The long-running medical drama ER wrapped up in 2009 after fifteen back-to-back seasons of pure drama, emotional ups and downs, and, of course, the inevitable workplace romance.
Most characters on the beloved NBC primetime drama stayed the course, and we saw them almost every episode, but this can’t be said for everyone, such as Dr. Ray Barnett.
Ray only lasted three seasons, after which he kept appearing and disappearing from our screen until the last surprise appearance in the series finale.
If you’re curious about what happened to Ray on ER, we have all the details on why he left and what he’s been up to. Read along!
Who Is Ray On ER?
Renowned actor Shane West plays Dr. Ray Barnett, who is completing his residency at the fictional County General Hospital.
In real life, when West joined the series in its 11th season, he was still in high school. Since he was very new in the acting scene, he had yet to learn how iconic and big-time of a show ER was then.
In the medical drama, Ray portrays the role of a smart, ambitious, but rebellious resident doctor who wants to attempt to do away with the ”traditional” way of doing things.
It isn’t unusual for a handsome lad like him to get into a series of romantic entanglements, but Dr Neela Rasgotra is the one girl who seems to tag onto his heart relentlessly. But, as fate would have it, Ray couldn’t get the girl he wanted, or could he?
Ray Lost His Legs in Season Thirteen on ER and Made An Exit
Ray joined the County General Hospital’s ER in season 11 to complete his residency under Dr. John Carter.
Soon enough, he develops romantic feelings for Dr. Neela Rasgotra but fails to initiate an actual relationship with Rasgotra.
The eleventh and twelfth seasons progress as we witness the highs and lows of Ray’s and Neela’s blossoming chemistry.
But the true climax came in the thirteenth season, when Ray got into a tragic accident.
After leaving Abby Lockhart and Luka Kovac’s wedding, drunk and heartbroken, Ray not only gets intoxicated and stirs up a fight with Tony Gates, Neela’s love interest, but he also decides to club hop in his stupor.
He tries to answer a call from Neela on the way home, but he trips and falls in front of a truck. Soon after, his ER colleagues learned that Ray was admitted to a different hospital and would need surgery to amputate both his legs.
This tragic incident forced Ray to rethink his life, or, more accurately, to think deeper about his life and its direction.
Call it a mid-life crisis, but Ray packs up his belongings and leaves Chicago for Baton Rouge, Florida, where he was born and bred.
This somewhat sad ending is the last time we see Dr. Ray Barnette as a main cast member on ER, but an unexpected appearance in a later season will take everyone by surprise.
When And Why Did Ray Barnett Leave ER?
Despite being such a popular main character, Shane West played the role of Dr Ray Barnett for only three seasons, lasting from season eleven to the thirteenth season in an episode titled The Honeymoon is Over.
In real life, Shane West left the show to focus on other acting projects, specifically a pilot series entitled Supreme Courtships, which Fox eventually failed to pick up for broadcast.
Aside from the failed pilot series, Shane also admitted that, at the time, he had been trying to make his own independent film. But starring on ER took up all his time, leaving him neither time nor space to pursue anything outside of the popular television drama.
In 2010, the A Walk To Remember Star said, “When I was doing ER, I was also trying to put together a film titled What We Do Is Secret, about the rock band, The Germs.”
West admitted that juggling his acting gig with ER and making his film was a living hell, but he was very proud of the film.
“I was just trying to film one damn movie, but I guess that’s part of the struggle with independent films,’ he admitted.
“During the hiatus, I was shooting parts of the movie, sourcing for finances, and putting it all together,” West added.
In a surprise ending, Ray Barnette returned to the ER set in the series finale, specifically in the Haunted episode. He certainly surprised his former colleagues, and Neela was particularly delighted to see him.
Ray, who comes back more mature and grounded, gushes about his new, cutting-edge prosthetics and talks about his time in rehab. He also revealed that he left emergency medicine for a new career in physical disability rehabilitation.
Speaking to the media then, one of the show’s executive producers, Joe Sachs, explained that the new Ray has his feet ‘’firmly planted quite literally and figuratively.”
Sachs added, “He is walking on his own again and doesn’t appear disabled. He comes out a stronger guy.”
What Is Shane West Doing Now?
After ER wrapped up, Shane West wasted no time pursuing other acting projects. Since 2009, the actor has been featured in numerous television shows and films.
From 2010 to 2013, he held a starring role as Michael Bishop in Nikita, a popular CW spy thriller series. He also starred for three seasons as John Alden on the adventure drama Salem, which ended in 2017.
Popular films in which West has been involved include Here Alone, which earned an Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016. In 2019, the actor starred in the much-awaited sci-fi thriller film No Running.
More recently, West has featured in the new films Walden (2023) and Dirty South (2023), proof that he is still going strong with his acting career.
West is quite tight-lipped about his personal life and doesn’t post much about his family or anyone he is dating.
So, there you have it—now you are all caught up on what happened to Ray on ER, both on the show and in real life.