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15 Facts About ER That Won't Cut Off Your Arm With A Helicopter Blade

ER was the original medical drama. Forget Grey's Anatomy and their over-dramatic, unbelievable storylines. ER made everything feel real. It was an in-depth look into the world of medicine...and okay, yes it was super dramatic but in a much better way.

There are some things you might not know about the show, however. And don't worry, your arm won't get cut off by a helicopter blade while you reach to read them (RIP in literal pieces, Dr. Romano.)


1. It was going to be a movie.

Michael Crichton originally wrote the script as a 180-page movie script, with more than 100 characters. Steven Spielberg was set to produce the feature, as NBC only optioned it for a two-hour movie. However, Spielberg and Crichton were coming off a hot run with Jurassic Park, so the network decided to take a chance on an entire series.

2. George Clooney begged to audition.

"George Clooney begged me for a part," said executive producer John Wells. "George was the first person to audition. He came after me for it. Our second day in the office, George showed up and wouldn't leave until I'd let him audition ... George got his hands on the material and was like a dog with a bone."

Clooney hadn't yet found his big break, and I guess he could sense this would be it.

3. Eriq La Salle dressed to impress.

La Salle, who plays Dr. Benton, had played a doctor on The Human Factor two years prior. He kept his scrubs from the show and actually wore them to his audition for ER.

4. Carol Hathaway was going to die.

The original script had Carol Hathaway dying after her suicide attempt in the pilot. However, audiences liked Margulies and her chemistry with Clooney way too much, so they decided to keep her.

5. The set was haunted.

The first episode of the series was shot at the former Linda Vista Hospital in Los Angeles, but it was built in the early 1900s and almost definitely haunted. There was a paranormal documentary set in the hospital, and the crew says they heard voices and were "grabbed and scratched." The rest of the show was filmed on a set in Burbank.

6. Quarterly Chicago trips were mandatory.

The show was filmed in Los Angeles, but it was set in Chicago. Four times a year, the cast and crew flew to the Windy City to shoot any exteriors. This meant, however, that sometimes scripts weren't finished so the actors had no idea what was happening. In Love's Labor Lost, Mark Greene breaks down on the L train, but the actor didn't really know why. All he was told was "you're going to feel like you killed a mother." Yikes.

7. Noah Wyle didn't let mono stop him.

In Love's Labor Lost, Noah Wyle, who plays John Carter, had a fever of 104. He was suffering from mono and was hallucinating. The medical tech on set gave him an IV, and Wyle performed his scenes with a bag of saline in his pocket.

8. Wyle gave people actual medical care.

While on location in Africa, the on-set medical tech passed out from the heat. Having paid close attention to everything happening around him, Wyle was able to administer an IV.

“I stuck him with a 14-gauge needle and revived him with a bag of saline, and then I did three or four more that day,” remarked the actor. “There was enough that we picked up through osmosis so I could actually, practically, be of use in certain circumstances.”

9. The actors loved pranks involving babies.

Producer Christopher Chulack remembers the cast playing pranks on each other using the fake babies on set.

"It was pretty light on the set. There were a lot of alien babies and that type of stuff," he recalled. "We had spent $5,000 to $8,000 on the silicone baby, and George Clooney's playing football with the silicone baby, passing it down the hallway."

10. The live episode only had one mistake.

Clooney and Edwards decided a live episode would be a good idea, kind of like a play. It was performed live twice, once for the east coast and once for the west coast. Through both episodes, only one mistake occurred. The actor who played the HIV-positive patient accidentally dropped the needle before threatening the doctors with it.

11. Eriq La Salle was uncomfortable with his on-screen relationships.

La Salle's character struck up a relationship with Dr. Corday, played by Alex Kingston, a white woman. La Salle asked the producers to end the relationship, saying he felt it sent the wrong message to African-Americans about interracial relationships. All of his relationships with black women were dysfunctional, while the one with Dr. Corday was not.  

12. Characters asked to be killed off.


Maura Tierney, who played Dr. Abby Lockhart, asked if she could be killed off the show. Instead, producers gave her a juicy storyline so she would want to stay around. Kellie Martin, who played Lucy Knight, decided her character wasn't going anywhere, so she asked her departure be made "big." Big it was, as she was stabbed to death.

13. Lucy's killer was feared in real life.


David Krumholtz, the actor who played Lucy's killer, says people recognized him on the streets and were actually terrified of him.

"I got recognized at least five or six times from that episode, and people were actually frightened!," he said. "I couldn't have been more unassuming to those people that probably were surprised to see that I was short and sweet and smiley."

14. The scrubs weren't scrubbed.

The hospital scrubs weren't really re-used that much during the show, and then producers estimate that they used over 130,000 sets of hospital scrubs over the course of the series.

15. The show saved lives.

When Dr. Greene discovered he had brain cancer, one of the symptoms was that his tongue went out to the side. A woman in Texas noticed her tongue did the same, and she caught her brain tumor early. The show also did an episode surrounding obesity, and one study proved that subjects were 65% more likely to change their eating habits if they watched that episode.