If you're around my age, then when ER first debuted on Monday, September 19th, 1994, it was a thing for you, maybe the thing for a long while. If you were young, like me, then you had a crush on Noah Wyle. If you were my mom's age, it was George Clooney. And if you had lived through the 80s, you were thinking, "Why is Goose playing a doctor?" ER was everywhere, and the original cast became superstars overnight. And it wasn't simply because they were talented and attractive. It was because ER was damned good television.
Can you believe it debuted 20 years ago today? It ran for fifteen seasons. To put that in perspective, it ran from the time I was 14 years of age to the time I was 29 years old. That's half of my life. Crazy talk, right there. Where is the original cast? What are they up to now? Let's hop in our DeLorean and blast back to 1994, everyone.
George Clooney (Dr. Doug Ross)
Shut up about your "Dr. McSteamy," [Grey's Anatomy](series:200746) fans. Dr. Doug Ross was the OG. Arguably the biggest star to come out of the ER cast, George Clooney just keeps getting better and better as he ages. After a bumpy movie start with Batman & Robin, Clooney has done nothing but make smart decisions and chosen great projects - which is probably why he's won 2 Oscars.
Noah Wyle (Dr. John Carter)
Noah Wyle was the baby-faced, rookie doctor when the pilot aired, which made sense: At age 23, Wyle was basically a kid himself when he first started filming ER. His career faltered a bit after he left the show, but he's been holding down the lead in the last four seasons of TNT's [Falling Skies](series:755885). Who knew the naive Dr. Carter would grow up to be a tough-as-nails leader of the human resistance?
Julianna Margulies (Nurse Carol Hathaway)
Nurse Hathaway was a large part of what made ER so addicting. Both a competent, dedicated nurse and deeply troubled, her character was introduced with a bang when she's brought in for a suicide attempt. Much like her character, Margulies has grown, and can currently be seen kicking ass as the titular character in critically-acclaimed series [The Good Wife](series:200801).
Eriq La Salle (Dr. Peter Benton)
The combative Dr. Benton was one of the most divisive characters on the show, but damn, did he make anger management issues look good. He's aged into quite the dapper fellow. Since leaving ER, La Salle has had steady work, with his career being a nice balance between TV and the big screen.
Anthony Edwards (Dr. Mark Greene)
The glue that held County General together for years, Chief Resident Dr. Mark Greene was everything you wanted in a talented, dedicated doctor. His death (from a brain tumor) in Season 8 is still one of the most heartbreaking TV deaths of all time - some fans still haven't recovered. Much like La Salle, Edwards has kept quietly busy since leaving the show, balancing family life with television series, movies, and voice work.
Sherry Stringfield (Dr. Susan Lewis)
When she first started on the show, Dr. Susan Lewis didn't exactly have what you'd call a lot of backbone, and her inability to assert herself undermined her fierce intelligence and competence as a doctor. She was one of the first major cast members to leave the show and return a few seasons later, and it was like a welcome home for fans. Stringfield can currently be found on surprise hit series [Under the Dome](series:767984).
Gloria Reuben (Physician Assistant Jeanie Boulet)
Gloria Reuben became a series regular by the second season, brought on by the strength of Reuben's performance as the caring, compassionate, HIV+ Physician Assistant Jeanie Boulet. Fun fact, she is one of the only HIV+ characters in TV history to not be killed off by the writers of the show, a testament to how integral her character was. Another fun fact: She joined old friend Noah Wyle for a while on [Falling Skies](series:755885).
Laura Innes (Dr. Kerry Weaver)
When the mythical Chief Resident Dr. Kerry Weaver joined the cast for good in the first episode of the second season, the staff of County General was shaken up in a big way. No one loved her - she was too abrasive and ambitious - but everyone respected the fiercely determined Dr. Weaver for her skills and brilliance. Since ER, she's done some acting, but has won major accolades for her directing, including for The West Wing and Brothers and Sisters.
Ming-Na (Medical student Jing-Mei "Deb" Chen)
As a medical student, Jing-Mei Chen was the only one with even less experience than Dr. Carter. Her entrance into the world of medicine was a traumatic one, and after almost killing a man during a routine procedure, Chen realized she was probably better off behind a microscope in a lab than a scalpel in the field. Since then, the seemingly immortal Ming-Na has gone on to voice beloved Disney Princess Mulan, and has dominated sci-fi TV. She can currently be seen kicking ass as veteran agent Melinda May in Marvel's [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469).
Since ER ran for a lifetime in entertainment years, there are obviously a lot of cast members who joined the show later on in the series that I didn't include. Feel free to add them in the comments and share a then-and-now picture!