The Good Doctor's Heartbreaking Shaun And Lea Scene Originally Ended Much Differently

The Good Doctor Lea Dilallo Paige Spara Shaun Murphy Freddie Highmore ABC

(Image credit: Kailey Schwerman / ABC)

Spoilers for February 24’s episode of The Good Doctor are discussed below!

The Good Doctor unleashed a moment of reckoning between Shaun and Lea in its latest installment. Not too long ago, Shaun’s girlfriend, Carly, broke up with him after realizing that Shaun and Lea had feelings for one another. In the February 24 episode (“Autopsy”), Shaun plunged headfirst into a considerable Season 3 reveal.

Shaun told Lea how he felt about her. He professed his love for her and proclaimed his desire to be her boyfriend. How did Lea respond? The Good Doctor did not opt for the feel-good response. Fans of the pairing have been awaiting their union for a while and they may be waiting even longer.

Lea acknowledged that she also loved Shaun, but argued they could not be together, due to her essentially being a “selfish” “mess.” Shaun did not seem to buy it and pressed Lea with the one question that she could (or would) not answer. The Good Doctor encounter ended when he asked if she did not want to be his girlfriend due to his autism.

Lea did not answer and walked away emotionally overwrought by the question. The Good Doctor scene was initially not scripted to end that way. In fact, it ended much differently. As television fans know, though, things can change. Explaining how Lea was supposed to respond to Shaun at first, Paige Spara told TVLine:

It was originally written, ‘I’m so sorry, Shaun,’ and then I kiss his cheek and walk away.

The Good Doctor ended up leaving Lea speechless after Shaun’s pointed question. Too emotional to answer, and probably in need of privately confronting her real feelings, Lea just left, meaning that the emotional bareness of this moment of truth kept simmering between the close pair. How did the Shaun and Lea scene change? Paige Spara explained how it shifted, saying they decided Lea should...

Just look at him and convey however you feel to Shaun in that moment, and walk away when you feel like you need to walk away. And to get that freedom, especially with network TV, is very rare… and the fact that [Freddie] knew what that scene entailed and what it called for, and actually gave me permission to do that, that was huge. I feel like it made the scene what it was actually supposed to be about, yet relatable to anyone who has dealt with such a hard conversation.

Freddie Highmore directed again for the February 24 episode, which saw the Shaun/Lea scene play out. The actors ended up getting an unusual amount of freedom when it came time to tackle the tough scene, at least where network television is involved, according to The Good Doctor star. What did Highmore make of Lea’s response to Shaun? Highmore responded, saying:

I think that Shaun has hit on a horrible truth that Lea has perhaps not thought about before this moment. Her lack of response… at least signals that there’s something [to] what Shaun is saying.

In the end, Lea’s silence said more than words could. Now fans of The Good Doctor and a Lea/Shaun relationship will have to see how things play out between the pair. What conclusion will Lea come to after confronting Shaun’s question? The medical drama has been teasing the characters getting together for a while. Will it still happen now?

In related news, what do the competing versions of The Good Doctor scene mean for Lea and Shaun? My take at least is that Lea saying “I’m sorry” in the first version would have been more indicative of her confirming Shaun’s speculation. Whereas the second iteration leaves Lea’s feelings more open to interpretation. Does that hint at anything long-term?

The Good Doctor relationship drama does not have to mean the end of Shaun and Lea. A would-be couple can hit their share of issues before finding happiness. It will be interesting to see where things stand between them by the time that Season 3 ends. Will, Shaun regret losing Carly? Or will Lea have realized that she loves Shaun enough to try a formal relationship with him? Stay tuned.

New episodes of The Good Doctor air on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, but you can also watch Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates on the drama Bates Motel via Netflix alongside 2020 content. If you are caught up on both shows, you can check out this winter and spring’s premieres.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.