Medical drama New Amsterdam has come to an end on NBC after five seasons, with an emotional final run of episodes that concluded in a way that even the most diehard of fans may not have seen coming. Despite the show wrapping its run on network television, it has already found viewers via streaming. In fact, more than a week after the finale aired as a two-part event on January 17, New Amsterdam is trending in Netflix’s Top 10 TV shows.
Like Manifest before it, New Amsterdam’s cancellation hasn’t meant that people won't check out the episodes. So, read on for how the show is still reaching an audience and what executive producers David Schulner and Peter Horton had to say about bringing back one notable star for the finale and why the ending for Helen Sharpe “wasn’t on purpose.”
New Amsterdam Is Trending
At the time of writing, New Amsterdam is trending in the #3 spot on Netflix’s Top 10 TV shows, and it has had a spot in the Top 10 for several days. This is particularly notable due to Netflix subscribers only having access to two of the five seasons that aired on NBC. Viewers will have to head over to Peacock for a subscription to find all five seasons streaming.
New Amsterdam is also currently listed among the trending series on Peacock, although without a ranking like what Netflix provides. All things considered, the medical drama is doing exceptionally well on streaming for a show that recently aired its series finale!
In the wake of that finale, let’s dig into what the executive producers had to say about the return of Daniel Dae Kim as Dr. Cassian Shin, who they couldn’t get back before the end, and why Helen’s story concluded the way that it did.
Spoilers ahead for the final episodes of New Amsterdam, in case you’re still catching up on Netflix or Peacock!
How New Amsterdam Got Daniel Dae Kim Back (And Not Freema Agyeman)
News that Daniel Dae Kim would join the cast of New Amsterdam broke in early 2020, not too long before production shutdowns began happening across the country due to the spread of the COVID pandemic. Kim’s debut episode was pulled due to sensitive subject matter in light of the pandemic, and his entrance was different from the original plan.
In a fun surprise for fans, trauma surgeon Dr. Cassian Shin made one last appearance in the series finale as one of the very many doctors who contributed to the surgery that would save a single mom’s life. Executive producer David Schulner explained how the unexpected cameo happened, saying:
When we got the news that this was going to be our last season, one of the first people to email us was Daniel Dae Kim, because he is the greatest gentleman alive. He said, 'If you want my character to come back for the finale, or the last season, I'm all in. Just tell me where to be and when to be there.' And so when we came up with this surgery, this 50 person surgery, it was the perfect opportunity to bring Daniel back, to bring Christine [Chang] back who plays Agnes Kao, to bring back all the characters we loved over the last five years. But the fact that Daniel was just like, 'Just tell me where to be and I'll be there' speaks to him as a gentleman and as a person and a great actor.
The climactic surgery of New Amsterdam’s very last episode required all surgical hands on deck, which brought back Cassian as a trauma surgeon and Agnes as a top neurologist to join forces with Reynolds and Wilder. Daniel Dae Kim didn’t get a lot of screen time, but the actor was evidently willing to accommodate the show for however he was needed. Given that his character didn’t get a particularly big farewell, one last check-in was nice before the final credits rolled.
That said, there is one particularly notable character who didn’t get their one last check-in. According to the executive producers, it wasn't for lack of trying. When asked if there were any cameos they were hoping for but ultimately didn’t work out, EP Peter Horton immediately said “Freema,” and David Schulner elaborated:
That would have been great. We almost got her back for the finale too, but the scheduling issues didn't work out.
Freema Agyeman’s final appearance in New Amsterdam proved to be Episode 11 (directed by Peter Horton), when she returned to New York briefly and wanted to spend some time with Max. The show had to recycle footage from past seasons, however, and the last scenes that she filmed were for Season 4. She did lend her voice to the Season 5 premiere, though! So, what did the EPs have to say about how her story ended?
Why Helen's Ending 'Wasn't On Purpose'
With Freema Agyeman not making an appearance in the finale, the last that fans heard about Helen was that she skewed a cancer drug trial to focus on predominately white participants, with the assumed goal that she did it to get Max the drugs he needed to save his life because she loved him. Helen wasn’t able to give her side of the story, but Max and Wilder deemed it unethical and established that they wouldn’t have done the same thing.
It was a surprising twist that fans couldn’t have seen coming ahead of Episode 12, which was the first of two episodes that aired on finale night. The executive producers opened up about how they came up with that ending for Helen’s character, with David Schulner saying:
It wasn't on purpose. We thought Episode 11... really closed the book on Dr. Sharpe and Max, and it did emotionally. Max made the decision to be with Wilder, and it wasn't until midway breaking the story for this drug trial that we realized the only person who could have approved this blind trial was Dr. Sharpe. The great thing about it was it again tested Max's decision to move on… Just because [in] Peter's episode, you close the book on something. We know in real life, you close the book on something and then a week later it's there again. Nothing goes away, so it gave us a great opportunity to challenge Wilder and Max again, just when they thought they were out of the woods.
The bosses had previously teased that “closure is never closure” after Max decided not to see Helen again and instead pursue a future with Wilder. According to Schulner, the drug trial story came before the decision to incorporate Helen into it rather than planning this storyline for Helen and then brainstorming the drug trial. It painted her character in a different light than when fans last saw her in the Season 4 finale, and Peter Horton explained his perspective on it:
[It brought] back how much love there was between Sharpe and Max. That, from her perspective, is a really loving thing to do. 'I'm trying to save the man I love.' It's very romantic to be able to just kind of have a taste of that in the end. It was just really fitting.
The love story of Sharpwin ultimately didn’t prove to be endgame for New Amsterdam, but the show also didn’t end with Max settling down in any romantic relationship. In fact, there was originally a clue about his choice that was ultimately cut from the finale, with the message clear that he was prioritizing Luna over anybody and anything else.
If you want to revisit the highs and lows of New Amsterdam in the wake of its finale, you can find the first two seasons streaming on Netflix and all five streaming with Peacock. There are also still plenty of new and ongoing series to enjoy, and you can find options on our 2023 TV premiere schedule.