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'The Good Doctor' Fans Have Many Mixed Emotions About Claire Leaving in Season 4

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The Good Doctor season 4 finale ended with blossoming relationships and one unexpected, difficult goodbye.

After Park (Will Yun Lee) and Morgan (Fiona Gubelmann) confessed their love for one another, Shaun (Freddie Highmore) and Lea (Paige Spara) got engaged. But when it was time for the St. Bonaventure Hospital staff to leave Guatemala, they boarded the plane without one of their beloved doctors — Claire Browne, played by actress Antonia Thomas.

In the two-part season finale, viewers saw Claire deeply affected by the work they were doing in Guatemala. When she was offered a job at the clinic to stay and help those in need, she took it. And with that, the surgical resident said goodbye.

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Unsurprisingly, Good Doctor fans watching at home were taken aback by the sudden exit with many going on Twitter to express their shock. “Goodbye Claire. I'm going to miss you. @AntoniaLThomas I had no idea you were leaving 😭,” one person wrote. “I'm not ready for Claire to leave 😭,” another added. “EVERYONE SAYING GOODBYE TO CLAIRE 😭😭😭,” a different fan said. “I will cry until the next season 😭😭😭😭😭♥️♥️♥️,” a follower commented.

While lots of folks were “so happy” that Claire got “the ending she deserves,” others went off saying they don’t plan on watching season 5 now that the character is gone. “I watched the show for Claire so...,” a person tweeted. “Without Melendez or Claire, what’s the point?” another said, mentioning actor Nicholas Gonzalez’s departure at the end of season 3.

But why did Dr. Claire Browne (a.k.a. Antonia Thomas) leave The Good Doctor?

Contrary to what Good Doctor fans may think, the writers of the hit ABC medical drama weren’t the ones who decided that Claire's time on the show was up. In fact, it was actress Antonia Thomas who first approached showrunner David Shore about ending Claire’s storyline in season 4. Speaking with Deadline, Antonia shared that she was ready to pursue new roles.

“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,” she told the outlet.

Antonia said that she had a frank conversation with the executive producer after season 3 wrapped. David and the rest of The Good Doctor cast were, of course, supportive of her choice, though emotional about saying goodbye.

Photo credit: Jeff Weddell - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jeff Weddell - Getty Images

“It’s deeply sad to say goodbye, especially having all been together for four years, but I think, ultimately, they all understand that you have to follow your creative needs and wanting to try some different things,” Antonia said.

Thankfully, this likely won’t be the last time we’ll see Claire on The Good Doctor. The 34-year-old actress is open to returning as a guest star in the future. "It has not been an easy decision for me to leave, so I absolutely would love to come back every now and then and say hi,” she added. "I’m very much looking forward to that.”

We can’t wait to see what Antonia does next. She told Deadline that she wants to work behind the camera and do more writing and producing. What's more, she's "finding different roles that are exciting and new" in front of the camera (though she can't confirm them just yet). In the meantime, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Antonia’s character will be able to attend Shaun and Lea’s wedding next season!

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