Inspired by creator Michael Crichton's experiences as a medical student in a hospital emergency room, ER quickly became one of the most compelling shows of the 1990s, each episode a whirlwind of intense and involving drama, gritty realism, and offbeat humor. Heading the staff at the inner-city Chicago hospital is Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards), a doctor so good at providing care to the downtrodden, helpless, or just plain quirky patients that his career blossoms even as his personal life crumbles. Greene is the soul of the cast, but the heart is Julianna Margulies's nurse Carol Hathaway. Her character was intended only for the pilot episode, but she ended up capturing viewers with her palpable empathy for patients and her troublesome romance with womanizing pediatrician Doug Ross (George Clooney). The rest of the central cast consisted of compassionate Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield), Peter Benton (Eriq Lasalle), whose prodigious talent nearly matches his ambition, and his fresh-faced student, John Carter (Noah Wyle). Other key characters included ER heads Morgenstern and Swift (William H. Macy and Michael Ironside, respectively), overachieving student Deb (Ming Na), who returned later in the show's run, attending physician Angela Hicks (CCH Pounder), and physical therapist Jeanie Boulet (Gloria Rueben).
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