Dr. Kerry Weaver, portrayed by Laura Innes, was a fictional character on the NBC television series ER; she first appeared as a recurring character actor in season 2, and became a regular cast member in season 3. In January 2007, Innes left the show after 12 years and Kerry Weaver moved to Florida.
Very little of Weaver's background was revealed to the audience early on. Audiences only saw an accomplished doctor, fueled by ambition and dedicated to administrative policies. As for her personal background, the only things initially revealed were that she was physically disabled (as evidenced by a limp in her gait which was aided by the use of a forearm crutch), and that she used to live in Africa, which was revealed when a former African boyfriend visited her at the hospital.
Weaver arrived at County General as Chief Resident and later became an attending physician, then rose to Chief of Emergency Medicine and finally Hospital Chief of Staff. Through it all, Weaver remained unfazed by her physical disability, which required her to move about the crowded and chaotic ER with a crutch, and by her controversial standing among colleagues, several of whom regard her as abrasive, cold and officious. Weaver is eventually revealed as lesbian, her sexual orientation being a key point in some of the episodes, particularly when she fights in court to keep her son, Henry.
Seasons Two through Six Edit
During Innes' first six seasons on the show, little was revealed about the details of Weaver's background which would later become some of her defining traits: her sexual orientation, political beliefs, and even the precise nature of her disability. These were closely guarded secrets for a woman who wanted to succeed professionally, but feared discrimination. She was also unable to fully deal with her internalized homophobia and regretted that she never knew her birth parents.
When she was first hired by Mark Greene as chief resident in 1995, this let down much of the ER staff who didn't care for her detail-oriented approach in the trauma rooms. Early in her position, she would often clash with Doug Ross and resident Susan Lewis over most of the procedures in patient care. In addition, her strong belief in administrative policies would be dragged out into every unnecessary aspect in the workplace. In Season 3, Kerry became an ER attending physician alongside Mark Greene, whom she would always manage to compete with or maneuver to catch the eye of her superiors.
As a result, it was difficult for anyone — the audience or any of the other characters — to really know Weaver beyond her tough and bureaucratic professionalism. In an early glimpse into her soul, Weaver defended Jeanie Boulet (played by Gloria Reuben), a physician's assistant who contracted HIV from her adulterous husband. Boulet fought to keep her job and dignity, while some doctors worried about the liability involved in having an HIV-positive employee in the ER. Weaver was the first person in a position of power to side with Jeanie, and the two remained friends until Jeanie's budget-related firing and her successful pressure campaign to get her job back. They reconciled and were close friends again when Jeanie left the ER to be with her new husband and raise her adopted HIV+ son Carlos.
Weaver demonstrated a great deal of compassion and a moral commitment to civil rights, and that helped her and Dr. Greene draft an ER policy for HIV-positive employees. This storyline developed Weaver's character beyond that of a stoic, abrasive professional. In future episodes, she agreed to look the other way when Dr. John Carter helped a teenage runaway escape her homophobic parents who sent her away to an ex-gay camp.
In 1997, Weaver went through a brief relationship with Ellis West (played by Clancy Brown), an MD working for the Synergix Group, which was under consideration by County for a general management contract of the ER. Despite his claims to the contrary, she eventually came to the conclusion that West had begun a relationship with her in order to gain her approval of the contract. West said she was wrong, withdrew the proposal and left the show.
After Carter was fired as a supervisor of a med school dorm and had no place to stay, he followed an ad which led him to Dr. Weaver's house; she had been renting out her basement to college students. For the first time, the audience saw the inside of her city home, and noted that she was single and independent, lived in a nice home, and had a particular taste in music. Weaver also hired a private investigator to locate her birth mother, an effort that initially failed and revealed Weaver's fear that she was raised by adoptive parents because her mother could not accept a disabled daughter.
Ever since her arrival at County General, Kerry has been very ambitious in pursuing higher administrative titles, such as Chief of the ER. This was after Dr. Morgenstern's long, extensive absence, that a new position needed to be filled. For a short period she is made interim acting chief of emergency medicine until a suitable replacement was found. Yet, after an incident involving the hiring of a doctor who turned out to be a very accomplished if bizarre non-physician, Kerry's chances were luckily left open. But, the hospital wasn't really considering her for the position. When she found out, she immediately quit as interim chief of the ER. Unfortunately, Dr. Romano jumped at the opportunity to become interim chief of the ER. At the start of Season 6, word spreads that Romano might be up to the position as Chief of Staff; news that both Kerry and Mark Greene resented and tried to prevent. However, in the end Kerry backed Dr. Romano up for Chief of Staff and in return she is given the position of Chief of Emergency medicine.
In 1999, Weaver welcomed the chance to hire Dr. Gabriel Lawrence (played by Alan Alda), who had been her mentor. She initially refused to accept Dr. Mark Greene's assertion that Lawrence was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease, but she ultimately faced facts and said goodbye to her role model.
Throughout the 1990s, the series occasionally dropped hints that Weaver was a lesbian, from her taste in music, to her house, and to her awkward rejections of advances from some male coworkers. Yet, until season seven, Weaver was simply a single, ambitious professional woman with a - somewhat hidden - kind heart.
ER was no stranger to realistic gay and lesbian characters as staff, patients or other characters. Dr. Maggie Doyle (Jorja Fox) was identified as a lesbian through cryptic dialogue and a humorous scene where she takes Carter to a shooting range and eventually hides from her jealous ex-girlfriend.
Yosh Takata (Gedde Watanabe), a male nurse, was identified as gay in a similar fashion as Doyle, and was a recurring character until Watanabe left the show in 2003. Doyle and Takata never got the chance to demonstrate that they had romantic lives, however, and thus remained asexual characters that always played second fiddle to the series' heterosexual characters. This changed when Weaver took very slow steps to come out as a lesbian.
In mid-season, Weaver fell in love with staff psychiatrist Kim Legaspi (played by Elizabeth Mitchell), but was afraid to admit it to Legaspi or herself. While Legaspi was openly lesbian and willing to pursue a romantic relationship with Weaver, she became frustrated that Weaver was not only in the closet, but also suffered from internalized homophobia and thus the relationship got off to a slow start. Once Weaver was able to admit to herself that she was gay, she was still paranoid about her coworkers finding out and the discriminatory consequences it might have on her career. This was despite their relationship becoming an "open secret" among most of the people in the ER.
During that story, we also learned that Kerry had been married before her career at County General started.
The first coworker Weaver came out to was the bigoted Dr. Robert Romano, who planned to fire Legaspi over trumped up allegations that she sexually harassed a female patient. Weaver's act of courage kept Romano from firing Legaspi, but it also emotionally drained Weaver, whose fears of discrimination ruining her career resurfaced. She was therefore unable to provide emotional support to Legaspi, who kept her job, but at the cost of seeing the entrenched homophobia of the hospital administration and her own girlfriend, who remained in the closet. Legaspi broke up with Weaver and decided to take a job offer in San Francisco rather than face the homophobia from Romano or the lack of emotional support she received from Weaver.
Kerry also runs afoul of Elizabeth Corday in Season 7 when she has Mark Greene evaluated for professional competency after he shows noticeable personality changes after returning from brain tumor surgery. As a result, Kerry is not invited to Elizabeth and Mark's wedding, and while she and Mark seem to mend fences in Season 8, she and Elizabeth remained mostly unfriendly until Kerry's partner Sandy Lopez died. Elizabeth sympathized and the two doctors were on better terms until Dr. Corday departed the show in Season 11. They were never close friends though. In fact, Elizabeth's departure comes when she deliberately performs an illegal, life-saving transplant from an HIV+ donor into an HIV+ individual and does so in large part because she knows it'll anger Kerry, leading to Kerry to offer a demotion that Elizabeth declines before quitting.
Weaver still had not come out to any of her coworkers, except Dr. Romano and Dr. Luka Kovač. Kerry was still quite paranoid about anyone discovering her true status even though her sexual orientation was already known to some of her coworkers. Weaver did, however, begin a new relationship with firefighter Lt. Sandy Lopez (played by Lisa Vidal) who she met in a rain storm while trying to rescue a pregnant woman out of a crashed ambulance. As the two get close, Lopez told Kerry she refused to date a woman that was in the closet. Lopez forcibly outed Weaver with a passionate kiss in front of her coworkers. What followed was a groundbreaking story for network television as the development of the romance between the two women was treated with the courtship, passion and arguments often reserved for heterosexual couples.
Lopez said, "I did you a favor," after the kiss in the ER; a few episodes later, Weaver admitted to her that she was right. At the season's end, Weaver accepted herself as a lesbian, and became eager to combat homophobia wherever it appeared.
In Season Eight's second episode "The Longer You Stay", Weaver failed to answer repeated pages from Drs. Malucci & Chen when a patient being tended to by them has complications. Weaver is finally hauled in by Dr. Carter when he ran from the ER to get her personally from Doc Magoo's, sustaining a painful fall in the process. But after the patient dies and she flatly barks at the three "You killed him.", she is seen back at Doc Magoo's where she finds the pager she left in the bathroom stall.
Desperate to cover up her irresponsibility when the hospital is sued by the patient's family, Weaver callously fires Malucci in third episode "Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic" on a trumped-up charge of misconduct, and by the fourth episode "Never Say Never", she's managed to pin the malpractice on Malucci and Chen, stripping the latter of her authority and she quits, but brings a wrongful termination suit against Weaver and the hospital in the twelfth episode, "A River In Egypt". Chief of Staff Romano, having learned about the pager incident and trying to avoid a scandal, forces Weaver to reinstate Chen.
In "Bygones", Kerry is stunned when she realizes a lonely young woman murdered her roommate because of unrequited love. Kerry then mends fences with Sandy Lopez and the two of them make their first ER-social appearance at an impromptu drinking party after Mark Greene has passed away. Kerry is visibly saddened by Mark's death and tells Sandy she thinks she has lost a friend, and laments the years they spent in bitter competition for various ER posts and promotions.
Weaver and Lopez were still together and had on-going arguments about the future of their relationship. Weaver wanted to have a child, but after suffering a miscarriage felt Lopez should carry the child. Lopez, however, did not want to get pregnant, because it would impact her firefighting career. The couple did not get much screen time that season, and Weaver was given another story thread about the consequences she faced when she failed to report a local politician who tested positive for syphilis; the Alderman provided funding for County and a plum position for Kerry, but forced her to do an off-the-record treatment of the Alderman's closeted gay lover that ended with the lover's accidental death from an allergic reaction to penicillin. Later, Dr. Anspaugh became fed up with Dr. Romano's attitude and neglect on the job. Anspaugh offered to lighten Romano's work load by sharing his administrative duties with Kerry Weaver. When Romano refused this, he was replaced with a somewhat surprised Weaver, who offers Romano the ER Chief position.
Kerry is getting settled in her chief administrative position but runs into various challenges that arise day by day from hospital staffing to the ER's hectic renovation. In her personal life, Lopez changed her mind about having a baby, and she gave birth to baby Henry in the hospital, happy that she and Weaver started a family. Later on in the season, Lopez died due to injuries she suffered while fighting a fire. Sandy's parents (who had never approved of her sexual orientation "lifestyle") took custody of Henry and for the remainder of the season, Weaver's storyline focused on a child custody battle between herself and Lopez's parents. The custody situation was eventually settled when the Lopezes and Weaver agreed to her having primary custody, with the Lopezes taking care of Henry while Kerry was at work.
In the 2005 episode titled "Just As I Am," Weaver finally found her biological mother, who turned out to be a conservative Christian. Helen Kingsley (Frances Fisher) gave up Weaver for adoption when she was fourteen days old; she was in town for a Christ Crusade and decided to meet her daughter. When Kingsley learned her daughter was a lesbian, she and Weaver clashed over faith and sexuality, with Weaver insisting that her mother love and accept her. Kingsley said she could love her daughter, but because she could not accept homosexuality as moral, could not accept Weaver's lifestyle. This episode not only ended the mystery behind Weaver's mother, it also revealed for the first time the reason for Weaver's crutch—Helen inquires about Weaver's limp, and Weaver explains that she suffers from congenital hip dysplasia, a birth defect. Weaver is surprised to learn that Helen knew nothing about it, and her long-held fear that the birth defect was the reason she was given up for adoption is resolved.
Aside from this episode, Kerry Weaver almost exclusively plays supporting roles and is frequently absent from entire episodes.
Kerry continues to play the background in most of the episodes this season. Even though she's staying very busy with her administrative meetings and tasks, Kerry occasionally takes shifts in the ER to keep her emergency skills sharp. In the episode "Out on a Limb" Kerry finally goes through with surgery to fix her hip dysplasia, that's been giving her pain over the last few months. In the episode "No Place To Hide," Kerry walks for the first time on the series without the aid of her forearm crutch. (Reportedly, this storyline was done, at least in part, because Laura Innes really was starting to develop hip and back problems after ten years of walking with a fake limp for the sake of her role.) Laura Innes described this arc as the character, "Shedding some of her hardness and moving on in her life."  At the end of the season, Kerry faces criticism for hiring Dr. Victor Clemente (John Leguizamo) as an attending, who compromised patient care leading to possible liability and lawsuits to the hospital. Kerry tries to divert the fire towards Dr. Luka Kovac (Goran Visnjic), the Chief of Emergency Medicine, risking his job as a result.
After saving Luka and Abby in the rattling season premiere, Kerry owns up to her responsibility for the Clemente incident in order to save Luka from being fired. She is demoted from Chief of Staff as a result and is now back to being an attending. Though she clearly struggled to adjust to her new position, especially with the current ER chief Luka Kovac now being her boss, Kerry seems pleased to practice medicine full-time again. Working back in the ER, Weaver catches the eye of a TV producer filming a news segment with Dr. Morris and literally steals the show. She's offered a job by the executives for news reporting. At first unsure and hesitant, Kerry soon accepts the side job reporting and makes a heroic rescue on live TV. Shortly afterwards, Kerry and her producer Courtney (Michelle Hurd) begin to develop a close relationship, one Kerry hasn't felt since her deceased partner Sandy Lopez. Courtney tells her how her great news broadcasting could open a successful career for her. However, Kerry wasn't too convinced about leaving County General for her news track. This was until ER chief Luka Kovac had to enact budget cuts and had to consider firing her. Kerry fought her position explaining how it was her sacrifice that saved Luka's job (leaving out the facts that her bad decisions and treachery had put his job in jeopardy before she did the right thing in the end). Yet after some thought during the care of an amputee patient and Katrina survivor, she felt it was time to move on. She later reconsidered accepting a television show offer at WTVJ in Miami, despite Kovac's last minute efforts to convince her to stay.
Kerry Weaver's last appearance on ER was in an episode called "A House Divided" Episode number 280 in which Abby Lockhart expressed to Dr. Weaver that if it had not been for her, she'd never have become a doctor or a mother. As Kerry packed up and walked out of County General's doors for the last time, she only asked Luka to take care of the place for her.
Kerry is later mentioned at the beginning of season 15, as she sent a gift basket for Greg Pratt's funeral, and seems to still be living in Florida.
- ↑ http://www.afterellen.com/TV/2005/2/er.html
- ↑ http://www.tvguide.com/News-Views/Interviews-Features/Article/default.aspx?posting=%7B9821887D-1FDE-46AE-B412-D6247FF1C1C9%7D
- ↑ http://theenvelope.latimes.com/awards/env-glaad-14-2008jul14,0,1003525.story
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