ER Turns 25: Where Is the Star-Studded Cast Now?

Hollywood was forever changed when the medical drama debuted in 1994

By Chris Harnick 19 Sep, 2019 2:30 PMTags
ERs 25th anniversary - castNBCU Photo Bank

Television was changed 25 years ago. On this day, September 19, in 1994, ER premiered on NBC. The medical drama, which lasted for an impressive 15 seasons, helped launch the careers of numerous stars, like George Clooney and Julianna Margulies, and redefine the careers of others, like Maura Tierney and John Stamos.

ER was a TV titan, entertaining—and educating—millions for almost two decades. Over the years, the cast came and went in a variety of ways, from happy departures to tragic deaths, but ER endured. Over 15 years, ER was nominated for 124 Emmys, winning 22.

"It's really just an incredible confluence of good luck and wonderful collaborative efforts," casting director John Levey told The Hollywood Reporter. "We went through so many different showrunners, although John [Wells] was there all the time. But [there were] people who ran the directors' element or who were instrumental in the writers room, and then of course, the cast changed and evolved. We didn't do what lots of other franchises did, where you did a whole new version — ER Toledo or ER Boston — we just kept rejuvenating ER Chicago with new and interesting people. The medicine stayed the star, but the characters were new and different as the years went on. So it remained incredibly exciting. And it was a fantastic example of what excellence and collaboration and community can produce. John runs a fantastic ship. And it was fun and exciting from day one through day 2 million."

As we celebrate the 331 hours of TV that entertained us for 15 years starting in 1994, take a look at what the iconic cast, which had more than 25 series regulars over the years, is up to now.

Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards played Dr. Mark Greene for eight seasons before leaving after his character—and this is a spoiler alert for a show that premiered more than 20 years ago—died from a brain tumor. Edwards returned for the final season in a flashback episode. Following the end of ER, he starred in Zero Hero, directed My Dead Boyfriend and recurred on Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders. He had a role in Netflix's Designated Survivor season three.

George Clooney

As bad boy Dr. Doug Ross, George Clooney spent five years on ER before the movies came calling. His character, who constantly clashed with administration, moved to Seattle. He made a secret cameo in season six to help Julianna Margulies leave the series and the duo returned for the final season in a one-off episode. After ER, Clooney spent much of his time on the big screen in flicks such as The Perfect Storm, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Ocean's Eleven, Gravity, The Monuments Men, Hail, Caesar! and many more. He returned to TV with Hulu's Catch-22 series. Clooney won two Oscars, one for Syriana and one as a producer for Argo.

Sherry Stringfield

The first cast member to leave ER, Sherry Stringfrield departed in season three to live life out of the spotlight. Her character, Dr. Susan Lewis, moved away to be closer to her niece. However, she returned as a series regular in season eight and stayed for a few years before leaving once again, only to return in the final season as a special guest star. Since ER ended, Stringfield has popped up in several TV movies, spent time on Under the Dome and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. E! News spoke with Stringfield when ER made its streaming debut on Hulu. Read what she had to say about the show's legacy here.

Noah Wyle

Noah Wyle's Dr. John Carter became the focus of the show when Edwards left, and Wyle stuck around for a few seasons later before departing, only to return more than once up until the end of the series. After ER ended, he had a role in Falling Skies, The Librarians and recently appeared in CBS's The Red Line.

Julianna Margulies

Julianna Margulies' Carol Hathaway was supposed to die from an overdose in the pilot, but she tested well and Margulies stuck around. She became such a central figure she was offered more than $20 million to stick around—but she exited the series at the end of season six with a surprise appearance by George Clooney. She and Clooney returned for the final season. After ER, Margulies did The Mists of Avalon, Ghost Ship, Snakes on a Plane, Canterbury's Law and The Good Wife. After seven seasons of The Good Wife, she returned to TV in Dietland, which was canceled after one season.

Eriq La Salle

Eriq La Salle stuck around Cook County General for eight seasons before exiting. However, his Dr. Peter Benton returned as a special guest in the final season. After leaving ER, he popped up here and there with roles on Covert Affairs, Without a Trace and 24. However, he's spent a lot of his time recently behind the camera, directing shows such as Chicago P.D., Once Upon a Time, Chicago Med and more. He's currently a co-executive producer on Chicago P.D. and had a role in 2017's Logan.

Gloria Reuben

Gloria Reuben's Jeanie Boulet first showed up in a guest role during season one and stuck around as a regular from seasons two-seven. She returned as a guest in season 14, but not its final season. After ER, she sang back-up vocals for Tina Turner, had roles on Law & Order: SVU, 1-800-Missing, Falling Skies and Mr. Robot. She's currently on the Freeform Marvel series Cloak and Dagger.

Laura Innes

Laura Innes made her ER debut as a guest star in season two and became a regular in season three and stayed that way through season 13. She returned as Dr. Kerry Weaver for the final season. After ER, she appeared in The Event, Awake, Colony and How to Get Away With Murder. Like La Salle, she stepped behind the camera later in her career and has directed episodes of The Affair, HTGAWM and Sneaky Pete. She also directed several episodes of ER and The West Wing while still on the medical drama.

Maria Bello

First debuting as a guest star in season three, Maria Bello's Dr. Anna Del Amico only lasted a full season of ER before leaving. After her time on the medical series, Bello spent a lot of her time on the big screen, with roles in Coyote Ugly, The Cooler, Thank You for Smoking and A History of Violence. She returned to TV in the short-lived Prime Suspect, Touch and most recently NCIS.

Alex Kingston

Alex Kingston played surgeon Dr. Elizabeth Corday from season four to season 11, returning in the 15th and final season. Her other TV roles after ER include Law & Order: SVU, Upstairs Downstairs, Arrow, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life and perhaps most-famously Doctor Who.

Kellie Martin

If you're an ER fan you know all about the tragic fate of Kellie Martin's medical student Lucy Knight. Martin spent two seasons on the medical drama before her character was killed off. After ER, she starred in the Mystery Woman TV movie series and recently the Hailey Dean Mystery TV movie series. Additional roles include The Guest Book, Army Wives and Mad Men.

Paul McCrane

Paul McCrane's Dr. Robert "Rocket" Romano was loathed by the ER staff—and had bad luck with helicopters. Originally a recurring character, McCrane became a main cast member from seasons six through 10. Despite the character being dead, he appeared in a flashback in the final season. His acting credits post-ER are limited—stints on Harry's Law and Under the Dome—but he's spent plenty of time directing. McCrane directed episodes of Star, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Scandal, Grey's Anatomy and many more of your favorite shows.

Goran Visnjic

As the smoldering Dr. Luka Kovac, Goran Visnjic appeared as a regular cast member from season six through 13. He recurred in season 14 and appeared as a guest in the final season. Post-ER, he appeared on Pan Am, Red Widow, Extant and Timeless. He also had a role in This Is Us season three.

Michael Michele

Michael Michele's Dr. Cleo Finch only appeared from seasons six through eight. Her other TV roles include Gossip Girl, House and recently Star and Queen Sugar.

Erik Palladino

Erk Palladino's Dr. Dave Malucci also only lasted for two seasons on ER. He recently appeared on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, NCIS: Los Angeles, Six and Suits.

Ming-Na

Originally a guest star in season one, Ming-Na's Dr. Jing-Mei "Deb" Chen returned full time in season six and lasted until season 11. She's provided voice work for a number of animated projects including The Batman, Phineas and Ferb and Robot Chicken. Her other TV roles include Eureka, Two and a Half Men, SGU Stargate Universe, Fresh Off the Boat and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Marvel TV series.

Maura Tierney

Maura Tierney went from nurse to med student and to doctor as Abby Lockhart over her tenure on ER that lasted from season six through 14—and a guest appearance in season 15. After ER, Tierney appeared on Rescue Me, The Whole Truth, The Good Wife and recently The Affair.

Sharif Atkins

Sharif Atkins' medical student Michael Gallant stuck around for a limited amount of time, but had a romance with Parminder Nagra's Dr. Neela Rasgotra. Following ER, he starred on White Collar and has guest starred on numerous shows including SEAL Team, The Gifted and Shameless.

Mekhi Phifer

Mekhi Phifer's brash Dr. Greg Pratt met a grizzly fate, but that was after he spent roughly seven years on the show. His other TV credits include Lie to Me, Torchwood, House of Lies, Frequency and Are You Sleeping.

Parminder Nagra

After gaining attention for Bend It Like Beckham, Parminder Nagra came to the US for ER where she played Dr. Neela Rasgotra from season 10 up until the end, season 15. Since ER ended, her other TV roles include Alcatraz, Psych, The Blacklist, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and God Friended Me.

Linda Cardellini

Known for her breakout role in Freaks and Geeks, Linda Cardellini joined ER in season 10 as Samantha Taggart, a nurse. She was on the show until the end. Post-ER roles include Mad Men, Bloodline, A Simple Favor, New Girl, Green Book and Netflix's acclaimed comedy Dead to Me.

Shane West

Shane West's Dr. Ray Barnett joined the hospital drama in season 11. He started out pompous and his skills were put to the test more than once. West left the show at the end of season 13 after his character lost both of his legs, but returned for a multi-episode arc in season 15. After ER, West had series regular roles on Nikita and Salem and is in the fifth and final season of Gotham. On the big screen, he appeared in What We Do Is Secret and Red Sky.

Scott Grimes

Scott Grimes played the largely inept Dr. Archie Morris on a recurring basis for his first two years before joining the cast officially in season 12. He stayed with the show through the end. After ER, Grimes popped up in a series of guest roles on shows such as NCIS, Dexter, Harry's Law, Suits and Shameless. He had an arc on Justified, as well as NCIS: Los Angeles. Since 2005 he's voiced Steve Smith on American Dad!, and done a number of Family Guy episodes. He's now on The Orville.

John Stamos

John Stamos joined the cast as Tony Gates, a paramedic/medical student in season 12 as a guest star. He joined full time in season 13 and stayed through the end. Following the end of ER, Stamos recurred on Glee and The New Normal, appeared on Necessary Roughness, Scream Queens and had a series regular role on Grandfathered. In 2018 he appeared on You and since 2016 has served as an executive producer and recurring guest star on Fuller House, the Full House sequel series.

David Lyons

David Lyons joined the cast as Dr. Simon Brenner in season 14 and was upped to series regular for the 15th and final season. When the medical drama ended he had roles in A Model Daughter: The Killing of Caroline Byrne, Eat Pray Love, starred in the short-lived The Cape, appeared on Revolution and returned to the big screen in Safe Haven. Other roles include Game of Silence, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams and Seven Seconds.

Angela Bassett

Angela Bassett made her ER debut for the 15th and final season as Dr. Catherine Banfield, the hospital's chief of emergency medicine. Bassett has been busy since ER ended, both on the big screen and TV. She's had roles in Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Master of None, Black Panther, American Horror Story, Bojack Horesman and 9-1-1 on Fox.