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Michael Michele as Cleo Finch
|First appearance||September 30, 1999|
(Season 6, "Leave It to Weaver")
|Last appearance||May 9, 2002|
(Season 8, "On the Beach")
|Portrayed by||Michael Michele|
|Title||Pediatric Fellow (1999-2001)|
|Spouse(s)||Peter Benton (husband)|
|Children||Reese Benton (stepson)|
Life at County
Dr. Cleo Finch was first introduced at the start of Season 6 as a skilled new pediatric fellow at County. She was portrayed as a hard working, no-nonsense doctor who often jogged to work. Dr. Finch took over most of the pediatric storylines left void by the departures of George Clooney and Maria Bello (pediatric doctors Doug Ross and Anna Del Amico, respectively) and was portrayed as a generally competent doctor. She had a tough time early in Season 6 when she was distracted by a loud, brattily obnoxious young girl and didn't diagnose the iron poisoning that led to the girl's death. Later on that year in “How The Finch Stole Christmas," Cleo separated a young alcoholic patient from his alcoholic mother, who fed his addiction, during Christmastime. When no surgeons were available to perform a laparotomy on a dying patient in the aftermath of a stabbing in the ER, Dr. Finch performed an emergency thoracotomy in the OR to stabilize the patient until a surgeon could be found. She was at first reprimanded by Dr. Peter Benton, her boyfriend at the time, but he later apologized, blaming the stress of performing surgery on his friend, Dr. John Carter, a victim of the stabbing. Cleo barely responded and looked completely stunned and sorrowful, leading Peter to ask her what was wrong and her to brokenly tell him what had happened to Lucy Knight. She seemed vaguely annoyed that Dr. Carter was welcomed back to County after he went to rehab for his prescription medication addiction between Seasons 6 and 7, and briefly became angered by some issues she felt were racially tinged in Season 7, but neither storyline was maintained for very long.
During the course of Season 6, Cleo started a relationship with Dr. Peter Benton. She got along well with Peter’s deaf son Reese, impressing Peter with her knowledge of ASL. Cleo often clashed with Reese’s mother Carla, who saw Cleo as interfering in her family’s decisions and also made an unsuccessful attempt to seduce Peter. While under Cleo’s care, Reese accidentally injured his hand on a piano, leading Carla to claim she was untrustworthy and irresponsible. Cleo’s relationship with Peter was also put under strain when Peter felt that Cleo’s bi-racial background prevented her from understanding the medical and cultural needs of the African-American community. Despite their problems, Cleo and Peter stayed together, allowing Cleo to help Peter through a difficult child-custody battle with Roger, Carla's husband, following Carla's death. Cleo took the stand to testify that she hoped to play an important role in both Peter and Reese’s lives.
Season 8 and Beyond
In Season 8, Cleo left County for a job at a private hospital just outside Chicago. Later in the season, after winning his custody battle over Reese, Peter too departed the ER to work at the same hospital as Cleo. Their final appearance as regular characters was the episode “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” in which they are shown helping Reese decorate a Christmas Tree.
During the 15th and final season of ER, at the end of the 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 "Finch" can be seen.
Later appearances by Dr. Benton in Season 15 suggested that Cleo and Peter had gotten married and were raising Reese together. Michele did not appear in any of those episodes.
- Lydia Woodward, Laura Innes (Feb 10, 2000). "All in the Family". ER. Season 6. Episode 127. NBC.
- Dee Johnson, Meredith Stiehm, Jonathan (Dec 13, 2001). "I'll be Home for Christmas". ER. Season 8. Episode 167. NBC.
- John Wells (May 9, 2002). "On the Beach". ER. Season 8. Episode 178. NBC.
- David Zabel, Christopher Chulack (Oct 16, 2008). "The Book of Abby". ER. Season 15. Episode 312. NBC.