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"Such Sweet Sorrow"
Season 6, Episode 21
Air date May 11, 2000
Written by John Wells
Directed by John Wells
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"Such Sweet Sorrow" is a twenty-first episode of the sixth season of ER. That episode first aired in May 11, 2000. It was written and directed by showrunner John Wells.

It was the final regular episode of Julianna Margulies as ER head nurse Carol Hathaway, who makes a life-changing decision following the care of the terminally ill mother.


When Carol resuscitates a terminally ill mother who was DNR in order for her to say goodbye to her family without Weaver's consent, she realizes that life is too short and quickly left the hospital to reunite with Doug.

Mark prepares to bury his father and expresses his enjoyment with Rachel when he wants his daughter to come with him to his funeral.

Carter's mental stability continues to deteriorate to a point where he nearly kills a patient.

Corday gives Malucci her negative assessment on his performance when a patient of his that he never saw nearly dies under Abby's care.

NBC Description

DR. WEAVER TAKES NO PRISONERS WHEN MISTAKES PILE UP IN ER; MEANWHILE, A FRIEND DEPARTS: A wound-up Dr. Weaver (Laura Innes) goes on the warpath when she encounters sloppiness, incorrect diagnoses and improper procedures among the ER staff and Nurse Hathaway (Julianna Margulies), Dr. Malucci (Erik Palladino) and Abby (Maura Tierney) all feel the heat of her wrath.

A disobeying Hathaway earns Weaver's enmity when she revives a "do not resuscitate" cancer victim (guest star Rachel Singer) so that the patient can spend one last conscious moment with her young family while she ponders her response to Dr. Kovac's (Goran Visnjic) romantic interest and she makes a life-changing decision.

When he's not goofing off, Malucci also gets an earful from Dr. Corday (Alex Kingston), who offers a sobering assessment of his performance.

Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards) re-thinks his father's burial request and determines to spend more time with his daughter Rachel (guest star Yvonne Zima). Noah Wyle and Ming-Na also star.


John Carter is seen lying in bed. He gets up and goes outside to have a cigarette. Carter arrives at the hospital where Jing-Mei Chen tells him he looks like crap. Dave Malucci tells him that too and Carter says it’s because he’s having trouble sleeping. Dave wonders what he did to make Weaver hate him and Carter says maybe because he calls her Festus. Carter goes into the bathroom and stares at himself in the mirror. Carter deals with two patients at a time. Jing-Mei asks if he needs any help but he says he’s got it. Carter goes to check up on his patient and realizes she hasn’t gotten her antibiotics yet. He goes and gets them himself since the nurse is busy. He comes back with the medicine and administers it to her. Suddenly, she starts having trouble breathing. Carter accidentally gave her the wrong medicine. He gives her a shot to counteract the effects just as Jing-Mei runs in and asks what’s wrong. Carter says nothing and lies about the patient ripping out their IV. He leaves quickly and heads to the bathroom where he cries in one of the stalls. Jing-Mei goes and talks to Mark about Carter. She tells him that he's been depressed and asks if Carter has been seeing anyone. Mark Greene says he doesn't know if he's seeing a therapist. Jing-Mei begins to list the symptoms he’s been having and thinks he might be bipolar. Mark says that he's probably still dealing with the stabbing and feeling responsible for Lucy Knight's death. Jing-Mei says but what if she's right and if they care about him shouldn't they check to see if its anything else. Mark goes to see Carter who is hanging out in a dark room. Mark tells him that they're worried about him. Carter says they don't need to be. Mark asks if he's seeing anybody like a therapist. Carter says no. Mark asks if he needs a referral and Carter says yes so Mark gives him a list of names. He leaves leaving Carter alone in the room.

Carol Hathaway is seen lying in bed but she wakes up to go take care of her crying daughters. She picks up Tess and tells her that she's killing her. Carol walks up to the hospital and finds Luka playing basketball outside. He asks her if he made her angry with the flowers. She says no. He says but they weren't animal crackers. He asks if she's still in love with Doug Ross. She says she doesn't know. He asks why she didn't go with him when Doug left. She says pride and because she wanted him to stay here for her. Luka Kovač tells her that he still loves his wife but its time for him to get on with his life. Carol is given a cancer patient who won’t wake up. She looks after the daughters so that the father can be alone with his wife. Carol runs into Mark who's on the phone. She asks him when he got back and he says 20 minutes ago. She says she's really sorry about his Dad. That she tried calling him but that he didn't pick up. He tells her Rachel Greene came up and he's just been spending time with her. He tells her that he's trying to get his dad into a cemetery but they keep putting him on hold. Carol asks if he wanted to be buried with his mom in San Diego but Mark says he doesn't know what he wanted. David just didn't want to be a bother. Mark tells Carol that she looks beat. Carol says that Tess is teething. Mark says that what Luka says and that they see each other enough to know. Carol tells him not to give her a hard time. Mark says that he thinks its great. Carol says then why is she still so confused. Carol's cancer patient wakes up but insists on wanting to go home. Weaver tells the husband that doesn’t she deserve to die where she wants to. Carol protests saying that they didn't explain all the options to her but Weaver says for to just call and set it up. Carol talks to the father about his wife. He tells her how when she was first diagnosed he kept working instead of spending time with her. Carol says she's going to call social services again when the patient stops breathing. The dad begs them to help her because his daughters haven't said goodbye yet. But she has a DNR. Carol begs Luka to help her keep her breathing and he agrees. Weaver walks in and yells at them for keeping her alive. That it wasn't Carol’s decision to make. Weaver tells her if she can't respect her wishes that what is Carol doing working here. She tells both of them that if she codes again to not touch her. Weaver leaves followed by Luka who Carol calls after. Carol finds Luka and he tells her that she had no right to put him in that situation. Carol says yes she didn’t and apologizes saying it will never happen again. She also thanks him for helping her. He says your welcome and leans over and kisses her. She pulls away and he asks what and she says nothing. Carol goes to get her patient's daughters so that they can visit with their mother. One of the daughters stays behind. She asks if she's going to die and Carol says yeah. The daughter says its not fair and that she doesn't want just to have a dad. That she wants to be a family like they used to be. Carol takes her inside to see her mom. Carol does paperwork as they clean the room the mom was in. Luka walks in and asks her if she'd like to have dinner with him. She says that would be nice. He says she doesn't have to but she says she wants to. They get interrupted by the Dad who talks to Carol about soulmates and how she was the love of his life. That he'll never love anyone again the way he loved her. This hits Carol hard who rushes outs and tells Mark that she's leaving early and dropping off the kids at her mothers. Carol tells Luka she's sorry but she can't have dinner with him. That she has to go find out and see if Doug's still in love her with. That he'll find someone that will love him like his wife did. Carol runs through the airport and barely makes it to the gate before the plane leaves. Carol arrives at Doug's house and goes looking for him when he doesn't answer the door. She finds him at the dock with his boat. Doug looks up and spots her. He walks over. She tells him its beautiful here and he kisses her.

Abby Lockhart is sleeping in a patient room when she's called to work. Abby does a pelvic exam on a patient. The girl is worried that she has an STD from her boyfriend of over a year. Abby says that it's probably just pelvic inflammatory disease. That they'll give her some pills and she'll be on her way. Abby tells Dave about her patient so that he can sign the chart. Abby gets the date wrong. It's the eleventh not the tenth and she says she can't believe today is going okay so far. She then gets news that her PID patient collapsed in the bay. Abby rushes outside and they bring her back into the ER. She has a ovarian abscess that ruptured so they rush her up to the OR. Elizabeth Corday yells at Abby and Dave for discharging a patient that Dave never saw. She tells them that the girl could've died. Elizabeth says she wants to talk to Dave alone. Elizabeth tells him her opinion about him and that he's lazy and he endangers patients lives. Elizabeth tells her that none of them think he is much of a doctor.

Mark is looking through old pictures of his dad. He grabs one and pulls it on his nightstand. He talks to his daughter and tells her that he loves her and wonders if he tells her that enough. Elizabeth goes to see Mark at the hospital. She gives him back the pearls saying that she doesn't feel right keeping them. That he should give them to Rachel. She also tells him not to read too much into this. Mark gets called for a trauma and asks Elizabeth if she's coming over later. She says yes. Mark takes Rachel to David's favorite spot. He asks Rachel to go with him to San Diego to bury David's ashes. She says sure. She asks if she misses him and Mark says he does. Which is funny because they didn't like each other much for a long time. Mark says he can't remember why but it was probably his fault. Mark pulls out the pearls and gives them to Rachel. He tells her that she looks lovely. He asks her to promise not to grow up too fast and she says okay.

Cast & Characters


  • Paul McCrane, Eriq La Salle and Michael Michele don't appear in that episode, despite having their names credited in the opening credits.
  • This episode is also noteable since George Clooney's cameo appearance has been kept so secretive that even NBC never knew about it.
  • This is the first episode to feature Frank Martin as the ER desk clerk. His characterisation in this episode is much softer than it would be in subsequent appearances.