Noah Wyle Reveals That an ER Revival Was in the Works — Here’s Why It Didn’t Move Forward

Before streaming service Max handed a series order to The Pitt, a new medical drama from the team behind the late, great ER, there was a concerted effort to bring back the iconic NBC property.

During an appearance on the Still Here Hollywood podcast, Noah Wyle reveals that ER‘s streaming resurgence several years ago, coupled with a desire to shine a light on COVID’s heroic first responders, led to serious discussions about dusting off Dr. Carter’s lab coat.

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“When I wasn’t working [during the pandemic] I didn’t feel good about myself. I didn’t feel like I had any skills that were really valued during that period of time,” he recalls. “It really bothered me a lot that I wasn’t contributing in any meaningful way, which is where this idea for this show [The Pitt] that I’m doing now came from. It was a desire to put the spotlight back on to people that are on the frontlines, who have been taking care of us for the last five years without a break. They’re tired, they’re burned out and they’re overwhelmed — and in a lot of cases, they’re being abused. They’re heroes, and I wanted to do something that reflected that again.”

'ER' Reboot with Noah Wyle as John Carter
James Stenson/NBC/Everett Collection

But before The Pitt came to fruition, Wyle and several ER scribes, including executive producer John Wells, entertained a return to County General. “That’s kind of the road we had started down in 2020,” the five-time Emmy nominee shares for the very first time. “I was getting all this mail from first responders and I had this desire to pivot the compliments to John Wells, so I emailed him and I said, ‘Hey, I’m getting all this lovely mail from people that are thanking us for keeping them entertained, or inspired them to go into the careers that they’re in in the first place, and I just have to say thank you. Except for my children, [ER] is probably the best thing I’ve ever done with my life, and I just want to say thanks.’ Then I went on and I said, ‘I know you don’t want to reboot the show. I don’t either. I thought it was very smart not to franchise and dilute what we did… but if you’ve ever wanted to do something much smaller, and much more contained — more of a character piece catching up to an old character and just finding out how they feel about what’s happening right now in healthcare, and use them as a jeremiad opportunity to say what you want — I would vote for that. I’d be on board for that.’

“[Wells] thought about it, and we talked about it, and then we ended up bringing in a couple of the old ER writers,” including R. Scott Gemmill and David Zabel. “We came up with a concept, and it really never got out of the starting gate,” Wyle concedes, explaining that they “had some issues” with the estate of ER creator Michael Crichton, “and the negotiations became a non-starter.”

That’s when Wyle, Wells and Gemmill pivoted to creating a new series set in the world of medicine. As previously reported, The Pitt has received a 15-episode order at Max and will aim to provide a “realistic examination of the challenges facing healthcare workers in today’s America, as seen through the lens of the frontline heroes working in a modern-day hospital in Pittsburgh.” Production begins in July and is expected to run through February. Wyle, in addition to serving as star and EP, wrote two Season 1 episodes.

“In a lot of ways, it was a dodged bullet and a blessing,” Wyle says of the team’s inability to revive ER, “because that would have been the focus. It would have been, ‘Hey, it’s the brand again, and who’s coming back to play…,’ and I really want the focus to be on the content of what we’re trying to put across.”

Are you relieved that an ER revival never got off the ground? Or would you have preferred that to an entirely new medical drama, with Wyle assuming a different role? Sound off in Comments.

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