Why so many cast changes on ER?

I have not been a follower of ER, but I have noticed that there has been a revolving door of cast changes, with no one from the top-billed crew from the beginning surviving to the end. What is the reason for this? The show was very popular. One would think that actors as well as producers would depend on a sure thing. Was it intentional on the part of the producers to keep things fresh? Is there someone who’s hard to work with or some other factor driving away the show’s stars? Is it an unpleasant or boring assignment for an actor? Do they not pay well? What’s the story?

Well, ER has been on about as long as Law and Order, and I don’t think Law and Order has any original cast members either (except for Dr. Olivette maybe).

I assume that actors just get bored and decide to try something new. George Clooney, fer instance.

The show has been on for something like 11 years. That’s a long time for an actor to play the same role on the same show. There’s not much to do with a character after a while, and the price tag to the producers goes up each season. Eventually it gets too expensive to keep all the stars even if they wanted to stay.

Clooney is by far the best known of the bunch, but all the major players from the first years have gone on to successful roles in movies and on TV, some behind the camera. There have been many high profile guest starts that I don’t think were ever intended for long term roles. And over time they’ve cleaned house to start afresh.

I think there’s one nurse that was on in the first season, that’s it.

Except that Dick Wolf is a firm believer that actors are unimportant and that you should change them often to keep the show fresh.