Last night I finally got around to watching this season's premier, which started off with a bang (an ambulance exploded killing a mob snitch or some such). In the process it also injured two main characters: Drs. Abby Lockhart (187 episodes) and Greg Pratt (135 episodes). One of them ended the show as an organ donor, thus bringing me halfway to my point.
There have been 310 episodes of er, throughout which countless people have died. Bound to happen, it is a show about life in a big-city emergency room. During these 310 episodes, 728 actors have walked the halls of County General, with 110 of them showing up in at least 10 episodes. Of these, 40* have portrayed doctors, with six - like Mekhi Phifer's Dr. Pratt - being killed off by the fickle pens of the show's writers.
Those six deaths are:
- Dr. Pratt
- Dr. Michael Gallant (Sharif Atkins) in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq
- Dr. Mark Green (Anthony Edwards) brain cancer, after refusing treatment and heading to Hawaii to expire on the beach
- Dr. Robert Romano (Paul McCrane**) had a helicopter fall on him...after having a helicopter chop off his arm the previous season
- Lucy Knight* (Kellie Martin) a med student, stabbed to death by a knife wielding psycho (the psycho was played by David Krumholtz who is now playing mathematician Charlie Epps on Numb3rs)
- Dr. Dennis Gant (Omar Epps) who jumped in front of an El train prior to what he believed was going to be a bad performance review (it was, apparently a WitSec thing since he's now Dr. Eric Foreman, a neurologist at Princeton Plainsboro Hospital working for Dr. Greg House)
Ahh, now we get to the point: Being a black doctor at County General, it seems, is an extremely dangerous occupation. All told, during the past 15 years, there have been six black doctors in er's ER. Three of them have died, quite violently I should add.
If you're a black man and a doctor at County, it's even worse: you've got a 75 percent chance of dying before you're old enough to collect retirement. Of the four black male doctors on the show, only Dr. Peter Benton (Eric La Salle) survived to tell stories of his time in Chicago.
So, even though it's heading into its last season, if you're a black actor looking for work, I'd advise you to stay far, far away from County General's ER. If you do, keep your head on a swivel and watch your back if you want to make it to the wrap party.
*Lucy Knight was a medical student, not a doctor, but was included in the total. There have been 39 actors playing doctors in 10 or more episodes of er.
**According to Wikipedia: "McCrane has been known to take roles where his characters experience horrible pain and injury or violent death:
- Emil Antonowsky in RoboCop was horribly disfigured by toxic waste before being run over by a car
- In the 1988 remake of The Blob, his character (Deputy Briggs) is dissolved by the infamous creature
- The aforementioned Dr. Robert Romano
- Leonard Betts from The X-Files was decapitated in an ambulance crash, only to regrow his head and soon get blown up in a car later in the episode. He was finally killed by Agent Scully when she shocked him on his head by a defibrillator
- In the 5th episode of 24 Day 6, after his character is reunited with his brother (federal agent Jack Bauer), Jack suddenly punches him, binds his hands, and proceeds to place a plastic bag over his head. After Jack interrogates him by torturing him with a neurological inflammatory, he confesses to being behind the deaths of David Palmer, Tony Almeda, and Michelle Dessler and admits that this wasn't the first time he tried to kill Jack. The episode ends with their father secretly injecting a fatal air embolism into McCrane's character.