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George Clooney as Doug Ross
|First appearance||September 19, 1994
(1x01, "24 Hours")
|Last appearance||March 12, 2009
(15x19, "Old Times")
|Portrayed by||George Clooney|
|Duration||1994–99, 2000, 2009|
|Full name||Douglas Ross|
|Title||Pediatric Fellow (1994-1998)
Pediatric Attending (1998-1999)
|Spouse(s)||Carol Hathaway (wife)|
(son, with unnamed woman)
(daughter, with Carol)
(daughter, with Carol)
Dr. Douglas "Doug" Ross is a fictional character from the television series ER, portrayed by George Clooney. George Clooney's removal from the main cast opening credits was in the 16th episode of season 5.
Doug Ross was raised by his mother, Sarah, after his father, Ray, abandoned their family. In Season 1, he revealed to a patient that he had a son, and he tells nurse Wendy Goldman that he doesn't know his son's name as he's never seen him. Not much else is known about Doug's past. Despite his jumbled personal life, Ross is a dedicated ER pediatrician. He has always been committed to medicine and children and to helping no matter what the rules or consequences. During Season 2, Doug rescued a boy trapped in a flooding storm drain during a rainstorm. His heroic efforts were filmed on local television, making him a media star. This event helped him earn back his job at County, because his supervisor in pediatrics originally wasn't going to renew his fellowship on account of his disrespect to authority.
During Season 2, Ray, Ross' father, tries to reconcile with his estranged son. Ross has difficulty reconnecting with the man who abandoned him and his mother. Ray owns a ritzy hotel in Chicago, and Doug lets his guard down a little, but is disappointed when his father offers to take him to a Chicago Bulls game and then stands him up. Ross later reveals the reason that he and his mother were abused by his father. Doug later has an affair with Ray's girlfriend, a woman who Ray stole money from, but ends the relationship when it becomes clear she has a lot of problems.
Ross is a womanizer who dates and leaves many women throughout the course of the show. His womanizing days come to an abrupt end after a one-night stand with an epileptic woman who hides her condition and dies in the ER. Ross never knew her name until after she dies, after which he stops dating for a while until he gets back together with Carol Hathaway, the head nurse of the ER at County.
Warner Bros. Television, the studio which produces ER for NBC, kept Dr. Ross' cameo in "Such Sweet Sorrow" a secret from NBC, which promoted the episode as Carol Hathaway's goodbye, with no mention of Ross' appearance. The original version of "Such Sweet Sorrow" that Warner Bros. sent to NBC ended after the scene where we see Hathaway on the plane to Seattle. At the 11th hour, Warner Bros. messengered an "edited" version of the episode to NBC headquarters in New York for broadcast. NBC was miffed that it was kept in the dark as it could have generated valuable ad revenue if it had aired promos that the episode marked the return of George Clooney. Clooney cited the fans of the show for his reason for making the cameo (he wanted Hathaway and Ross's characters to get back together, which many fans hoped for). Clooney reportedly only asked to be paid scale for the cameo.
In the season 15 episode "Old Times," Ross is working as an attending physician at the University of Washington Medical Center. He is helping a grieving grandmother (Susan Sarandon) whose grandson was gravely injured in a bicycle accident. He talks to Sam and Neela after finding out they are from County, asking them if any of his old colleagues still work there. Doug and Carol are responsible for getting the kidney for Carter and a heart for another County patient, but they never discover who receives the organs.
In the pilot episode, which takes place on St. Patrick's Day 1994, Ross is brought into the ER not long before his shift to be "treated" for drunkenness by his longtime friend, Dr. Mark Greene. Throughout the next few seasons, Ross is shown to be compassionate, though not always using the best judgment. His love of children is best seen during darker situations, such as when a child is in danger. When Peter Benton talks about how surgeons deal with emotionally charged cases and ER doctors have it easy, Ross leaves him stunned into silence when describing cases that include a young girl who beat her mother to death, a kid who is going to lose his leg to cancer and another kid who is dying from a life of homelessness. His lack of judgment leads to him going as far as to assault abusive parents in the ER, but his counseling in that case just consists of the shrink telling him not to do that again.
He is a passionate doctor who puts the welfare of his patients, especially children, above his medical career. In one episode, Dr. Ross saves a young boy who is drowning and is flown in to County General using a news helicopter. This garners him much attention, earns him an award and saves his job. Ross doesn't handle authority well, even when Mark is his boss. He is a pediatrician, but in several episodes performs medical procedures on adults, usually when the other doctors are busy.
In another episode, he tries to do an ultra-rapid detox on a drug-addicted baby without the mother's consent. Hathaway assists, but when Greene and Weaver discover the procedure, being done in violation of hospital policy and the law, Doug is punished. He is left on probation for 30 days and is supervised by Dr. Kerry Weaver and Dr. Greene, who have to co-sign his charts. Doug's attitude towards patient treatment often has consequences for his coworkers and supervisors, who have received reprimands from their superiors for Doug's actions.
He vies to be an attending physician for emergency pediatrics. He eventually gets the job, even though Doctors Greene and Weaver oppose his promotion because the position isn't necessary and the funds are needed elsewhere. Greene is ultimately happy for Ross, but Weaver is aghast and rallies against his new position.
He resigns in the aftermath of a scandal in which he shows a mother how to bypass the lockouts on a Dilaudid PCA, enabling her to give a lethal dose of medication to her terminally ill son. Ross had earlier stolen Dilaudid from a pain medication study and given it to the mother, only to be discovered by Weaver and Greene, who reprimanded him but kept the incident private. The incident prompts the closure of Hathaway's free clinic in the hospital, since it supplied the PCA to this mother, and Ross faces suspension from work and possible criminal charges. A friend of Ross' stands up for him and the charges against him are dropped, but Ross resigns from the hospital and moves to Seattle. When Ross leaves, he and Hathaway are on poor terms until she discovers she's pregnant with his twin girls. Her clinic is later re-opened, but she has to report to her former assistant there.
Ross was written out of the series because Clooney wished to focus on his expanding film career. He also said that there wasn't any strong story in place for his character after Season 5.[this quote needs a citation] He appeared at the end of the penultimate episode of season 6, when Carol leaves Cook County to reunite with Ross in Seattle. He was reportedly asked to return briefly in season 8, to make an appearance in Anthony Edwards's last episode during Greene's funeral, but Clooney declined because he did not want his cameo appearance to overshadow the departure of a beloved character on the show. Clooney returned to ER for its 15th and final season in 2009 in a story arc beginning with Episode 328, titled "Old Times", with Julianna Margulies also returning as Hathaway.
Casting and creation
George Clooney did not receive a casting call for the television series. He received a draft of the script from a friend; he read it and became interested in the part. He said: "I like the flaws in this guy. I can play him."
Neal Baer who worked on ER was inspired by his personal experiences to write storylines for the character of Doug Ross. He did his residency while he was on ER and became a pediatrician, which helped to "draw on really complicated ethical dilemmas."
The character was described as "a complicated children's doctor who could be self-centered quick-tempered and giving, hitting the bottle to avoid dealing with consequences of his actions."
In 2004, Ross was listed in Bravo's 100 Greatest TV Characters. Entertainment Weekly placed Ross in its list of the "30 Great TV Doctors and Nurses". The character was included in Fox News' list of "The Best TV Doctors For Surgeon General" and in Philadelphia Magazine's 10 Best Doctors on Television. Ross was also listed in Wetpaint's "10 Hottest Male Doctors on TV" and in BuzzFeed's "16 Hottest Doctors On Television". His relationship with Carol Hathaway was included in AOL TV's list of the "Best TV Couples of All Time" and in the same list by TV Guide.
For his work on the series, Clooney received two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series in 1995 and 1996. He was also nominated for three Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor – Television Series Drama in 1995, 1996, and 1997 (losing to co-star Anthony Edwards).
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