The Resident's Fall Finale Cliffhanger Could Be Bad News For One Character, But Great For Fans

bruce greenwood as dr bell the resident season 5
(Image credit: Fox)

Spoilers ahead for the fall finale of The Resident Season 5, called “Unknown Origin.”

The fifth season of The Resident has arguably been the most game-changing of the series to date thanks to the death of Nic and subsequent jump ahead in time by several years. The fall finale of the medical drama didn’t end on the kind of life-or-death cliffhanger that will leave fans wondering if any characters are going to die in some kind of emergency, but instead a cliffhanger that could be very bad news for Dr. Bell, depending on what Conrad has to say. And that could be great news for fans. 

“Unknown Origin” didn’t actually confirm that Bell’s diagnosis is anything dire despite his fears after his health crisis in the previous episode, as the final credits began to roll before Conrad could deliver the news from his test results. That said, when Conrad asked Bell to sit down and then sat down next to him, he wasn’t exactly grinning the grin of somebody about to deliver news of a minor issue that can be easily corrected. He looked awfully serious, and Bell seemed to assume the worst from his expression, although the episode ended before either of them actually said anything. 

And if The Resident isn’t pulling and bait-and-switch and Conrad opens the winter premiere in 2022 by delivering a grim diagnosis to Bell, that would obviously be awful news to the man who prides himself on his surgical skills and position as a very capable doctor at Chastain. But it could be pretty great news for fans, and all because of the time jump that turned many characters’ status quos into more or less blank slates. 

The time jump resulted in AJ becoming a famous author, Billie earning a promotion over both AJ and Bell (and possibly developing some surprising feelings), Devon rising up the ranks in the ER while also wanting to move into more of a research position, Leela rising up the ranks as a surgeon, and Kit struggling to keep Chastain afloat in light of staffing shortages, doctor burnout, and not enough resources to go around, all on top of Conrad’s new life as a single dad figuring out how to move on with his life after losing Nic. 

Bell has his relationship with Kit, and the arc of wanting the job that eventually went to Billie and serving more of a mentor role to Leela, but not really a big meaty storyline for Bruce Greenwood to perform. If Conrad does have bad news for Bell, it could open up a pretty fantastic storyline for the character that will be all his own. Conrad did rule out some potential diagnoses before the full test results came in, including ALS.

Bell also pitched cancer and stroke as possible reasons for what went wrong in the previous episode, and both of those could potentially be treated without necessarily ending his career or killing him off, making this into a great plot for the character without writing the actor out of the show. Then again, Conrad (who spent most of the episode with the newest doctor of Season 5) didn’t seem overly impressed with Bell’s attempts to self-diagnose, so it’s possible that the reveal will be something entirely different. 

Either way, I’m looking forward to the reveal, and – apologies to Bell – hoping that he’s facing something serious (if not permanent) so that he has an intriguing storyline for fans to watch. Find out when The Resident returns with its winter premiere on Tuesday, February 1 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox in the 2022 TV lineup

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).