Whenever I watched ER, I felt like I was an "adult." Re-runs always played after I came home from school, and I'd sit and watch doctors Carter, Greene, and Ross saves lives every afternoon and I knew I was going to love the show for as long as I lived.
One day, my mom came home early from work and I was sitting in the living room BAWLING my eyes out. She had no idea and went into a full-fledged panic. Through sobs, I told her that Lucy and Carter had been stabbed and that I was pretty sure Lucy was dead. That didn't help anything, since I failed to mention they were characters on a TV show. Needless to say, there was a lot of confusion.
Since then, my emotional connection to ER only got more intense. When the show ended, it felt like a piece of me went along with it. Don't come at me with that "Well at least there's Grey's Anatomy business." You're wrong. It's not the same.
In honor of everyone's favorite medical drama, these are the most emotional moments to ever happen at County General Hospital.
1. Mark Greene's Mistake, "Love's Labor Lost"
Mark Greene was a stable force during his time at County, but even heroes have the right to bleed. In this case, our hero killed a new mother. The woman comes to the hospital with her husband, and after a promotion, Greene is in a great mood. They all get along great, with Greene dismissing the extremely pregnant woman's concerns as a bladder infection. She's discharged with antibiotics, and then everything goes to hell.
The woman returns and her situation is dire. The baby needs to be delivered, but all the OBGYNs are busy, so the newly minted attending Mark Greene has to step in. He does what he can, and the tension is palpable. Everything that can go wrong, does, including the baby getting stuck on the mother's pubic bone. Mark pushes the baby back in, and finally delivers him properly. The baby is rushed to intensive care, but the mother is still crashing.
After 30 minutes of CPR, the mother is declared dead, and Dr. Greene almost has to be pulled from the room because he refuses to stop CPR. And if that wasn't emotional enough for you, we then have to see Dr. Greene tell the new father that his wife is dead.
AND THEN WE HAVE TO WATCH MARK GREENE CRY ON THE SUBWAY. He tells his friends he's okay. He is not.
2. Benton and Carter's Embrace
After Lucy and Carter are attacked, Carter goes on pain medication to deal with his injuries. However, he becomes hooked on the pills and even injected himself with leftover fentanyl after a trauma. Yikes. Not his best decision. Lockhart catches Carter injecting himself and tells the other doctors. An intervention is held, and Dr. Greene demands that Carter goes to rehab or else he'll lose his job.
Carter refuses to go, as he doesn't believe he has a problem. Dr. Benton, who was once Carter's mentor and knows him well, confronts Carter about his decision and things get heated. Carter doesn't want to hear anything Benton has to say, and even punches his superior in the face (I audibly gasped when this happened). That's when Carter knew he needed help. He broke down in tears and collapsed into Benton's arms. That night, he was on a plane to rehab with Benton by his side.
If you didn't cry during this scene, you are made of stone. I'm sorry, I don't make the rules.
3. Dr. Gant's Suicide
I will be the first to admit that I didn't love Dr. Gant. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be that way, but I just never connected to him. Or so I thought.
Gant had been under a lot of pressure from Benton and was starting to get overwhelmed. I often found him whiny, because it's not like no one else had a lot on their plate. ANYWAY, it's the holidays and Gant is extremely stressed. He leaves the hospital and you assume that he's going to quit the program. Or at least I assumed that. Then I was slapped in the face with something much worse.
Carter and Benton are called to a trauma where a man has been hit by a train. He's still alive, but barely. As the team works, Carter realizes the man on the table is actually his friend, Dr. Gant. Hearing Carter yell "OH, SWEET JESUS! OH, GOD!" still gives me chills. The patient didn't make it, and the assumption is that Gant jumped in front of the train by his own will.
I never thought I liked Gant. But when he died I realized I was wrong.
4. Dr. Ross In The Flood
Before George Clooney was the world's most handsome man (or so they tell me) he was Dr. Doug Ross. This is the only role I choose to remember him by because it was practically perfect.
He often came off as an arrogant jerk, but Doug Ross really did care about his patients, and kids in general. After getting fired from his fellowship at County, Ross was driving home when he got a flat tire. While trying to deal with that situation, a young boy rushes up to him and tells Ross that his little brother is trapped in a flooded storm drain.
Without hesitation, Ross rushes to help. He risks his own life to help save the kid he's never met. Ross becomes a media sensation as news stations rush to watch the heroic rescue. He finally gets a hold of the boy and carries him to safety, while a helicopter spotlight shines on them. I have goosebumps just thinking about it. GOOSEBUMPS.
5. Carter And Lucy Stabbed
I know I mentioned this, but I think we need to spend more time on just how horrifying this scene (and episode) was.
Lucy Knight treats a patient who comes in complaining of frequent headaches, and everyone dismisses his problems...except Lucy. She knows that something else is wrong, and suspects the patient is struggling with schizophrenia. Lucy warns Carter, but he doesn't listen to her (FORESHADOWING).
At the end of the episode, the patient goes wild, and stabs both Lucy and Carter. Lucy was stabbed first, but you didn't know that until Carter was stabbed, falls to the floor, and sees Lucy bleeding out from under the bed.
How dare they end the season like that? HOW. DARE. THEY?
6. Dr. Greene's Departure
This moment was so incredibly understated, and it took me years to realize that is exactly how it should have been. Greene and Carter are in the ambulance bay, and Carter asks if he'll see Greene tomorrow. The departing attending gives a cryptic answer, knowing FULL WELL it was his last shift.
At first I was upset that there wasn't a bigger deal made about his departure, but then I realize that's not what Greene would have wanted. He always put others first, and he knew that making a big scene about his last shift would cause more drama than was necessary.
I still cried, though. Let's not overlook that fact. Just because it was subtle doesn't mean I didn't weep.
7. Dr. Greene's Letter
Speaking of weeping...
When he was diagnosed with brain cancer, I hoped that Dr. Greene would magically beat the odds. Of course, I should have known that wasn't the case. ER wasn't about making you feel good. It was about dehydrating you from tears.
The hospital staff was informed of Dr. Greene's death via a letter from him and his wife, Dr. Corday. Poor Dr. Carter had to read the letter to his fellow doctors, and even though they knew Greene was sick, that didn't make it any easier to say goodbye to their friend.
8. Dr. Romano vs The Helicopter
Listen, I hated Romano. You hated Romano. Everyone hated Romano. I think even Romano hated Romano, honestly. But no one deserves to have their arm sliced off by a helicopter blade...that's just cruel.
While retrieving a patient from the helipad, Romano and Lewis are faced with intense winds (which, to be fair, is expected. Chicago is literally the Windy City). The patient's medical chart goes flying, and Romano heads over to retrieve it. However, he gets too close to the helicopter rotors and his arm gets cut off.
In the words of Scooby-Do: ruh-roh.
Romano's entire life was surgery, and watching him struggle to use his prosthetic was pretty hard. Of course, he still was an unlovable jerk to everyone around him, but that was still a pretty emotional moment. It almost humanized him. Then the robotic arm reinforced my thought that he wasn't.
9. Dr. Romano vs The Helicopter: This Time It's Personal
Seriously, what are the chances that a helicopter would once again find its way over to ruin Romano's life...and this time end it?
Romano and Neela were supposed to meet a patient on the helipad, but Romano couldn't bring himself to get off the elevator due to his last experience out there (honestly, fair). Instead, he rushes downstairs to the ambulance bay where he can get some fresh air and deal with his emotions.
In what can only be described as a freak accident, the helicopter on the roof malfunctions and begins to spin out of control. It falls off the roof, and plummets towards the ground...right where Romano is standing.
Now here's the part I never understood: Romano looks up, hears people screaming, SEES THE HELICOPTER BARRELING TOWARDS HIM, and his plan of action is to yell "NO" and stay in the same place. While I admit I have never been in that situation myself, I often wondered why he didn't run.
10. Ray's Legs
Ray and Neela were a complicated couple, but they truly did love each other. That being said, the look that Ray shoots Neela after his accident is enough to turn somebody to stone.
Ray had been drinking at Abby and Luka's wedding, and was walking home after being at the bar late into the night. He was upset with Neela for leading him on in their relationship even though she was married. Ray was bitter, and not paying attention, when he was hit by a truck on his walk home.
Most of us thought Ray died, but it turns out that he had been transferred to a different hospital. Neela goes to visit Ray, and it's revealed that he's lost both of his legs. It's a shocking reveal as he's helped into his bed by an orderly, all while glaring at Neela through the door.
Somehow, that look made me feel responsible for the accident. I mean, I wasn't. But I felt like it.
11. Luka Praying
A few of the doctors did rotations in Africa to provide medical aid. It was pretty dangerous for them to go, but they were able to help tons of people get care they otherwise would not have access to.
Unfortunately, while Luka was there, he was taken hostage by a group of rebel soldiers. He, along with some of his patients and fellow doctors, were all dragged away to be executed. Luka knelt down to pray for the first time in years, before what he assumed was going to be his execution. It was a powerful moment to see him pray for the first time in years and fall deep into his faith.
His prayer ended up saving his life, as the rebels believed his was a priest and started to pray with him. Luka was released from the rebels the next day.
12. Dr. Gallant's Video
Even though I was a total fan of Neela and Ray being together, I still loved the relationship between Neela and Dr. Gallant. He was such a good doctor and always treated Neela with respect.
When he got shipped off to Iraq, I again, naively, hoped it would all work out. But then slowly I realized that they needed to sent Gallant away to build up the relationship with Ray and Neela. RED ALERT. THIS WILL NOT END WELL!!
Gallant was involved in an explosion while deployed, which saw his vehicle hit with a bomb. He did not survive the attack, but in the event of his death, he had recorded a video for Neela to watch. It was one of the most heartbreaking moments of the entire series, as we not only watched one of our favorite characters die, but we saw another one of them grieve for a loved one.
In hindsight, this was the only way that Neela and Ray could have gotten the story line they deserved. There was no way that Neela and Gallant would split up without some type of tragedy.
13. Dr. Pratt's Death
Dr. Pratt was one of those characters that we watched mature and grow into a wonderful doctor. Every week we fell more and more in love with Pratt and they way he treated not only his patients, but also everyone else around him.
At the end of season 14, Dr. Pratt was assigned to a patient who was being targeted by the Turkish mob. The patient had already been hurt once in the ER, and was being transported in an ambulance to another location. Pratt was with the patient, but unfortunately the ambulance had been rigged with a bomb. There was an explosion, and that's how the season ended.
For MONTHS I tried to convince myself that Pratt was alive. But after 14 seasons of ER, I knew better than to get my hopes up.
Dr. Pratt was still alive, but just barely. The team at County General raced to save him, but everyone, including Pratt, knew it was too late. Watching tears stream down his face while his best friend Archie tried to get the bleeding under control make me teary-eyed to this day. Dr. Pratt didn't make it, and neither did my poor heart.
14. Carter And Kem's Baby
Dr. Carter overcame a lot in his life, and turned into a person that anyone would be proud to call his father. While away with Doctors Without Borders, Carter met Kem Likasu, who he quickly started a relationship with.
When Carter and Kem find out they're expecting a baby, they're overjoyed. But tragedy strikes when Kem loses the baby eight months into her pregnancy. She's forced to deliver the baby, and the raw emotion displayed by both grieving parents is something that is rarely matched on television.
They name the baby Joshua Makalo Carter, and later on in the series, Carter builds an HIV/AIDS clinic using money from his family's charity fund. He names the center after his stillborn son.
15. The Final Shot
It was simple, it was elegant, and it was the end of an era. Even though the show had clearly run its course, I still would have watched these characters for years to come. Seeing the final shot of County Grace was like saying goodbye to a loved one. I may not have been ready, but it was time.