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Masi Oka stole viewers’ hearts as Dr. Max Bergman when Hawaii Five-0 first premiered in 2010. His quirky medical examiner provided some much-needed comic relief among the show’s gritty police procedural drama. So when Oka left Hawaii Five-0 in season 7, fans were understandably disappointed.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Masi Oka left Hawaii Five-0 because his role became too demanding along with his other projects, though he returned for the series finale.

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at Oka’s journey on the show, from his start as a popular recurring character to his eventual departure as a series regular. We’ll examine the reasons behind his exit, his guest appearances after season 7, and his return for the emotional Hawaii Five-0 finale.

Masi Oka’s Humble Hawaii Five-0 Beginnings

Introduced as Scene-Stealing Medical Examiner in Season 1

Masi Oka made his debut appearance on Hawaii Five-0 in the show’s first season in 2010, playing the role of esteemed medical examiner Dr. Max Bergman. Right from the start, Oka’s quirky and lovable character made an impression on viewers, quickly becoming a fan favorite despite being a recurring guest star.

His unexpected comedic talent and affable on-screen presence stole several scenes, providing some welcome comic relief to balance out the show’s gritty police drama.

As the first season unfolded, audiences and critics alike took notice of Oka’s brilliance in the role. Many reviewers singled him out as one of the show’s most entertaining characters. By the end of the debut season, TV Insider raved about his “scene-stealing medical examiner Max,” while New York Post declared Max Bergman “the coroner you want to hang out with.”

Promoted to Series Regular After Positive Fan Response

Given the overwhelmingly positive fan and critic reception to his performance, the Hawaii Five-0 producers took notice. In 2011, after appearing in 14 episodes in the first season, Oka was upped to a series regular for Season 2.

Fans rejoiced at the news, as Dr. Max Bergman’s increased screen time enabled Oka to further showcase his talent and comedic chops.

In promoting Oka, the show’s creators recognized his ability to humanize his character and forge a real connection with viewers. Over the next few seasons, audiences delighted in the quirkier aspects of Max’s personality revealed through his close friendship with the Five-0 team.

By giving Oka more to work with, the writers set the stage for him to organically cement his place as an integral part of the Hawaii Five-0 ohana.

Increased Workload Led to Temporary Hawaii Five-0 Exit

Demanding Production Schedule Alongside Other Projects

Masi Oka, who played medical examiner Dr. Max Bergman on Hawaii Five-0, temporarily left the show during seasons 7 and 8 due to his demanding workload (Source). As a series regular since season 2, Oka had been part of the procedural drama’s intense filming schedule in Hawaii.

On top of that, he was also working on projects like the Netflix film Death Note. This packed timetable eventually led Oka to exit Five-0 to focus on other endeavors.

In an interview, Oka explained: “I had to take a break because I was working too much. “ Between his duties on Five-0 and other acting/producing jobs, he was burning the candle at both ends. His temporary departure after season 6 allowed Oka to pour more energy into projects like Death Note without compromising his performance on Five-0.

Positive Send-Off Left Door Open for Future Appearances

Fortunately, Hawaii Five-0‘s producers gave Dr. Max Bergman a fitting send-off, having him accept a teaching position on the mainland. This enabled Oka to take a break while keeping the door open for potential guest spots down the road. As Oka put it: “I didn’t want to get killed off. “

The show welcomed Oka back when his schedule allowed it. He made two guest appearances in season 8 to wrap up Dr. Bergman’s storylines. So despite Oka’s temporary exit, fans were thrilled to see him reprise his fan-favorite role a few more times before the series ended in 2020.

Guest Appearances Allowed For Occasional Returns

First Return in Season 8 Premiere

Masi Oka returned as Dr. Max Bergman in the season 8 premiere episode of Hawaii Five-0 in 2017, marking his first guest appearance after departing as a series regular after season 7. His return was a pleasant surprise for loyal fans, as showrunner Peter Lenkov had kept it under wraps.

Oka shared that he was thrilled to reprise his role and reunite with the cast and crew. His guest spot involved his character Max assisting the Five-0 team remotely from Africa through a video call. This allowed for a seamless way to feature Oka without requiring his on-location filming in Hawaii.

Additional Guest Spots in Following Seasons

Following his season 8 guest appearance, Masi Oka continued to make occasional guest starring returns in subsequent seasons of Hawaii Five-0 leading up to its series finale in 2020. This included a season 9 episode where Max returned to Hawaii to visit and ended up helping Five-0 process a crime scene.

The guest spots allowed Oka to balance his other projects while still being part of the Hawaii Five-0 world he had been part of since the start. His continual returns were also warmly received by fans who considered Max to be a beloved character.

Triumphant Appearance in Emotional Series Finale

After leaving Hawaii Five-0 in late 2016, Masi Oka made a triumphant return for the show’s emotional series finale in April 2020. His character, Dr. Max Bergman, had been a fan favorite coroner on the hit CBS series during the first seven seasons.

So when the producers decided to end the show after 10 successful years, they knew they had to bring Oka back one last time.

The final episode titled “Aloha” included several surprise cameo appearances from former cast members. But Oka’s return was one of the most touching. In a scene towards the end, Max is seen visiting the Five-0 headquarters one last time.

He shares an emotional goodbye with the remaining team members like Danny Williams (Scott Caan) and Lou Grover (Chi McBride). Fans were thrilled to see the quirky coroner back on their screens, even if just for a few minutes.

On social media, viewers flooded Oka’s accounts with positive messages about his cameo. “It was so good to see you back!” one person tweeted. Another fan wrote on Instagram, “Max’s return brought tears to my eyes. What a perfect surprise.”

Even former co-stars like Daniel Dae Kim showed their appreciation for Oka’s willingness to return. So while brief, the clever genius’ comeback clearly resonated with loyal Hawaii Five-0 fans.

Bringing back Oka for the finale seems especially appropriate considering his history with the show. He was part of the main cast for over 150 episodes, developing into a fixture from the first season onward.

So despite leaving a few years prior, Dr. Max Bergman was still a key piece of the Hawaii Five-0 family. His comeback was like the final piece of closure on an incredible decade of television.


After 10 successful years helping the Hawaii Five-0 task force, Masi Oka’s departure left a noticeable void in the show’s final seasons. Still, the positive circumstances surrounding his exit meant the door was open for Dr. Max Bergman to pop up when possible right through the very last episode.

While juggling multiple acting and producing jobs ultimately necessitated Oka reducing his Five-0 role, he remained a part of the ohana through to the end. And that allowed fans to enjoy his humor, banter with other characters, and eccentric charm a few more times before bidding a bittersweet farewell.

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