ER premiered in 1994, hospital settings were mere window dressing for soap operas to unfold over. ER changed all that, shifting focus to the high-intensity emergency room with characters' stories taking a backseat to immediate medical emergencies... well, for a few seasons at least. Over time the show grew into the convoluted everyone-dating-everyone plots folks were used to peppered with some medical jargon, along with the occasional stunt episode (remember when they went live?) It's about as easy as casually discussing myocardial infarctions, but we've attempted to share sum up every . ER season in just one sentence
Given each episode's dense plotting, large cast, and intertwining storylines, summing up any given season is like the show's notoriously long floating camera shots — apparently effortless but requiring a
lot of maneuvering, tracking, and carefully pushing through. These summaries leave a lot out, but then again enough happens on any given day in the ER that would leave a writer's head spinning... which was the impetus for setting a show there in the first place! So while we might not be able to note or exactly how many times there was a helicopter accident, we've tried our best to get across the general evolution of every person Carter or Ross made out with ER. Season 1
Hathaway, Green, and Benton have massive crises of marriage while bumbling newbie Carter gets outed as a wealthy scion, meanwhile resident Susan Lewis outdoes everyone with a jerk cardiologist, unstable psychiatrist boyfriend, and wild-child sister Chloe, who gets pregnant and gives birth at the season's end.
Dr. Kerry Weaver is about to fire Ross when he becomes a national hero, Greene hits the dating scene while Ross deals with daddy issues in Oedipal fashion, and as HIV issues take center stage, everyone's still hooking up with everyone... plus some well-meaning malpractice.
Lewis and Green
almost kind of get together but nope she's off to Arizona, Carol flirts with becoming a doctor, and apparently Doug as they end up kissing, Gant's shocking suicide pits Carter against Benton, who has a prematurely-born son, and Jeanie gets outed as HIV-positive, eventually ending back up with her husband. Season 4
New blood Anna del Amico and Elizabeth Corday stir things up with Carter and Benton respectively, Ross's dad dies which means a road trip for him and a still-paranoid Greene, Ross proposes to Hathaway but plans are put on ice, and Boulet's firing and rehiring become a political issue and she ends up re-breaking up with her ex.
Enter med student Lucy, exit Dr. Ross and Anna, Weaver gets snubbed for a top position in favor of a woman Greene uncovers as a psychotic fake, Benton deals with his son's deafness and Carla's threat to take him to Germany, and post-Ross leaving Hathaway finds out she's pregnant... with twins!
Dr. Kovač, Cleo Finch, Malucci, and Abby join the crew along with Dr. Jing Mei-Chen while Hathaway bounces to be with Ross, Greene and Corday hook up, a Valentine's Day massacre kills Lucy and gets Carter addicted to pain meds, and Benson fights to keep his (plot twist) non-biological son.
Abby starts a romance with tempestuous Kovač, deals with her bipolar mother, and drops out of med school all while helping Carter finish rehab, Greene keeps his terminal cancer secret as he marries a severely pregnant Corday, and Benton's forced to bend the knee and take the lame position Romano offers him.
Weaver comes out of her own closet, odd couple Gallant and Pratt join the team, Malucci apparently sneaks out the back door forever, Benton and Cleo leave for greener pastures to be a family, and Lewis returns just in time for Greene to die in the saddest way possible, casting a pall over the entire season.
Carter takes center stage as Corday leaves for England, Romano says goodbye to his arm and Weaver finally gets a promotion, Chen and Pratt hook up but it doesn't work out, Susan gets knocked up from a Vegas hookup that turns into a real relationship, and in a double whammy both Carter AND Kovač peace out to the Congo after saying goodbye to Abby.
Neela and Morris rotate in while Carter sends Abby a Dear John letter, making things reaaaal awkward when he returns from the Congo with his pregnant girlfriend, Weaver loses her firefighter girlfriend in, well, a fire and tries to gain custody of her son, Gallant ships off to Iraq, and the season ends with serious road rage taken out towards Pratt and Chen.
So many people flee the ER, though Barnett joins the team and Gallant returns from Iraq, Lewis gets a promotion, and OG patient Mr. Rubadoux is back in the ER again!
Weaver's cane-free and loving it, Abby and Kovač get together and try family life, Pratt deals with dad issues and ends up joining Carter in Darfur, Neela and Gallant tie the knot but their marriage is cut short by an IED, and in a flashy 'everything at once' finalie Sam's ex and cohorts take the ER hostage, shooting Jerry (JERRY!), and leaving very pregnant Abby stranded as she collapses.
The season opens with a bang (sorry) with Sam ensuring she'll never have to deal with her violent ex again, everyone wants to make out with Neela leading Barnett to get a truck-slap, longtime holdout Weaver leaves to be a TV fixture in sunny Miami, and hunky paramedic Gates is back as a semi-permanent figure, which is good because Kovač bounces for Croatia at the season's end.
New Chief Moretti (Stanley Tucci) lays a heavy hand on the ER (and Abby one drunken night) before disappearing, reappearing, then
really disappearing just as suddenly as he came, Abbey takes a trip out to Croatia, Haggart and Gates get snuggly, Boulet is back for a brief moment, and the season ends on a ludicrous exploding ambulance cliffhanger leaving either Haggart or Pratt in danger. Season 15
The boys are back in town as Carter and a slew of OG cast members make guest appearances (flashback or otherwise) throughout the final season, Angela Bassett's new ER Chief manages to cram in 3 seasons' worth of family drama, and the series ends with a full-circle tearjerker moment featuring Dr. Greene's daughter joining the fray.
And there you have it! All 15 unforgettable seasons neatly summed up. Of course, we had to leave out all the saddest moments, juiciest details, and best one-liners, so if you
really want to get a handle on ER, best to just watch from Episode 1.