The *Real* Reason Claire Left The Good Doctor — and Why She’s Returning Ahead of the Finale

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Dr. Claire Brown is coming back to St. Bonaventure for one last goodbye before The Good Doctor‘s series finale, but why did she leave in the first place? Here’s why Claire Brown left The Good Doctor and what fans can expect from her Season 7 guest appearance.

Why did Claire Brown leave The Good Doctor?
Played by Antonia Thomas, Claire Brown was an original character on the hit ABC medical drama and a former surgical resident at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. She was in the same residency class as Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), whom the show is centered on, and the pair grew to become close friends. In the Season 4 finale, Claire was offered a job at a local clinic in Guatemala. Despite her initial hesitations, Claire accepted the position and said a tearful goodbye to her St. Bonaventure co-workers at the airport. “I’m sad that people need to move forward … I hope you are moving forward,” Shaun told Claire before they hugged for the first time. “I think I am Shaun,” Claire replied.

In real life, Thomas exited the series to focus on other projects. In an interview with Deadline at the time, the actress called her decision “really difficult” and “bittersweet.” She continued: “I think, ultimately, for me, it’s about coming to the point where I think we’ve really run the gamut of different things that Claire can have gone through, and I’m now really excited to explore different creative opportunities . For me, as an actress, having versatility and creativity has been something that’s been really, really important.”

Claire returned to San Jose toward the end of Season 5 to surprise Shaun and Lea (Paige Spara) at their joint bachelor/bachelorette party. She also came bearing good news and announced that she had been offered the position of Chief of Surgery at her clinic in Guatemala.

The fan-favorite will be making another appearance in the penultimate episode of Season 7, only this time, Claire’s news is not so great. As a promo for the episode teases, Claire has found a lump in her breast and needs further testing at St. Bonaventure. At one point in the video, Shaun announced that the results of the original biopsy she received were incorrect and she does, in fact, have breast cancer. Claire has already been through her fair share of hardships, including the death of her abusive mother, whom she had reconnected with just before she was killed in a drunk driving accident, and the death of Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez), who died shortly after he and Claire professed their love for one another. Given her rocky past, fans are hoping that the St. Bonaventure team can remove her breast cancer quickly.

Claire will also be featured in the series finale, which airs on May 21. The beloved show was canceled back in January 2024, with executive producers revealing that the decision to end The Good Doctor on Season 7 was made by ABC. “I mean, I feel like I could tell stories about Shaun forever,” Liz Friedman told TV Insider at the time, noting that “ABC told us it was time to end it.” She continued: “Certainly, as long as the amazing Freddie Highmore was interested in playing him, I was happy to write for him.” The EP added that she was “very grateful” they were given enough notice to write a satisfying ending, which includes the return of both Claire and Season 6’s Dr. Danny Perez (played by Brandon Larracuente).

The Good Doctor Season 7 airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT and streams on Hulu.

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