A trip down ER memory lane as we say goodbye to County tonight

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As fans of ER will know, tonight is the very last time we’ll be entering the doors of County and the last time we’ll get to share in the drama, romance, death, life and everything inbetween of the staff and patients in Chicago’s most famous fictional hospital.

Created by the late author Michael Crichton, ER first aired in 1994 and became the longest-running medical drama in American primetime television history. It won 22 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series, and received 123 Emmy nominations, the most of any television show in history…

Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton first had the idea for ER in 1974 when he wrote a screenplay based on his own experiences as a medical resident in a hospital emergency department. However, the screenplay went nowhere and Crichton focused on other projects. In 1990, Crichton published his novel Jurassic Park and in 1993, he and director Steven Spielberg collaborated on the film adaptation of the book.

The Crichton-Spielberg combo then returned to the screenplay of ER but decided to film it as a two-hour pilot for TV rather than as a movie. The script used to film the pilot was virtually unchanged from the original 1974 screenplay and real changes only came about in 1994 when the characters of Susan Lewis and Peter Benton were added. So with everything in place, only one thing was missing; a set…

However, given a lack of both time and money, the pilot episode of ER was filmed in the former Linda Vista Community Hospital in Los Angeles. Later, the set was to be modelled on Los Angeles County General Hospital’s emergency room and was built at the Warner Bros studios in Burbank, California. As a result, shots of outdoor locations, such as the famous ‘L’ train line, are filmed in Chicago.

Steven Spielberg left after just one year of production but before he went, he decided that the character of Carol Hathaway should stay in the show – she was originally meant to have died at the end of the pilot episode. In it, she was first seen having attempted suicide. Here’s a clip from her first ever appearance, albeit that she was unconscious, but there waiting for her was the gorgeous Doug.


Carol was in love with Doug throughout all the seasons of ER but their relationship was a turbulent on-off affair, however it ended happily when Carol and their twin girls left Chicago to live with Doug. Awwwwwwww.

In time of course, other writers, producers and cast members were added as the show grew in popularity and became a global success.

Among the too-many-to-mention memorable episodes of ER was a live episode; ‘Ambush’ was filmed in 1997, with the NBC camera crew disguised as a PBS crew who were supposed to be making a documentary in the hospital. The actors had to perform the show live twice in fact – the second performance being three hours after the first – so that the West Coast airing of the episode would be live as well. This episode was to receive Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Directing and Outstanding Lighting Direction and won the Emmy for Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a TV Series.

Most of the episodes have been centred around the goings on in the ER but in most of the seasons, there’ve been at least one episode that was filmed away from County. These have been in a variety of locations including a road trip in Las Vegas with docs Ross and Greene, another episode filmed in Hawaii, this time with Dr Greene and Dr Corday, and seasons nine and ten included plotlines set in the Democratic Republic of Congo which featured Kovac and Carter and season twelve saw the ER docs Pratt and Carter in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Dozens of cast members and special guest stars have come and gone over ER’s fifteen year run but some notable guest appearances have been made by many very famous actors including Susan Sarandon, Sally Field, Lucy Liu, Kirsten Dunst, Ray Liotta, Rosemary Clooney – George’s aunt – and Bob Newhart, to name but a few.

Some of our favourite long-term characters have come and gone too, and many suffered pretty horrible fates over the years; Dr Romano first lost an arm during an accident with a helicopter rotor blade and later was to die when yet another helicopter fell from the roof of County right onto the poor medic. The much loved Mark Greene died of a brain tumour, Lucy Knight was stabbed to death by a patient, Michael Gallant was killed while on duty in Iraq and Greg Pratt died in the ER as a result of injuries sustained in an ambulance explosion.

So let’s take a look at some of those most memorable and sad exits from ER,

We’ll begin with the very moving scenes when Dr Mark Greene died…

Next are the scenes when Lucy Knight died and John Carter was left struggling to rebuild his life afterwards…

And this is the horrifying moment when the helicopter fell onto Romano…

Finally, here’s a clip of Greg Pratt’s final, emotional moments…

But ER hasn’t all been about doom and gloom and working at County has spawned numerous love affairs and marriages such as Mark Greene and Elizabeth Corday, Doug Ross and Carol Hathaway and  Abby Lockhart has dated many of the hospital’s doctors but she ended up – eventually – happily married to Luca.

And of course Neela’s had a variety of relationships with other staff members and was married to Gallant when he was killed in action in Iraq. Perhaps her most memorable relationship though has been with Ray Barnett. Here are no less than five videos which tell their story right from the start to the end! Well, it has been one of the most complex and enduring of ER’s love affairs, so it’s worthy of five vids!

Now that was a dedicated fan right there… It must’ve taken hours to put all that footage together!

And now for some great bloopers from the show over the years, but be warned, there’s some naughty F words in these clips…

Ahhh the old cast goodness!

Well tonight’s final episode is sure to be a sad one and here’s the US promo for it…

I’m really going to miss ER! What have been your favourite moments from the last fifteen years? Let us know!

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.