How Did ‘ER’ End?

ER walked so that dozens of other medical dramas could run. Not only did the hit NBC drama make George Clooney into a household name, but it stayed on the air for 15 years and, like Grey’s, became a jump-off point for several future celebrities in the process. While the show has been off the air for many years, however, its finale still holds a particular spot in the eyes of many fans.

What was ‘ER’? 

Anthony Edwards, George Clooney as Doctor Doug Ross, Julianna Margulies as Nurse Carol Hathaway
Anthony Edwards, George Clooney as Doctor Doug Ross, Julianna Margulies as Nurse Carol Hathaway | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

According to IMDb, ER was the brainchild of the late Michael Crichton. While the man behind Jurassic Park and Westworld may not be the first name people think of when it comes to theatrical medical shows, audiences can feel his signature touch throughout the series. With a decade-and-a-half on the air, it may be his most lucrative work, as well.

ER told the story of a fictional Chicago hospital called County General. Like most medical dramas, however, the bizarre patients that came into the door and life-and-death situations that formed around them served to tell the story of the doctors, nurses, and other professionals who were tasked with saving everyone who came in. 

Of course, sometimes things got out of hand, but whether patients lived or died, ER showed that the people behind the melodrama had relatable human drama that guided them through their professional careers. While the series featured several memorable moments, however, the finale remains an amazing cherry on top for those who stuck around along the way.

How did ‘ER’ end? 

EW notes how ER thrived on the type of melodrama that has kept Grey’s Anatomy on the air for years, fans of the series lauded it for handling the characters with a type of grace that other medical shows are lacking. Yes, the show occasionally lost its footing when it came to its away-from-the-hospital storylines. Still, despite featuring plenty of crossover throughout its run, it managed to keep its footing for an impressive stretch of prestige network television. 

The final episode, which aired in 2009 and featured late-season addition John Stamos as well as Angela Bassett, Alexis Bledel, and a slew of other memorable faces throughout the run, offered closure to several of the show’s most beloved characters. From Noah Wyle’s iron man, Dr. Carter opening a clinic for the underprivileged to the return of the late Dr. Greene’s daughter, now an adult with her own medical aspirations, the series allowed its characters to move on while ensuring that life in ER didn’t end. 

It all culminated with a massive industrial explosion that put all the other plans to rest. While many of the show’s most prominent characters tried to save their lives, the show didn’t end with a bow on top, but something more akin, albeit less dramatic, to the infamous Sopranos ending. It was a fitting end to a medical series that treated its patience with more care than the average show of its ilk.

While it may not have given fans a final Clooney reunion nor a rundown of every character who left, the show capped everything off as well as humanly possible, and 12 years after ER closed its doors, fans still clamor for new news about the series. 

The show keeps its legacy strong

While ER took place in the same universe as the successful fire department drama Third Watch, it never built a lasting universe like Grey’s or Chicago Med do. However, it remains so big is a testament to its power as a monolithic presence in a saturated genre. In 2021, Clooney, Julianna Margulies, and a cast of the show’s most memorable characters reunited for a zoom special. 

Nostalgia keeps the entertainment world afloat, and while ER left the air three presidents ago, its power remains undeniable. Now, fans can watch the show at Hulu after a massive deal brought all 15 seasons to the television streaming giants. There, they can fall in love with the characters all again and follow more than 300 adventures to the satisfying place where it all ended. 

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