- "Those guidelines are so arbitrary. Have one drink and you die. A couple pills of Ecstasy, no problem. Hepatitis B from careless sexual practice, nope. Nothing at all about that."
- —Dr. Neil Meléndez[src]
Dr. Neil Meléndez is an attending surgeon overseeing surgical residents at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. He is a brilliant and highly skilled person. Meléndez doesn't mess around, is frequently tense about work/business matters, and expects perfection from himself and his residents. However, he does have a lighter and sometimes a humorous side, which occasionally appears when he is not tending to work matters. Also, despite frequently being stern, he is often supportive, especially of his patients who are sick, and of their families and friends. Melendez has a younger sister who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a child due to falling out of a tree. As a result, his sister is confined to a residential care facility.
Neil Melendez was born to an unnamed father and mother and has a sister, Gabrielle Melendez. At some point in his early life, a fall out of a tree resulted in his sister having a brain injury that left her disabled. Due to his family's lack of wealth, they were unable to pay for her medications or treatments so he took care of his sister by brushing her teeth, combing her hair, and helping her eat.
He recognized Dr. Shaun Murphy's skills, but at first he wasn’t ready to take a chance on him, due in part to his general strict nature about work matters and also due to concerns about difficulties related to Murphy's autism. Then, as time went on, Neil began to respect Shaun and allowed him to work in surgery, doing more than just suction. Notably, when Shaun faces discrimination from the parents of an autistic patient, Melendez sticks up for him, acknowledging how hard he has been on Shaun but recognizing that Shaun had proved him wrong to the point that he threatened to not do the surgery if Shaun couldn't be part of it. After Shaun makes a surgical mistake from being distracted with Dr. Glassman's brain cancer diagnosis Melendez works to protect Shaun and even decides to share responsibility in the patient's surgery to fix the problem and thus the potential consequences rather than letting Shaun shoulder it himself.
Meléndez was engaged to Jessica Preston, until she ended the relationship. Her reasons for ending the relationship were a little unclear, but one major point of disagreement between them, was whether or not to have kids. The stressful nature of the surgery environment also resulted in a couple disagreements between the two, about which they sometimes had differing opinions.
During season 2, Melendez begins a burgeoning romance with Dr. Audrey Lim, getting drinks with her a few times, particularly after they are both passed over for Chief of Surgery in favor of Andrews keeping the job himself. In "Quarantine," they sleep together, but agree to keep their relationship professional before a viral outbreak quarantines the ER. After Lim falls ill, Melendez is shown to be deeply worried about her in "Quarantine: Part Two" while struggling to perform a risky bone marrow transplant that leads to him violating a patient's DNR.
In "Aftermath," Melendez becomes frustrated when Lim rebuffs even his friendly concern as a friend and colleague. They both later admit to having feelings for each other but being afraid due to their past failed relationships. As a result and because they and Shaun are facing a possible license suspension for their actions during the quarantine, Lim and Melendez decide to maintain a secret relationship which persists for the next few episodes.
In "Breakdown," Melendez considers making their relationship public, particularly after the new Chief of Surgery Dr. Jackson Han gets them out of trouble with the medical review board, but Lim refuses. Melendez leads a team to remove a 200-pound tumor from a man and argues with Han about bringing in Shaun, transferred to pathology by Han, to help. Han eventually agrees to let Shaun consult but not take part in the surgery and Shaun provides them with a solution that allows the team to successfully remove the entire tumor. After being confronted by her fears of commitment and being vulnerable, Lim decides to make their relationship public and goes with Melendez to see Andrews.
In "Trampoline," Lim and Melendez make their relationship public by kissing in the middle of the ER. After Shaun collapses from his injuries after being attacked at a bar, Lim, Melendez and Claire in trying to figure out what Shaun had been trying to say about the condition of the man who beat him up. After Lim rejects Claire's suggestion of waking Shaun up as it could put his life in danger, Melendez points out that they should be able to figure it out themselves without Shaun's help. At the end of the day, Andrews fires Han and rehires Shaun, leaving the position of Chief of Surgery open. Melendez points out that he or Lim could be offered the position, but it would put their relationship in jeopardy due to one of them ending up in a position of power over the other. After Lim admits that she wouldn't turn down the job, Melendez reveals that he already has in favor of her. Lim receives a call from Ms. Aoki offering her the position of Chief of Surgery as Melendez predicts, but it leaves the future of their relationship uncertain.
- He works with foster kids.
- Tom F. Kennedy is his best friend and has been since 2007.
- Once he became an attending cardiothoracic surgeon, Hunter Denoble was his first patient, his first patient which he had to inform him that he wouldn't be able to walk again.
- He and Audrey Lim were in the same year of their residency programs. He calls her one of the best trauma surgeons in the country.
- In the pilot, its suggested that Melendez was once more rebellious when he first started working at the hospital. Melendez brushes it off as being young and stupid.
|"Burnt Food"||"Mount Rushmore"||"Oliver"||"Pipes"||"Point Three Percent"||"Not Fake"|
|"22 Steps"||"Apple"||"Intangibles"||"Sacrifice"||"Islands: Part One"||"Islands: Part Two"|
|"Hello"||"Middle Ground"||"36 Hours"||"Tough Titmouse"||"Carrots"||"Two-Ply (or Not Two-Ply)"|
|"Hubert"||"Stories"||"Empathy"||"Quarantine"||"Quarantine: Part Two"||"Aftermath"|
|"Xin"||"Faces"||"Risk and Reward"||"Believe"||"Breakdown"||"Trampoline"|
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