|First appearance||October 30, 1997|
(4x05, "Good Touch, Bad Touch")
|Last appearance||November 13, 2008|
(15x07, "Heal Thyself")
|Portrayed by||Paul McCrane|
|Title||Attending surgeon (1997-2003) |
Chief of Surgery (1997-2003)
Chief of Staff (1999-2003)
Chief of Emergency Medicine (2003)
Dr. Robert "Rocket" Romano is a fictional character in the medical drama ER, portrayed by American actor Paul McCrane. He was introduced in the fourth season as a recurring character. He evolves from being a surgical attending until he becomes Chief of Staff at Chicago's County General Hospital, with McCrane being promoted to series regular from the sixth season until the tenth season. Known for his sarcastic and nasty comments, Romano provides an antagonistic force during his time in the series.
Romano was a recurring character during the fourth and fifth seasons of the series. He became a regular character during the sixth season premiere. In a script from the sixth season, Romano is described as having "no soul".
The character was killed of in season 10. McCrane was disappointed by the producers' decision, but knew his character "had run its curse." Producer Chris Chulack went on by stating "Even a horrific helicopter accident last season - in which his arm was severed, ending his career as a surgeon - could not curtail his inappropriate, sarcastic remarks. There wasn't much to be done."
Romano is introduced in the fourth season's episode "Good Touch, Bad Touch" as a surgical attending sponsoring Elizabeth Corday's internship in the Chicago ER. Romano is a brilliant surgeon, but does not get along with the majority of the staff, except for Corday whose early quarreling and professional setbacks at Romano's hands such as discontinuing her fellowship had blossomed into a respected friendship over the years. He is portrayed as obnoxious and ambitious, and is eager to jump at the job of interim ER Chief to help weasel his way toward the top of the administrative ladder.
In the fifth season, Dr. Maggie Doyle accuses Dr. Romano of sexual harrassment and when she asks Elizabeth to back up her claims, she decides not to after Romano blackmails Elizabeth about her relationship with Dr. Peter Benton. Romano becomes the Acting ER Chief when Dr. Anspaugh mentions he cannot cope with being the Acting Chief as well as his other jobs much to the dismay of the ER staff.
The character is promoted to series regular in the sixth season. He is hired as the new Chief of Staff, much to the dismay of the entire staff, but it was good news for Elizabeth because he promoted her to Associate Chief of Surgery. Kerry Weaver has originally backed him up for the job, backstabbing Mark Greene in the process and earning the permanent ER Chief position, but soon becomes disgusted with him after seeing his diabolical ways which included him suspending her later in the season after she treated a comatose, brain-damaged young woman without HMO approval. He starts to grow fond of medical student Lucy Knight after she convinces him to do a heart operation on a patient on Christmas Eve. He, along with Elizabeth, treats Lucy after she is brutally stabbed by a schizophrenic patient. When Lucy dies despite their feverish work to save her, he angrily throws a surgical instrument and kicks over a tray.
In the seventh season, when Benton arranges for the surgery of a Medicare patient over Romano's objections, Romano fires Benton and then blacklists him throughout the community, making it almost impossible for him to find a job in Chicago which forced Benton to come back and accept a daily call, no-benefits job from Romano. After Benton impresses Romano by keeping his mouth shut and doing the job, Romano "rewards" him with a raise and benefits but also manipulates him into taking on a new post related to affirmative action at County (but is then outmaneuvered when Benton gets a talented African-American student a previously-denied interview, and the student is then accepted into medical school). In addition, Romano stops at nothing to fire Dr. Legaspi, a psychiatric attending and love interest of Weaver. The two both realize that she was being discriminated against for her homosexuality by Romano and Kerry came out of the closet to Romano when announcing she would defend Kim.
In the next season, Kim moves to San Francisco and Romano surprisingly decides to keep Kerry's secret. Romano continues to be arrogant and insensitive throughout the season, but surprisingly shows a soft side when Elizabeth has a hard time with Mark's decision to discontinue his brain cancer treatment.
In the first episode of season nine Romano, Kovac, and Lewis are evacuating the hospital due to a Monkey Pox outbreak. While on the helipad, the chart on the gurney flies away from the wind and when Romano goes to pick it up, the helicopter rotors cuts off his arm. Dr. Susan Lewis and Dr. Luka Kovac rush to save his life. They manage to save Romano's arm; however, he begins to lose motion and sensibility of his limp. Later on in season 9, Romano is removed from his Chief of Staff position by Dr. Ansbaugh. Weaver takes over and offers Romano the position of Chief of the ER. During that time, he fires senior nurses Lydia, Connie, and Yosh. Towards the end of the season, Romano's arm is amputated as he does not recover from the accident.
In the tenth season, Romano gets a robotic arm. He dies in the episode "Free Fall" from a helicopter that falls off the roof and crushes him. Before the helicopter fell, he was going to lodge a complaint on Dr. Pratt and caught Dr. Morris smoking pot.
Romano reappears in the final season in a flashback, talking with Dr. Greene by Trauma 1 about his chemotherapy. In the episode "The Book of Abby," long-serving nurse Haleh Adams showed Abby Lockhart the Wall of Doctors and on there, the tag "Romano" can be seen.