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This Is Why Helen Sharpe Left New Amsterdam—But Is She Coming Back?

"I don't think that will be the last of Sharpe," Eggold teased to NBC Insider.

By McKenzie Jean-Philippe
Sharpe Leaves Max Waiting | NBC’s New Amsterdam

The Season 5 premiere of New Amsterdam finally answered the biggest cliffhanger of the Season 4 finale: Why did Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) leave the show?

Fans will remember that Sharpe shocked Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) when she didn't show up for their romantic rooftop wedding, instead choosing to stay in London. Leaving someone at the altar seems like a pretty final way to end a relationship—but is this truly the end for Sharpwin? We answer that, and more, below.

What happened to Helen Sharpe on New Amsterdam?

At the beginning of the premiere, we hear a letter from Helen to Max in which she attempts to explain why she left him at the altar and remained in London. As it turns out, she's extremely apologetic and seems just as confused by her motives as fans.

"What I did was unforgivable. To you, to our friends, to sweet Luna," she said. "It was never my intention. None of this was what I intended. Everything I ever said to you was true. Everything we have is real, but so is this thing that kept me in London. Kept me from marrying you. I wish I knew what it was. I wish I could rip it out of me, obliterate it, so I could be with you because you deserve all the happiness in the world. All I have is the time that's passed and the desperate hope that it heals us both."

Dr Helena Sharpe in New Amsterdam

Throughout the episode, a heartbroken Max tries to make sense of Helen's letter, but he can only think of the good times. But after a little advice from Iggy, he begins to remember all the moments in their relationship where he was content but Helen was distant, distracted, or even angry.

In the end, Max figures out that the signs were always there that Helen was unhappy—in some instances she even told him—but he turned a blind eye. Helen staying in London was her way of beginning a path to healing.

"She was dealing with a lot. The truth about her family, who she was, who she wanted to be. Maybe she wanted to deal with that alone," Iggy said to Max.

He responded, "She did, I know she did because she told me. But I just tried to fix it." 

When reflecting on Helen's exit, Eggold told NBC Insider, "Max can't help but fix things. He has to help, he has to fix, and that is generally an amazing quality, but sometimes loving someone is letting them go, and I think that's something that Max is learning in this moment."

Why did Freema Agyeman leave New Amsterdam?

In a statement to TV Line, Agyeman announced in July that she would not be returning to New Amsterdam for Season 5 after playing Helen Sharpe for four seasons. She's currently filming a comedy called Dreamland for U.K. network, Sky.

“Dearest Dam Fam. First off I would like to say a huge heartfelt thank you for your unending, dedicated and deliciously ferocious support!” she said. “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."

She continued, “While I am saddened, I am also incredibly excited to see how the story concludes as a fan of the series. It has been such a joy to play Dr. Helen Sharpe for 4 seasons—those writers built a badass! Beyond grateful for the opportunity to tell some of her stories! Fanfic—it’s over to you to tell the rest!! Lots of love Fam!”

Eggold opened up to NBC Insider about Agyeman's exit.

"Working with Freema was the best," he said. "Some of my favorite scenes. She's such a great actor, and a good person and we would really find little moments and looks and connection in a lot of those scenes, and they were some of my favorite moments."

Ryan Eggold and Freema Agyeman together in New Amsterdam

Series creator David Schulner recently told TV Insider, "Freema let us know very early near the end of Season 3 what she was thinking and we didn’t even know if we’d get her for Season 4. But Freema agreed to stay for Season 4 and give us the runway we needed to prepare her exit in case she didn’t come back for Season 5."

Executive producer Peter Horton added, "Her spirit around that is not contentious or frictional at all. It was just her preference for her future and her career choices. We adore her, she adores us, she misses us, we miss her. It wasn’t a thing where she was just miserable and deciding whether to stick around. It was a harmonious sort of thing. We love her. She’s a phenomenal actress, and we just wanted as much of her as we could have gotten."

Will Freema Agyeman return as Helen?

In September Schulner told TV Line, “[Fans] may not have seen the last of Helen Sharpe is all I will tease.” And it looks like this was a major hint because Helen made a surprise appearance at the end of Season 5, Episode 10's "Don't Do This For Me." Literally seconds after a romance began between Max and Wider, Helen appeared on TV promoting cancer research with the NHS. This is the first time Max has seen her since their breakup.

"[He feels] like he just saw a ghost," Schulner told NBC Insider. "His past and his future colliding."

The showrunner also revealed to us that Agyeman will return for Episode 11, which could bring hope to Sharpwin fans.

"I, as a fan of this show, hope there is some more closure between Max and Helen, and I would love to play that moment again with her, with Freema, who's the greatest of all time," Eggold told us. "And I don't know where the story's gonna go, but I'm excited. I can tell you this: I don't think that will be the last of Sharpe, but where it goes remains to be seen."

New Amsterdam returns to finish out its final season on Tuesday, January 3 at 10/9c on NBC. You can watch every episode now on Peacock.

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