Warning: This story contains spoilers from season 5 of New Amsterdam.
How can he not help? The New Amsterdam series finale followed Dr. Max Goodwin’s final day at the NYC hospital — but many fans said goodbye to the series before season 5 even began.
While Ryan Eggold, who portrays Max on the NBC medical drama, hinted to Us Weekly in April 2022 that the show would potentially end with a happily ever after between his character and Dr. Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman), audiences were shocked when she ultimately left him at the altar during the season 4 finale.
In July 2022, Agyeman surprised viewers even more when she announced that she was exiting the NBC hit.
“Dearest Dam Fam. First off I would like to say a huge heartfelt thank you for your unending, dedicated and deliciously ferocious support!” the Sense8 alum, who had been a part of the show since its 2018 premiere, wrote via Instagram at the time. “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. What a ride! Thank you for being on it with me. She 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.”
That same month, creator David Schulner and executive producer Peter Horton addressed how the show would rap up without its female lead.
“We wish Freema the best of luck on her next chapter and the doors of New Amsterdam will always be open if she wishes to return! We are extremely proud of the impact Freema and Dr. Helen Sharpe have made over these past four seasons and are so grateful to have been a part of that story,” the duo said in a statement. “As we head into the fifth and final season, we want our #Sharpwin fans to know we still have a few surprises in store for them.”
Eggold, for his part, told TVLine in September 2022 that he felt “many things, many mixed up things,” about the Doctor Who alum’s early goodbye, but “first and foremost, so much love for Freema and wanting Freema to do what’s best for her, always.”
The 90210 alum added that he would miss playing one-half “Sharpwin,” the fan-favorite couple whom viewers had been rooting for since the pilot. “[I’m] sad to not play those scenes with her because they’re always so fun and engaging, and the romantic arc that we’ve had for these seasons now has been so dynamic and shifting and fluid.”
Schulner, meanwhile, revealed that Agyeman initially considered exiting the NBC series after season 3. “So Season 4 was a gift,” he told TVLine at the time.
When season 5 premiered that same month, fans were hesitant about Helen’s abrupt absence, with some feeling like the narrative wrongly pivoted her into the role of an antagonist.
The show later made headlines when it briefly brought Helen back using old footage of Agyeman. The episode, which aired in January 2022, featured a story line about Max choosing to spark a romantic relationship with Dr. Wilder (Sandra Mae Frank) instead of reconciling with his ex-fiancée.
“We originally wanted to save Freema’s return for the finale,” Schulner told Give Me My Remote after the episode aired. “We were really close to having the stars align and everything work out with that. And then it didn’t happen. So we’re like, ‘Shoot,’ because we had already committed to using this footage for episode 11.”
The final two episodes of season 5 aired on Tuesday, January 17, with the series finale focusing on Sharpwin’s love once more. In a shocking twist of events, Max discovered Helen skewed a medical study in order to get the FDA to approve a drug that could have potentially saved his life.
Despite the controversial choices made about Helen’s character, Schulner told TV Insider in January 2023 that he wanted people to walk away from the finale with the same feeling they had after first watching the series premiere.
“I want to leave the audience with the feelings they felt when they first fell in love with the show,” he explained.
Ty Labine, who portrayed Dr. Iggy Frome on New Amsterdam, added, “I think it’s a really lovely, careful, thoughtful way to end the show. I’m excited to see what people think. It’s not a traditional finale for a show. There’s actually a lot of origins in the finale that kind of bring it all back to square one.”
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Scroll down to see how all the New Amsterdam characters’ ended their series journey: