During the mid-90s, no show conquered the medical drama quite like ER. Created by author Michael Crichton, ER followed the ins and outs of the fictional County General Hospital and the various challenges and interpersonal relationships of its many physicians and staff. Running for 15 seasons before finally bowing out in April of 2009, ER became the most nominated drama program in history with 124 Emmy nominations to its name. For fans alike, it was pre-internet water cooler television at its finest.
With help from uber-producer Steven Spielberg, Crichton fleshed out his medical series based on his own experience as a med student in a busy emergency room years prior. Although Spielberg jumped ship after only one season, ER was up and running, eventually launching its stars to fame beyond any actor’s wildest dream. Anthony Edwards, George Clooney and Julianna Margulies became just a few of the stars whose careers were either launched or severely kick-started as their characters worked around the clock to save lives and avoid tragedy in the halls of County General.
Is you missed out the first time or want to revisit the show’s heyday, here’s how to watch ER streaming online.
How to Watch ER Online & Stream the Complete Series
Among all the streaming services, Hulu has exclusive rights to every episode of ER. There are a couple different options when signing up for Hulu, but either one will get you access to the show’s complete library:
If you simply want Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, you can sign up right here. It costs $7.99 per month for the limited commercials plan or $11.99 per month for the no commercials plan.
If you want to go from watching Hulu’s on-demand library to watching MLB games or other live TV without changing the app, you can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV”. This option gives you access to Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, as well as a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels. It costs $39.99 per month for the plan that includes limited commercials with the on-demand content or $43.99 per month for the plan that includes no commercials with the on-demand content.
After signing up for either of the above options, you can watch any episode of ER on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead
How Many ER Seasons Are There?
ER aired for 15 seasons. The series was even sold overseas, spawning international versions in countries like Belgrade and Serbia.
ER Season 1
25 Episodes | September 1994 – May 1995
In the series premiere, Dr. Mark Greene considers a move into private practice. Staff nurse Carol Hathaway, who was formerly dating Dr. Doug Ross, attempts to commit suicide. Medical student John Carter experiences his first day in the ER. Later in the season, Greene makes a fatal error while treating a pregnant woman which leads him to depression. Dr. Susan Lewis deals with her pregnant, rebellious sister, Chloe. Carter struggles to get acclimated in the fast-paced workplace, while trying to get the approval of his boss, Dr. Peter Benton.
ER Season 2
22 Episodes | September 1995 – May 1996
Greene’s divorce is finalized right as he finds out his wife is cheating on him. He then starts butting heads with Dr. Ross, whose recklessness is called out by hospital authorities. New Chief Resident Dr. Kerry Weaver starts at County General. Ross breaks protocol to treat an HIV-positive child. As he’s about to be fired, he saves a boy trapped in a sewer and the media attention from that event causes the hospital to revert their decision. Carter tries to secure a spot in the surgical program, but the loss of a patient could prevent him from his goal.
ER Season 3
22 Episodes | September 1996 – May 1997
Greene professes his love for Lewis just as she’s about to leave. She leaves anyways, but tells him she loves him too as her train pulls away. Greene then spirals into depressed only to be caught off guard and mugged in the hospital. He becomes increasingly paranoid and pulls away from his family and friends. Doug and Carol share a kiss by season’s end, after therapy helps round out some of Doug’s edges. Carol decides against going to medical school. Benton comes down hard on a surgical intern who later throws himself in front of a train. When the hospital can’t revive him, Carter blames himself and Benton for the student’s demise.
ER Season 4
22 Episodes | September 1997 – May 1998
Season 4 began with an unprecedented live episode that the cast performed for both coasts. Two new doctors join the hospital: Dr. Anna Del Amico and a British surgeon named Dr. Elizabeth Corday. Ross and Hathaway grow closer; Ross proposes and Hathaway accepts, but the couple soon finds themselves on the rocks.
ER Season 5
22 Episodes | September 1998 – May 1999
Lucy Knight starts her studies in the ER as Dr. Del Amico’s departs. Carter grows fond of Knight seeing himself in her, though the two endure much conflict before finding a way to work together. Benton considers a cochlear implant when he learns that his son is hearing impaired. Weaver applies for a full-time chief of emergency position, but the post goes to another doctor. Ross continues breaking protocol when he teaches a mother how to alter medication to give to her disabled son. She uses the info to kill him living Ross with no other option but to resign and move away. Ross and Hathaway finally settle down.
ER Season 6
22 Episodes | September 1999 – May 2000
The first major shift in casting comes when four new characters enter the ER hallways. Dr. Luka Kovač and third-year medical student Abby Lockhart join, as well as Dr. Cleo Finch and Dr. Dave Malucci. In a terrifying episode, Lucy Knight and John Carter are attacked and stabbed by a psychotic patient; Lucy bleeds out as the rest of the staff are unable to save her. Hathaway decides to leave Chicago to start her new life with Doug Ross, which doles out the Clooney cameo viewers craved. Carter, having survived his violent attack, develops an addiction to pain meds forcing the rest of his colleagues to have an intervention. Carter checks into a rehab in the season finale.
ER Season 7
22 Episodes | October 2000 – May 2001
Carter completes rehab with the support of Abby, who’s reeling herself when she’s forced to drop out of med school due to her new troublesome romance with Kovač and her bipolar mother moving in. Greene is diagnosed with terminal cancer, giving him only weeks to live, but he decides to keep it a secret from Corday. After a successful surgery, he proposes to her. A massive train wreck causes the ER doctors and nurses to work on the scene.
ER Season 8
22 Episodes | September 2001 – May 2002
Susan Lewis return to get closure with Greene. Weaver confronts and accepts her sexuality. The storyline of Greene’s illness and death affects many characters and marks yet another turning point for the series. Four characters leave the show including original characters Greene and Benton. Two new characters are introduced (Michael Gallant and Greg Pratt) and their very different personalities cause friction. Carter becomes the focal point of the show at the end of the season.
ER Season 9
22 Episodes | September 2002 – May 2003
A grieving Corday leaves Chicago for England following the death of Greene. Romano suffers an injury which has consequences throughout the season. Weaver gets a promotion, Abby’s endures some family troubles, and Pratt continues rubbing his colleagues the wrong way. Kovac and Carter join a relief mission in Africa, which sets up a continuing story for seasons to come.
ER Season 10
22 Episodes | September 2003 – May 2004
New characters flood the hospital once again including medical student Neela Rasgotra, Resident Archie Morris and Nurse Samantha Taggart. Abby exits the series returning to medical school. The aftermath of Kovac and Carter’s mission in Africa is a big storyling, while a Thanksgiving tragedy ends Romano. Lewis deals with an unexpected pregnancy and Gallant gets deployed to Iraq, while Chen and Weaver both deal with separate personal losses.
ER Season 11
22 Episodes | September 2004 – May 2005
Corday who quits her job after performing an illegal operation. Chen leaves to care for her sick dad while Carter also departs the series to return to Africa. Lewis is promoted to ER Chief, Abby and Neela begin their internships along with Ray Barnett, and Carter and Lewis compete for tenure. Weaver meets her biological mom. Gallant makes a surprising return from Iraq.
ER Season 12
22 Episodes | September 2005 – May 2006
With Noah Wyle out of the picture, Kovac and Abby become the main central characters. The two get back into good graces as they deal with her unexpected pregnancy. After a successful operation, Weaver no longer needs her cane. Pratt heads to Africa where he joins Carter on a relief mission. A face from Sam’s past leaves Abby and Kovac’s lives in danger.
ER Season 13
23 Episodes | September 2006 – May 2007
As a result of a shootout, Abby delivers a premature baby. Sam suffers a terrifying ordeal at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. Kerry Weaver finally departs when Kovac is forced to make budget cuts which threaten her job. Paramedic Tony Gates returns as the ER’s new intern. Kovac is sued for malpractice and later returns to Croatia to care for his father. Abby struggles with motherhood.
ER Season 14
19 Episodes | September 2007 – May 2008
With Kovac in Croatia, Abby adapts to being a single parent. New ER chief Kevin Morretti continues to make his presence felt. Pratt is angered when Dr. Wexler is appointed as Morretti’s replacement. Sam and Gates start a relationship.
ER Season 15
22 Episodes | September 2008 – April 2009
Gregory Pratt is the victim of an ambulance explosion. Despite his colleagues’ efforts, he succumbs to his injuries and dies. Cate Canfield is introduced as new ER chief. Kovac and Abby Lockhart move to Boston. Samantha Taggart and Tony Gates’ relationship suffers after a terrible accident. Carter returns to work at County but unbeknownst to his colleagues, he’s in need of a new kidney.
What Are the Best ER Episodes?
Season 4, Episode 1: “Ambush”
A camera crew floods the ER to film a documentary. A new British surgeon, Elizabeth Corday, uses unfamiliar medical terms. Morgenstern suffers a heart attack. This episode was performed live twice, once for the east coast and once for the west.
Season 2, Episode 7: “Hell or High Water”
On the rocks with his superiors, Ross accepts a private practice position. Shortly after, he saves a little boy trapped in a storm drain and the media attention is enough to save his job.
Season 6, Episode 13: “Be Still My Heart”
A car crash leaves two children orphaned. A patient arrives complaining of headaches but Lucy suspects he is schizophrenic. Her warnings to Carter go unheard leading to a tragic end. Carter and Lucy are attached by the patient and stabbed repeatedly, the result of the patient’s psychotic episode.
Season 1, Episode 19: “Love’s Labor Lost”
A frequent inclusion on “best episodes of all time” lists, this tension-filled hour is best skipped if you or a loved one has recently given birth or are about to. Dr. Greene makes a mistake in his treatment of a pregnant woman and the consequences turn deadly.
Who Are the Actors in the ER Cast?
George Clooney as Doug Ross
Ross was a doctor who defied all measures and broke protocol whenever possible if he felt he knew the right treatment for his patients. His rash decisions would frequently land him in hot water with his bosses. ER was a breakthrough role for George Clooney, who basically owns and runs Hollywood now.
Julianna Margulies as Carol Hathaway
Carol Hathaway was a registered nurse and later, nurse manager in County General. When we meet her in the beginning, she’s recovering from a suicide attempt following a failed relationship with Doug (the fact that she ends up with Doug in the end is rather uncomfortable, no?). Margulies is also the star of The Good Wife and can now be seen on Dietland.
Noah Wyle as John Carter
When the series starts, Carter is a third year med student. By series’ end, he’s one of the most respected doctors who leaves County General to join a Doctors Without Borders program in Africa. After ER, Wyle starred in shows like Falling Skies and The Librarians.
Anthony Edwards as Mark Greene
Dr. Greene was often a mediator during his time at County General. He later becomes the main focus of the show, but eventually dies of a brain tumor in Season 8.
Eriq La Salle as Peter Benton
Benton was often irritable around his colleagues, but was an undoubtedly talented surgeon whose passion about medicine meets no end. La Salle moved on to A Gifted Man and Under the Dome following his stint on ER.
Laura Innes as Kerry Weaver
Weaver served as Chief Resident and later an attending physician, Chief of Emergency Medicine and finally, Hospital Chief of Staff. Her position often forced her to make decisions that displeased her fellow physicians. Innes also stars in The Event, Colony and Awake.
With so many characters coming and going, ER had a plethora of famous faces walk through its doors. Maura Tierney, Kellie Martin, Mekhi Phifer, Ming-Na Wen, John Stamos, Linda Cardellini, Maria Bello and Angela Bassett are just a few of the additional actors the show employed.
Who Are the Top Guest Stars on ER?
Bradley Whitford as Sean O’Brien
Whitford soars as the frantic father whose pregnant wife’s life hangs in the balance in a tumultuous Season 1 episode.
Sally Field as Maggie Wyczenski
The two-time Oscar winner stars as Abby’s suicidal, bipolar mother for 12 episodes in a role that earned Field an Emmy.
Ewan McGregor as Duncan Stewart
The Moulin Rouge and Trainspotting actor guested as Duncan Stewart, a man who holds a group of people, Carol included, hostage during a Season 3 convenience store robbery.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind ER?
Michael Crichton: ER Creator, Executive Producer and Writer
Crichton created ER based on his own experience as a medical student in a chaotic emergency room. Crichton is best known for being an author, having written books like Jurassic Park, Rising Sun and The Andromeda Strain.
John Wells: ER Showrunner, Producer, Director and Writer
Wells wore many hats on the series, leaving the show after a few years and then returning as head writer. Wells has also worked on shows like Shameless, The West Wing and Third Watch.
Where ER Ranks in the Television Pantheon
When ER debuted, it was the second most watched show only behind the comedy powerhouse Seinfeld. These high-ratings continued and for its first 10 seasons, ER was a top 10 rated show, proving that the show had staying power and an incredibly loyal audience. The show’s highest ratings came during the Season 2 episode “Hell and High Water” when 48 million viewers watched Doug Ross save a boy from a well. This was the highest rated episode for a regularly scheduled drama since a 1985 episode of Dallas.
TV Guide ranked ER number 22 on their list of “TV’s Top 50 Shows,” while EW placed it at number 19 on their “New TV Classics” list. The accolades didn’t stop there. The series was nominated for 375 industry awards all together, winning 116 of them, including 22 Emmy Awards and the George Foster Peabody Award in 1995.