ER wiki

David Morgenstern

473pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Talk0 Share

- Morgenstern to Carter (Summer Run)

David Morgenstern
Key information
Behind the scenes
Er morgenstern

David Morgenstern was the chief of surgery and the head of the ER at County General until 1998 when he was forced to resign after suffering a heart attack.

His background was a combination of Scottish and Russian-Jewish.

Morgenstern first arrived at County in 1968 as a volunteer in his pre-med days. He was mentored by Dr. Oliver Kosten, a young ER physician whose visions of better patient care eventually translated into an expanded and more functional ER.

David Morgenstern is responsible for a sage piece of advice that has been handed down throughout the series. In the pilot episode, when nurse Carol Hathaway is brought to the hospital with a drug overdose, Morgenstern tells Dr. Mark Greene that he needs to "set the tone" to get the unit through the difficulty of treating one of its own. "You set the tone" is repeated several times in the series, once jokingly by Doug Ross (George Clooney) to Greene and at two other key moments. When Greene, dying from a brain tumor, leaves the ER for the last time, he tells Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle), "You set the tone, Carter.", a moment that represented the passing of the torch. And a few seasons later, in Carter's farewell episode, he passes a drunk and nauseous Dr. Morris (Scott Grimes), a notoriously bumbling character on the show, and tells him, "You set the tone, Morris." to which an ailing Morris replies, "What?" Carter, realizing that Morris is, to say the least, not cut out of the mold of Morgenstern and Greene, smiles and tells him, "Never mind."</p>

Dr. Morgenstern worked at County General Hospital until 1998 after he made a mistake during a surgery and tried to make Dr. Peter Benton the scapegoat. After Benton was suspended, Morgenstern admitted the truth to the hospital and told it to Benton in County's parking lot and resigned because the incident showed "I'm not a very great man, and that's what I need to work on".

Morgenstern returned to the ER in 2009 when his mentor, Dr. Kosten, wanders from his nursing home and returns to the ER he was instrumental in building. Morgenstern reveals to the current ER staff the dramatic impact his mentor had on himself as well as on the entire hospital.

The character was portrayed by William H. Macy.

Preceded by


Chief of Surgery


Succeeded by

Donald Anspaugh

Preceded by


Chief of Emergency Medicine


Succeeded by

Kerry Weaver

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.