Fans of the NBC medical drama New Amsterdam — or the “Dam Fam,” as they’re called — had to wait the whole summer to find out why Helen (Freema Agyeman) left Max (Ryan Eggold) in last May’s Season 4 finale.
As viewers saw in the episode, Helen didn’t even let Max know that their nuptials were a no-go until he was already at the altar. Only then did she give him a ring from her London flat. “Max, I can’t,” she said over the phone between sobs. “I just can’t. I’m so sorry.”
So, why did Helen leave Max? The logistical answer is that Freema Agyeman opted to leave New Amsterdam. “It was just her preference for her future and her career choices,” executive producer Peter Horton explained to TV Insider last week. “We adore her, she adores us, she misses us, we miss her. It wasn’t a thing where she was just miserable and deciding whether to stick around. It was a harmonious sort of thing. We love her. She’s a phenomenal actress, and we just wanted as much of her as we could have gotten.”
Why did Helen leave Max on New Amsterdam?
As for why Helen left Max in the plotline of the show, we finally we got an answer — or sort of an answer — in the Season 5 premiere on Sept. 20. In the episode, Max reads an apologetic letter from Helen. But as NBC Insider notes, not even Helen knows exactly why Helen left Max.
“None of this was what I intended,” Helen writes in her letter. “Everything I ever said to you was true. Everything we have is real, but so is this thing that kept me in London. Kept me from marrying you. I wish I knew what it was. I wish I could rip it out of me, obliterate it, so I could be with you because you deserve all the happiness in the world. All I have is the time that’s passed and the desperate hope that it heals us both.”
Eventually, though, Max realizes that she had a lot of soul-searching to do and wanted to do it by herself.
“[Helen] was dealing with a lot,” Iggy (Tyler Labine) observes in the Season 5 premiere. “The truth about her family, who she was, who she wanted to be. Maybe she wanted to deal with that alone.”
“She did,” Max replies. “I know she did because she told me. But I just tried to fix it.”
Is Helen off ‘New Amsterdam’ for good?
Freema announced her New Amsterdam exit in July of 2022, after she started shooting another TV show, the Sky Original comedy Dreamland, in her native U.K.
“[Helen] has meant so much to me, but 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,” she said in a statement to TVLine at the time. “While I am saddened, I am also incredibly excited to see how the story concludes as a fan of the series.”
Peter Horton and fellow New Amsterdam executive producer David Schulner said in their own statement that the show “will always be open” to Freema if she wants to return.
Earlier this month, however, David told TVLine that fans “may not have seen the last of Helen Sharpe.”