ER (TV series)

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ER title card.
Created by Michael Crichton
Starring Season 14 cast:
Goran Visnjic
Maura Tierney
Mekhi Phifer
Parminder Nagra
John Stamos
Linda Cardellini
Scott Grimes
Opening theme James Newton Howard
Martin Davich
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 14
No. of episodes 309 (list of episodes)
Camera setup Single
Running time 60 minutes (including commercials)
45 minutes (without commercials)
Production company(s) Constant c Productions
Amblin' Television
Warner Bros. Television
Original network NBC
Picture format 480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original release September 19, 1994 – present
External links

ER is an Emmy Award-winning American medical drama series created by novelist Michael Crichton and airing on NBC. It is set primarily in the emergency room of fictional County General Hospital in Cook County, Chicago. It is produced by Constant c Productions and Amblin Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television Production, Inc.

Series run

ER is NBC's second longest-running drama (after Law & Order), and, at 14 seasons, the longest-running American primetime medical drama of all time.[1] It premiered on September 19 1994 and has been aired on Thursday nights at 10:00 for its entire run. On April 2, 2008, NBC announced that the series will return for its 15th and final season,[2] which will run for 19 episodes before the show retires at the end of the February 2009 sweeps.[3]

History and production

The novel ER was originally slated to be a movie, directed by Steven Spielberg. However, during the early stages of pre-production, Spielberg asked Michael Crichton what his current project was. Crichton said he was working on a novel about dinosaurs and DNA. Spielberg subsequently dropped what he was doing to film this project, which became Jurassic Park. Afterwards, he returned to ER and helped develop the show, serving as a producer on season one and offering advice (he insisted on Julianna Margulies becoming a regular, for example). It was also through Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment that John Wells was contacted to be the show's executive producer.

Due to a lack of time and money to build a set, the pilot episode of ER was filmed in the former Linda Vista Community Hospital in Los Angeles, an old facility that ceased operating as a medical center in 1990.[4] A set modelled after Los Angeles County General Hospital's emergency room was built soon after at the Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California, although the show makes extensive use of location shoots in Chicago, most notably the city's famous "L" train platforms.

Michael Crichton wrote the script that became the pilot episode of the show in the early 1970s. It was based on some of his experiences working in an ER. By the time the pilot episode was shot and aired in 1994, it had been 20 years since it was written. On his commentary track, included on the first season DVD set, Crichton says that the script used to shoot the pilot was virtually unchanged from what he had written 20 years earlier. Dr. Lewis was written as a male character, and though producers decided Lewis should be a woman, that change didn't require an adjustment of her dialogue. The producers also decided Dr. Benton would be African-American, though he wasn't written that way. The original script had to be shortened by about 20 minutes in order to air in a two-hour block on network TV.

ER is unique in that the series was filmed in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen from the start, even though it did not air in widescreen until the seventh season when it began appearing in the 1080i HD format where NBC was being broadcast digitally. Since the beginning of the seventh season, it has appeared in letterbox format when in standard definition. As a result, every DVD box set shows the widescreen versions of the episodes, even the first six seasons that were not originally broadcast in widescreen. The episodes also appear in 1080i widescreen when rerun on TNT HD, though the first six seasons still show in fullscreen on the normal TNT network. Only the live episode "Ambush" at the beginning of the fourth season, and the opening credits for the first six seasons, are in standard 4:3 aspect.


ER has had many memorable episodes, and is particularly notable for broadcasting a live episode, "Ambush," in 1997, with the NBC camera crew disguised as a PBS crew making a documentary film in the hospital. The actors performed the show again three hours later so that the West Coast airing would be live as well. This episode received Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Directing and Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic), and won the Emmy for Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Series.

Most episodes center on the ER, with almost all scenes at the hospital. There is, however, often at least one scene showing the goings-on of the ER staff outside the hospital. Also, there is a tradition to feature storylines each season completely outside of the ER. One early such instance involved a road trip near Las Vegas, Nevada (Drs. Ross and Greene). Season Eight included a storyline in Hawaii (Drs. Greene and Corday). More recently, the series has included storylines in Democratic Republic of Congo (Drs. Kovac and Carter) and Darfur, Sudan (Drs. Pratt and Carter, with Noah Wyle appearing as a guest in the season following his departure from the show).


Main cast

The original cast of relatively unknown actors consisted of Anthony Edwards as Dr. Mark Greene, George Clooney as Dr. Doug Ross, Sherry Stringfield as Dr. Susan Lewis, Noah Wyle as Dr. John Carter, and Eriq La Salle as Dr. Peter Benton. Julianna Margulies guest starred in the pilot as Nurse Carol Hathaway and then became part of the regular cast.

Actor Role Appearance as Star as Guest Star / Supporting Actor
Season Episode Season Episode
CURRENT (sorted by first appearance as Star)
Goran Visnjic Dr. Luka Kovač 6– 114–290, 295, 298–300, 304, 306, 309
Maura Tierney Dr. Abby Lockhart 6– 125– 6 121
Mekhi Phifer Dr. Gregory Pratt 9– 180– 8 175–177, 179
Parminder Nagra Dr. Neela Rasgotra 10– 204– 10 202
Linda Cardellini Nurse Samantha Taggart 10– 206–
Scott Grimes Dr. Archie Morris 12– 246– 10–11 204–206, 208–209, 212, 215–217, 220–222, 224, 226, 228, 230, 232, 234, 236, 238–239, 241–242, 244–245
John Stamos Dr. Tony Gates 13– 269– 12 252–253
PAST (sorted by last appearance as star)
Shane West Dr. Ray Barnett 11–13 224–290
Laura Innes Dr. Kerry Weaver 3–13 48–280 2 26–29, 31, 34–35, 38, 40, 43–47
Sherry Stringfield Dr. Susan Lewis 1–3, 8–12 1–55, 161–246
Noah Wyle Dr. John Carter 1–11 1–245 12 259–260, 264–265
Ming-Na Dr. Jing-Mei Chen 6–11 123–232 1 13–17, 19–21
Alex Kingston Dr. Elizabeth Corday 4–11 70–227
Sharif Atkins Dr. Michael Gallant 8–10 172–219 8, 11–12 164–166, 168–170, 239–240, 253–254, 257, 266
Paul McCrane Dr. Robert "Rocket" Romano 6–10 114–209 4, 5 74–75, 77–81, 84–90, 93, 95–96, 100–101, 103–107, 109–113
Anthony Edwards Dr. Mark Greene 1–8 1–179
Michael Michele Dr. Cleo Finch 6–8 114–167, 178
Eriq La Salle Dr. Peter Benton 1–8 1–167, 172, 178
Erik Palladino Dr. Dave Malucci 6–8 120–161 6 115–119
Julianna Margulies Nurse Carol Hathaway 1–6 2–134 1 1
Kellie Martin Lucy Knight 5–6 92–127
Gloria Reuben Jeanie Boulet, P.A. 2–6 31–119 1, 2, 14 14–17, 20–28, 301
George Clooney Dr. Doug Ross 1–5 1–106 6 134
Maria Bello Dr. Anna Del Amico 4 70–91 3 67–69
File:ER-Cast-season 7-8.jpg
Season 8 main cast

Main cast departures

Sherry Stringfield's first departure on the show was in 1996, when her character, Susan Lewis, moved to Phoenix, Arizona, in the Season 3 episode "Union Station." In 2001, Stringfield returned to the series, reprising her role of Dr. Lewis, in the Season 8 episode "Never Say Never." She departed again in the Season 12 premiere, "Canon City." This second departure was not depicted, but rather mentioned by character Kerry Weaver four episodes later in "Wake Up," when she explains that Susan had accepted a tenure-track position at a hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, after having been denied tenure at County.

After playing Anna Del Amico for one season, Maria Bello was simply not a part of the ensemble cast when Season 5 began. Like Susan Lewis's second exit, her character's departure was mentioned but not depicted; in the season premiere, "Day for Knight," Carter explains to new medical student Lucy Knight that the locker she is inheriting used to belong to Anna Del Amico, who is working in a pediatric ER back in Philadelphia, where she has family and a boyfriend.

George Clooney left the show in 1999, in the Season 5 episode "The Storm, Part 2," when his character, Doug Ross, quit before being fired by County for his involvement in a patient's death. Clooney made a brief reappearance in the Season 6 episode "Such Sweet Sorrow" when his character reunited with Carol Hathaway.

Gloria Reuben departed early in Season 6, in the episode "The Peace of Wild Things," when her character, Jeanie Boulet, decided to become a stay-at-home mom and care for her newly adopted HIV-positive baby. She returned in season 14 for one episode with her HIV positive child.

Kellie Martin, who played medical student Lucy Knight, left the series midway through Season 6 in the episode "All In The Family," when her character was killed by a patient suffering from undiagnosed schizophrenia; his psychotic break occurred before a backed-up psychiatry department could arrive in the ER for a consult.

Julianna Margulies left the show at the end of Season 6, in the episode "Such Sweet Sorrow," when her character, Carol Hathaway, decided on the spur of the moment to go to Seattle, Washington, and reunite with Doug Ross, her true love and the father of her twin daughters.

Erik Palladino departed early in Season 8, in the episode ("Never Say Never") after his character, Dave Malucci, was fired for inappropriate conduct.

Eriq La Salle's character, Peter Benton, departed in the Season 8 episode "I'll Be Home For Christmas". He took a job with a set schedule at another hospital in order to spend more time with his son, Reese, and his girlfriend, former fellow ER doctor Cleo Finch. His character returned two more times that season in episodes "It's All In Your Head" and "On The Beach".

Michael Michele's character, Cleo Finch, departed in the Season 8 episode "I'll Be Home For Christmas" with her boyfriend, and fellow doctor, Peter Benton, after having previously taken a job at the same hospital with set schedules (in fact it was she who arranged the interview which resulted in Benton's job offer). Her character returned one more time that season in the episode "On The Beach".

Anthony Edwards's character, Mark Greene, died of a brain tumor in Season 8's penultimate episode, "On the Beach." Unusually, Anthony Edwards was credited in the following episode "Lockdown".

Paul McCrane's character, Robert Romano, whose arm had been severed just above the elbow by a helicopter's tail rotor in the Season 9 premiere "Chaos Theory," was killed in the Season 10 episode "Freefall" when a helicopter that was taking off from the hospital roof was buffeted by strong winds, causing it to crash on the roof and plummet over the side of the building; it fell into a crowded ambulance bay and landed squarely on Romano.

Sharif Atkins left the series twice. The first time was in the Season 10 episode "Where There's Smoke," when his character, Michael Gallant, revealed that the Army was sending him to Iraq. He returned for two episodes in Season 11 and for four episodes in Season 12, where in the episode "The Gallant Hero and The Tragic Victor," he was killed by an improvised explosive device while serving a second tour in Iraq.

Alex Kingston's character, Elizabeth Corday, left the series in the Season 11 episode "Fear" after getting in trouble for performing an illegal organ donation procedure; rather than being summarily fired, County offered her a demotion to a non-tenured position, but she turned it down and opted to return to England instead. In an interview with Britain's Radio Times magazine, Kingston spoke of being written off the show due to her age, a statement that sparked some controversy. She later withdrew that claim.[5]

Ming-Na left in Season 11 as an attending physician when her character, Jing-Mei Chen, resigned in in order to take care of her ailing father, whom she later euthanized in the episode "Twas the Night." This was the second time her character left County General; in Season 1, medical student "Deb" Chen recurred in an eight episode story arc which concluded with her leaving medical school after deciding she was better suited to research than to applied medicine.

Noah Wyle left in the Season 11 finale, "The Show Must Go On." His character, John Carter, after having received tenure at County, decided to reunite with his girlfriend Kem Likasu (portrayed by Thandie Newton). During Season 12, Wyle returned as Carter and made guest appearances in four episodes: "Quintessence of Dust," "Darfur," "No Place to Hide," and "There Are No Angels Here." He is reported to make further guest appearances in season 15.

Laura Innes left midway through Season 13, in the episode "A House Divided," when a reluctant Luka Kovač was forced by budget cuts to fire her character, Kerry Weaver. After bracing for a battle to keep her position, and in spite of the fact that Kovač realized he must find a way to keep her on staff, Weaver ultimately decided to resign from County and accept a job offer from a television station in Miami, Florida.

Shane West left at the end of the 13th season after his character, Ray Barnett lost both his legs and returned to Baton Rouge with his mother to recuperate. West's final appearance as a main cast member was in "The Honeymoon is Over." He will return for one episode in Season 15.

Goran Visnjic is expected to leave the main cast early in the 15th season. As the 14th season opened, his character, Luka Kovač was in his native Croatia to be with his father, who required surgery for cancer followed by an extended recuperation. His character remained active through dialogue and discussion of the status of his stay in Croatia, including a brief appearance in episode 5. When Kovac returned to the US, Visnjic appeared in episodes 8-10 before his character returned to Croatia for his now-deceased father's funeral. He returned again in episodes 14, 16 and 19 to complete his medical storyline, and is expected to make his final appearances early in Season 15 to wrap up Kovac's story. [3]

Maura Tierney will depart early in the 15th season, along with her TV husband Goran Visnjic. [3]

Notable guest stars

Memorable appearances on the show have included:

Guest stars whose performances won them Emmys are:

Guest stars whose performances earned them Emmy nominations include:

Supporting cast

U.S. television ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of ER on NBC.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps. All times mentioned in this section were in the Eastern & Pacific time zones.

Season Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Viewer
Rank (#)
(in millions)
1st September 19, 1994 May 18, 1995 1994-1995 2[6] 28.9[citation needed]
2nd September 21, 1995 May 16, 1996 1995-1996 1[6] 32.0[citation needed]
3rd September 26, 1996 May 15, 1997 1996-1997 1[6] 30.8[citation needed]
4th September 25, 1997 May 14, 1998 1997-1998 2[6] 30.2[citation needed]
5th September 24, 1998 May 20, 1999 1998-1999 1[7] 25.4[7]
6th September 30, 1999 May 18, 2000 1999-2000 4[6] 25.0[8]
7th October 12, 2000 May 17, 2001 2000-2001 2[9] 22.4[9]
8th September 27, 2001 May 16, 2002 2001-2002 3[10] 22.1[10]
9th September 26, 2002 May 15, 2003 2002-2003 4[11] 20.0[11]
10th September 25, 2003 May 13, 2004 2003-2004 8[12] 19.5[12]
11th September 23, 2004 May 19, 2005 2004-2005 16[13] 15.5[13]
12th September 22, 2005 May 18, 2006 2005-2006 30[14] 12.3[14]
13th September 21, 2006 May 17, 2007 2006-2007 31[15] 11.5[15]
14th September 27, 2007 May 15, 2008 2007-2008 54 9.2

Awards and nominations

Main article: List of ER awards and nominations.

ER won the George Foster Peabody Award in 1995. In addition, the series has earned 123 Emmy Award nominations, making it the most Emmy-nominated show in history.[16] as well as 22 Emmy Awards (at least one every year up to and including 2005, except for 2004). It also won the People's Choice Award for "Favorite Television Dramatic Series" every year from 1995 to 2002. Over the years, it has been nominated for and/or won numerous other awards, including Screen Actors Guild Awards, Image Awards, GLAAD Media Awards, and Golden Globe Awards, among others.[17]

The following is a partial list of major awards and nominations received by the show, its cast, and crew.


Emmy Awards

  • Outstanding Drama Series (1996)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series—Julianna Margulies (1995)
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing for a Drama Series—Mimi Leder for episode "Love's Labor Lost" (1995)
  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series—Sally Field (2001)
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series—Ray Liotta (2005)

Golden Globe Awards

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Best Performance by a Cast in a Drama Series (1996-1999) 4 wins
  • Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series—Julianna Margulies (1998-99) 2 wins
  • Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series—Anthony Edwards (1996, 1998) 2 wins


Emmy Awards

  • Outstanding Drama Series (1995, 1997-2001) 6 nominations
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series—Anthony Edwards (1995-98) 4 nominations
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series—George Clooney (1995-96) 2 nominations
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series—Julianna Margulies (1997-2000) 4 nominations
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series—Sherry Stringfield (1995-97) 3 nominations
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series—Noah Wyle (1995-99) 5 nominations
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series—Eriq La Salle (1995, 1997-98) 3 nominations
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series- Paul McCrane (2001)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series—Maura Tierney (2001)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series—Laura Innes (1997-98) 2 nominations
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series—Gloria Reuben (1997-98) 2 nominations
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series—Julianna Margulies (1996)
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series-Forest Whitaker (2007)
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series—James Woods (2006)
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series—Red Buttons (2005)
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series—Bob Newhart (2004)
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series—Don Cheadle (2003)
  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series—Sally Field (2003)

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best TV Series-Drama (1995-2001) 7 nominations
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series-Drama—Anthony Edwards (1996-97, 1999) 3 nominations
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series-Drama—George Clooney (1996-98) 3 nominations
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series-Drama—Julianna Margulies (1999-2000) 3 nominations
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series-Drama—Sherry Stringfield (1996-97) 2 nominations
  • Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a TV Series—Noah Wyle (1997-99) 3 nominations
  • Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a TV Series—Eriq La Salle (1998)
  • Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a TV Series—Gloria Reuben (1998)
  • Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a TV Series—Julianna Margulies (1996)
  • Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a TV Series—CCH Pounder (1997)

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Best Performance by a Cast in a Drama Series (1995, 1998, 2000-01) 4 nominations
  • Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series—Sally Field (2001)
  • Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series—Julianna Margulies (1996)
  • Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series—Anthony Edwards (1997, 1999, 2001) 3 nominations
  • Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series—George Clooney (1996-97) 2 nominations

DVD releases

Season Date of Region 1 DVD Release Date of UK Region 2* DVD Release Date of AUS Region 4 DVD Release
The Complete First Season (1994-1995) August 26, 2003 February 23, 2004 April 28, 2004
The Complete Second Season (1995-1996) April 27, 2004 July 26, 2004 July 15, 2004
The Complete Third Season (1996-1997) April 26, 2005 January 31, 2005 December 16, 2004
The Complete Fourth Season (1997-1998) December 20, 2005 May 16, 2005 April 27, 2005
The Complete Fifth Season (1998-1999) July 11, 2006 October 24, 2005 November 15, 2005
The Complete Sixth Season (1999-2000) December 19, 2006 April 3, 2006 May 5, 2006
The Complete Seventh Season (2000-2001) May 15, 2007 September 18, 2006 October 3, 2006
The Complete Eighth Season (2001-2002) January 22, 2008 July 16, 2007[18] September 6, 2007
The Complete Ninth Season (2002-2003) June 17, 2008[19] October 29, 2007[20] October 31, 2007
The Complete Tenth Season (2003-2004) Not yet released January 28, 2008 May 07, 2008[21]
The Complete Eleventh Season (2004-2005) Not yet released April 21, 2008[22] May 07, 2008[23]
The Complete Twelfth Season (2005-2006) Not yet released September 15, 2008[24] Not yet released
The Complete Thirteenth Season (2006-2007) Not yet released November 03, 2008[25] Not yet released
The Complete Fourteenth Season (2007-2008) Not yet released Not yet released Not yet released

The first six DVD box sets of ER are unusual in the fact that they are all in anamorphic widescreen even though these episodes were broadcast in a standard 4:3 format. Only the live episode "Ambush" is not in the widescreen format. All "Previously on ER" segments are removed from each episode. The DVD's are boxes containing 4 discs (either 4 (seasons 1 and 2), with episodes on both sides of the disc, the fourth disc containing all special features) or 6 discs ((seasons 3-up), special features and episodes on one side of each disc only).

The first six seasons of the series have also been released in Hong Kong and other markets. Other Region 2 markets have different release dates. In Germany, Season 9 was released on 7 September 2007. Similarly, Season 10 was released to the German market on 7 December 2007.

Other media

  • ER soundtrack released in 1996 with various compositions from seasons 1 and 2 episodes by Martin Davich and James Newton Howard.
  • ER video game for Windows XP and 2000 released in 2005 where the player takes control of a character in the series and treats patients.


  1. ^
  3. ^ a b c NBC veteran 'ER' will end its run next year -
  4. ^ Linda Vista Hospital
  5. ^ Zap2it - TV news - Kingston Discharged from 'ER'
  6. ^ a b c d e A Dramatic Achievement (Variety Magazine) – Maynard, Kevin: While cast revolves, auds stay involved (from Mai 2003), access on October 23, 2006
  7. ^ a b "TV Winners & Losers: Numbers Racket A Final Tally Of The Season's Show (from Nielsen Media Research)". Entertainment Weekly. 1999-06-04. 
  8. ^ US-Jahrescharts 1999/2000, access on October 23, 2006
  9. ^ a b Armstrong, Mark (2001-05-25). "Outback in Front: CBS Wins Season". E! Online. 
  10. ^ a b "How did your favorite show rate?". USA Today. 2002-05-28. 
  11. ^ a b Ryan, Joal (2003-05-22). "TV Season Wraps; 'CSI' Rules". E! Online. Retrieved 2006-09-16. 
  12. ^ a b Ryan, Joal (2004-05-27). ""Idol" Rules TV Season". E! Online. Retrieved 2006-10-14. 
  13. ^ a b "2004-05 Final audience and ratings figures". Hollywood Reporter. 2005-05-27. 
  14. ^ a b "2005-06 primetime wrap". Hollywood Reporter. 2006-05-26. 
  15. ^ a b "Hollywood Reporter: 2006-07 primetime wrap". May 25 2007.  Unknown parameter |source= ignored (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  16. ^ 2005-2006 Facts and Figures from the Emmy Awards. Retrieved July 22, 2006.
  17. ^ "ER" (1994) - Awards
  18. ^ Release
  19. ^ ER DVD news: Season 9 DVD Announced |
  20. ^ (UK) : E.R. (Emergency Room): Season 9 (3 Discs) : DVD - Free Delivery
  21. ^ E.R. - The Complete 10th Season (Slimline Set) @ EzyDVD
  22. ^ (UK) : E.R. (Emergency Room): Season 11 : DVD - Free Delivery
  23. ^ E.R. - The Complete 11th Season (Slimline Set) @ EzyDVD
  24. ^ (UK) : E.R. (Emergency Room): Season 12 (3 Discs) : DVD - Free Delivery
  25. ^ (UK) : E.R. (Emergency Room): Season 13 : DVD - Free Delivery

External links