience in a state of shock. An earthquake of monumental proportions rocked the series, creating havoc in the San Jose vicinity. While the catastrophe endangered many characters’ lives, it was Dr. Neil Melendez whose life was tragically cut short.
The Departure of Dr. Neil Melendez
Introduced in the very first season, Dr. Neil Melendez, brilliantly portrayed by actor Nicholas Gonzalez, was an integral character in The Good Doctor. He was a surgeon who worked in close quarters with the series’ protagonist, Dr. Shaun Murphy, at the San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. However, when the earthquake struck, Melendez was caught in the crossfire, resulting in internal injuries that led to his unfortunate demise. This event correspondingly led to the departure of Nicholas Gonzalez from the popular ABC medical drama series.
A Mutual Decision to Exit
Thankfully, Gonzalez’s departure wasn’t a result of behind-the-scenes conflict. Rather, it was a decision made collectively by the actor and the series’ producers. In an interview with TVLine in 2020, Gonzalez said he felt he was leaving the series “at a really great place”.
Not me simping over Dr. Neil Melendez of The Good Doctor. 😍♥️ pic.twitter.com/nVubrdAi4K— Juliana 🦁 (@ShaneUy13) August 10, 2021
Why Did Dr. Melendez Have to Go?
David Shore, the creator of The Good Doctor, revealed why they decided to proceed with Dr. Melendez’s departure. He stated that the objective was to let go of a character whose absence would deeply impact the audience. He said, “We wanted to lose a character that we would feel something about, and feel pain about,”. He further added that Melendez’s relationships with several characters on the show made him a suitable choice for this plot twist.
Impact of Melendez’s Death on the Show
The decision was indeed a tough one, as Dr. Melendez had developed significant connections with many characters on the show. His recent split with Dr. Audrey Lim and a budding relationship with Dr. Claire Browne made his death even more impactful. His heartfelt confession of love for Dr. Browne in his last moments was profoundly moving.
Dr. Melendez’s unexpected departure left a considerable void in the hearts of the fans. Many were disappointed to lose such a loved character, particularly before Melendez and Claire Browne could truly explore their feelings for one another. Nicholas Gonzalez echoed the sentiments of fans, saying in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “Part of me is sad to see a character I respected a lot go, someone I felt that still had a lot more to say but there wasn’t always that opportunity.”
The Lasting Legacy of Dr. Melendez
While character deaths can be disheartening, they provide the twists and turns that make dramas like The Good Doctor so gripping. Dr. Melendez’s legacy at the San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital will be remembered. Even though Gonzalez did make a brief comeback in the fourth season, only as a vision to Claire, his impact will forever be a part of the series. Perhaps, we might see him again in some form before the show concludes.
For now, fans can catch new episodes of The Good Doctor Season 6 on ABC on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET or stream them the next day on Hulu.