For a show respected for its accuracy in medical technique and lingo, ER was also loved for how deeply it pulled viewers into its characters' world. It revealed the high-stress clinical environment of a hospital emergency room as a hotbed of interwoven relationships, where analytical thinking relied on emotional trust, and where co-workers had no choice but to become deeply intertwined with each others' lives and patients. So it's no surprise that amid the technical jargon were plenty of genuine tearjerkers. Here are nine ER quotes that'll make you tear up on the spot, even out of the full context of their episodes.
It's not surprising there are so many sad moments in a ER-set show; it's a place people end up only when something unexpected and generally unpleasant happens. Death is an inevitability for us all, and the doctors of ER worked overtime to stay the creep of time and hand of fate. Still, many of the show's moments hit hardest because they were events out of the staff's capable hands — terminal disease, war, and nearly everything outside the ER leading up to the point they find themselves at. During times of crisis, people are often at their worst, but it's also when moments of true humanity shine through. These lines reflect the latter, the main reason ER had fans hooked for so many seasons.
1. The Pain Of Having To Be Professional
Rachel: Did you make him all better?
Rachel: The boy in the green room.
Benton: [to Mark] The gunshot victim.
Mark: They tried really hard, Rachel. But he died.
Rachel: Will his mommy be sad?
Mark: Very sad.
Rachel: [to Benton] Are you sad?
Rachel: If you're sad, why aren't you crying?
[Benton kneels beside Rachel.]
Benton: I am. [touches Rachel's heart.] Right here.
"Chicago Heat" [Season 1, Ep. 6]
2. Motherhood Doesn't End With Death
Jackie, Peter Benton's sister, on her son's untimely death:
Jackie: He's still my baby, Peter. I'm supposed to take care of him. I feel like somewhere, some time, he's going to be sad or cold or scared. Who's taking care of him? Who's being his mother?
"Four Corners" [Season 8, Ep. 1]
3. Inevitability Doesn't Make It Easier
Sarah: My mom says my dad's gonna die.
Mark: Yes, he is.
Sarah: Why can't you fix him?
Mark: We can't fix everything.
"Into That Good Night" [1.5]
4. The Most Painful Goodbye
Carter: Kem? They're gonna come down and take us to our new room soon. And when they come, they're gonna take the baby, and we're never gonna see him again... I don't know what the right thing is to say. I don't know what the right thing to do is (he starts to cry)... It was an accident! (Kem sobs silently) It was nothing that you did wrong, it was nothing that we did wrong. It just happened. I love you, and I wanna spend the rest of my life with you. But we have to say goodbye to our son now. I have to help you to do that, and I don't know how to do that. Please help me. Please.
"Midnight" [Season 10, Ep. 21]
5. Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolfe?
Jeanie: [to her husband] A man came in today. He sat there and watched his wife die, and he helped her to die, because she was in so much pain, and he loved her. (gets angry) But we didn't have that kind of marriage, did we, Al. We didn't love, we didn't cherish, we didn't respect, and now you've killed me!
"Ghosts" [Season 3, Ep. 05]
6. The Worst Way To Be Proved Right
Michael Gallant: [On his video to Neela] So... hopefully you're never gonna see this thing. But if you are, then something went wrong. Well, maybe not wrong, but certainly not according to plan. I love you, Neela. Marrying you was the happiest day of my life. You just, you make me strong. Now, I know you didn't want me to come back to Iraq. And if you're watching this, you owe me a big I told you so, but I did what I had to do. You're the most beautiful and kind person that I know. I just, want you to be happy. And just know that I'll always be with you. I want you to find somebody, get married, have a baby. Of course he won't be as fine as me, but you'll just gonna have to live with that. I love you Neela. Forever.
"The Gallant Hero And The Tragic Victor" [Season 12, Ep. 21]
7. Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
Luka: [to Carter on his last day] Anyway, there's something my father would say when a friend went on a journey. And, he said it to me when I came to the United States first. So I thought of it today when I realized I wouldn't be working with this guy anymore. Not for a long time at least. ...My father would clasp the persons hand and say: We only part to meet again.
"The Show Must Go On" [Season 11, Ep. 22]
8. Ladies Are Doing It For Each Other
Abby: I just want to say that, you've probably seen me at my best... and, at my worst. And even though we didn't always see eye-to-eye, um... you helped me go from a nurse, to a medical student, to a doctor... to a mom.
Kerry:...I'm the one who's supposed to be upset here.
Abby: I know, sorry.
Kerry:... You were always there, as a nurse, and as a doctor... and most importantly, you've always been here, as my friend. (she tearfully hugs Abby, who returns the embrace)
Abby:...Do you think this happens to the guys when one of them leaves?
Kerry: (laughs) I heard Carter bawled like a baby when he left.
"A House Divided" [Season 13, Ep. 13]
9. The Last Word
Carter: [turning to Mark Green's grown up daughter Rachel] Dr. Greene... you coming?
"And In The End..." [Season 15, Ep. 22]
Well, that one's a bit of a cheat, as not only is it the last line of the entire series, but it ties up a loose end of beloved Dr. Greene's life with a major emotional bow as his daughter walks in her father's footsteps.
Tears are shed, life goes on, but lucky for all of us ER is available to watch and rewatch any time we need to drop back in.