"The Show Must Go On"
Season 11, Episode 22
Air date May 19, 2005
Written by David Zabel
Directed by John Wells
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The Show Must Go On is the 22nd episode and the 11th season finale of "E.R."


Carter's last day at County General is marked by a surprise gathering and an 11-year-old patient he delivered as a medical student.

Ray is at a party and must takes charge when a balcony collapses. With all of the attendings at Carter's party, the three interns manage the traumas until Luka arrives.

Pratt briefly visits his father without revealing their connection.

Upset that Sam won't let him visit Steve (whom he does not know is in jail), Alex steals Sam's credit cards and hitches a ride out of town.

NBC DescriptionEdit

IT'S DR. CARTER'S LAST SHIFT AT COUNTY GENERAL -- DANNY GLOVER GUEST STARS: On Carter's (Noah Wyle) last shift, four new interns begin their tour of duty. After completing their rounds, Carter, Kovac (Goran Visnjic) and most of the ER staff head out to Carter's surprise going-away party down the street at Ike's.

Ray (Shane West) leaves to go to another party where the revelry is interrupted by a disaster which truly tests his mettle. The casualties are taken immediately to County General where a skeleton staff headed by Abby (Maura Tierney) and Neela (Parminder Nagra) must step up to the plate all on their own.

Elsewhere, Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) finally gets the courage to confront his father Charlie (Danny Glover).

Sam (Linda Cardellini) and Kovac search for Sam's son after he runs away in search of his imprisoned father.

Also starring Sherry Stringfield.


  • This episode marks the last appearance of Noah Wyle as a series regular. He was on the show for 11 consecutive seasons from the pilot in 1994 to the 11th season finale, making him the last original cast member to leave the show. He would later return in a four-episode arc in Season 12 and a five-episode arc in Season 15.
  • Although in the opening credits, Laura Innes does not appear in this episode.
  • The porch collapse storyline was based on a real incident that occurred on June 29, 2003 in the Lincoln Park community area of Chicago, Illinois. As many as one hundred young partygoers were plunged into a basement pit when a third floor porch deck collapsed onto the decks below. Fifty-seven people were injured and 13 died in the accident which was ultimately attributed to shoddy construction.
  • This episode uses two devices to remind us of the original main cast members of the series: the slide show at Carter's party shows footage of all of them; and archive audio from early episodes is heard as Carter walks the halls of County General one last time: Dr. Greene saying "You set the tone, Carter," from the Season 8 episode "Orion in the Sky"; Dr. Benton assuring Carter "You'll make a good doctor," from the Season 1 finale "Everything Old Is New Again"; and Nurse Carol Hathaway calling out "Gotta get moving, Carter, I got a million things to do!" from the early Season 1 episode "Blizzard."


Carter: You set the tone, Morris.
Morris: Huh?
Carter: Never mind.
Show Owner: My stage manager is filling in. Horrid! If I can get them back in time, I might still have a second act.
Abby: I doubt these guys are up for it.
Show Owner: Oh, they're professionals. You know, the show must go on.
Abby: Yeah, why is that exactly? I mean, why can't the show just stop once in a while?
Alex (to Sam): Where's Luka?
Sam: He's at work.
Alex: You still fighting?
Sam: No.
Alex: We're gonna have to move again, aren't we?

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