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Dr. Shaun Murphy Evolves, Becomes More Independent, on The Good Doctor

While Dr. Glassman serves as Dr. Murphy’s mentor, now that Murphy is a successful adult, how involved should Glassman be in his personal life?

Rockville, Md., Jan. 22 – The mid-season premiere of The Good Doctor opens with Dr. Shaun Murphy running away from conflict based on what his mentor Dr. Aaron Glassman believes is best for him, which includes seeing a therapist.

Prior to the season break, Glassman introduced Murphy to Melissa Born, a therapist. Murphy previously had rejected a life skills coach because she could not “select a complimenting wardrobe.”

“I can’t always be there,” Glassman argued. “I can’t always help you the way you deserve to be helped.”

But Murphy responded emphatically, “I don’t want a stranger helping me.”

While Murphy reluctantly agreed to Glassman’s repeated suggestions to meet with a therapist, he said that he is not comfortable.

One of his patients, Bobby Otto, a VIP who is a video game champion, convinced Murphy to stop letting people tell him what to do.

“You’re autistic, I get it, but what is wrong with you? You have to be legit smart to be a surgeon and he just shot you down like a nube,” he said to Murphy after attending surgeon Dr. Neil Melendez treats Murphy poorly. “They don’t respect you and they should listen to you the first time. “

Murphy responded that he cannot control what they do but his patient counters, “Of course you can. You have the find the right strategy. Everything is a game.”

Murphy took these words to heart when later confronting Glassman.

“What if it only makes you happy?” he said. “I want to make my own decisions. You cannot keep ordering me around. You are not my father.”

The episode ended with a cliffhanger after Murphy has a meltdown ending with him punching Glassman in the face.

When the season returned, Murphy is avoiding Glassman and skips work. He hides in Lea’s apartment down the hall from his own, telling her that he does not want to see a therapist. She suggests they go on a road trip and Lea encourages Murphy to drive for the first time, saying “You have autism; you are not blind.”

During the trip, he tells Lea his childhood story including how Glassman took care of him after he and his brother ran away and his brother died. Lea realizes that Glassman is not just Murphy’s boss but also an important part of his life.

Murphy experiences several other firsts: drinking Tequila, singing karaoke in a bar and experiencing his first kiss.

In an earlier episode of the season, Murphy took flirting lessons from Dr. Browne after an encounter with Lea, telling Glassman that he does not need a therapist because he learn from others.

“I started flirting lessons yesterday; I learned about the flirting trifecta,” Murphy said. “Flirting, it requires primarily nonverbal interactions, being perceptive in one’s social dimension translates well into other social skills.”

Murphy uses those skills during his road trip with Lea. While some of these firsts scare him, ultimately he shows excitement for branching out and trying new things.

When Murphy returns to St. Bonaventure in this week’s episode, he considers resigning to follow Lea to Hershey. Ultimately, Murphy decides to stay and Glassman promises to back off a bit, allowing Murphy the space he needs to grow.

The series airs on Mondays at 10:00 p.m. ET on ABC.

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the Vice President, Communications, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities, and managing editor of The RespectAbility Report, a publication at the intersection of disability and politics. Previously she was a digital researcher with the NBC News political unit. As an individual with an acquired invisible disability - Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy - she writes about the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. From entertainment professionals to presidential campaigns, journalists to philanthropists, she conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible. Behind the scenes in the entertainment industry, Appelbaum engages decision makers and creatives to improve the quality and number of authentic, diverse and inclusive presentations of people with disabilities on TV and film so audiences can see people with disabilities as vital contributors in America and around the world. She and her team have consulted on projects with Amazon, Disney/ABC Television, NBCUniversal, Netflix, and The Walt Disney Studios, among others. Appelbaum also enriches the pool of disabled talent in Hollywood by nurturing and connecting them to those who can assist with their careers, both on the creative and business sides of the industry. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit, which was created to help entertainment professionals to be as inclusive of people with disabilities as possible, and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working behind the camera. To reach her, email

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