Warning! Major spoilers ahead.
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Played By: Anthony Edwards
- Ambiguously Jewish:
- One of his parents was Jewish and he knows a bit of Yiddish and some Jewish prayer. Other than that, he doesn't display any Jewish mannerisms and Anthony Edwards himself is not Jewish.
- He actually describes himself as the son of "a lapsed Catholic and an agnostic Jew."
- Back for the Finale: While he doesn't appear in the final episode, a flashback episode midway through the last season showing Catherine's first encounter with County Hospital reveals that he treated her son (sadly, the son was already terminally ill). The event clearly takes place shortly before his death in Season 8, which adds a further bit of melancholy.
- Badass Beard: Grew one at least twice. The first time, in Season 2, it was to impress women (Mark also tried wearing contacts). The second time he grew one when his mother was hospitalised. Ironically, when his mother actually died he was completely clean shaven.
- Beta Couple: Mark and Elizabeth's relationship has aspects of this—they don't get together until after Doug leaves and the writers clearly needed a couple to replace Doug and Carol. While it is at the forefront (mainly because Mark was the de facto main character), their relationship is relatively problem free and problems only really arise when Elizabeth gives birth and Rachel comes to live with them.
- Betty and Veronica: In the first three seasons, he's the Archie for Susan's Betty and Jen's Veronica: Susan's a competent doctor and one of Mark's best friends, while Jen's his high school sweetheart-turned-wife who ends their marriage by cheating on him and leaving him for the other man.
- Birds of a Feather: Mark and Susan.
- Bittersweet Ending: Despite dying of cancer, in the very least he got to spend his last moments with his family and in an island paradise. His doctor also advises him that he spent the extra year when the cancer seemed to be cured very well, getting married and seeing another child being born.
- Book-Ends: When his father died Mark spent his last days repairing their relationship. When he was dying he pulled Rachel out of school so that he could spend his last moments with her and try to repair their relationship.
- Butt-Monkey: Eight seasons, and something crappy happened to him in every one of them.
- The Casanova: Amazingly, despite never having slept with anyone other than his wife, Mark manages to pick it up after his divorce and Susan's leaving. Unfortunately he's not so good at the finer aspects of being a player, scheduling three dates on the same night that all the participants find out about (Nina, the psych Attending, eventually agrees to go out with him).
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: His position of authority puts him in difficult standing with his friends, and often times had to make tough choices involving them. Unlike Kerry, though, he rarely, if ever, outright stabbed anyone in the back.
- Commonality Connection: He describes his beating to Mobalage, getting him to open up about his own torture and saving him from deportation.
- Deadpan Snarker: Develops quite a sense of humour when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
- Fair Weather Friend: He had a bad habit of wimping out on supporting anyone who needed it—Susan, Doug, etc.
- Generation Xerox: His eldest daughter Rachel follows his footsteps and applies to medical school in the Grand Finale.
- Grumpy Bear: Occasionally.
- The Hero: The show's lead character in the first eight seasons.
- The Hero Dies: He dies of cancer in Season 8.
- Heroic BSoD: He suffers these repeatedly—after mishandling a childbirth, resulting in the mother's death, after his wife leaves him for another man, after Susan leaves him before they can even have a relationship, after being beaten up (losing Susan made him feel bad, being beaten up made him feel worse), a small one after his father dies and after learning that his brain tumor has returned and is now inoperable.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Doug. Their friendship is complicated by Mark's role as an authority figure and his boss.
- Hollywood Atheist: Averted. In one deleted scene from "On the Beach", Mark says outright that he doesn't believe in God. But it doesn't really affect his characterization otherwise.
- Frequently chastised Doug for getting too personally involved with cases and bending/breaking the rules to help his patients when he himself often did the same thing.
- Blasted Kerry for not wanting to report her Alzheimer's stricken mentor. A year later, when he himself suffered cognitive impairment following brain surgery and chemotherapy, blasted Kerry for reporting him.
- Chastised Susan for not being more assertive when he was the definition of spineless.
- Ill Boy
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In a deleted scene for "On the Beach", Mark tells Elizabeth he has absolutely no problem with the idea of her getting re-married again, saying that she deserves to be happy and that Ella deserves a father. Elizabeth is very resistant to the idea and tells Mark he should stop talking this way.
- I Was Quite a Looker: The now-balding Mark tells Rachel that he used to have hair down to his shoulders. Anyone who's seen Anthony Edwards in Fast Times at Ridgemont High can vouch for this.
- Magnetic Hero: Is very respected by his colleagues. Even lone wolf Benton sometimes goes to Mark for advice. Works posthumously too—in the final season, Catherine agrees to give Carter work in the ER whilst he's in Chicago because she learned that Mark was one of his teachers (Mark treated her son).
- Meaningful Name: Green is the color of medicine.
- Official Couple: With Elizabeth.
- Opposites Attract: Mark and Elizabeth show shades of this. While they get along very well their personalities are quite different. Mark is rather soft and more patient, more willing to understand people and to give them second chances. Elizabeth is a lot tougher and a lot harsher. Their respective personality differences become apparent when Ella overdoses on Rachel's ecstasy, Elizabeth wants Mark to call the police and wants Rachel out of the house (and tells her as much), whereas Mark (probably because Rachel is his daughter) just wants to work things out and to try and help his daughter. Elizabeth is also more career-oriented, taking up Romano's offer of the Associate Chief of Surgery position despite suspecting ulterior motives, whereas Mark is content just to run the ER.
- Parental Neglect: Claims that, as a teenager, he started acting out in frustration because his father was never around. Mark starts to fear, even before his tumour recurs, that Rachel's acting out is because he made the same mistakes.
- Parental Substitute: For Carter. Mark gives Carter the nurturing encouragement that he doesn't get from Benton, and they fill a need in each other's lives, as Mark doesn't get to see his daughter very often and Carter's parents are often on vacation somewhere.
- Posthumous Character: "On the Beach" is somewhat non-linear, in that it aired after "The Letter", in which the ER staff are notified that he has died, and yet it takes place immediately after "Orion in the Sky" (Mark's last day), during "Brothers and Sisters" (Elizabeth goes to Hawaii to be with Mark) and between "The Letter" (Mark's death obviously happened before the episode, but Mark's funeral happened afterwards). Meanwhile, the final season episode that featured his "return" was actually a flashback to his last days at the hospital.
- Precision F-Strike: In quite a shocking moment for TV at the time, he gives an uncensored "Shit!" after suddenly losing his balance upon getting out of bed, indicating just how much his days are numbered.
- Pronoun Trouble: After he undergoes surgery to remove his brain tumor, he starts mixing up "he" and "she" in mid-tirade. It gets to the point where Kerry orders competency testing.
- Team Dad: To many, but especially to Carter.
- Took a Level in Jerkass:
- Starting in Season 3 after Susan leaves, beginning with him violating Jeanie's privacy by snooping into her files to find out her HIV status. It kicks into high gear after he's beaten up—he becomes cynical and unpleasant and while arguably he deals with some patients the way they should be dealt with, most of the time he just comes off as a total jerk. Thankfully, he gets better after that season.
- After his first tumour, Mark begins to suffer personality changes. While not as bad as when he got beaten up, Susan reprimands him at one point for being so harsh with patients and tells him that he isn't quite the kind and caring Mark she used to know.
- Unexpected Virgin: He admits to Doug that he nervous about his first date since his divorce because his ex-wife is the only woman he's ever slept with.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Susan, ultimately leading to an averted Race for Your Love scenario. A deleted scene from "Orion in the Sky" (Mark's last day at County) has Mark and Susan talking about what happened at Union Station five years later. Susan obliquely asks Mark if she hadn't moved away, they'd be together. Mark then mentions his grandfather and how he used to say that everything happens for a reason, then he says it was just one of those things that sounded even stupider as he got older.
- Vigilante Execution: He not only refused to help the man who threatened to kill him and his family, he taunted him as he died by holding up the shock paddles in front him. He never suffered any legal ramifications for doing so.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Anspaugh, at one point, promises to offer Mark a tenured position at the hospital within three years if he agrees to stay on staff and not join a NASA program. This means that Mark could get tenure as early as 2002. Mark died in 2002.
- Your Days Are Numbered
Douglas "Doug" Ross
Played By: George Clooney
- Abusive Parents: A Berserk Button for him, no doubt because his father was one of these. This is probably why he became a pediatrician in the first place.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: He delivers two to Carol at different points—first when he races to her and Tag's engagement party in "The Gift", then again at the end of "The Storm, Part 2".
- Breakout Character: The most popular of the original cast, and playing him is his actor's Star-Making Role.
- Broken Pedestal: Becomes this to the son of a woman he dates in Season 1 after he inevitably cheats on her and ruins the relationship.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: His first appearance has him coming into work drunk and talking about his sexual conquests, setting the viewer up for further instances of Doug breaking the rules and ignoring hospital procedure. During Season 2, the Chief Attending of the pediatric ward gets into arguments with both Morgenstern and Mark about renewing his fellowship, with Mark arguing in Doug's favour by saying that he's a good doctor. Doug, from then on, manages to keep his job through pure, unquestionable excellence, despite Mark and Kerry's frustration with him.
- The Bus Came Back: Twice. First for an uncredited cameo in Season 6, the second time in Season 15.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Inverted. He tries to blame his abusive father for his horrible adulthood, but his father informs him that "You're 34 years old. How you live your life is your decision."
- The Casanova
- Chick Magnet
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Neither he nor Carol appear at Mark's funeral—without any explanation as to why—even though they were best friends. He and Carol also didn't appear at his wedding to Elizabeth a season earlier, although that can be explained away, since a storm grounded all of Mark and Elizabeth's out-of-state guests, including Mark's eldest daughter Rachel.note
- Disappeared Dad: Had one, may have been one to his twice-mentioned son.
- Freudian Excuse: His experiences with an abusive father explains much of his behavior, bad and good.
- Friend to All Children: Consistently.
- Functional Addict: While he clearly has a drinking problem—he shows up drunk at the hospital in the Pilot and Mark's reaction indicates that this isn't the first time this has happened—it never seems to affect his work or cause any other mishaps for him. Even when he gets his act together, he never declares himself to be an alcoholic, and given that he seems less inclined to drink when things are going well for him, he may just be very inclined to Drowning My Sorrows.
- Happily Married: To Carol, as of their appearance in the final season.
- Headbutting Heroes: He's dedicated to the welfare of his patients, consequences be damned, which might be admirable...if he ever recognized that those consequences sometimes land on people other than him. Even Mark eventually reaches a point where he just can't deal with Doug's thoughtlessness anymore.
- Heel Realization: After one of his random one-night-stands dies of an overdose and it really begins to sink in just how much he's screwed up his life.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mark and Doug are best friends, and seem to spend a lot of time together. As Doug is such a "cowboy" (as some of the other doctors put it), Mark's position of authority often complicates their friendship. However, Mark, more often than not, is perfectly willing to advocate for Doug, and during Season 2 he campaigns to keep Doug at the hospital despite the fact that the Pediatric Chief Attending wants him gone, stating that Doug's a good doctor.
- Hollywood Atheist: Claims to be Pagan, but demonstrates contempt for religion (specifically Christianity). He crosses himself in one episode which suggests he may have grown up Catholic, only to lose his faith later on.
- Ladykiller in Love: He's established as the hospital stud in the pilot. But in that same episode, it's also poignantly obvious that he's desperately in love in Carol.
- The Lancer
- Lovable Traitor: Occasionally. His loyalty to children above everything and everyone else is both his greatest strength and greatest weakness, and he will do anything, including lie to and double-cross friends, to protect them. It almost gets him fired, until his rescue of a drowning child in "Hell and High Water" forces the hospital to reconsider.
- Mr. Fanservice: Very popular among both female viewers and female characters.
- Official Couple: With Carol.
- One True Love: Carol. Doug mentions to Mark when they got back together that his relationship with Carol was the only one that felt "right." In a Season 1 episode, even his then-girlfriend notes this.
- Put on a Bus: Midway through Season 5.
- Really Gets Around: Until Season 3, where he tries and succeeds in changing his ways.
- Redemption in the Rain: He receives one in "Hell and High Water", when he emerges from a flooded area with the kid he's been trying to save, after the previous few episodes having shown him going down a slippery slope.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Deconstructed. This was essentially his motto but ultimately became his downfall when actions ended up jeopardizing the careers of himself and others.
- Sex God: Dialogue from former girlfriends make it quite clear he's this.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome
- Troubled, but Cute
- The Unseen: He's mentioned in Season 6 as having come to Chicago to visit his baby daughters and to ask Carol again to move to Seattle with him. The viewer doesn't see his visit or his and Carol's exchange.
Played By: Sherry Stringfield
- The Bus Came Back: Returned as a regular in Season 8 and stayed until the Season 12 premiere. She also came Back for the Finale.
- Character Signature Song: "Blackbird" by The Beatles. In Season 2 this trope is very much played for drama as the song becomes symbolic of the bond between her and her niece Little Suzy.
- Chastity Couple: With Carter. Susan mentions in "Secrets and Lies" that they had yet to have sex, and she breaks up with him after realizing that he was obsessed with Abby and didn't feel that way about her.
- Deadpan Snarker: Especially after her return.Susan: You're late.
Luka: Blame my alarm clock.
Susan: Oh, yeah? What's her name?
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Was the latter to her drug-addicted older sister.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Dark blonde rather, but the trope still applies.
- Heroic BSoD: In the first season, she struggles with confidence issues after being blamed for a patient's death. In the second, she had to see a therapist after she was forced to give her niece (who she was raising as her own daughter) back to her sister.
- Nephewism: She became a surrogate/foster mother to her niece after her sister abandoned her and was this close to adopting her when she returned.
- Noodle Incident: After her return. It seems like the viewer missed a few things, including her engagement to a real-life cowboy.
- Parental Neglect: Her mother is rather aloof and self-absorbed and it's implied that Susan and her sister pretty much had to take care of themselves growing up, leading to the latter's problems. Her father initially doesn't seem to be much better, although he eventually steps up and offers to take care of little Susie at night whilst Susan goes to work.
- Put on a Bus: Midway through Season 3 and after the Season 12 premiere. The former was a big dramatic send-off; the latter, she just stopped appearing and her absence was explained in some throwaway dialogue several episodes later.
- The Unfavorite: Was also inexplicably this to her drug-addicted older sister, despite being a doctor. To their credit, as cited above, after her sister abandons the baby, their parents realize their mistake and pitch in to help.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension:
- With Mark. According to Carol, Susan absolutely wanted Mark to come to Maui with her, but was afraid that he would be freaked out by the invitation. When he gets sick Susan takes care of him, which makes Carter (who didn't know Mark was sick again) rather jealous.
- Some with Carter, when she left the first time. When she comes back, they get together but the relationship more-or-less fizzles because of Carter's obsession with Abby.
John Truman Carter III
Played By: Noah Wyle
- Abusive Parents: Of the severely emotionally neglectful type, to the point where not even him being nearly stabbed to death could make them cut short their vacation plans to be by his side. However, their Freudian Excuse of their grief for his younger brother makes them slightly more sympathetic than most examples of this trope.
- Audience Surrogate: Started out as this, being the only rookie among the more experienced staff.
- Author Avatar: Of Michael Crichton, who based the Pilot on his time as a medical student.
- Beard of Sorrow: He had one after his stint in rehab. He shaved it off on the plane back to Chicago.
- Breakout Character: Was generally quite a popular character throughout the show. Helped largely by his relative affability, his natural development, and overall longevity. Noah Wyle received more Emmy nominations than any member of the cast outside of Julianna Margulies.
- The Bus Came Back: In Season 12 for four episodes. He also came Back for the Finale.
- Butt-Monkey: He suffers through a lot of pain and humiliation. Some of it is Played for Laughs, but there are also a fair number of darker moments that take a toll on him.
- The Casanova: He's pretty much able to get any girl he wants, although he rarely seems to use this ability, instead going for the "maybe we should be friends first" approach.
- Character Development: As prominent an example as the show could give. He starts out the first few seasons as a Tagalong Kid, learning how to function in the hospital setting under Benton's tutelage while also figuring out what role he wants to play as a doctor (eventually switching from surgery to emergency medicine). He then grows comfortable at County, gradually settling into the role of The Lancer for Mark after Doug left. When both Mark and Benton left at the end of Season 8, it is explicitly noted that he's become The Hero, a role that he carries throughout the remainder of his time on the show. By the time he is ready to leave, it is clear that the rest of the staff thinks of him as the Big Good, something made more apparent when he returns in the final season and a delighted Morris explains to his medical students and interns that Carter's "a legend."
- Chick Magnet: How many girlfriends did he have during the entire show, again?
- Dramatically Missing the Point: When some of the hospital staff stage an intervention against Carter he challenges them to name one instance of him endangering patients' lives. Jing-Mei mentions how he sent a patient into anaphylactic shock by giving her a drug she told him she was allergic to. Carter then retorts that she almost killed a man by leaving a guide wire in his chest. Firstly, said incident took place practically six years ago, when Jing-Mei was a medical student. Secondly, that incident was no indicator that Jing-Mei was starting to fall apart.
- Heroic BSoD: Carter goes through a lot of trauma on the show, like most main cast members. The fact that he was the longest-running character meant that they were even more frequent, especially as it resulted in him seeing friends and family die around him. They include:
- The death of his friend Dennis Gant in Season 3 (heavily implied to be suicide due to Benton's rigid treatment of him). Carter spends much of the following episode going over how much more supportive he could have been when it was clear that Gant was struggling.
- The murder of Lucy Knight in Season 6. The ER had admitted a schizophrenic patient that Lucy had expressed concern over, only for Carter to brush her off. The patient then ended up stabbing them both, with Carter eventually surviving while Lucy succumbed to complications in surgery. The aftermath provides enough trauma to send Carter over the edge and into drug addiction.
- The death of his grandmother in Season 9. As he was dating Abby at the time, the issue becomes exacerbated when Abby has to help take care of her bipolar brother Eric (who shows up uninvited to the funeral and falls into the open grave). This leads to Carter feeling alone in his time of grief and partially results in his decision to join Luka in the Congo.
- The stillborn birth of his son in Season 10 crushes Carter immensely (he is shown breaking down in his father's arms immediately afterward) and casts a huge shadow on his relationship with Kem. Even by the time of the series finale 5 years later, it's left ambiguous as to whether or not their relationship can fully recover.
- Hypocrite: Lectures Lucy about taking amphetamines for ADHD, as it's typically a pediatric illness and she's in her early 20s. She irritatedly tells him that he's not her physician and that it isn't any of his business. A year later, when Mark asks him what pain medication he's on, he gives a similar answer. So it's okay for him to butt into Lucy's personal life, but no one can do that to him?
- Last-Name Basis: 15 years and you could probably count on one hand the number of times he was called by his first name, rather than his last. It's given a Lampshade Hanging in an early Season 1 episode, when he and Susan share a conversation and she admits that calling him "John" doesn't feel right, probably because Carter is a cooler name. Notably, Kerry, Lucy and Jing-Mei are the only regular characters who ever called him "John", even if only on occasion.
- Likes Older Women: A good portion of his love interests were slightly (5-6 years) older than him, with Abby Keaton maxing it out at 16 years his senior. Jing-Mei—who herself was several years older than him and who he enjoyed a mild flirtation with—makes note of this and accuses him of "liking" Kerry; Carter counters that he simply doesn't dislike her the way everyone else does. He does have a flirtation with Lucy (approximately 5 years his junior) but is quickly able to cut it off before it can go anywhere more than a kiss when he notes how unprofessional it would be. Ultimately Averted with his final main love interest, Kem, who is roughly the same age as him.
- Mr. Fanservice
- Naïve Newcomer: He started out as this, being a third-year medical student as opposed to the more experienced staff.
- Nice Guys Finish Last: It took him forever to become an Attending, and only was made Chief Resident after Jing-Mei was fired. It was even implied that once his residency was over, Kerry had no intention of hiring him, and only did so because of a shortage of Attendings. And this is after being forced to repeat his first year of residency due to switching specialties and then being told he is repeating his third year thanks to his drug issues.
- Non-Idle Rich: Aside from going to medical school rather than joining the family business and living off their fortune, Carter transfers to Emergency Medicine just to spend more time getting to know his patients. When Kerry says they might not have space in the budget for him, he nonchalantly says he doesn't need a salary, which surprises her. Throughout the entire series, particularly in the finale, he is repeatedly shown to use the family money for charitable interests.
- The Not-Love Interest:
- Only One Name: Played With. Some people did refer to him as "John", such as Kerry, Lucy and Jing-Mei, but virtually everyone else called him "Carter". Jerry Lampshaded this once:Jerry: He's just...Carter.
- Put on a Bus: After Season 11.
- Rape as Backstory: During a sequence where several others are discussing when they lost their virginity, he claims he was 11 and that his partner was a 25 year old maid. No one, including him, seemed to regard this as child molestation and it's practically a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment—never mentioned before, shows no signs of affecting him, and was never mentioned again.
- Secretly Wealthy: Everyone was stunned when he was revealed to be from a wealthy family, although there were subtle hints beforehand, such as Carter's tailored lab coat in the Pilot and Benton's mother claiming that Carter's family might have once owned Benton's family when Carter admits to having relatives in Tennessee.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: With several people, but most obviously with Anna.
- The Wise Prince
- You Are in Command Now: When Mark leaves, he instructs Carter to "set the tone", just as Morgenstern had told him in the pilot. Lampshaded by Kerry afterwards:Kerry: Mark's gone. That means you've been here longer than any other doctor. People will look at you to step in and fill the void.
Carter: (Beat) Big void.
Kerry: Yes, it is.
Played By: Eriq La Salle
- Angry Black Man: To an extent. He's relentless in his abuse of Dennis Gant because he claims Gant, as a black man, has to work twice as hard to prove he's just as good as his white counterparts. Benton is also uncomfortable with dating Elizabeth because she's white (largely because he's concerned about what his family might think) and resents Cleo's attempts to prove herself by being enraged at what she sees as prejudice, claiming that as a half-white woman she knows nothing about real prejudice.
- Badass Beard
- Big Brother Mentor: To Carter, although he acts more like an Aloof Big Brother than the caring, nurturing kind.
- The Bus Came Back
- Daddy DNA Test: Twice. The first time Carla claims Benton may not be Reese's father. He goes as far as swabbing both him and Reese before telling himself and Carla that it's not important. The second time Roger challenges Benton's paternity (something Carla couldn't have done, as she put Benton's name on the birth certificate) and forces him to take a test. As it turns out, Reese's isn't Benton's biological son.
- Dr. Jerk: He's über-driven, and incredibly unforgiving of anyone he felt didn't have the same level of drive that he did.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Is gruff and abrasive, but adores his mother. His complete denial of how ill and frail she's becoming is in stark contrast to his skills as a physician and the scene where he breaks down over her death is one of the saddest of Season 1.
- Extreme Doormat: Falls into this trope a lot, which is a surprise given his personality. Many of the biggest problems in his life result from his need to please or protect others who are taking advantage of him.
- Family Versus Career: Leaves County and emergency medicine for what looks like a rather dull clinic job so that he can have better work hours and get custody of his son.
- Grumpy Bear
- Happily Married: To Cleo.
- Headbutting Heroes: He's a very talented surgeon, but his abrasive personality and arrogance make him hard to work with. Notably, the entire surgical service and the ER staff practically refuse to work with him after he unnecessarily back-stabbed Doug (himself revered at this point for saving a drowning child in "Hell and High Water") over a missed diagnosis.
- Heroic BSoD: He has many. When his mother dies, when he nearly kills a baby in surgery, when Gant commits suicide, when his son is born prematurely with severe complications.
- Honor Before Reason: Benton discovers Abby Keaton and Carter's relationship when he goes to her office to ask for a recommendation for a pediatric rotation. When she asks if he's threatening to tell TPTB about her and Carter (he's an intern and she's an Attending, so it's forbidden), his response?"Dr. Keaton...if your recommendation is based on anything but my skills as a doctor, I don't want it."
- When Carter transferred to Emergency Medicine. Benton told Carter that he should have come and talked to him instead of going straight to Anspaugh, even though when Carter actually came to Benton for advice on how to deal with Dale Edson (he falsified a chart, which is illegal) months earlier Benton simply blew him off.
- He also makes his son's stepfather out to be a jerk for seeking full custody of the boy, even though he's being just as rigid and stubborn throughout the whole custody battle. Plus, the other man tries to call a truce, offering him full custody as long as he gets to visit, which Benton rejects, only for the judge to make a virtually identical decision.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his brusque demeanor and often questionable bedside manner, he's very compassionate and wants the best for his patients.
- Kick the Dog:
- In the Pilot, Carter starts to feel sick after seeing a patient with a severe knife wound. To add insult to injury, Benton says he didn't need Carter's help anyway. Fortunately Mark overhears this and goes to comfort Carter, telling him that Benton used to get sick all the time in med school.
- In Season 3, Benton just wouldn't give Dennis Gant a break (a fair amount of Benton's behavior was attributable to frustration at his fellowship in pediatric surgery going down the toilet). Gant eventually killed himself.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: He's originally presented as Reese's father, but when Carla wants to take Reese with her and Roger to Germany she suddenly claims that there was someone else. Benton eventually finds out that he isn't Reese's biological father, but he decides that he doesn't care and will be there for Reese no matter what. The fact that Reese acknowledges Benton as his father is the deciding factor in Benton's custody case against Roger.
- Not Good with People: He's a very talented surgeon and a very competent and studious doctor, but he often butts heads with his co-workers and he can't help but see the patients as anything other than people who need to be sliced and diced. This is more-or-less what flushes his chances at a fellowship in pediatric surgery down the toilet.
- Official Couple: With Cleo.
- Papa Wolf: Most prominently to his son Reese, but also to Carter, his protege. He'd do anything for his son, ultimately quitting County so that he could spend more time with him, and when Carter was stabbed another patient almost died because Benton absolutely refused to leave Carter's side.
- Put on a Bus: Leaves after Season 8.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He gave these out on occasion, but was on the receiving end of a truly epic one from Dr. Keaton in Season 3.Keaton: What's at issue here is that you ignored my specific instructions.Benton: I didn't ignore anything! I followed standard operative procedure. Look, I've done it at least a dozen times in other patients.Keaton: This is not "another patient"! This is an infant! Outside, now.*they step out of the NICU and into the hall*Keaton: You don't know anything about pediatric surgery!Benton: Look, I thought it was necessary -Keaton: Are you unwilling to learn from your mistakes?Benton: It doesn't say in the text not to stitch a liver!Keaton: It isn't in the text! You didn't know what the hell you were doing! The second you realized you screwed up you should have called me. Why did I find three stitches in there?!Benton: Because I tried to —Keaton: Because you arrogantly and blindly think that you have all the answers! If that baby dies, it'll be my responsibility, but it'll be your fault!
- Token Minority Couple: Him and Cleo—the sole reason she was even created was to give him an African-American love interest.
- Took a Level in Cheerfulness: By the time Benton finally returns to the show in Season 15, he seems far more relaxed than he generally was during his time as a cast member. His banter with Carter and Elizabeth, in particular, is quite amicable. Spending all of those years maintaining happy relationships with both Cleo and Reese probably helped.
- Uptight Loves Wild: Deconstructed with him and Elizabeth. Aside from his uneasiness with their racial difference, in all likelihood the relationship would have failed anyway, as her vivacious, fun-loving personality was a stark contrast to his dour, aloof one.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Abby Keaton gives this to him good and proper after he nearly kills an infant during surgery, blasting him for disregarding her instructions and not calling for help the minute he realized he was in over his head.
- Roger blasts him for trying to cut him out of Reese's life, when he's been in the boy's life almost as long as Benton has.
- Where Da White Women At?: Averted. Despite their mutual attraction, he's very reluctant to date Elizabeth because she's white and even after they do get together, his persistent discomfort, as well as his chronic self-absorption, causes the relationship to fizzle very quickly.
Played By: Julianna Margulies
- Ascended Extra: She was supposed to have been killed off in the Pilot—note that she's credited as a guest star, unlike the other original cast members—thanks to a suicide attempt, only to be revived thanks to positive test audience reaction. The result is that she was the show's heroine for the first six seasons and is the main cast's sole Emmy winner; she even Lampshaded this in her acceptance speech, cracking that "I was dead this time last year, now look at me."
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl
- Breakout Character: Despite originally being envisioned as a one-off character who would die in the pilot, Carol immediately resonated with audiences and became one of the show's most popular characters. By the time of Susan's departure, she became the female lead of the show, and her coupling with Doug was easily the show's most high-profile romantic pairing. Additionally, Julianna Margulies was the only main cast member in the history of the show to win an Emmy award for her performance, and also received more nominations than any other performer (for all six years she was regularly on the show).
- The Bus Came Back
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Doesn't appear at Mark's funeral—with zero explanation as to why—despite she and Doug being among his closest friends.
- Driven to Suicide: In the pilot, she attempted suicide by OD'ing after her break-up with Doug. She recovered and moved forward with her life, and she and Doug reconciled a few years later.
- Emotionless Girl: She spent the year after Doug's departure acting very distant and detached—there is a visible change in her demeanor as she leaves the hospital, races through the airport, and is reunited with him in Seattle.
- Happily Married: To Doug, as of their final appearance in the last season.
- Heroic BSoD: Has one after accidentally killing a patient (she gave him the wrong blood). Her refusal to let the incident be covered up or used as an excuse to punish the other nurses (who were all having a sick day in protest at the time) nearly costs her her job. She has another after Doug leaves.
- Honor Before Reason: Not only does she refuse to let her fatal error be covered up or used to punish the other nurses, she insists on taking full responsibility—even though she could have easily and legitimately blamed the others—and on being reprimanded despite knowing that it could cost her her job and possibly even her nursing license.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: When she and Doug are a happy couple, they struggle to conceive. When he resigns in disgrace and leaves Chicago, they conceive twins.
- Official Couple: With Doug.
- One True Love: Doug. It's implied, but not explicitly stated, that Carol tried to kill herself in the pilot because of Doug's adulterous behaviour (she broke up with him over his many affairs, but then slept with him a month before she tried to kill herself). When he leaves for Seattle, she tells Mark that she can't remember a time she didn't love him. When she leaves Chicago to reunite with him, this is what she says to Luka about him:"I've been in love with him since I was 23 years old. He's...he's everything to me. He's my life. I feel complete when I'm with him and I feel empty when we're apart. He's the father of my children...and he's my soulmate."
- Put on a Bus: After Season 6.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin
Played By: Gloria Reuben
- Ascended Extra: She spent a year as a recurring character in Season 1 before being added to the main cast in Season 2.
- The Bus Came Back: In Season 14.
- Claustrophobia: As seen when Kerry uses her as a test subject to test the efficacy of exercise in restoring broken circadian rhythms.
- Dark-Skinned Redhead: At times.
- The Ditherer: Initially, she was hesitant to stand up for herself to the doctors. When this tendency is noted on her performance review, she confronts Carol (who had written said review), and Carol manages to make her understand that she has to stick up for herself.Carol: It's like this conversation. I tell you I need you to be more assertive, and you want to stand here and talk about it.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Family Versus Career: She quits when she realizes that she wants to spend as much time as possible with her new husband and the baby that they've just become foster parents to.
- Heroic BSoD: Has one after finding out she's HIV positive.
- Ill Girl: She's HIV positive. Then later she contracts Hepatitis C, although she eventually gets cured.
- Morality Pet: To Kerry. For a while, she was the only person who brought out Kerry's softer side.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Introduced as a Recurring Character in Season 1 before being added to the main cast from Seasons 2-6.
- Put on a Bus: Partway through Season 6.
- Sympathetic Adulterer: Her husband cheats on her with many women, to the point where he contracts HIV in the process, which he passed to Jeanie. Her affair with Benton is therefore very understandable.
Played By: Laura Innes
- Academic Alpha Bitch: A doctor equivalent. She's beautiful and brilliant, but has an ego the size of a small country and will do whatever she thinks is necessary to advance her own achievements and position in the hospital's hierarchy. She sarcastically refers to herself as an Alpha Bitch in one episode.
- Advertised Extra: After she was made chief of staff.
- All Lesbians Want Kids
- Ambition Is Evil: The show tended to present her as this from the beginning even when she equally tried to help others with their careers (pressing Susan to present research, making suggestions to Mark and covering for him with Anspaugh, etc). She appeared to expect everyone else to be as driven as she was; they saw her as heartless because she cared about advancement.
- Ascended Extra: Spent a year as a recurring character in Season 2 before being advanced to the main cast in Season 3. Later Demoted to Extra.
- Bait-and-Switch Tyrant
- Benevolent Boss: In the earlier seasons while serving as ER chief, she could be quite nice and helpful to her subordinates who were in need. Prime examples being in dealing with Jeanie's HIV status and Carol's pregnancy. She grew out of it.
- Badass Bureaucrat: While serving as ER chief, anyways. Its repeatedly shown that without her there to keep things on track the ER will quickly fall apart.
- Broken Bird: Despite her tough exterior there have been numerous instances where she has demonstrated herself to be really fragile underneath.
- Broken Pedestal: Frequently became this to the few people who liked and trusted her. In particular, Jing-Mei, who she mentored on her way to becoming Chief Resident before screwing her over to avoid taking any blame for a patient's death.
- The Bus Came Back
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Her modus operandi was basically to pretend to be someone's friend/ally before screwing them over in order to save herself. This was so prevalent that one of her victims outright said "I knew she was capable of this, I just didn't think she'd do it to me."
- Control Freak
- Cunning Linguist: Knows Spanish, Swahili, and ASL.
- Evil Redhead
- Fair Weather Friend: She repeatedly proved herself to be this the moment she realized that supporting someone would be detrimental to her—she screwed over Mark to become ER chief, she ditched her girlfriend Kim when the latter was falsely accused of sexual harassment, and she allowed Chen, her protegé, to take the sole blame for a patient's death so that she herself would incur no punishment.
- Fiery Redhead: Whatever her numerous flaws, no one could call her a wimp or a pushover.
- Friend to All Children: Consistently interacted very well with kids, despite her inability to get along with anyone else.
- Gayngst: During her relationship with Kim, where she was so terrified of anyone finding out that she would barely even speak to her while at work, and at the beginning of her relationship with Sandy, where she ran and hid to avoid being seen while out on a date.
- Genius Cripple
- God Save Us from the Queen!: From the moment she joins the staff until she leaves, she's in a position of authority—chief resident, attending, ER Chief, Chief of Staff. And nearly everyone hates her the entire time because of her power-hungry and controlling ways.
- Headbutting Heroes: She's a good doctor, but practically everyone in the ER has a contentious relationship with her because of her focus on unpopular administrative policies as well as a talent for patronizing and otherwise annoying the staff.
- Heel Realization: After Mark dies and she realizes that she made his life miserable by always trying to make everything into a competition when, "the man just wanted to do his job and go home."
- Heroic BSoD: One of the most epic in the series. She was allowed to scrub in and observe while Corday and Anspaugh operated on Sandy, and thus has a front row seat to everything going wrong. When blood actually begins backing up into Sandy's endotracheal tube, she quietly tells the surgeons "You can stop. She's gone." She's later shown staring blankly into space while sitting at Sandy's bedside, breaking down completely after asking Elizabeth how she had coped with Mark's death. Her reaction is so heartbreaking that, for all the friction between the two, Elizabeth embraces and tries to comfort her.
- Hypocrite: Countless instances of her criticizing people for doing things she had done or would do herself. She also made sure anyone who screwed up was punished as severely as possible, while acting like her own mistakes were no big deal. A few standout examples:
- Made Doug's life hell and tried to sabotage Doug's career advancement because he was such a cowboy, and yet almost as soon as he leaves she tries to circumvent a standing DNR order (because she thought the woman was her biological mother). Then months later hounds Mark for doing the same thing, having the gall to insinuate that Mark isn't being objective because of the recent death of his mother, even though in this case, the patient had explicitly rescinded her DNR, telling Mark that she didn't want to die just yet. And a few months after that, she blasts Carol and Luka for doing almost the same thing she did—doing an end-run around a DNR order so that a dying woman could have a few more minutes with her family.
- Pulls out all the stops to make sure Jing-Mei and Malucci are severely punished for their part in a patient's death—firing the latter and suspending the former, yet is just as vigilant in making sure that she herself incurs no punishment, even though as their supervisor, she bore the ultimate responsibility.
- Pleads with her ex-lover Kim to fight Romano's efforts at firing her (because she's a lesbian)—while she herself continues to keep her mouth shut. Kim herself chides her for her hypocrisy.
- Hemmed and hawed about reporting her Alzheimer's stricken mentor, but instantly reported Mark for his aphasia after his brain tumor surgery.
- Hypocrite Has a Point: After a patient dies because he slept with a paramedic on duty, Malucci is fired by Kerry for irresponsibility. Although Kerry, as Malucci's supervisor, should have kept a closer eye on him, Malucci's behavior is indeed completely unbefitting of that of a doctor.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: Her constant strive to be promoted at work as well as her general tendency to overachieve and over-do things is probably a reaction to her congenital hip dysplasia and her mistaken belief that her birth mother gave her up because of it. As a result, Kerry constantly tries to prove that she's not inferior by trying to be better at her job than everyone else.
- Inspector Javert: There were times when she was downright fanatical in her insistence that people adhere to rules and policy, not believing in making the slightest of allowances for any reason.
- It's All About Me: Had a bad habit of this whenever things got tough. When her girlfriend is investigated for sexually harassing/assaulting a patient, the woman comes to her, clearly looking for some compassion and support. Kerry's only reaction is to ask if she's told anyone about their relationship, which she wants to keep secret, fearing that their homophobic supervisor will find some contrived reason to fire her. Kerry promptly spends the rest of the episode doing everything she can think of to make sure that the relationship remains a secret, to the point where she refuses to even look at the woman, much less say a single word in her defense, lest it make anyone suspect that they're involved. When the hurt, angry, and fed-up woman dumps her, Kerry still doesn't get it, accusing her of not considering Kerry's feelings in the whole mess.
- When she, Chen, and Malucci are under investigation for the death of a patient, she makes it abundantly clear to the hospital TPTB that she's looking out for herself, ensuring that the latter two take all the blame.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- One of her defining traits, especially when it comes to the ER budget. She might be an ass, but it's not her fault that the hospital doesn't have the money for more vital equipment."Mark, just because something's my idea doesn't make it a bad idea."
- She once overheard a medical student trying to find the drug "Obecalp" in the big book of drugs, as a doctor prescribed it to a patient. Quickly realizing, and informing the student, that it is "Placebo" backwards, she stops the student and goes to rip the doctor a new one for this foolish behavior. Not only is he misleading the patients whose son might need real help by this, if something does happen then the doctor has opened the hospital up to major litigation.
- She's also rightfully pissed off at her girlfriend Sandy when the woman outs her in front of ER staff by planting a Forceful Kiss on her. It's not Sandy's place to decide that Kerry should be out of the closet.
- Whenever she's in disagreement with anyone in the early seasons, she's almost always right, just so annoying in her delivery that everyone resents her anyway. Even the ridiculous idea about changing the way cases were up on the board - she was completely correct that it was a breach of patient privacy.
- One of her defining traits, especially when it comes to the ER budget. She might be an ass, but it's not her fault that the hospital doesn't have the money for more vital equipment.
- Karma Houdini Warranty: Her double-dealing almost always puts her at the head of the pack, until toward the end of the show she finally made the mistake that cost her her career: her newest hire Victor Clemente, though a genuinely talented doctor, was also an extremely violent paranoid schizophrenic. She's out the door midway through Season 13. It's still really sad.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Of the "chapstick" variety. Short-haired and abrasive, but very pretty and when she's not at work, she's rather feminine.
- Lovable Traitor: She will knife anyone in the back in the name of "hospital policy" and yet we still feel sorry for her when she doesn't get what she wants.
- Mysterious Past: She was on the show for eleven years and it took ten of those years to find out why she needed a crutch to walk. We never learned much else about her otherwise, other than that she was adopted, spent time in Africa as a child, and previously worked with Doug at another hospital (though even this fails to explain why there was always so much animosity between them, and all that was ever referenced was they didn't get along).Mark: Doug, you did part of your residency with Kerry Weaver, didn't you?Doug: Our paths crossed.Mark: What's she like?Doug: Ever see Cuckoo's Nest?
- Never My Fault: She never once acknowledges that the reason everyone disliked her was because of the way she treated people, as well as dumping the blame for a patient's death onto the two doctors who treated him, conveniently ignoring the fact that as their supervisor, she should have been there to correct their errors instead of off-site handling personal business. When one of the doctors confronts her about this, she has the nerve to take it even further, implying that she was completely justified in what she did because of the other woman's mistakes.
- Nice Guys Finish Last: She proves this repeatedly as she angles her way into positions of authority while engaging in Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, Bait-and-Switch Tyrant and Never My Fault. She started out as Chief Resident in the ER, eventually started running the ER, even though Mark had more seniority and had more respect, eventually becoming Chief of Staff of the entire hospital.
- Not Good with People: While no one would deny she's an excellent physician, no one likes her much either. It's very telling that despite probably being the most qualified applicant, she's consistently passed over for the ER Chief position and ultimately has to resort to underhanded methods (backstabbing Mark by reneging on her promise to fight Romano's appointment as Chief of Staff) to get the job.
- The Peter Principle: With each promotion, she proved herself unworthy of them, at least to the audience. Thanks to her Never My Fault tendencies, and the fact that she was such a Rules Lawyer when it came to subordinates that she was more than willing to find and highlight their mistakes over her own, she was rarely ever called out for this, and just kept moving up. Finally it came back to bite her, and she lost her job.
- Pet the Dog: Could be genuinely compassionate with her patients when necessary.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Introduced as a Recurring Character in Season 2 before being added to the main cast from Seasons 3-13.
- Put on a Bus: Midway through Season 13.
- Second Season Introduction: She's one of the show's longest running characters—11 years—but didn't join the show until its second year, and didn't even become a main character until the third.
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Will often do something to prove to one of the the characters that she is genuinely a kind person underneath. For example, she demonstrates to Doug that she's actually very caring when it comes to children, she keeps Jeanie's HIV status a secret and then actively campaigns to keep her on staff when it's revealed, she lets Carter live in her basement and actually somewhat takes on the role of surrogate mother to him. However, she then follows up by doing something cold or horrible to them, making sure no one ever gets close to her.
- Sweeps Week Lesbian Kiss: Twice. Unlike most examples, however, this wasn't just a ratings grab, but rather part of a larger arc involving Kerry coming to terms with her sexuality. Both of the women she kissed appeared again.
- Tiny Tyrannical Girl
- Too Happy to Live: She and her wife Sandy are blissfully happy, having just had a baby boy named Henry and comfortably settled into their domestic routine...when Sandy is fatally injured in a fire.
- Uptight Loves Wild: Her and her girlfriends upon her coming out of the closest. Aside from their carefree, fun-loving personalities clashing with her prim and proper one, they were also comfortable and open with their sexuality while Kerry acted downright terrified to even be seen with them in public, at one point literally hiding to avoid running into two of her coworkers while out on a date.
Anna Del Amico
Anna Del Amico
Played By: Maria Bello
- Ascended Extra: Appeared in the last three episodes of Season 3 before becoming a main cast member in Season 4.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: Had an incredibly sanctimonious attitude towards rich people, probably stemming from insecurities about growing up poor.
- Ms. Fanservice
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Introduced as a Recurring Character in Season 3 before being added to the main cast the following season.
- Put on a Bus: After Season 4. Unlike most examples here, she doesn't return.
- Red Herring: As a pediatrician, there was speculation that she'd been brought on to be a new girlfriend for Doug—indeed, she initially seems very attracted to him. Only for Doug to reconcile with Carol as had been hinted at for weeks and Anna to be a love interest for Carter instead.
- Straw Feminist:
- She tended to react to everything Doug said as though it was an attack or an advance, even though he was either just being friendly (asking her if she wanted something to eat after they'd both been on the streets looking for a runaway) or just offering his years of experience (offering to do a testicular exam on a patient because he might be uncomfortable with a woman doctor). Kerry seems to agree with her claim that Doug is threatened by women, but of course Kerry had been brow-beating and annoying him about publishing his thesis for his fellowship and just couldn't see that Doug (or anyone else for that matter) simply didn't want her help.
- Nor it did occur to Kerry that Doug's problem was simply with her, given her abrasive personality and their constant clashes and nothing to do with her gender.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Basically rips Doug's head off when he calls her by her first name rather than "Dr. Del Amico" in front of a patient. Keeps doing it even though he apologizes and assures her that he meant nothing improper, "I call Mark (a male doctor) by his first name all the time."
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Carter.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Lasted only two seasons and never return.
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Corday
Played By: Alex Kingston
- The Bus Came Back
- Clingy Jealous Girl: When Susan returns. Granted, she has a point, as Mark loved Susan passionately enough to race to Union Station to tell her so and then had a small breakdown when she left.
- Fiery Redhead
- Good Bad Girl: Very openly sexual in her conversation and behavior, especially when first introduced.
- Her Heart Will Go On
- Heroic BSoD:
- Elizabeth treated a patient from Zambia who suffered from back pain, caused by a herniated disc. The patient didn't want open back surgery and Elizabeth had planned to go on a trip with Mark that evening so she suggested a less invasive procedure instead. The patient ended up paralyzed after leaking cerebral-spinal fluid and he sues Elizabeth for malpractice. The case eventually gets settled because the patient decided to sue the manufacturer of the surgical equipment instead, but Elizabeth continued to blame herself for the incident (even though the reason he was paralyzed in the first place is because one of the waldoes wouldn't grip the bone fragment in his spine) and promptly spent weeks avoiding the OR at all costs
- Elizabeth has a breakdown during her wedding, making known her fear that Mark's tumour will return and her fear of him being hurt or ending up dead. Both of these fears end up being realised.
- Is pissy about Mark and Susan working together, even though they were never actually romantically involved and even though every day she works side-by-side with her ex-lover Benton.
- She also chastises a fellow surgeon who asks her to speed up an operation because he wants to go to a ball game, when she herself rushed through an operation because she wanted to leave for a romantic weekend with Mark, permanently crippling the patient (to be fair, it could be that it's because of this error that she's lecturing the other doctor).
- It Runs in the Family: Her mother and father are both scientists. Her father is a surgeon, her mother is a physicist.
- Mama Bear: When Rachel asks if there's anything she can do to make up for nearly killing Ella with an ecstasy tablet, Elizabeth, ill with flu, fixes Rachel with her sunken, bloodshot eyes and says, "You can leave."
- Official Couple: With Mark.
- One True Love: Mark. Elizabeth's relationships before and after Mark all fail for one reason or another, in the latter case probably because of her love for Mark. When Benton asks her if she's seeing anybody in the series finale (seven years after Mark's death), she says that she's become far more focused on raising her daughter and working on her career.
- Put on a Bus: Partway through Season 11.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Mark did manage to give her a daughter, and spend the first year of her life with her (long enough to hear her say her first words and see her learn to walk) , before he finally succumbed to cancer.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Inverted. She's confused when someone refers to Benton, a surgeon, as "Dr. Benton" and needs to adjust to being called "Dr. Corday", rather than "Miss", as she was back in England.note
Played By: Kellie Martin
- Audience Surrogate: Brought in because Carter, the previous audience surrogate, was now a fairly experienced and accomplished doctor.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: She and Carter fight. A lot. They end up making out in "The Storm, Part 1", but it never goes any further—Noah Wyle was adamantly opposed to the relationship, feeling that it was improper, as Lucy was still a medical student and therefore Carter's subordinate, and out-of-character for Carter.
- Character Development: Despite her brief time on the show, she went from being a bumbling, clueless medical student to a very competent one who would no doubt have been an excellent physician.
- Cousin Oliver: It was explicitly stated that she was brought on to bring some new blood to the now five-year old series.
- The Cutie
- Distaff Counterpart: As an inexperienced third-year medical student, she was essentially a female version of Season 1-Carter.
- Kill the Cutie: Lucy is stabbed multiple times by a patient in the middle of a psychotic break on Valentine's Day. She doesn't survive despite the best efforts of the staff.
- Morality Pet: For Romano.
- Naïve Newcomer: She begins as this. She gradually grows out of it.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Lasts only a season and a half. Despite the professional development that Lucy undergoes, the audience never gets to know much about her personally.
Robert "Rocket" Romano
Played By: Paul McCrane
- Alliterative Name: Combined with his nickname "Rocket", he has a triple alliterative name.
- An Arm and a Leg: He loses an arm to a helicopter rotor.
- Ascended Extra: Made frequent appearances during Seasons 4 and 5 before being bumped up to series regular status in Season 6.
- At Least I Admit It: For all his numerous flaws, as Cleo called him, "a racist, sexist, elitist jackass," there was no denying that he never once hid the fact that he was a colossal egomaniac who couldn't be trusted and whose primary concern was himself.
- Back for the Finale: Like with Mark Greene, he makes one last appearance in the series during its final season after being killed off in Season 10 thanks to the flashback sequence in "Heal Thyself". Despite it amounting to more or less a cameo appearance, it delivers what fans would expect from Romano, having him badger Greene in a forward and insensitive way about his cancer treatments while showing through his actions and facial gestures that he was genuinely worried about Greene's condition.
- Bald of Evil
- Beard of Sorrow: He sports this after he loses his arm in a helicopter accident.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He just wouldn't be able to keep his job if he wasn't very good at it. He pulls some outrageous stunts, says and does things that would be considered completely inappropriate, almost no one likes him and he tries his very best to alienate the one person (Elizabeth) that does.
- Deadpan Snarker: On steroids. His insults were frequently works of art.
- Dr. Jerk
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: For a character with such an extensive history on the shownote , he suffers a pretty ignoble (though memorable) death when a helicopter falls squarely on top of him, a full year after a separate helicopter had torn one of his arms off.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: A episode that took place near Mother's Day had him enthusiastically describing the elaborate plans that he had for his mother, much to the shock of the other staff members.Romano: Bet you didn't even think I had a mother, did you?
Haleh: Can't imagine what she's like.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Although there was a considerable gap in the hierarchy between him and Lucy (he was was Chief of Staff and she was a fourth-year medical student), he seemed to genuinely like her, probably due to his oft-stated quality of only respecting people who stood up to him (which she had no trouble doing). When she's murdered in Season 6, he's very distraught by her death.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Is genuinely angry and disgusted at the dishonest stunts Kerry pulls.
- Flanderization: When he first appeared his bad traits were relatively low-key. The more often he appeared, the worse he got.
- Hates Everyone Equally: He's a bigot, yes, but he seems to have just as much disdain for those who are white/male/heterosexual as those who aren't.(to Elizabeth) "I know most people don't like me. That's fine. I don't like most people."
- Heroic BSoD: After his arm is reattached and he realizes he might never regain full mobility, then after he realizes it can't be saved and needs to be amputated for good, effectively ending his surgical career.
- Hidden Depths:
- Adores his dogs, studies martial arts (as evidenced by him showing up at work in such a uniform), is a member of the Polar Bear Club (he mentions it to Susan in one Season 8 episode and a deleted scene shows him in a Speedo having taken one of the elderly members to the ER) and knows sign language.
- He is also the only one to tell Elizabeth to go back to Mark. This is especially a touching scene because Elizabeth was probably the only woman he had genuine above-the-belt feelings for, and yet he told her to go back to her husband instead of attempting to use her moment of weakness to his advantage.
- His devastation at the realization that he might never be able to perform surgery again—a fear that ultimately comes true—reveals that for all his Jerkass ways, he genuinely loves his job and being able to help people.
- Hopeless Suitor: For Elizabeth.
- Insufferable Genius
- Jerkass Has a Point: Frequently. He may be an absolute a-hole, but when it comes to medical ethics and procedure, when he turns on the blasters, he's usually right. He would lash out against people for their incompetence and, in one case, illegal behavior. During a major rush of patients, he found Morris smoking pot. He ripped the younger doctor out of the bathroom stall and put him at the entrance desk, telling Morris to not move until he came back. The punishment never happened primarily because in a short time Romano would be killed by the chopper, no one realizing this, and Morris never telling anyone why Romano told him to stay still.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Rushes his own dog into surgery because he refused to trust her welfare to "some poodle surgeon."
- Lonely Funeral: Romano was so disliked that Elizabeth was the only one to show up at his funeral.
- OOC Is Serious Business:
- When he has to operate on his Morality Pet Lucy Knight, he actually stops being a Jerkass for a few hours and even manages a genuine Friendship Moment with Elizabeth.
- For all his faults, he is normally kind to child patients. But when he is moved sideways (or in his view, demoted) to become head of the ER, he even starts acting belligerently toward them.
- Pet the Dog: However rare they were, his Nice Guy moments were genuine. Even some of his supposedly Jerkass moments revealed that he was actually doing someone a favor—assisting a heavily pregnant Elizabeth with surgery, giving Benton time off to spend with his son, concern for the ailing Mark. Plus, the literal examples with his beloved animals, as well as his genuine fondness for Lucy.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: The first thing he does when introduced is ask Benton why he doesn't have N-Word Privileges when Chris Rock does.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Introduced as a Recurring Character in Seasons 4 and 5 before being added to the main cast from Seasons 6-10.
- Properly Paranoid: In Season 10, he rides the elevator up to the hospital helipad with Neela to drop off a patient's watch that had been left behind. However, seeing the helicopter ready to take off triggers flashbacks to the loss of his arm from the year before, and he quickly gives the watch to Neela before heading back down himself. He turns out to have been completely justified in his fears, as the helicopter starts to fly out of control shortly after taking off due to the strong winds. If he had stayed on the roof, he may well have been impaled by some debris just like the doctor left behind with Neela was. Unfortunately, Romano dies anyway when he takes a walk outside in the hospital parking lot to clear his head, as the helicopter ends up crashing right on top of him.
- Shout-Out: When he's in the OR he wears a bandana with rockets on it. Whether the bandana or the nickname came first is never specified. He also has a model Saturn V rocket in his office, which he says is a gift from a former girlfriend.
- Token Evil Teammate
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Romano has been seen with some very attractive girlfriends.
- Villain Respect: The way to get Romano's respect is to stand up to him. Benton and Corday both learn this; Lucy Knight is simply never fazed by him in the first place.
Played By: Goran Visnjic
- Ambiguous Disorder: He has bouts of what appears to be clinical depression several times throughout his time on the show, but it's never officially diagnosed and the only time he appears to be seeking help, it turns out he's confiding in a prostitute.
- Berserk Button: Wife-beaters, child-abusers, just Asshole Victim patients in general.
- The Casanova: Like Mark, Luka had never been with anyone other than his first wife Danijela before he started seeing other women. Unlike Mark, Luka actually knows how to charm them.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Likely because he was unable to save his own family during the war, he develops this, often to his detriment—he takes a waitress from his favorite bar under his wing, blithely ignoring all signs that she's a thief and a liar.
- Commuting on a Bus: Throughout Season 14. Notably, Goran Vinjić does not appear on the DVD cover for the season, but is first-billed as a member of the main cast in all of the episodes he appears in (7 out of 19). In-Universe, Luka spends most of it off-screen in Croatia to be with his dying father, occasionally appearing to see Abby and their son Joe. He eventually returns to Chicago full-time, only to spend time away from Abby when she reveals that she cheated on him. He forgives her in the season finale, and turns up one final time in the third episode of Season 15 for them to depart County Hospital together.
- Dark and Troubled Past
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After everything Luka went through both before and during the series, he eventually got a happy ending with Abby and their son.
- Happily Married: To Abby. He was also this to Danijela, which is why he suffered a Heroic BSoD upon her death and the deaths of their two children.
- Heroic BSoD: Plenty of these for him too, all of which seem to happen just as things are getting better for him—he starts to recover from the loss of Danijela and their two children Jasna and Marko by falling in love with Carol; despite briefly dating, Carol leaves him to reunite with Doug. He starts to recover from this by dating Abby, then he kills a mugger attacking them. One even happens out of nowhere then gets even worse after he almost kills a co-worker in a car accident.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: He's 6'4", while his main love interest Abby is 5'3".
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The reason he breaks up with Abby the first time. He bends over backwards to try and make her happy, but she's always miserable and content with being so. It gets to the point where they have a fight, he says a lot of things he didn't mean, and they break up.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Only debuted in Season 6 but is one of the most recognizable characters in the show.
- Official Couple: With Abby.
- Say Your Prayers: He did this in one episode while in the Congo, but winds up living through it. Subverted since the praying saves him—the rebels holding him think he's a priest and shooting priests is the one thing they won't do.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: He lost his first wife and two children in the Yugoslav wars. Quite a lot of his behaviour can be attributed to Heroic BSoD.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: A brooding hunk with allusions to a mysterious, tragic past and a not-so-secret longing for Carol? He was referred to as "Euro Ross" on many other fan boards (his resemblance to Doug didn't help much to dispel this). A period of promiscuity for him pretty much cinched it. Not to mention the fact that he falls in love with and eventually marries Carol's effective replacement Abby.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome
- Troubled, but Cute
- Unexpected Virgin: During a scene where several other characters are discussing when they lost their virginity, he admits that his first time was on his wedding night, because his wife was religious and they married young.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Carol. Especially bad as from his side of things, developing feelings for her was an indication that he was recovering from the deaths of his wife and children.
- Younger Than They Look: Actor Goran Vinjić was 27 during his first year on the show. He easily could have passed for 40 and was immediately shown to be an authority figure (already an Attending) in the ER. Which also makes this a case of either Playing Gertrude or Improbable Age, as there's no way he'd be an Attending so young.
Played By: Michael Michele
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Gets pissy about going to Mark and Elizabeth's wedding, even Benton and Elizabeth broke up three years before.
- Contrasting Replacement Character: To Doug. She's his opposite in practically every way, right down to their race and gender, except for being a skilled and dedicated pediatrician just like he was.
- Dark-Skinned Blond
- Distaff Counterpart: To Benton. Her aloof, reserved personality is very similar to his.
- Flat Character: As she never served any purpose but to be Benton's African-American girlfriend, she got zero individual storylines and we learned very little about her during her two years on the show.
- Happily Married: To Benton.
- Hypocrite: Her few scenes with Elizabeth indicate that she disapproves of the fact that Elizabeth and Benton once had a relationship, even though Cleo herself is the product of such a union.
- Malcolm Xerox: For a while, tended to see racism as the reason behind every slight or reprimand.
- Maligned Mixed Ancestry: Against herself. It's implied that the reason for her hypersensitivity about race issues is compensation for being of mixed race and having grown up in the suburbs.
- Official Couple: With Benton.
- Plucky Girl
- Put on a Bus: After Season 8. Unlike most examples here, she doesn't return.
Played By: Erik Palladino
- 0% Approval Rating: Everybody hates this guy, from the moment he shows up to the moment he leaves.Elizabeth: "Do you want to know the staff's opinion of you? You're lazy, sloppy, and your careless attitude towards your responsibilities as a physician endangers lives, as witnessed today. In short, none of us thinks you're much of a doctor."
- Abusive Parents: Implied, given his reaction to them.
- Ascended Extra: Spent his first few episodes credited as a guest star before being added to the opening credits.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Deconstructed. He's initially presented as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute to Doug: brash, impulsive, problems with authority, womanizing, etc. Eventually, however, Reality Ensues—he makes numerous mistakes, is warned by Elizabeth that "none of us thinks you're much of a doctor" (unlike Doug, Malucci is considerably dumber than the other doctors and also much lazier), and is finally fired both when his misdiagnosis kills a patient and when he's caught having sex with a paramedic while on duty.
- Casanova Wannabe: Hits on practically every woman in sight, all of whom reject him. Even the woman he's caught having sex in an ambulance with blew him off initially.
- Cunning Linguist: Speaks Spanish. Makes sense, considering he went to medical school in Grenada.
- Dumbass Has a Point: On several occasions. Case in point, with the exception of the homophobic slur that he caps it off with, his The Reason You Suck speech that he gives Kerry is dead on accurate.
- Dumb Jock: A doctor variant. Attended medical school in Grenada because he did poorly in college and on his MCATs.
- Foil: To Romano and Doug. Like Romano, he's brash and rude, like Doug, he's impulsive and a womanizer, but unlike either, he lacks the skill or compassion with patients and respect for his collegues that make him worth having around.
- Hidden Depths:
- Claims to have a child, although this may have been an appeal to Kerry's emotions.
- He actually proved to be a pretty decent doctor on the rare occasions that he got his act together and stopped goofing off.
- He was also self-aware enough to admit that his college years were basically just a party, and that his MCAT score was so low, he was forced to go to medical school in Grenada, which he jokingly refers to as "the Harvard of the Carribbean."
- Idiot Ball: Despite knowing full well that Kerry is out for blood due to his part in killing a patient, Malucci sneaks off to have sex with a gorgeous paramedic. Kerry catches him and subsequently fires him.
- Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Unlike his predecessor Doug, there's very little beneath Malucci's philandering Dumb Jock exterior. He's ultimately fired for having sex in an ambulance, with his one moment of depth (see above) being in his very last episode.
- Kick the Dog: He claims to have a child to support. Kerry fires him anyway. Later, Malucci's last mention on the series was Carter telling Gallant that he was reckless and killed a patient.
- Monster Clown: He has some unresolved fear of clowns.
- Nosy Neighbor: Shortly after joining the staff, he interrogates everyone about why Kerry limps. He finally admits it's none of his business after she confronts him about it, but still fails to learn his lesson—one year later, he does exactly the same thing regarding the paternity of Jing-Mei's baby.
- Pet the Dog: Despite his incompetence and the rest of the staff's utter contempt for him, Mark seems to rather like Malucci and stands up for him when Kerry fires him. Perhaps it's because he reminds him of Doug.
- Put on a Bus: Partway through Season 8. Unlike most examples here, he doesn't return.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Like Luka, Malucci was given many of Doug's characteristics—brashness, impulsiveness, problems with authority, an antagonistic relationship with Kerry (bizarrely, in both cases, fanfic writers opted to interpret this as Belligerent Sexual Tension and pair them), and a once-mentioned but never explained kid, along with a Berserk Button reaction to abusive parents that likely stemmed from his own experiences. To the point where his fan board nickname was "Doug Ross, Jr."
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Lasted only a little over two seasons and got zero Character Development.
Jing-Mei Debra "Deb" Chen
Played By: Ming-Na Wen
- Ascended Extra: She was a recurring character in Season 1. After being absent for five years, she became a regular.
- The Bus Came Back: Returns as a regular halfway through Season 6.
- Chekhov's Gunman
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Is understandably pissy about Pratt flirting with Neela right in front of her, but she unfairly takes it out on Neela, who was completely unaware of their relationship.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: When she reveals her pregnancy to Kerry, she implies that she deliberately hemmed and hawed about what to do until it was too late to terminate.
- Family Versus Career:
- Having quit her job in anger after realizing that Kerry screwed her over, she tearfully tells Carter, "Whatever sacrifice you make for this place, make sure it's worth it," indicating that the reason she gave up her son for adoption was to focus on her career and that she now regrets it.
- She also quits for good to euthanize her dying father and bury him in his native China.
- Heroic BSoD: Has at least two. One after the infamous guide wire incident. Another for simultaneously giving up her son for adoption (she knew she could've easily taken care of him but was too concerned with what her overly traditional family might think) and for losing a patient and being back-stabbed by Kerry.
- It Runs in the Family: Her parents are doctors as well.
- The Not-Love Interest: To Carter. Despite a slight attraction and flirtation, their relationship never goes beyond a very good friendship.
- The Ojou
- Only Known by Their Nickname: When she first appeared she went by her western name, Debra "Deb" Chen. When she returned as Jing-Mei, Carter insisted on always calling her "Deb". Lewis also calls her Deb, as she's the only other major character who remembers her from S1.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Introduced as a Recurring Character in Season 1 before returning as main cast member from Seasons 6-11.
- Put on a Bus: After Season 1. Then midway through Season 11, leaving Chicago to bury her father in his native China. Unlike most examples here, she doesn't return.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
- She actually resigns altogether following her demotion and Kerry's backstabbing.
- There's a sadder version several years later when she can no longer keep up with the demands of her job and caring for her ill father, especially when Susan tells her that she can no longer make allowances for her.
Abigail "Abby" Marjorie Wyczenski Lockhart
Played By: Maura Tierney
- Abusive Parents: Subverted. While her mother may not have been willfully abusive or neglectful, it's still clear that Abby's childhood was hell thanks to her mother's Bipolar Disorder, a mental illness that she consciously chose not to seek help for.Maggie: I never asked to be sick!
Abby: You never tried to get better!
- The Alcoholic
- Ascended Extra: In her first appearance, she was an OB nurse at Carol's birth. Not long after, she appeared in the ER as a medical student, and was later transferred to be an ER nurse after being forced to drop out of medical school.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Is a complete bitch to and about Luka's new girlfriend Nicole, even though she and Luka have broken up and is similarly nasty to and about Susan whenever she sees her with Carter, even though she and Carter haven't even been together yet.
- Deadpan Snarker: Has her moments. Most notably as a nurse and occasionally after she has Joe.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After everything, Abby finally gets her happy ending with Luka.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. She had one during her first marriage out of fear of putting a child through the same hell she went through, or the child itself being mentally ill. But played straight when she gets pregnant by Luka, despite still having the same fears.
- Happily Married: To Luka.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Neela.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Only debuted in Season 6 but is one of the most recognizable characters in the show.
- Jade-Colored Glasses
- The Masochism Tango: She outright calls her and her mother's interactions "The dance we do"—she shows up in the beginning stages of mania, swearing that things are going to be different, but eventually going completely off the wall and causing chaos, then disappearing for months before turning up again, this time in a depressed phase, possibly to the point of being suicidal. Despite how miserable the whole thing makes Abby, it's obvious that she can't bring herself to get out of it.
- My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Why she goes ahead with having Luka's baby, despite her misgivings about the child possibly being bipolar.
- Official Couple: With Luka.
- Off the Wagon
- Parental Substitute: Was this to her own mother and brother whenever her mother was in a manic or depressive state.
- Put on a Bus: Near the very beginning of the final season ("The Book of Abby"), she leaves the ER to be with Luka and Joe in Boston. She makes one final return in "Shifting Equilibrium" via phone call in order to reassure Neela on the latter's last day working at County Hospital.
- Really Gets Around: It's implied that she slipped into this kind of behavior whenever she was drinking.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: She replaced Lucy as the "bumbling and clueless" medical student after the latter's death. Then, though their personalities and backgrounds were vastly different, she replaced Carol as the token nurse character once the latter left. Interestingly, when Abby first appeared on the show, she was precisely at the point Carol would have been in her medical studies had she decided to go to medical school.
- Your Cheating Heart: Her first husband cheated on her (in his defense, this was after she froze him out following her abortion), and she sleeps with another man while Luka is away in one of her alcohol-induced blackouts.
Played By: Sharif Atkins
- Advertised Extra: He was promoted to the main cast shortly after his first appearance. If anything, the series made less use out of him after promoting him than before.
- Commuting on a Bus: In Seasons 11 and 12 until he died.
- First Love: To Neela.
- Fourth Date Marriage: He and Neela express a mutual interest in each other in Season 10, but he gets shipped off to Iraq before he ever officially asks her out. From then on, their relationship takes place via letters and e-mails. It's not known if they ever even had a proper date before he returns on leave and proposes to her, with them marrying that same day. This is acknowledged when, a month after they've married and they argue over his wanting to return to Iraq and her not wanting him to, Neela admits to her dismay, "I love you, but I still don't know you."
- Good-Looking Privates: Whenever we'd see him in uniform.
- Killed Mid-Sentence
- Meaningful Name: Gallant, obviously. To the point where his final episode is named after him—"The Gallant Hero and the Tragic Victor".
- Put on a Bus: After Season 10.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue to Pratt's Red. Pratt is more impulsive, while Gallant is by the book.
- Too Happy to Live: Mentions his wife Neela and how much he's looking forward to going home and seeing her not five seconds before the truck he's riding in is blown up, killing him.
- Took a Level in Badass
- Wide-Eyed Idealist
Gregory "Greg" Pratt
Played By: Mekhi Phifer
- Ascended Extra: He appeared in four episodes towards the end of Season 8, before being promoted to the main cast in Season 9.
- Back for the Dead
- Badass Beard
- Character Development: Started out very impulsive and egotistical. By his tenure's end, he'd become an excellent teacher and was about to be named ER Chief.
- Meaningful Name: He is a bit of a prat, after all.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Introduced as a Recurring Character in Season 8 before being added to the main cast the following season.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red to Gallant's Blue. Later on the Blue to Morris' Red.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Died at the final season premiere.
- Too Happy to Live: Was preparing to propose to his girlfriend and had just been named the new ER chief when he was killed.
Played By: Parminder Nagra
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Subverted and Defied. She and Gallant contact each other as much as they can throughout their relationship, and both are able to resist cheating on each other, although they nearly came close to doing so—he with one of his coworkers in Iraq, she with Ray's bandmate Bret. After she realizes she's in love with Ray, she moves out of their apartment to remain faithful to Gallant.
- Beware the Quiet Ones
- Character Development: Goes from a shy neophyte, to confident physician, to even more confident surgeon.
- Commuting on a Bus: Officially departs the ER in the antepenultimate episode, but manages to make brief appearances in the final two episodes.
- Deadpan Snarker: Ray tended to bring this out of her, before and during the time they were roommates.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After everything she went through, she finally gets her happy ending with Ray.
- Her Heart Will Go On: While affected by Gallant's death at the end of Season 12, she does continue to engage in relationships afterwards, with Gates, Brenner, and Ray.
- Heroic BSoD: She has one so bad after being notified of Gallant's death that she turns around and picks up two charts to go back to work, as if nothing happened.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Abby.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Only debuted in Season 10 but is one of the most recognizable characters in the show.
- Lethal Chef: According to Ray, her cookies are "the worst cookies ever made in the history of baking." Frank, Chuny and Morris agree with him, although they're more polite about their opinions.
- Naïve Newcomer: Takes on the role of the "hapless medical student" for the show in Season 10. She gradually grows out of it over the next year.
- Official Couple: With Ray.
- One True Love: Ray. Neela's other relationships all fail for different reasons—with Gallant, it was because they barely knew each other, as well as his returning to Iraq despite her not wanting him to, which led to his death; with Gates, it was his constant lying and issues with Meg and Sarah; and with Brenner, it was his inability to open up to her about anything. In stark contrast, her relationship with Ray is open and honest; she enjoys spending time with him and is genuinely happy around him; and even when she dated other guys, she sought him out for advice instead of them, proving she holds a deep trust in him.
- Progressively Prettier: Goes from merely "cute" when she first joins the staff to positively drop-dead gorgeous by the time she leaves.
- She Cleans Up Nicely
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: She shares a few characteristics with Carol. Most notably, their love lives are similar—both Neela and Carol marriednote their first on-screen boyfriends, Gallant and Tag; both of their second boyfriends, Gates and Shep, are paramedics; both only briefly dated their third boyfriends, Brenner and Luka; and both left County Hospital to reunite with their fourth and final boyfriends, Ray and Doug.
Samantha "Sam" Taggart
Played By: Linda Cardellini
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played Straight with her ex-husband Steve and final boyfriend Gates. Inverted with Luka.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Is furious when she sees that Luka has hooked up with the woman he had a fling with while in Africa, even though she herself told him she wanted to take a break. She later gets pissy when Neela develops a short-lived crush on him. A few years later, while dating Gates, she does the same thing—breaks up with him outright, but gets angry when he begins dating someone else.
- Crime of Self-Defense: An assistant district attorney fully intends to prosecute her for murdering her ex-husband, ignoring that said ex-husband was not only a dangerous felon, but one who had committed several more serious felonies (escaping prison, several counts of assault with a deadly weapon/attempted murder, kidnapping, and rape) in the span of a day or so. Luckily for Sam, by this point she's been hired as a private nurse for a very wealthy man who is a big contributor to the district attorney's re-election campaigns, and he casually mentions (read: threatens) to the ADA that he'll be having dinner with the DA later in the week, and wonders if prosecuting Sam is really worth it (the implication being the DA hadn't even been informed yet).
- Deadpan Snarker: One of her defining character traits.Angry Patient: (*banging chair against window*) Hey! You listening?!Sam: Sir, please don't do that.Angry Patient: Why?! You gonna do something about it?!Sam: No.Security Guard: (*tackles Angry Patient*)Sam: But he will.
- Establishing Character Moment: Proceeds to take a needle of a sedative from Morris, jumps in and proceeds to inject the sedative into a mentally disturbed guy who was being incredibly aggressive.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: By the time she saved the money for an abortion, she couldn't work up the nerve to go through with it.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Only debuted in Season 10 but is one of the most recognizable characters in the show.
- Mama Bear: Don't mess with Alex or else she will come after you.
- The Murder After: Kinda. She kills Steve when he falls asleep after raping her.
- Rape as Drama: When her ex-husband escapes from prison (nearly killing both Jerry and Luka in the process), he also kidnaps Alex and Sam. While they're hiding out, he rapes Sam, who has to stay quiet since Alex is sleeping nearby. The entire scene is shot very uncomfortably.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Replaced Abby as the token nurse once Abby decided to return to medical school, though their personalities are very different.
- Teen Pregnancy: She had her son Alex at age 15. Unlike most teen pregnancies though, Sam and her son are fairly level-headed.
- Wife-Basher Basher: Punches out an abusive boyfriend when he not only calls the girl a slut, he grabs Sam's arm, arguably making her actions self-defense.
Played By: Shane West
- Abusive Parents: A Berserk Button for him. In a deleted scene from Season 12, it's implied, but not explicitly stated, that he had a stepfather who suffered from substance abuse. In "Split Decisions", he threatens Zoe's father after he learns that the man beat her. In "A House Divided", he becomes angry with a stepfather who mistreated his stepson, and he tells Kerry that the man reminded him of someone he used to know.
- An Arm and a Leg: He has both of his legs amputated after getting run over by a truck. He later has them replaced with prosthetics.
- Betty and Veronica:
- In Season 12, he's the Veronica to Gallant's Betty for Neela's Archie: Gallant's a military doctor and devoted to Neela, while Ray's a part-time rock musician and a womanizer. Despite Neela and Ray falling in love, she chooses to remain faithful to her boyfriend-turned-husband Gallant.
- In Season 13, he's the Betty to Gates' Veronica for Neela's Archie: Ray's a serious third-year resident who's honest with everyone, while Gates is an arrogant ER intern who constantly lies to save his own neck. Despite Neela initially choosing Gates because she was On the Rebound from losing Gallant, she quickly becomes miserable in the relationship. During Luka and Abby's wedding, Neela breaks up with Gates and chooses Ray...right before the latter gets run over by a truck.
- Also in Season 13, he's the Archie for Neela's Betty and Katey's Veronica: Neela's a serious surgical intern who tries to separate her personal life from her professional life, while Katey's an incompetent medical student who doesn't mind that everyone—especially Neela—is aware of her relationship with Ray. Despite dating Katey, Ray doesn't actually care about her because he already chose Neela in Season 12, and he only dates Katey because he's jealous of Neela's relationship with Gates.
- In the final season, he's the Betty to Brenner's Veronica for Neela's Archie: Ray has come to terms with his accident and enjoys working in the physical medicine and rehabilitation field to help fellow amputees and handicapped patients, while Brenner can't come to terms with his abusive childhood and prefers sleeping around over being an efficient Attending. Despite briefly dating Brenner, Neela already chose Ray at the end of Season 13, and she ultimately leaves Brenner to be with Ray.
- Butt-Monkey: Goes through a bit of trouble, culminating in him losing both of his legs near the end of his tenure as a main cast member. Fortunately, things get better for him when he returns in the final season.
- Commuting on a Bus: After being absent in Season 14, he reappears throughout the final season, far more well-adjusted than he had been in the past, and reignites his relationship with Neela. In the antepenultimate episode, she leaves Chicago to be with him in Baton Rouge, and the penultimate episode reveals that they're living together again.
- Disappeared Dad: Both his biological father and stepfather are mentioned but never shown on-screen. He speaks fondly of his biological father in "Quintessence of Dust", telling one of his patients that his father got him into music and loved the blues. He doesn't feel the same way about his stepfather, though.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Towards Neela. He tries to Defy this by telling her that he's sick of waiting for her to choose him over Gates. However, it's still Played Straight—after Neela loses interest in Gates due to his constant lying and issues with Meg and Sarah, and after Katey breaks up with him because she knows he only has eyes for Neela, Ray admits that he believes his commitment and patience in waiting for Neela to reciprocate his feelings will win her heart.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After everything he went through, he finally gets his happy ending with Neela.
- Friend to All Children
- Hopeless Suitor: For Neela in Seasons 12 and 13.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Following the accident that results in the amputation of both of his legs. When he returns to Chicago for a visit in the final season, he's been fitted with prosthetics and is living as normal a life as possible and has used his injuries to focus his medical practice on those in similar situations.
- Ladykiller in Love: He hooks up with groupies and "hot" women and claims to like them, but he doesn't genuinely care about them. In stark contrast, he outright confesses and shows that he's truly fallen in love with Neela.
- Mr. Fanservice: Getting introduced as part-time doctor and part-time rock musician meant that this was inevitable.
- Official Couple: With Neela.
- One Head Taller: He's 6', while his main love interest Neela is 5'2".
- One True Love: Neela. With other women, he'd state that he merely liked them, or comment on how "hot" they were, or talk about how great the sex was, all of which are superficial, and he never wanted to be serious with any of them. Conversely, Neela is the only woman he confesses his love to, he wants to take her out on dates rather than immediately jumping into bed with her, and he indicates to Pratt that he's thought about settling down with her.
- Put on a Bus: After Season 13.
- Second Love: To Neela, after Gallant.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: He shares a lot of characteristics with Doug—he's initially brash and impulsive and has issues with authoritative figures like Susan and Kerry prior to his Character Development; he has a Berserk Button for Abusive Parents that originated from his own experiences; he has a great rapport with children; he's a handsome and charming stud in and out of the hospital; and despite his constant dalliances with groupies and "hot" women, he genuinely falls in love with Neela, who herself shares a few characteristics with Doug's true love Carol.
Archibald "Archie" Morris
Played By: Scott Grimes
- Ascended Extra: He was a recurring character throughout Seasons 10 and 11 before becoming a main cast member in Season 12.
- Character Development: Probably the most extensive in the show's history. Started out as an annoying, bumbling, incompetent fool who no one liked. Ended as one of the best doctors in the hospital whom everyone respected.
- The Confidant: Abby Lampshades that, by the end of the series, he's become a trustworthy person to come to when it for sharing one's issues. This is reinforced later when Catherine reveals her history with County General to him (she had brought her son there for treatment and he had died there) and Brenner confides to him about getting molested as a child.
- Drugs Are Bad: He got better.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Only debuted in Season 10 but is one of the most recognizable characters in the show.
- Plucky Comic Relief: In the first few years of his tenure. Downplayed later on as he becomes more competent and his comedic lines appear less and less.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Introduced as a Recurring Character in Seasons 10 and 11 before being added to the main cast in Season 12.
- The Stoner: He got better.
Anthony "Tony" Gates
Played By: John Stamos
- Abusive Parents: He was raised by an alcoholic father. He is none too pleased when his father shows up midway through Season 13.
- Ascended Extra: He appeared in two episodes in Season 12. He became a regular in the following season.
- Berserk Button: It's not a good idea to talk about Meg's death in front of him.
- Cock Fight: With Ray over Neela in Season 13, culminating in a fight at Luka and Abby's wedding.
- Love Triangle: He and Ray compete for Neela's affections throughout Season 13. She breaks up with Gates after he and Ray fight at Luka and Abby's wedding, and in the Season 13 finale, she reveals to Ray that she's chosen him over Gates. While Ray initially doesn't want to deal with Neela following his accident, they reconcile and get together in the final season, during which Gates had already moved on to having feelings for Sam, effectively ending the Love Triangle.
- Mr. Fanservice: One of the more sexual characters in the show's last few seasons. A fair amount of his subplots deal with him romancing Neela and then Sam.
- Papa Wolf: To Sarah.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Introduced as a guest character in Season 12 before being added to the main cast the following season.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: As to be expected for someone played by John Stamos. He takes over for Luka in this position after the latter starts Commuting on a Bus.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Is given this by Sam when he lets Alex out of the house against Sam's orders and Alex ends up in a serious car accident. It leads to the destruction of their relationship that lasts until the final episode.
Played By: David Lyons
- Ascended Extra: He was a recurring character towards the end of Season 14. He became a regular in the final season.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: After weeks of being at each other's throats, he and Neela get into a full-fledged shouting match, which of course culminates in them going at it.
- Did Not Get the Girl: In the final two seasons, he falls for Neela and they even briefly become a couple. However, throughout their short relationship, Neela remains in love with Ray, and she ultimately leaves both Brenner and County to be with Ray in Baton Rouge.
- Evil Brit: More like "Jerkass Aussie", but the gist is the same.
- Fiery Redhead
- Ladykiller in Love: His womanizing ways are established from his first scene, but he falls in love with Neela.
- Nepotism: To the point of being either a Stealth Pun—he's Chief of Staff's Donald Anspaugh's nephew (nepotism comes from the Latin word "nepos", which means..."nephew")—or a literal example of Nephewism.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Introduced as a Recurring Character in Season 14 before being added to the main cast the following (final) season.
- Rape as Backstory: His Berserk Button reaction to a pedophile patient leads to him confessing to Morris in "Age of Innocence" that he was molested by one of his mother's boyfriends.
- Really Gets Around: His first scene is of him waking up in bed with two women, and his womanizing reputation is well established afterwards.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: He has a few of Doug's characteristics, namely an abusive past that influences his good (anger about abused children) and bad (sleeping around) behavior.
Catherine "Cate" Banfield
Played By: Angela Bassett
- Black Boss Lady: Not afraid to put people in their place, often with a properly stern expression.
- Broken Bird: Catherine and her husband were devastated by the death of their son. The two were estranged from one another due to the trauma of it for a fair amount of time, though they manage to reunite by the final season.Catherine: I'm not sure why I've done anything I've done since that day. Why'd I not leave my apartment for almost two years? Then I see the news about the tsunami, and I fly to a place 10,000 miles away. Why'd I do that? Why'd I come back? Why did my son have leukemia? I never understood any of it.
Morris: I—I'm sorry for your loss. I...I don't really know what to say.
Catherine: When your parents are gone, you're an orphan. When your spouse dies, you're a widow or widower. But when you lose your baby...there's no word for that.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Her son was one of Mark's last few patients.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Highlighted with her and Morris' interactions. While at the start, there is some friction due to her firmness and his resentment at a stranger taking Pratt's place so soon after his death, by the time of "Heal Thyself", Catherine is able to open up to him about her son's death and Morris looks at her in a different light.
- Remember the New Guy?: Despite her son supposedly being one of Mark's last patients, she was nowhere to be seen in Season 8.
- Second Episode Introduction: She makes her first appearance in the second episode of the final season, following Pratt's death in the first episode.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Bossy, abrasive, takes charge, and takes no nonsense? Sounds a lot like either Kerry Weaver or Angela Hicks.
Played By: Ellen Crawford
- Awesome by Analysis: She has the ability to very accurately diagnose a patient's blood alcohol level simply from smelling their breath.
- Back for the Finale: After leaving the cast in Season 10, she returns in the Grand Finale waking up Archie the same way she woke mark in the Pilot, giving her character a book-end.
- Happily Married: to to police officer Alfred Grabarsky as of Season 3.
- Put on a Bus: Departs the cast in Season 10 after getting fired.
Played By: Abraham Benrubi
- Commuting on a Bus: Appeared regularly up until Season 4, disappeared for a bit in the middle of Season 4 (it was later explained that he was moved to nights due to accidentally blowing up the ambulance bay), then left at the end of Season 5 for unknown reasons. Returned again during Season 8, left again during Season 13, and returned partway through the final season. His Seasons 13-15 absence was Lampshaded as him "slinging beers in Alaska," which is a reference to Benrubi's character on Men in Trees.
- Gentle Giant: Was used as a bouncer of sorts on occasion, but never really got violent with anyone. In "The Human Shield", he even reminds Sam that he abhors violence.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: He seemed to get hit with this a couple of times in Season 12. First, when Neela and Gallant were getting married, he suddenly morphed into a Universal Life Church minister. Later on, when they needed an ASL interpreter and Ray's own skills with the language are limited, guess who happens to be the only other member of staff with any ASL skills? None of these had been brought up prior to when they were needed, and in the case of the ASL, he had never been shown signing to anyone on staff, let alone teaching Benton or Ray. It's possible that he learned ASL after Benton's departure, but it's never made explicitly clear.
- Plucky Comic Relief
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Eventually becomes this with Frank, although they'd never admit it.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Had a fear of dead people early on in the series. Also afraid of thunderstorms, although the latter seems to be justified.
Played By: Troy Evans
- Ascended Extra: Debuted all the way back in the Pilot as a cop.
- Big Eater: Oh boy. This led to his heart attack.
- Deadpan Snarker: A lot. Sometimes this was combined with his Jerkass behaviour, other times it was his method of communicating.
- Friend to All Children: Does make some snarky remarks about the staff's kids behind their back, but is shown to be more patient and concerned for their health and wellbeing compared to other patients.
- The Generation Gap: Was implied to be the reason behind his jerkass behaviour. The further along the series went, he became less of a Jerkass.
- Hidden Depths:
- It was later revealed that he had a wife and a daughter with what looked like Downs Syndrome and was also a war veteran.
- His reaction to the deaths or injuries of various staff members (Mark, Gallant, Jerry, Pratt) reveals that he genuinely likes and respects them despite his gruff demeanor.
- He's also a very good cook, as indicated when he gives Catherine a recipe when she's debating what to prepare for her visiting in-laws.
- Goes all out to give Neela a nice going away party as a means of apologizing to her for the bigoted comments he made about her ethnicity and nationality when she first joined the staff.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's initially a Jerkass, but he gets better after his heart attack.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To Jerry.
Played By: Mariska Hargitay
- Butt-Monkey: She has toruble keeping her shit together.
- The McCoy: She's overly emotional, and it often affects her work.
- Naïve Newcomer: She's introduced having just moved to Chicago and her inexperience at hospital work has landed her on water with several of the staff, Carol most notably.
- Romantic False Lead: He and Mark briefly became an item.