Neela first appeared in fall 2003 at the start of the 10th season as a talented but very reticent medical student from London, England. She arrived on her first day as the ER was undergoing major renovations, and was for the most part unnoticed, except by Dr. Michael Gallant, who guided her through the rough start in the hospital, and Dr. Greg Pratt, who lightly flirted with her.
Neela was very intelligent, but sometimes lacked the proper people skills between a doctor and the patient. A very reserved individual, she first faced her first big crisis at County when a helicopter crash occurred on Thanksgiving Day that tested her ability as a physician during a disaster. It was also revealed that Neela had a terrible case of nerve wrecking claustrophobia, which she later conquered.
In season 11, Neela and Abby Lockhart graduate together from medical school. However, upon graduating, she had an identity crisis and turns down an internship at the University of Michigan, opting to work as a store clerk when no other position turns up. After a few episodes, she asks the ER chief Kerry Weaver for a job back at County. Later, she finds herself back in the hospital after an obsessive-compulsive intern (Howard, portrayed by Andy Powers) quit and Dr. Susan Lewis made a job offer, which she accepted.
She becomes close to Gallant prior to his deployment to Iraq, especially after he took the blame of a patient's accidental death, sparing Neela's probable dismissal. During one return visit, they begin a romantic relationship, after which they maintain a regular correspondence. On completion of his tour of duty, they impulsively marry, but he soon feels compelled to return to Iraq and re-enlists. At this point, Neela was also struggling with her feelings for roommate and fellow doctor Ray Barnett, who began to fall in love with her. Neela kept her distance from Ray when she decided to stay with Abby instead.
In "The Gallant Hero & The Tragic Victor", Neela becomes a widow when Gallant is killed by a roadside bomb near Mosul, Iraq. She pushes Ray and everyone else away when they tried to offer her some comfort. In "Twenty-One Guns", Michael's funeral takes place, where she is accompanied by Pratt. She gets angry at Michael's father, accusing him of telling Michael to go off to war when he could have stopped him, but Pratt offers her some comfort when he says that Gallant felt he had to be in Iraq, and that Pratt now understands this due to his own experiences in Darfur. Pratt later receives a phone call from the ER; both are unaware of the shootings which have taken place there.
In "Bloodline", Neela and Pratt rush to the hospital when they find out about the shooting and help the distraught ER. Neela, then taking a surgical elective, scrubs in and operates on Jerry, who eventually recovers from his injuries. Neela reunites with paramedic Tony Gates. Still mourning her husband, she gets drunk and kisses him, but she apologizes to him later on. Many feelings and tension arise between her, Gates and Barnett who have been thrust into a love triangle. Chief of Surgery Dr. Lucien Dubenko has always been fond of Neela and her talents, looking out for her and helping her get the spot in a surgical elective. She later decides to leave the ER and start over as a surgical intern. As she begins her new surgical rotation, she falls under the strict supervision of new surgical Chief Resident Dr. Dustin Crenshaw, who seems to hold her back from demonstrating her skills. Later in her elective, Neela feels pushed away and neglected from her mentor when a new med student steals all the spotlight in front of Dr. Dubenko. She later discovers that Dr. Dubenko holds feelings for her, as does the (female) new med student.
During the wedding of Abby and Luka, Neela decides to end her romantic relationships with Tony for good, after built-up emotions escalate and lead to a bar fight between Tony and Ray and complete exposure of their personal issues in front of the entire ER staff. The fight got Ray tossed out of the reception party, however, Neela appeared to be in the process of settling with Ray. She called him on his cell after looking affectionately at the CD of love songs he burned for her. Initially, Ray, while leaving drunk from a bar, did not answer his cell despite its vibrating. She was still upset at Ray, as well as Tony, but grew concerned when Ray wouldn't answer his calls and did not show up at work. Neela went by his apartment with no luck and later discovered he was hit by a truck and was hospitalized. With both legs amputated, a bitter Ray could not forgive Neela for hurting him and left Chicago to be cared for by his mother back home, and Ray's love interest Katey blamed Neela for Ray's injuries. This further upsets Neela who has been torn apart by the two men. In the 13th season finale, Neela attends an anti-war rally and soon finds herself in danger as a mass panic ensues in the crowd. Tony who was looking for her tries to come to her aid as the crowd tramples her.
In the early part of season 14, she recovers from her accident and stays with Abby while Luka is away in Croatia. She also babysits Joe while Abby is at work. When Neela returns to work, Gates enquires about Ray, and we learn that Ray has been writing to Neela. Katey and Neela have another altercation about Ray's accident and Neela tells her that she will not take the blame for what happened to Ray. She also reveals that Ray himself doesn't blame her for the accident. Some months later, Neela and Abby engage in an argument after Neela finds out that Abby is an alcoholic. During the heated exchange, Abby says that Neela should not be lecturing her on love because Ray is probably wishing he never met Neela. While Neela does not directly address her feelings about Ray, from the hurt on her face it is evident that she is still not completely over what happened to him. Neela gets very upset after Abby's comments and kicks her out of the apartment. Abby and Neela make up sometime later after Abby returns from rehab.
After doing an orthopedic surgery rotation, where it became obvious all the surgical departments wanted her on their teams for the long haul, she returns to working for Dr. Dubenko. However, Neela has faced some professional and personal setbacks since that return: a wiz-kid surgical resident decided surgery wasn't for him, and left for Pediatrics despite her efforts to convince him he could be a successful surgeon; she noted her sparse personal life on her birthday (which nobody but Tony remembered); and she became close to a patient played by Aida Turturro who developed an infection that led to her death, sending Neela into the doldrums once again.
In the Season 15 episode, "The Book of Abby", Neela's long-time friend and colleague, Abby Lockhart, resigned and left the ER for a new job in Boston. Neela, while happy for her friend's new start, told Abby that she wished she had known about this sooner and that she couldn't imagine working in the hospital without Abby. Separated by a glass window while operating in the OR, Neela told a departing Abby to "be good", after which Abby smiled and walked away.
Abby's departure leaves Neela as the most senior regular character on ER.
|Characters||Mark Greene • Doug Ross • Susan Lewis • John Carter • Carol Hathaway • Peter Benton • Jeanie Boulet • Kerry Weaver • Anna Del Amico • Elizabeth Corday • Lucy Knight • Luka Kovač • Abby Lockhart • Cleo Finch • Dave Malucci • Jing-Mei Chen • Michael Gallant • Greg Pratt • Neela Rasgotra • Samantha Taggart • Ray Barnett • Archie Morris • Tony Gates • Simon Brenner • Cate Banfield|