Why 'The Good Wife' Is Making Us Watch 'ER' This Morning

Last night's bomb-dropping Good Wife development has a pretty strong historical antecedent in one of ER's most notorious episodes. What can The Good Wife learn from its elder?

This article is from the archive of our partner .

If you didn't already know you should fire up your recording of The Good Wife last night, social media probably drove you to that conclusion right quick. The OMG/HOLY CRAP reactions started rolling in as soon as we saw that ...

... and here's your MASSIVE SPOILER WARNING, so go watch The Good Wife if you managed to make it through last night untainted and wish to remain so ...

... just as soon as we saw that Will Gardner (Josh Charles) was killed in a shocking and out-of-nowhere act of violence. Read all about it. It was a great and terrible moment, partly because the secret had been kept so successfully under wraps, partly because of what it means for our favorite characters (Alicia, Kalinda, Diane — the holy trinity) going forward, and partly because every single one of us felt awful immediately thereafter.

It also brought to mind a TV episode from fourteen years ago: ER's "Be Still My Heart" from its sixth season. If the episode title doesn't immediately clue you in to what episode it is, you might remember it by its unofficial, colloquial title, "The One Where Kellie Martin Gets Stabbed the Eff to Death on Valentine's Day." To refresh your memory:

The similarities are pretty striking: a shockingly violent death in a mid-season episode; killing off a series regular; the more-unbalanced-than-you-think killer being a patient/client of his victim, lending the death an air of betrayal and added sadness; the fact that both Will and Lucy were not attacked onscreen but rather shown already bleeding/dying on the floor; Julianna Margulies was around somewhere. I can't say for certain, but I strongly suspect that actor Hunter Parrish, who played Will's client/killer, may end up much like David Krumholtz, who will never not be The Crazy Guy Who Killed Lucy on ER, no matter how many stoners or shrinks or numb3rs geniuses he plays.

Where The Good Wife was perhaps a bit kinder to its viewers is that they didn't leave them hanging off a cliff, waiting for the next week's episode, an episode spent almost entirely cracking and re-cracking an ashen Will's ribcage open in order to keep his heart beating. Lucy Knight died a bad death, y'all.

Already, in its sixth season, ER had become pretty adept at cycling out regular characters and adding new ones. Sherry Stringfield had already left. This was the year that ended with George Clooney and Julianna Margulies riding off into the sunset (or Seattle or wherever). They'd already added Alex Kingston and Laura Innes, two of the show's cornerstones for many years to come. You can see in the clip that Maura Tierney's character, Abby, was just being introduced to the ER, where she would stay until the end of the series (season fifteen!). It remains to be seen whether The Good Wife can be as skillful in handling the departures of major cast members. This first one certainly hit hard.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.