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Series / St. Elsewhere

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Airing on NBC from 1982 to 1988, St. Elsewhere was the first prime-time Medical Drama series in almost a decade to use continuity for Character Development. It would be a model for many shows that followed it, including ER.

It was all about the staff, and to a lesser extent the patients, in the rundown Boston teaching hospital St. Eligius (sardonically nicknamed "St. Elsewhere"). The show was Soap Operatic at times, with frequent doses of Black Comedy, and had numerous Very Special Episodes. It ran for six seasons, appeared to have strong continuity for the most part, was written well enough for the most part that people got attached to the characters, had crossed over with numerous other network properties (most notably sister series Homicide: Life on the Street) and it was both popular and critically acclaimed while it was running. It was truly Must-See TV.


...Well, until the controversial Grand Finale. At the end, as the camera zoomed out to show snow falling on St. Eligius, America discovered the horrible truth about the events they had witnessed over the past six years: the camera continues to pan out, showing that the hospital is actually just a model of a hospital in a snowglobe. The events of the past six years (and hundreds of other shows, if you include the web of crossovers that this show famously sits within) are all just the imaginative daydreams of the autistic Tommy Westphall, based on his favourite snowglobe. This final scene continues to be debated to this day, thanks mostly to the proliferation of crossovers that both Elsewhere and Homicide enjoyed.

As a result, St. Elsewhere is now remembered as the definitive All Just a Dream series, although it can also be seen as Breaking the Fourth Wall (with the snow globe containing the hospital representing the television set containing all the fictional events, as a metaphorical way to finish the story).


William Daniels starred as Dr. Mark Craig. David Morse played Dr. Jack Morrison. A young Denzel Washington had one of his first big roles as Dr. Phillip Chandler.

Now has a character sheet.

This show contains examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: In the Season Three finale "Cheers", Dr. Westphall resigns as the Director of Medicine of St. Eligius in order to help victims of the famine in Ethiopia. In the final scene of the Season Four premiere "Remembrance of Things Past", which takes place one month later, he returns to the hospital. In the next episode "Fathers and Sons", Westphall explains that the experience taught him that Boston was where he was most needed.
  • Accidental Public Confession: A Type 3 example in "Attack", when Roberta tells the page nurse about her marital problems with Victor, not realizing she had just turned the hospital's PA mic on while looking for a pencil.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In "Hearts" and "Remission", it is mentioned that Dr. Auschlander is a fan of Charlie Chaplin films. Norman Lloyd, a good friend of Chaplin's, played Bodalink in his final American-made film Limelight.
    • In "After Dark", Shirley Daniels goes to the morgue to get "the report on that Hasselhoff car wreck," a reference to William Daniels' concurrent role as the voice of KITT.
    • In "Playing God, Part 2", Ellen wonders what is on The Merv Griffin Show. Dr. Craig replies, "Probably some stupid comic." When he turns on the television, Howie Mandel's stand-up can be heard.
    • In "Close Encounters", the amnesiac mental patient John Doe #6 comes to believe that he is Mary Richards from The Mary Tyler Moore Show after seeing it on television. He mistakes Captain Gloria Neal, who is played by Betty White, for the happy homemaker Sue Ann Nivens, White's character on the series. Captain Neal explains that he has confused her with someone else.
    • In "Where There's Hope, There's Crosby", Dr. Craig starts singing "Sit Down, John" from 1776 when the Craigs go to Philadelphia. He also says that he doesn't know what Ellen saw in him as he was "obnoxious and disliked." John Adams is frequently described using this phrase in the play.
    • In "Getting Ahead", while reading The Cutting Edge, Dr. Kiem wonders why Asian women are always portrayed as either geishas or Suzie Wong, unaware that the novel was written by Dr. Craig and the character in question is based on her. France Nuyen, who played Dr. Kiem, was originally cast as the title character in The World of Suzie Wong but was replaced by Nancy Kwan.
    • In "Jose, Can You See?", when Ellen Craig suggests that she restarts grief counseling after a few events re-trigger her pain following their son Stephen's death, Mark Craig dismissively tells her "Simon's Broadway bound." Philip Sterling, the actor who played psychiatrist Dr. Simon Weiss, was appearing on stage in Broadway Bound at the time.
    • Before Victor's wedding to Lucy in "The Idiot and the Odyssey", as he's having second thoughts due to a mysterious other woman, Dr. Craig tells him, "This is not 1968. It's time you graduate into adulthood. Don't drive over troubled waters with some plastic bimbette." A shout-out to The Graduate (William Daniels played Dustin Hoffman's father in the movie), its theme song singers Simon & Garfunkel, and the famous one word of investment advice.
    • Also in "The Idiot and the Odyssey", Ellen rejects Mark's gift of a mink coat as she does not want to look like Mamie Eisenhower. Bonnie Bartlett (Ellen) previously played Mrs. Eisenhower in the 1979 miniseries Ike.
    • In "Heart On", Jack Morrison tells his wife Joanne, who is hiding under the covers of their bed, that he has made a list of thirtysomething guests for their upcoming housewarming party. Patricia Wettig (Joanne) left St. Elsewhere after "The Idiot and the Odyssey" as a result of being cast as Nancy Weston in thirtysomething.
    • In "Heaven's Skate", Judge Farnham (Jack Dodson) asks to get a haircut from Floyd the barber of The Andy Griffith Show. Dodson played Howard Sprague on the series.
    • Also in "Heaven's Skate", Fiscus tells Griffin that some people thought that Bobby Caldwell, who has recently died from AIDS, was the sexiest man alive. While starring in St. Elsewhere, Mark Harmon was named the Sexiest Man Alive by People in 1986.
    • In "Requiem for a Heavyweight", Fiscus lists several works of fiction with titles relating to distance or locations, including South Pacific. France Nuyen (Dr. Kiem) played Liat in the 1958 film adaptation.
    • In "Split Decision", Dr. Auschlander mentions that Chaplain Claire McCabe and Penny Franks are watching an Alfred Hitchcock film. Norman Lloyd appeared in two Hitchcock films, Saboteur and Spellbound. He also produced Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well as directing and appearing in numerous episodes.
  • Affectionate Nickname: In "Hello, Goodbye", before even finding out his name, Clancy gives her soon-to-be boyfriend Jack the nickname "Boomer" when she approaches him on the street and asks him to sign her nuclear freeze petition. In the next episode "Playing God, Part 1", she visits him at the hospital and refers to him as "Boomer" in the presence of his friends. For the remainder of the series, the other residents call him "Boomer," even after he and Clancy break up and he marries Joanne. In "Nothing Up My Sleeve", Phil and Jackie admit that they can't remember why they started calling him "Boomer."
  • Alliterative Title: "Russian Roulette".
  • And Starring: William Daniels gets an "and starring as Dr. Mark Craig" credit in the open. Averted, however, during the final season, in which he's given top billing following the departure of Ed Flanders.
  • Annoying Patient: Throughout Season Three, Mrs. Hufnagel manages to insult, belittle, annoy or offend every single prominent character, with the exception of Bobby Caldwell whom she charms.
  • Anyone Can Die: Not even Santa Claus and Mimsie (MTM Enterprises' adorable kitten mascot) are safe.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: While the series was pretty thorough in researching medicine, procedures, conditions, diseases, etc., it played fast and loose with how hospitals worked, specifically in regards to the residency program. For one thing, in the first two seasons the main residents are repeatedly referred to as "First Year Residents" and by no other title. Later, in the episode "Time Heals, Part I", Craig speaks of his "Internship" under Dr. David Domedian and is seemingly offended when the journalist he's talking to calls it a "Residency", almost as if an "Intern" is something better than being a mere "Resident", not to mention Domedian refers to "all these years you've been an intern under me" Intern is just another name for "First Year Resident". There is a slight difference; in your first year you are not allowed to administer treatment or give an official diagnosis without say-so from a senior physician, and other restrictions that gradually get removed with each year of residency. Craig would not have spent "years" as an Intern under Domedian, and there's no reason he should have gotten offended over being called a Resident. Finally there is the fact that most Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine residencies are four years long, not three, as portrayed on this show, which wanted to end on the emotional note of having the residents move on to bigger things, but had only portrayed them as having completed three years. One area of accuracy is that surgical residencies are longer, which is shown by Wade lamenting that she will not be moving on with them...but for some reason, Ehrlich will be.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Dr. Jackie Wade (Sagan Lewis) goes from a character with one line in the pilot to recurring character in the same season before getting promoted to the opening titles in Season 6.
    • Lucy Papandrao (Jennifer Savidge) has a similar arc: she's an uncredited nurse in the pilot's OR scene who appears as a recurring character the same season, with more prominent appearances in the following years.
  • As Himself:
    • In "Sweet Dreams", ZZ Top perform their song "Legs" in Luther's music video inspired dream in which he and the Eliminator girls have fun around the hospital.
    • In "Bye, George", Fiscus fails to recognise Michael Dukakis when he arrives at St. Eligius with a sprained ankle. He does not believe him when he gives his occupation as Governor of Massachusetts.
    • In "Getting Ahead", Robb Weller interviews John Doe #6 (calling himself "Dr. C") about "his" sleazy bestseller The Cutting Edge, which he actually stole from Dr. Craig.
    • In "Heaven's Skate", Dr. Craig and Jackie Wade meet the award-winning figure skaters Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia at the Aschenberg Ice Rink.
  • Attempted Rape: In "After Dark", Peter White tries to rape Wendy Armstrong but Fiscus stops him.
  • Bar Brawl: In the episode "Remembrance of Things Past" between Chandler, Fiscus, Caldwell, Ehrlich, and some rude drunks. Includes a Bar Slide.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Victor and Lucy develop a serious case of it.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition:
    • In "Haunted", the Craigs' son Stephen dies after getting into a car accident - caused by his using both cocaine and barbiturates - while driving himself and his heavily pregnant new wife Yvonne Galecki back to Ohio at the end of the previous episode "Fathers and Sons". The next day, Dr. Roxanne Turner is forced to deliver the baby by caesarean section while Yvonne is still comatose. The baby is a girl, who is later named Barbara.
    • In "Family Feud", Senator Gordon Endicott is assassinated in the St. Eligius chapel while his mother Augusta is undergoing quadruple bypass surgery. The next day, his heavily pregnant niece Sarah Preston is distraught by not only his death but the effect that it is having on her grandmother. The trauma of the situation causes her to go into premature labor and the baby is delivered by caesarean section. It is a boy, whom she names Gordon after her late uncle.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Poor Cathy Martin. After being raped twice and beaten by Peter White, she is irrevocably broken.
    • Dr. Morrison has a pretty tragic run of luck throughout the series. His first wife dies, he nearly loses his job multiple times, his son is kidnapped, he gets raped and severely beaten, and then his second wife moves away to be closer to her children from a previous marriage. He ends up ok in the end, though.
  • Break the Haughty: Dr. Craig. His son dies, his artificial heart patient regrets his surgery and then dies, he punches a mirror and injures his hand, leaving him unable to operate, and his wife leaves him and begins an affair with another man. They eventually reconcile. Oh, and in one episode, he's mistaken for being homeless.
  • Brick Joke: Throughout Season 5, Dr. Auschlander makes reference to a news, sport, or cultural event in his conversations with other doctors, with the references going back three years each subsequent episode. By the end of the season, the references are close to the time Auschlander was born. Not coincidentally, his mental state has also degraded to the point where he is like a helpless child. This was done so subtly in the scripts, Norman Lloyd didn't even catch on until the producers told him.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The nymphomaniac Hospital Hottie, pathologist Dr. Cathy Martin.
  • Bury Your Gays: Mostly averted. While there are several storylines involving AIDS, nearly all are straight men or infants. There is only one notable storyline involving a gay patient with AIDS, but it is a story arc that lasts for much of season 6.
  • Butt-Monkey: Boomer Morrison's wife dies tragically, his toddler son disappears (but eventually is found), he gets raped during a prison riot by the husband of a former patient in an especially brutal Call-Back to Season 1, and then later said rapist is paroled, stalks Boomer, and finally takes him and his new wife and kids hostage, only to be saved when Boomer's son, who's around three by now, shoots the rapist dead.
  • The Bus Came Back: Shirley Daniels, twice.
  • Bus Crash: Bobby Caldwell's (off-screen) death from AIDS in season six's "Heaven's Skate".
  • Call-Back: Early in Season 1, a sociopathic domestic terrorist (Tim Robbins in his first on-screen role) detonates a bomb in a bank, killing and wounding many, including the bomber. The casualties are brought to St. Eligius, including the bomber. The husband of one of the victims comes to the hospital, and after his wife dies ends up wandering around aimlessly throughout the episode. Finally, when the time comes to transfer the bomber to the US Marshals, the distraught husband appears out of nowhere and shoots the bomber dead. Roll credits. Now, flash forward several seasons. Boomer Morrison is volunteering at a prison clinic, where he ends up treating the husband who's been serving hard time for murdering the bomber. Somehow during the episode, a prison riot breaks out, Boomer ends up being taken hostage by the husband who then proceeds to make with the prison rape.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: In "Once Upon a Mattress", the notoriously taciturn Jack Morrison attempts to cheer up Fiscus, who is recuperating after being shot, by telling him a joke. This well-intentioned effort fails miserably as Jack changes the names of the characters in the joke several times and forgets several parts of it.
  • Career-Ending Injury: In "Brand New Bag", Warren Coolidge mentions that his chances of playing basketball in the NBA ended when he hurt his knee. He subsequently dropped out of Carver High School, which he attended in The White Shadow, and became an orderly.
  • Catchphrase: Dr. Craig. "Oh, for crying out loud!". And, occasionally, "This is all your fault, Ellen".
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • Sort of. In the Season 2 episode "Hello, Goodbye", Morrison takes his son to "the bar that inspired Cheers", but then in the Season 3 episode "Cheers", Dr. Craig and Dr. Westphall visit the bar from Cheers where they interact with the characters from the show!
    • Warren Coolidge, who previously appeared as a main character in The White Shadow, is an orderly at St. Eligius. However, "Close Encounters" establishes that The White Shadow is a television show.
    • In "Dr. Wyler, I Presume", Dr. Craig mentions his old Army buddy B.J. from The Korean War, a reference to M*A*S*H character Captain B.J. Hunnicutt. In "Close Encounters", Dr. Auschlander chooses Trapper John, a main character on M*A*S*H and later the protagonist of the dramatic spin-off Trapper John, M.D., as the fictional character whom he would most like to be. B.J. replaced Trapper John in M*A*S*H after Wayne Rogers' departure.
  • Character Development: Many characters went through this as the show went on, most notably Victor Ehrlich (who matures enough to marry nurse Lucy Papandrao in the last season) and Luther Hawkins (who becomes a protege of sorts to Dr. Auschlander, and ends up becoming a physicians' assistant by series end).
  • Christmas Episode: A particularly heartwrenching one following the death of the Craigs' son, which is also the one where they actually kill off Santa Claus himself!
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Drs. Ben Samuels, Hugh Beale, Cathy Martin, VJ Kochar, and Annie Cavanero disappear without explanation.
  • Clip Show: The Season 5 episode "Good Vibrations".
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Dr. Cathy Martin.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In "Sanctuary", a homeless man claims to be Michael Dukakis but Jackie Wade naturally does not believe him. The scene features the exact same dialogue as occurred between Fiscus and the real Governor Dukakis in "Bye, George".
    • When Bobby Caldwell is leaving St. Eligius for the last time after his AIDS diagnosis in "Family Affair", he is carrying the firefighter's helmet given to him by Manny Schecter in "Up on the Roof".
    • "Time Heals, Part 1" features a flashback to 1965 showing the St. Eligius emergency room being built. Dr. Auschlander tells the maintenance supervisor Raleigh Morlin not to skimp on the insulation. In "Breathless", Raleigh was diagnosed with asbestosis as a result of having installed asbestos in the building's walls and ceilings for many years up until the mid 1970s.
    • In "Time Heals, Part 2", Dr. Auschlander tells Father Joseph McCabe in a flashback to 1945 that he was forced to break up with his fiancée before World War II because he was Jewish and she was a gentile. In "Attack", his former fiancée Margaret Ryan, an Irish Catholic, was a patient at St. Eligius. After seeing each other for the first time in 45 years, they both regretted that they had not defied their parents and married over their objections.
    • In "Once Upon a Mattress", after getting into an argument with his wife Katherine on their 40th anniversary, Dr. Auschlander asks her if she knows where to get an egg cream in Boston. They then proceed to re-enact their first conversation, which led directly to their first date and first kiss, as depicted in a flashback to 1945 in "Time Heals, Part 2". They reconcile after this trip down memory lane.
    • Kevin O'Casey, whose family's history with St. Eligius is explored in "Time Heals", returns as the boyfriend of the AIDS patient Brett Johnston in Season Six.
    • In the Series Finale "The Last One", Fiscus recalls working with Ben Samuels and Annie Cavanero. This is the only reference to these two victims of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome after their departure.
  • Covers Always Lie: The DVD box sets for this series feature Denzel Washington prominently, as if he was the lead character. His picture is larger than all the other actors. Washington was a member of the ensemble, his character a great deal less prominent than those played by William Daniels, Ed Begley, Jr., David Morse or Ed Flanders. But Washington would later become a beloved, 2-time Oscar-winning movie star, his current career eclipsing everyone else from this series. To not market the DVD's with Washington's picture would be unthinkable, from a business standpoint.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Sometimes played straight, but often averted.
  • Crossover: The show had connections with a number of other shows and had minor crossovers with others...including Cheers, of all things. In 1998, Alfre Woodard reprised her role as Dr. Roxanne Turner in the Homicide: Life on the Street episode "Mercy". In 2000, Ed Begley, Jr. reprised his role as Victor Ehrlich in a cameo appearance in Homicide: The Movie, though he is not named. Private contractor Weigert was also prominently featured in several storylines in Oz, having taken over the prison's medical ward following a deal with the Governor.
  • Cuckoo Nest: Either a subversion, or a really hardcore example.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Dr. Westphall's children Tommy and Lizzie are named after his late parents.
  • Dead Person Conversation: In "After Life", Wayne Fiscus is shot in the emergency room and experiences a vision of the afterlife. He meets Ralph and Murray Robbin in Purgatory, Eve Leighton and the hospital's namesake St. Eligius in Heaven and Peter White in Hell.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: In "Sweet Dreams", Ehrlich's dream about being on an island of Amazon women is shown in black and white as it is an Affectionate Parody of adventure films of the 1930s to the 1950s.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Joan Halloran (Nancy Stafford), an administrator brought in by the City of Boston to improve efficiency at the hospital, goes from a regular character in the opening credits in season 2 and having major clashes with Drs. Westphall, Auschlander, and Craig, as well as having a romance arc with Bobby Caldwell, to a recurring character in season 3. Halloran's screen time would continue to be reduced until she ultimately got Put on a Bus after Stafford left to play Michelle Thomas on Matlock.
    • This happens to Dr. Vijay Kochar, a regular character in the first two seasons. He only makes seven appearances in the last four seasons.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Ehrlich is an expert at this trope.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Hearing" refers to both the struggles of the deaf radiologist Lee Tovan to gain the respect of his supervisor Al Kleckner and Peter White facing a hearing before the Medical Board for improperly dispensing drugs.
  • Downer Ending: The finale's reveal that it was All Just a Dream, although that evidently wasn't enough since the credits make it worse by killing Mimsie, the kitten mascot. Spoiler note 
  • Dreaming the Truth: In "Sweet Dreams", while participating in a dream research project, Morrison has a dream in which he sees Peter White, who was killed in the previous episode "Fade to White". The experience allows Morrison to come to terms with the fact that Cathy Martin was telling the truth when she accused White of raping her. Morrison had been the only person to believe him and to support through thick and thin during his rape trial.
  • Driven to Suicide: In "Family Affair", Bobby Caldwell plans to commit suicide with 50 ccs of curare and half a liter of IV saline as he was diagnosed with AIDS in the previous episode "Family Feud". However, his attempt is interrupted by water leaking into his apartment from upstairs. His young neighbor Cynthia frantically knocks at his door and asks for his help in cleaning up her apartment, which was flooded when the bath overran in her parents' absence.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr. Craig and Dr. Ehrlich.
    • Also a rather extreme example with Peter White. Even before his ultimate slide into darkness, he was shown having extreme anger management issues, and taking them out on anyone near him, including patients and his wife, not to mention his routinely shirking duty and practically forcing others (mostly Morrison) to cover for him, his tendency to blame any of his misfortunes on anyone but himself, and his habit of complaining loudly about things all the doctors have to go through.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Dr. Peter White. Also, Helen Rosenthal went into drug rehab due to an addiction to prescription pain killers.
  • Elevator Failure: In "Loss of Power", Dr. Westphall spends more than five hours stuck in an elevator with an English musician, who is also named Donald, with a bleak view of the world. The failure was caused by a citywide blackout and compounded by the hospital's malfunctioning generator.
  • Everybody Smokes: Especially in the early episodes. Patients smoke in their rooms and doctors smoke in the hallways, and it's all quite jarring for a modern audience. Even series regular Dr Mark Craig finds it disturbing.
  • Every Episode Ending: Every episode ends with the picture freezing on the last few seconds of action.
  • Extreme Libido: In "The Children's Hour", Mrs. Dowd is a nymphomaniac whose propensity to have sex with her husband Ramon, a traction patient, almost leads Helen to ban her from the hospital. Ehrlich is sympathetic and has Luther find the Dowds somewhere quiet and out of the way. To Ehrlich's consternation, Luther puts them in Dr. Craig's office as he is at a Soviet-American medical conference. However, Dr. Craig returns to St. Eligius a day ahead of schedule as the conference ended early due to someone (possibly him) making a Red joke. Ehrlich and Luther are forced to hide the Dowds. Dr. Craig does not find what was his office was being used for in his absence but he does find Mrs. Dowd's underwear in his chair.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: "Newheart" and "Qui Transtulit Sustinet" take place over the course of about thirteen or fourteen hours on the same day.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Dr. White, who is revealed to be the serial rapist who is preying on women in and around St. Eligius.
  • Fake-Out Opening:
    • "Where There's Hope, There's Crosby" begins with the camera panning around what appears to be the empty emergency room of St. Eligius. When the camera reaches the entrance to the hospital, Luther's giant smiling face is seen. It turns out that it is a model that Drs. Westphall and Auschlander had made for the hospital's founder Father Joseph McCabe.
    • "Not My Type" opens with Dr. Westphall, Helen Rosenthal and Carol Novino rushing to Dr. Auschlander's office to resuscitate him. They try valiantly but are unable to revive him and he is pronounced dead. Dr. Craig then bursts into the office and gets to work on him, determined to use his vast skills to save Auschlander's life. It is then revealed that this is nothing more than a fictional account of Craig's heroic exploits that he wrote after getting distracted with his memoirs. It is the first of several fantasy sequences involving Dr. Auschlander's death from various different causes (including being murdered by Westphall) in the episode.
    • The Season Six premiere "Resurrection" appears to begin immediately where the Season Five finale "Last Dance at the Wrecker's Ball" left off. St. Eligius is about to be demolished with Dr. Auschlander inside. When the wrecking ball strikes the hospital entrance, the roof of the lobby collapses, seemingly crushing Auschlander. However, he flies out from under the rubble wearing a Superman costume with an "A" in place of the Man of Steel's usual "S." At this point, it becomes apparent that this is a dream that Auschlander is having. In reality, the demolition was stopped after the ball had struck the building only once, causing very minor damage, as the hospital was bought by the Ecumena Corporation. Auschlander managed to escape, though he tore a ligament in his left leg in the process.
  • Faking the Dead: In "Visiting Daze", Victor Ehrlich learns that his parents Lewis and Helen Ehrlich, whom he had believed had been killed in a car accident in 1961, are alive and well. It turns out that their real names are Lech and Olga Oseransky. They were CIA operates who were captured after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. The CIA faked their deaths as a cover story. Lech and Olga were imprisoned on the Isle of Pines until the US government managed to negotiate their release in 1987.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Attack", Cathy Martin tells Shirley Daniels and Jackie Wade that the serial rapist will not come after her as she does not have a victim aura. At the end of the episode, however, Cathy is the latest victim of the rapist, who turns out to be Peter White.
  • Former Teen Rebel: In "Time Heals, Part 2", it is revealed that Donald Westphall was a rebellious teen in 1945 who skipped school and stole the pocketbooks of two patients at St. Eligius. His father Thomas sent him to Father Joseph McCabe to straighten him out. In order to pay back the money that he stole, Westphall began working as a shoeshine boy at the hospital. This eventually led him to study medicine and return to St. Eligius as a doctor, becoming Director of Medicine in 1975.
  • Fourth Date Marriage:
    • After knowing each other for only six months and dating for only a few weeks, Dr. Ehrlich and Roberta Sloan get married in "In Sickness and in Health". It doesn't last.
    • In "Where There's Hope, There's Crosby", Jack Morrison marries his second wife Joanne McFadden. In the next episode "When You Wish Upon a Scar", Joanne tells Dr. Westphall that they were friends throughout their childhood in Seattle and were fixed up by Jack's brother David. After only two dates, Jack asked her to marry him but she turned him down. However, Joanne changed her mind and came to Boston to be with him.
    • In "Split Decision", Luther Hawkins and Penny Franks get married after only knowing each other for about a month.
  • Funny Background Event: When Westphall leaves the hospital temporarily in the season 4 premiere, a frazzled Lucy Papandrao tells one of the characters she feels like screaming. When the character has a conversation with another doctor, Lucy is seen behind them in the nurse's lounge, screaming.
  • Funny Foreigner: In early seasons, VJ Kochar frequently mangles idioms and describes over the top depictions of customs of his home village in India.
  • Gainax Ending: One of the most famous examples: the whole show was all in the imagination of an autistic kid. What.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Dr. Craig's artificial heart patient ended up feeling like a freak, with a side of What Have I Become?.
  • Gratuitous Rape: Dr. Morrison couldn't catch a break.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: While he's being treated for a massive heart attack that almost killed him, Dr. Elliot Axelrod's room-mate goes into a Code Blue situation. Elliot, despite being on his last legs, gets out of bed to help as he's technically the closest doctor around. The strain and the stress of cause Axelrod to have another heart attack, but even while dying himself he gets the patient's heart restarted.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen:
    • Dr. Oliver London, Craig's main surgical rival at St. Eligius. However, he makes two brief, wordless appearances in flashbacks to 1955 in "Time Heals, Part 2".
    • Robert Wade, Jackie Wade's husband.
  • Hollywood Tourette's: One Very Special Episode featured a homeless woman with Tourette's who spewed profanity and racial slurs.
  • Hospital Gurney Scene: This is basically Once per Episode.
  • Hostage Situation: In "Dog Day Hospital", Barbara Lonnicker, who is heavily pregnant with her ninth child, holds Craig, Ehrlich, Vijay and the rest of the surgical team at gunpoint in the middle of an operation. She demands to see Dr. Tim Finnan, who performed a vasectomy on her husband Bob the previous year, so that she can kill him. Fortunately for Dr. Finnan, he is on vacation in Mexico. It turns out that Bob never had the vasectomy as he could not go through with it. Barbara does not take it well and tries to kill him.
  • Identical Grandson: In "Time Heals, Part 2", Ed Flanders plays Donald Westphall's father Thomas Westphall in Flashbacks to 1935.
  • I Have This Friend: Ehrlich tries this one a lot.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Composed by Dave Grusin.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Several, which raises some interesting questions...
  • It Is Not Your Time: Wayne Fiscus' near-death experience after being shot by an ER patient in "After Life".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dr. Craig. He's a rude, arrogant, pompous windbag and has an absolutely atrocious bedside manner. But don't ever question whether he cares about the lives he saves.
  • Killed Off for Real: Main characters who were Killed Off for Real include Dr. White (shot by Shirley Daniels), Nina Morrison's sudden death due to a freak slip-and-fall head injury, Wendy Armstrong's suicide, Mrs. Hufnagel getting eaten by her hospital bed, Elliot Axelrod's heart attack., and Dr. Auschlander's death in the finale.
  • Last-Name Basis: Helen's children half-jokingly refer to each other by their respective fathers' surnames since their mother is a Serial Spouse: Marcy (Eisenberg), Julie (Silverman 1), Jimmy (Silverman 2), Erin (Scheinfeld) and Jeff (Rosenthal).
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Especially in the first couple of seasons.
  • Logo Joke: The MTM kitten (Mimsie) meows while in a surgical outfit, which is adorable. At the very end of the Grand Finale, while the audience is still reeling from the infamous final scene, she flatlines and dies.
  • Love Triangle: In "Family Feud", there are several related, increasingly complicated examples. Clancy Williams is Dr. Morrison's ex-girlfriend. Fiscus was briefly engaged to a surgical nurse named Mona Polito. The engagement was called off but Fiscus still has feelings for Mona and wants to give it another go. Clancy wants to pursue a relationship with him as she had fun when the two of them went for pizza with Pete in the previous episode "Family Ties". In the meantime, Morrison wants to get back together with Clancy but Mona invites him on a date. Things come to a head at Morrison's birthday party when everyone changes their mind so that Mona wants to be with Fiscus, who wants to be Clancy, who wants to be with Morrison, who wants to be with Mona. For his part, Ehrlich wants Mona to be with Clancy. In the next episode "Family Affair", Fiscus and Clancy go out on a date. In bed that night, Clancy admits that she was serious about dating Morrison again but realised that things would never work out between them as she thought of him more as a brother.
  • Lower-Deck Episode:
    • "The Women" is predominantly told from the perspective of three patients sharing a room: Evelyn Milbourne, Rose Orso and Paige Gerradeaux.
    • "Rites of Passage" is largely told from the perspective of three boys sharing a room in the children's ward: Elvis, Ryan Deaton and Michael Skelton.
  • Magical Defibrillator: Frequently, but not always.
  • Marijuana Is LSD: When Dr. Auschlander asks Dr. Fiscus to get him some pot to help with the side effects of chemo in "Hearing", Intoxication Ensues.
  • Matzo Fever: Helen Rosenthal has a case of this, admitting that she is "fatally attracted to Jewish men."
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In "Playing God, Part 2", Dr. Fiscus' unconscious young patient is accompanied by a middle-aged woman claiming to be his fairy godmother; a miraculous improvement in the boy's condition and the random appearance and disappearance of the woman have Fiscus wondering.
  • Meaningful Name: In "Under Pressure", "Entrapment" and "All About Eve", Eddie Carson is a Protestant unionist teenager from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. Sir Edward Carson was the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party from 1910 to 1921.
  • Mind Screw: The All Just a Dream revelation in the Series Finale.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • In "A Wing and a Prayer", a butcher thinks that Dr. Craig and Dr. Ehrlich are a couple when they both arrive at his shop independently of each other and try to buy a turkey for the St. Eligius Thanksgiving dinner.
    • In "Tears of a Clown", Dr. Craig and Dr. Westphall by a British real estate agent showing them an apartment. This leads to a Separated by a Common Language moment when she offers Westphall a cigarette by asking "fag?"
  • Monochrome Past: In "Time Heals, Part 1", all of the 1935 sequences are shown in black and white. The first 1935 scene in "Time Heals, Part 2" begins in black and white but changes to full color when the six-year-old Donald Westphall sees Patrick O'Casey's blood on the floor as he is being brought into St. Eligius. From then onwards, each 1935 scene is in black and white for the first few seconds before changing to color.
  • Mistaken for Gay: In "Tears of a Clown", a real estate agent believes Donald and Mark are a gay couple when they are checking out an apartment.
  • Mister Seahorse: In "A Moon for the Misbegotten", a patient named Michael Gold believes that he is pregnant. Although Elliot tells him to send Michael to psych, Luther instead obtains a urine sample in order to prove to Michael that he couldn't possibly be pregnant. Both Luther and Dr. Morrison are shocked that the test indicates that Michael is really pregnant. However, it turns out that Michael had been exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning, which messed up the test results. It also caused the delusion of pregnancy, combined with Michael's severe guilt over killing a little girl during The Vietnam War.
  • Murphy's Bed: Mrs. Hufnagel is discovered trapped in her bed like this in a Season 3 episode "Murder, She Rote". For the most part it's treated seriously, but there's also some degree of comedy, as Luther, who discovers her, doesn't take it seriously until he notices she's not responding, and two of the first three doctors he tells about it can't help but chuckle. It's also played with in that, while the bear-trap bed certainly didn't help things, that wasn't what actually did her in.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: In "Rites of Passage", Elvis was named after Elvis Presley.
  • Napoleon Delusion: "John Doe #6", a patient in the psych ward who suffered from amnesia and imagined himself at various times to be different people including Mary Richards, William Shakespeare, John McEnroe, and Dr. Craig.
  • Near-Death Experience: Fiscus has one after getting shot in "After Life".
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In "Family Ties", "Family Feud" and "Family Affair", the Endicotts, a famous, wealthy, political family from Massachusetts who are considered American royalty, are basically the Kennedys with a different name. Gordon Endicott is a senator who is seeking his party's nomination for the 1988 presidential election. There is No Party Given but he is hinted to be a Democrat. However, the senator is assassinated, in the presence of his son Michael, in the St. Eligius chapel by a crazed man named Lennox who hates the Endicott family. His mother and the much loved family matriarch Augusta Endicott, who receives a quadruple bypass at the hospital, is based on Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. Like the Kennedys, the Endicotts have suffered many tragedies. Gordon is the third of Augusta's children whom she has outlived as Richard died of pleurisy in 1936 and Franklin committed suicide in 1979. In "Family Ties", Gordon's son Douglas mentions that the family has a compound on Cape Cod.
  • Nocturnal Emission: In "Rites of Passage", a young boy named Elvis believes that he has cancer after experiencing his first nocturnal emission. Dr. Auschlander, who really does have cancer, sets his mind at ease by explaining the facts of life.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Dr. Westphall sets up a community outreach program, to have the residents perform community service. Dr. Ehrlich goes to work with inner city youths and gets mugged. Dr Chandler goes to work at a women's health clinic, which is bombed by protesters. The next day, a second bomb goes off at St. Eligius, injuring only him, then goes to work for a suicide hotline a girl calls several times wanting to kill herself. The next morning, she calls back and it seems like she's doing better, then Chandler hears a gunshot. Dr. Morrison goes to work at a prison clinic, and is raped by an inmate.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: George Wyler, a doctor who spent forty years working in Africa and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, is based on Albert Schweitzer.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Several times.
  • Oddball in the Series: "Their Town" does not feature any scenes set at St. Eligius. With the exception of one scene set in the Craigs' house, it takes place entirely in Peterborough, New Hampshire. It is also the only episode in which a character, namely Donald Westphall, speaks directly to the audience.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in several instances.
    • Peter White is a main character for the first three seasons. In the Season One finale "Addiction", Jack and Nina Morrison name their newborn son Peter after Jack's great-uncle. In "AIDS & Comfort", their shared name causes momentary confusion when Dr. Caldwell tells Jack to take good care of Pete in White's presence.
    • Season Two introduces both Dr. Robert "Bobby" Caldwell and Roberta "Bobby" Sloan, who is very briefly married to Dr. Ehrlich.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: In the episode "Cheers", the scene set at, well, Cheers is scripted and acted out as if it were a scene from Cheers, complete with Carla, Norm, and Cliff all making appearances and interacting with the mains exactly as you would expect them to on that show. The only thing missing is the live studio audience, which is jarring since there are still punchlines that nobody laughs at.
  • Phrase Catcher: Especially throughout Season 2.
    • "You're a pig, Ehrlich." He even says it to himself in "A Pig Too Far".
    • To a lesser extent, "Shut up, Fiscus."
  • Previously on… / On the Next: Just about every episode of the first five seasons began with a summary of previous events that were pertinent to the episode, and some added a little snippet of events from that night's episode. In the final season, they switched to a cold open before the credits.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Happened to several characters over the years.
    • Norman Lloyd (Dr. Daniel Auschlander), Ellen Bry (Nurse Shirley Daniels), Eric Laneuville (Luther Hawkins) and Kim Miyori (Dr. Wendy Armstrong) in Season Two. They were all major recurring cast members in Season One.
    • Stephen Furst (Dr. Elliot Axelrod) in Season Three, having been a relatively minor recurring cast member in Season Two.
    • Bonnie Bartlett (Ellen Craig) and Cindy Pickett (Dr. Carol Novino) in Season Five. Bartlett had been an increasingly important recurring cast member since Season One while Pickett was introduced as a major recurring cast member towards the end of Season Four.
    • Sagan Lewis (Dr. Jackie Wade), France Nuyen (Dr. Paulette Kiem) and Jennifer Savidge (Nurse Lucy Papandrao) in Season Six. Lewis and Papandrao had been increasingly important recurring cast members since the pilot while Nuyen was introduced as a major recurring cast member in Season Five.
  • Purgatory and Limbo: In "After Life", Dr. Wayne Fiscus has a Near-Death Experience after being shot. His visions include a trip to Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory (which surprises him, since as he says, "I'm not Catholic"), during which he meets the souls of patients and friends who have already died.
  • Put on a Bus: Several characters, but most notably Shirley Daniels and Bobby Caldwell.
    • Dr. Chandler goes to training in Missouri shortly after being promoted to Chief Resident to accommodate Denzel Washington's movie work.
  • Questioning Title?: "Jose, Can You See?" and "You Again?".
  • Rape as Drama: Season Two had a running story arc about a rapist preying on the hospital. The rapist was series regular Dr. Peter White, whom Nurse Shirley Daniels ends up shooting dead in cold blood in "My Aim is True".
  • Racist Grandma: Dr. Craig often says racist and bigoted things to others - seemingly oblivious to how much it offends or hurts them. It isn't until Luther angrily calls him out on it in "Handoff" that he seems to display any regret about it.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: Early ads said it was "Hill Street Blues IN A HOSPITAL!"
  • Retcon:
    • In "Breathless", Dr. Auschlander mentions that St. Eligius was founded in 1932. He then asks Dr. Westphall if he ever met the hospital's founder Father Joseph McCabe. Westphall says that he never did. The two-part story "Time Heals" establishes that the hospital was founded in 1935 and that Father McCabe had not only known Westphall as a child but was a mentor to him during his troubled teens.
    • In "Give the Boy a Hand", the artist Alex Corey tells Dr. Auschlander that Father McCabe died while his father was painting his portrait years earlier. In "Where There's Hope, There's Crosby", it is revealed that the 90-year-old McCabe is still alive but he is paralyzed as a result of ALS when he returns to St. Eligius after spending the last 30 years among the Hopi tribe in Arizona.
  • Revenge: In "My Aim is True", Shirley Daniels shoots Dr. White to avenge the rape of Cathy Martin. If you watch the scene carefully, you'll see that she actually shoots him twice...and, appropriately, the first shot isn't to the heart.
  • Running Gag:
    • Season 2 has every major character call Dr. Ehrlich a pig, including Ehrlich himself.
    • Dr. Craig’s Cushing Left Anterior Descending Artery Award for Surgeon of the Year, and its propensity to needing to be replaced after it meets an unfortunate accident.
    • Dr. Craig’s oft-mentioned Gerbode mitral valvulotome that he brags was gifted to him by his mentor Dr. Domedion. In “Time Heals” is revealed that Dr. Craig actually stole it from his mentor.
  • Sanity Slippage: The residency program, coupled with marital problems, eventually became too much for Dr. White.
  • Santa Ambiguity: In "Santa Claus is Dead", the man whom Katherine Auschlander hired to play Santa Claus for the children at St. Eligius is hinted to be the genuine article. He knows Luther and Ehrlich by name and is aware of details of their personal lives. He also asks after the Craigs' newborn granddaughter Barbara. Luther suspects that he sent a front man ahead of him to find out all of this. The Auschlanders' grandson Max asks him to replace Katherine's snowglobe, which he broke while playing ball in the house. Although Santa Claus goes into cardiac arrest and dies immediately afterwards, Katherine nevertheless receives a snowglobe identical to the broken one with a card featuring Santa Claus' name. Dr. Auschlander denies having bought it for her.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly: Are all the shows this show had crossovers with (and all the shows that they crossed over with) a part of Tommy Westphall's imagination?
  • Sensual Slavs: Hungarian doctor Dr. Vera Anya, who whom Dr. Craig becomes infatuated.
  • Series Continuity Error: In the Season 2 episode "In Sickness and in Health", Dr. Westphall tells the Halloran family that he doesn't believe in taking comatose patients off of life support, and yet in the Season 4 Whole Episode Flashback "Time Heals", he is shown doing it to his brain-dead wife Maureen in 1975, which happened eight years before the events of "In Sickness and in Health".
  • Scenery Censor: A few times.
  • Serial Spouse: Helen Rosenthal has been married four times, each time to a Jewish man. All four marriages end in divorce.
  • The Shrink:
    • Dr. Hugh Beale in Season One.
    • Dr. Michael Ridley in Season Two.
    • Dr. Simon Weiss in Seasons Two to Four and Six.
  • The Shut-In:
    • While doing the residency program's mandated community service in "To Tell the Truth", Fiscus encounters two elderly shut-ins: Sophia Pavlon, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a debilitating stroke, and Harry Cragen, who has barely left his house since the death of his beloved wife Helen almost a year and a half earlier. After Dr. Westphall tells him that everyone needs a purpose and something to live for in their lives, Fiscus introduces Sophia and Harry. After a rough start, the two of them hit it off and it is implied that a December–December Romance will ensue.
    • In "A Room with a View", an elderly shut-in named Amy Jeffries has observed the goings-on at St. Eligius, which is across the street from her apartment, since the 1960s. As she does not know any of their names, she gives the staff and patients at the hospital nicknames: Dr. Craig is Dr. Little Big Man, Dr. Auschlander is Dr. Kindly Grandfather and the heart surgery patient Margaret Kimbrough as Miss Yellow Nightgown. When she sees Craig packing to leave, Amy becomes extremely upset as she is particularly fond of him. She calls the hospital to find out his name and leaves numerous messages for him. Craig eventually visits her apartment and it becomes clear that the St. Eligius staff are the closest thing that she has to friends. In "A Coupla White Dummies Sitting Around Talking", Amy is admitted to the hospital with a broken hip and meets several of her "friends" for the first time. Ten days after her operation, Dr. Gideon insists that she be discharged and sent to a convalescent home. However, Dr. Kiem takes pity on Amy, who is desperately lonely. She begins an adoptive grandparent program at the hospital with Amy as the first volunteer.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Victor Ehrlich and Lucy Papandrao.
  • Southies: Considering that St. Eligius is in the South End of Boston, many of the patients fall into this category. The same is true of Dr. Westphall and Luther, who have lived in the area for their entire lives.
  • Starter Marriage: In "In Sickness and in Health", Dr. Ehrlich and Roberta "Bobby" Sloan get married after a very brief courtship. Three episodes later in "After Dark", they separate after only 16 days of marriage after they realise that they are incompatible.
  • Stealing the Credit: In "A Coupla White Dummies Sitting Around Talking", Ehrlich is approached by a man named Knox who claims that he invented the Craig 9000 artificial heart and that the Ecumena Corporation stole the idea from him after he sent them his prototype. He pretends to have a gun and kidnaps Ehrlich as it is the only way that he can get anyone to listen to him. Knox tells Ehrlich, who is sympathetic, that he does not want all of the credit but he thinks that he at least deserves a footnote for all of his hard work.
  • Stylistic Suck: In "Heaven's Skate", the DXter clinical computer simulation is poorly shot and is filled with Bad "Bad Acting" and banal dialogue.
  • Surfer Dude: Ehrlich's best friend Dogger in "In Sickness and in Health". Dogger implies that Ehrlich also fit this trope before he moved to the East Coast.
  • Surgeons Can Do Autopsies If They Want: Unusually for a medical drama, this is mostly averted.
  • Surprise Pregnancy:
    • In "Hearts", an overweight woman named Gina Barnett comes into St. Eligius complaining of stomach pains. Upon examining her, Dr. Armstrong discovers that she is not only pregnant but about to give birth. Prior to this, Gina had no idea that she was pregnant. After the baby is born, she abandons it in the hospital as she can't afford to raise a child because she is already taking care of her invalid father.
    • In "Lost and Found in Space", an intellectually impaired young woman named Pru Dowler, who has the mental capacity of a seven-year-old, is brought to St. Eligius after sustaining minor injuries in a bus crash. She and Buddy, a similarly disabled young man, spontaneously have sex in her hospital room without really understanding what it means. Pru is frightened by the experience. About six weeks later in "Loss of Power", her mother brings her back to St. Eligius as she is suffering from nausea and stomach pains. Dr. Morrison's tests reveal that Pru is pregnant. Pru's mother blames the hospital for her daughter's condition and insists that she have an abortion, which is performed by Dr. Craig and Ehrlich in "The Boom Boom Womb".
  • Survivor Guilt: In "Time Heals, Part 2", the sixteen-year-old Donald Westphall suffers from severe survivor's guilt in 1945 as his mother Elizabeth and three siblings were killed in a fire ten years earlier. His father Thomas was the only other member of his family to survive. As a result of this guilt, Westphall became a juvenile delinquent but Father Joseph McCabe helped him to get his life on track.
  • Take That!: In "Where There's Hope, There's Crosby", Phil Chandler mentions that Dr. O'Brien has gone to New York City. Jack Morrison replies, "She won't last thirteen weeks in New York." In the 1986-87 season, the medical drama Kay O'Brien, which took place in Manhattan General Hospital, aired on CBS. It was cancelled after only eight episodes.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: In the episode "Sweet Dreams", Morrison has a nightmare where Peter White talks with him from beyond the grave, and creepily confesses that he deserved to be killed.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: In "Tears of a Clown", while watching Mrs. Hufnagel's video will:
    Mrs. Hufnagel (on tape): You had a schoolboy crush on me, and I can understand why.
    Axelrod: I did not have a crush on you!
    Mrs. Hufnagel (on tape): You did too! Shut up, chubs.
  • Teen Genius: In "Nothing Up My Sleeve", Elliot has to show a 14-year-old medical student named Owen Drimmer around the hospital.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: The two-part story "Time Heals" features younger versions of several main and recurring characters: the 1935 and 1945 versions of Donald Westphall are played by Joshua Harris and Michael Sharrett respectively, the 1945 versions of Daniel Auschlander and his future wife Katherine Wellingham are played by James Stephens and Devon Ericson and the 1965 version of Luther Hawkins is played by Sean Williams.
  • Title Drop: St. Eligius' derogatory nickname St. Elsewhere is used in nine episodes, including all six season premieres: "Pilot", "Bypass", "Ties That Bind", "Playing God, Part 1", "Cheers", "Remembrance of Things Past", "Where There's Hope, There's Crosby", "Resurrection" and the Series Finale "The Last One".
  • Title Montage: The series features one.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Ehrlich, all the time.
  • Token Minority Couple: Luther & Penny. Dr. Chandler & Roseanne Keaton. Dr. Chandler & Dr. Turner.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Heart transplant patient Eve Leighton.
  • Tragic Aids Story: St. Elsewhere was one of the first shows to feature AIDS-related storylines. Starting in season 2, a straight patient is diagnosed with AIDS causing much fear to the hospital staff who are unsure how to handle the disease. A major character discovers they AIDS and later die off-screen. A story arc involves a gay patient that eventually dies of AIDS. A doctor has an AIDS scare. There are several infants with AIDS.
  • Tragic Dream: In "You Beta Your Life", Dr. Westphall dreams that his son Tommy has been cured of his autism and will be able to lead a perfectly normal life. Tommy then tells him that he is only dreaming and this will never happen in the real world.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The story of Morrison's life from Season Two onwards.
  • Tuckerization:
    • Dr. Jon Lovitz is paged in "Rough Cut".
    • In "Cheers", Rabbi Abner Singer is named after Abner "Abby" Singer, the series' executive in charge of production at the time.
    • In "Time Heals, Part 2", two interns at St. Eligius in a flashback to 1975 are named Burns and Allen.
    • In "Family Ties" and "You, Again?", Dr. Craig has to deal with Dr. Josiah Bartlett, his Boston General counterpart and longtime rival. He is named after Josiah Bartlett, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and a member of the Continental Congress for New Hampshire. It also serves as an Actor Allusion as William Daniels' on screen and off screen wife Bonnie Bartlett (Ellen Craig) is distantly related to Bartlett.
    • In "Visiting Daze", Victor Ehrlich learns that his real name is Bernie Oseransky and that his parents Lech and Olga Oseransky were CIA operatives. Bernard Oseransky was the series' executive in charge of production by that time.
    • In "Their Town", Jack, Sam and Harry of the Warner Bros. Carpentry Company are named after three of the four founders of the film studio Warner Bros., Albert being the fourth.
    • In the Series Finale "The Last One", there are several examples. In the opening scene, Fiscus treats a patient named General Sarnoff who is having trouble with his optic nerves. Fiscus tells him that it is a great network but he shouldn't damage it by spending all of his time watching television. General David Sarnoff was the founder of NBC. While chasing the one-armed fugitive Mr. Mirkin, Warren Coolidge says, "Move the gurney, Hal!" Hal Gurnee was the regular director of Late Night with David Letterman. Later, there is a new first year resident named Dr. Brandon Falsey, who is named after the NBC president Brandon Tartikoff and St. Elsewhere's co-creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Luther, in earlier seasons; Dr. Chandler even called him out on it in "Equinox". Luther eventually got better in later seasons, first becoming a paramedic and then studying to become a physician's assistant.
  • Vanity Plate: At the end of every episode, the MTM Productions logo features an animated version of Mimsie the Cat in surgical garb. She flatlines at the end of the series finale "The Last One".
  • Vignette Episode: "Weigh In, Way Out" features four stories each concerning a different stage of life. In the first segment, Morrison and Ehrlich compete to deliver the 100,000th baby born at St. Eligius. In the second, Fiscus decides to perform one last childish act before turning 30, namely gluing everything in Dr. Gideon's office. In the third, Dr. Craig goes to Herschfeld's Boxing Gym and spars with the owner in order to work out his feelings at having turned 56, the age at which his father William committed suicide. In the final segment, a dying elderly man named Richard Welte mistakes Lucy for his late wife Katie and they walk the Freedom Trail together in his imagination.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: In "Where There's Hope, There's Crosby", Morrison is working in the morgue when he hears breathing coming from one of the shelves. He opens it to find that the supposedly dead Richard Jenkins is still alive, though only barely. Morrison and a crash team are able to resuscitate him. Elliot, who pronounced Jenkins DOA, swears that he was dead and is at a loss to explain it. Fiscus retorts that he was in fact AAKOA: alive and kicking on arrival. Jenkins is not grateful to Morrison for resuscitating him as he was trying to kill himself.
  • Weight Woe: In "Cramming", it is revealed that Wendy Armstrong has struggled with bulimia for years. In the following episode "Rough Cut", she tells Helen Rosenthal that it is because she always felt pressure to be the perfect daughter, the perfect student and more recently the perfect doctor. The resulting depression leads Wendy to commit suicide in the latter episode.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: In "Once Upon a Mattress", after getting shot in the previous episode "After Life", Fiscus comes to the conclusion that his father Jonas has never liked him since he never showed interest in his activities growing up and always seemed to be annoyed by him. Jonas confirms that he never liked his son but says that he always loved him.
  • Western Terrorists:
    • In "Pilot", a domestic terrorist named Andrew Reinhardt plants a bomb in a bank and is injured when it goes off prematurely. An innocent bystander named Katherine McAllister suffers much more serious injuries and dies in "Cora and Arnie". This leads her husband Stephen to shoot and kill Reinhardt as he is being transferred out of St. Eligius.
    • In "The Boom Boom Womb", a deeply religious, fanatical pro-lifer delivers a package containing a bomb to the Boston's Women Clinic, an abortion clinic where Dr. Chandler is performing community service. As soon as the bomber leaves, it explodes, killing the clinic's administrator Dr. Francine Kennedy and injuring several other people. Chandler is physically unharmed but is traumatized by the experience. The bomber later plants another bomb in St. Eligius and calls Dr. Auschlander with a bomb threat demanding that the hospital cease all abortions. Although the police are able to locate the bomb, the bomber plants yet another in a cleaning cart later that afternoon. The next day, the bomb detonates in the vicinity of the hospital gift shop. Chandler is badly injured but survives. Ehrlich has a near miss as he left the gift shop moments before the explosion. The bomber turns himself in at Chandler's bedside so that his arrest will shed light on the issue of abortion.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The Season Four two-parter "Time Heals", in which St. Eligius celebrates its 50th anniversary, features extensive flashbacks:
    • In 1935, the hospital is founded by Father Joseph McCabe, who serves as its chief administrator. The six-year-old Donald Westphall loses his entire family (bar his father Thomas) in a fire.
    • In 1945, Dr. Auschlander returns from World War II and is hired as a liver specialist at St. Eligius. At the hospital, he meets Westphall, a sixteen-year-old juvenile delinquent, and his future wife Katherine.
    • In 1955, Dr. Craig is an arrogant, sycophantic intern who is forever trying to get into the good graces of the chief of surgery Dr. David Domedion. Auschlander succeeds Father McCabe as the chief of services.
    • In 1965, Craig returns to St. Eligius after ten years at Boston General and becomes the new chief of surgery. Helen Rosenthal (then Eisenberg) immigrates to the US shortly after marrying her first husband Edgar and begins working at the hospital as a nurse.
    • In 1975, after his wife Maureen is involved in a terrible car accident, Westphall makes the difficult decision to take her off of life support. Craig performs St. Eligius' first heart bypass on Patrick O'Casey.
  • Whole Plot Reference: "Their Town" is based on the 1938 play Our Town by Thornton Wilder. Taking place in the small town of Peterborough, New Hampshire, it explores the different life challenges being faced by Donald Westphall, his children Lizzie and Tommy, Mark and Ellen Craig and Carol Novino in much the same way as the play explores the lives of the residents of the fictional New Hampshire town of Grover's Corners. Wilder based Grover's Corners on Peterborough. Furthermore, Dr. Westphall addresses the audience directly several times in the episode, as the Stage Manager does in the play.


Video Example(s):


Mimsie's death

If the St. Elsewhere finale wasn't infamous enough with its twist ending, the closing bumper made for the finale showed Mimsie, the logo cat, unconscious and hooked up to an IV, and flatlining at the end of the bumper. Sadly, the real Mimsie would die for real shortly after the finale aired.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / LogoJoke

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