10 Things You Didn’t Know About ER

Sven Arnstein/NBC

Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t the first medical drama to steal our hearts. Before we were introduced to the surgical interns of Seattle, viewers were captivated with the thrilling and suspenseful inner world of ER. The NBC series premiered back in 1994 and quickly became the longest-running primetime medical drama with a whopping 15 seasons under its belt. The show was a big success both critically as the most nominated drama program in history and with fans who loyally followed the show from beginning to end. ER has been over for quite some time now, but it’s still well loved by fans. Here’s a look back at 10 things you might not have known about the medical drama ER!

10. It Began as a Movie Script

The original idea of “ER” came from best selling novelist, Michael Crichton, who had written a 180 page long movie script that featured more than 100 characters. Crichton wrote the script based on his time at Harvard Medical School in the 1960s, but didn’t get around to pitching the idea until 20 years later. The character of John Carter, who couldn’t start an IV, was based off Crichton himself. When the feature was pitched to NBC as a medical drama, Crichton was at the peak of his career with the success of Jurassic Park and had Steven Spielberg on board as a producer. A little wary about the whole thing, NBC greenlit the project to be featured as a two-hour movie, but after a lot of twists and turns it was renegotiated into a six-episode order.

Courtesy Everett Collection

9. George Clooney Audition

George Clooney could probably land any film or television role he wanted today, but back when the casting began for ER, he definitely didn’t have the same pull in Hollywood as he does now. According to producer John Wells, Clooney, who was 33 at the time, begged him for the part! At that time he knew the ins and outs of television cause he’d bounced around between about 20 failed pilots. He was desperate to land a stable gig. “George was the first person to audition. He came after me for it. Our second day in the office, George showed up and wouldn’t leave until I’d let him audition…George got his hands on the material and was like a dog with a bone,” said Wells.

Source: Sven Arnstein / Gallery

8. Love Labor Lost

In the episode titled “Love Labor Lost” in the first season, Noah Wyle was so sick he was hallucinating! He was sick with mononucleosis, most likely because he said he was working 18 hours a day while filming and working on a play in Hollywood. He showed up on set during a night of filming with a fever of 104 degrees. “I turned to Dr. Joe Sachs, our medical tech, and I said, ‘Joe, I don’t think I’m going to make it.’ He looked around the set and said, ‘I guess I could take one of these IVs and give it to you.’ He squeezes a bag of saline into me. When we were shooting, I’d put it in my pocket. I remember thinking that wasn’t odd,” said Wyle. That particular episode went on to earn an Emmy award!

Source: ER Wikia

7. La Salle Asked Producers To End His Characters Relationship

La Salle’s character, Dr. Benton, engages in a brief relationship with Alex Kingston’s character, Dr. Corday, in season 5. The romance was short lived because La Salle asked the producers to end the fictional relationship because he didn’t like the way it painted interracial relationships or what it depicted of African Americans. His specific problem was due to the fact that his previous relationships on the show, which were with black women, were depicted as dysfunctional, but when his character started dating a white woman, it was not. According to Kingston, La Salle was getting a lot of pressure from the African-American press to confront the issue.

Source: www.critictoo.com

6. Carol Hathaway Supposed to Die

ER‘s favorite nurse, Carol Hathaway, was played by Julianne Margulies, who is now more famous for her stint on the popular series, The Good Wife. Before she became known as Alicia Florrick, she was Carol Hathaway, but her character was never supposed to make it past the pilot episode. Hathaway was originally intended to die of an overdose in the premiere. The producers decided to keep her around as a main cast member because she was so well liked by test audiences and had great chemistry with George Clooney. She went on to be a love interest for Dr. Ross and the only regular cast member to win two Emmys for her role on ER.

Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU

5. The Show Saved Lives

ER was praised for how realistic and medically factual it was. Because of this, it unintentionally saved a few lives! According to Joe Sachs, there are files filled with stories from viewers who said their lives were saved by something they saw on ER. Take for example the episode where Dr. Mark Greene finds out he has a brain tumor — the first clue to this illness was that his tongue kept deviating to the right side of his mouth. “Six months later, we get a letter from this young mother in Texas who discovered she had a brain tumor at age 28 because her tongue went out to the side. We went in and the cancer was caught early. She wrote, ‘Because of Dr. Greene’s death, I’m alive.’ We have no words for how that made us feel,” said Sachs.

Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU

4. Actors Asked to be Written Off

Maura Tierney (who played Dr. Abby Lockhart), Anthony Edwards (who played Dr. Greene), and Kellie Martin (who played Lucy Knight) all asked to be killed off the show. Tierney hadn’t been on the show long before she approached producers about being written off the show. She ended up sticking with it until the end of the season because the writers conjured up a pretty juicy storyline for her character, but she was eventually killed off. Edwards had been with the show for eight seasons when he told Wells he wanted to leave. Wells in turn told him his character was far too important to just walk away, so they had to do something big. Wells asked him, “‘Do you mind if we kill him?’ And I was like, ‘Nope! You’ve gotta do what’s best for the show, so that’s okay.'” Meanwhile Kellie Martin didn’t think her character Lucy was working out, and when writers said they were going to write her off, she asked them to “make it big,” and they did!

(c)NBC/courtesy Everett Collection

3. George Clooney Was a Prankster

Television sets are sometimes like classrooms, there’s always that one person who acts as the prankster to relieve stress and lighten the mood. On the set of ER, this person was George Clooney! He was known for keeping tension down on the set and keeping his coworkers moods elevated during an 18-hour shoot. “Working on this show is like being on a submarine. You have no windows. There’s no clocks…You just hope that George is in the next scene because he’ll keep everybody laughing,” said Anthony Edwards. He was constantly pulling practical jokes on set like smearing surgical gel on door knobs, phones and on Dr. Kerry Weaver’s cane. He also liked to toss around props like a football, especially the rubber babies!

Warner Bros.

2. Medical Consultants on Set

Medical dramas can be hard because it’s a world not many people know about and it’s important to get things right otherwise it can ruin the show. Similar to other medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy, ER relied on three doctors who were trained in emergency-room medicine to work on set as consultants in order to maintain medical accuracy throughout the show. The three doctors rotated in shifts, so there was one on set every day.

Source: TV Guide

1. David Krumholtz Guest Appearance

David Krumholtz guest starred on ER in season 6 as a schizophrenic patient who has a psychotic break and kills Lucy Knight, played by Kellie Martin. The murder was pretty gruesome, and because Martin’s character was so well liked by audience members, the whole things had to be treated with sensitivity. Krumholtz’s performance was so amazing he said he continues to be recognized for that scene, even years later! “The next day, I went out in Burbank, and went shopping in a mall or something. I got recognized at least five or six times from that episode, and people were actually frightened! I couldn’t have been more unassuming to those people that were surprised to see that I was short and sweet and smiley,” said Krumholtz. While on a press tour nearly eight years later for Numb3rs, he said most of the questions he received were about that one episode of ER.

Source: www.moviemuster.co.uk
Katherine G

Katherine G

Katherine is the Managing Editor for Health and Parenting, but she has a soft spot for entertainment. She loves binging shows on Netflix, reality TV is a guilty pleasure, and country music is her go-to playlist. When she's not writing, she's spending time outdoors, especially with her puppy Zoey!