As the fifth and final season of New Amsterdam goes on, viewers are still missing a familiar face: Dr. Helen Sharpe, played by actress Freema Agyeman.
What happened to Dr. Sharpe? Let's look back at the end of her time on the show.
What happened to Dr. Sharpe in 'New Amsterdam'?
So, let's back up a little bit to last season — Season 4.
An unexpected hospital visit, shocking family-planning-related news, and a spontaneous engagement proposal were just some of the events that the final episodes of last season captured.
In Season 4, Episode 17 of New Amsterdam, an enraged bartender named Chad Barton (Adam Rose) goes on a rampage and poisons members of the cast.
One of his victims is Dr. Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman), who develops strong reactions to the mysterious poison. Helen and Max head straight to the ER, where they learn that Helen will need a hysterectomy, defined as an "operation to remove the uterus" by WebMD.
The revelation leaves the couple reeling. Helen insists she wants to have kids with Max, petitioning for a less radical procedure designed to cure the fast-growing number of blood clots her body has produced in response to the poison. But there is no good option, and soon she's in critical condition.
Helen has a hysterectomy in Season 4, Episode 17 of 'New Amsterdam.'
Helen gets ushered off to undergo surgery. By the time she wakes up, she is unable to talk. It's uncertain if the condition is temporary at this stage.
"She's suffered a massive stroke as a result of the blood clots," David Schulner, the showrunner of New Amsterdam, shared with TVLine in April 2022. As such, Helen's future is now very much up in the air.
"We don’t know if she’ll get it back, ever," executive producer Peter Horton said. "[It] might take a week, might take two years, may never happen. And that’s the stakes of that story. A love that’s just burgeoning and about to consummate, it's a good early challenge for their dedication and fidelity to each other."
In an unexpected turn of events, Max tells Helen that he wants to propose when they learn that she might have to undergo a hysterectomy. He then leaves the room to grab the ring.
"For him to be right at that moment of, 'I'm proposing to you, we made it through this year OK,' and then boom, she can't speak!" Peter said.
Fortunately for fans, the episode ends with Max and Helen getting engaged, having decided to honor their lasting bond despite the medical complications.
However, they never actually make it down the aisle during Season 4. Helen decided not to marry Max, and the reason isn't exactly clear. Regardless, fans are devastated.
But it may be linked to the fact that Freema Agyeman decided to exit the series.
Freema Agyeman left 'New Amsterdam' at the end of Season 4.
After Season 4 ended, Freema gave a statement to TV Line regarding her departure from the show.
“Dearest Dam Fam. First off I would like to say a huge heartfelt thank you for your unending, dedicated and deliciously ferocious support!” she said. “I feel very fortunate to have connected with so many of you over these past few years, while rolling around in the skin of Ms. Helen Sharpe, and witness every ebb and flow of your emotional investment."
She continued: "The time has come for me to hang up her white coat, as I officially share the news that I will not be returning for the final season of New Amsterdam. While I am saddened, I am also incredibly excited to see how the story concludes as a fan of the series. It has been such a joy to play Dr. Helen Sharpe for 4 seasons—those writers built a badass," she wrote, adding with "Lots of love Fam!”
With Helen out of the picture in the new season, it already seems like writers may be trying to pair Max up with Dr. Wilder.
New Amsterdam airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.