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"On the Beach"
Season 8, Episode 21
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Air date May 9, 2002
Written by John Wells
Directed by John Wells
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"On the Beach" is the twenty-first episode of the eighth season of ER . It was written and directed by Executive Producer John Wells. It first aired on NBC on May 9, 2002. It is the final regular episode of starring cast member Anthony Edwards as Mark Greene, although he reprises the role in flashbacks later in the series. The character's last days are explored. Greene goes to Hawaii, where he grew up, to reconcile with his troubled teenage daughter Rachel and heal old wounds before it's too late.


Greene uses his last days to return to Hawaii, where he grew up, with his daughter Rachel. He hopes to reconnect with her and heal old wounds before it's too late. When Greene becomes moribund, Elizabeth comes to Hawaii, along with baby Ella. The ailing Greene helps his shattered family to be reunited.

NBC Description

DOCTOR GREENE RETREATS TO HAWAII TO RE-CONNECT WITH HIS REBELLIOUS TEEN DAUGHTER: In an affecting and poignant look at Mark Greene's (Anthony Edwards) final days, the once driven E.R. doctor takes reluctant Rachel (Hallee Hirsh) to his childhood home in Hawaii.

There, he indulges in life's simple pleasures and tries to impart bittersweet memories and family history to his distant daughter. But as their clashes escalate and as Greene's health fades, so does the chance for a final reconciliation between them.

Noah Wyle, Laura Innes, Goran Visnjic, Paul McCrane, Ming-Na, Sherry Stringfield and Sharif Atkins also star.


Mark writes a list of things that he always wanted to do, but he never had time for. The last thing on his list is to fix his relationship with his daughter, Rachel. He picks up Rachel from school & takes her to Hawaii (where he lived for three years).

While in Hawaii, Mark reveals facts about his past to Rachel and how he didn't get along with his own father. He also teaches her how to surf.

Later that night, Rachel checks on Mark and asks him if he's awake, but he doesn't respond. She goes in his room, takes some of his medicine and washes it down with alcohol. Unbeknownst to her, Mark is watching what she is doing.

The next day, Mark drives Rachel to a retreat house where they can swim, surf & walk on the beach. They share a quiet dinner and Mark teaches Rachel how to drive a stick shift.

Later on, Mark is found by Rachel, resting on his bed with a headache. He goes down to the beach where Rachel is. Mark lets Rachel know that he's missing three Vicodin pills, but Rachel denies it. When Rachel storms off, Mark goes after her, apologizing for not being active in her life, but Rachel doesn't seem to care.

Back at the house, Mark speaks with Elizabeth on the phone, telling her everything is okay. As Mark and Rachel discuss what to have for dinner, Mark suffers from a seizure, leaving Rachel at a loss about what to do.

Elizabeth and Ella arrive in Hawaii and Mark is happy to see them. Elizabeth tells Mark how scared Rachel was when he started seizing & wants him to go back to Chicago to get medical treatment, but Mark refuses. When Mark, Elizabeth, and Rachel go shopping to buy Rachel a surfboard, Rachel becomes attracted to a boy named Kai which concerns Elizabeth, but not Mark.

Back at the house, Rachel sees Mark singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to Ella as she sleeps. He asks Rachel if she remembers the song, but she doesn't. Rachel tells him that she doesn't care about all the things in her childhood & is tired of hearing about it.

Elizabeth talks to Rachel, saying that her father may not be perfect, but he's trying. She also tells her that Mark wants to spend time with her before he dies & if Rachel blows it, she'll hate herself for the rest of her life.

Mark wakes up from a nap and notices that he's partially paralyzed on his right side. He tries standing up, but he ends up falls down. As Elizabeth helps Mark down to the beach, he is shown coughing. Elizabeth thinks Mark might have pneumonia & thinks he should go to the doctor, but Mark tells her it wouldn't be a bad way to go.

Elizabeth tells Mark that Rachel is with Kai and while she's concerned about what they might be up to, Mark isn't worried at all. Mark asks Elizabeth to write letters for Rachel & Ella to open on special occasions because he's unable to read his own writing anymore.

When Rachel comes home, she asks Elizabeth is Mark is sleeping. Elizabeth informs her that he's been sleeping a lot lately & it won't be long before he passes away. When Rachel goes to see him, Mark tells her that he was dreaming about how Rachel used to love balloons.

Mark tells Rachel to always be generous. Rachel says that she will and that she remembers the lullaby he used to sing to her. Mark closes his eye and begins to dream.

In Mark's dream, he is shown looking down a long hallway in the ER & then seeing his wife & daughters at the beach, looking happy. When Elizabeth checks on Mark the next morning, he has peacefully passed away.

The next scene shows Mark's funeral where his family & co-workers are in attendance. After the funeral, Rachel asks Elizabeth if she can still see Ella and Elizabeth tells her that she can. The end of the episode shows Rachel taking a balloon and letting it go up into the sky.

Deleted Scenes

  • Still Standing - Mark visits his ex-wife Jen in St. Louis and asks to take Rachel out of school.
  • Want to Play? - Mark tries to connect with Rachel after the leave the resort.
  • I Loved Your Mother Very Much - Mark laments to Rachel his regret over his and Jen's divorce and his absence in Rachel's life.
  • Could You Cut the Vegetables? - As Mark struggles to cook dinner, Rachel witnesses her father's health deteriorating.
  • She's Walking All By Herself - While outside with Elizabeth, Ella, Rachel, and Kai, Mark watches Ella take her first steps on her own.
  • We Need To Talk - Mark asks Elizabeth to help him write letters to Ella and Rachel to be given on special days in the future, such as graduations and weddings.
  • Life What a Wonder - Mark dictates a letter written to the ER staff (the one featured in the previous episode The Letter).
  • Doesn't Feel Like He's Gone to Me - After Mark's funeral service, Elizabeth receives condolences from the ER staff. She expresses her grief to Benton before entering a limo with Jen and Rachel.



Episode Stills


Behind the Scenes


  • This episode received an Emmy Award nomination for "Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series" (John Wells).
  • Alex Kingston's real-life daughter, Salome Haertel appears uncredited as Ella Greene (Mark & Elizabeth's daughter) in this episode.
  • Although Eriq La Salle and Michael Michele both left as series regulars earlier in the 8th season, they are still credited with the main cast in this episode (rather than being credited as making a special appearance or as a special or regular guest star). Both La Salle and Michele's roles in the episode are non-speaking cameos, though they have lines in a deleted scene.
  • The episode features a Strong Language disclaimer for Dr. Greene's use of the word "shit."


  • "Hello, It's Me" by Todd Rundgren
  • "Imagine" by John Lennon
  • "One Step Closer" by Linkin Park
  • "Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
  • "The Remedy" by Abandoned Pools
  • "Crawling in the Dark" by Hoobastank


Mark (to Rachel): Rachel, damn it, stop. I love you. Please, don't do this. I don't I don't know what to do. I don't have time to work this through. I'm not gonna be here in a year to help. You got a bastard of a father who was never around and then went off and had a new baby. Your mom got remarried to a creep. She works too much. You got a raw deal, all right? Why not get high? No one gives a damn about you anyway. I know how that feels. I remember being fourteen and pissed off at my dad and the world. What are you gonna do when I'm not here? Who is gonna keep you from killing yourself?
Corday (to Rachel): Your father's dying.
Rachel: I know that.
Corday: He's going to die soon. Very soon. If you keep on like this, you're gonna miss what little time you have left with him. This is it, Rachel. This is your last chance. And if you blow it, you're gonna end up hating yourself for the rest of your life.
Mark (to Rachel): Hi.
Rachel: Hi.
Mark: I was just dreaming about you.
Rachel: You were?
Mark: The way you used to love balloons. Remember how much you loved balloons?
Rachel: No.
Mark: I used to buy them for you, and right when I handed them to you, you let them go. It drove your mother crazy. Sit with me. Sit. I was trying to figure out what I should have already told you, but I never have. Something important, something every father should impart to his daughter. I finally got it: generosity. Be generous, with your time, with your love, with your life.
Rachel: Okay.
Mark: I'm sorry, Rachel. I'm so tired.
Rachel: It's okay.
Mark: Don't cry for me.
Rachel: I won't.
Mark: Be generous... always.
Rachel: I will. Daddy. I remember the lullaby. I remember you used to sing it to me every night. I remember.
[After Mark's funeral]
Rachel: Can I still come visit Ella?
Corday: Of course. She's your sister.