1. When Dr. Ross saved a kid during a flood:
Ross had lost his fellowship at County General and things were looking down when he encountered a boy seeking help for his brother who was stuck in a wash during a flood. The news caught wind of this event as it played out and Ross became a media sensation in this emotional roller coaster of an episode that ultimately led to him staying at County General.
2. When Dr. Carter got stabbed by a patient, fell to the ground, and saw Lucy, who had been stabbed as well:
The man with schizophrenia was admitted to the ER, but Carter brushed off Lucy’s questionings of his mental disorder and her desire to contact Psych. He wound up stabbing Carter, and we see that Lucy is lying across from him, suffering from stab wounds of her own that wound up being fatal.
3. When Dr. Ross left Chicago for Seattle:
Clooney left ER to go make feature films, but his character’s presence on the show was huge, and his final conversation with Dr. Greene really tugged at the heartstrings.
4. When Dr. Greene finished his last shift at County General:
With only a short time left to live, Dr. Greene treated a little girl, then left his final shift at the hospital in a scene that forces tears out. From the faces of his peers who may or may not be picking up on the subtle hints that this is the last time they’ll be seeing him, to the quick exchange outside with Carter in which he tells him, “You set the tone,” a line passed on throughout the series, it’s all so powerful.
5. Carter reading Dr. Greene’s letter to the staff, then learning that he had died:
Dr. Greene was very ill, so everyone knew it was coming sooner than later, but when the letter to his peers describing his time Hawaii seemed as if he were fine, a follow-up note from Dr. Elizabeth Corday shocked the hospital, informing them them that Greene had died.
6. When Dr. Romano used sign language to interact with Dr. Benton’s son behind his back:
In a quick but emotional scene, Romano, often the hard-ass antagonist, showed a kinder side that many viewers wanted to see more of, signing to Benton’s hearing-impaired son behind his back. His signing translates to, “Babysit your dad,” as in take care of him, after he sent him home for the day.
7. When Dr. Robert Romano lost an arm:
Even though he was constantly being a prick, it was tough not to feel bad for Romano when the helicopter chopped his arm off — and the sympathy for him didn’t end there…
8. When Dr. Romano got crushed to death by a helicopter:
As if the whole arm thing weren’t enough, during the next season, Romano met his demise via a helicopter that crashed and, of course, landed directly on top of him. Brutal.
9. When Carol and Doug reunited in Seattle:
Carol, who had appeared to be growing closer to Dr. Kovac, decided she didn’t want to be away from Doug anymore. So, she canceled dinner plans with Kovac, left work, flew to Seattle, and reunited with her boo, never to be seen again. OK, not never…
10. When Hathaway and Ross returned during the show’s final season:
Both characters had left for Seattle, but we saw them on the season 15 episode “Old Times.” The two are helping a woman (played by Susan Sarandon) whose grandson died, and they even encounter Dr. Neela Rasgotra and Sam Taggart there.
11. When Ray Barnett lost his legs after being hit by a truck:
After getting into it with Tony Gates (John Stamos) at a bar, drunken Ray is walking home when he’s hit by a truck. It’s revealed that he’s still alive, but when Neela visits him, she’s stunned to find that he lost both his legs, and he’s leaving Chicago to go to Baton Rouge with his mother.
12. When it looked like Luka Kovac was going to be killed by rebels in Africa, but he began praying and it saved his life:
While he hadn’t prayed in quite some time, doing so, along with wearing a cross around his neck that a patient had given him, leads rebels to believe he is a man of faith, and they spare his life. Equally if not more emotional is the moment Carter goes to Africa and finds Luka alive.
13. When Kovac forgave Abby and they agreed to start a life together somewhere else:
In Season 14 while dealing with her alcoholism, Abby cheats on Luka with Chief of ER Kevin Moretti. After she confesses this to him, Luka moves out and works at a smaller facility, though eventually he forgives her and it all comes to a head in a beautiful scene as they make the decision to leave Chicago, which played out early in the 15th season.
14. When Neela watched the video Gallant left for her in the event that he died:
Gallant had left Chicago to serve in Iraq and was killed when his vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb. Neela watches a message he’d recorded for her in the event that something went wrong and it was gut-wrenching.
15. When Dr. Pratt initially survived the ambulance explosion, then died in the hospital:
At points in the episode he was talking and joking, which made it seem as if he might survive this disaster, but nope. In one of the toughest episodes of ER you’ll ever watch, Mekhi Phifer’s performance absolutely broke everybody’s heart.
16. When Dr. Carter called Rachel “Dr. Greene.”
In the final scene of ER, there’s a group of incoming trauma patients. Carter invites Mark’s daughter, who is now a med student to join, saying “Dr. Greene — you coming?” So many feelings, and more of ‘em were piled on immediately after…
17. When the final shot of the series showed County General Hospital one last time:
Right after Carter, Dr. Greene’s daughter, and the other doctors and nurses rush to tend to a group of incoming victims, the camera slowly pulls away and the ER theme is playing in the background, forcing you to feel 15 seasons’ (331 episodes’) worth of emotions.
Hathaway and Ross reunited on the Season 15 episode “Old Times.” A previous version of this post misidentified the episode and Hathaway’s title.
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