It's 1999 and I'm 12 years old. ER is five years old. We meet for the first time and it's love at first sight. There's something magical about the NBC hospital drama that took me—and America—by storm. I saw reruns on TNT, binged on them nightly until I was caught up with the current one on NBC. It's been 20 years since the show first premiered—Monday, Sept. 19, 1994—and the affects it had on the world of pop culture are still being felt today.

ER gave us so much! Besides 15 years of entertainment, the show helped launch the careers of all your favorites. Without ER there'd be no George Clooney wedding mania. Without ER there'd be no The Good Wife. Without ER I would have never dealt with the trauma of losing my favorite TV character (I still don't handle that trauma well).

The cast was unparalleled—and, as you can see in the never-seen footage above of E!'s first-ever visit to the ER set in 2004, had a whole lot of fun.

We have a lot to thank ER for.

ER gave me the ability to… come to terms with loss
I was devastated when Sherry Stringfield left ER. I started watching the series in syndication on TNT, pretty much from the start. I fell hard for Stringfield's Dr. Susan Lewis and her husky voice, her problem sister and eventual beloved niece. Yet she was yanked from me after three seasons (in syndication time that was probably close to two months)! Later, I'd have to come to terms with Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) leaving and then the ending of other favorites of my youth Xena: Warrior Princess and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Stringfield's ER exit was my first pop culture heartbreak.

ER taught me…anything was possible when it comes to TV
Miraculously, Stringfield returned to ER five seasons after leaving! She returned during season eight in the episode "Never Say Never." Get it?! If Susan Lewis can return to ER, then anything is possible, I thought. From there the character was shoehorned into a love square between Abby (Maura Tierney), Carter (Noah Wyle) and Kovac (Goran Visnjic) and really didn't get much of a storyline, ultimately leaving again in season 12 without as much of a peep. Her exit was mentioned casually and the world of ER kept on going.

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ER, Season 3

Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

ER gave us…George Clooney
Listen, I'm all for throwbacks to Clooney's The Facts of Life role and other mullet-y guest star gigs, but ER launched this man and his salt and peppery Caesar haircut to fame. Without ER, the Oscar winner wouldn't be the man we know today. Sure, his big break could and probably would've happened elsewhere, but a lot of Clooney's success is tethered to the role of Dr. Doug Ross. This is something even he seems to be aware of since he returned to the show once in secret to help Margulies leave and again, alongside Margulies, during the show's final season in 2009.

ER paved the way for…Grey's Anatomy
Yes, ER didn't come up with medical drama/soap concept, but in many ways the show made it viable in the modern TV climate. You think without ER we'd have the adventures of Meredith Grey and McDreamy? Nope.

ER, Season 3

Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

ER made me…want to be a doctor
For a season. Then I realized nope, I could never. However, I do know more about medicine and emergencies than I ever would have without this show.

ER is responsible for...the best drama on TV
Maybe not responsible, but…before ER, Julianna Margulies had a few TV guest roles under her belt. It was the medical drama that launched this Emmy winner to new heights. Margulies cut her teeth on TV drama as Carol Hathaway, she learned the ropes of being one part of a fan-favorite couple. Before Will and Alicia on The Good Wife, there was Carol and Doug on ER. Without Carol Hathaway, no Alicia Florrick.

ER, Season 11

Robert Sebree/NBCU Photo Bank

ER made...viewers love the villain
Again, not so much a foreign concept any longer, but think about Dr. Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes). She was brash and almost instantly unlikable. She rubbed almost every single character the wrong way. As years went by, we got to know the good doctor, we got to understand what made her tick. She was different from the gruff Dr. Romano (Paul McCrane) and along with Abby, had one of the best evolutionary arcs throughout the series.

ER left its mark on TV—and viewers—in more ways than this. It'd be silly to just summarize the series as a medical drama that ran for 15 years. ER is an institution. ER is legendary.

Now check out the video at top of George, Julianna and the rest of the ER cast doing some hiariously weird things while on set...which include dancing with dummies, and passing bedpans! #neverforget

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