There’s a lot to love about ER; it’s one of the most popular medical dramas of all time, and here are the best episodes of each season.
With 15 seasons that aired from 1994 to 2009, ER stood as television’s longest-running medical drama for a decade after its grand finale. It wasn’t until 2019 that the 16th season of Grey’s Anatomy would dethrone ER, which is now the second longest-running TV drama surrounding fictional doctors.
Created by Michael Crichton, who wrote novels such as Jurassic Park, The Lost World and films such as Westworld (1973) and Twister (1996)—among many other notable works–ER is one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed series in the history of television. Read below to explore which episode stood out in every season of the show, as well as how they rank against one another.
Season 14 – “The War Comes Home”
“The War Comes Home” opened season 14 of ER with a bang. Several casualties from an anti-war rally in Chicago bring many patients to County General Hospital, causing Abby, Morris, and Pratt to struggle to tend to everyone. What’s more, Gates ends up with a patient that he suspects started the explosion that set off these casualties.
The first episode of ER season 14 is by far the highlight of that season, which would go on to become the show’s second-to-last year on TV.
Season 12 – “Twenty-One Guns”
There’s a shootout in the County General Hospital, and the gunmen start getting more and more anxious. To make matters worse, Kovac unintentionally puts himself in the middle of the action.
The season 12 finale “Twenty-One Guns” is a riveting and gut-wrenching episode that introduced an oft-imitated storyline for medical dramas on TV: gunmen in the hospital. This was not only innovative storytelling for TV, but it also raised the stakes for ER after 12 years on the air.
Season 9 – “Kisangani”
“Kisangani,” the finale for ER season 9, shows Carter volunteering in Africa and treating victims of a Civil War in the Congo. During that episode, the show completely stepped out of Chicago—as it only sometimes did and focused on Carter struggling to treat patients in a country with very few resources.
After Carter reunites with Kovac in Congo, the two of them find themselves in the middle of a conflict between opposing Congolese tribes. All in all, “Kisangani” is undoubtedly the standout episode of season 9.
Season 7 – “The Crossing”
On season 7, ER aired its 150th episode, “The Crossing.” Besides the fact that this episode commemorated a very important achievement for the series, it was also a really good episode that placed Carter, Kovac, and Corday in the middle of a literal train wreck.
In “The Crossing,” we see Kovac struggling with his past and his faith, as well as Carter struggling to perform a difficult procedure on the train. To make matters worse, then-pregnant Corday starts feeling contractions.
Season 5 – “The Storm”
In hindsight, many fans remember season 5 as George Clooney’s (Dr. Doug Ross) last year on ER. More specifically, however, the highlight of that season was the two-parter “The Storm” episode. All in all, “The Storm (Part 2)” garnered 35.7 million viewers, making it the most-watched episode of that season.
It was very hard saying goodbye to Dr. Ross on ER, and “The Storm” certainly made fans cry their hearts out as they watched him make the decision to leave County General Hospital. Thankfully, George Clooney did appear as a special guest on ER twice more in season 6 episode 21 (“Such Sweet Sorrow”), as well as in season 15 episode 19 (“Old Times”).