|Season 1, Episode 1|
|Air date||September 19, 1994|
|Written by||Michael Crichton|
|Directed by||Rod Holcomb|
Amidst the chaos of an urban, public hospital emergency room devoted doctors and staff deal with a Chicago building collapse. Everyone in the ER must overcome their personal dramas to save lives in a crisis.
Dr. Mark Greene, sleeping in an exam room, is woken by nurse Lydia to take care of a drunk Dr. Doug Ross. In-between rambling about his date, Doug asks about Mark's family; Mark says he and his wife are OK. Mark and nurse Wendy discuss Doug's recurrent alcohol abuse.
Mark returns to bed and is woken by Lydia to make treatment decisions, then again at 6:30 AM.
The morning shift begins with the arrival of Dr. Susan Lewis and Dr. Peter Benton, as TV broadcasts news of a nearby building collapse. Twelve injured patients, seven of them critical, are sent to the County General ER. As Mark is dictating his treatment orders, patients start arriving from the collapse.
Mr. Wilson arrives with a partial amputation of the right wrist and is cared for by Peter. Doug is caring for an elderly woman vomiting blood. Mr. Wilson is handed off to a vascular surgery team; the lead surgeon keeps benton from participating in the surgery, despite his obvious confidence and enthusiasm.
Mr. Barr, with a possible facial fracture, is cared for by Susan, who deftly deflects his flirting. Peter examines Doug's patient and decides to send her to the OR; before she can be moved, she loses her pulse. Susan cares for a patient with an open arm fracture while Peter performs CPR and defibrillates Doug's patient; her heartbeat returns.
Mark delivers news of a patient's death from heart attack to his son, who reacts with violent anger, before breaking down in tears.
Susan's open fracture patient is sent to the OR. The last two of the collapse patients are dead on arrival, and the staff take a break.
The doctors discuss their patients status in the doctor's lounge. Peter tries to get coffee, only to discover none is left. He gets agitated and blames nurses for it, bringing up the issue with head nurse Carol, who tells him his coffee is not the nurses' responsibility. Peter complains about his low pay, but ultimately concedes and makes his own coffee.
Mark meets his wife and daughter in the hospital cafeteria. Mark and Jenn discuss his sleep deprivation, his long hours, her studying for her bar exam, and the toll they are taking on their relationship. She reminds Mark that he is meeting with a Dr. Harris about a job opportunity.
Medical student John Carter arrives for his first day at the ER, and is greeted by a skeptical staff who comment on his tailored white coat. Peter, Carter's supervisor, introduces himself and gives Carter a brief and overwhelming introduction to the ER. Carter, coming to the ER after his dermatology and psychiatry rotations, doesn't yet know how to start an IV; Peter quickly demonstrated. Peter is particularly enthusiastic about showing the trauma rooms, where "the real action happens". Carter meets Dr. David Morgenstern, the head of ER. Dr. Morgenstern commends Peter on "everything except his attitude". At the end of the tour, Peter takes Carter to a patient with a cut in her hand, to show him how to suture.
Third year medical student Tracy Young arrives and is greeted by Doug. She immediately brushes him off, making it clear that his suave demeanor is unwelcome.
As Peter is showing Carter how to suture, he is pulled away to care for a gunshot wound, leaving Carter to finish the suturing.
Tracy is taking the history of a young boy, Billy, whose mother is answering every question and not letting billy speak. Doug escorts the mother out of the exam room and quickly finishes examining billy, who—with his mother out of the room—is willing to communicate with the doctors, if only non-verbally. Doug comments on never before seeing an eight-year-old ulcer patient.
Peter stops by Carter, who is still suturing, and hurries him along. Carter finishes and clumsily attempts to answer the patient's questions about aftercare.
During a short walk through the ER, Carol is approached by Susan, Wendy, nurse Haleh, and clerk Timmy, quickly providing them with information about patients and the inventory. Finally, she is accosted by Doug, who makes a reference to her significant other, leading Carol to tell him that he "had his chance" and is "still a fool".
Carter takes three tries to start an IV on a officer Martin, who shot himself in the leg.
Mark cares for a patient who was seeing double when he got up, but is now fine. After taking the patient's history, Mark tells him there is no need to refer him to a neurologist, and instructs him to return if the problem recurs. The patient resentfully objects, accusing Mark of talking down to him because he is black and Mark is Jewish. Mark says he is just trying to save him money because he is uninsured, but finally refers the patient to a neurologist.
A taxi driver runs into the ER looking for help for a woman in labor in his car. Mark and Carter step out into the snow to help. As she is being wheeled in on a gurney, a confused carter is instructed to hold the baby's head in with his hand, to keep the woman from delivering in the hallway. Mark decides to deliver the baby in the ER; the delivery proceeds without complications. Peter pulls Carter away from the delivery to care for patients waiting for sutures.
Dr. Steve Flint reads Frank's x-rays, while an impatient Peter waits to take Frank to surgery.
Mark cares for a patient with a fractured ankle, whose primary concern appears to be whether he will get worker's compensation. Mark chides him for his attitude. Doug cares for an infant with a middle-ear infection; Haleh and the patient's mother comment on ross's looks and attitude. Mark angrily dresses down a lab worker over the phone. Carter is sent off to lunch by Peter.
Lewis is caring for a combative trauma patient—a 13-year old drug dealer with multiple GSWs. Security is called for fear of gang members trying to come into the ER to kill the patient.
Mark leaves the ER and meets with Dr. Harris, who shows mark around his posh offices, enticing him with offers of high pay, ski vacations, and paid-for conference trips.
Susan cares for a chronic smoker. She is initially evasive about the diagnosis, but, after the patient insists, tells him he probably has lung cancer and no more than 6–12 months left to live. The patient breaks down in tears and hugs her.
Mrs. Raskin, a regular in the ER, approaches Mark and asks him to treat her hangnail. While he's caring for her, they discuss his personal life.
On her way out at the end of her shift, Carol removes something from the medicine cabinet.
In the pilot episode of 'ER' (a two hour movie) overworked residents are the heroes of County General Hospital as they make life-and-death decisions on a daily basis.
They include Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards), a married chief resident who's being wooed by a lucrative practice.
Dr. Douglas Ross (George Clooney), a charming, womanizing pediatrician who suspects a mother of abusing her young son.
The down-to-earth Dr. Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield) who must console a fragile cancer patient (guest star Miguel Ferrer).
Dr. Peter Benton (Eriq La Salle), an intense surgeon who is forced into performing a delicate surgery he's not prepared for and John Carter (Noah Wyle), an inexperienced medical student who bumbles his way through the cauldron of the emergency room.
Julianna Margulies stars as Nurse Carol Hathaway, whose personal crisis takes the ER staff by surprise.
- Main:24 Hours/Appearances
The following named, recurring characters are introduced in this episode:
- Mark Greene - ER Chief Resident.
- Lydia Wright - Senior ER nurse.
- Peter Benton - Surgical resident.
- Carol Hathaway - Senior ER nurse.
- Connie Oligario - Senior ER nurse.
- David Morgenstern - Chief of Emergency Medicine.
- Doug Ross - ER Pediatric Attending.
- Frank Martin - a police officer treated in the ER.
- Haleh Adams - Senior ER nurse.
- Jerry Markovic - ER desk clerk.
- John Carter - Third year medical student assigned to Benton.
- Jennifer Greene - Mark's wife, a law student.
- Rachel Greene - Mark and Jennifer's daughter.
- Steve Flint - Radiologist at County General.
- Susan Lewis - ER Resident.
- Timmy Rawlins - ER desk clerk.
- Tracy Young - Third year medical student assigned to Ross.
- Wendy Goldman - ER physician assistant.
- 3 victims of building collapse.
- Anthony Edwards as Doctor Mark Greene
- George Clooney as Doctor Doug Ross
- Sherry Stringfield as Doctor Susan Lewis
- Noah Wyle as John Carter
- and Eriq La Salle as Doctor Peter Benton
- Julianna Margulies as Nurse Carol Hathaway
- Christine Harnos as Jennifer Greene
- William H. Macy as Doctor David Morgenstern
- Holly Gagnier as Tracy Young
- Glenn Plummer as Timmy
- Vanessa Marquez as Goldman
- Yvette Freeman as Haleh
- Deezer D as Nurse Malek
- Abraham Benrubi as Jerry
- Scott Jaeck as Dr. Steven Flint
- Paul Benjamin as Mr. Ervin
- Elizabeth Ruscio as Sarah Logan
- Michael Fairman as Mort Harris
- Julianna McCarthy as Mrs. Raskin
- Troy Evans as Officer Martin
- Michael Cavanaugh as Suzanne's Dad
- Jeff Doucette as Larkowski
- Christine Healy as an Administrator
- Liz Vassey as Liz
- Tracey Ellis as Annette
- Conni Marie Brazelton as Oligario
- Ellen Crawford as Lydia Wright
- Petra Porras as Perez
- Ryan Cutrona as Wilson
- Angelo Di Mascio Jr. as Barr
- Joe D'Angerio as Rezek
- Scott Lincoln as Fitzkee
- María Celedonio as Luisa
- Jay Leggett as Canelli
- Anne Gee Byrd as Harper
- Sharon Schlarth as Karen Edmunds
- Walter F. Kelly as a Specialist
- Shiri Appleby as Ms. Murphy
- Susanne Nitter as a Roommate
- Suzanne Ventulett as Suzanne
- Christopher Wynne as a Resident
- Sally Hughes as Mrs. Harvey
- Perry Anzilotti as Ed
- Lawrence Mandley as Jackson
- Courtenay McWhinney as a Grey Haired Woman
- Lou Charloff as Mr. Harvey
- Jarrett Lennon as Billy
- Joanna Lipari as a Mom
- Phyllis Ehrlich as a Confused Woman
- Eddie Torres as a 12 Year Old Boy
- Shelly Desai as a Cabby
- Nina Henderson as a Pregnant Lady
- Thomas Dekker as a 4 Year Old Boy
- Katherine Gauthier as a Waitress
- Suzanne Carney as Scrub Nurse #1
- Gay Storm as Mrs. McCormick
- Cynthena Sanders as Scrub Nurse #2
- Matthew Robert Gottlieb as Ashley
- Lance Gentile as Jimmy
- Isabel Lorca as Cheryl
- Ingo Neuhaus as a Cop
- Alex P. Hernandez as Trooper #1
- Herbert Jefferson Jr. as Trooper #2
- Yvonne Zima as Rachel
- Marisa Abbott as a Hospital Medical Technician
- Sheree Ali as a Nurse
- Barry Biondo as a Paramedic
- Miguel Ferrer as Mr. Parker
- Sara Holden as an Ice Skater
- Mathew Weiss as a 4 Year Old Boy
- Thomas Del Ruth - Director of Photography
- Michael Helmy - Production Designer
- Randy Jon Morgan - Editor
- James Newton Howard - Music
- Dennis Murphy - Episodic Producer
- Michael Crichton - Writer
- Rod Holcomb - Director
- Michael Crichton - Executive Producer
- John Wells - Executive Producer
- Wendy Spence - Associate Producer
- Dennis Murphy - Unit Production Manager
- T.R. Babu Sabramaniam - First Assistant Director (AD)
- Joyce Mayeda-Jones - Second AD
- Lance A. Gentile, m.d. - Technical Advisor
- Jodie Tillen - Costume Designer
- Barbara Miller, c.s.a. - Executive in charge of casting
- John Levey, c.s.a. - Casting
- First Appearance of Mark Greene, Doug Ross, Susan Lewis, John Carter, Peter Benton, Carol Hathaway, Jennifer Greene, Rachel Greene, David Morgenstern, Haleh Adams, Wendy Goldman, Jerry Markovic, Lydia Wright
- Carol Hathaway was supposed to be brain dead from the suicide attempt. Because of this Julianna Margulies was only credited as a guest star
- When Steve is reading Frank's x-rays, the chart and the narration refer to him as "Jonathan Martin"; when he later returns to the series, he is called Frank Martin
- Steve refers to the bullet in Frank's leg as a "radiolucent foreign body." A bullet would be a "radiopaque foreign body."
- When Dr. Benton is finished with the ruptured abdominal aneurysm surgery, after the doors open up, Dr. Benton does a punch in the air, knowing that he had done something good. It is used in later episode in the intro for a next few seasons.
- Doug Ross indicates that it is March 14, 1994 when complaining about the snow. While it did not actually snow in Chicago on that day, other details shown are accurate to the day, including the sun rising between the time Mark returns to sleep at 5:30 AM and when he wakes up at 6:30. March 14 was a Monday, as expected for new medical students reporting to the ER at the start of the workweek.
- As is the norm for new TV series, many details were changed from the pilot to the regular run of the show regarding the layout of the ER set.
- "Nielsen Ratings - September-December 1994 " (PDF). USA Today. (May 15, 2015).