Why was The Good Doctor canceled after 7 seasons?

Freddie Highmore promotes The Good Doctor.
The Good Doctor is ending. Pic credit: Art Streiber/ABC

Dr. Shaun Murphy’s story ends next month following ABC’s decision to cancel The Good Doctor after seven seasons. 

The announcement to end the series with a truncated final season came out of the left field because the network was prepping a spinoff titled The Good Lawyer a year ago. 

So, where did it all come crashing down for The Good Doctor? 

The TV industry changed significantly following the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, with networks making decisions that didn’t align with what we knew before the strikes. 

For example, ABC debuted an entirely unscripted fall schedule because of the lack of scripted offerings due to the Hollywood work stoppage.

One of the biggest hits of the TV season remains The Golden Bachelor. 

ABC’s priorities have changed

Yes, Theresa Nist and Gerry Turner’s whirlwind relationship culminated in divorce. Still, the show delivered bumper ratings, got plenty of buzz, and came in at a much more attractive price point than a scripted original. 

It’s not news that unscripted series come in at much lower costs, meaning there’s a far easier opportunity to make a profit by airing them. 

With TV ratings falling apart for many shows, The Good Doctor has been trending downward for years. 

The series has also not been getting the same interest it once did. Most shows lose viewer interest year-to-year, and The Good Doctor’s trajectory, despite increased production costs, makes it riskier for the network to keep around. 

Also, it probably did not help that ABC picked up 9-1-1 from FOX. The show came with a built-in fanbase that would follow it wherever it went, but it was obviously going to take up valuable schedule real estate. 

In addition to The Good Doctor, ABC also canceled the far more popular Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Station 19, leaving its fans and observers in shock. 

The broadcast networks are suffering from falling ratings

The recent wave of cancellations on broadcast networks is directly related to the constrained economics, making it difficult for shows to be made amid falling ratings. 

Many networks are expected to introduce more co-productions to help combat that. However, shows like Chicago Fire, Grey’s Anatomy, and Law & Order: SVU are strong enough to remain on the air even if they lose a big chunk of their audiences. 

All three play well internationally, bringing in much money for the studios behind the shows. 

S.W.A.T. recently cheated death for the second time, with CBS agreeing to pick up a 22-episode Season 8 after its planned final season performed better than expected. 

The Good Doctor is struggling as other shows are flourishing

The Good Doctor has been throwing anything at the wall to see what sticks for a long time, and its numbers have fallen, meaning that the decision to end it is purely financial. If the numbers are this low right now, they’ll only be lower next season. 

Given that the cancellation news broke as filming was getting underway, there’s also that worry that fans won’t get a conclusion befitting of the show. 

What we know now is that The Good Doctor has just four episodes left, and there is the sense that the storylines are finally closing up, which is good news. 

The Good Doctor airs on Tuesdays at 10/9c on ABC. Full episodes can be streamed on Hulu. 

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