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ER is an American medical drama series created by the late novelist Michael Crichton that aired on NBC from September 1994 to April 2009. It is set primarily in the emergency room of fictional County General Hospital in Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker. It was produced by Constant c Productions and Amblin Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television Production, Inc. The show ran for 15 seasons, becoming the longest-running medical drama in American primetime television history. It won 23 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series (1996), and received 123 Emmy nominations, the most of any television show in history.

Cast and characters

Original cast of the show (1994-1995)
Cast of the 15th and final season (2008-2009)
The original starring cast consisted of Anthony Edwards as Dr. Mark Greene, George Clooney as Dr. Douglas "Doug" Ross, Sherry Stringfield as Dr. Susan Lewis, Noah Wyle as medical student (later Dr.) John Carter, and Eriq La Salle as Dr. Peter Benton. Julianna Margulies guest starred in the pilot as Nurse Carol Hathaway before becoming part of the regular cast. Cast members were regularly added and departed the show starting in the second season, and continuing right up until the end of the series, though most of the original cast remained intact for a number of seasons with some additions.

In addition to the main cast, ER featured a large number of recurring supporting cast not billed as starring, but frequently playing notable roles in many episodes during their tenures. The most common of these roles were those of desk clerks, nurses, and occasionally doctors not part of the main cast. In addition, ER featured a significant roster of guest stars, most frequently portraying the many patients required for each episode. Many notable celebrities guest starred on the show.



In 1974, author Michael Crichton wrote a screenplay based on his own experiences as a medical resident in a busy hospital emergency room. The screenplay went nowhere, and Crichton focused on other topics. In 1990, he published the novel Jurassic Park, and in 1993 began a collaboration with director Steven Spielberg on the film adaptation of that. The Crichton-Spielberg team then returned to ER but decided to film the story as a two-hour pilot for a television series rather than as a feature film. Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment provided John Wells as the show's executive producer.The script used to shoot the pilot was virtually unchanged from what Crichton had written in 1974. The only substantive changes made by the producers in 1994 made the Susan Lewis character a woman and the Peter Benton character an African-American, and shortened the running time by about 20 minutes in order for the pilot to air in a two-hour block on network TV. 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 Hospitalmarker in Los Angeles, an old facility that ceased operating as a medical center in 1990. A set modeled after Los Angeles County General Hospital's emergency room was built soon afterwards at the Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, Californiamarker, although the show makes extensive use of location shoots in Chicago, most notably the city's famous "L" train platforms.

Steven Spielberg left the show after one year in a producer's chair, but he made one critical decision with lasting effects: the Carol Hathaway character, who died at the end of the original script for the pilot episode, was retained. Having created the series Michael Crichton was credited as an executive producer throughout its run. John Wells was the series other initial executive producer and served as show runner for the initial seasons. Wells was one of the shows most prolific writers and also became a regular director in later years. Lydia Woodward was a part of the first season production team and became an executive producer for the third season. She took over as show runner for the sixth season while Wells focused on the development of Third Watch. She left her executive producer position at the end of the sixth season but continued to write episodes throughout the series' run.

Woodward was replaced as show runner by Jack Orman. Orman was recruited as a writer-producer for the series in its fourth season after a successful stint working on JAG. He was promoted quickly and became executive producer and show runner for the seventh season. He held this role for three seasons before leaving the series at the end of the ninth season. He was a frequent writer and also directed three episodes of the show. David Zabel served as the series' head writer and executive producer in its later seasons. He initially joined the crew for the eighth season and became an executive for the twelfth season. Zabel was the series most frequent writer and contributed to 41 episodes. He also made his directing debut on the series. Christopher Chulack was the series' most frequent director and also worked as a producer on all 15 seasons. He became an executive producer with the fourth season but occasionally scaled back his involvement in later years to focus on new projects while continuing to serve as a consulting producer for ER. Other executive producers include writers Carol Flint, Neal Baer, R. Scott Gemmill, Dee Johnson, Joe Sachs, and Janine Sherman Barrois. The series crew were recognized with awards for writing, directing, producing, film editing, sound editing, casting, and music.


ER premiered on September 19, 1994 from 9:00-11:00 p.m. (EDT) and moved into the 10:00 p.m Thursday night timeslot three days later, where it remained for all fifteen seasons. ER is NBC's second longest-running drama (after Law & Order), and, the longest-running American primetime medical drama of all time. On April 2, 2008, NBC announced that the series would return for its 15th, concluding season. It was originally scheduled to run for 19 episodes before retiring with a two-hour series finale to be broadcast on March 12, 2009, but NBC announced in January 2009 that it would extend ER by an additional three episodes to a full 22 episode order as part of a deal to launch a new series by John Wells. ER's final episode aired on April 2, 2009 for a two-hour episode preceded by a one-hour retrospective special episode.


Among the memorable episodes of ER is 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, but usually include at least one scene outside of the hospital. In addition, most seasons included at least one storyline located completely outside of the ER, often outside of Chicago. 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); seasons Nine and Ten included storylines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Drs. Kovac and Carter); and Season Twelve included a storyline set in the Darfur region of Sudan (Drs. Pratt and Carter, with Noah Wyle appearing as a guest star in the season following his departure from the show).


ER was filmed in 1.78:1 widescreen from the start, even though it was not broadcast in widescreen until the seventh season when it began appearing in the 1080i HD format where NBC was being broadcast digitally. Since the sixth episode of Season 7, it has appeared in letterbox format when in standard definition. As a result, the U.S. DVD box set shows the widescreen versions of the episodes, including those episodes originally broadcast in 1.33:1 (full frame) format. The episodes also appear in 1080i widescreen when rerun on TNT HD, though the first six seasons still run in full frame 1.33:1 on the digital 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 ratio.



American 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 and Pacific time zones.

Season Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Viewer

Rank (#)

(in millions)
1st September 19, 1994 May 18, 1995 1994-1995 #2 19.08
2nd September 21, 1995 May 16, 1996 1995-1996 #1 21.09
3rd September 26, 1996 May 15, 1997 1996-1997 #1 20.56
4th September 25, 1997 May 14, 1998 1997-1998 #2 19.99
5th September 24, 1998 May 20, 1999 1998-1999 #1 17.94
6th September 30, 1999 May 18, 2000 1999-2000 #4 25.0
7th October 12, 2000 May 17, 2001 2000-2001 #2 22.4
8th September 27, 2001 May 16, 2002 2001-2002 #3 22.1
9th September 26, 2002 May 15, 2003 2002-2003 #4 20.0
10th September 25, 2003 May 13, 2004 2003-2004 #8 19.5
11th September 23, 2004 May 19, 2005 2004-2005 #16 15.5
12th September 22, 2005 May 18, 2006 2005-2006 #30 12.3
13th September 21, 2006 May 17, 2007 2006-2007 #31 11.5
14th September 27, 2007 May 15, 2008 2007-2008 #55 9.16
15th September 25, 2008 April 2, 2009 2008-2009 #36 10.3
  • The series finale attracted 16.4 million viewers and a 6.0 demo in the 18-49 year old age group. The show highest ratings was 47.8 million viewers and 25.8/57 in the demo.

Critical reception

Awards and nominations

The series


Home video

Warner Home Video has released ER on DVD in Regions 1, 2, and 4. Seasons 1-11 have been released in R1, Seasons 1-15 in R2, and Seasons 1-13 in R4.
DVD Name Ep# Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 (UK) Region 4 (AUS)
ER: The Complete First Season (1994-1995) 25 August 26, 2003 February 23, 2004 April 28, 2004
ER: The Complete Second Season (1995-1996) 22 April 27, 2004 July 26, 2004 July 15, 2004
ER: The Complete Third Season (1996-1997) 22 April 26, 2005 January 31, 2005 December 16, 2004
ER: The Complete Fourth Season (1997-1998) 22 December 20, 2005 May 16, 2005 April 27, 2005
ER: The Complete Fifth Season (1998-1999) 22 July 11, 2006 October 24, 2005 November 15, 2005
ER: The Complete Sixth Season (1999-2000) 22 December 19, 2006 April 3, 2006 May 5, 2006
ER: The Complete Seventh Season (2000-2001) 22 May 15, 2007 September 18, 2006 October 3, 2006
ER: The Complete Eighth Season (2001-2002) 22 January 22, 2008 July 16, 2007 September 6, 2007
ER: The Complete Ninth Season (2002-2003) 22 June 17, 2008 October 29, 2007 October 31, 2007
ER: The Complete Tenth Season (2003-2004) 22 March 3, 2009 January 28, 2008 May 7, 2008
ER: The Complete Eleventh Season (2004-2005) 22 July 14, 2009 April 21, 2008 May 7, 2008
ER: The Complete Twelfth Season (2005-2006) 22 January 12, 2010 September 15, 2008 October 1, 2008
ER: The Complete Thirteenth Season (2006-2007) 23 TBA November 3, 2008 April 29, 2009
ER: The Complete Fourteenth Season (2007-2008) 19 TBA May 18, 2009 TBA
ER: The Complete Fifteenth Season (2008-2009) 22 TBA September 21, 2009 TBA

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.

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.


External links

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