David Shore always knew how The Good Doctor was going to end. Well, sort of. During a final season presentation at the Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour this weekend in Pasadena, Calif., the executive producer brought up how he'd been asked years ago how he would end another show he had worked on.
"I was asked, 'Do you know how this show is going to end?' I was asked that early on. And I said, 'Yes, I know exactly how this show will end. One day, I will get a phone call from the network telling me the show is ending,'" he said.
In other words, the network was ready for The Good Doctor to wrap.
"But on that show and on this show, we've been lucky enough to be able to plan the ending we want to do," Shore continued. "It's been a weird year, so only doing 10 episodes is unfortunate. But being able to go out on your own terms is such a blessing in this industry, and we've been fortunate."
He, along with executive producer Liz Friedman and executive producer/star Freddie Highmore took the TCA stage alongside the rest of the cast to discuss the final season. The team had paused production to come out to the press tour, and it felt as though the show ending still hadn't sunk in for this crew.
For example, Friedman noted they had initially planned for a 13-episode swan song before ABC axed the extra three installments.
"But I think we're going to be able to deliver a really good finale and do what we want to do," she mused. "I mean I'm sad to — I think Shaun's going to continue his adventures without me, is how I think about it. He's still going to be out there in the world. There's always more stories when you have a great character that you can imagine, but we'll find a way to give him a great ending."
When the seventh season kicks off Feb. 20 on ABC, Shaun (Highmore) is adjusting to life as a new father while returning to work. There, he encounters a new surgeon (played by Kayla Cromer) with autism who went into the field after learning about Shaun saving the boy in the airport back in the pilot.
"She is the first actor with autism who we've had playing a doctor on the show, and she's going to be there for a number of episodes," Friedman said. "Seeing the way the two of them interact is really fun. I think it's going to be an interesting story for everybody."
Elsewhere, Shaun's relationship with Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff) continues to evolve now that Shaun has become a father and Glassman wasn't present for the birth. Schiff told TV Guide during the panel that this conflict plays out over the first few episodes of the season.
"How we addressed that was a nice layer. It was real life in a way," he said. "It was a conflict between people that sometimes feels unresolvable and how you work through that, how these characters specifically, who have a lot of love for each other worked through [it]. That was a good story to tell."
When asked about other guest stars or potential returning characters for the final season, the showrunners quickly shut the question down. "No. You're going to have to watch and see," Friedman said.
Looking ahead, Highmore isn't sure what's next, but after wrapping five seasons of Bates Motel and saying he was taking a break, only to agree to The Good Doctor three days later, he's learned never to say never.
"I think it would be unreasonable to expect the same thing to happen again and for it to continue to be in Vancouver, but I guess stranger things have happened," he said.
"You look at all the people who are up here today, all of the crew that are in Vancouver, and you realize that world you created for seven years will never exist in the same way," he continued.
"The flip side of that is, like graduating, you're excited for the future, and you're excited for new opportunities. You also realize that at some point, it's necessary and probably healthy to move on."
The Good Doctor premieres Feb. 20 on ABC.