Season 8 Episode 20

The Letter

Aired Thursday 10:00 PM May 02, 2002 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
194 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

A letter from Dr. Greene arrives via fax, and Carter reads it to the staff. Everybody is stunned when he reaches the last page, a note from Dr. Corday, stating that Mark died that morning. Frank posts the letter and various staff members who weren't in attendance take time to read it. Sandy gets Weaver to admit that she's lost a friend. Luka, Abby, Haleh, Susan and Gallant are joined by Weaver and Sandy at a bar. Carter comes looking for Abby and they end up talking all night at Doc Magoo's. Abby goes to an AA meeting later that day, and tells Carter that she went for him. Carter takes his place as the rock of the ER. Meanwhile, Susan learns that Chloe is in rehab and Suzie is staying with Joe, Pratt matches County, and Romano operates on a girl with a genetic deficiency.moreless

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  • In this episode, the anchor of the series Dr. Mark Greene dies.

    The show opens with a letter coming from Mark Greene that John reads to the staff that is there. It is pleasant and upbeat and tells them how much he appreciated the time he worked with them. Then comes the letter from Elizabeth that says that Mark died at 6:04a. The show chronicles the reaction from each of the staff members. Kerry reads about it on the board and is visibly affected. At a staff get-together that night Kerry "comes out" by bringing Lopez along. The passing of the torch goes to Carter who has been there longer than anyone. In two nice touches, Carter si there for Gallant when he is overwhelmed by a messy trauma - much the way that Greene did that for Carter in season one. Carter taking Green's stethoscope when he was cleaning out his locker was a true passing of the torch. An outstanding emotional episode, showing that ER still had it late into its 8th season.moreless
  • Letters..

    The episode starts as two letters arrive and Carter reads them out loud, First one informs us how Greene is doing and the second one is by Cordey who tells that Mark died. And trough that episode we see how those letters affect the staff. It was such a beautiful episode. The way it was like - the way it reminded first episode and now how Carter is filling in the spot that Greene left. He is now the longest been doctor there and everyone is expecting and looking him in new way. Even the Greene's "special" patient - he sees Carter like Greene when he is dying.

    But it was not all about Carter. Susan is taking the news hard and the way she discovers a mass on little girl's lounge and Romano takes it out - that girl will be ok but Susan cannot understand why - why all of this happened to Mark.

    And Abby - she starts to admit her problem thanks to Carter.

    Amazing episode.moreless
  • When a letter comes in through the fax from Dr. Greene, the entire ER staff seems stunned by the news and try to cope with it in their own ways.

    This is probably Part II in the 3 episode conclusion to Anthony Edwards departure from Dr. Greene. The first part was Orion in the Sky, the Letter being the second and of course On the Beach being the swan song for Dr. Greene. In this episode early on the ER staff gets a letter from Dr. Greene which Carter reads aloud where he thanks everybody for everything they've done for him and apologizes for being a worker rather then a friend. Well as Carter finishes the letter he is stunned when he reads an excerpt from Corday and reads it aloud saying that "Mark died." Which totally shocked ER fans because it was so unexpected. Anyway in the episode Susan and Kerry are really affected by Mark's death and Carter as well as Weaver tells him that he is going to be the Leader now that Mark is gone. In an scene of passing the torch Carter grabs Greene's stethoscope and puts it on. At the same time Weaver tries her shot in a romance with Sandy Lopez and Carter confronting Abby about her drinking. The episode also nicely ties together Mr. Raskins (The homeless guy in the 1st episode and Orion In the Sky) as Carter treats him as Dr. Greene because he believes Greene is really treating him. There is also a nice tribute to Greene in a bar with Lewis, Abby, Gallant, Luka and Haleh. Probably the most interesting scene is Carter talking to Gallant after an excruciating trauma outside the ER, sort of like the talk Greene gave him in the 1st episode. At the end of the episode time passes by as the letter posted by Greene falls off as time goes on.moreless
  • The best episode of this show ... and one of the best episodes ever.

    I watched this episode like a 100 times and I couldn't get enough. The very first time ... I cried, which is, for me, an extremely uncommon thing to happen.

    The way Noah Wyle read that letter was phenomenal, his face ... his voice ... I felt the anguish! That was one of the most touching scenes I've ever seen.

    The expression on Weaver's face when she read the letter and later when she was emptying the locker was priceless.

    This was a brilliantly acted and directed episode, well written and really touching. I loved it.

    I really liked the character of Mark Greene, Anthony Edwards is a good actor, and I'm sure every ER fan (including me) will miss him very much.moreless
  • Goodbye Greene...


    What a heart wrenching episode. As Greene's contract is ending and his character's disease takes its toll, us viewers must say goodbye to a much beloved character. The show does not disappoint. The letter reading was simply beautiful. The look on the faces of the ER staff as they go from reminiscing to shock and couldn't watch this scene without tears coming to your eyes. The passing of the baton to Carter as he mentors Gallant just as he was once coached by Greene, the exposure of Weaver as she reacts to the news of her friend: both scenes contributed to just a beautifully written episode and displayed wonderful portrayals by the actors. The scene stealer came at the end. When the letter pages blow off with the wind, it felt like goodbye, like what life is. It's here one minute and gone the next. As you join the ranks of the millions before you, you survive for a short time in the memories of friends and family but even that fades...fact of life. Sidenote: As beautiful as this episode is, it does not compare to Greene's last. I still can't hear the version of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" that the episode features without thinking of his death and the literal sobbing I did while watching it.moreless
Goran Visnjic

Goran Visnjic

Dr. Luka Kovac

Laura Innes

Laura Innes

Dr. Kerry Weaver

Maura Tierney

Maura Tierney

Abby Lockhart



Dr. Jing-Mei "Deb" Chen

Noah Wyle

Noah Wyle

Dr. John Carter

Paul McCrane

Paul McCrane

Dr. Robert "Rocket" Romano

Paul Benjamin

Paul Benjamin

Al Ervin

Guest Star

Chris Burke

Chris Burke


Guest Star

Jason Padgett

Jason Padgett


Guest Star

Ellen Crawford

Ellen Crawford


Recurring Role

Yvette Freeman

Yvette Freeman


Recurring Role

Lily Mariye

Lily Mariye


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Susan confesses to Carter that she only talked to Mark sporadically while she was away from County, but when Susan first arrived back in Chicago, Elizabeth commented to Mark about Susan's number and the city she was in showing up on the phone bill, insinuating that they actually talked quite a bit during that time.

    • In this episode, Carter gives Gallant a pep talk in the ambulance bay where he tells him that doctors who hold onto their feelings get sick from time to time, and that helping the patients is more important than their own feelings. This is the same speech that Mark Greene gave to Carter in the pilot episode, " 24 Hours."

    • In this episode we learn that Dr. Mark Greene died at 6:04 a.m.

    • Goof: When Kerry opens Mark's locker to clean it out, the door swings the opposite way than how it did when Mark opened it on his last day in "Orion in the Sky."

    • Goof: Toward the end of the episode, Susan Lewis is shown putting additional tacks on the bottom of the letter pages that are on the bulletin board. However, in the last scene, when the wind is blowing on the letter, neither the extra tacks nor the holes they would have produced are seen.

    • Susan mentions that Mark was 38 when he died.

  • QUOTES (17)

    • Carter: (to Gallant) People come in here and they're bleeding, and they're sick, and sometimes they're dying, and they need our help. And helping them is more important than how we feel.

    • (about Mark)
      Abby: Forget Superman. I'll take Mark Greene any day.
      Carter: Oh, if I knew you thought that, I would've shaved my head.
      Abby: (staring at him with pity) You okay?
      (Carter nods)

    • (Abby and Susan are discussing the tropical themed bar they're in)
      Abby: I'm just bummed I forgot my grass skirt.
      Susan: Yeah, I was going to wear my coconut bra, but it's so itchy!

    • (after Abby bit Carter)
      Abby: How's the bite?
      Carter: I'm not howling at the moon.

    • Romano: A little less whining and a little more action next time, Dr. Carter...

    • (watching Weaver and Sandy Lopez walk into the Lava Lounge)
      Haleh: Looks like we're going public.

    • (to Haleh, as he's putting in a chest tube)
      Romano: Come on, come on! My dog fetches faster.

    • Carter: (to Gallant, who had walked out of a trauma) You know, there are two kinds of doctors: the kind that get rid of their feelings, and the kind that hold on to them. If you're going to hold on to your feelings, you're going to get sick every once in a while. That's part of it. Helping people is more important than how we feel. Hell, I've been doing this eight years, and I still get sick.

    • Susan: A girl and her father are hit by a cement truck on the way to ballet class. A malignant tumor invades her chest and we find it by happenstance. She'll walk out of here in a week without a care in the world. Mark walked the halls of a hospital everyday and didn't know about his tumor till he presented with symptoms.

    • Shirley: Did you talk to Dr. Corday?
      Romano: Yeah Shirley, I'm at the top of her list. Right after the funeral home.

    • Romano: Amazing how the human body can turn on itself. The very process we need to grow in the womb, to regenerate ourselves, systemactically eating us alive. But no one's sacred. Little girls. Fathers with little girls. Cancer. Brain cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer. It's the same traitor. The merciless unrelenting predator. Like time itself.

    • Frank: Pratt, here's your letter.
      Pratt: Where was it?
      Frank: Filed N for ne'er-do-well.

    • Sandy: You've lost a friend.
      Weaver: I think I have.

    • (while awaiting the victim of a shotgun blast to the face)
      Abby: Is this guy gonna look like hamburger?
      Carter: More like ground chuck.

    • (upon Pratt receiving his matching letter)
      Carter: Bad news?
      Pratt: Yeah, you could say that.
      Carter: Second choice?
      Pratt: Last choice.
      Carter: Wow. Someone's got to get their last choice. Where is it?
      Pratt: Here.
      Carter: (sarcastic) Oh. Good for us.
      Pratt: ...and I better get my locker.

    • Kerry: Mark's gone. That means you've been here longer than any other doctor. People will look to you to step in and fill the void.
      Carter: Big void.

    • Carter: (reading the letter)
      Dear ER Gang,
      So here I am, out on the beach at 5:30 in the evening. Elizabeth is drinking juice, but I'm all about the mai tais. The sun is going down, Rachel is dipping Ella's toes in the ocean as they head off on their quest for the perfect seashell. Weirdly enough, I find myself thinking, you know what would make this moment complete? Some jogger dropping to the sand, short of breath, so I can sweep in with a piece of bamboo to perform a nice, clean intubation, fix the guy up, and send him off with a good, simple dispo. Which I guess is my way of saying I miss you all and that dingy place. Lots of times I thought I should have chosen a different career or gone into private practice, something easier, less grinding, more lucrative, but since I've been gone, I realize that outside of doing what I'm doing right now, sitting on this beach with my family, staying at County all those years, doing what we do on a daily basis, was the best choice I ever made. I know what you're thinking, but trust me, it's not hard to appreciate once it's over. As much as a part of me would like to believe that the ER can't go on with out me, the smarter part realizes that you are an incredible group of doctors and nurses who approach every day with such skill, compassion, and thoroughness, that when it comes to patient care, I know my absence will hardly be felt. As for friendship and camaraderie, that's another matter. In order to leave, I had to go the way I did, but I wouldn't want any of you to think that I didn't value each of you and the years we worked together, or that I didn't have things of a more personal nature to say. Most of you, I think, have an idea of what those things might be without me writing them down, but still...
      Ella is laughing and waving for me. Rachel found her shell.


      Mark died this morning at 6:04 a.m. The sun was rising, his favorite time of day. I sent this on so that you might know he was thinking of you all and that he appreciated knowing you would remember him well.

  • NOTES (1)