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Julianna Margulies as Carol Hathaway
|First appearance||September 19, 1994.
(1x01, "24 Hours")
|Last appearance||March 12, 2009.
(15x19, "Old Times")
|Portrayed by||Julianna Margulies|
|Title||Nurse manager (1994-2000)|
|Spouse(s)||Doug Ross (husband)|
|Children||Tess Ross and Kate Ross
(daughters with Doug Ross)
|Relatives||Helen Hathaway (mother)
Two older sisters
Nurse Carol Ross (née Hathaway) is a fictional character on the popular television show ER, portrayed by Julianna Margulies from 1994 to 2000. Julianna Margulies' removal from the main cast opening credits was in the final episode of season 6.
Carol is sensitive towards the lack of recognition the ER nurses experience. She is sometimes hostile to the physician assistants, and once told surgeon Peter Benton in Season One, "Haleh may not be able to cross clamp an aorta, but she has over 20 years experience in emergency medicine and if you would step off your pedestal maybe you would realize it's the nurses that make this place run and not you."
In Season 3, Carol intends to go to medical school and become a doctor, but decides against it because she sees that her job as a nurse is worthwhile.
In Season 4, Carol obtains funding for an ER clinic by getting money from Dr. John Carter's grandmother, Millicent Carter. Carol's clinic provides care for thousands for free.
In Season 5, after a fiasco with Doug Ross, a dying child, and an overdose of medication, Carol is forced to step down from her position with the clinic, and step down from being Nurse Manager.
In the first episode it becomes apparent that she had attempted suicide eight weeks earlier. On the second episode, when she returns to work, it is shown the scene (in flashback) where she is rushed into hospital after an overdose of barbiturates in a failed suicide attempt. While the staff is working on her, someone mentions that "even her fiance didn't know about it" indicating she hadn't shared her suicide plans with anyone. Although she later denies it, the staff suspect that her suicide attempt was brought about by her failed romance with Doug Ross, a womanizing pediatrician also working in the ER. After her recovery, Carol returns to work, where it becomes obvious that while she is still attracted to Doug, she harbors some animosity towards him. Meanwhile, Doug continues to try to win Carol back, and although their friendship is slightly rekindled, Carol keeps Doug at a distance in both professional and private matters.
Later in the first season, Carol becomes engaged to orthopedic surgeon John "Tag" Taglieri (Rick Rossovich). Doug tries to dissuade her, but Carol decides to go through with the wedding. However, right before they are about to walk down the aisle, Tag tells Carol that he knows she could never love him the way he loves her and decides he can't go through with the wedding, then leaves to explain the situation to their many guests. Prior to this, Carol attempted to adopt an abandoned Russian girl named Tatiana suffering from AIDS, but a background check showing her attempted suicide only months earlier causes her application to be denied. While caring for Tatiana it was revealed that she was half Russian and is able to speak the Russian language to a certain extent when she said that her mother is Russian and that her mother tried to teach her Russian, but she didn't cooperate with it.
Carol begins Season 2 by purchasing a run-down, rickety house. She later becomes involved with paramedic Ray "Shep" Shepard (Ron Eldard), who moves in with her and helps her renovate her house. Despite a promising start, their relationship is severely strained after Shep goes through a drastic personality change after the death of his work partner. Shep and his partner had decided to enter a burning building to save children who were trapped by the fire. Shep's partner was badly burned and later died in the ICU. Shep becomes abrasive, and despite Carol's attempts to get him professional help to deal with his anger, he refuses. Although Carol loves Shep, she decides that she can't watch him self-destruct and ends their relationship.
In Season 3, Carol suffers severe financial problems. Without Shep's extra income she is unable to afford her house. Things get even worse when a labor dispute arises concerning the reassignment of her nurses. As nurse manager for the ER, Carol is privy to management decisions, and she finds herself torn between her friends and the hospital administration. During a nurse sickout, Carol accidentally transfuses the wrong blood into a patient. Although it is unclear whether it was the blood or his other injuries that cause his death, Carol blames herself. The administration initially does not punish Carol for this incident and uses it to cast the sickout in a bad light, but she resents the administration's actions and believes she is not being punished sufficiently for her error, so she talks to the press and gets suspended.
During her suspension, Carol is held hostage at gun point during an armed robbery at her local grocery store. She treats several injured people and manages to escape the incident, shaken but unharmed. Carol later takes the MCAT with Doug's assistance and assumes she failed when in fact she did very well, but she opts not to pursue medical school, having only taken the test to prove she was capable. During the last few episodes of Season 3, Carol and Doug become closer and begin to rekindle their relationship.
Their relationship is held up by Carol's insecurities, but they eventually make it work. They are trying to have a baby when Doug leaves Chicago in the middle of Season 5, when he is strongly advised to relocate after allegedly teaching a mother how to bypass an automatic pain-medication release device to deliver a lethal dose to her terminally-ill child. Unbeknownst to Doug, Carol is pregnant.
Carol delivers Tess and Kate on Thanksgiving Day in Season 6, assisted by then-OB nurse Abby Lockhart in her first appearance on the show. When Doug learns of his twin daughters' birth, he invites them to come and live with him in Seattle, but Carol cannot decide if it is the right thing to do and attempts to raise their daughters alone. In Season 6 she briefly dates Dr. Luka Kovač, a new Attending from Croatia who lost his wife and children in the Croatian War of Independence. Luka often helps her take care of her baby girls, and a tentative romance eventually develops, but Carol doesn't see it going anywhere. Treating a woman dying of end-stage ovarian cancer and helping her family say goodbye moves Carol to reunite her own family, and after saying goodbye apologetically to Luka she abruptly leaves work and flies to Seattle that day to reunite with Doug in the second-to-last episode of Season 6. It is later revealed in the Season 8 episode, "Never Say Never" that the day she left Chicago, Carol sent for her twin daughters and as such, no-one's heard anything from her since then.
In the Season 14 episode, "Status Quo", Jeanie Boulet mentions Doug and Carol when she returns to the ER. Nurse Haleh Adams states that they are living happily in Seattle and that their twin daughters are now in third grade.
In the season 15 episode The Book of Abby, long-serving nurse Haleh Adams shows the departing Abby Lockhart a closet wall where all the past doctors and employees have put their locker name tags. Amongst them, the tag "Hathaway" can be seen.
Carol Hathaway appears again in Season 15. She and Doug are now married and practice at the University of Washington Medical Center where Carol is a transplant coordinator. During the episode, Carol and Doug help a grieving grandmother (Susan Sarandon) donate her grandson's organs. One of the organs, a kidney, is given to "some doctor", unbeknownst to both Doug and Carol that it is their former co-worker and friend John Carter. While on the job she met the two current employees at Chicago County General Hospital Dr. Neela Rasgotra & Nurse Manager Sam Taggart.
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Entertainment Weekly placed Hathaway in its list of the "30 Great TV Doctors and Nurses". Her relationship with Doug Ross was included in AOL TV's list of the "Best TV Couples of All Time" and in the same list by TV Guide.
- Wilkinson, Amy (June 15, 2009). "ER, Julianna Marguiles – Paging Dr. Feelgood: 30 Great TV Doctors and Nurses – Photo 7 of 28". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
- Potts, Kimberly (February 11, 2008). "Best TV Couples of All Time". AOL TV. Aol, Inc. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
- "Couples Pictures, ER Photos - Photo Gallery: The Best TV Couples of All Time". TV Guide. Retrieved June 25, 2012.