Who is Dr Han in The Good Doctor? Trying to predict what will go viral on the internet is a difficult job. Sometimes, it’s something uniquely of the moment and on the pulse. But sometimes it’s a four-year-old clip from a TV medical drama.
This week, both Twitter and TikTok have exploded with memes surrounding The Good Doctor, and specifically the character of Dr Han. The drama series follows autistic surgeon Dr Shaun Murphy, played by Freddie Highmore, and his experiences working at a prestigious hospital in California. With mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike, it’s fair to say that only its most devout fans would put it on lists of the best TV series.
But who is Dr Han in The Good Doctor, and where has the Dr Han meme come from? We’ve taken a look into the history of the meme to find out why social media is currently chatting about the show like it’s one of the best comedy series ever made. It’s certainly not what its creators intended.
Who is Dr Han in The Good Doctor?
Dr Han shows up in season 2 of The Good Doctor as the hospital’s new chief of surgery, played by Daniel Dae Kim.
The character was introduced as an antagonist for the second season of The Good Doctor. Kim, interestingly, is an executive producer on the show and was the person responsible for spotting the original series on South Korean TV, subsequently getting hold of the US rights.
In season 2 episode 15, aired in February 2019, Dr Han fired Shaun from his job in surgery and moved him to pathology. When Shaun defiantly said that “I am a surgical resident”, Han responded simply “you were” in a withering two-word response that Twitter now thinks has real comedy value.
In the subsequent episodes of season 2, Shaun became increasingly frustrated with Dr Han’s decision. In episode 17, entitled Breakdown, Shaun stormed into Han’s office and repeatedly yelled “I am a surgeon, Dr Han” at his boss. It is this scene that has been at the root of many of the memes.
What is the Dr Han meme from The Good Doctor?
The Dr Han meme comes from The Good Doctor season 2 episode 17, entitled Breakdown, and focuses on Shaun’s reaction to being fired from his surgical job.
TikTok and Twitter users have recently begun sharing the scene of Shaun’s outburst, reacting to the bizarre nature of Highmore’s over-cranked performance. Autistic people have been among those poking fun at the scene, noting the over-the-top portrayal of a breakdown by a neurotypical actor in an autistic role. This is something for which the show has been criticised in the past.
Naturally, the more surreal corners of the internet have been having pun-related fun with the scene by turning the quote into “I am a sturgeon” and sharing pictures of fish.
Meanwhile, Dr Han’s emotionless response to Shaun has led to the two characters being used as the archetypes in various ‘The Virgin vs. The Chad’ memes. This is predominantly based on Dr Han’s perceived resemblance to the character depicted in other ‘Chad’ memes.
There’s also an ironic trend of framing Dr Han as the actual “good doctor” of the series as opposed to Shaun, with a season 1 scene going viral in which Shaun repeatedly misgenders a transgender patient.
For more explanation of some of the biggest memes based around the best movies and TV series, check out our guides to what makes The Banshees of Inisherin so memeable and Saul Goodman memes explained.
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