‘The Good Doctor’ Writer Explains Major Character’s Death in Final Season: ‘Life Doesn’t Always Have Happy Endings’ | Exclusive

Note: The following story contains spoilers from “The Good Doctor” Season 7, Episode 5.

“The Good Doctor” left viewers speechless after a major character was killed off during a hate crime in Tuesday night’s episode, a dark wrinkle for the ABC medical drama halfway through its seventh and final season. Series writer Adam Scott Weissman said that the death of Dr. Asher Wolke was prompted by actor Noah Galvin’s desire to move on from the series, while also offering the chance for the show to bring to light the rise of antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ+ attacks in the U.S.

“We came into this [episode] with the thought that life doesn’t always have happy endings. Sometimes things happen suddenly and in a tragic way,” Weissman told TheWrap in an exclusive interview. “Oftentimes [these issues] become real when it happens to someone you know, or someone we love on TV, so this horrible thing happens that also brings it home for our viewers.”

The hour, titled “Who at Peace” and co-written by Weissman and Peter Blake, followed as Asher (Galvin) revisited his Jewish upbringing while helping to facilitate the wedding of a dying patient, essentially helping him work through his own qualms with the religion after growing up queer in the Hasidic community. The episode also saw Asher wrestle with whether or not he was ready to take the next step in his relationship with partner Jerome (Giacomo Baessato), suspecting he was ready to propose to him as they neared their two-year anniversary. After the patient’s wedding, Asher helped the rabbi back to the synagogue, where they encountered two vandals. Though Asher appeared to scare them away, the episode ended with them returning and killing him as Jerome waited in a restaurant, ready to pop the question.

Giacomo Baessato and Noah Galvin in “The Good Doctor.” (Disney/Jeff Weddell)

An individual close to production confirmed to TheWrap that Galvin was indeed interested in pursuing other opportunities, which prompted the writers to craft an earlier exit for Asher. The character was first introduced in Season 4 in a recurring role before being promoted to series regular for Season 5.

Though Asher’s fate served to comment on real-life issues, Weissman emphasized that the goal of Episode 5 was to bring the character’s story to “what we thought was a satisfying ending.”

“Asher’s final line when he says, ‘I’m not just a Jew, I’m a gay one, too.’ Those were two identities that prior to that he hadn’t been able to reconcile. He felt like he had to choose, which is what he is sort of going through in this episode,” Weissman said. “Him being able to come to that conclusion that I can be both of these two things was super important to us.”

Weissman also acknowledged that the writers’ room was “conscious” about the show falling into the “bury your gays” trope of killing off queer characters for the sake of tragedy. Additionally, he praised showrunner Liz Friedman — who he noted is herself a member of the LGBTQ community — for guiding the writers through crafting the emotional hour.

“It’s a sad note, but it’s also a high note in that it’s a heroic moment for him where he embraces all sides of his identity, and does it to protect someone else and to protect the sacred space,” Weissman said.

A preview for next week’s episode promised a memorial for Asher before the doctors are swooped back to the hospital for an emergency situation. Without revealing too many details, Weissman promised that the aftermath of the attack and Asher’s death will play a key role in the remaining characters’ trajectory in the show’s final episodes — including Jerome.

“The Good Doctor” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Episodes are available to stream the day after premiere on Hulu.

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