ER: Writer’s Strike May Mean Another Season for NBC Drama

Cast of ERIt’s been rumored for some time that NBC’s very long-running medical drama ER would close up at the end of this season. Executive producer John Wells says that it’s not a done deal.

ER debuted back in 1994 and tells the story of a group of doctors and interns working in Chicago’s fictional County General Hospital. The series made household names of actors like George Clooney, Noah Wyle, Julianna Margulies, Anthony Edwards, and Maura Tierney. Though ER attracted over 30 million viewers at its peak, viewership has declined in later years and dropped to an average of 11.5 million last season. So far this season, the show is averaging under 10 million viewers and 4% of the 18-49 demographic — about 25% less than last year.

The expectation has been that this would be ER’s final season. Tierney has been quoted saying that she believed this was ER’s final year and producers have even been trying to lure past castmembers (like Wyle, Gloria Reuben, Eric LaSalle, and Shane West) back for one last hurrah.

The show is an expensive one to produce and the ratings don’t warrant the expense. ER is rumored to cost about $5 million an episode, approximately twice the cost of a freshman drama like ABC’s Big Shots (which has been attracting a similar number of viewers).

But, at the party celebrating the show’s 300th episode, Wells said that he’s talking to NBC execs about the medical drama returning for a 15th season. Apparently there is some concern that, if the writers’ strike continues for an extended amount of time, the show’s writers won’t have enough time to wrap up the series in a way that’s fulfilling to the creative staff and the fans. Thus far, only 13 of the season’s 22 episodes have been completed, leaving storylines unresolved.

This time of year is typically when network pilots are being developed for next season’s Fall season. If fewer pilots are written/produced because of the strike, NBC will have fewer new shows to choose from. With that in mind, NBC may be more likely to want to hold onto existing shows with moderate ratings.

If NBC does opt for another season of ER, there will likely be budget cuts. Goran Visnjic and Mekhi Phifer are expected to leave by the end of the season and Maura Tierney is likely to follow.

Still, Wells feels that there are still ER stories to be told and hopes that a deal can be reached. Could there really be a 15th season? Stay tuned! TV Series Finale home page

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10 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. David says

    Like the rest of you, I like watching the show. The business matter is that the show started off with 30 million viewers, and the last few seasons it averaged 10.5 million, and this season averages a little over 9 million viewers. As the years go by, the ratings are going down. Unfortunalty, it just makes good business sense to cancel the show before it gets to late. Sometimes it’s like they are just replaying the same storylines over and over.

  2. tina says

    are you kidding cancell and we wonder what is wrong with television today the damn reallity shows are over bearing is that the only thing the tv exes can think off keep er on it is a great shoe and it is not over yet please lets get some balls and keep it and take the reality shows and throw them out the window i have been a er fan from day one and believe me i am not the only one that feels this way tv is getting worst you get rid of the great shows and bring on some real crap

  3. Julie Connell says

    We have loved ER since the beginning and are sick of seeing Lipstick Jungle. We can’t wait for ER to return with new episodes. Marua Tierney and Goran Visnjic are EXCELLENT! I did not want to watch the show after you took Noah Wylie off, but I hung in there. I LOVED watching him, I thought he did a great job as John Carter. Few things in life stay the same and I do really miss the original opening music, IT SAID ER, it was very dramatic and it stinks that it was done away with. The new opening music is weak. JUST needed to sound off, “I WANT MY ER BACK!!!!!!!!!” THANK you. Good night everybody.. JC

  4. Julia Williams says

    ER is one of the last examples of high-quality ensemble television. I will not go into bromides about how it turned George Timothy Clooney into a household name, but something inside of me says that next season should be the last for this superlatively crafted program.

  5. DJ says

    There’s no reason to cancel this show. Why someone would look it up just to bash it is beyond me. It deserves another season. Sooo much more intelligent than other medical shows that appeal to the lowest common denominator.

  6. Nathan says

    This is a great show. It isn’t quite what it used to be, but I still enjoy it very much and I would be very disappointed if the show were to be cancelled without being able to air a proper series finale that wraps up all of the storylines. I just want this writer’s strike to end already. Both sides are acting immature at this point. Make a deal and get back to work already or I’ll stop getting involved in TV period!

  7. navin says

    Good grief, get this show off the air already! Its run waaaayyy too long already, like Frazier and Friends, this show has overstayed its welcome. NBC is notorious for keeping shows on the air long after folks stop watching them.

  8. says

    I have loved ER from the first time it came on the TV and I will greatly miss it when it goes off the air the end of this year or next. My favorite characters are Abby and Luka and I have enjoyed watching this season. Maura Tierney is a fantastic actress and she shows just how good she is by having an acoholic relapse. Please keep them together so that they can ride off into the sunset if the series ends. You have had a great 13years you all need to be very proud of yourselves and this TV show it has been and always will be one of the best on the air. I am a true fan.

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