Before "ER" or "Grey's Anatomy," there was "St. Elsewhere," an '80s medical drama set in a struggling urban hospital. The show mixed medicine with the personal dramas of the characters and paved the way for the hospital-centered shows that top the charts today. Take our quiz to see how much you remember about this classic '80s series.
All right, let's get this out of the way. What object shown in the series finale changed the entire dynamic of the series?
"St. Elsewhere" blew viewers' minds with its incredibly innovative season finale. As Westphall's son, Tommy, shakes a snowglobe in the final scene, viewers are left to believe that the entire series existed only in the imagination of the young child.
What piece of news did Dr. Ben Samuels receive in the pilot?
Surgeon Dr. Samuels was quite the ladies' man, so it wasn't too surprising when he learned he had contracted gonorrhea in the pilot episode. It took him a while to inform all of his sexual partners of the diagnosis, being that there were so many of them -- and they meant so little to him.
What city served as the setting for the show?
All the drama on "St. Elsewhere" took place at St. Eligius Hospital in Boston. A rival to the more upscale Boston General, St. Eligius was referred to as St. Elsewhere because it's where patients ended up when they couldn't afford anyplace better.
Who was head nurse when the show premiered?
Christina Pickles played Head Nurse Helen Rosenthal. In addition to her nursing duties, Rosenthal managed to marry four times before settling down with union rep Richard Clarendon.
Where did Rosenthal go in season three, allowing Lucy Papandreo to snag the head nurse job?
Looking for a new challenge, Rosenthal moved to the ER unit in season three, allowing Lucy Papandreo to take over as head nurse. When Rosenthal moved back out of the ER unit, she and Papandreo developed a fierce rivalry until Rosenthal eventually became head of nurse training at the hospital.
Which of the doctors on the show suffered from liver cancer?
In the very first episode of the series, Dr. Daniel Auschlander revealed that he had been diagnosed with liver cancer, and had very little time left to live. Against all odds, he underwent treatment and survived the disease.
What the heck is wrong with psychiatric patient Ralph?
Ralph appears throughout season one as a mental patient who believes that he's a bird. While at St. Elsewhere, he builds a nest in a storeroom, poses as a staff member, and eventually flies away.
What comedian played Dr. Wayne Fiscus?
Howie Mandel starred as the wacky ER Dr. Wayne Fiscus, who would do anything to have fun on the job. He often donned a Red Sox hat or Jersey as part of his official work uniform.
What disease outbreak spells trouble for the hospital in season one?
An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease interrupts hospital operations throughout several episodes in season one. When Dr. Westphall makes the decision to close a ward to slow the spread of the disease and protect patients, he almost loses his job.
Who performs the operation on the beloved Eve Leighton?
It's heart specialist Dr. Craig who gives Eve Leighton a much-needed new heart -- using a heart from Dr. Morrison's deceased wife. Though Eve later dies, Craig is hailed a hero for his work.
What was Joan Halloran's job at the hospital?
Joan Halloran was appointed by the city to serve as a hospital administrator and to keep costs under control. She and the hospital staff clashed over many issues, including Eve Leighton's heart transplant.
Which doctor was diagnosed with HIV?
After Dr. Bobby Caldwell is diagnosed with HIV, he is banned from working with patients at the hospital. He almost commits suicide before deciding to devote his life to caring for AIDS patients.
Who was the hospital rapist in season two?
It was Dr. Peter White who was committing rapes in and around the hospital. He was acquitted of the crime and lost his job, but was later brought back to St. Eligius in a reduced capacity.
What did Cathy Martin specialize in after leaving pathology?
Dr. Cathy Martin was a pathologist at St. Eligius until she was raped -- twice. She switched her focus to psychiatry after undergoing a psychiatric break of her own, but ended up leaving the hospital in season four.
Who fights with the hospital over life support at the start of season three?
After a terrible car accident leaves Sister Teresa brain dead and on life support, the staff at St. Eligius battle with Sister Domenica and her fellow nuns on the best course of care. The nuns want to disconnect the machines and are willing to sue the hospital to get their way.
Where is Dr. White shot?
After committing a series of rapes, Dr. Peter White is shot in the morgue by Shirley Daniels during season three. White is killed, but makes several more appearances on the show in the form of a ghost.
Where does Dr. Westphall announce his resignation in the season three finale?
In a crossover episode with "Cheers," Westphall, Craig and Auschlander visit the legendary bar during the season three finale episode of "St. Elsewhere." Cliff Clavin, Carla and Norm all make an appearance as Westphall announces he is retiring. It's a short break, and Westphall is back on the show by season four.
Who did Mrs. Hufnagel name in her will?
Mrs. Hufnagel appeared in multiple season three episodes, and is finally killed when she is apparently crushed by a hospital bed. She grew close to Dr. Axelrod during her time at St. Eligius, and even named the doctor in her will.
What is the name of the orderly who become a physician's assistant?
Luther Hawkins first appears on the show as an orderly, before becoming a paramedic. By the end of the series, he is on his way to becoming a physicians's assistant.
Which doctor gets shot in the park across the street from the hospital?
It's Dr. Fiscus who gets shot in the park while on a break. As the hospital staff struggle to save his life, viewers see him wavering between Heaven and Hell in the season five episode "After Life."
Which company took over the hosital in season six?
The hospital shut down at the end of season five, only to reopen in season six under the control of the Ecumena Corporation. Dr. John Gideon became the new Head of Medicine and immediately clashed with the other staff.
What unique act did Westphall use when he resigned?
As he quits in a fit of disgust, Dr. Westphall moons Dr. Gideon in the memorable season six episode "A Moon for the Misbegotten."
What does Dr. Craig invent in season six?
Heart specialist Dr. Craig reveals his artificial heart, which he calls the Craig 9000, in season six -- to mixed results.
Who falls for Axelrod's cousin Pee Wee in season six?
Dr. Carol Novino, a former nurse-turned-doctor who once dated Westphall, falls for Axelrod's cousin Pee Wee in season six.
Which member of the staff almost loses their job to a pill addiction?
In season six, a prescription pill addiction has Nurse Rosenthal in hot water. She is allowed to keep her job after undergoing treatment at the hospital's Chemical Dependency Unit.
What kills Dr. Axelrod?
Axelrod dies of a heart attack in season six, despite the hospital's best efforts. The other doctors barely pay attention to his death and don't even bother with a memorial service.
Where does Westphall move after retiring?
In one memorable episode, the doctors visit Westphall in his new home in New Hampshire, where he is living a quiet life with his autistic son Tommy.
Which actor had his first major role as Dr. Philip Chandler on "St. Elsewhere"?
Before he was a major movie star, Denzel played Dr. Philip Chandler on "St. Elsewhere." Despite becoming head resident, he decided that medicine wasn't for him and moved to Mississippi with fellow doctor Roxanne Turner.
Which doctor committed suicide?
After a bad year, including a battle with bulimia and depression, a dangerous misdiagnosis and a near rape, Dr. Wendy Armstrong used an overdose of pills to take her own life in season two.
How many seasons did the show run?
"St. Elsewhere" ran for 137 episodes over six seasons from 1982 to 1988. The show never topped the ratings, but did win at least one Emmy every year from 1983 to 1988.
You Might Also Like
About HowStuffWorks Play
How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!