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St. Eligius Staff
Dr. Donald Westphall
Actor: Ed FlandersChief of Medicine of St. Eligius, widower and father of Elizabeth and Tommy.
- Benevolent Boss
- The Chains of Commanding: Seems to bear the weight of both his staff and patients, especially when his community outreach programs have disastrous consequences
- Dark and Troubled Past: Survived an apartment fire that killed most of his family when he was six years old.
- Empty Nest
- A Father to His Men
- The Fettered
- Mentor: To Dr. Jack Morrison in particular.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- Raised Catholic
- Southies: Westphall grew up in South Boston.
- Take This Job and Shove It: Following its takeover by an HMO, Westphal resigns from St. Eligius by dropping trou and telling new boss John Gideon "You can kiss my ass, pal".
- Tranquil Fury: After Peter White is found not guilty for rape, Westphall makes him aware that he not only is disappointed in him, but now has has no respect and utter contempt for him as a human being.
- Verbal Tic: Has a tendency to address people as "pal" or "lady".
Dr. Ben Samuels
Actor: David Birney
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: While billed second only to Ed Flanders, his character becomes less prominent over the course of the first season. He is neither seen nor heard from again after the 20th episode of the season, and no explanation is given.
- Really Gets Around: A subplot of the pilot episode involves Samuels telling all his sexual conquests that he's contracted a venereal disease.
Dr. Daniel Auschlander
Actor: Norman LloydThe hospital's avuncular Chief of Services, a liver specialist who has been diagnosed with liver cancer.
Dr. Mark Craig
Actor: William DanielsIll-tempered Chief of Surgery at St. Eligius.
- Badass Mustache
- Break the Haughty
- Catch-Phrase: "Oh, for crying out loud!"
- The Determinator
- Dr. Jerk: Especially earlier in the series. In the second episode, after saving a man's life with a bypass operation, he comments to the patient's young, chubby son that his son's a doctor, and that maybe the younger Craig will operate on him someday.
- Good Is Not Nice: Type 2/Type 4. He is very blunt to the point of rudeness. He is impatient, fussy, and arrogant. What drives him, though, is a deep conviction in the preciousness of life, and he will not tolerate any less of others than he does himself.
- Mentor: A reluctant one to Dr. Erhlich.
- The Napoleon
Dr. Hugh Beale
Dr. Victor Ehrlich born Bernard Oseransky
Actor: Ed Begley Jr.Tall, blonde, bespectacled surgical resident from California, and usually on the receiving end of Dr. Craig's wrath.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Throughout season 5 with Lucy Papandrao.
- Character Development: Matures both as a doctor and as a person to the point where he is Happily Married with Nurse Lucy Papandrao.
- Dr. Jerk: A much milder case than Dr. Craig, though.
- Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: He usually wears Hawaiian shirts with neckties as part of his hospital attire.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: A non-sexual example: he is at least a foot taller than his fellow surgical intern Jackie Wade.
- Innocently Insensitive: When Dr. Martin returns to work after her stay in the psych ward following her second rape, he manages to be even more insulting while apologizing for his past behavior.
- No Social Skills
- Phrase-Catcher: Particularly through season 2, where every major character utters a variant of "You're a pig, Ehrlich."
- Surfer Dude: Before coming to Boston, Ehrlich was one of these in California. His friend Dogger still is.
Dr. Peter White
Actor: Terence KnoxA resident with trouble juggling his work and family responsibilities. He begins a long mental and emotional slide in season 1 that only gets worse as the show goes on.
- Drugs Are Bad
- Face–Heel Turn: Irredeemably so after he begins raping women at the hospital, including fellow resident Cathy Martin.
- Killed Off for Real
- Laser-Guided Karma: When Shirley Daniels guns him down in the morgue following his rape of several women, including Cathy Martin, her first shot is right in the crotch. "Goodbye, Peter."
- Sanity Slippage
Dr. Wayne Fiscus
Actor: Howie MandelA sarcastic emergency medicine resident.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: His mother's arrival interrupts one of his sexual trysts, and she tells his co-workers a particularly mortifying story about his childhood.
- Big Applesauce
- Jewish Mother: Frieda Fiscus
- Like Brother and Sister: With Dr. Wade.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
- Manly Tears: When he, Shirley Daniels and Jackie Wade can't revive Wendy Armstrong after her suicide attempt.
- Also happens right after he wakes up for the first time after being shot. When he sees his surgical scar on his chest, he weeps.
- The Stoner: From time to time, he mentions his drug experimentation while at Tulane.
Dr. John Steinbeck "Jack" Morrison
Actor: David MorseCompassionate resident who often has trouble with trusting his own judgement and remaining objective about his patients.
- Designated Victim: Starting in season 2, something bad would usually happen to Morrison.
- Season 2: His wife Nina dies after slipping and hitting her head in the bathroom. He is cut from the residency program. Is only reinstated because a slot opened up after Wendy Armstrong's suicide.
- Season 3: Faces the end of his career over a Worthless Foreign Degree
- Season 4: Injures himself while running to make rounds and slipping on vomit. Son Pete is kidnapped. Raped while doing a Westphall-mandated community outreach service in a local prison.
- Season 5: Suffers from PTSD as a result of his rape. His attacker escapes from prison and stalks his family. Son Pete inadvertently shoots his attacker dead.
- Season 6: Second wife Joanne moves back to Seattle after her first husband sues for custody following the death of Morrison's attacker.
- The Lost Lenore: Nina. Much of Morrison's arc in season 2 is him dealing with her sudden death.
- Trauma Conga Line: And how.
- Worthless Foreign Degree: In the pilot episode, Morrison tells a patient that he had to go to medical school in Mexico because his grades were not good enough for American universities. In season 3, it is revealed that the school was a shady "accelerated" program that counted experience instead of giving a full medical training, and Morrison has to fight to keep his job.
Nurse Helen Rosenthal
Actor: Christina Pickles
- Drugs Are Bad
- Serial Spouse: Already on husband number four at the beginning of the series. Her affair with Richard Clarendon doesn't end in marriage, but develops into a long-term cohabitation.
- Your Cheating Heart: Her fourth husband leaves her in season 3 because of her affair with Richard Clarendon, the union negotiator. Apparently, this happens so often that four of her five children aren't particularly fazed by it.
Dr. Vijay Kochar
Actor: Kavi Raz
Dr. Annie Cavanero
Actor: Cynthia SikesAn OB-GYN who is just past her residency.
Dr. Philip Chandler
Actor: Denzel Washington
- Billing Displacement: Appears front and center on the DVD box despite him being just one part of an Ensemble Cast, arguably a more minor character than fellow residents Jack Morrison, Victor Erhlich or Wayne Fiscus.
- Lonely Rich Kid
- Took a Level in Jerkass: When he comes back from corporate training with St. Elgius' new parent company, he really rubs the other residents the wrong way.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Chandler's main motivation for getting into medicine was to please his father.
- Written-In Absence: Was off in Missouri for training when Denzel Washington was filming a movie.
Nurse Shirley Daniels
Actor: Ellen BryA younger nurse who usually associates with the residents.
Dr. Wendy Armstrong
Dr. Cathy Martin
Actor: Barbara WhinneryPathology resident with a spacey demeanor, heightened sexuality, and a tendency to dress in black.
- Broken Bird: Especially after being raped. Twice.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: It is revealed in "Rough Cut" that she had the highest score out of the first-year residents' board certification exams. A brief scene with her after she switches to psychology indicates she's particularly skilled with younger patients.
- Characterization Marches On: After being raped, Martin is not quite as spacey; she switchers her residency to psychology and stops dressing in black.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: At one point, after Ehrlich comments "Is there an echo in here", she says "I don't know. Is there? Hello?"
- Creepy Mortician: A mild case.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives a few to Peter White after he rapes her.
Dr. Jacqueline Wade
Actor: Sagan LewisMature and capable surgical resident from Lewiston, ME; a friendly rival to Dr. Erhlich.
- Ascended Extra: Has one line in the pilot during a grand rounds scene, then becomes a Recurring Character later in the season. She gets her Promotion to Opening Titles in season 6.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Fellow residents Victor Ehrlich and Jack Morrison tower at least a foot over her.
- Like Brother and Sister: With Dr. Fiscus.
- Married to the Job: Wade's eleven-year marriage ends in season five, as the long hours of her residency leave husband Robert to seek affection from a younger woman.
- Only Child Syndrome
- Plucky Girl
- Shorter Means Smarter
Nurse Lucy Papandrao
Actor: Jennifer Savidge
- Ascended Extra: Goes from an uncredited Bit Character in the pilot to a more prominent Recurring Character in season 3, then a Promotion to Opening Titles in season 6.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: A drunken liason with Victor Ehrlich in season 5 results in a serious relationship, and the characters are Happily Married by the end of the series.
- The Snark Knight
Actor: Eric Laneuville
Actor: Nancy Stafford
Dr. Robert Caldwell
Actor: Mark Harmon
- Bus Crash: Mark Harmon left the show halfway through season 4 when his character contracted AIDS. The characters receive word that Dr. Caldwell has died in season 6's "Heaven's Skate".
- Byronic Hero: Particularly during season 4, when his impulsive and reckless side comes to the surface.
- Dating Catwoman: In season 2, he's involved romantically with Joan Halloran, who begins as an antagonistic character that clashes with the doctors over the hospital's expenses.
- Porn Stache: In the first half of season 2, Mark Harmon had a very thick mustache. He gets rid of it in the episode "A Pig Too Far", but not before walking around with it half-shaved off.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In season 4 before he contracts AIDS.
Dr. Eliot Axelrod
Actor: Stephen FurstNervous medical student introduced in season 2. He becomes a resident in the next season.
Dr. Michael Ridley
Actor: Paul Sand
Dr. Simon Weiss
Actor: Philip Sterling
- The Shrink: The longest lasting psychiatrist character, although less prominent than Beale or Ridley.
Actor: Byron Stewart
- Gentle Giant: At 6' 8", he towers over patients and doctors. Used to moving effect in "Weigh In, Weigh Out", where he fulfills a dying man's request to be rocked like a baby.
Dr. Roxanne Turner
Dr. Carol Novino
Actor: Cindy Pickett
Dr. Seth Griffin
Actor: Bruce Greenwood
- Heel–Faith Turn: After possibly contracting AIDS, Griffin becomes a born-again Christian when he meets the new hospital chaplain.
- Smug Snake: Griffin at least started out this way, particularly when he tried to pit fellow first year residents Carol Novino and Susan Birch against each other. Birch ends up taking the fall for a patient death for which Griffin was responsible and is kicked out of the residency program.
Actor: France Nuyen
Dr. John Gideon
Patients and their families
Stephen Mc Allister
Actor: Jack Bannon
Ralph "The Birdman" Selover
John Doe # 12
Actor: Tom Hulce
Actor: Marian MercerDr. Craig's heart transplant patient in early season 2.
Actor: Florence HalopA frequent patient in season 3.
John Doe # 6
Actor: Oliver ClarkAmnesiac patient in season 4 and 5.
Actor: Murray Rubin
Actor: Kyle Secor
Family and other outsiders
Actor: Louise LasserDr. Ehrlich's aunt, who raised him after his parents died.
Ellen Craig, nee Harper
Actor: Bonnie Bartlett
Actor: Scott Paulin
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Westphall
Actor: Dana Short
Actor: Chad AllenAutistic son of Donald Westphall
Actor: Herbert EdelmanUnion negotiator who begins a relationship with Helen Rosenthal in season 3.
Actor: Ian FriedHelen Rosenthal's youngest child.
Actor: Karen LandryLong-suffering wife of Dr. Peter White
Actor: Deborah White
Actor: Jean Bruce ScottDr. Victor Ehrlich's first wife.
Actor: Jane Wyatt
Actor: Jack Dodson