What Happened to Claire on 'The Good Doctor'? Here's Why Antonia Thomas Has Been Absent

After the Season 5 premiere of 'The Good Doctor,' fans were curious as to why Dr. Claire Browne was nowhere to be seen. So, what happened to Claire?

Bianca Piazza - Author

Oct. 4 2021, Published 8:21 p.m. ET

'The Good Doctor'
Source: ABC

Based on a short-lived South Korean series, ABC's somewhat-controversial medical drama The Good Doctor follows the day-to-day of Dr. Shaun Murphy, an autistic surgeon with savant syndrome who ditched his country life to pursue a job at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. With a brilliant mind and tremendous ability to see and analyze what his neurotypical counterparts can't, Dr. Shaun Murphy, played by Freddie Highmore, amazes his higher-ups, peers, and community, all while making mistakes along the way.

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The show, created by Canadian television writer and producer David Shore, is on its fifth season, which aired on Sept. 27, 2021. Fans of the show couldn't help but be saddened by the fact that Dr. Claire Browne, played by Antonia Thomas, was nowhere to be seen in the Season 5 premiere. Claire was a series regular since the show's start in 2017, so what happened? Will she be back? Here are the deets.

Actress Antonia Thomas as Claire on 'The Good Doctor'
Source: ABC
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Who is Dr. Claire Browne? Is she still a character on 'The Good Doctor'?

Throughout the first four seasons of The Good Doctor, fans watched Claire, an emotionally equipped surgeon who struggles with childhood trauma, excel at her job and form lifelong bonds. Fans grew to love Dr. Claire Browne, so when it was revealed during the Season 4 finale that she'd be leaving, viewers were crushed. Over the course of the show, Claire endured a lot.

From accepting her abusive mother back into her life to experiencing the pain of finding out she was later killed in a catastrophic drunk driving accident, Claire was emotionally exhausted. Not only that, but in the Season 3 finale, "I Love You," Claire watched the love of her life, Dr. Neil Melendez (Nicholas Gonzalez), die from internal organ damage caused by an earthquake. But the end of Claire's journey saw hope as she rekindled the broken relationship she had with her father and accepted a promising job offer.

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See, after San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital's doctors went on a surgical mission in Guatemala, Claire was faced with an anxiety-inducing decision to make during a high-stakes surgery, one that dictated whether her patient lived or died. Miraculously, she saved the patient and was offered a job at the Guatemalan clinic, which opened a world of new opportunities for her. Perhaps it was time Claire moved on.

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"When they go on this trip to Guatemala and they see this hospital and these people in need in a very different way, she suddenly finds a new calling, new adventure, and she can follow that dream," the Misfits actress told Deadline. "Like for me in leaving the show, it’s terribly sad for her because she’s made dear friends, and it’s a scary thing, but I think, ultimately, it’s an exciting move for her."

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Why was Claire written out of the show?

It was actually Antonia's decision to leave the show before her contract was up to "explore different creative opportunities." Next up for Antonia is appearing in the new British thriller series Suspect. In regards to her early departure, the British actress stated, "David Shore has been so incredibly wonderful, understanding, and kind through the process."

"We had a call after the end of the third season, and I started airing my feelings that I have loved exploring Claire and would love to explore Claire for another season, but after that, how would he feel about bringing the character to a close. He was very wonderful and gracious and helpful," Antonia continued. She also relayed that she'd love to have Claire come back as a guest star in the future.

We're sure fans of The Good Doctor would love to see Antonia's face back in the halls of San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital.

Season 5 episodes of The Good Doctor air Mondays at 10 p.m. EST on ABC.

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