back when the stabbing happened, I had heard that Kelly Martin was leaving--which annoyed me because it did make it likely she died. I wanted to not know that. But the show was so well done I started to think and perhaps she makes it (only to leave the show to go recover etc.) I hate it when I know an actor is leaving a show.
Even with the glam described above, I generally praise ER for being more gritty than most dramas. People often looked less than ideal. Not everyone who was cast looked like a model.