Why is Carter, unlike others, almost always called by his last name?

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I've been wondering this season about the way the characters address each other. Basically everyone, even Dr. Benton, has his or her first name used by the other staff more often than Dr. Carter does. For Dr. Carter, he is very rarely addressed by any other name than simply "Carter." Why do the other characters so often use only his last name? "John" wouldn't be too hard to pronounce or to remember. Maybe all of this was explained in some earlier episode/earlier season . . . .

-- Mary G. (Lovelife.truth@iVillage.com), May 23, 2000


I believe there was an early episode where he was on the roof with Susan, and the subject came up...She tried calling him John, and they both agreed that it was "too weird," or something along those lines. I don't remember which episode it was, though. As for the others, I couldn't say. I think Deb calls him John sometimes, doesn't she? Maybe Carter (see, we do it too) has purposely kept people calling him by his last name to keep himself aloof from them. He really is a very private person, as has been discussed on other threads--he seems to have no life outside that hospital.

-- Cecelia (evilstoat@hotmail.com), May 23, 2000.

I think Deb *always* calls him John. And I think Carter always calls her Deb.

I really want to see the writers do something with their friendship-- she's been caring of him since the stabbing incident and it's been shown that they work well together. I hope they don't let Ming-Na's character flounder and leave her in the "I'm competing with Carter" or "I'm super-ambitious" mode.

-- Lynda (unabashedly_masochistic@yahoo.com), May 24, 2000.

I noticed watching the reruns of early season 1 shows that they tended to call each other by their last names in the beginning. They kept referring to Carol as "Hathaway," for example. Then there was the rooftop scene where Susan said she calling him "John" just didn't seem right. And I think he mentioned at some point that his school friends called him Carter as well. And at that time there was another John -- Carol's boyfriend "Taglieri," although they called him Tag.

John's a generic name, so Carter probably makes for a better character name. I love the way they reserve "John" for a select few. It has much more meaning when Kerry uses it, for example, instead of calling him Carter. She tends to switch depending on the situation.

-- Avan (notgivingit@unwired.net), May 24, 2000.

Because he's just...Carter! :)

I also love that Jing-Mei calls him John and Carter calls her Deb. I really hope the two form a close friendship. I'm probably one of few who was thrilled to hear of Ming-Na's return to ER.

-- anne (sapphire_172@hotmail.com), May 24, 2000.

Yes, the simple answer to the question is that Carter is Carter. The universe would collapse if anyone (except Deb/Jing-Mei, or Gamma) called him John.

However, we did hear Kerry calling him John in her brief conversation with him in "Under Control." I suppose there are exceptions - but not very many.

-- debbie (riccardoiii@aol.com), May 24, 2000.

I agree with those above who would like to see Carter and Jing Mei's relationship grow. Everyone is saying Carter needs a relationship and I think Jing Mei is the perfect candidate. All of his other relationships have been purely sexual. But these two have started off friends and I would like to see it grow into more. They clearly have respect for each other and the old cliche is that the two character who don't get along or rival each other end up falling in love. I for one am for it. I have always liked Ming Na (starting way back when she was on As The World Turns!) and think she was a good addition to the cast and the continuity of having a previous med student come back is neat.

-- amanda (amanda.rehm@home.com), May 24, 2000.

Referring to the above comment about Tag (John Taglieri) I think it's refreshing to see that two characters on a show have the same name! Although I agree that it might be confusing if two main characters had the same name, it's cool to see that Carter wasn't the only John we ever saw in the hospital. I haven't watched soaps in years, but it always bugged me that there were umpteen-billion characters on the show and no one had the same first name. I mean, in real life I know 5 Kathys and several Davids and Mikes. (I'm done ranting now...)

-- Barbara Sirois Doyle (barbara@sirois.com), May 24, 2000.

I have no desire to see Carter/Chen become anything more than friendly colleagues. I don't want to see them have a romance. Anna called Carter John most of the time. I've noticed Kerry calling Carter by his first name a lot more frequently. Chen call Carter by his first name most of the time. Everyone else seems to call him by his last name.

-- Brenda (jckwfan@aol.com), May 24, 2000.

And wait--I just thought of another duplicate name! Abby the Pediatric surgeon that Carter had the fling with and our new Abby the med student. Can you tell I have too much time on my hands?

-- Barbara Sirois Doyle (barbara@sirois.com), May 24, 2000.

Barbara -- David was a duplicate name (Greene and Malucci). I too think it is good to have characters with the same names...its more realistic. Unlike soaps that have Storm, Ridge, Thorn, Blade etc!! :)

-- amanda (amanda.rehm@home.com), May 24, 2000.

Jing-Mei originally introduced herself to Carter (and everyone) as "Deb Chen". The multimedia presentation she gave in season 1(as opposed to Carter's simple and brief presentation) also showed her name as "Debra Chen". She seemed to go by that name exclusively back then. Personally I'd like to see someone call her Debby. I like the name Debby. I digress.

When Susan was talking to Carter on the roof season 1, she tried calling him John and she said, I quote "It doesn't fit." I took that to mean that in her eyes, John Carter didn't look like a "John". Sometimes there are people who's names just don't seem to fit them. It's rare, but I've met a few. Notice that Benton *never* calls Carter, "John". I think it has become habit for everyone. And yes, it is an effective device for showing Carter's aloofness and separateness from everyone in the department. It also doesn't help that he's nowhere near the socioeconomic class that everyone else is. So when someone calls him by his given name, it is almost an endearment, used to establish a connection. So it is interesting that the only one in the department who uses his given name consistently is Deb/Jing-Mei.

Lord do I run on or what??

Also, can someone tell me which epi Carter mentioned that his school friend called him Carter as opposed to John?? I've racked my brain and I can't come up with an epi. I just don't remember this.

-- S. Trelles (trelles@ix.netcom.com), May 24, 2000.

I think his cousin Chase called him "Skippy." Am I remembering that right? So, see, "Carter" isn't too bad.

-- Felicity (felicity08@juno.com), May 24, 2000.

I like that they call him Carter over John, it's almost affectionate...buddy-ish. But I also like that a select few call him John...Kerry, Deb. Every time I hear it it's like, oh yeah! It meant a lot to hear Deb call him 'John' after he woke up from the stabbing. Even Lucy called him Carter, not Dr. Carter. I think he's just laid back that way, he isn't concerned with his "title".

As for friendships, I have said this before, but just about everyone's social life revolves around the hospital, not just Carter's. That's how it gets after you leave school and the people you consider your friends ARE you coworkers.

-- Elaine (mrsclooney78@hotmail.com), May 24, 2000.

Actually, Lucy was the only regular to call him Dr. Carter. If you recall their last conversation, she angrily called him "Carter!" after he wouldn't listen to her Paul Sobricki concerns and told her to just make sure that Psych came down to see him. That was one of the few times she ever did that even after Jerry told her that "he's just Carter." I always felt that it was a sign of respect that Carter called everyone by their title ("Dr. Greene") and they called him by his surname when he was a med student. I think this was supposed to change when he graduated but the name Carter just stuck. I always felt that in his first year of residency, everyone still viewed him as a student. He was so young, naive and "puppy-doggish" in his approval-seeking ways that it seemed hard for the other older doctors to view him as an equal. In that conversation with Susan, she also told him that he could address the other doctors by their first names but that didn't sound right to them or to us. Despite that, it doesn't strike me as right when I hear Jerry and the other staff address him as Carter.

-- maryann (map5860@aol.com), May 24, 2000.

Harper Tracy called him John... what did Rebecca DeMornay call him? I can't remember her ever calling him anything can ya'll?

-- Linda (l.brown@mindspring.com), May 24, 2000.

Elaine called Carter, John. I enjoy hearing some of the staff call him John. It seems the ones who know Carter more or on a more personal level start calling him John. Kerry started calling him John at times after Carter moved in her basement. I've notice that now Carter is a senior resident that he does call more of the other DRs by their first name. He does call them by their title out of respect a lot of times. I think it depends on the situation.

-- Brenda (jckwfan@aol.com), May 25, 2000.

Lucy alternated betweeen Carter and Dr.Carter, and she even called him John a few times. But when Jerry told her he was "just Carter," John's response was "DR. Carter will do just fine." Still the little boy looking for respect.

There were a few times in season 5 when Carter called Dr. Greene "Mark," which I took to be a transition for him, but it always sounded weird to me. I guess it must have sounded that way to the writers, too, because I noticed that they dropped it after "The Storm, Part II" and had John go back to calling him "Dr. Greene." I don't think he's ever called Weaver "Kerry," even though she was his landlord for about a year.

Kind of off the topic, I still find it chilling that Lucy's last words to Carter were, "Forget it, Carter!" spoken in anger and frustration.

-- Avan (notgivingit@carterrules.net), May 25, 2000.

I still personally like "Dr. Pete", LOL! What about the nurses? I never really pay attention to how they address the doctors. In a recent TNT episode Haleh called Dr. Lewis, Susan. Carol called Dr. Greene, Mark. With patients, of course, they revert back to their full title. Has Benton EVER called Carter "John", except to introduce him to someone else? You would think even in the emotional moments of "May Day" that Benton would call him "John". That would floor me. But- Carter has never called Benton "Peter" as far as I know, and that would seem weird if he did. They still don't seem like "colleagues" to me and I think I will always see them as mentor and student.

-- Jane (lc@centuryinter.net), May 25, 2000.

Avan, when did Lucy call him John? I'd love to hear that! Also, I really liked hearing Carter call Mark, Mark. When he's not actually talking to her, he refers to Kerry as Weaver, like most do. I found it kind of strange that Kerry kept calling Carter Carter in May Day...when he flew off the gurney, when she asked him to come into curtain 3...she usually calls him John.

-- Elaine (mrsclooney78@hotmail.com), May 25, 2000.

I loved Hearing carter call Greene by his first name. I don't think it is strange at all.I think Carter called Mark by his first name several times. He won't do it in front of a patient. Carter most of the time called Susan by her first name. Let's face the facts. Carter is no longer a medical student or intern. He is senior resident. After next season he will be finished with his residency. We will see him call all of his colleages not just a few of them by the first name. Why shouldn't he. The staff is laid back and the Drs and nurses call each other by first names all the time. I had no problem getting over the fact that Carter is no longer a third year medical student. He has grown and matured and has become an caring and competent Dr. I loved watching this the past six years.I want to here him call people by their first names more often. I've enjoyed watching other people call him John more often the past few seasons.

-- Brenda (jckwfan@aol.com), May 25, 2000.

Jane, Lucy called him "John" a few times in "The Good Fight."

-- Avan (notgivingit@carterrules.net), May 26, 2000.

Just to mention who all has called him John...Kerry and Deb almost always, any girlfriends (Harper, Abby Keaton, Roxanne, Elaine), Anna in some situations, I heard Cleo call him John, I guess Lucy has on rare occasions (as Avan said above), and I even noticed that Chloe, Susan's sister, called him John, which was odd, but nice to hear. I think maybe Morganstern called him John once or twice too, but I could be wrong.

-- Elaine (mrsclooney78@hotmail.com), May 29, 2000.

Kerry called Carter Johnny one time.I thought that was cute:)

-- jessica (jlm44076@yahoo.com), May 29, 2000.

Most everyone calls him carter. Except for his girlfriends and Deb. I think that its really a sign of compassion or something when Kerry calls him John. I think she feels something for him, but nothing more than friendliness...

-- catherine (catsclaw_007@yahoo.com), May 29, 2000.

I know reply is a few months later but I wanted to reply to this. I like him being called Carter istead of John. It's just a cool name. One of my friends once called him Cartman. She got that from an episode from the show "The Simpsons". She said that someone called Bart Bartman and that's why she called Carter Cartman. I thought that was cute.

-- Cammie (rmaelhorn@home.com), August 15, 2000.

A bit OT, but the name Carter is amusing for a rich powerful family because "carter" means someone who drives a cart, in modern parlance a truck driver. Maybe we are to infer that they are "new money." Reminds me a bit of M*A*S*H: Margaret's husband's family, rich snobbish New Englanders, were named Penobscot (the name of a Native American group) which never made much sense to me. Anyway it's fitting if the Carter Foundation is helping street people (and street vendors).

-- Driad (driad@mailcity.com), August 15, 2000.

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